Community turned out for kids' benefit

A story in The Olympian that 650 children are homeless in Thurston County was the spark for last Saturday's "Really Big Shoe" variety show at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

"Our goal is to make sure every dollar raised - from ticket sales, ad sales, sponsorships and donations made during the concert - will go to homeless kids who need shoes, clothes, school supplies, food, dental and medical services and other special needs," said Scott Schoengarth, president of board of directors of Entertainment Explosion, sponsors of the variety show. The nonprofit corporation schedules musical shows at retirement and nursing homes, private events and community gatherings. The magical, sold-out show last Saturday night featured 36 acts - singers, dancers, musicians - all of whom were crowd pleasers. Thanks to the sponsorship of the cities of Tumwater and Lacey, Olympia Copy and Printing and Anchor Bank, Entertainment Explosion was able to raise about $15,000 including nearly $4,500 tossed into containers in the lobby during intermission and after the "Really Big Shoe." The money will go directly to Community Youth Services and Olympia, Tumwater and North Thurston school districts to benefit homeless youth. What a great cause and what a great show. Mark your calendars now for another performance Feb. 16, 2008.

Local law enforcement officers and officials at Providence St. Peter Hospital need to sit down and agree upon procedures for serving warrants on hospital clients. The fact that an employee of Providence St. Peter Hospital's chemical-dependency unit was briefly placed in custody by police after he and other staff members refused to assist officers there to serve an arrest warrant indicates a serious breakdown in communications. Hospital officials defend their employees who they said was simply obeying a federal law that requires that law enforcement officers have two court orders - a search warrant and a second court order - to gain access to a chemical-dependency or drug-treatment center. The employees believed they were following the law and the police officers were simply trying to do their job and arrest a 23-year-old on a domestic violence charge. It's essential that hospital and law enforcement officials mediate this dispute and put procedures in writing so this ugly incident won't be repeated.

I t's encouraging to see members of Congress giving serious consideration to an airline passengers' bill of rights. Anyone who has ever been trapped onboard a grounded airplane for hour after hour after hour can testify to the nightmarish ordeal. Toilets back up. The circulating air quickly grows stagnant. Boredom and frustration give way to anger and flared tempers. Two recent weather ordeals involving dozens of planes that sat on tarmacs for more than eight hours prompted legislative action. The proposed bill would allow passengers to deplane after more than three hours, compel airlines to provide passengers with frequent updates about the delays and require disclosure of information about chronically delayed or canceled flights. Leaving those decisions to pilots and airline officials is not working.

Sheriff Dan Kimball was right to abandon the department's helicopter in favor of a K-9 unit that will see far more use than the helicopter ever did. The numbers simply did not add up. The county paid $30,000 to insure the helicopter last year - a helicopter that flew only a dozen times. Seven of those trips were for community events. Three were for search-and-rescue missions outside Thurston County, and only two flights were tied to criminal cases in Thurston County. Two local cases with $30,000 for insurance. That's $15,000 per case - hardly a bargain for taxpayers. Besides, the local helicopter scene has changed a great deal this year with the addition of Airlift Northwest, the region's flying intensive care unit now operating out of the Olympia Airport. Stephen Lewis, chief executive officer for Airlift Northwest, said when not on medical missions, the helicopters will be available for use by local law enforcement agencies. That's a great offer. The money the county saves on the helicopter operation can be invested in a K-9 unit to track down fleeing felons. The helicopter was largely for show. The K-9 unit undoubtedly will bring criminals to justice, so scrapping the helicopter program makes good sense.