Thursday, March 4, 2021
March 4, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Food drive a success; noise pollution plumbs the depths

The Columbian

Cheers: To Drive & Drop. The annual food drive typically known as Walk & Knock took a different look this year, but still was deemed a success. Instead of having volunteers knock on doors throughout the county, organizers asked for donations to be delivered to drop boxes or drop-off sites — a necessity in the age of coronavirus.

Although donations, which go to Clark County Food Bank, declined from previous years, more than 100,000 pounds of food were received. “Even if it was half as much, it’s pleasing to help. I feel good about it,” said Tom Knappenberger, president of Walk & Knock. Of course, donations of food or money always are welcome, and the need is particularly acute this year. Information can be found at

Jeers: To noise pollution. A study published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering says noise from Navy Growler jet planes at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island can be heard by orcas, even 100 feet underwater. One researcher said: “Mentally I was prepared for noise, but I wasn’t prepared for that; it was clear as a bell. . . . We are just so deaf. We don’t use our ears the way animals do. For them it is life and death.”

That is true for orcas, who use sound to hunt. Employing underwater microphones, researchers found that noise from the jets permeates the water to depths where chinook salmon, the orcas’ primary prey, are typically found.

Cheers: To justice. Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Judge Bernard Veljacic of Clark County Superior Court to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 2. Inslee also has appointed Clark County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Emily Sheldrick to the Superior Court bench, filling a position newly created by the Legislature.

Cheers go to Veljacic and Sheldrick, but also to the judge Veljacic will replace on the Appeals Court — Rich Melnick, who is retiring in January. Melnick also is a former Clark County judge and long has been an active leader in the community. As Melnick’s bio on the court website explains: “He promises to always remember that a judge’s decision has real impact on people’s lives.” He has spent his time on the bench demonstrating that awareness.

Jeers: To a lack of help. Wildfires in September destroyed an estimated 80 percent of the buildings in the town of Malden (population 200) and scorched a chunk of Whitman County. But pleas for help from the federal government have been ignored, with the Trump administration failing to declare a disaster and free up funding.

“For 83 days, thousands of displaced Washingtonians have watched as FEMA trailers assist those in neighboring states but have seen no federal aid coming their way,” Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray wrote this week to administration officials. The situation serves as yet another example of incompetence and callousness on the part of the Trump administration.

Cheers: To encouraging COVID-19 news. Officials at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center say they have seen a drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations. As of Wednesday, administrators said 27 coronavirus patients were hospitalized, with five in intensive care. A week before, they reported 42 hospitalizations.

At the same time, officials expect a surge of patients as a result of Thanksgiving gatherings two weeks ago. The point is that we must remain vigilant in following recommendations for stemming the spread of the virus. Be sure to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing.


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