In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Clark County in the race for runners; flap over 'Trapper' painting needless drama



Cheers: Clark County's status as a burgeoning haven for runners got a couple of boosts this week. On Sunday, competitors in the Vancouver Lake Half Marathon enjoyed sunny skies and relatively warm weather for their 13.1-mile run. Jesse McChesney won the men's race and Susie Scott took the women's title in the event that supports the Clark County Running Club's scholarship fund. Scott said: "I was tired this morning waking up but I thought, 'I have to do it. It's so great outside.'"

To top that off, the Vancouver Marathon, which is held in June, received some national recognition. Runner's World named the 4-year-old event as one of the top nine "new" marathons and as one of the nation's top 10 "Fun-Feature Filled Marathons." Race organizer Brian Davis said: "It shows the hard work and passion that we've been driving for the past four years." The running culture long has been ingrained in the Northwest, and Vancouver is doing a good job of being imbedded in that culture.

Jeers: Everybody but the students earn jeers for the flap surrounding the painting of a softball dugout at Fort Vancouver High School. Coach Crystal Wallace asked students to create artwork for the team's dugout, and the result was a spray-painted graffiti-style mural of giant letters spelling out "Trapper," the name of the school's mascot. Now, district officials say they will paint over the artwork because it was not approved ahead of time through proper channels.

Wallace probably should have thought about having the project cleared before allowing students to paint on school property. But now that the project is completed -- in an artistic, stylistic fashion to which students can actually relate -- it makes little sense to spend time and money covering it up.

Cheers: A report on Clark County's general fund isn't worthy of huzzahs, but a tepid cheer is in order. "Despite some major challenges in 2013, we've managed to prevent any further erosion of the general fund's financial position," said budget director Bob Stevens, who described the fund as "fragile but stable." Hey, these days, that's not bad.

Of note: Expenditures came in $2.8 million under budget for 2013, and the county made an initial payment on a $10 million loan taken out to pay a legal settlement to two men who spent 17 years in prison before being exonerated. But the county has been dipping into its reserve fund, which means that some hard budget decisions will have to be made soon.

Jeers: Downtown Vancouver could soon be losing one of its fixtures. Sparks Home Furnishings has been in the area since 1882 — and at the corner of Broadway and Evergreen Boulevard since 1951 — but now it likely is closing as owner Tom Craig plans to sell the property.

The loss of a local, family-owned business that has been in downtown for four generations is a loss for the city, reflecting the difficulties facing small businesses these days. Kudos to Sparks for being part of the community for four generations; it will be missed.

Cheers: Some cheers are tinged with a sense of sadness. Such is the case as we salute Tony Perkins, who died this week from a heart attack at the age of 49, and cheer the vital work he performed.

Perkins was best known in the area for sharing his story of recovery from substance abuse and for spearheading the growth of a network of drug-free, self-managed Oxford Houses in Washington and Oregon. Among Perkins' many organizational endeavors was the annual Hands Across the Bridge, where people in recovery form a human chain across the Interstate 5 Bridge. That event serves as an appropriate metaphor for the length of Perkins' reach in the community.