In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Shelter planned for people and pets;ridiculous prices for textbooks



Cheers: To plans for a pet-friendly domestic violence shelter. Two local nonprofits, Pets of Older People and Must Love Dogs Northwest, have come together to work on building the shelter. As envisioned, it would serve two distinct client groups: domestic violence victims who need a place to stay for themselves and their pets, and older people who need a place to leave their pets while they are in a hospital or other care setting.The YWCA's Safe Choice shelter already offers refuge for victims of violence, but can't accept animals. And older folks will sometimes defer important medical care because of concern over their pets. The new shelter is called HAVEN, for Helping Animals, Victims & Elderly in Need. Some support has already been lined up and a capital campaign will kick off on Jan. 23. For more information, call 360-719-5850.

Jeers: To ridiculous costs for college textbooks. As if the tuition and mandatory fees aren't high enough -- $11,386 per year for a full-time student at Washington State University -- book costs have gone up 812 percent since 1978. At Clark College this week, students were picking up a $146 psychology text and paying $165 for a physics book. Used textbooks, rented textbooks or even new technologies such as downloadable e-books cut a little off the price. But you don't have to be an accounting major to realize that books are a major part of college costs, and that prices are far out of line with inflation.

Cheers: To Skamania County's Community Development Department for substituting a human being for one of those infernal "phone trees." The department has a lot of different functions and so pressing 1 for this and 2 for that was likely to be confusing -- if I'm thinking about putting a deck on my house, is that building or planning? -- so reaching a person right away is an extremely welcome proposition to callers. And there are a couple of more welcome rules. If the caller has to leave a message, staff members are asked to return the call within no longer than one business day. And when staff members don't know the answer to a caller's question, they ask the caller to leave a detailed message, so that the answer can be researched before the call is returned.

Jeers: To the hundreds of intoxicated drivers who took to Clark County roads this holiday season. Despite all of the warnings, and defying common sense, these are the selfish fools who didn't have the sense to rely on a designated, sober driver. Law enforcement officers took 194 of these scofflaws off the road between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day in Clark County, and 3,446 statewide. That's fewer than the 2011 totals of 246 impaired driving arrests in Clark County and 3,812 statewide. But in the words of Marion Swendsen, coordinator of the Clark County Target Zero Traffic Safety Program, "it's a significant number of people that are driving impaired."

Cheers: To CID Bio-Science, a Camas company that recently undertook the ultimate recycling project. The company, which designs and sells scientific equipment, bought the forlorn, empty American Legion Hall Post 37 on Third Street. The 10,630-square-foot building looked every day of its 77 years, but as architects would say, it had great bones. A fine example of an Arts and Crafts structure, it was designed by notable local architect Day Walter Hilborn and saw use as a community gathering place during and after World War II before falling into disuse.

CID purchased the building last year, and after a loving restoration, it has been transformed into modern office space. The best features, such as the original posts and beams, have been retained, and long-covered windows are once again revealed. The company even used some old molds from Camas' historical paper mill, turning them into furniture. The building is once again a credit to the city and the busy street that fronts it.