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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.

Cheers & Jeers: WWII casualty home; texts eyed

The Columbian
Published: February 16, 2019, 6:03am

Cheers: To coming home. The remains of a Pearl Harbor casualty from Woodland were laid to rest this week, 77 years after his death. U.S. Navy Musician Second Class Francis E. Dick was among the 429 people who died aboard the USS Oklahoma in the attack of Dec. 7, 1941, that sparked U.S. entry into World War II. He was 20 years old.

Dick’s remains were identified and reunited with family — he has a surviving sister — thanks to a program dedicated to repatriating sailors from the USS Oklahoma. “I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t have the chance. I heard about him all my life,” said Carole Green, now 81. Dick’s body arrived recently with full military honors at Portland International Airport, and a memorial service was held in Vancouver. He was buried at the Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery, providing a reminder of The Greatest Generation.

Jeers: To the I-5 Bridge. It is no secret the crossing between Vancouver and Portland is problematic. But a new ranking of the nation’s highways provides some perspective. The American Transportation Research Institute ranks the bridge as the 29th worst bottleneck in the United States.

Using GPS data from 1 million heavy-duty trucks across the nation, the institute found that traffic flows across the I-5 Bridge at an average of 41.2 mph. During rush hour, speeds slow to about 30 mph. But that does not measure the bottleneck leading up to the bridge, which often has traffic at a near standstill.

Cheers: To an investigation. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called for an investigation into text messages between a Portland police officer and Joey Gibson, the founder of Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer. The texts seem to provide support for the controversial group, alerting Gibson to the movements of a rival anti-fascist protest group and warning that a Patriot Prayer member with a possible felony warrant needed to be careful. The texts were first reported by Willamette Week.

The texts might just be an attempt by a police officer to ingratiate himself to the controversial group, or they might be something more nefarious. Either way, they fuel mistrust of Portland police and how officers have handled a group that has been involved in numerous violent clashes. An investigation is warranted in an attempt to restore that trust.

Cheers: To moving the Vancouver Farmers Market. The popular weekend market will have a new look when it reopens in March. The market, which features vendors of produce, hot food and crafts, still will inhabit Esther Street between Esther Short Park and Esther Short Commons. But the market also will extend along part of Eighth Street rather than its traditional Sixth Street site.

City officials say they want to leave Sixth Street open to enhance access to the new development along Vancouver’s waterfront. The new site will provide a little more space and a little more shade. Meanwhile, we must mention that the market opens March 16 and that several other farmers markets in the county will open in the following weeks.

Cheers: To demolition. The Alaskan Way Viaduct through the heart of Seattle is coming down, with crews beginning deconstruction of the 60-year-old monolith. The opening of a Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle has rendered the viaduct obsolete.

The viaduct, which rises between the waterfront and Pike Place Market, has cut off the downtown area from piers that include Seattle Aquarium and, more recently, the Seattle Great Wheel. Its demolition will be a boon for the Northwest’s largest city.