Cheers: To U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. The Washington Democrat recently convened a conference with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to hear experts discuss the issues surrounding the transport of crude oil by rail. With a spate of derailments and explosions over the past couple years, the need for federal attention is obvious, but first officials must be well-versed on the dangers involved.
Locally, oil trains have been a frequent topic of discussion as an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver is under consideration. But whether or not the terminal is approved and built, oil trains will continue to travel through the region. The need for strict federal regulations and oversight is necessary for the protection of the environment and the citizens, and inaction should not be considered a viable option.
Jeers: To distracted drivers. Compared with the rest of the state, Clark County has a problem with drivers not paying attention. In 2015, about 35 percent of serious-injury accidents in the county involved distracted drivers, while statewide the number was about 28 percent.
More often than not, “distracted” driving means a motorist was talking, texting, or using some app on their phone when an accident occurred. The trend has contributed to an overall rise in the number of serious-injury accidents that is making the roads less safe for all of us. It shouldn’t need to be reiterated, but apparently is does: Pay attention to the road when driving, not your phone.
Cheers: To endless possibilities in Washougal. The site that was the former Parker House restaurant and later a planned eatery that never came to fruition has been put up for sale. In 2011, William Sherertz constructed a building for what he envisioned as The Black Pearl restaurant, but Sherertz died before his dream could be realized.
Now, the building near the confluence of the Columbia and Washougal rivers, overlooking the Port of Camas-Washougal marina, is available for purchase. With Washougal continuing to grow and establishing a niche as a thriving community — and with a revamped Highway 14 passing near the area — the site has the potential to become a landmark in the region.
Bummer: To the end of food festivals at St. Joseph. The Catholic parish in southeast Vancouver has declared an end to a 44-year-old tradition. For decades, the Vancouver Sausage Fest drew revelers from throughout the region to its carnival rides, food booths, and crafts, providing a social event that reached well beyond the church community.
But times change and tastes change, and local residents have many more options for food and entertainment than they did when the festival started in the early 1970s. After a one-year try at an International Food Festival failed to generate enough interest to make the event worthwhile, St. Joseph officials have called it a day. For many people in the area, the festival was an annual family outing that will be missed.
Cheers: To The Joy Team. Started in Vancouver as a mother-daughter project — by McKeag Larsen and Taryn Dehn Larsen — to spread positive messages throughout the community, The Joy Team recently held its annual Chalk The Walks event. Focusing upon Main Street in uptown Vancouver, the team covered sidewalks with uplifting slogans and inspirational sayings.
According to the nonprofit organization’s website, more than 37,000 volunteer chalkers throughout the world took part in this year’s event, which also extends to the posting of positive messages on billboards. The stated mission is “building community by spreading joy, optimism & inspiration” — an idea that helps make the world just a little bit brighter.