Cheers n’ jeers: Police department takes a positive step, wildfires rage

Cheers to the Snoqualmie Police Department for hiring Stephanie Butler, a licensed social worker and mental health counselor. Butler joined the department in September as its new mental health professional and community responder. She will work directly alongside police and other first responders on calls that involve mental health crises. One report estimates as many as 20% of calls to police involve mental health crises. The position is funded by state money for a single year at $150,000. After that, it’s up to Snoqualmie and North Bend to fund the position. But if it redirects more people to treatment instead of jails and hospitals, then it will be money well spent.

Cheers to the Seattle Mariners and their playoff run! Even though the playoffs ended in disappointment, it felt good to feel good again about the Mariners in October.

Jeers to the racial disparity in homeownership in Washington state. A work group’s findings show that, despite housing discrimination and redlining no longer being legal, the housing gap is even more significant now. Disparities between white and non-white homeownership is between 14% and 18% in King County — and in some counties, the gap is much higher. Owning a home is a primary way to build wealth for many families. Government leaders must create more opportunities for people to own their home.

Cheers to North Bend City Councilmembers Jonathan Rosen and Brenden Elwood for voting against the Snoqualmie Valley School District’s recent Capital Facilities Plan. The plan is a six-year outlook on development projects, and the district depends on local municipalities to collect the taxes. Kudos to these two North Bend elected officials for refusing to rubber-stamp the school district’s request for approval. Sometimes you need a protest vote to call attention to a problem hiding in plain sight — namely the portables at overcrowded elementary schools in North Bend. The school district needs to put together a bond proposal and rally North Bend voters to approve it.

Jeers to election deniers.

Cheers to the National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Program that will work wonders for the region’s salmon migration and spawning. The federal money will replace at least 50 culverts in King County to allow fish and other native animals to pass safely under roads. The program is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which made about $1 billion in federal money available to restore fish culverts, many of which are expected to be used in our region. This will be money well spent. Salmon play a critical role in Washington’s environment, economy and food supply.

Jeers to whatever caused the 2,000 acre Loch Katrine Fire, which has been burning on private timber land inside the Alpine Lake Wilderness Area adjacent to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest since early September.

Cheers to Mary Ellen Stone, CEO of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, who will retire next fall after more than four decades of advocating for sexual assault survivors. She has been a driving force for change in the way survivors are viewed and treated, both in King County and Washington state, and has been a role model for other regions throughout the United States. The world needs more people like Mary Ellen Stone.

— By Andy Hobbs, editor