Thumbs Up: New TDN websites
On Wednesday, TDN launched its all new desktop, mobile and tablet websites. The new designs are much more focused on graphics and pictures as opposed to overwhelming the user with tons of text links. We have some bugs to work out, no doubt, but at first glance this new design looks great. Some readers have already chimed in touting the new site as being “great”, while others not so much. Check it out for yourself. Go to www.tdn.com on your device and see what you think.
Thumbs down: Oregon fishing licenses
For Oregon residents taking your kid fishing just got a little more expensive. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife changed the age requirement for youth fishing licenses. Previously, a fishing license was required for anyone over the age of 14. Under the new regulations anyone over the age of 12 now must have a license.
According to a statement from the ODFW, “There was way too much complexity involved for parents to get hunting and fishing licenses for their kids.” We understand, the ODFW can’t just say - we needed to raise more money and this was our best idea, but that’s the way we interpreted the message.
Let’s be honest, to keep a families heritage of fishing and hunting alive it’s just getting too expensive. Look for the state of Washington to follow suit as kids under the age of 15 currently don’t need a fishing license.
Thumbs Up: NCAA Tournament
March Madness is one of our favorite times of year. Filling out a tournament bracket and watching some of the best basketball played all season is just plain fun. We will be rooting for the Pac-12 teams and Gonzaga this year.
The Washington Huskies are playing in the NIT tourney, having not made to the big dance. The Huskies narrowly beat Long Beach State in the opening round of the NIT earlier this week and have a second round match up against San Diego State – Go Dawgs!
Thumbs down: Unemployment Rate
The local unemployment rate went up recently. The state Employment Security Department reports the Cowlitz county unemployment rate went from 7.5 percent in December to 8 percent in January.
About 600 jobs were lost in a combination of sectors with retail losing 200. The manufacturing sector added about 100 jobs, which is good news. But the reality is an 8 percent unemployment rate is unacceptable, and only measures those people actively looking to get hired. The unemployment rate does not take into account those “discouraged workers” who are unemployed and no longer seeking a job.
It’s important to understand a significant percentage of our local citizens can’t find a job, which means paying rent, feeding a family, etc. are all that much harder. When people say “We can do better,” they certainly mean well, but the effect of low to no economic growth means our neighbors suffer. According to the state of Washington, Cowlitz county’s labor force participation rate dropped to around 56 percent, substantially lower than the national mark of 63 percent. A 56 percent labor participation rate means a little over half of Cowlitz county’s adult population, over the age of 18, has a job.
Thumbs up: Industrial Way
Earlier this week, TDN spent about 90 minutes with Industrial Way-Oregon Way (IW/OW) project manager Claude Sakr. The meeting was very informative.
Like just about everything these days groups are lining up to protest the traffic improvements planned for the IW/OW interchange. Opponents say the reason the interchange is being upgraded is to allow coal trains greater access to the river front. This couldn’t be further from the truth according to Sakr.
TDN reporter Tom Paulu’s story earlier this week explained how the IW/OW interchange will literally be completely “broken” by the year 2040. Traffic jams and congestion would routinely lead to delays of up to an hour, along with increasing the risk of accidents, at an already dangerous intersection. The interchange is currently one of the state’s busiest with a significant level of large truck traffic.
Fixing the interchange will not only make driving through the area much safer, but allow bridge traffic to flow as smoothly as possible. Washington and Oregon will need to work together someday to improve the Lewis and Clark bridge, which links the states. At some point in the future more lanes will need to be added to the bridge and having an upgraded IW-OW interchange will allow traffic to take advantage of the upgrades.
As a byproduct of fixing the intersection there will be better access for automotive and rail traffic, but whether the Millennium project comes to fruition or not, the intersection must be fixed.