In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Late-night teen program will return; some county cars need more mileage

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Cheers: To revival of the Teen Late Night Program for the 2012-13 school year. It's always a mystery when teens in this modern world claim they have nothing to do, but this program, which runs Friday evenings at Marshall Community Center and Firstenburg Community Center, offers a variety of activities such as board and video games, pingpong, pool and an open gym. It had been eliminated due to parks funding cuts, but will be revived for the 2012-13 school year thanks to a $25,000 donation from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. The program should be running again by mid-October.Jeers: To replacing some county vehicles before the end of their useful service life. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey's staff recently reviewed county management of some 400 different vehicles and found that the decision-making to replace a vehicle was "incomplete and ineffective." That resulted in some units being retired as soon as six years too early. In general, the county is supposed to keep light vehicles, such as cars and pickups, until they are 15 years old or have 150,000 miles. The audit report recommends the county should clarify and expand its fleet replacement policy, and consider the maintenance cost per mile driven before deciding to buy new autos.

Cheers: To stargazing. As The Columbian's Patty Hastings reported this week, "Under the twinkle of the Walmart parking lot lights and through the rumble of shopping carts and car engines, a small group gathered by the sliding doors to peer back in time." The organizer, Stan Seeberg, is a part-time Walmart greeter and longtime astronomy enthusiast, so that explains the parking lot location. And Seeberg picked the date because that evening, the moon's features were unusually easy to see with a telescope. Not only were regular stargazers satisfied, the moment of wonder created for passers-by was exciting.

Jeers: To the continuing problems of unlicensed contractors operating throughout Washington. The Department of Labor & Industries has been conducting a number of unannounced sweeps to identify and fine these fly-by-night operators, who don't play by the same rules required of licensed contractors, such as paying workers compensation insurance. The most recent sweep was in Tacoma, where a dozen unlicensed contractors were fined. An earlier sweep in Spokane resulted in 13 citations. People who hire contractors, such as roofers, painters or carpenters, should ask for their license number, or visit http://www.HiringAContractor.Lni.wa.gov to verify they are on the up-and-up.

Cheers: To the old ways of life in Venersborg. Modern every other day of the year, the community east of Battle Ground celebrated the old ways recently with Homestead Day. Among the learning imparted was how to churn butter, preserve food, make laundry soap and even slaughter and dress chickens. We can all hope the modern conveniences continue, but there is a lot of advantage to understanding the alternatives.

Jeers: To the county's lingering voice mail problems. The county has about 1,200 phone extensions with voice mail that failed last week when some sort of power surge fried some computer boards, leaving the system inoperable for days. Some problems were still reported as late as this week. The county's general services department explained that the voice mail system was scheduled for replacement later this year anyway, and the phone system it mates with is old, so repairs were unusually difficult. Maybe the episode just goes to demonstrate how much we rely these days on electronics. Could we survive even 15 minutes without checking our email?