OPINION: January Cheers & Jeers

We’re not even to February, but it already seems like 2020 has had more than its fair share of devastating news.

Most recently, of course, was last weekend’s helicopter crash that claimed the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, including two girls just starting their lives.

But even before that, the first month of 2020 was fraught with rough news, including the World War III worries stemming from President Donald Trump’s killing of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani and its aftermath, which included an Iranian attack on a United States airbase in western Iraq that has, so far, left 50 U.S. service members with traumatic brain injuries, and also resulted in the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which killed 176 passengers and crew members.

To find out weeks later — from a Daily Beast report — that our president may have given guests at his Florida resort “advance knowledge” of the drone strike on Soleimani, resulting in what some senators have called possible money-making trades of defense industry stocks and commodities, would be a devastating and shocking revelation for any other president but was just another “huh, yeah, that sounds really, really bad” piece of news coming out of an administration that uses gaslighting, chaos and distraction as its main forms of communication.

To help counteract the daily bad news of this new year, we’ve decided to go heavy on the “Cheers” in this first “Cheers & Jeers” column of 2020.

First on that list is a CHEERS for the still-loyal fans of former Washougal High basketball player Beyonce Bea, who came out to cheer on their hometown superstar on Jan. 2, when Bea’s University of Idaho Vandals women’s basketball team took on Portland State University at Portland’s Viking Pavilion. Those crowds helped prop up Bea and her 2019 Washougal basketball team, undoubtedly helping the girls dominate their competitors all season and claim the school’s first state basketball title, and it was nice to see those same folks turn out for Bea’s game in Portland.

“It was really special, just to see everyone come out and make that trip,” Bea told the Post-Record.. “I could definitely hear them in the crowd when I was playing … My teammates all said to me, ‘Dang, you have like half the crowd here in the stands. It’s awesome.'”

Our second CHEERS goes out to city of Camas planners and officials who have gone out of their way to give community members a say in the future of the city’s North Shore area. Many in Camas may not realize that the city’s North Shore “visioning workshops,” online surveys and first-phase sub-area planning is not required. In fact, city leaders could rely on the zoning previous city officials OK’d in 2013 and call it good in North Shore. Instead, the city is reaching out to residents to help form the type of detailed, community driven sub-area planning that could shape North Shore into a unique area in tune with the needs and desires of the Camas community.

The third CHEERS goes out to the Washougal Levy Committee for its work communicating the facts about the Washougal School District’s replacement levies on the Feb. 11 special election ballot. The group has been trying to dispel false assumptions about the levies by emphasizing that the levies will not result in new taxes; provide funding for more than 14 percent of the district’s budget; fund basic programs for the next three years; and will not pay for school construction.

That brings us to this month’s only JEERS, which goes out to a former Washougal City Councilwoman and chairperson of the Clark County Republican Party’s 18th Legislative District Committee, Connie Jo Freeman, who penned a statement for the voters guide opposing the levies’ passage. In her statement, Freeman fearmongers about SB 5395, a bill Washington state senators passed this month related to comprehensive sexual health education in the state’s schools. (Camas-Washougal’s state senator, Ann Rivers, voted “nay” on the bill.) Freeman urges parents and grandparents to find out what their children or grandchildren are learning about sex in schools before approving the levies.

We also urge parents and grandparents to learn more about SB 5395. Advocates for implementing age-appropriate, evidence-based lessons about sex, sexual health and healthy relationships in our public schools include the National Association of School Nurses; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine; the American Medical Association; and the American Public Health Association.

In other words, the experts agree that our children and grandchildren need to have accurate, up-to-date information about human sexuality, STDs, contraception, intimate partner violence, gender roles and other crucial issues that will impact them throughout their entire lives. CHEERS to that.

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