Advocate for underserved populations named Clark County First Citizen
A longtime leader, advocate and crusader for underserved populations, Diana Avalos-Leos was named this year’s Clark County First Citizen. The First Citizen Award is given annually to a Clark County resident who models exemplary citizenship.
To Avalos-Leos, that means holding space for community residents and providing the next generation with pathways for meaningful engagement.
“I realize I hold an incredible space in this community. … I can help projects, initiatives, people move forward,” she said in an interview with The Columbian, which is a sponsor of the award.
According to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Avalos-Leos is the first award recipient to identify as a woman of color. First Citizen, which started in 1939, tends to go to older, white retirees who are invested in the community. Award winners are chosen by a committee of community leaders and past award recipients. At 52, Avalos-Leos is the youngest award winner since restaurateur Mark Matthias, who won it in 2008 when he was 52.
On top of working full time at the Healthy Living Collaborative, Avalos-Leos keeps herself busy. She founded the Clark County Latino Youth Conference, serves as vice president of youth at Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens, and trains people in the community about rights and protections for immigrant families. Avalos-Leos recently took part in The Columbian’s Bridging the Border: A Community Forum with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and was appointed to the Washington Exchange Board by Gov. Jay Inslee. Her work focuses on bringing people together.
Avalos-Leos said she’s typically awake by 5 a.m. and home after 6 or 7 p.m. due to her commitments. But she’s found that connecting with people often happens when she finds a few minutes or a half-hour during her day. She also credits her supportive spouse for her success.
“He knows I’m involved in a lot of things. He’s incredibly patient,” Avalos-Leos said.
The award came as a huge surprise to Avalos-Leos, she said. She moved to Clark County in 1999 for a job opportunity, and her kids graduated from Battle Ground High School.
“This is a place where people actually care and are kind,” she said, adding that people aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work.
She considers it her civic and personal duty to make the community better.
“I don’t question why me,” she said of that sense of duty. “It’s more why not me?”
Tamara Shoup, executive director of school support for Vancouver Public Schools, nominated Avalos-Leos, who used to work at the school district. Avalos-Leos supported schools that had a large number of Spanish-speaking families and continues to work with the district through the Healthy Living Collaborative.
“I’ve also just been amazed by her ability to identify young leaders” and help them rise to the top, Shoup said. “Some people can give their resources in dollars. What Diana has shown us is you can give your resources in service and have an incredible impact, too.”
In her nominee summary, Shoup wrote: “Diana’s passion and steadfast resolve to cultivate inclusive engagement practices goes far beyond her role as a professional. She lives her mission: taking action every single day, giving others the confidence to do hard things and creating opportunity for others to join her.”
Shoup has seen Avalos-Leos help families and serve as a resource “day or night.” When immigration laws began changing in 2016 and the implication on Vancouver Public Schools families was unclear, Avalos-Leos rallied professional experts to explain to parents what their rights were and how school employees could help.
“She’s just an amazing human being,” Shoup said.
The 2020 First Citizen celebration takes place April 23 at WareHouse ’23 on the Vancouver waterfront.
Blaine’s rivals clear a path for threepeat
Hudson’s Bay senior Allison Blaine is trying not to get ahead of herself. She knows anything can happen on the mats.
But entering this weekend’s Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome, Blaine’s path to a third state title is clear. Potential contenders have opted for other weight classes, leaving Blaine, the top-ranked 135-pounder a heavy favorite to become Clark County’s first three-time girls wrestling champion.
She could join, Camas’ Bill Bradley (1979-81), Evergreen’s Ben Vombaur (1996-98) and Columbia River’s Kyle Bounds (2002-05) as the only local three-time winners.
“It’s a lot of excitement in my bones, even in my fingers,” Blaine said. “I’m ready to get out there and get it over with.”
Blaine is one of the most decorated wrestlers in state history. She has just one defeat in her four years as an Eagle. That loss came in the semifinals of her first Mat Classic as a freshman, a 2-1 decision to White River’s Erin Redford.
“I think about it every time I’m getting ready for this weekend,” Blaine said. “Anybody that wants it enough and anybody determined in their own mind that they’re not going to give up, they’re somebody to watch out for. They’re going to stop at nothing … and that could take away my state title from me.”
As Blaine puts it, that would be a disappointment. She hates losing. It’s what drives her to spend hours in the mat rooms, to attend extra practices, to continue forward even after reaching the peak.
“When I feel the pressure and I feel someone trying to take away the winning from me, that’s when it turns on,” Blaine said. “This is mine. This is what I’ve worked 12 years for. That’s where the fight comes from.”
Off the mats, it’s hard to believe Blaine possesses the killer instinct that makes her a great wrestler. She’s bubbly and friendly and boasts a big smile more often than not.
With her place in Clark County wrestling lore cemented, Blaine hopes she was able to inspire others around the county.
“A lot of girls around here know me. They’ve known me since elementary school, and think ‘she doesn’t seem like a wrestler,’ ” Blaine explained. “It’s not a scary sport to go do. … It’s a really rewarding sport so if you can get into it, it says a lot about who you are. A lot of these girls can learn a lot from it.”
