Thursday, September 23, 2021
Sept. 23, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Libraries open, fair canceled

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To libraries. The Fort Vancouver Regional Library system is open to in-person visits for the first time in more than a year. After being shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, branches throughout Southwest Washington started inviting patrons to roam the stacks a couple weeks ago. “It was more emotional than we thought it’d be. The first time I heard a child cry, I almost teared up,” one branch manager told The Columbian.

Despite the lengthy closure, library staff continued to serve the region; a curbside pickup system established in June delivered about 115,000 items. There still are some restrictions dictated by COVID-19, but the reopenings are welcome by readers young and old. As author R. David Lankes is credited with saying: “Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.”

Bummer: To no fair. For the second consecutive year, the Clark County Fair has been canceled because of the pandemic. The fair, which typically draws about 225,000 visitors and is the county’s largest event, was scheduled for Aug. 6-15.

The cancellation is understandable, given the persistence of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of conditions by the time August arrives, but it still is disappointing. As fair manager John Morrison said, the event “historically results in large crowds in relatively small spaces such as our midways, the grandstands, carnival area and food court.” Before the pandemic, the last cancellation for the fair was 1942 during World War II.

Cheers: To filing week. Monday through Friday is the time for political candidates to throw their hats into the ring. This year’s ballot will mostly include races for city councils, school boards, fire districts and cemetery districts throughout Clark County. The primary is Aug. 2, and details for the positions — filing fees are 1 percent of an office’s annual salary — can be found at the Clark County elections website.

Offices for odd-year ballots have a low profile compared with even-year elections. But city councils and school boards impact our daily lives and our community at least as much as federal officials. And a government is only as reliable and effective as the candidates who seek office.

Jeers: To overdose deaths. One of the collateral impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been an increase in drug-related deaths. Fatal overdoses in Washington increased at least 30 percent in 2020 over the previous year, with final numbers still being compiled. “It is reasonable to believe the psychological, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 led to an increase in drug use,” Kristen Maki of the state Department of Health said.

Those psychological impacts have affected everyone to one degree or another, even if they don’t lead to life-threatening actions. Locally, Clark County Mental Health Crisis Services can be reached at 800-626-8137, and The Southwest Washington chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness can be reached at 360-695-2823 or www.namiswwa.org.

Cheers: To a rescue. Sara Douglas, a teacher at Marrion Elementary, helped rescue a family from a house fire this week. On her way to school Tuesday morning, she saw smoke coming out of house and joined another passerby in entering the dwelling. The Samaritans found four children on a bed, apparently unaware of the fire, and helped usher them to safety.

A small attic fire had caused the smoke, and it was quickly doused by firefighters. No injuries were reported, thanks in part to quick action from passersby.

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