Tuesday, March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Good bloom; bad moth

The Columbian

Cheers: To Titan VanCoug. The corpse flower — scientifically known an amorphophallus titanum — brought visitors and excitement to the Washington State University Vancouver campus this week. It also brought a stench, demonstrating that the colloquial name derives from the pungent scent of a flower in bloom. “It’s really cool, but I didn’t think plants could be that stinky,” one 11-year-old visitor said. “I thought flowers only smelled good; this smells like a port-a-potty.”

The plant sprouted this spring, rising to nearly 6 feet high. That created anticipation for the bloom that occurred Wednesday, leading school officials to move the plant to an outdoor display area. Alas, the public spectacle lasted only one day, as the rare plant’s blooming period is short-lived. Titan VanCoug last bloomed in 2019, and experts say it now could bloom every year. Then again, it might not. “In reality,” its longtime caretaker said, “I can’t predict anything about this plant; it does what it wants to do.”

Jeers: To the atlas moth. The appropriately named insect can have a wingspan of up to 10 inches, and now one has been found in Bellevue. Experts say the atlas moth requires a tropical climate, which makes them think it escaped from captivity rather than living in the wild. They also note that it is illegal to harbor or sell the moth without a federal permit.

Still, the discovery is disconcerting. We hope we don’t need to add atlas moths to a list of concerns that already includes “murder hornets.”

Cheers: To the Clark County Fair. This year’s fair has come and gone, and its return was most welcome after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus. The 152nd edition of the fair, which traditionally is called “summer’s best party,” adopted the slogan “make it worth the wait” this year. With concerts and a tuff truck exhibition and animal displays and plenty of food and rides, thousands of visitors enjoyed the return.

County fairs are a remarkable slice of Americana, representing the nation’s agrarian roots while serving as a community gathering place. The Clark County Fair performed those functions this year; we hope the wait isn’t so long for the next one.

Jeers: To a lack of oversight. There is yet another example of mismanagement at Western State Hospital in Lakewood. The state has been ordered to pay more than $2 million to four health care workers who were attacked in separate incidents by a patient who routinely targeted women. In one case, the patient vaulted over the nurses station, knocked an employee to the ground, choked her and bit off part of her earlobe.

Western State Hospital is the state’s largest psychiatric facility, and stories about poor security for workers and patients have been among myriad issues. The recent court decision reinforces the need for serious steps to improve the hospital.

Cheers: To the Clark County Council. Councilors have approved $4.6 million to expand broadband service in rural areas through funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The county has received $94.8 million in ARPA funds, with $44.6 million remaining to be allocated.

Richard Rylander Jr. was the only councilor to vote against expanding broadband. “It reaches such a small number of additional people,” Rylander said, suggesting that federal funds should be used for items with the “broadest possible reach and benefit across multiple programs.” That is a valid concern. But with rural broadband having such a large impact on the people it does reach, we think the investment is worthy of cheers.