Spanning the State: Sunny skies make me feel good, edition

Carla Axtman

Finally! Mother Nature has seen fit to grace us with a few days of glorious sunshine! I've been able to work out in my garden in clothing that doesn't resemble that worn by the Gorton's fisherman. Even the Portland Rose Festival Parade, an event known for being held in sketchy weather, saw beautiful, sunny skies. And as I look out of my window this morning, more blue sky once again greets me.

There have been a lot of tough, sad stories in the news of late. So I thought it would be a welcome change for this week's Spanning the State to pull out some of the happy/good news nuggets reported in local papers. Read and enjoy them, please. And then turn off your computer and head outside for a healthy dose of Vitamin D.


Part of the American ethos is the idea that we are a nation of people who rise above diversity adversity (although I guess you could rise above diversity, too. LOL oops). A government program in Benton County helped a student do just that. This week at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, graduating senior Brianna Waslien showed the rest of her classmate's how pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is done. Waslien had a rocky start to her high school career, allowing her grades to plummet and falling into substance abuse. After two MIPs in summer of 2007, she was ordered to enroll in the Benton County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court , a structured, long-term, closely supervised court-based drug-treatment program. Walien turned her life around, raised her grades and graduated this week, crediting the program as a key part to her success. She now plans to enroll in art school to study photography. Congratulations, Brianna!

If you're looking to get some good samaritans into your life, try Beaverton. Last month, three citizens chased down an alleged purse snatcher, accused of stealing the bag from a patron at the local Ava Roastaria coffee shop. The men cornered the alleged thief in a public restroom down the street until the police arrived. The purse and all its contents were returned to the rightful owner.

The town of Lakeview will receive a $40,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Energy to study possible geothermal energy for the downtown area. Geothermal heat would likely come from wells at the north end of Lakeview. The study would determine if geothermal energy can be efficiently used in buildings, and if the heat could also keep streets and sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

Hood River is seeing business and construction activity pick up, signaling a possible end to the economic downturn. According to City Planning Director Cindy Walbridge, a number of key road and building construction projects are moving forward. In addition several new businesses will be opening their doors, including an ice cream shop and a Grand Central Bakery. The city is also expecting 150 new jobs from Insitu, a Bingen-based company that manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles.

Recently, Senator Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting with students at Taft High School in Lincoln City. It's well known that Wyden holds these types of meetings each year in every county in Oregon, though not necessarily with students. What you might not know: these students ask intelligent, thought-provoking questions of their U.S. Senator. Wyden took questions on terrorism, economic recovery legislation, health care, the BP oil disaster and gay marriage, among others. Awesome.

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    I think you mean "a nation of people who rise above adversity," not "diversity."

    But it is sunny outside, so maybe my brain cells aren't firing properly. Blinded by the light....

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    Good to hear about development in Hood River. I expect that more of that transportation grant money will (should, IMHO) go to road routes and intersections than to the pedestrian safety committee, which while important I haven't observed to be particularly problematic. They do need more traffic lights.

    There is a lot of disappointment there regarding closure of the Hood River Library, but I'm heartened that it will only be temporary.

    I observed two things in Hood River: the town is clearly poised for impressive growth, while residents display an ambivalence about growth/expansion. Ultimately, Hood River is lucky to have experience CP's to help lead the path.

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