Columbian Newspaper

Crafter wins Vancouver Downtown Association’s Launchpad competition
Author: The Columbian

ESTHER SHORT — Business owner Marianne Wilson Stein recently won the Vancouver Downtown Association’s Launchpad competition. The competition provides $40,000 to one selected retail business planning to open downtown in 2021, made up of corporate sponsorships, community donations and other contributions from local businesses. Stein plans to open Dandelion Teahouse & Apothecary, which will feature teas, skin care products, live product production, and host a makers space. Stein has worked with crafts for 20 years. Find out more at

Everybody Has a Story: Every little purse is a reminder of lesson long ago
Author: Tanya Patrick, Old Evergreen Highway

In 1948 my parents emigrated from Europe to the United States with six daughters in tow, ranging in ages from 6 months to 11 years old.

It was in September and, surprisingly, it snowed the day of our arrival in Los Angeles. My father’s uncle had sponsored our trip to the U.S. and, for a brief time, our family lived in his garage on a dirt floor, until my father was able to secure employment. Memories of that time are vague since I was the youngest of six, but I did visit my great uncle’s house many times with my family and had a chance to see the garage where we lived for our first year in the States.

Unfortunately, my fraternal sister died of pneumonia six months after we arrived.

Once my family was settled in our own home, we lacked most of the material things that others may take for granted, such as new toys, new clothes and going out to eat at a restaurant or fast-food eatery. For young children who had not experienced these common niceties, they were not missed until we entered into the public school system.

I became keenly aware of what my classmates were eating for lunch or wearing when I was in the fourth grade. We shared lockers, and I would always put my sandwich in there until lunchtime. When I opened the locker to retrieve my lunch, the smell of tuna or egg was more than overwhelming in the halls. Since I was reminded about the awful smell by everyone around me each time I opened up my locker, I made a practice of throwing away my lunch before entering the school.

My mom sewed all our clothes, but since I was the youngest, I wore all my sister’s hand-me-downs. The exception was Easter when Mom made a new dress for each of us. Whatever I wore to school, I wore it for the entire week.

My parents were hardworking and believed that nothing comes free, so I was drilled about not taking anything without paying for it. Since I was too young to earn any money, I saved the nickels and dimes that I collected from coupons and whatever I found on the streets. My goal was to save for a small purse to replace the paper bag I used to carry items I wanted to take to school.

It was around Halloween and as usual I was wearing my weekly outfit. The teacher had told us to wear a costume to school for Halloween, and I was the only one without one. I felt out of place standing in line.

The teacher opened up her closet and brought out an apron and bandanna and dressed me up as a little housemaid. Even though I was embarrassed, I was grateful to be included in the activity for that day.

What I noticed when she opened the closet was shelves that had various items on them, one of which was a small purse. When everyone was out at the playground, I walked back into the classroom and opened the unlocked closet. I picked up the little purse and put it away to take home later.

When I arrived home, my mother asked me where I got the purse. Upon hearing that I took it from the school supply closet, she made a point to take me back to school the next day and return it to the teacher. Needless to say, I was embarrassed by having to confess to the teacher that I took it. I returned it to her with my mother standing by my side.

That lesson has remained with me even as an adult. Years later when I was working, I would often come across office stationery that would have been easy to take home but always felt a whisper of the past that stopped me. Even when no one was around, I would leave my money for the postage stamps that I used at the office. These days I can afford to buy any size purse; but whenever I see a little purse, it always reminds me of the lesson my mother instilled in me as a young girl.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

Cheers & Jeers: 3rd District debate right call
Author: The Columbian

Cheers: To public discourse. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and challenger Carolyn Long have agreed to an Oct. 9 debate, giving voters an opportunity to assess where the candidates stand on the issues. The virtual event will be hosted by the League of Women Voters and broadcast on CVTV; it will be co-sponsored by four newspapers, including The Columbian.

In an age when political campaigns are dominated by ads on TV and social media — misleading ads already have been running in this campaign — the opportunity to see the candidates face off is most welcome. Two years ago, when Herrera Beutler defeated Long to retain her seat in Congress, the incumbent declined invitations for a face-to-face debate. That was a disservice to residents of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. This year’s event, along with a joint interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board, gives voters a well-deserved opportunity to compare the candidates.

