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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: MLK’s legacy; measles menace

The Columbian
Published: January 15, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Inclement weather might play havoc with the best-laid plans, but it cannot diminish the meaning of today’s holiday honoring America’s most notable civil rights leader. Considering King’s legacy of working to improve the lives of all Americans, it is appropriate that the holiday bearing his name also is a designated National Day of Service. As King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”

Several local organizations have scheduled volunteer opportunities for today, but the forecast suggests the events could be waylaid by poor weather. Still, the ideals espoused by King should not be constrained to a single day; as he said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” We hope that ethos can guide our community today and throughout the year.

Jeers: To measles. Health officials in Clark and Wahkiakum counties report six cases of measles in the region, all from one extended family. The infected people have been isolated, and officials say they are not aware of any public exposure, but the incident is a reminder of the fragility of public health.

In 2000, measles were considered eliminated in the United States; since then, an anti-vaccine movement has contributed to a resurgence of the virus. In 2019, Clark County had 71 confirmed measles cases, making the area one of the centers for a national outbreak. In the latest case, officials say, none of the six infected people were vaccinated, which highlights the importance of receiving the measles vaccine; such vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective.

Cheers: To cleaner water. City of Vancouver officials have noticed a decline in the level of “forever chemicals” in drinking water. In November, samplings at Water Station 14 revealed concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that exceeded permissible levels. The levels were miniscule, but the problem is that “forever chemicals” earn that moniker because they do not break down in the bodies of humans and animals, or in the environment.

More recent samplings indicate a reduction in the levels of the chemicals. Officials are not certain why that has occurred, but the development is worthy of cheers.

Jeers: To the Seattle Seahawks. Despite finishing the 2023 season with a 9-8 record, the Seahawks have fired coach Pete Carroll. Team officials tried to paint the move as a mutual decision, but Carroll has made it clear he wanted to stay.

So ends a remarkable era for the region’s NFL team. Carroll spent 14 years in Seattle, winning one Super Bowl, losing another and recording 11 winning seasons. He is the winningest coach in franchise history and helped forge countless unforgettable moments for Seahawks fans. Given Carroll’s successful record and his continued enthusiasm for the job, the firing is difficult to justify.

Cheers: To Deputy Drew Kennison. The Clark County sheriff’s deputy has returned to full-time duty, less than a year after an accident resulted in the amputation of his left leg above the knee. In February, Kennison was driving a patrol vehicle when the upper portion of a large, snow-laden tree crashed into the windshield, causing life-threatening injuries.

After surgery and a lengthy recovery, Kennison returned to full-time duty last week. “This is the kind of deputies that we want serving in this community,” Sheriff John Horch said. “Because he has a heart for service.” Cheers go to Kennison and all those who have helped and inspired him through his journey.