Cheers: To important conversations. Wildfires are growing in frequency and intensity, posing increasing threats to life and property in Clark County. Given the importance of the issue, The Columbian hosted a public forum last week, bringing together experts to share information and answer questions from the public. Hilary Franz, Washington’s public lands commissioner, and four other panelists offered insight about a changing climate, details about how public entities respond to fires and tips to help residents protect their homes.
The event at Kiggins Theatre is part of a continuing Columbian Conversations series hosted by the newspaper with help from presenting sponsor Riverview Bank. And it reflects the important role that local media can play in fostering discussion and sharing information about essential issues. Cheers go to organizers, panelists and members of the public who took part, helping to foster a sense of community throughout our region.
Jeers: To litterbugs. Cheers go to those who work to clean roadsides throughout the county, but jeers are warranted for people who make that work necessary. According to a recent Columbian article, state workers and volunteers collected 339,580 pounds of garbage from roadsides or public areas throughout Clark County in 2022. Those efforts are laudable, but as Melanie Wilson of the East County Citizens’ Alliance said, “You can never get to the end of it.”
It is frustrating that so many people in our area thoughtlessly discard their refuse where it doesn’t belong. The issue is not exclusive to Clark County, of course. But such selfish, anti-social actions diminish our region and call for more conscientious behavior.
Cheers: To quick thinking. A bus driver in Evergreen Public Schools has praise for how students reacted after their vehicle was struck by an SUV last month. “My kids did a really great job. I’m proud of them,” Ryan Markham said. He added that students have emergency bus exit drills three times a year, and they apparently had paid attention to the lessons.
The bus was struck while making a left turn through an intersection when the other driver allegedly ran a red light. The SUV caught fire, but the reaction of students and assistance from bystanders helped prevent a tragedy.
Jeers: To a lack of services. A study from Oregon Health & Science University, co-authored by a Vancouver-based addiction specialist, finds that addiction treatment for teens is difficult to find and prohibitively expensive. The average wait time for a bed was more than 28 days; for facilities requiring an up-front payment, the average was $28,731 for the first month.
Fighting the opioid epidemic requires slowing the supply of drugs and providing education to reduce demand. But accessible and affordable treatment also is necessary to help those who are facing addiction. Jeers go to government policies and health-care and economic systems that are failing to address that need.
Cheers: To the Oregon Supreme Court. Justices have upheld what is clearly the will of the public by barring 10 Republican senators from seeking reelection. In 2022, Oregon voters amended the state Constitution in an effort to prevent petulant walkouts by legislators.
Some senators decided to test that law last year, walking out and preventing business from being conducted. The senators then appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing over semantics in the language of the law. They lost. The result should be a lesson to lawmakers in all states: Focus on doing your job, not grandstanding.