April Cheers & Jeers

It’s spring. The sun came out this week. After a decade of trying his very best to decimate the middle class and kick poor folks in the teeth, House Speaker Paul Ryan is retiring at the ripe old age of 40-something. And campaign season is going to shift into high gear pretty soon.

Combined, these facts are making us feel happier than normal, so let’s kick off this April Cheers & Jeers with a few more Cheers than Jeers:

CHEERS to all the skaters and bikers taking ownership of East County’s only skatepark. The Camas-Washougal Riverside Skate Park is only 15 years old, but these types of parks — especially if they’re not built to professional grade standards using poured concrete and ditching the metal ramps and other weather-susceptible elements — tend to age more like dogs than humans.

Instead of looking like an energetic sophomore, ready to take on the world, the park looks more like a geriatric retriever, ready to take his 40th nap of the afternoon. The city of Camas’ Public Works Department is in charge of maintaining the park, and we would give them a “jeers,” if not for the fact that we’ve sat in city council meetings and heard the Public Works director tell councilors his department desperately needs more resources to keep up with the workload.

The skaters — both young and “old-school” — are asking the city to step up and maintain the park, but they also aren’t waiting around for things to happen. Hopefully, community leaders and city officials will take notice of the work these skaters and bikers have put into cleaning up the skatepark and raising funds for its future improvements.

Our next CHEERS goes out to all of the candidates throwing their hats into the ring for the upcoming Aug. 7 Primary Election. Diversity of ideas is always a good thing and we will try our best to give you a well-rounded, full picture of who these candidates are and what they stand for, as we move through the next three months of primary season. Already, three Democrats and one Republican (who happens to be living in Camas) are challenging four-term Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for her 3rd Congressional District seat. That race, like many races across the country that involve Republican incumbents who have done little to halt the damage being done to our nation by the out-of-control Trump administration, could become hot enough to shake apathetic Southwest Washington voters into filling out their ballots in August and again in November.

CHEERS also goes out to Camas paraeducator Julie Ward, recently honored for her contributions to the education community. Ward, a Title I math paraeducator at Woodburn Elementary School, said she loves her job and feels “blessed” to know that her work is making a difference. We often recognize the hard work that goes into teaching without giving enough credit to the classified employees like Ward, who help glue a school together.

Our only JEERS is more of a JEERS-LITE and it goes out to the Washougal School District leaders who pushed a new schedule through without fully listening to elementary-level teachers in the district who felt swapping a three-hour professional planning period for a 40-minute chunk of time plus possible planning time when students went to gym, music or art classes was going to severely limit teachers’ ability to plan their lessons and collaborate. We believe the district’s decision was made with the best interests of children and families in mind. Still, as managers, the district leaders should have taken note of the teachers’ concerns long before the possibility of teachers leaving the district in anger became a reality.

Finally, and quickly because we’re running out of room, a CHEERS to the Camas High choir students who are heading into Portland this Friday night to perform with the rock band Bright Moments. We love choir teacher Ethan Chessin’s take on the students’ collaboration with indie-rock composer Kelly Pratt. Chessin said the show will highlight how students are set to lead us into the “variety of possibilities for the future.”

Having seen the power of youth recently in the many student-led walkouts and marches for gun reform and for making actual, effective changes to our society, we say CHEERS to that.