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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Thanksgiving meals bring comfort to many; missionary’s death tragic event

The Columbian
Published: November 24, 2018, 6:03am

Cheers: To Thanksgiving generosity. Several locales in Clark County offered free holiday meals to those who might otherwise not have a place to eat. For Chuck Chronis, who helped provide dinner at WareHouse ’23, it marked his 51st year of offering a Thanksgiving meal. He has teamed with state Court of Appeals Judge Rich Melnick since 1982, and in recent years they have been joined by WareHouse ’23 owner Mark Matthias. Dinners also were offered at Luepke Center, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Washougal Community Center, and Living Hope Church.

As Lisa Wattles, one of the patrons at WareHouse ’23, told The Columbian, “Nobody should eat alone, unless they want to.” Volunteer John Seeking added, “For a little bit, people are just able to sit down just like anyone else and feel comfortable and enjoy a meal.” Cheers go to all those who provided meals to the less fortunate in our community.

Jeers: To a series of bad decisions. The article covering this item pretty much sums it up: “A Vancouver man pinned his leg under his own car after he bailed from the vehicle while fleeing police in Happy Valley, Ore.” John Gellatly was hospitalized with a broken leg and is facing charges following the incident.

Police had responded to a report of a car prowler. When they approached Gellatly’s car, the suspect sped off and a chase ensued. Officers punctured his tires, and Gellatly exited the car without putting it in park. As the article explains: “When he tried to cut in front of the car, it crashed into a building and tree, and pinned his leg under one of its flattened wheels.” In the process, Gellatly earned multiple jeers.

Cheers: To doing the right thing. When Tanya Schmalz of Battle Ground allegedly attempted to enlist two friends for help with killing her ex-husband, the friends instead alerted police in the man’s hometown of Hillsboro, Ore. One of them even wore a wire to record the plot being discussed.

An indictment was filed Tuesday charging Schmalz with two counts of attempted murder, and an affidavit says she told police, “I would love for him to be dead.” The convoluted plot is worthy of jeers, but Schmalz’s friends deserve cheers for contacting police. They might, however, want to reconsider the company they keep.

Sad: The death of John Allen Chau. The 26-year-old Christian missionary from Clark County apparently was killed by tribal residents of North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal. Local fishermen reported seeing Chau’s body dragged by tribesmen and buried on the beach.

The incident has drawn international attention because island residents are among the last known humans untouched by modern society. They often react aggressively to outsiders, and contact is restricted by authorities in India. Much discussion likely will ensue about the decision by Chau, a graduate of Vancouver Christian High School, to contact the island, but that will not lessen the loss felt by those who knew him.

Cheers: To raising the smoking age. State Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, who was recently elected to his fifth term in the Legislature, says he will again push to raise the age for purchasing tobacco and vapor products in Washington from 18 to 21. “It will improve the quality of life for these kids later in life,” Harris said. “It truly will.”

Such a move also would reduce health care expenditures throughout the state. With alcohol and marijuana being illegal for residents under 21, it makes sense to add tobacco to the list. National studies have shown that nearly all adult smokers started before the age of 21, and reducing the number of people who smoke would provide vast societal benefits.