Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Volcano monitoring; gas leak

The Columbian

Cheers: To volcano monitoring. The U.S. Geological Survey is adding three monitoring stations to Mount Hood to keep watch on the volcano. Yes, Mount Hood is an active volcano, even if it has not erupted in more than 200 years. And a recent article in The New York Times painted a near-apocalyptic portrait of the last time it went off: “high-speed avalanches of hot rock, gas and ash (raced) down its slopes. Those flows quickly melted the snow and ice and mixed with the meltwater to create violent slurries as thick as concrete that traveled huge distances. They destroyed everything in their path.”

The monitoring stations will allow officials to warn the public if there are rumblings inside the mountain. We hope that is not necessary, but as people in this part of the country know, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to volcanoes.

Jeers: To unwanted gas. A gas leak last week resulted in the evacuation of a section of downtown Vancouver. A forklift operator working on construction at the Vancouvercenter complex apparently collided with a natural gas meter, causing the leak. A handful of local businesses and residents were evacuated, and damage fortunately was limited to being an inconvenience.

Something worthy of a cheer did come out of the incident. Thanks to the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency, about 3,000 evacuation messages were sent to people who either have landlines in the area or have signed up for public alerts. “They can self-register and decide how they want to get their message, said CRESA’s Cindy Stanley. The incident likely will raise awareness and bring more people to Cresa911.org to sign up. That is a good thing; but we still think unwanted gas deserves a jeer.

Cheers: To Habitat for Humanity. The local Evergreen chapter of the international organization is celebrating the completion of McKibbin Commons, a 10-home development in the Father Blanchet Park neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost homes and sells them to needy families with zero-interest mortgages; homebuyers typically help construct the houses. As the organization’s website boasts: “We build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.”

McKibbin Commons is particularly meaningful. It is named for John McKibbin, a former board member and community leader who died in a plane crash in 2016. The development is the Evergreen chapter’s largest to date, but plans are underway for more than 20 homes on two plots recently acquired from local churches.

Jeers: To traffic jams. Even on the river, a backup can be problematic. Emergency repairs at the Bonneville Navigation Lock, adjacent to Bonneville Dam, have prevented ships from working their way around the dam.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working around the clock to fix the problem. We hope repairs go smoothly and traffic can resume flowing soon.

Cheers: To Vigor Industrial. It was merely symbolic, but the company made its Vancouver debut this week with a “laying the keel” ceremony. Vigor is moving into the space along the Columbia River previously inhabited by Christensen Shipyards and will build landing craft for the U.S. Army as part of a 10-year contract.

Within a couple of years, the facility is expected to employ up to 300 people. Perhaps most important, many of those will be good-paying, blue-collar jobs. At a time when new jobs typically are in the service or tech sectors, it can be difficult for cities to lure manufacturers. Vigor will add to Vancouver’s economic diversity and strengthen the local economy.