REPEAL WEDDING BAN IN GORGE

July 25, 2003 12:00 am

The wide spot on the road known as Bridal Veil in the Columbia Gorge is seriously misnamed.

For some time now, weddings have been prohibited within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. The brides and grooms who would thoroughly enjoy being married amid the gorge's splendor had a glimmer of hope. The Columbia River Gorge Commission was considering whether a commercial event such as a wedding should be allowed at a bed-and-breakfast, winery or similar business in the gorge. But on Tuesday, the commission said no.

We puzzle why a prohibition on weddings continues. How can a wedding in a spot overlooking the Northwest's largest river be a problem for anyone?

Those supporting the wedding ban conjure images of white tents being set up, a couple hundred cars parked nearby and loud music.

It's hard to believe that any of those things would detract much from the gorge. The tents are set up only for brief periods; the cars could be parked in an orderly fashion, and a compact disc of the "Wedding March" could be played at a modest volume.

Earlier this year, the gorge commission was considering opening up the area for weddings with some restrictions. No more than 100 guests could attend the event and a 50-car maximum would be enforced. Tents and portable restrooms could be on the site for no more than five days. Those discussions were for naught.

Brides, their grooms and guests should be welcome at Bridal Veil and its surrounds. It's time for common sense to rule when it comes to managing the Columbia Gorge.

FUND RETHA SHIRLEY NURSING SCHOLARSHIP

Want to help a nursing student pursue his or her career? Then consider making a contribution to the Retha Shirley scholarship fund through the Oregon Health & Science University nursing schools.

The fund was set up with a $3,000 donation by Dave and Suzann Chapman as a way to remember Shirley, an OHSU nursing student in Klamath Falls and a 2001 La Grande High School graduate. Shirley, 19, was one of the five forest firefighters who died in the June 21, 2002, van crash on a Colorado freeway. She is remembered for her giving ways and love for life.

The Chapmans hope to see the fund grow beyond their donation. Contributions can be sent to the OHSU Foundation, Retha Mae Shirley Scholarship, 1121 S.W. Salmon, Suite 200, Portland 97205. Those who give to the fund will be remembering a very fine young woman who wanted to serve others as a nurse. They'll also be helping other nursing students reach their goal.