Cheers: To the new "Yacolt Library Express." The name might seem like a misnomer; in fact, Yacolt-area library patrons will have the opportunity to linger at this new facility, located in the former city hall and jail. Faced with the need to end its bookmobile service to Yacolt and other outlying Clark County communities, library administrators came up with what looks like could be a blueprint for the future. The new library express features a collection of about 2,500 items, access to online library materials and a dedicated phone line to an on-duty librarian. Books ordered from other branches will be delivered for pickup. It's only staffed twice a week for two hours per shift, but patrons with library cards can use it at various times seven days per week.Jeers: To feeding kids junky after-school snacks. Pizza rolls, chips and packages of cookies are convenient, but nutritious, portion-controlled snacks are better choices for children, whose smaller stomachs fill faster, according to PeaceHealth dietician Chris Collins. Vegetables are good, of course, but there can be some fun snacks, such as pretzels on a string or apple slices dipped in peanut butter.
Cheers: Speaking of PeaceHealth, here's a cheer to the growing payroll at PeaceHealth's headquarters in the Columbia Tech Center. Since merging with the former Southwest Washington Medical Center, PeaceHealth's headquarters have been relocated to Vancouver. And since January, 350 PeaceHealth workers have moved into the Columbia Center building, near Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard and 164th Avenue. CEO Alan Yordy said this week that by 2014 he expects 450 employees there, with a total payroll of $27 million plus benefits. By 2017, PeaceHealth projects 800 headquarters employees. A recent deal between PeaceHealth and Colorado-based hospital operator Catholic Health Initiatives may further boost the rate of employment growth.
Jeers: To the continuing problem of derelict vessels littering state waterways. Locally the saga of the Davy Crockett barge grabbed headlines last year, but according to recent reports the state list of abandoned vessels totals more than 200. The list continues to grow, even as the state spends taxpayers' money to remove the worst of the vessels. Most of the derelict boats are small, but collectively add up to big problems. Often it's impossible to prove ownership and thus responsibility, so the public is on the hook, and there are myriad private property and environmental laws to consider too.
Cheers: To the Columbia River Gorge Commission for continuing to make slow progress toward its goals, despite substantial loss of funding. With financial responsibility equally divided between Washington and Oregon, and a sometimes unpopular role to play as a steward of the land, the commission has had a tough time getting enough money to continue its mission. Yet it continues its Vital Signs benchmarking study. In addition, this week two university-based consensus programs presented their results of more than 80 interviews with stakeholders and regional leaders. Perhaps the report can lead to stable long-term funding and identification and further work on key issues.
Jeers: To an apparent violation of state open meetings laws by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. This agency, the official keeper of the state tea leaves, failed to give required public notice it was interviewing three finalists for the $140,000-per-year director's job, and then agreed behind closed doors to hire one of the candidates. Council chairman and state Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, even put out a news release saying that interim director Steve Lerch would get the job once the council was able to vote in public. Such actions sidestep the intent of the public meetings act, which holds that citizens have the right to know what their government is up to, and have the right to give timely feedback.