In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Economy shows signs of life; county commissioners finally strike a deal

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Cheers: Little by little, signs of an improving local economy are trickling out. The latest bit of good news is another downturn in Clark County foreclosures, one of the strongest indicators of the economy's stability. According to RealtyTrac Inc., a California-based tracking firm, 170 foreclosures were tallied locally in September -- a 25 percent decline from the 226 recorded in September 2012.

That's also a 61 percent decline from September 2010 and a 48 percent drop compared with September 2009. Perhaps more important, the latest September numbers mark the fourth consecutive month in which Clark County foreclosures have shown a year-over-year decline. Among the causes for the change, a key one is rising home values that make it easier for troubled owners to sell. The economy still is far from running at full speed, but some signs suggest that it's least up to a gallop.

Jeers: Admittedly, this one could be a cheer as county officials have approved a contract with the Humane Society for Southwest Washington to house stray animals. But the Clark County commissioners still deserve a jeer for the excessively drawn-out process.

For seven months, commissioners led by David Madore had sought alternatives to using the Humane Society for the housing of strays. We're all in favor of commissioners examining county functions and seeking ways to save money, but their intransigence on this matter was unduly prolonged once it became clear there were no viable alternatives.

Cheers: A proposal to develop a coal export terminal in Longview -- and bring coal-bearing trains through Vancouver -- has generated the kind of citizen activism that is a hallmark of the American system of government. A public meeting Wednesday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds drew an estimated 1,000 people who came to share their opinions.

Opponents to the proposal expressed concerns over the community and environmental impact of the plan. Proponents cited the jobs that would be created and the boost to the economy. For the purposes of Cheers & Jeers, we are not choosing sides on the proposal; we are simply celebrating the community involvement the issue has generated. Individual activism is crucial to making our brand of democracy work, so kudos go out to citizens who choose to play a role in important local matters.

Jeers: Complaints about roundabouts recently constructed in Northeast Vancouver hit home recently. Literally.

A roundabout on Northeast 32nd Circle in the Parkside Neighborhood was the scene of a crash in which a car sped through the roundabout, crashed through a concrete-anchored metal post, and took out a wooden fence before speeding off. The incident is certain to add to consternation over the addition of roundabouts, which are effective in regulating traffic flow but have drawn many complaints. Homeowner Jerry Sutherland asserted that the roundabout in front of his house now brings traffic within about 15 feet of his home's walls, which is a little too close for comfort.

Cheers:Local schools got to show off a bit recently for several members of the House Education Committee. Lawmakers toured facilities and learned about education programs, including Vancouver Public Schools' new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs and a new iTech Preparatory facility.

Local schools have made big strides in recent years in adjusting to the new realities of education and to a nationwide push for science and technology programs. Example: The Evergreen district has opened the Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School. Sharing what they've learned and picking up ideas from state officials can benefit schools both here and elsewhere.