In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Tusk almost ready for its debut;drivers need to pay attention to the road

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Cheers: After waiting underground for 20,000 years or so, a few more weeks or months won't hurt. However long it takes, an ancient tusk from either a mammoth or a mastodon is almost ready for public display.Since being unearthed three years ago during highway construction in Ridgefield, the tusk -- about 3 feet long when the two pieces are assembled -- has been undergoing preservation work, primarily by being soaked in an acrylic sealant to prevent degradation. That has taken place in the garage of an archaeologist for the Washington State Department of Transportation, which doesn't sound nearly dignified enough for such an ancient relic. Officials are trying to determine where the artifact eventually will be displayed, but whether the resting place is local or at the University of Washington's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the tusk always will have a connection to Clark County.

Jeers: A recent study by the University of Washington revealed that more than 8 percent of drivers on the state's roads are distracted by electronic devices, including many who are sending text messages. Researchers observed 7,800 motorists at intersections in six counties throughout the state, reporting that nearly half of drivers using electronic devices were observed texting.

The study, experts say, suggests that texting is more prevalent and more dangerous than suspected. "After a collision, drivers almost never admit they were texting," said Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. "We believe the problem has, until now, been drastically underreported." With an avalanche of news stories and public-information campaigns designed to curb texting and driving, it's frustrating to think that the problem still exists. On the other hand, it took many years of dedicated campaigns to turn drinking and driving into a social stigma, but eventually those efforts paid off.

Cheers: As if Habitat for Humanity did not already do enough good work, its latest project tops even previous efforts. Students from Mountain View and Evergreen high schools combined to build a house that was put in place this week on the 3700 block of Lincoln Avenue. Mountain View students constructed the back half of the dwelling over the past year, while Evergreen students worked on the front half. Now the parts have all come together.

Habitat for Humanity works to build low-cost housing for families in need, providing loans with zero percent interest and relying on sweat equity -- from the eventual owners and from volunteers -- to keep costs down. The latest project was the 29th home built by the local Evergreen chapter of the national organization.

Jeers: The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors in Northern California has voted to secede from the state, and it is hoping to bring some counties from Southern Oregon along to form the state of Jefferson. Secession would require approval from the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress, which means that a 51st state is unlikely. But Washingtonians should keep an eye on developments in this matter -- the state of Jefferson would mean that we have some competition in the "best state named for a president" contest.

Cheers: For 75 years now, the Vancouver Trout Hatchery has been raising and releasing fish that feed the community and the local economy. The hatchery, built during The Great Depression as part of the New Deal economic stimulus program, raises nearly 90,000 trout a year to stock local lakes and hatches about 275,000 steelhead annually for release into rivers.

Operated since 1997 by Clark Public Utilities -- at an annual cost of $285,000 -- the hatchery helps buoy a local fishery that draws anglers from near and far. It also serves as a popular spot for educational field trips by school groups and various scouting groups.