Some troubling things we typically think happen only elsewhere can, we have learned too often, happen here as well. Last week’s article about an elementary school student who fired a toy cap gun on a Methow Valley School District bus was a reminder that our community isn’t immune to such incidents, which are usually more scary than threatening but nonetheless can cause high anxiety.
Whatever the circumstances, school district officials were correct in treating the situation seriously and with an abundance of caution to reassure parents that their children are safe.
The youngster with the cap gun, which reportedly looked authentic enough to cause alarm, was expelled as part of the district’s disciplinary process. Some might call that overreaction. Most people probably don’t see it that way, given how jittery we have become about guns or things that look a lot like guns, and how many incidents have resulted in multiple shootings in schools and public places.
And all too frequently we read about kids shooting themselves, other kids or adults with loaded guns they somehow got hold of. How, we ask ourselves, can that happen?
But it does, so when a child produces something that looks even remotely like a real weapon, it’s cause for concern and action.
The district may find a way to get the expelled student back into school, which would be a good thing even though potentially difficult for the child, whose apparently innocent, playful and ultimately harmless act will not be quickly forgotten by other kids.
Still, it’s important that everyone involved — students, parents, teachers and the school administration — be on the same page when it comes to how gun scares are treated.
“If there’s a place to err on the side of caution, this is one of the areas where we’d like to do so,” Superintendent Tom Venable told the News last week.
If caution can help prevent more-serious incidents, then we can’t have too much.
Keep the road open
Many county residents were no doubt gratified — and perhaps some were more than a little surprised — when the county’s hearing examiner ruled last week that a primitive road leading over the ridge from the Chiliwist to the Methow Valley and the Loup Loup summit should remain open to the public.
Hearing Examiner Dan Beardslee rejected a request by Gamble Land and Timber to close the road, noting that it still has ample public utility and should not be restricted.
We think that was the right decision and urge the county commissioners to endorse Beardslee’s recommendation after the appeals process had run its course.
Nobody, save Gamble Land, seems to think that vacating the road is a good idea, which Beardslee noted in his decision. “The testimony by citizens, both oral and written, particularly with respect to the utility of the road as an emergency evacuation route, is far more compelling” than Gamble Land’s arguments, he said.
Those citizens are the commissioners’ constituency. This would be a good time to pay attention to them.
Feeling like filing?
We feel duty bound to remind everyone that the filing period for local elected offices is now upon us. If you are interested in such things as hospital districts, town councils, school boards, fire districts and even cemetery districts, and believe in the value of community service, you should consider running.
Unfortunately, most local positions seem to go uncontested unless there is a notable conflict within a particular jurisdiction. A sparsely populated ballot is more convenient for the electorate than making choices, but it’s not healthy for democracy or, in the long run, for public confidence in our representative bodies. Besides, offices ought to be contested, not just won by default.
Running for office is taxing and time-consuming, and holding office is less fun and more work than most citizens realize or appreciate. But it can also be gratifying and rewarding.
Filing in Okanogan County ends Friday (May 15). If you are interested in pursuing your political aspirations, see the story on page A3 for information on how to do that. You might surprise yourself, and possibly the rest of us, by making a difference in this community.
— Don Nelson