Cheers: Literally, in this case, to East Fork Cellars. The Ridgefield winery has leased the Slocum House in the southwest corner of Esther Short Park and will use it for wine sales, wine tasting and a venue for live music and private events such as weddings. The historic house, built in 1867, was used for decades by a local theater troupe but wasn't open to the public except during performances. The thespians left last year, and the house has sat largely vacant since then.A grand opening is planned for July. Already there are many reasons to applaud the new lease. The new tenant blends well with the adjacent Vancouver Farmers Market. The landlord -- the city of Vancouver -- will gain from rent that starts at $1,500 per month, and the winery's owners have promised to make improvements to the home's interior. Finally, it brings more opportunities for the public to explore and enjoy the historic building.
Jeers: To sneaky raises for top TriMet managers. For months the Portland transit agency has lamented its financial woes. Already burdened by a bloated pension system, TriMet is running a $12 million deficit, has cut bus service five times in four years, and recently saddled riders with the biggest fare increase in its history, according to The Oregonian.
So it's no wonder that top executive Neil McFarlane tried to keep the raises, which totaled $910,000, under wraps. In fact, he even bragged he'd frozen the pay of nonunion workers. The reality? One executive, already earning $166,000, got a $14,000 raise. A light-rail program manager got a nearly 18 percent pay boost. The public relations person on the embattled Portland-Milwaukie light-rail line got an 8.24 percent increase, bringing her pay to $118,000. McFarlane later told The Oregonian: "We didn't do a very good job" with transparency on the matter. No kidding. TriMet's board would do well to hold McFarlane accountable for these shenanigans.
Cheers: To a successful two-year experiment with beer- and wine-tasting at farmers markets. For years tasting of these products was illegal; a pilot program allowed tastings in 2011-12 at 10 sites, including the Vancouver Farmers Market. The tastings were successful. Vendors reported sales increased as much as 400 percent with virtually no alcohol-related problems. Now Senate Bill 5674 would allow up to three microbreweries or wineries per day to offers samples at a farmers market. The bill passed the state Senate 41-8 and is before the House. It comes with appropriate restrictions, such as limiting samples to no more than two two-ounce samples per customer per day. Vendors must also offer food and must have the appropriate alcohol server's permit. The bill is a good idea and should be enacted into law.
Jeers: To school districts that isolate or restrain children without telling the parents. Physically restraining students or putting them in special time-out rooms (some of them padded) is an unfortunate reality. Left unchecked, out-of-control students could harm themselves or someone else. Most school districts let parents know when they have had to take such steps, but it's not a requirement. A bill by career educator and state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, would require districts to let parents know if force is used for longer than two minutes to control their child, or if the child is excluded from class and placed in an enclosure he cannot leave. House Bill 1688 passed the House unanimously on Wednesday and deserves the same approval in the Senate.
Cheers: To groundbreaking for the Southeast 20th Street extension in Camas. The $4.8 million project bisects land zoned for commercial development. In an era when politicians bray about opening the roads to local development, here's an example of something actually getting done.