In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Vancouver catches retirees' eyes; wildfires nasty fact of summer in N.W.



Cheers: We like to think that Vancouver — and Clark County in general — is a great place to live. After all, that’s why we’re here. Now, Where to Retire magazine has dubbed the area as a great place to retire. “Snuggled against the Columbia River, Vancouver boasts a number of lakes and waterways and a skyline dominated by mountains,” said magazine editor Annette Fuller. “Several nature trails provide access to nearby wetlands and wildlife habitats, and a variety of golf courses are open to the public. Plus, the city has some of the best gardening weather in the nation.”

All true — and those amenities can be desirable for people of any age. Statistics show that 18.3 percent of Clark County’s population is aged 60 and older, which is slightly lower than the state and national averages. But whether you are in retirement or simply working toward that day, this area has plenty to offer for a high quality of life.

Jeers: News reports confirm that this is, indeed, the season for wildfires throughout the Northwest. Two popular trails in the Columbia River Gorge — Dog Mountain and Augspurger — have been closed about 50 miles east of Vancouver. And a series of wildfires have threatened homes and resorts in Central Oregon, a popular vacation destination for many in Clark County.

The Central Oregon fires apparently were caused by humans, although investigations continue, while the cause of the Gorge fire is unknown. Regardless of what triggered the blazes, they serve as a reminder to be ever vigilant regarding fire and sparks as we enjoy the outdoors this summer.

Cheers: Summer gets off to a rousing start this weekend in downtown Vancouver with the Vancouver USA Marathon and the Summer Brewfest in Esther Short Park. Events surrounding the marathon include a half-marathon, a 5-kilometer run and two kids’ races, and organizers say about 3,500 people have signed up to compete. The brewfest includes 25 brewers with 52 taps.

Together, the events kick off a summer packed with activities and community-building endeavors, with many of them in downtown Vancouver. Esther Short Park alone will be home to winefests and arts festivals and concerts and a Hawaiian festival and even a basketball tournament. Esther Short Park has turned into Vancouver’s living room, and everybody is invited to come visit for a spell.

Jeers: This could just as easily be labeled a cheer, depending upon how you choose to view such things. The latest report from the state of Oregon suggests that in 2011, about 59,000 Clark County residents were employed in Oregon.

On one hand, that’s good in the sense that many people find jobs in the Portland area but choose to make their homes in Clark County. On the other hand, that’s bad in the sense that people might not feel compelled to cross the Columbia River if there was adequate employment on this side of the bridge. The truth is that Clark County always will be somewhat of a bedroom community for Portland, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to develop employment opportunities here.

Cheers: Completing a project that was 10 years in the making, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics has installed a triptych of mosaic art celebrating the historical significance of Fort Vancouver, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, and Native American culture. Students drew the original designs for six panels a decade ago, and teacher Jeri Swatosh and artist-in-residence Julie Brown have spearheaded the project over the years. Now it is complete, lending some beauty and a sense of history to the facade of the school on upper Main Street.