Letters to the Editor for Dec. 10, 2013

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Family Resource Center criticism is frustrating

I am appalled to learn that Washougal City Councilors Dave Shoemaker and Connie Jo Freeman would want to remove $7,500 from the Washougal Family Resource Center based on the center not referring young pregnant women to the Pregnancy Clinic of Camas- Washougal (religious based clinic) but rather to Sea Mar Community Health Centers (comprehensive health center).

Never would I have thought this rhetoric would come to our small town. Many in this community use the Family Resource Center for food boxes, help with employment, mental health services, and WIC.

The center also operates as a ‘HUB’ for the ‘Children’s Home Society,’ which provides mental health services for children and families (many of which can’t go elsewhere). They offer early learning skills for children, parenting workshops, and services for grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

Shoemaker and Freeman want to remove $7,500 because they refer pregnant women to an actual health clinic (Sea Mar Community Health Centers) rather than the religious institution (Pregnancy Clinic of Camas- Washougal). Sea Mar Community Health Centers doesn’t just provide “free pregnancy tests,” but also dental services, mental health, medical, housing, and community education opportunities.

The Pregnancy Clinic of Camas-Washougal with the best of intentions is a religious institution that states with their goals to, “Offer to all who wish to receive it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both work and deed, and the love and compassion of true Christian fellowship.” This is not something they hide.

The amount of crosses that hang within the office showcase the foundations of this organization with obvious intent.

If you are a Christian and this doesn’t bother you, then this is a good supplemental resource. They do offer free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. They also help provide baby food and clothing for those who take their parenting classes, and for those who desperately need them. For a religious community center, it is a good service to have for those who need it.

To question why a social service resource center would refer young women to Sea Mar Community Health Centers rather than the Pregnancy Clinic in Camas-Washougal is not a matter of local programs versus non local programs. Comparing the two is like apples and oranges. Sea Mar Community Health Centers is a fully comprehensive health center where the Pregnancy Clinic of Camas-Washougal is religious institution offering minimal pregnancy services.

What angers me most about this funding issue is that the Washougal City Councilors are more focused on wanting women not to be informed of all their options than their ability to receive adequate comprehensive health services. While this very notion of allowing religious doctrine to dictate how they work in the government is frustrating, it’s also frustrating that they proposed cutting $7,500 to all families that use this facility. Not all families are receiving referrals for pregnancy assistance, yet this is their only complaint of the facility.

Annie Colton, Camas

Train derailments could be devastating

The Port of Vancouver is considering an expansion to handle 15 million gallons of volatile crude oil per day. This would be carried on five trainloads every day through Camas. Devastating derailments of such trains happened this year in Quebec and Alabama. Their occurrence on this route is not a question of “if.” only of “when and where.”

While living in central Illinois, I witnessed the handling of a large derailment. In that case, the closed rail cars were carrying grain, and the derailment occurred in the middle of a large, empty field. So it was not as dangerous as for trains carrying oil through sensitive areas. Within hours of the wreck, the railroad arrived with big construction equipment and simply plowed grain, railcars and everything into a big heap off the tracks. Later I came to understand that the railroad’s only priority is to clear the tracks for more trains. Nothing else matters.

There was a coal train derailment in eastern Oregon last year, and it was the same thing. Get the cars and coal off the tracks, and deal with it later. In both cases it was much later — months before much got done with the rubble.

The tracks through the Columbia Gorge are often right on the side of the river and very close to homes and businesses. In many places, there is simply no place to go quickly with derailed oil tank cars except into the river. In a number of places the tracks are surrounded by water on both sides – even worse.

Unless you act on this, the railroad will do what they have always done – bulldoze the tracks clear.

Hundreds of people have already submitted comments to the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) to tell it why this terminal is not in our best interests. The deadline is Dec. 18. Send comments to EFSEC@UTC.WA.GOV

Jim Chase, Portland