So what has Blaine learned in her more than a dozen years on the mats?
“To not stick to labels. I could be whatever I’d like to be. … There’s nothing that can hold me back.”
Blaine starts her quest for three in the afternoon session on Friday, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Among her biggest challenges are Snohomish’s Holly Butler and North Kitsap’s Elise Scrafford, both of which are on the opposite side of the bracket.
Concluded Blaine: “I’m trying to milk the moments. It’s the last chance I’m going to have to be out on the mats representing Hudson’s Bay.”
California apologizes to Japanese Americans
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly apologized Thursday for discriminating against Japanese Americans and helping the U.S. government send them to internment camps during World War II.
The Assembly unanimously passed the resolution as several former internees and their families looked on. After the votes, lawmakers gathered at the entrance of the chamber to hug and shake hands with victims, including 96-year-old Kiyo Sato.
Sato said young people need to know about the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps because the U.S. government feared some would side with Japan. The U.S. entered World War II after Japan bombed the Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
“We need to remind them that this can’t happen again,” Sato said.
The resolution came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared Feb. 19 a Day of Remembrance. That’s the date in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans across 10 camps in the West and Arkansas.
The governors of Idaho and Arkansas also proclaimed it a Day of Remembrance, and events were held nationwide.
The California resolution said anti-Japanese sentiment began in California as early as 1913, when the state passed the Alien Land Law, targeting Japanese farmers who were perceived as a threat by some in the massive agricultural industry. Seven years later, the state barred anyone with Japanese ancestry from buying farmland.
“During the years leading up to World War II, California led the nation in fanning the flames of racism,” said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who was born in Japan and introduced the resolution.
A congressional commission in 1983 concluded that the detentions were a result of “racial prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership.” Five years later, the U.S. government formally apologized and paid $20,000 in reparations to each victim.
Several California lawmakers noted the state’s direct role in discriminating against Japanese Americans and carrying out the federal government’s order to send residents to internment camps. Two camps in the mid-1940s were in California: Manzanar on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and Tule Lake near the Oregon state line, the largest of all the camps.
“We are specifically apologizing for wrongs that were committed on this floor,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “We are apologizing for what we have done.”
California state senators will take up a version of the resolution later in the year and send it to the governor to sign. The resolution does not include any compensation.
California has the largest population of people of Japanese descent of any state, numbering roughly 430,000.
Storylines to watch for at Mat Classic XXXII
The 32nd edition of WIAA’s state wrestling extravaganza, dubbed Mat Classic, is upon us. In total, 110 local wrestlers are scheduled to compete Friday at the Tacoma Dome in hopes of hearing their name called out as they stand atop a podium Saturday night.
Washougal tops local teams with 16 qualified wrestlers, followed by Union and Kelso’s 10 and Prairie’s nine.
Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday and for the second straight year, the day will be split into two sessions. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 4A, 1A and Class B wrestlers will compete. From 4:30-8:30 p.m., 3A, 2A and girls will wrestle. Tickets start at $18 for a single day and $32 for the tournament, with discounts for students and military. The NFHS Network will broadcast the event.
Here are some storylines to watch:
Joining Hudson’s Bay’s Allison Blaine, two other locals will seek a title repeat. Camas senior Gideon Malychewski, who has battled a knee injury this season, enters as the second-ranked 160-pounder behind Pasco’s Isaiah Gonzalez, a three-time state placer and 2017 champion. Malychewski won last year’s 170-pound championship but trimmed down for a run at 160 this year. Seton Catholic sophomore CJ Hamblin is the heavy favorite to win 1A’s 152-pound championship. He earned state gold at 145 pounds a season ago and could be on his way to becoming Clark County’s first four-time state champion.
Hamblin burst onto the scene last year as a freshman and while there’s no local ninth grader likely to follow suit this time around, there are some youngsters to watch this week. Tops among them is Ridgefield’s Uruwa Abe, who is the seventh ranked 105-pound girl and is coming off a regional crown. Union’s Spencer Needham (4A, 106) and Prairie’s Malachi Wallway (3A, 106) have also impressed this season and could make noise in Tacoma.
Team trophy hunt
No local team is likely to win a state title like the Union girls did last season, but there are several that could vie for a trophy. The top four teams in each classification earn trophies. The Union and Camas boys, with seven and six wrestlers, respectively, have the potential to factor into the equation. That could ring particularly true if the Papermakers’ Malychewski or Union’s Kyle Brosius make dominant title runs. Remember, pins are worth six points each in the winners’ bracket.
Washougal’s boys and girls should feel confident, too, given the large numbers they’re sending. The Panther boys have 10 wrestlers competing and the girls have six. While not exactly top-heavy — Washougal’s Scott Lees is likeliest to go on a deep run — more wrestlers equals more team points. The Prairie boys, amid their best season in program history, has surprised at every step of the way this season. With eight wrestlers competing, they could also rack up points.
