Cheers: To the Planet Clark Emerald Green House. The latest effort by Evergreen Habitat for Humanity is a model of energy efficiency. In fact, it is green enough to be on track to earn the Emerald designation, the highest award for energy efficiency conferred by the National Association of Home Builders. Assuming it wins certification, it will be the first Emerald home in Clark County.The new home, located in the Northeast Hazel Dell neighborhood, was recently open for a tour before being turned over to homeowners Dennis and Shari Ziesemer. The lighting is energy efficient. Rainwater is collected from the roof into barrels, which in turn water the garden. The hot water outlets are near the water heater, reducing heat loss in piping. And there are many other admirable features. Perhaps the best is the affordable cost of the home -- $129,000 -- compared with the very expensive homes that are generally constructed to green standards. It's comforting to think you can be environmentally conscious without having millions in the bank.
Jeers: To Clark County's continuing odyssey to gain an exemption from stormwater runoff regulations. The latest blow is a May 15 order from U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton for the county to provide more information to bolster its flimsy arguments, which, according to the judge, just don't make sense. That much has been obvious for years, as the county continued to pursue its losing case through the state administrative bureaucracy and now through the state court system. The state standard is strict for urban Western Washington counties: Rainwater must drain from newly developed sites as slowly as it did prior to Euro-American settlement. Other counties have fully complied even as Clark continues to wage its losing battle. It's hard to quantify how much money the county has wasted on unsuccessful appeals; the county uses a salaried attorney from the prosecutor's office. But the county could be hit with millions in penalties and mitigation costs, which continue to mount, after the final appeal is exhausted.
Cheers: To returning lifeguards to Klineline Pond and Salmon Creek Regional Park. The lifeguards were pulled in 2010 due to county budget cuts; since then, there have been several drownings or near-drownings at the popular swimming hole. Commissioner David Madore, a Republican, argued that restoring service is well worth the $120,000 cost. For a while, it appeared he wouldn't have a second vote, but Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, changed his mind, he said after looking at his toddler son. The county is in the process of hiring 10 lifeguards and hopes to staff the pond between July 1 and Labor Day. As Madore said, "It's the most proactive thing we can do to protect life."
Jeers: To secrecy that continues to surround the funding of The I-5 Project Inc., a political action group opposed to the Columbia River Crossing project. Washington's public disclosure laws are intended to let the public know who is lobbying the Legislature. The state Public Disclosure Commission says that the group, which lists a local Republican precinct committee officer as its treasurer, is required to file a donor list. But so far the commission has received only a bunch of legalistic arguments. The public has a right to know who's behind this shadowy group.
Cheers: To fresh local strawberries. Shuksan, Totem, Tillamook, or the local favorite, Hood, local berries provide a flavor unmatched by California's red, strawberry-shaped rocks. Hot weather in early May accelerated the season; berries are ripe now and will be gone by the first week of July. Find them for about $25 per flat at local farmers markets and fruit stands, or pick them yourself in your backyard or at your favorite berry farm.