Cheers: To public safety workers. A scroll through the Local News section of columbian.com on any given day reveals a stream of house fires and traffic accidents and various crimes. In each case we can be confident that firefighters and EMTs and police officers are on the scene to help those affected.
We are grateful for those who put their own safety at risk to help those who are injured or in danger. Public safety is a hallmark of a civilized society, and those who provide it engage in an essential but often thankless profession. Consider this a reminder to offer thanks — and cheers — to those who serve.
Jeers: To Boeing. The aerospace giant has decided to shut down Everett production of its 787 line, consolidating construction of those planes at its plant in South Carolina. The change is planned for mid-2021 as the aerospace industry faces economic challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Industry analysts say Boeing was drawn to South Carolina by tax incentives and by that state’s anti-union philosophy. The move is expected to eliminate about 1,000 jobs, and Gov. Jay Inslee called it “an insult to the hardworking aerospace employees who build 787s.” In 2013, the Legislature gave Boeing tax breaks estimated to be worth $8.7 billion over 27 years to build the 777X in Everett. While adhering to that agreement, the company has moved thousands of other jobs out of state. Officials from the state and from Boeing must work to repair their fractured relationship.
Cheers: To an open bridge. On Thursday, all six lanes of the Interstate 5 Bridge were open for the first time in 12 days. First, there was a maintenance project that closed all northbound lanes for seven days. Following that, one southbound lane was closed.
Thanks to patient and considerate commuters, the closures were mostly an inconvenience rather than a calamity on a bridge that during normal times sees about 135,000 vehicle crossings a day. But we’re pleased that the bridge is once again fully operational.
Jeers: To increasing coronavirus cases. The rate of infection in Clark County continues to rise, pushing the COVID-19 activity level further into the “high range.” As of midweek, there were 86.18 cases per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days, just weeks after that rate stood at about 63. In order for schools to reopen, the county’s activity level must be below 75 for three consecutive weeks, but we are moving in the wrong direction.
Nobody wants schools and businesses to remain closed, but progress requires a concerted effort on the part of residents. We all must be conscientious about following recommended guidelines: Wearing a mask in public, frequently washing hands and practicing social distancing. About 3,500 people in Clark County have been infected with COVID-19, and the experience of other states that have irresponsibly reopened demonstrates how quickly those numbers can increase.
Cheers: To a Columbia River plan. Several federal agencies have announced a Record of Decision regarding management of Columbia River dams. The goal is to balance hydropower with the conservation of salmon and lampreys on the river; as Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, noted, “Federal water infrastructure makes our way of life possible throughout the West.”
The decision warrants scrutiny, and it is certain to draw some dissent. But after two years of review by the Trump administration it is essential that officials begin making progress on a crucial plan for this region.