Jeers: To hazardous air. We couldn’t let a Cheers and Jeers editorial pass without commenting on the smoke that has covered our county for more than a week. The result of wildfires throughout the region — including the Big Hollow Fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest — the smoke has lingered like a perpetual fog. Air quality in Vancouver has ranged from “hazardous” at worst to “very unhealthy” at best, which doesn’t sound like much of an improvement.

In the short term, there has been little we can do about it — except hope for rain. In the long term, the event is a reminder of the realities of climate change and the effect it has on our forests. Improved forest management is, indeed, needed; but cutting carbon emissions will do more to protect the health of our forests.

Cheers: To increased housing. The La Center City Council has approved an ordinance allowing for cottage-style homes, described as hybrids of single-family and multifamily dwellings. Cottage-style housing typically features small homes on shared or individual lots that don’t face public streets and have a common open area.

Most important, council members apparently did their homework, examining similar codes throughout the state. As a housing crunch continues to put pressure on our communities, all jurisdictions must be willing to adapt.

Jeers: To self-investigations. We don’t know whether Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle violated the city’s ethics policy when testifying before the Legislature. But we’re pretty sure the city council should not have a say on whether or not to investigate.

When a Vancouver resident filed a complaint against McEnerny-Ogle, the city attorney told city council members that the accusation did not fall under the purview of the ethics policy. Councilors then dismissed the complaint, declining to refer it for further investigation (McEnerny-Ogle recused herself). That might be the correct decision, but council members should not be the ones to make it when a complaint involves one of their members.

Cheers: To football. It can be difficult to find things to cheer during these chaotic times, but how about those Seahawks? The NFL returned last week, providing some sense of normalcy, and the Seattle Seahawks won their season opener, 38-25 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was at his best and the defense came up with crucial stops, making the Seahawks look every bit like the Super Bowl contenders they are expected to be. While nearly all games are being played without fans in the stands, having football on TV provides a bit of a catharsis.

Vancouver wins EPA toxic cleanup grant
Author: Calley Hair

The city of Vancouver was among the government agencies and organizations to receive a toxins cleanup grant from the Environmental Protection Agency this week.

The funds will go toward the Columbia River Basin Restoration Funding Assistance program, founded in 2016 by Congress to reduce toxins in the basin’s water.

Vancouver, which was one of 14 organizations granted funding, received $144,039 from the EPA to improve the Columbia Slope sub-watershed within the city and to enhance water quality and stormwater sampling.

In total, the EPA announced $2.05 million in grants on Wednesday.

“These grants represent a critical new component of EPA’s efforts to protect and restore the Columbia River Basin,” EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick said in a media release. “We expect that these grants will encourage others to invest in complementary work that will provide significant reductions in toxics in the Basin.”


You Can Help
Author: The Columbian

FISH Westside Food Pantry of Vancouver seeks volunteers for all positions and shifts at the food pantry. Shifts run from 9 a.m. to noon or noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Flexible-hour options are also available to accommodate individual schedules. Volunteers prepackage food boxes and fresh produce packets in our safe, secure warehouse or perform administrative processing (sign in) for our food pantry clients. Because of the pandemic, more of our neighbors are at greater risk of going hungry and we need all hands on deck to make sure that we are getting fresh, healthy food to everyone who needs it. Interested parties, contact Dori Miller at 360-566-3243. Masks required and will be provided if necessary.

