Letters to the Editor for Jan. 5, 2016

Oil trains threaten the community

I wish to thank the Port of Camas-Washougal for joining the Camas and Washougal city councils in calling for proper attention to the risks of oil trains, and the proposed storage and transport stations in Vancouver. It is alarming to me that trains filled with bakken oil are and have been rolling through our streets.

“The Port of Camas-Washougal sees its role as promoting the public good.” So begins Resolution 20-15 passed on Dec. 1 by our Camas-Washougal port commissioners.

As the pastor at the Camas United Methodist Church, I am often in the midst of conversations about community and wellbeing. Those who choose Camas and Washougal as their home today, as for generations, have come for the public good — the promise of safe community, opportunity, and a healthful environment that includes rivers, forests, hikes, parks and waterfalls.

We are a people who seek prosperity and have always aspired to the top standards of excellence. In its heyday, our paper mill was the crown of modern manufacturing. That Camas-Washougal legacy of hard work and excellence continues today with our local high tech work spaces, clean energy research, biotech and innovation. A belief in the possibilities for a bright future is a hallmark optimism of our area.

Oil trains threaten our wellbeing and violate the promise of our public good. Right now, trains laden with potentially millions of gallons of explosive oil come right through our downtown, our residential streets, and along the Columbia River. Proposed projects would add an oil storage and shipping network that would include oil tankers moving along the Columbia.

There is no way to prevent accidents, and accidents are deadly, toxic, and in the aftermath can never be properly cleaned up. The BNSF trains are industrial age technology and they travel along the ancient tracks that our ancestors rode before Washington became a state. Worse, the trains are controlled remotely, no one local who knows the value of the earth and air and water in the Pacific Northwest is at the helm. Those entrusted with acting in our “public good” do so remotely from Fort Worth, Texas. They have never volunteered at our great schools. They have never been to a football game or choir concert at Doc Harris or WHS. They are not charged, as we are, with putting the wellbeing of our children and our community first.

The industrial age was a time of great hope and expansion. We believed it would create a great modern utopia. It did many good things. But the legacy of unchecked industrial petrochemical and other waste has poisoned our rivers, farmland and our earth. As a person charged with understanding what path it is that leads us to wellbeing, I can tell you that this is not it.

We need to step aside from this path with honor by putting our children and families first. We must say no to the oil trains and all they represent. We must seek the true promise of this wonderful place.

The Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, Camas United Methodist Church

Camas provides quality education

As longtime residents of Camas, we have been very fortunate to have had both our daughters attend Camas schools from kindergarten thru graduation at Camas High School.

It has been the continual improvements to both the physical facilities and the quality of the teachers and academic selection that have provided them with a solid foundation and opportunity to attend the college of their choice.

We have witnessed a tremendous population growth in the last 27 years and are quite impressed with how the Camas School District has done everything under the sun in the way of bonds and levies to keep up with this growth and improve the quality of education simultaneously. It is critical at this juncture in our community’s success to do whatever we can to make sure that the 2016 CSD bond passes with flying colors. The schools are bulging at the seams.

As empty nesters, our children will not benefit from the improvements to our schools that are proposed in the bond; however, as an active past and present volunteer in the community what is good for our kids is good for us. If we as a community continue to improve the primary and secondary educational systems, it is a win-win for everyone. And the bonus to that is that we all get to use some of the facility improvements recommended in this bond with the arts, physical activity and, of course, decreasing the traffic jams that we all get caught in after school.

Finally, this has been a fantastic place to raise our kids and both Margaret and I feel very strongly that the education our kids received was a huge contributor to their individual growth and maturity, we owe the schools a lot. Great memories too – watching Mike Nerland as principal of Lacamas Heights getting hit by water balloons because the Lacamas kids had surpassed their reading goals, walking around in NASA space outfits in fourth grade, my daughter’s soccer team winning the state soccer championship, many Halloween carnivals at Lacamas and most importantly, my girls coming home from school saying what fantastic teachers they have had at all levels of their education and learning so much.

I urge all the voters, young and old, get out there and support the bond on Feb. 9.

Bill Stulbarg, Camas