In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Clark County's finest is honored;a local institution goes away



Cheers: It's easy to see why Robert Schaefer was honored recently as the 2013 selection for Clark County's First Citizen. A former Democratic state legislator and still-practicing lawyer at the age of 83, Schaefer's imprint on the community can be found in numerous places — Battle Ground Lake State Park, the Vancouver campus of Washington State University, and even Clark County's child care consortium. Schaefer has worked for years in one fashion or another to make Clark County a better place to live.So, in receiving the honor, it was certainly not a surprise that Schaefer provided some words that might inspire future First Citizens: "We have a can-do community. My prayer is that each of us can participate in some way in carrying out this can-do community in the future."

Jeers: After 48 years and who knows how many slices of pepperoni, Smokey's Pizza in Hazel Dell has closed up shop. At one time, Smokey's was a chain of seven restaurants, including one in Portland. But after owner Wayne Redjou was diagnosed with nonsmoking throat cancer and battled the disease until his death in January 2012, the company scaled back operations. An Orchards location was closed earlier this year, and the closure of the Hazel Dell restaurant brought an end to a local institution.

In addition to missing out on some good pizza, the loss of a local company can impact the community in various ways. Over the years, Smokey's sponsored numerous sports teams, schools and scholarship programs, living up to the meaning of "locally owned."

Cheers: As far as marketing campaigns go, this was a clever and effective one. The PeaceHealth Southwest Foundation raised more than $500,000 through a fundraising campaign to build a new surgical theater at its Heart and Vascular Center. The centerpiece of the campaign was the auction of 30 fiberglass HeArts -- 6-foot tall structures with a large fiberglass heart at the top that were decorated by local artists. The colorful HeArts were placed around town several weeks before the auction, and they were attention grabbers.

Most important, the gala exceeded PeaceHealth's goal of raising $500,000 through ticket sales, donations and the auction. The surgical suite will accommodate both minimally invasive procedures and major procedures such as open-heart surgery.

Jeers: Clark County has cut funding for its Watershed Stewards program. The environmental education program, which involved some 100 volunteers, fell victim to concerns over the budget for the county's Clean Water Program. Don Benton, director of the Department of Environmental Services, last month informed county commissioners that the clean water fund was facing shortfalls.

Tight budgets happen, and sometimes cuts need to be made. It's not necessarily a misstep on the part of the county, but it is disappointing that a popular program is being deleted.

Cheers: In what is a relatively easy and inexpensive move that could save numerous lives, 60 Vancouver police patrol vehicles — and 19 Vancouver Fire Department administrative staff vehicles — have been equipped with automated external defibrillators. Thanks to an $87,000 grant from American Medical Response through the Clark County EMS Council, local residents who experience cardiac arrest now have a much better chance of survival.

Quick intervention can make all the difference when it comes to cardiac arrest. Publicly accessible buildings typically have AEDs available, and a recent study has shown that bystander CPR improves survival rates for victims. Having AEDs carried by police and fire personnel will make a big difference for some Clark County families when they need it most.