Monday, May 17, 2021
May 17, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Glad for grads, sad about health care delays

The Columbian

Cheers: To graduation rates. The Evergreen and Vancouver school districts both report big jumps in on-time high school graduation rates. In Evergreen schools, 94 percent of students in the Class of 2020 graduated as scheduled, an increase from 84 percent in 2015. In Vancouver, the rate was about 90 percent, compared with 80 percent five years before.

“As the state has allowed students to demonstrate mastery of a subject in a variety of different assessment options rather than just taking one type of test, more students are finding a path to graduation,” Evergreen High School Principal Daniel Orrantia said. That refers to changes in graduation requirements approved by the Legislature — a 2019 bill led by local representatives Monica Stonier and Paul Harris. Cheers go to teachers, administrators and parents — but mostly to the students who earned a diploma.

Jeers: To delayed health care. While the coronavirus pandemic has been the focus of health concerns for the past eight months, it also is having on impact on other health care. Many people have eschewed regular appointments or examinations or necessary care for a variety of reasons — including a desire to avoid crowds or health facilities.

One example could be found in a recent article detailing that Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center has seen a sharp decline in breast cancer mammogram screenings. From March through May, the center reported, mammograms declined 47 percent from 2019. Through mid-October, the yearly total was down about 15 percent. Despite concerns about COVID-19, it is important that we all keep tabs on our health, including receiving flu shots.

Cheers: To building bridges. The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program’s Executive Steering Group has held its virtual first meeting, taking a step toward replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. Lawmakers in Washington and Oregon have approved support for discussions about the bridge, and a bistate legislative committee began meeting last year.

The new group reflects the bureaucracy inherent with replacing the bridge, with representatives from Vancouver, Portland, C-Tran, TriMet, Oregon Metro, the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation and the ports of Portland and Vancouver. Bringing so many stakeholders together is difficult, but any progress is worthy of cheers.

Bummer: To crumbling landmarks. This is not really worthy of a jeer; it’s simply a fact of life. But it is noteworthy that two eye-catching monuments in downtown Vancouver apparently are coming down.

A 140-year-old smokestack at Providence Academy likely will be demolished after The Historic Trust, which owns the site, fell short on fundraising to preserve the structure. Meanwhile, a couple blocks away, a 108-year-old building that formerly housed the New Heights Church is being demolished. Both structures reflect Vancouver’s past; now they can be replaced by designs that point to the city’s future.

Cheers: To the exploding whale. One of the Northwest’s most memorable news stories turned 50 this week, resulting in remembrances of when Oregon officials tried to blow up an eight-ton beached whale carcass.

As reporter Paul Linnman reports in the now-famous video of the comically failed effort: “Should a whale ever wash ashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they’ll certainly remember what not to do.”