In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Clark College offers options for students; stink bugs are annoying gardeners



Cheers: Clark College opened classes for the 2013-14 school year this week, and among the changes is an expansion into the Columbia River Gorge. The school has opened a satellite location at the Wind River Education Center in Carson, some 50 miles east of Vancouver. Previously, residents from that part of the state needed to travel 20 miles or more to attend the nearest community college — and that was in Oregon.In recent years, Clark has expanded beyond its main campus in central Vancouver to offer classes at the Columbia Tech Center in the east part of town and on the Washington State University Vancouver campus in the Salmon Creek area. College officials also expect a record number of students in the Running Start program, which allows high school students to earn college credit at little or no cost. Those are just many ways in which Clark is living up to the “community” portion of its mission.

Jeers: As Todd Murray of the Washington State University Extension service says, “Once you smell it, you’ll smell it all over the place.” Murray was talking about the brown marmorated stink bug, and gardeners throughout the area are becoming all too familiar with them.

The mottled brown-and-gray bugs are relatively new to Clark County, but they are making their presence felt, er, smelled. According to a story in The Columbian, “The bugs feed on about 300 types of plants. They use their straw-shaped mouth piece to stab plants and suck up the juices, leading to deformed leaves and dark, spongy blemishes on fruit.” As Murray added: “To add insult to injury, pretty much all plants we like, they like also.”

Cheers: After three years of renovations, the Washington School for the Deaf has unveiled an updated 637-seat Lloyd Auditorium. Among the additions are three large screens that will allow students with hearing impairments to get an up-close view of the action on stage, and transducers that create vibrations allowing people on stage to feel a performance.

Since 1886, WSD has brought needy students from all over the state to Vancouver, and since 1888 it has been at its current location about two miles east of downtown. Along the way, the school has provided thousands of students with the skills they need to thrive in the world.

Jeers: Fall has arrived, both officially and weather-wise. There has been a chill in the air and, as Columbian weather columnist Patrick Timm noted, migrating geese have been passing through the area on their way to warmer climates.

Periodic storms have rolled through the area in recent weeks, bringing rain and wind and falling branches, providing a harbinger of what the coming months will hold. We’ll hold out hope for an Indian Summer in the coming weeks, for one final blast of summer, but those hopes will be slim. Meanwhile, we’ll begin reconciling ourselves to the fact that it’s the rain — months and months of rain — that helps give our region one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Cheers: After three years of lighter crops, Washington vineyards are expecting a bumper crop of grapes this year. Most important, winemakers say this year’s crop is getting rave reviews for its flavor.

Washington has grown into the No. 2 state in the country in terms of wine production, with 12 million cases a year, according to the Washington Wine Commission, and this year’s crop is expected to challenge the 2012 record of 188,000 tons. Wineries generate $1 billion of revenue annually, and wine-related tourism generates another $1 billion. Cheers to another delicious year.