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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.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Solar shines; camp confusion

The Columbian
Published: April 8, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To solar options. The Port of Camas-Washougal and Clark Public Utilities are celebrating completion of a joint Community Solar East project. The program has installed solar systems atop five buildings at the port’s industrial park; customers of Clark Public Utilities buy shares in the project, allowing them to invest in solar energy without placing panels on their homes or businesses.

In August, The Columbian explained: “A homeowner’s return on investment is almost 13 years, a halfway point for the system’s expected lifespan, assuming they collect a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government for participating in community solar.” Clark Public Utilities has operated a similar program in Orchards since 2015, and the endeavor has been popular with customers. As Matt Babbitts of Clark Public Utilities said of the Camas-Washougal site, “We think this project really is a great example of what can be achieved when two public agencies work together on a common goal.”

Jeers: To Camp Bonneville confusion. A contract between Clark County and the FBI regarding the agency’s use of Camp Bonneville as a shooting range is lacking clarity.

As the county council considers renewing a contract with the FBI, questions need to be asked and answered in full. Councilor Sue Marshall said: “I think it would be good for them to come back and give us another briefing, as they sort through things. I need to get out there and really scope it out.” Other councilors should employ similar caution.

Cheers: To continued health care. Legacy Health and Regence BlueCross BlueShield agreed to a new contract hours before the previous one expired, avoiding a disruption in care for thousands of patients. Many patients had expressed concern about the prospect of not being able to use Regence benefits at Legacy facilities, which include Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

The agreement is good news for patients and providers. But it also points out the fragility of U.S. health care. “We know how important it is for you to have continued access to your trusted health care providers and are grateful to bring you peace of mind with a resolution,” a Legacy executive said. Peace of mind is too often missing from the health care system.

Sad: Tragedy on Mount St. Helens. Roscoe “Rocky” Shorey of Washougal was killed last week after summiting the mountain. Officials determined that Shorey, 42, dislodged a cornice — an overhang of hardened snow — and fell into the crater, about 1,200 feet below the summit. That triggered a large-slab avalanche. Rescuers say it appears he survived the fall but died while trying to climb out.

“Large cornices still overhang many steep alpine slopes,” the Northwest Avalanche Center reported. “They often fail much farther back than expected. During these warm, sunny periods, they can become weaker and easier to trigger.” Shorey was an experienced climber who reportedly had summited Mount St. Helens 28 times prior to the accident.

Cheers: To a raptor cam. Thanks to the Port of Ridgefield, Clark Public Utilities and the Ridgefield School District, people around the world can keep an eye on two ospreys at the Ridgefield waterfront. After six months in South America, the raptors have returned to Clark County to nest, rest and lay eggs, with a livestream camera trained on their nest.

“The kind of thing we’re hoping for is to generate awareness and prompt discussions about being good stewards, which is something that’s a really important part of the mission,” said Randy Mueller, the Port of Ridgefield’s chief executive officer.