Cheers: To the state's College Bound Scholarship program for students from families with low incomes. The Legislature created the program last decade to give middle-schoolers the promise that if they meet certain standards, they will have the opportunity to attend a state college without having to pay tuition.The first scholarship recipients graduated from high school last spring and now 10,000 of them are enrolled in college. Washington State University Vancouver, where tuition tops $11,000 per year, has 44 scholarship recipients. The program is a bright spot in what has otherwise been a bleak picture of higher education access and affordability.
Jeers: To county commissioners' dithering over renewing a contract with the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. By law the county is required to house any animals that are picked up by animal control officers; for many years that service has been provided by the nonprofit group. This year the Humane Society requested a 10 percent increase for next year and another 9 percent increase for 2015 in its two-year contract. The commissioners balked.
First David Madore refused to sign until he found out how much the nonprofit's employees earned. He later was shown some information and publicly declared his satisfaction. But he still wouldn't vote for the contract after his fellow Republican on the board, Tom Mielke, objected on the grounds he was "feeling uncomfortable" without giving any specifics. At week's end the contract was still not done.
It's proper — probably even commendable — for commissioners to ask for specifics before signing a contract, particularly when an increase is requested. But the time for questions has come and gone. Commissioners should either approve the contract, seek another vendor, or prepare to take in those stray puppies and kittens themselves.
Cheers: To including information on Washington's age-of-consent laws in public schools' sex education classes. Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, properly points out that students learn about the biology and the morality of sex, but don't know the law. Internet posts and varying laws among the states only add to the already legendary teenage confusion surrounding this topic. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and deserves the same treatment in the Senate.
By the way, Washington's age-of-consent law varies depending on the different ages of the people involved, and whether one party was in a position of influence, such as a coach or adviser.
Jeers: To wasting time in Washougal. The city council was the latest to divert its attention from municipal affairs to consider an inflammatory if meaningless resolution opposing the Columbia River Crossing. Some of the project's most bitter opponents, led by state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, have been urging this inaccurate time-waster on the county's small town city councils. On March 18, Battle Ground councilors spent time and energy before rejecting a resolution. In Washougal's case, the notion occupied a chunk of this week's meeting and will be back up for discussion again at the next council meeting.
Cheers: To an ingenious deal the Salvation Army worked to support its core mission of charity, its thrift store business and impoverished farmers in Vietnam. Like any good army, the Salvation Army runs on coffee, which is served in large quantities at its recovery centers. Now some of the charity's thrift stores, including the one in Hazel Dell, are offering free cups of the Vietnam-grown coffee to shoppers. It's a good customer incentive, but the mission goes deeper.
By purchasing the beans directly from the farmers at a price above wholesale, it funds infrastructure projects there. The quality of the coffee — it's mostly robusto, preferred by coffee aficionados — is a bonus.