In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Purchase of Academy gets major boost; 'litter fee' makes Clark County look silly

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Cheers: The Academy, an iconic symbol of Vancouver constructed 141 years ago by none other than Mother Joseph, is that much closer to the next destination on its journey through history. The locally based M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has contributed a $650,000 challenge grant toward the building’s purchase by the Fort Vancouver National Trust.

Considering the structure’s location — just across Interstate 5 from the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site — and its traditional ties to the area surrounding the fort, purchase by the Fort Vancouver National Trust would make a lot of sense. If organizers can match the Murdock grant, they will be about halfway toward the $10.6 million purchase price, reached in agreement with Vancouver’s Hidden family, which has owned the building since 1969. The future of the Academy has been in limbo for some time, but ownership by a group that can build off of its historic importance would be beneficial to the city.

Jeers: It is rather unusual for a newspaper to write an editorial about a county government some 130 miles from its doorstep, but “unusual” is somewhat, um, er, usual for Clark County government. The (Tacoma) News Tribune has weighed in on the county’s proposal for a “litter fee” on newspapers that, as proposed, would just so happen to apply only to The Columbian.

“Retaliation? How could anyone imagine such a thing? . . .” the editorial asked, noting that The Columbian has questioned many of the commissioners’ questionable moves. “Scenarios like this are precisely why the framers put the freedom of the press in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.” Yes, the absurdity of the Clark County commissioners has leaked beyond our borders, turning our government into a laughingstock in other parts of the state.

Cheers: Vancouver city officials are right to seek an independent assessment of the region’s readiness for possible oil spills, explosions or other accidents. An oil terminal has been proposed for the Port of Vancouver, and, as Deputy Fire Chief Dan Olson said, “We don’t have experience with this kind of crude or volume.”

City officials were slow to weigh in on the proposal, but now they are taking a proper leadership role in considering the potential impact. “We’re treading carefully and transparently to make sure Vancouver citizens’ needs are met,” Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said. When it comes to weighing those needs as they relate to the oil terminal, no stone should remain unturned.

Jeers: A recent Columbian examination of crime throughout Clark County revealed that this area isn’t immune to epidemics: Identity theft is on the rise. In fact, that type of crime rose by about 33 percent from 2012 to 2013 in Clark County — just as it has throughout much of the country.

The good news is that property crime and violent crime in Clark County dropped from 2012 to 2013, but faceless, electronic crimes such as fraud, forgery, and identification theft saw a dramatic increase. As Clark County sheriff’s Detective Tom Mitchum said, “Technology has a grip on everybody’s identity,” and that means everybody is a potential victim.

Cheers: Heroes aren’t born; they are created by extraordinary reactions to extraordinary circumstances. Such was the case for Martha Munoz, a Columbian carrier who was making her deliveries at 2 a.m. Wednesday when she spotted smoke coming from a garage.

Munoz called 911 and then knocked on doors and windows to wake the people inside the house. Firefighters responded and put out the blaze, which was contained to the garage but destroyed all the contents inside. “She just did it to save the people. She doesn’t really feel all that brave,” said Munoz’s son, Jose. Heroic, indeed.