February Cheers & Jeers

Considering the fact that we’re writing this on a morning when the cold wind whipping in from the Columbia River Gorge forced our editor’s Siberian huskies inside almost immediately after they’d been freed to the snowy backyard, it is appropriate to give our first February Cheers to those who help this area’s most vulnerable find shelter from the storm.

Earlier this month, the Camas-Washougal Community Chest approved a $3,500 grant to purchase 20 cots, along with food and supplies, for the severe weather shelter. Those cots arrived on Feb. 1, just in time for the cold snap and snow that arrived on Feb. 5.

There are not enough Cheers to go around for folks like the Community Chest board, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church Pastor Robert Barber, the volunteers at the severe weather shelter and the folks who helped extend hours at the Salvation Army of Camas-Washougal Day Center. These community members make sure their fellow and sister humans are protected from the coldest of February days and nights, even if it means sacrificing nights in their own warm beds to stay at the shelter as overnight volunteers.

A second Cheers goes out to the Camas gymnasts who recently won their second consecutive state championship trophy. These young athletes often practice at school as well as at club gyms and dedicate the majority of their free time to perfecting their routines. Congratulations to all the Camas gymnasts.

While we’re on a Cheers roll, let’s give another one to the volunteers from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation’s Tax-Aide program, who show up to libraries and community centers throughout Clark County every tax season to give free tax assistance and tax preparation services to low- to moderate-income residents of all ages.

Our next Cheers is for the “MyCamas” folks who worked so hard to help their town win a $500,000 downtown business “makeover” and spot on the fourth season of “Small Business Revolution — Main Street.” Although Camas made the top six towns, out of about 12,000 entries, MyCamas supporters discovered this week that their city had lost out to a college town in Arkansas. It was a good run, though, and MyCamas promotions reminded local residents about what makes Camas such a special place.

When people talked about why they love living or working in Camas, the answers focused on the town’s sense of community, on its friendliness, its parks, its schools, its downtown events, its sense of “fun.”

We were thinking about this sense of what makes a community when we decided to give this month’s Jeers to the folks who showed up at the Washougal City Council’s meeting earlier this week to push for a “Second Amendment sanctuary city,” which essentially means they want Washougal leaders to not enforce voter-approved gun safety laws.

We’re not going to get into a debate over the constitutionality of those laws — especially because we only have a few paragraphs’ worth of space left.

Instead, this Jeers is given because these Second Amendment folks seem to care a lot about guns, but very little about what actually makes a community a special place in which to live and work.

A film crew from “VICE News Tonight” was at Monday’s city council meeting in Washougal. So now, instead of being known for all the wonderful things happening — its downtown businesses, its talented girls basketball team, its unique historical museum, the breathtaking views from its waterfront, the prime swimming holes on its river, the Native American art being installed near its library, the wealth of talented people who gather at its senior center, the people who run its severe weather shelter, the numerous artists who call it home — Washougal will be known throughout the country as something much more ominous: a place where men carrying guns and spouting beliefs about overthrowing the government in a violent coup show up to council meetings and basically get a free pass from the town’s leaders.

Instead of standing up for the voters in Camas-Washougal, Clark County and Washington — the majority of whom voted for the gun control measures these folks want to smother — several Washougal councilors seemed sympathetic and accommodating to people who have advocated on more than one occasion for the violent overthowing of “tyrants” in local, state and federal government branches and who came before the city council with guns strapped to their hips in an obvious attempt to intimidate.

We could say much more about this, but will instead point you to another opinion piece on this page, “A peace prayer for Patriot Prayer,” by Pastor Matt Boswell, who is praying for “the type of peace that says, ‘you are welcome here, but your hatred is not.'”

That is, by the way, exactly what Washougal leaders should have said Monday night, when those “VICE News Tonight” cameras were rolling.

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