Community Home Health & Hospice serves 1,000th veteran
Author: The Columbian

LONGVIEW — Community Home Health & Hospice admitted and honored its 1,000th veteran on July 29. According to the organization, one in every four Americans dying is a veteran, and since 2014, the hospice has presented each veteran it admits with a certificate of appreciation, acknowledging the military branch they served. Donald Fuesler of Cowlitz County died on July 31 at age 96 after being under their care for two days. “Fuesler’s rich and heroic life perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the 999 veterans who preceded him,” a news release reads. He served in the Army during World War II. He landed on Normandy and liberated prisoners from Nazi-occupied France, the news release said. He was awarded the Legion of Honour for his service, the highest French merit for military and civil service. Fuesler settled in Longview, where he spent 40 years as a general practitioner. In 2019, the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington presented him its Lifetime Giving Award. “We’re honored to have the opportunity to recognize these American heroes at the end of their life,” said the hospice’s president and CEO Greg Pang. “Being able to provide peace of mind to the men and women who sacrificed to serve and protect our country is a privilege for everyone at Community.” Community Home Health & Hospice has two locations, one in Longview and the other in Vancouver. Learn more at

Energy Adviser: Safety first during outages
Author: Clark Public Utilities

Clark Public Utilities works hard to ensure its electrical grid is robust and reliable across the county, but regardless of how many hours or resources the utility invests in its network, the occasional power outage is bound to happen.

Customer reports are crucial in helping crews determine the cause and location of outages so repairs can be made quickly. If you experience one in your neighborhood, call the utility’s automated outage reporting line at 360-992-8000 or use the mobile-friendly online outage reporting tool on

When an outage occurs, crews prioritize restoration by putting public safety first and the maximum benefit to customers second.

“During an event, our main concern is the hazardous situations that threaten public safety — even if larger areas are without power, we want to get to those first,” said Clark Public Utilities Transmission and Distribution Manager Mike Brown. “When any dangerous situations are secured safely, we shift our attention to restoring service to the maximum number of customers with each repair.”

That means large infrastructure like transmission lines or substations get first priority because getting them back online can benefit tens of thousands of customers. From there the utility moves to smaller infrastructure: the feeder lines, primary lines and, finally, outages that affect individual customers.

How quickly your power will be restored after an outage depends on the severity and extent of the damage that caused it.

“For example, in several locations the Labor Day windstorm knocked multiple trees into long sections of line and caused damage in multiple places,” Brown said. “While nothing major was damaged, crews had to first do a significant amount of cleanup, sometimes on different stretches of the same line, before they could restore power.”

Utility staff watches the weather forecast carefully for storms so crews can be ready to go before a major event.

Typically, lightning storms, which can damage buried power lines, are the biggest threats in the summer. In the winter, ice storms, dense snows and strong winds can knock limbs off trees and onto overhead lines.

Heavy wind is a threat year-round because of the widespread damage it can cause, especially in forested areas, and wind during the dry season also carries the risk of fire.

Due to the extreme fire danger of the recent storm, utilities in Oregon and California preemptively cut power in high-risk areas. Notably, PG&E cut power to 172,000 customers in Central California to mitigate the risks

That decision is a matter of timing, wind and weather conditions. Clark Public Utilities would cut power immediately if it was the right thing to do to protect public safety. But during this recent storm, preemptive power outages weren’t necessary. However, the utility worked closely with local fire departments and strategically placed fire and water tanker trailers in high-risk locations.

The utility has a team of first responders who are prepared to respond to outages and safety issues every single day of the year. During a large outage the utility is prepared to call in as many of its workers and contract crews as are needed to get power restored. It also has mutual aid agreements in place with utilities from as far away as California, who will send workers to our service area.

“So far, we’ve never had to call them, but we regularly do send employees to help other utilities when they need it,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of collaboration in this industry because it’s such a specialized field.”

During an outage, as crews are out on the front lines getting the lights back on, the utility’s communications and customer service departments work to keep customers updated in person, online and in the news as the situation unfolds.

Although most outages are short lived, sometimes they can last for days. It’s important to keep an emergency kit that includes food, water, flashlights, medications, and other essentials stocked and available.

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.

Morning Press: I-5 Bridge repair; Worst air quality in state; COVID-19 linked to schools
Author: The Columbian

Will the rain continue through the weekend and help control the wildfires? For details, check our local weather coverage.

In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories from the week:

Closing time: I-5 Bridge trunnion repair project begins Saturday

Barring any more last-minute delays, the big Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project is set to begin Saturday, kicking off the scheduled nine-day closure of the northbound span of the twin bridges and use of the southbound span for all freeway traffic.

