Cheers: To Rep. Greg Cheney. The first-term legislator, a Republican from Battle Ground, has introduced a bill designed to curb the theft of catalytic converters in Washington. The bill has drawn co-sponsors from both parties, including fellow 18th District newcomer Stephanie McClintock, and would increase penalties for both buyers and sellers of precious metals linked to an increase in catalytic converter crimes.
This month, The Columbian editorially chastised Cheney for pursuing unrealistic legislation and urged him to support bills that would impact the lives of Washingtonians. Addressing catalytic converter theft would do that; House Bill 1840 addresses a meaningful issue. “We need to give law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to combat this rising crime,” Cheney said. For focusing on a topic that matters to constituents, Cheney warrants cheers.
Jeers: To stifling weather. Complaining about the weather is futile and pointless, but we can’t help ourselves. A winter storm paralyzed the region this week, closing schools and businesses while making for hazardous driving. The National Weather Service reported 10.8 inches of snow Wednesday at Portland International Airport — the second snowiest day on record.
While complaining about it won’t do any good, we can offer some tips: Stay off the roads if possible; check on neighbors who might need assistance, ensuring they have adequate heat and food; and reach out for help if you need it. And remember: The official start of spring is just weeks away.
Cheers: To innovative solutions. The Vancouver Housing Authority has entered into a master lease agreement for a 98-unit development near Vancouver Mall. A private developer will build the property, with the housing authority then subleasing the units to low-income tenants. The housing authority also has the option to purchase the property.
“The master lease arrangement with the purchase option is just another tool in the toolbox for us to try to get that additional affordable housing in Clark County and make sure it stays there,” said Roy Johnson, CEO of the housing authority. Equally important, officials plan to use the site in part for middle-income tenants, a cohort that is often ignored in the push for affordable housing.
Bummer: The loss of an icon. Art Kuzma Motors has closed its doors for good, ending an eight-decade run in the area. After spending years in downtown Vancouver, the used-car dealership settled in Hazel Dell in the 1980s and has been shepherded by generations of the Kuzma family.
Alan Kuzma said the business tried to live up to the creed of his father: “Have an honest business, sell good-quality products, treat people right — like family, and they’re the ones that will keep you going during the slow times.” Family members say they will focus on their real estate business, but for generations of Vancouver residents the Kuzma name always will be associated with automobiles.
Cheers: To graduation rates. Officials say the high school graduation rate in Washington was 82.3 percent for the Class of 2022 — nearly back to the 2020 rate. Graduation rates have increased about 6 percentage points over the past decade.
The 2022 numbers come with a caveat. During the pandemic, some districts relaxed graduation requirements and some adopted no-fail policies. While extreme measures were required at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators now should focus on ensuring that a high school diploma means a student has learned, rather than simply being passed through the system.