Letters to the Editor for Jan. 13, 2015

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category icon Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Schools are crowded

I am a student at Jemtegaard Middle School and I wanted to write my perspective on everything (the new school bond).

Our school has become insanely crowded. It’s freezing cold walking from class to class in the open areas, and I asked my friends and no one likes it. No one.

At lunchtime, the commons area is so crowded that the amount of tables it takes to seat all the kids that can fit in the commons makes it so you can’t walk around at all. Sometimes the commons are so packed that I have to go outside so I’m not squished, even when it’s really too cold to go outside.

But the outside is no better. With no halls, how do you expect the watching teachers to be able to keep track of us? If I wanted, I could wait for the teacher to look away, and run around the corner and away forever. Or I could go to the little alley on the side of the school where the teachers can’t see. It’s very dangerous.

Now to another point. JMS needs a new library. The library we have is very sad, and this is all from in-school experience. The books are old, and I have to wait a long time for new books, like Erin Hunter’s “Dawn of the Clans.” A new school would give us a better library and better computers to do our assignments.

I heard on the grape vine that Gause Elementary School is getting packed too, and the classrooms are overflowing. I went to school there, and I think that is true.

We really need more classrooms and more teachers. So why not build more schools?

Shannon McDaniel, Washougal

In support of new bridge, light rail

Well, to begin with, building a new super highway bridge over the Columbia River in east county is patently a ridiculous idea. There are no highways to hook such a bridge up to, and there are no destinations in eastern Clark/Multnomah counties to warrant such a thing.

This does not mean, however, that we should not build a bridge over the Columbia River in east Clark/Multnomah counties.

Here is what we could do.

By way of introduction, a bit of a resume. Some time ago, I, and two other fellows worked for the Washington State Highway Department. We sat at desks, and drew up plans. They used these plans to build SR-500. I also spent some time helping to build SR-500 and I-205 in Clark County. I later worked for the Portland city engineers as we rebuilt the Banfield Highway and built the eastside MAX light-rail line.

What we should, or could possibly do for transportation in this region, is, first off, build a new highway bridge for I-5 as we planned — a six lane each way double-decker by Hayden Island and downtown Vancouver.

Next, we would use one of the old spans of the current I-5 bridge and use it to bring a light rail line into downtown Vancouver in the I-5 corridor. Then, we could disassemble one of the two crossings of the current I-5 bridge, barge the spans up-river, build new pedestals for the spans there, either by I-205, or possibly at 192nd, and put a light rail line across those spans there.

We would end up with two super highway bridges, somewhat of an improvement over what we have now, with three new lanes for traffic in each direction and safety from earthquake damage.

We would also have two separate and “new” bridges carrying light rail lines into and out of Clark County. The new highway bridge would be cheaper without light rail on it. The retrofit of light rail on the old I-5 span would be inexpensive and very cost effective.

The “new” light rail bridge in east county would be a lot cheaper using re-purposed existing spans than an entirely new bridge would be. We would have a lot of redundancy and flexibility with four usable spans five, I-205 is two, across the mighty Columbia River, which is one bear of an obstacle. We would have light rail access to both the east and west sides of Clark County.

There would be a lot of economic activity engendered by those new light rail lines. Building this stuff would power a huge number of jobs.

Doing things this way, we would get a tremendous amount of useful stuff, and we would likely save a billion dollars or more of the tax-payers money to get that stuff, over other ways of doing for the same results.

Eric Norwood, Vancouver

Yes, I want safer schools

The citizens of Washougal have a capital bond coming up on the Feb. 10, ballot. The bond that I am referring to is the Vote YES for Safer Schools bond which is extremely important to our current and future students lives for many years to come. I work for the Washougal School District and have worked in different schools and have seen where there is a tremendous need for major repairs and safety upgrades.

The bond would include remodeling the entrances at each school, eliminate all portables in the district (which addresses safety issues in itself), build an actual building for Excelsior High School, build a K-8 school on the current Jemtegaard property which would directly address the overcrowding at all other schools, get our transportation staff in a suitable work environment and our busses housed at a better location.

These are just a few of the amazing improvements for our district included when you vote “yes.” Please visit the sites below for more information: (if you are not registered to vote, please sign up here)

Angela Hancock, Parent, WSD employee, volunteer

Vote ‘yes’ for safe schools

As a Washougal parent and school district employee, my heart skips a beat every time we hear of another school shooting somewhere in this country.

No community is immune from the possibility of a violent event. Our students’ safety at school is paramount. Washougal supporters of a safe, quality educational environment have a crucial opportunity to vote ‘yes’ by Feb. 10 in the upcoming special election. Our youth deserve our investment to provide the needed improvements to our schools which will improve the safety conditions tremendously. The only way this can happen is to pass the bond on Feb. 10. On the fence? Check out the facts and more information at

Michele Mederos, Parent and professional school counselor

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