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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Utility powers up; missing out

The Columbian

Cheers: To keeping the lights on. Through an ice storm in December and a wind storm this week, Clark Public Utilities employees have been on the job. As of Thursday morning, 5,000 customers had recently had power restored while another 2,400 were still in the dark. In each of the past 15 years, Clark Public Utilities has earned recognition from J.D. Power for exemplary customer service, and that commitment is demonstrated when a storm knocks out power.

No utility is perfect; weather events inevitably will impact service. But we are grateful for the diligent workers who get busy when the rest of us are trying to stay inside and avoid the elements. Mass outages throughout the country in recent years have left customers without power for days or even weeks, demonstrating the importance of an efficient, responsive utility.

Jeers: To being overlooked. The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program has missed out on an early round of federal grants for a new I-5 Bridge. Local organizers applied for $750 million in early August, but were bypassed in funding announced Wednesday.

There will be other opportunities to apply for grants, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 earmarks $350 billion for federal highway programs through 2026. Eventually, we trust, federal officials will acknowledge the Interstate 5 Bridge’s importance to the national economy and provide robust funding. It won’t be at the level of past generations (federal funding accounted for 90 percent of the Glenn Jackson Bridge that carries I-205 across the Columbia River), but every little bit will help ease the local burden.

Cheers: To Vancouver police. A man who has outstanding warrants for murder and attempted murder in Oregon has been arrested following a traffic stop. Vancouver police pulled over a driver near Clark College; after the driver handed over his ID, an officer discovered the outstanding warrants. The suspect attempted to flee in his car and eventually was captured.

The incident highlights how modern technology and the sharing of information between police departments — even across state lines — help police keep our communities safe.

Jeers: To impaired driving. Data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission indicates a sharp rise in traffic fatalities in the state, and officials say impaired driving contributes to more than half the deaths. Washington saw a 20-year high in traffic deaths in 2021, and preliminary data indicates a 15 percent increase last year.

Alcohol is the leading cause of impaired driving. But one Washington State Patrol trooper says the category includes “marijuana, other drugs and prescription medication. Drowsy driving isn’t considered impaired driving, but it can be as dangerous as drunk driving.” Jeers go to those who endanger all of us by driving when they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

Cheers: To New Year’s babies. Grayson Daryl-Lynn Mastberg-Hanen arrived at 12:39 a.m. Sunday, earning a distinction as the first baby of the new year at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Meanwhile, Roman Maverick Gaylord arrived at 1:56 a.m., becoming the year’s first baby at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

Recent data suggests that more than 5,000 people will be born in Clark County this year, but few of them will have a status as being among the first. Cheers are warranted for the newborns and their families, who have an eventful 2023 ahead of them.