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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: Super StormBots; vile fentanyl

The Columbian
Published: April 22, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To the StormBots. The robotics team at Skyview High School qualified for last weekend’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship in Houston. To get there, members had to design and build a robot that picks up a series of orange foam rings, climbs an apparatus and inserts the rings into a counting mechanism. Their high-tech contraption was so successful that the squad advanced out of local competitions to qualify for the championship round. To top it off, team members also won an Impact Award for their work in the community.

The skills and teamwork required for the endeavor will pay lifelong dividends. As one member said: “We compare ourselves to sports, where only the top athletes will get scholarships or play professionally — but a majority of us will go on to school or to be engineers. Everyone will go pro. That’s what we like to say.”

Jeers: To fentanyl. The fentanyl crisis has extended to the Clark County Jail, with an estimated 75 percent of inmates having an opioid use disorder, according to officials. A medication-assisted treatment program for inmates was halted last year following budget cuts, adding to the difficulty of managing the situation.

“We know we don’t have the funding or the medical capacity or the bandwidth to treat all that need,” said Anna Lookingbill, the jail’s transition manager. “We’re not there yet.” Officials are seeking funding from the Opioid Abatement Council; a rekindled program would not only help inmates while they are incarcerated but would ease their transition once they are released.

Cheers: To a generous community. A recent study found Clark County ranks fourth in Washington in terms of charitable donations. Analyzing data from the Internal Revenue Service, financial technology company SmartAsset found that 33.5 percent of local residents made donations, with average contributions amounting to 1.7 percent of yearly income.

As Matt Morton, president of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, told The Columbian: “It’s rare to have a community that so well leans into its values, and this organization has been a catalyst for that. If it weren’t for the individuals who have been so generous in this region, we would have a completely different outlook.”

Jeers: To antisemitism. An annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League found that antisemitic incidents in Washington increased during 2023. The organization counted 190 events in the state, including 158 classified as harassment, 31 as vandalism and one as assault. Nationally, antisemitic incidents increased by 140 percent compared with 2022.

Tensions have bubbled since Oct. 7, when a Hamas attack on Israel killed an estimated 1,200 people and triggered an Israeli siege on Gaza. While those events demand attention from Americans and our government, there is no justification for hatred to spill into our nation. Americans who believe in our country’s creed must defend against all forms of bigotry.

Cheers: To the Clark County Auditor’s Office. Government audits typically don’t generate much attention, but they are important to well-functioning, transparent public service. Therefore, it is notable that the Clark County Auditor’s Office has earned an award for its 2023 performance audit of the Public Works department.

Under the guidance of Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, the office routinely has been honored by peers for its role in improving government efficiency. The recent award highlights work that helps local government serve the public as effectively as possible.