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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

Cheers & Jeers: Giving generously; theft hurts

The Columbian
Published: October 1, 2022, 6:03am

Cheers: To Give More 24! The annual fundraising effort that benefits local nonprofits raised $3.6 million last week, exceeding the event’s goal and providing funding for 216 organizations. More than 11,000 donations were made at an average of $174, and matching funds brought in another $1.5 million.

“We’re amazed once again by the generosity of the community,” said Maury Harris of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, an umbrella organization for local nonprofits. “There’s a lot of people out here in Southwest Washington who really care about the community.” Leading recipients ranged from Free Clinic of Southwest Washington to a Catholic school to homeless services. While plaudits are warranted for organizations that help those in need throughout our community, the loudest cheers go to all who donated and worked to support Give More 24!

Jeers: To shoplifting. One example of rising crime rates can be found in incidents of retail theft, as detailed in a recent Columbian article. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office says reports of shoplifting in the year ending Aug. 31 had nearly doubled compared with three years earlier. And much retail theft goes unreported — or initially unnoticed by proprietors.

For small retail outlets, theft is an existential threat. As one store owner says, “It will destroy me, if you shoplift.” State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has created an Organized Retail Crime Theft Task Force to help address the issue. For proprietors, action cannot come soon enough.

Cheers: To sidewalk construction. Work is scheduled to begin Monday on constructing and repairing sidewalks along Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue, between 99th Street and 117th Street. The work is expected to continue into 2023 on a stretch of road that, according to Clark County officials, sees up to 800 vehicles an hour.

Improvements are much needed, with students from nearby Sacajawea Elementary often walking on the shoulder of the road. Ideally, the work would have been completed during the summer, when school is not in session, but there’s never a bad time to bolster safety along roadsides.

Jeers: To a dwindling orca population. The Center for Whale Research says the southern resident orca population has declined to 73. Observers say three whales died in the past year, while calves were born in February and April. For the L Pod group, a census taken this summer identified 32 whales — the smallest number since counts began in 1976.

Researchers say the orcas that roam the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have struggled because of decreasing numbers of salmon — their primary food source — and because of increased pollution and noise in their home waters.

Cheers: To remarkable detective work. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office has announced that it identified remains found in January 2002 in Ridgefield. Using modern DNA technology and genealogy databases, investigators were able to identify James Orin Johnson, who was 32 when he went missing.

Local officials submitted a DNA sample from the remains to a lab in Virginia, which then linked those remains to two sisters born in the mid-1800s in Oregon. That started a path that eventually led to one of Johnson’s sons. Clark County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Martha Burt said: “This great work by our team helped to provide a family with answers they had been waiting 20 years to receive.” Johnson’s son Jacob said: “It’s a heartwarming feeling to know that that kind of effort goes into helping families in that way.”