Cheers: To Eric Saueracker, Southwest Washington's Teacher of the Year. The 29-year-old teaches Advanced Placement calculus and physics courses at Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver. The job must be challenging — Bay enrolls students from diverse economic backgrounds, the classes are optional and challenging, and the high school is directly across the street from Clark College, where students may tackle the same subjects for college credit through Running Start. But Saueracker's ability to connect with students has actually resulted in large enrollment increases in those subjects. Saueracker was honored this week, along with eight other regional top teachers, at a reception at Seattle's Experience Music Project.
Jeers: To The Grange. No, not the original Patrons of Husbandry, but to the proposed megacasino project east of Portland that co-opts the fraternal organization's venerable name. If you haven't noticed, Portland TV is bombarded with advertising that touts the supposed benefits of this proposed privately owned facility. At the same time it would offer as many slots as a Las Vegas casino, the owners promise family entertainment out of the other corner of their mouths.
Oregon voters would do well to reject Measure 82, which would allow these privately owned casinos, and Measure 83, which would specifically authorize The Grange to be built at the site of the old Multnomah Kennel Club greyhound track in Wood Village.
Cheers: To fat cats. Not to be confused with the ones eager to solicit your vote, these porcine purrers can be found at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, where an ingenious adoption special found many of them a new home. Not surprisingly, most folks who go to the shelter to adopt a pet fall in love with the kittens, leaving the adult cats, and particularly the overweight ones, to linger. A promotion running through September offers discounts to those who will adopt a larger cat.
Jeers: To a continuing trend of more local residents lacking health insurance. Newly released U.S. Census statistics show the share of people with health insurance continued to decline in 2010 among low-income and lower middle-class Americans. In Clark County, about 15.2 percent were uninsured. That compares with 14.6 percent in 2009. Residents ages 50 to 64 were least likely to have health insurance, an extra blow to an age group already hit hard by unemployment.
Without insurance, these people are less likely to see a doctor routinely, making it more likely that smaller health care problems, such as hypertension, may escalate to a crisis.
Cheers: To flu shots. Certainly, they are not effective against every possible strain of flu. And some people, including those allergic to eggs, cannot receive them. But for most people, a momentary stick can substantially increase the odds of avoiding a week of misery.
Flu shots are available now; check with your health care provider. They take a couple of weeks to reach maximum effectiveness, so getting your vaccination earlier rather than later, after flu season starts, is a good idea.
Jeers: To the combination of sun glare, dirty windshields and rush-hour traffic. The lower sun angle at popular commute times has caused more than a few accidents in Clark County already this year. On Aug. 23, a man died in a crosswalk near Esther Short Park in an accident that appears to be, at least in part, due to sun glare.
Another serious accident occurred Aug. 29. Veteran Vancouver traffic Sgt. Pat Johns says slow down, clean your windshield, wear sunglasses, and, if your dashboard is light-colored, lay down a dark towel. Don't meet him by accident.