Summer is buzzing right along, and each week endless opportunities abound to enjoy time together in our community. Along with Thursday evening concerts at Lake Sacajawea, the Cowlitz County Fair begins at the end of the month, and oodles of other activities remain throughout August leaving plenty of summertime left to enjoy an elephant ear or two and take in the summer sun.
Even though I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of gal, I am realistic enough to know that life isn’t always sunshine and roses. How we personally view something may not always be the full picture. Seeking out additional information from credible sources is an important step when trying to see the whole picture. While there are instances all around us where we can clearly see the “not so good”, there is value in seeking for the good that is all around us that may not be so apparent. As a mother, I learned that “catching my children doing good” had a significantly better impact on behavior than pointing out the “obvious” bad. While this alone doesn’t make “bad” things go away, consciously shifting our perspective changes our understanding and approach. While we are out and about in the community more during the year, how can we see through a more positive lens for a more positive perspective?
Let’s take on two of the biggies today:
What is going on with our Crown Jewel Lake Sacajawea? Lake Sacajawea is definitely going through a serious case of regulation-itis. Aside from broken and disabled fountains, construction work at Hemlock Plaza and more to come, the Longview Parks Department has had many obstacles regarding algae, milfoil, yellow iris and lily pad overgrowth, not to mention some destructive beavers. Each of these require their own specific 16-syllable treatments, a span of treatment times, and certified aquatic specialists to manage. The short answer is - the parks department is uber-focused on restoring our beautiful lake. The way to see this in a positive manner: We have a staff dedicated to excellence, a beautiful lake and landscape with wildlife in many varieties, and community and family events that lighten the soul. Enjoy the music, playgrounds, manicured grasses and find comfort that all will be well in the lake-world soon.
What is going on with the Alabama Camp? Back in March of 2020, Covid-19 hit the nation and the intended hope for the unhoused in the Cowlitz County Region was to have a rotating camp between municipalities. The plan was sabotaged by Covid and a dissolved County/City homeless and siting committee, which later evolved into an approved Homeless Pilot County/City partnership for a one-year hosted encampment. Fast forward to a new name, a revised Memo of Understanding (MOU) approved by the County, and a new County Commissioner, the County received one vendor request to manage the program, but the vendor did not meet the parameters and scope of the MOU. It’s difficult to find a positive view of this situation as we continue hearing from citizens across the community of their disdain for the camp. People are frustrated, police are run ragged and the camp gets dirtier and unhealthier by the minute. The bottom line: The Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Martin vs Boise) has ruled that unhoused individuals “cannot be punished for sleeping in absence of alternatives”. In essence, it is not an enforceable offense to be unhoused. Law enforcement can enforce the 9:30 p.m. - 6:30 a.m. sleeping hours, shopping carts, defecation and public urination, and/or camping and storing personal property on public property and on public rights of way, such as streets, sidewalks and alleys. So, how can we see this with some kind of positive view? Let’s be grateful we have a behavioral health unit that works alongside our police force to help mitigate some of the mental illness and drug and substance abuse issues that continue to burden some of these individuals. Housing units are being built, which will offer some relief. Longview has a corner on social service agencies across the county, and each unique agency will gladly take your donations to assist those in need.
Part of sharing these delicate topics is to bring awareness to the public, but also to welcome solutions. Looking through “rose-colored glasses” doesn’t change the reality of the issues that beset us and there isn’t a one-size fits all answer; but as we consider the reality of the positive elements as part of a whole picture and we take incremental steps forward, we’ll continue to move in the direction we are trying to go.
Last, but not least, Longview is burning out the clock on its 99th year. A grand celebration is underway for 2023 – our centennial celebration! Do you have a memory of your years in Longview? Whether you have been here in Longview for one year or 100, let’s continue in a positive direction for 2023 and make some happy memories together.
Best to you always,
Mayor MaryAlice Wallis