The impact of 32
A season ago the cancellation of regionals forced the Tacoma Dome to play host to 32-wrestler brackets across six classifications in the largest Mat Classic ever. While many coaches thought the event went smoothly, albeit long, the brackets are back to 16 this season. However, many wrestlers who might not have had a chance to compete in the Dome a season ago can now use that experience. Of the 110 local wrestlers competing, 69 of them were state participants a season ago. How that might impact their tourney this time around will be an intriguing watch.
Full Circle Ep. 26 — Mat Classic XXXII Preview
Hudson’s Bay senior Allison Blaine joins preps reporter Joshua Hart on the 26th edition of the Full Circle podcast to talk about her quest for a third state title, her battle with nerves and how she’s helped break the stigma of what a girls wrestler should look like. Available at 360preps.com or on Google, Apple and Spotify Podcasts.
Judge dismisses Huawei challenge to law
NEW YORK — A federal judge in Texas has dismissed Chinese tech giant Huawei’s lawsuit challenging a U.S. law that bars the government and its contractors from using Huawei equipment because of security concerns.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2019, sought to declare the law unconstitutional. Huawei argued the law singled out the company for punishment, denied it due process and amounted to a “death penalty.”
But a court ruled Tuesday that the ban isn’t punitive and that the federal government has the right to take its business elsewhere.
Huawei, China’s first global tech brand, is at the center of U.S.-Chinese tensions over technology competition and digital spying. The company has spent years trying to put to rest accusations that it facilitates spying and that is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
The lawsuit was filed in Plano, Texas, the headquarters of Huawei’s U.S. operations. It was dismissed before going to trial. Experts had described Huawei’s challenge as a long shot, but said the company didn’t have many other options to challenge the law.
Huawei said it was disappointed and will consider further legal options.
Comment extended on banking law overhaul
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration gave into public and banking industry pressure Wednesday, announcing it would extend the comment period on its overhaul of a critical banking law by 30 days.
The 30-day extension goes against what Joseph Otting, the Comptroller of the Currency, told reporters and members of Congress last month that an extension on public comment period was not up for debate.
Otting and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have proposed a massive overhaul of the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1970s law that is designed to keep banks from discriminating against the poor and by extension, racial and ethnic minorities.
The overhaul is expansive, and Otting had originally proposed a 60-day public comment period on the law before it got finalized. Typically, large overhauls are given 90 days.
Even the banking industry, which is generally in favor of the changes, felt the 60-day comment period was too short. Democrats and their community group allies have been generally against Otting’s proposals.
Wendy’s to pay $400,000 over child labor issues
BOSTON — Fast-food chain Wendy’s has agreed to pay $400,000 to resolve allegations that it violated child labor laws by having teenage employees at dozens of Massachusetts restaurants work later and longer than allowed, the state attorney general’s office announced Tuesday.
“We are committed to being a responsible employer, with the goal that all employees have a rewarding experience as valued members of our team,” Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s said in a statement.
The office began investigating after a minor employed at a Wendy’s in Worcester complained that teenagers were working too late into the night and too many hours per day.
Wendy’s provided records to investigators, who found that the restaurant was violating two child labor laws by allowing 16- and 17-year-old employees to work past 10 p.m. and more than nine hours per day.
Investigators estimated more than 2,100 violations at 46 corporate-owned Wendy’s International LLC locations across the state.
In response to the investigation, Wendy’s has changed its employee scheduling system to ensure compliance, the attorney general’s office said.
New Mexico attorney general sues Google
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s attorney general sued Google Thursday over allegations the tech company is illegally collecting personal data generated by children in violation of federal and state laws.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque claims Google is using its education services package that is marketed to school districts, teachers and parents as a way to spy on children and their families.
Attorney General Hector Balderas said that while the company touts Google Education as a valuable tool for resource-deprived schools, it is a means to monitor children while they browse the internet in the classroom and at home on private networks. He said the information being mined includes everything from physical locations to websites visited, videos watched, saved passwords and contact lists.
The state is seeking unspecified civil penalties.
“Student safety should be the number one priority of any company providing services to our children, particularly in schools,” Balderas said in a statement. “Tracking student data without parental consent is not only illegal, it is dangerous.”
Google dismissed the claims as “factually wrong,” saying the G Suite for Education package allows schools to control account access and requires that schools obtain parental consent when necessary.
“We do not use personal information from users in primary and secondary schools to target ads,” said company spokesman Jose Castaneda. “School districts can decide how best to use Google for education in their classrooms and we are committed to partnering with them.”
UnlikeEurope, the U.S. has no overarching national law governing data collection and privacy. Instead, it has a patchwork of state and federal laws that protect specific types of data, such as consumer health, financial information and the personal data generated by younger children.
New Mexico’s claim cites violations of the state’s Unfair Practices Act and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires websites and online services to obtain parental consent before collecting any information from children under 13.
In a separate case, Google already has agreed to pay $170 million combined to the Federal Trade Commission and New York state to settle allegations its YouTube video service collected personal data on children without their parents’ consent.
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