Cheers: To the return of the Clark County All Church Picnic, this time scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4 in Esther Short Park. The event started in 2009 and has proved popular; in 2011, an estimated 3,000 people from more than 75 local congregations picnicked together at the Fort Vancouver National Site.Last year, the picnic fell into the bureaucratic abyss after the National Park Service let the organizers know a scant month in advance that they would need a permit, and furthermore, no permit would be forthcoming unless many changes were made in their plans. It was all part of the Park Service's determination to reserve the area for uses tied directly to the site's fur-trading history; use of the Pearson Air Museum for private events was another, much-publicized chapter in that squabble.
Though the parking is tougher downtown, and there will be no opportunities for vendors due to the proximity of the Vancouver Farmers Market, Esther Short Park should be a good venue for what deserves to become a community tradition.
Jeers: To Gov. Jay Inslee's decision to boot former Congressman Brian Baird and three others from a blue-ribbon state higher-education panel. Former Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat like Inslee and Baird, had tasked the board with writing a road map for higher education. The group was part way through its assignment when Inslee ousted the four for no obvious reason. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom noted that Baird, a former professor, and the others were "eminently qualified." Inslee's spokesman claims the governor wasn't displeased, but just want to "bring in his own team."
Cheers: To Vancouver Public Schools' successful sale of the old Vancouver City Hall at 210 E. 13th St. The school district unloaded the 50-year-old white elephant for slightly more than $2 million. The building has been empty since 2011, when city offices relocated to a modern building across from Esther Short Park. The school district, which had been the city's landlord, struggled to maintain the empty property while ruling out its usefulness either as a school or a district headquarters.
The buyers, longtime local bankers Bill and Bruce Firstenburg, haven't yet said what they plan to do with the property, which includes on-site parking. But it seems likely the outdated, worn-out office space will have to be razed or extensively rebuilt, both of which are beyond the school district's mission. With the recent Al Angelo building and Elie Kassab's two new buildings being built across the street, the Firstenburgs are in position to help contribute to a welcome downtown makeover.
Jeers: To crooks who would try to use the Boston Marathon bombing to scam well-meaning citizens. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman are warning Washington residents not to fall for fake fundraisers and bogus charities that might claim to raise money for victims and their families. Instead, they suggest giving to well-known national charities that help victims of disasters and crimes. Never give your credit-card number to phone solicitors, always ask for identification from fundraisers who come to the door and always pay by check made out to the name of the well-known organization instead of giving cash.
Cheers: To preserving summer programs for kids at Vancouver's Evergreen Park. Situated at East Fourth Plain Boulevard and Rossiter Lane, the park is enjoyed by a lot of apartment-dwellers, many of whom are of modest means. The park's SummerSLAM program receives no taxpayer support; donations have supplied all but about $2,200 of the $15,000 it needs. The Parks Foundation, http://www.parksfoundation.us, is in charge of raising the money.