Cheers: To better security cameras coming to C-Tran buses. Clark County's transit agency is planning a $1.35 million fleetwide upgrade this year that will replace 1990s technology with higher quality cameras and a video system that is much easier to view. With the current system, it can take as long as two to three hours to retrieve a recording, view it, and reload the recorder onto the bus. The new system provides for wireless downloading.Of course, most C-Tran trips are routine. But the cameras are useful for resolving customer complaints, such as a bus missing a stop, or validating the truth of a claim for injury or property damage. Occasionally the bus cameras record an accident or crime, such as the recent horrific crash on Highway 99 that killed a motorist and critically injured a pedestrian. And there is a short greatest-hits reel that includes two goats that tried to board a bus. Critical or mundane, the new cameras will provide a clearer view of C-Tran's world.
Jeers: To New Year's Eve fireworks. Most local governments long ago banned the sale and discharge of personal fireworks around New Year's. Battle Ground is the sole local exception; the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce sells the fireworks for five days leading up to a six-hour legal window for discharging them. The chamber nets between $3,000 and $4,000 for its programs from the sales.
But the cost to the public is much greater. The cacophony could be heard in various neighborhoods around the county where fireworks were not legal, or beyond the posted hours. And in Battle Ground, the improper disposal of used fireworks was to blame for a fire that caused an estimated $265,000 to a home and $10,000 to each of two neighboring residences. The celebration just isn't worth it.
Cheers: To less-lethal weapons in police arsenals. Some police calls require officers to use physical restraint. Once in a great while, deadly force must be used. In between these extremes lies the need for less-lethal weapons. The arsenal has grown in recent years to include Taser devices, guns that fire sponge batons, and "grenades" full of rubber balls that can be used for crowd control. All of these weapons are dangerous. In some cases, death is possible. So it's regrettable when police have to use this type of force. But it's encouraging to know that they have these tools available to defuse a dangerous situation.
Jeers: To a ban on allowing American citizens to adopt Russian children. Russia's president, Vladmir Putin, signed such a bill last month, putting these happy homes out of reach. The Associated Press reported the bill is widely viewed as retaliation against an American law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators. So once again children are caught by the political infighting of adults. The adoption ban has local ramifications, too; at least one local adoption agency says it had a half-dozen clients who were in the early stages of adopting Russian orphans. They will have to look elsewhere to find a child in need of a good home.
Cheers: To Karl Johnson, an alternative-education teacher at Summit View Middle School in Battle Ground. Johnson's quest is to turn the former Girl Scout Camp Julianna into Camp Hope, a place of transformative outdoor education for children who do better in alternative rather than traditional classrooms. He convinced Clark County, which owns the 107-acre site near the East Fork of the Lewis River, to lease it for $1 per year, and is raising money to get Camp Hope up and running. But financial support from the schools and the government is scarce, and the needs are great. The opportunity is even greater.