Cheers: To body cameras. Clark County councilors have decided to place a 0.1 percent public safety tax on either the August or November ballot. A portion of the tax would pay for body cameras and dashcams for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. About 40 percent of the revenue would go to local city governments.
Last year, county councilors asked voters to approve a similar tax to support juvenile detention facilities and jails. The plan was to free up money for body cameras, but the result was confusion among voters; many did not realize they really were voting on cameras that would protect both the public and officers, and the measure was defeated with 58 percent of the vote. The reason for the tactic was understandable. Councilors may not simply move money around to their liking because most county funds are earmarked for specific purposes. We hope this year’s proposition will present a more direct question to voters and allow them to decide on body cameras.
Jeers: To rising COVID cases. Clark County health officials report that COVID-19 activity has doubled in the past week, and schools throughout the area say infections have tripled in recent weeks. The virus remains a threat to our health and to our health care systems, with 98.5 percent of Clark County hospital beds and 94.7 percent of ICU beds occupied.
Although many preventive measures have been lifted and local residents are largely going about their lives, we must be cognizant that caution is required to protect ourselves and others. Recent strains have been less lethal than some previous variants, but the possibility of stronger strains persists. COVID still is with us, and we must remain vigilant.
Cheers: To a fresh start. Vancouver’s second Safe Stay Community has opened, providing shelter, sanitation facilities and access to social services for people who previously were unhoused. “I’m hoping it works,” one resident told The Columbian. “There’s at least a place where I’ll be able to start.”
The community, along Fourth Plain Boulevard at the site of the former Golden Skate, has 20 shelters that can house up to 40 people. It is the latest effort in the city’s attempts to address a pressing problem, joining a Safe Stay site in the North Image neighborhood. Like previous attempts to mitigate homelessness, city officials must monitor progress, but reports thus far are encouraging.
Jeers: To drought. Despite several recent rainy days on this side of the Cascades, much of the Northwest is mired in drought. Just over half of Washington is “abnormally dry,” while 27 percent is experiencing severe droughts and nearly 7 percent is suffering from extreme drought, according to an update to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Meanwhile, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has added four counties to those under a drought state of emergency.
As part of broad climate change effects, drought conditions threaten to have long-term impacts on agricultural interests and wildlife habitats throughout the region.
Cheers: To young entrepreneurs. The Vancouver Farmers Market will include a Junior Market on June 4, allowing young creators to sell their wares at one of the city’s largest economic enclaves. “It’s never too early to learn basic business fundamentals,” one official said.
Interested entrepreneurs can apply online and also find information about creating a business plan. The farmers market has included a Kids Market in recent years, and officials say this expands the program. Ideally, it will continue to grow, providing valuable lessons to the business leaders of tomorrow.