In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

County fair has that old-timey charm; sea lions threaten Willamette steelhead



Cheers: To the Clark County Fair. The extravaganza concludes its annual run this weekend, and the weather should be a little more agreeable than during last weekend’s heat wave. Gates open at 10 a.m. both today and Sunday at the Clark County Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road in Ridgefield, and the fair is open until 11 tonight and 10 p.m. Sunday. Carnival rides open at noon each day, and the barns will close early on Sunday.

With the traditional rides and livestock displays and vendors and food, county fairs remain a lovable slice of Americana. Clark County’s dates to 1868, when the county had about 3,000 residents and Washington was still decades from becoming a state. Much of American life has changed since then, but county fairs still have an old-timey charm.

Jeers: To threats to Willamette steelhead. A report from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says there is an 89 percent probability that at least one population of winter steelhead on the Willamette River will go extinct in the near future. “It’s pretty dire,” a spokesman said. “If we don’t deal with this near-term risk, there might not be fish.”

The culprit, it seems, are California sea lions that have taken to feasting on the fish below Willamette Falls. This year, 512 native steelhead made their way past the falls to spawning grounds upriver; in the early 2000s, the run was about 15,000. Some lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have pushed for Washington and Oregon authorities to have broader authority to kill sea lions that make their way up the Columbia to feed on salmon and steelhead. The latest report points out the urgency for such a measure.

Cheers: To the Astoria City Council. Leaders of the Oregon city at the mouth of Columbia River have joined the chorus of those opposing a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. “I think the benefits of the terminal project to Astoria definitely don’t outweigh the risks,” one council member said.

Astoria and other cities downstream from Vancouver would face the risk of an accident by an oil-carrying ship. Towns throughout the Columbia River Gorge would be endangered by the possibility of train derailment. The opposition from Astoria adds another voice of concern that should be heeded by Washington state regulators and, eventually, Gov. Jay Inslee in deciding the fate of the proposal.

Jeers: To failing to secure your load. Two gurneys — including one carrying a body — fell out of a coroner’s van and into traffic in Olympia. The Olympian reported: “The gurney occupied by the deceased person was found in the middle of the intersection, while the second gurney rolled down Phoenix Street Southeast and was found in a parking lot near Pacific Avenue Southeast.”

Reports indicated that the driver did not realize the gurneys had fallen out and continued down the road. Police alerted the coroner’s office, and the van returned to the scene. For the person in charge of securing the gurneys in the van, this falls under the meme of “you had one job . . .”

Cheers: To quick action. Columbian newspaper carrier Josh Long alerted a Vancouver family to a house fire this week while on his early morning route. Long saw flames under the porch, called 911, and awakened the homeowners. Firefighters arrived quickly to dowse the flames before they could do much damage.

“The whole thing was pretty surreal,” Long said. “Had I been there 20 minutes earlier or 20 minutes later, it would have been a totally different story.” The lesson, we like to think, is that subscribing to The Columbian provides more benefits than you can imagine.