In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Decline in Clark enrollment positive sign; tree mishap shows rules a good thing



Cheers: Enrollment at Clark College is down — and that actually is good news. Traditionally, when unemployment is high, the number of students attending two-year colleges is high, as well. Displaced workers might attend school to receive new training, and students who otherwise would have left school for the workforce might decide to stay in class.

Therefore, it is a good sign that Clark’s enrollment for winter term is 12,578, a drop from 13,477 a year ago. When the local economy bottomed out in 2010, and unemployment was nearly 16 percent, Clark’s enrollment reached 16,500. Community colleges can serve as a vital component of a local economy. By their nature, they can react quickly to economic changes and provide job-specific training for people who are altering their career or those preparing to enter the workforce for the first time. Still, it’s an indication of success for the region when fewer people want to go there.

While some people like to complain about governmental over-regulation or excessive permitting requirements for this activity or that activity, sometimes there is a very good reason for the requirements. A 110-foot-tall Douglas fir recently took down a power line and crashed onto Northeast 28th Street as a man was attempting to remove it from a vacant lot. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but the incident closed the street for several hours.

Police say the property owner had not procured the proper permit for removing the tree. There’s no telling whether the permit could have prevented the accident, but it would have increased the odds of the project being done in the most professional fashion possible.

When it comes to sports allegiance, Clark County is finding itself in the perfect spot. Being in Washington, local residents can embrace the Seattle Seahawks, who play the New Orleans Saints today in the NFL playoffs. Having the Seahawks qualify for the postseason is nothing particularly new, but this year they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl. If they can make a long run through the playoffs, you can bet that Clark County residents will gladly embrace the Seahawks as “our” team.

On the other hand, locals also can embrace the Portland Trail Blazers — and this year, they might actually want to. Portland surprisingly has one of the best records in the NBA, and this season already has provided more thrills than the past several years combined. They can be “our” team, too, giving Clark County the best of both worlds.

This one could turn to a cheer if Clark County commissioners take effective action, but for now they appear to be making life difficult for local wineries. After much discussion last year, commissioners in July set new rules for noise standards, food service, and other aspects at wineries in the county’s rural areas. For example, the cost of a permit was set at $228 for a winery that has its own roadway, and $2,284 for a winery that shares a private roadway with others.

The changes caught at least one winery owner by surprise, leading them to fear they will have to go out of business. County commissioners promised to work with owners to make the situation manageable, but improved communication could help prevent problems before they start.

Cheers: The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District has identified its most popular titles from 2013, and that report reflects the changing nature of the library business. Modern libraries include DVDs, audiobooks and even MP-3 devices. The library has something for every type of consumer.