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Daily News editorial

South Kelso improvements

We read with excitement a story by TDN reporter Rose Lundy about a Kelso eyesore that will disappear soon.

An empty house and garage next to the Lads and Lassies Park on Elm Street was donated by its owner — who grew up in the house — to the nonprofit Red Thistle Society last summer. The five-member group, formed to honor and preserve Kelso’s historic places, thought it would be a good idea to remodel the building and turn it into a museum about the city.

Their idea, however, was quashed by constant break-ins and vandalism despite attempts to secure the house. People broke windows and ripped plywood off the boarded-up portions to gain entrance. Once inside, they urinated, defecated and left hypodermic needles. Neighbors even saw people attempting to light fires on the house’s second floor.

The City of Kelso recently came to the rescue. The city bought the land and the building. Plans are to demolish the structure and apply for State Recreation and Conservation Office grants to renovate the small Lads and Lassies Park next door, offering an attractive playground area for neighborhood kids which will improve the area’s quality of life.

Kelso City Councilman Jim Hill told Lundy, “the deteriorating building had come to symbolize Kelso’s social troubles, but could come to symbolize rebirth.”

It is an investment in South Kelso, he said. “It’s going to enhance the neighborhood.”

We wholeheartedly agree and look forward to seeing the improvements.

The importance of history

The latest entry in The Daily News’ Lower Columbia Profiles, which appeared in Friday’s edition, focused on longtime Longview resident Bill Kasch and his efforts to preserve the city’s history.

According to the article by reporter Jackson Hogan, Kasch has spearheaded many projects centering on Longview’s history, with some help from his wife, Donna, and The Merk owner, John Chilson.

Kasch was instrumental in getting the “Welcome to Longview” sign on West Cowlitz Way installed in 2013. He also was behind installing the metal statue of R.A. Long and a girl with a rose in the Broadway median. There are many more signs, plaques, paintings, etc., throughout the city Kasch helped get in place.

Longview has a unique and layered history worth celebrating. We are glad people like Bill Kasch remind us of that.

Woodland festival

We were sad to learn Holland America has canceled this year’s tulip festival in Woodland.

We don’t blame Holland America. The fault lies with Mother Nature and the gloomy, wet spring the region has had this year. But still, events such as the annual flower extravaganza help bring much-needed tourist dollars to the area. Well, that and we just like tulips.

Visitors still will be able to visit the tulip fields to snap photos, purchase cut flowers or pick their own tulips at the U-Pick Field at 1066 South Pekin Road.

We hope next year’s weather is a little more cooperative.

Thanks, principals

Two local principals deserve our thanks, for entirely different reasons.

Kelso High School Principal John Gummel was voted Washington’s High School Principal of the Year. Under his leadership, Kelso High has enjoyed rising graduating rates. It also transitioned from a semester to a trimester system, something that gives students more chances to meet state requirements and that Scott Seaman from the Association of Washington School Principals said provides a good example for others across the state.

Clatskanie Elementary Principal Brad Thorud also distinguished himself. When the Clatskanie School Board voted not to renew his contract, supportive teachers and parents launched protests that spiraled into a recall petition against the board members who voted against Thorud. Ballots are being mailed out now.

Much of the information Clatskanie voters need to make their decision about this recall is contained in Thorud’s personnel file, but the school district claimed it was legally allowed to keep that file secret. The Daily News appealed; like other media organizations, we rely on public records to give voters reliable information about the issues they are expected to decide. But Thorud cut short the appeal process when he made the unusual decision to ask the school district to release his record, which it did.

Whatever the result of the May 1 recall election, Thorud and the school district did the right thing here by allowing voters to mark their ballots with much more complete information in hand.

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