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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Dec. 2, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Booking Dolly; farewell Pac-12

The Columbian

Cheers: To reading. Dolly Parton is visiting our state on Tuesday to celebrate “Imagination Library of Washington Day.” While best known as a singer, songwriter and entertainment icon, Parton, 77, also is an active philanthropist; her Imagination Library program sends free books to children from birth to age 5. The program was adopted statewide last year by the Legislature and has gifted more than 1.6 million books to children in Washington. To register, families can visit ImaginationLibraryWashington.org.

The educational and emotional benefits of reading to children — and teaching them to read — are widely documented. In addition to the Imagination Library, local libraries and service clubs promote programs for young readers, recognizing that having books in the home is important to childhood development. Cheers go to all those who help young readers expand their horizons and prepare for academic success.

Jeers: To a lack of training. In 2018, Washington voters approved a ballot initiative that mandates 200 hours of mental health and de-escalation training for police officers. Five years later, however, the state Criminal Justice Training Commission reports that 28 percent of the state’s approximately 11,000 officers have gone through the training. According to reporting by Washington State Standard, the report lists staffing challenges, travel costs and “training apprehension” as barriers to getting officers through the program.

The Legislature has set 2028 as a deadline for completing the training, and one official with the commission says, “We’re doing all we can.” Barriers should be identified and addressed by legislators and local governments that control law enforcement budgets. Whatever the reasons for a lack of progress, law enforcement officers must remember that they work for the public — and the public has mandated this training.

Cheers: To international relations. The city of Washougal is celebrating its first Sister City designation — a bond with Zielonki, Poland. Washougal officials visited the village of about 24,000 residents in June. “It’s just a beautiful place,” City Manager David Scott said. “Zielonki means ‘green,’ and it’s green like Washougal. There’s beautiful countryside.”

As sister cities, officials pledge to share economic, social, cultural and environmental information. Ideally, the partnership will be educational and economically beneficial for both cities.

Jeers: To the demise of the Pac-12. The Pac-12 Conference came to a crashing end last week, with the University of Washington and the University of Oregon moving their athletic teams to the Big Ten Conference. The conference had been on shaky ground, but still the end of the 108-year-old coalition known as the “Conference of Champions” came as a shock.

It probably is fruitless to offer jeers for a change driven by economic realities, but we have empathy for Washington State and Oregon State — and their supporters. The athletic futures of those schools are up in the air — as are future games between the major universities in the Northwest. It is difficult to imagine a late November without an Apple Cup game.

Cheers: To a new skatepark. The city of Camas has unveiled a revamped Riverside Bowl Skatepark, providing a facility designed for skateboarders, BMXers, scooter-riders, Rollerbladers and roller skaters of all levels.

“Some local people … have done a lot of work to get this where it is,” Mayor Steve Hogan said. One skateboarder added: “We asked the city to improve the skatepark, and they answered the call.”

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