EDITORIAL: November Cheers & Jeers

Happy Thanksgiving week, readers. We hope you — much like this November Cheers & Jeers column –are bursting with cheers and short on jeers this holiday season.

In keeping with that spirit, our first CHEERS goes out to the Camas School Board, who read the room this week when they opted for an enrichment levy rate that will bring in some much-needed revenue for the school district without straining taxpayers’ wallets. The last election showed many Camas voters are greatly distressed by the idea of paying more in local property taxes. Time will tell if the taxpayers’ anti-tax sentiments were solely linked to the city of Camas’ proposed community-aquatics center construction bond (which failed by nearly 90 percent), or if they will carry over to issues concerning local education levies and school building bonds.

Speaking of schools, our second CHEERS goes out to the young athletes on the Camas and Washougal football teams, as well as the Camas volleyball team. The Camas football team is on the path toward another state championship and set to play the Mount Si Wildcats this Saturday in the state semifinals. The Washougal football team — though it suffered a heartbreaking loss last week that kicked it off the road to state title glory — achieved success not seen in a Panthers football team since the 1970s. And Camas volleyball players should be proud of their seventh-place finish at the 4A state volleyball tournament in light of the fact that the team lost a key player to injury right before the state tournament began.

A third CHEERS is to the Port of Camas-Washougal for landing the Portland Spirit contract to bring a twice-daily river cruise to the Washougal waterfront next summer. The tours will help promote Washington state’s “Gateway to the Gorge” and have the potential to funnel tourism dollars to small, locally owned businesses in Camas-Washougal.

That, of course, leads us to our fourth CHEERS, which goes out to everyone who is planning to “shop small” this holiday season and help keep money in the local community. Look for more information about the “Little Box Friday” and “Shop Small Saturday” local shopping events happening throughout downtown Camas this weekend on the front page of today’s Post-Record.

Shopping locally not only helps keep dollars in the local community, it also benefits the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cutting back on just one weekly 10-mile round trip by walking or bicycling to a local store keeps an estimated 0.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere each year. CHEERS to that.

Of course, another great way to cut back on your carbon footprint and help keep our local air quality is to drive an electric vehicle (EV). Unfortunately, recharging your EV in Camas-Washougal is extremely limited. The only public charger in Camas — a Blink charger the city installed next to the Camas library using state grant funds a little over three years ago — has been the go-to for EV drivers. A couple years ago, several EV drivers in the area got each other’s cell numbers and would look out for one another by texting when they were done charging. For people driving fully electric vehicles, especially older-model Nissan LEAFs, which don’t have as much range as newer models or other, more expensive EVs, the Camas charging station was critical. Without it, just getting back and forth from Camas to Vancouver was iffy on cold, winter days (when EVs have less range). Our only JEERS is to the fact that this crucial EV charger is now out of order, with no concrete date for replacement. City of Camas staff are working on the issue and, according to the city’s director of public works, looking at the possibility of relocating the charger or even putting in more chargers.

CHEERS to putting in more EV chargers. Even if the city doesn’t have the funds to subsidize the stations, EV drivers who live in, work in or simply visit the Camas-Washougal area need to have at least one working EV charger and most are used to paying for their charging sessions. We would encourage the city council to take steps to remedy the EV charger situation as soon as possible. EV drivers still make up a small percentage of the total population (less than 3 percent), but EV sales have been increasing by more than 60 percent year over year. Camas and Washougal city leaders should help entice those drivers to shop, dine and visit this area — but doing so will be extremely difficult if there are no public EV chargers to be found between Vancouver and Stevenson.