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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

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Unearthed cistern, report delay

The Columbian
Published: October 16, 2023, 6:03am

Cheers: To a font of history. Construction workers in downtown Vancouver have unearthed a brick cistern that could date to the 1880s. As The Columbian reported: “Cisterns are buried tanks designed to hold liquids, most often water. They were common in the 19th century, including use as water supplies for early fire departments in the days before citywide water systems.” This one was found underneath Fifth Street during construction of an apartment complex.

The discovery apparently has no intrinsic value, and the bad news is that it likely will lead to the street being closed longer than expected. But it is an interesting reminder of the city’s long history and had us scrambling to look up a remarkable fact: Vancouver’s population in 1880 was 1,722. The city has changed a bit in the past 140 years.

Jeers: To bureaucracy. The release of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement — the name itself exemplifies government red tape — for the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program has been delayed. Officials say the statement, which is a crucial milestone for the project, is now expected early in 2024.

The slight delay is not expected to move back the project’s timeline; the goal remains to break ground in late 2025 or early 2026. “This is more of the internal wheels grinding,” program Administrator Greg Johnson said. That is understandable; but with the project seemingly so close, it is difficult for local residents to remain patient.

Cheers: To Hilda Lail. The bilingual family community engagement partnership coordinator at Vancouver Public Schools has been selected as the 2023 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year. Lail’s work places her as a primary point of contact for new families who don’t speak English as they enter the district.

“It’s a beautiful surprise to see someone is looking closely into what you’re doing,” said Lail, a native of Mexico who moved to the United States 20 years ago. “Winning this is an example that you receive great things when you’re passionate about what you do.” She added: “I feel very proud to be working here in Vancouver. … I really want to believe we are making a difference so that coming here is easier for all families.”

Jeers: To tornadoes. A small tornado touched down Wednesday in La Center. The twister was given a preliminary rating of EF-0, which is the smallest on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. No injuries or damages were reported, unless we count a toppled basketball hoop and trash cans.

Tornadoes are rare in these parts but not unprecedented. A 1972 whirlwind killed six people in Vancouver and injured 70 students at Peter S. Ogden Elementary School. We hope any future tornadoes in the area are akin to this week’s rather than the historic one of 51 years ago.

Cheers: To Jaime Herrera Beutler. The former congressional representative has announced that she is running next year to be Washington’s public lands commissioner. Herrera Beutler, a Republican, represented Southwest Washington for six terms in Washington, D.C., before being defeated in last year’s primary election.

We don’t know whether or not Herrera Beutler will be the best candidate to succeed Hilary Franz, who is running for governor; the election is more than a year away, and at least six candidates are running. But cheers are warranted for somebody from this part of the state seeking statewide office, which is a rarity. We hope that other elected officials from Southwest Washington follow Herrera Beutler’s example.