Cheers: To Randall Johnson. While not a household name, Johnson’s work is known far and wide. That came to mind the other day with a photo heralding the start of the school year at Washington State University Vancouver emblazoned across the front page of The Columbian. The photo prominently featured a crimson WSU flag with its familiar logo — the letters WSU forming the outline of a Cougar head.
The distinguished logo was created by Johnson in 1936 — originally with WSC, as the college was known at the time. With only a slight update, it has endured as one of the most effective forms of branding for any university in the country. The logo also has gained notoriety by being flown above the crowd at ESPN’s pregame show every football Saturday since 2003 — regardless of the location of the game. Students arriving at WSUV this week were greeted by proud flag-waving Cougars, probably unaware that they have Johnson to thank for it.
Jeers: To fake abductions. On Wednesday, witnesses reported that five or six men dressed in white plastic jumpsuits and hoods grabbed three victims and restrained them with zip ties at Heritage Park in Olympia. The following day, the Washington State Patrol confirmed that the “abduction” was a hoax.
We’re still not clear why somebody would fake an abduction and the “victims” would holler for witnesses to call 911, but we’re pretty sure it’s a bad idea. The hoax wasted the time of law enforcement and sent a chill through the community. Prosecutors say they are considering potential charges.
Cheers: To reducing plastic. Kroger, the parent company for Fred Meyer and QFC stores, has announced plans to phase out plastic grocery bags. As the nation’s largest grocery chain, the company orders about 6 billion plastic bags each year — a number that adds some perspective about how much plastic Americans use in their daily lives.
Stores will provide brown paper bags for shoppers, but the goal is to eventually have customers bring reusable bags with them. One small complaint — the company does not expect to eliminate plastic until 2025, meaning that billions of bags will be used between now and then. But the move will help bring attention to the growing problem that is plastic waste in the environment, and hopefully will inspire other grocery chains to follow suit.
Jeers: To radioactive waste. The U.S. Department of Energy is pursuing a plan to reclassify waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, allowing it to stay on the site. The proposal would change the designation of the waste from “high-level” to “low-level” and would leave it in storage tanks to be filled with concrete.
Hanford sits close to the Columbia River about 200 miles upstream from Vancouver, and for decades the federal government has eschewed its obligation to clean up the site. Instead, the nation should follow through on a plan approved by Congress to create a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. The risks to Washington, Oregon and the Columbia River are too great to ignore.
Cheers: To addressing homelessness. The city of Vancouver for the first time is accepting proposals for its homeless shelter fund. Three proposals have been submitted for a portion of $600,000 in available funding to improve existing shelters.
The shelter fund is a piece of the Affordable Housing Fund, approved by Vancouver voters in 2016. That fund has distributed $5.6 million for housing construction, preservation and rental assistance, but thus far has not addressed shelters for homeless people. Spending money on the problem will not eliminate homelessness in our community, but effective management of the fund can help mitigate the problem and improve the city’s livability for all residents.