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April 9 Daily News Editorial

Thumbs up: Green light for LCC project

Ushering a capital project, even one that's been previously approved on almost every possible level, through this year's Washington state Legislature has required a mix of diplomacy, artistry and magic. In times of shrinking budgets and tight dollars, large outlays for new buildings make easy targets. Delaying just one or two of them for a year or two is often the easy way out when budget goals prove elusive.

We were pleased to see that Lower Columbia College's $37.7 million Health and Science Center wasn't selected for this treatment, at least in the budget proposed this week by the Democratic majority in the House.

The Senate has yet to submit its budget, but survival in the House, however, was a major hurdle.

We don't know whether or not there was a behind the scenes tug of war over LCC's appropriation. If there was, we salute the efforts of those who tugged on the college's behalf.

Thumbs down: Teens and bad timing

This spring's crop of high school seniors and juniors may have youth and talent on their side, but their timing seems less than ideal. After a stiff tuition increase in 2010, Washington's public colleges are coming back with a 13-percent increase for in-state students for the 2010-11 academic year. Community college students are looking at a hike of 11 percent.

We spent a day in Olympia recently and witnessed copious legislative and administrative hand-wringing over the large cuts to higher ed budgets that are being passed along to students and their parents. University of Washington officials are attempting to account for some of this gap by admitting more out-of-state applicants (who pay much higher fees), thus reducing the number of young Washingtonians entering UDub as freshmen in September by 150. The class admitted for entry in September of 2012 may have as many as 500 fewer state residents.

We understand that elementary and secondary education enjoy constitutional protection in Washington that higher education does not. When we evaluate candidates for statewide office in the future, however, men and women with practical ideas for bringing these unfortunate trends to a halt will advance toward the head of the class.

Thumbs up: Competitive edges

We congratulate Knowledge Bowl teams from R.A. Long and Mark Morris high schools for finishing second and third in the state tournament last week.

We were also less than surprised to learn that the general rivalry between the two Longview high schools might be just as keen in scholarship as it is in any sport and don't see any reason why the "benefits of competition" so often referenced in praise of ahtletics wouldn't be even more valid in an academic competition.

A man named Arie de Geus, who achieved distinction in both private business (Royal Dutch Shell Oil) and as a teacher of financial management (London Business School), once said it this way: "The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be life's only sustainable competitive advantage."

Thumbs up: Canoeing back to the future

It's not going anywhere anytime real soon, but the 25-foot red cedar canoe currently housed at the Cowlitz County Historical Society in Kelso is worth a visit before it's eventually shipped off to what will be its permanent home at an interperative center planned for the Port of Kalama.

The canoe is not only evocative of earlier days in Cowlitz County, it's inspiring when you consider that carver Robert Harju crafted it using only the resources available to his ancestors — fire and sharpened stone tools. When it's time to relocate to Kalama, Harju and Cowlitz Tribal Council Chairman Steve Kutz said they might portage to the river and paddle the canoe to its new address.

Thursday night's ceremonial blessing of the canoe drew a large crowd to the museum that might have been larger if not for the landslide that continues to block State Route 4 near Stella. It was perhaps surprising that no one asked Harju and Lutz if the canoe might not be available for immediate, temporary service as the quickest mode of transportation betweem Longview and Cathlamet.


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