We don’t know about you, but May has flown by at The Post-Record. That may be due to the fact that this has been a news-filled month with barely enough room in the paper to accommodate all the stories our reporters are running down. That also means there’s a lot to choose from for our monthly Cheers & Jeers editorial.
First up is a CHEERS to the more than 200 people who have chipped in money and offered their culinary skills to help Agnes and Phillip Park, owners of Hana Foods, a Korean restaurant in the heart of downtown Camas, who were burned after scalding teriyaki sauce boiled over on May 4, injuring Phillip’s hand and foot and badly burning his mother, Agnes, the restaurant’s main cook. A separate CHEERS to Carrie Schulstad, executive director of the Downtown Camas Association, who set up a GoFundMe account to help the Parks. In just a couple weeks, 216 people have contributed nearly $17,000 of the $20,000 GoFundMe goal. To help the Parks or read updates, visit gofundme.com/help-hana-in-downtown-camas.
Our next CHEERS goes out to the bystanders who ran to the aid of a severely injured teen in Washougal last week, especially to Jeff Wittler, a Camas Little League coach, who risked his own safety crawling over a train car to apply a makeshift tourniquet to the 15-year-old boy, who had his leg severed after trying to crawl under a slow moving train. Within minutes, two other medical professionals had come to the boy’s side and were able to help before first responders arrived. As horrible as the boy’s injuries were, they could have been much worse without these quick-acting adults, who were simply passing by in their cars and attending a nearby baseball game when the incident occurred.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so selfless. Which leads us to our only JEERS of the month. This one goes out to all the pro-fireworks folks at a recent Camas City Council public hearing who listened to their clearly frazzled and fed up neighbors say the city’s allowance of personal fireworks causes them, their children and their pets an immense amount of fear and worry, and then spoke passionately in favor of keeping those fireworks.
These same people heard that their neighbors often have to leave the area on the Fourth of July, and that many are considering leaving Camas altogether if city leaders don’t get rid of the fireworks. They heard from people who worry about families whose children have special sensory needs and from a young boy who said he had been monitoring a nest of baby birds in his yard, but that a neighbor’s fireworks display had scared the mama bird away and the babies died in their nest. They listened to this child asking his city leaders to think of the wildlife and ban fireworks. And yet they still argued in favor of being able to throw their annual parties and shoot their fireworks — neighbors, pets, veterans with PTSD, wildlife and children with special sensory needs be damned. For a group of people touting community and togetherness, it seems incredibly selfish to hold on to an expensive and unnecessary “tradition” that causes other people so much stress, fear and pain.
We have to wonder if these folks fully understand the risks associated with shooting off personal fireworks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, personal fireworks cause roughly 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires. The association estimates that, in the U.S., an average of three people die each year and 40 more are injured due to fireworks.
Last year’s wildfires in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area proved just how devastating these fireworks can be. Why in the world would people want to risk ruining the beautiful natural areas that make Camas such an attractive place to live, work and visit?
The Camas City Council should not only seriously consider a total ban on all personal fireworks, but also find a way to fund more frequent enforcement of those who insist on using personal fireworks illegally.