Monday, January 17, 2022
Jan. 17, 2022

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Rules aid wineries, neighbors; Pike gets in trouble with the teacher

The Columbian

Cheers: To spelling out rules regarding events at local wineries. Clark County has witnessed the establishment of several small wineries over the past few years, and business has grown to include not only production of wine, but events such as public concerts and dinners and private parties, including weddings.

While the county as a whole has benefited from the new businesses, noise and traffic have occasionally bothered the neighbors. So it’s fitting that county commissioners are updating their 3-year-old rules regarding retail wineries to spell out limits on noise and food service. The new rules will ban amplified music from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., spell out rules for food service, and define and limit the number of events a winery can host in a calendar year.

Whether or not the rules will do enough to satisfy neighbors or unduly restrict wineries is a matter of legitimate debate. Jeremy Brown, owner of Rusty Grape Vineyards, told county commissioners that his biggest goal is to fit in with the countryside. At the same time, he noted some wineries’ business plans are based on frequent offerings of music and events. At any rate, having well-defined rules should help both vintners and neighbors plan accordingly.

Jeers: To state Rep. Liz Pike’s open letter to teachers. In a Facebook post, the rookie Republican from Camas mockingly congratulates teachers on their long summer vacations and suggests they should “look for work elsewhere” if they are unhappy with their pay. She also blames organized labor for problems with the U.S. education system, writing that education unions “only care about the adults in the system.”

Needless to say, the message has angered Washington teachers, most of whom have had either no raise or an actual pay reduction over the past two years. Pike, who serves on the House Education Committee, could have used the opportunity to make some thoughtful points(with the state’s budget still recovering from recession, can we afford pay increases?). But with this condescending and insulting Facebook post, she accomplishes little but to signal that she isn’t likely to ever be a legitimate force in deciding education budgets and policies.

Cheers: To TEAM Construction, Evergreen Public Schools and everyone else who has chipped in to start making a temporary home for Crestline Elementary pupils. The Feb. 3 fire that destroyed the 1970s-era school left the district scrambling, first to complete the school year, and then for a new longer-term temporary home for next year. Thanks to landlord SEH America, Evergreen quickly reached a deal to lease part of the old Hewlett-Packard facility on Southeast 39th Street, where TEAM Construction is already turning former work spaces into classrooms. New walls are already up, and the plan is to welcome 500 Crestline kids back under one (temporary) roof when school resumes in two months. The school will only be temporary — the district will use insurance proceeds to help rebuild Crestline at its old site — but it will provide lasting memories.

Jeers: To mixed messages over the economic damage the Columbia River Crossing project would cause to upstream metal fabrication businesses. No one disputes that the new fixed spans would be lower than the current Interstate 5 Bridge when the drawspan is open, or that the metal fabricators occasionally ship a large load through the drawbridge. CRC officials have previously estimated that the three companies could take a combined hit of as much as $116 million in lost profits due to the new bridge. A project critic, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, inserted language into a bill that claimed “over $500 million in economic activity each year could be lost in addition to terminating 500 jobs in the surrounding area.” That’s a gap that’s nearly as wide as the river itself.