July Cheers & Jeers

In this Camas Days-heavy issue, it’s pretty easy to find a few dozen things to celebrate during the month of July. But our first Cheers goes out to the the folks who help kick off the annual Camas Days celebration with the coronation of the Camas Days Queen (and sometimes King). The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Camas-Washougal hosts a lovely coronation event each year and celebrates the best of the Camas-Washougal community by highlighting people like this year’s queen, Maxine Ambrose, who may not always get the glory despite their often lifelong commitment to the community. Ambrose, for instance, has been giving back to her community for 50 years, volunteering at the Inter-Faith Treasure House, Soroptimist International of Camas-Washougal, the Camas-Washougal Historical Society, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum, the Lost and Found Cafe, Friends of the Cemetery, Boy Scouts and her children’s’ school PTAs. This type of “behind the scenes” work is the glue that keeps a communities like Camas and Washougal running, but often goes unnoticed by those who reap its benefits. So cheers to the GFWC, to Ambrose and to the Columbia Ridge Senior Living center, which hosts the annual queen’s coronation event.

Our second July Cheers goes out to the Friends of the Columbia Gorge group for their constant and tireless advocacy for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. As the only nonprofit with a sole mission of ensuring the gorge remains, as their website states, “a place apart, an unspoiled treasure for generations to come,” the Friends group is the best resource around for finding gorge hikes, joining an environmental campaign to help protect the gorge’s wild and wondrous natural areas, discovering new gorge-related volunteer opportunities and getting news about everything from wildflower hikes to wildfires in the gorge.

The third Cheers goes out to Aaron Smith, principal at Camas’ Odyssey Middle School and soon-to-open Discovery High School. Smith is always available for a construction update or to show media visitors what’s happening inside the project-based learning schools. Discovery High, set to open in just a few weeks, will serve 120 freshmen during the 2018-19 school year and grow over the years to accommodate a full grades 9-12 student body. The new, $46 million high school, funded by the $120 million bond passed by voters in 2016, will feature a 3,000-square-foot lab for science and art projects as well as a research-and-design studio, flexible learning spaces and a fabrication center. Smith recently told The Post-Record that project-based learning administrators are trying to build a program that will help Camas students find their passions while also preparing them for a 21st century world and economy.

Our sole July Jeers is for 3rd Congressional District candidate Earl Bowerman for his comments regarding children separated from their asylum-seeking parents on the southern United States border. At a July 12 town hall held at Vancouver’s Clark College, Bowerman said those children — who are currently being kept in cages and reportedly unable to hug each other, speak to their relatives or, in one case involving a child younger than 5, even get a shower or bath for several weeks — now have “a higher quality of life” because they are, according to Bowerman, “for the first time ever … learning how to use indoor plumbing.”

We would suggest the Camas-by-way-of-California candidate brush up on his understanding of other nations’ infrastructures as well as our own country’s failing infrastructure. In Mexico, nearly 95 percent of people living in urban areas and 75 percent of those in rural areas have access to improved water supplies. Nationwide, Mexico reports improved sanitation access to more than 85 percent of the country. Meanwhile, according to a 2014 Washington Post article, 1.6 million people in the United States do not have full indoor plumbing. Thousands of residents in Flint, Michigan are still — two years after the fact — unable to drink that city’s water. Flint’s lead pipes are not expected to be replaced until at least 2020. And let’s not forget the tens of thousands of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico who went nine months without power after Hurricane Maria hit in October 2017.

Residents in Washington’s 3rd District deserve a leader who is well-informed, compassionate and willing to overcome lifelong biases to better understand what is happening at national and international levels. Bowerman’s ill-informed, small-minded comments about families in crisis prove he is not capable of this type of leadership.