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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

New downtown housing options, Ridgefield’s smarts reasons to celebrate

The Columbian
Published: February 20, 2016, 6:01am

Cheers: To increased housing in downtown Vancouver. The opening of Lincoln Place and the development of two affordable apartment complexes hopefully will make a small dent in the city’s homeless crisis.

Lincoln Place is a 30-unit apartment building designed to serve the chronically homeless. It embraces the philosophy of “housing first,” providing shelter as a way to help people get back on their feet rather than forcing residents to be clean and sober first. The philosophy is a relatively new social experiment and will require measurable metrics to assess its effectiveness. Meanwhile, the 15 West complex, which will open soon, and 13 West, now under construction, will provide low-cost housing. By themselves, the projects will not completely release the pressure on Vancouver’s housing market, but they might help to ease it.

Jeers: To county Councilor David Madore. Now that he no longer is part of the majority coalition on the Clark County council, Madore has taken to referring to the “new liberal majority” on the council. Madore is free to label other councilors if he feels the need, but he should recognize that divisiveness has not made him an effective councilor.

First of all, each of the four councilors is a Republican and while council Chair Marc Boldt has stated no party preference, he has long been a Republican. Second of all, many people don’t consider “liberal” to be the pejorative that Madore apparently believes it is. Most important, however, is that Madore’s caterwauling seems more suited to the elementary school playground than a county council meeting. Fortunately, none of the other councilors have sunk to Madore’s maturity level and responded with, “I know you are, but what am I?”

Cheers: To Holly Halberg, a freshman at Battle Ground High School. Halberg has been selected as the Washington winner in a national K-12 contest to create a Google Doodle that will appear on the website’s home page for a day.

Halberg’s drawing now competes against other state winners, with voting online through Monday (www.google.com/doodle4google). Four of the winners will receive a $5,000 college scholarship, and the eventual winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship. “Someday, I want to have my own photography business and be an interior designer,” Halberg said. She has demonstrated the talent to make those ambitions reach fruition.

Sad: Gunnar Robert Wassman has died at the age of 96. While he wasn’t a reporter or an editor, the name Robert Wassman appeared in The Columbian as often as just about anybody over the past couple decades.

A native of Sweden, he settled in Vancouver in 1985 and since then frequently shared his opinions in the paper’s “Our readers’ views” section. As his son, Brian, wrote: “Although some people did not agree with his opinions that he shared in his many letters to The Columbian, he was really only concerned with trying to make the world a better place.” Wassman was an example of how the paper’s letters to the editor — and its online comments — truly are the people’s forum.

Cheers: To Ridgefield. Among Washington’s 118 largest cities, Ridgefield has been deemed the smartest by Zippia.com. In measuring two factors — the percentage of residents older than 25 who have a high school diploma, and the percentage of high school dropouts — Ridgefield, north of Vancouver, ranks No. 1 in the state and is the only Clark County city to rank in the Top 10.

Of course, there are many ways to measure the smartest populations. But for the city of about 5,000 residents, being No. 1 is quite an honor.

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