In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Lifeguards return to Salmon Creek Park;dithering over contract will cost county

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Cheers: To the return of lifeguards to Klineline Pond after a three-year absence. The lifeguards will be on duty at Salmon Creek Regional Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through August, as well as the first two weekends of September. The return of the lifeguards also means the return of the sprayground, where kids can get soaked on dry land.

The county will tap the metropolitan parks district fund for the $120,000 cost to hire 18 lifeguards and two supervisors. The credit goes to new Republican County Commissioner David Madore. "It's the most proactive thing we can do to protect life," he told his colleagues.

Unfortunately, the pond was temporarily closed to swimming starting Thursday due to high levels of bacteria, but with luck the contamination will dissipate next week.

Jeers: To county commissioners' dithering over sheltering stray animals. State law requires that stray animals picked up by county animal control forces have to be held at least three days. The county has long contracted with the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, which has partly subsidized the cost of services with donations and other revenues.

Madore upset the arrangement when he balked at renewing a two-year agreement at a rate of $132.50 in 2013 and $145 in 2014. Instead, he demanded a look at the nonprofit group's salary schedule, then led commissioners to approve a one-year deal at $132.50.

Now the issue is back, and the Humane Society isn't in the mood to keep subsidizing a suddenly reluctant partner. So it is asking for what it says is the full cost of housing the animals, $170 in 2014 and $200 in 2015. That will cost the county an estimated $450,000 in 2015, compared with $265,000 last year. Of course, the county could build and operate its own shelter, but that would cost millions. At this point, commissioners are figuratively caught with their tails between their legs.

Cheers: To the preservation of Camp Melacoma. The historical Camp Fire camp near the Washougal River was ordered closed in 2010 after tests showed unhealthy levels of arsenic in the drinking water supply. Its owners, Portland-based Camp Fire Columbia, sold the bucolic 120-acre site to its caretakers, who plan to install a water treatment system and reopen it as a youth camp. The sales price was only $150,000, compared with the $1.25 million or more that the Camp Fire organization might have received if it had sold the property for home sites, which already dot the neighborhood. Assuming the new Camp Melacoma Association's plans are realized, the camp will provide decades of new memories.

Jeers: To the latest act of political theater over the proposal to build coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. It's still too early to tell whether these facilities will be worthwhile or not. The state Department of Ecology will launch a two-year environmental study.

The terminals would receive coal trains from mines in Wyoming and Montana. The coal would be unloaded, yarded, then reloaded onto ships bound for emerging Asian markets. Each terminal would employ some workers, and there would likely be railroad jobs created.

But here's the theater: At a Vancouver press conference, business leaders and state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, touted the terminals on the grounds they would position "us as a global leader" in trade.

C'mon. Rather than low-value commodities — Powder River Basin coal was selling for $10.30 per ton this week — it's high-value products from companies such as Microsoft and, locally, Insitu that will keep Washington a global leader in trade. The terminals might or might not be worthwhile, but they won't transform our economy.