In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

A good kind of family secret; a sad end for a local family business

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Cheers: Some family secrets are less burdensome than others. Jack MacDonald, a Seattle lawyer who quietly amassed a fortune by investing a bit of inherited family money, died recently at the age of 98, and that's when his secret was revealed. MacDonald, it was announced this week, has donated a total of about $188 million to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital, the University of Washington School of Law, and the Salvation Army."Our family has lived with the 'secret' of Jack's generous fortune for more than 40 years, all while being amazed at his frugal lifestyle and modest demeanor," stepdaughter Regen Dennis said. "He was quirky and eccentric in many ways, and always stayed true to himself by acting on his convictions to do the most good with his wealth." Humble and generous? That's our kind of millionaire.

Jeers: You can't stop the wheels of commerce and changing market forces from turning, but still it's disappointing when a longtime local business closes. Scott Kooistra, whose family has owned the St. Johns IGA store at the corner of St. Johns Road and Fort Vancouver Way for 30 years, has announced that he will be closing up shop on Dec. 28.

Kooistra's father bought the store three decades ago, and for many years it was the epitome of a family-run business. In recent years, Kooistra and wife Christina have been the owners, but business is tough these days for independent grocery stores; the proliferation of national and regional chains has altered the industry. Kooistra and his wife are putting the site up for sale; ideally, some other locally run business will move in and establish its own lengthy run of success.

Cheers: Neighborhood involvement is important for strengthening and adding vitality to communities. With that in mind, we hope that a new Neighbors on Watch program being developed by the Battle Ground Police Department, in conjunction with the Clark County Sheriff's Office, will be a success. The program will enlist volunteers to assist police through observation and awareness of what is going on in their neighborhoods.

Volunteers will go through a seven-week, 27-hour training academy through the Vancouver Police Department, where they learn to observe and report crime. The program will launch Dec. 1, and volunteers will patrol parks and shopping center parking lots during the holiday season. They won't be able to issue citations or make arrests, but through their duties they will be carrying out an important part of citizenship.

Jeers: Holiday travel can be stressful enough without the added burden of weather delays, but that is what millions of travelers are faced with this holiday weekend as storms ravage the East Coast. The day before Thanksgiving is considered the busiest travel day of the year, making the storms particularly untimely.

Americans tend to be spoiled these days, with coast-to-coast travel being easily accessible. Travelers think nothing of visiting families in far-flung places for a brief vacation, expecting their journeys to be quick and efficient. But, as is true in so many aspects of life, Mother Nature often has different ideas. We hope that everybody had or is having safe travels this weekend.

Cheers: One of the shortcomings of schools, we believe, is a lack of civics lessons. Children often do not understand the basics of our political system and the nation's political history. So, kudos go out to mayors Tim Leavitt of Vancouver, Scott Higgins of Camas, and Sean Guard of Washougal.

The mayors recently met with students at Pacific Crest Academy, a Catholic K-8 school in Camas, to provide real-life lessons in civics. Those lessons not only provide students with the nuts-and-bolts of how government works, but they can provide lifelong inspiration for youngsters to become involved with their communities.