Cheers: One of Vancouver's most cherished and uplifting holiday traditions turned 30-some years old this year, as Chuck Chronis hosted his annual free Christmas feast for anybody who needed a place to eat. We'll just call it Vancouver's largest family gathering.The host threw open the doors of Chronis' Restaurant and Lounge in downtown at 10 a.m., and proceeded to feed all comers until 3 p.m. "We want them to feel at home," Chronis instructed his battalion of volunteers. "Give them a smile, maybe a little sarcasm. We want them to feel like they're at a family dinner." This holiday season has been filled with tales of selfless generosity from people throughout Clark County, reflecting the giving nature of the season. But let us also remember that the need doesn't diminish with the passing of Christmas; such giving is necessary throughout the year.
Jeers: It's probably no surprise, but Battle Ground Public Schools has come under fire in a new report from the state auditor. Analyzing the departure of former Superintendent Shonny Bria, the report criticizes the district's record-keeping -- including the fact that Bria's contract was not on file with the human resources office.
The audit was requested by the district after a $401,715 separation agreement with Bria was revealed earlier this year, a deal that was kept secret for two months. Given the botched manner in which the school board handled the superintendent's departure, an audit certainly was in order. Among the additional findings: Bria was paid $63,936 in accrued and unused leave but did not consistently report usage of such leave; and she had two active cellphones paid for with district money but did not identify any personal calls for which the district should have been reimbursed.
Cheers: Bloomberg News has named Washington as the "Most Innovative State," using criteria such as the number of science and technology degree holders, and the intensity of research and development. Washington was followed by California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon, which reinforces the stereotype of the West Coast as an oasis for creative minds.
Of course, Bloomberg probably didn't need a list of criteria — including items such as the number of patents filed — to rank Washington No. 1. It could have simply looked at Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Costco, Starbucks, etc., as innovative companies that took wing in the state of Washington.
Jeers: According to The Seattle Times, as many as 550 people living with disabilities in the state might have been deprived for decades of services to which they were entitled. Gov. Jay Inslee has put $4.2 million in his proposed supplemental budget for the state to evaluate the level of services it has been providing, but the cost could be much higher than that. The federal government has estimated that the state faces a $16 million penalty just for two years of denied services to 27 residents at Lakeland Village in the Spokane area.
While the toll could be costly in monetary terms, that isn't the largest concern. The lack of care for disabled citizens is the most pressing issue in this case.
Cheers: A fascinating story from reporter Tom Vogt brought back memories of Columbian photographer Reid Blackburn and the impact that the 1980 Mount St. Helens explosion had on the community. Blackburn was killed in the eruption while working on assignment near the mountain. Recently, a roll of unprocessed black-and-white photos of the mountain, which Blackburn had taken a few weeks before the explosion, was discovered in the offices of The Columbian and developed. The eruption of Mount St. Helens was tragic for many people in Southwest Washington. But the 33-year-old never-before-seen images of the mountain's conical summit evoke a historic period in the region.