The closure was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 12, but the Oregon Department of Transportation announced on Sept. 10 that it would delay the project to ensure Portland region’s freeway system kept running smoothly amid widespread wildfire evacuations in Oregon. The following day, ODOT announced the new Saturday start date.

Get the details on the massive project that will disrupt traffic next week.

Clark County is worst in state as Washington sets record for hazardous air

Washington has recorded its longest-running period with hazardous air quality in at least the last 14 years, and Clark County has registered the worst air quality in the state during a record-setting period.

Fine particulate (PM 2.5) levels in Vancouver briefly dipped into the “very unhealthy” range Tuesday night but had risen back to hazardous levels before midnight. The PM 2.5 level was at 309 as of data available at 6:45 a.m.

Learn more about the hazardous air quality.

Rain through Saturday should slow spread of Big Hollow Fire

The Big Hollow Fire burning in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest grew in acreage Thursday, but precipitation forecast to stick around through today should help slow its spread.

The wildfire, which is 15 miles northwest of Carson and 7 miles southeast of Cougar, had burned a total of 24,309 acres, or about 38 square miles, as of Friday morning. It was 15 percent contained. The cause of the fire is still unknown, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Get updates on the battle against the Big Hollow Fire.

Plight thickens for Clark County restaurants

This past week, smoke lingering in Clark County has given restaurants a bitter taste of the lost business they’re expecting when outdoor seating disappears in the colder months to come.

“The smoke cut us in half,” said Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches Restaurant & Bar. “It was immediate. Nobody will sit outside.”

Matthias is a member of Restaurant Roundtable, a grassroots group of Clark County business owners that is pressing the state government to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions in restaurants.

Read more on how restaurants are coping.

8 virus cases linked to Clark County schools

Clark County Public Health confirmed eight cases of the novel coronavirus connected to area schools, but officials say there’s no evidence of transmission within the affected campuses.

School and public health officials are working to identify potential close contacts of those with a confirmed case of COVID-19 to notify and quarantine those individuals.

Find out what schools have reported links to the COVID-19 virus.

Inslee challenger Loren Culp rallies Clark County supporters

Part party and part protest against Gov. Jay Inslee, Republican challenger Loren Culp held a rally west of Battle Ground on Sunday.

Arriving in a large pickup truck as a rock band played onstage, Culp spoke to an enthusiastic outdoor crowd of about 500.

Amid wildfire smoke that pushed air-quality to hazardous levels in Southwest Washington, Culp began with a broadside against Inslee’s management of state forestlands and the governor’s scientifically-backed view that climate change is a driver of catastrophic wildfires.

Read more about the rally.

From the Newsroom: Virtual approach to the news
Author: Craig Brown

As if this world wasn’t weird enough, we ended up giving a tour of the newsroom this week, and no one was there.

Before I tell you more about it, let me first observe that this pandemic has overstayed its welcome. After pausing many activities in March, we are now forced to find new ways to accomplish our goals. An important example in the news this week was the resumption of jury trials in Clark County.

Much less important was our “Meet the Media” session with the Public Relations Society of America’s local chapter. We’d done one of these several years ago, and it was successful. They brought sandwiches, we sat around and talked for an hour about how to pitch stories, and then I gave them a tour of the newsroom (somewhat interesting) and our pressroom (very interesting).

We had another one set for April 16, but of course that had to be postponed. Surely, we thought, by September the world would be safe again for sandwiches and conversation. No dice.

So we ended up with a video chat and bringing our own sandwiches, although I didn’t see the participants actually eat anything. Assistant Metro Editor Will Campbell, who is very good at video, provided a prerecorded tour of the eerily deserted newsroom. (If you want to see it, click on this article online and we will post a link.)

Congressional debate

Our next foray into online events will be a debate between congressional candidates Jaime Herrera Beutler and Carolyn Long. We tried hard to make this happen two years ago, but the candidates never ended up making a joint public appearance in Clark County.

The League of Women Voters gets most of the credit for making it happen this year. The nonpartisan group started more than three months ago when it became apparent a rematch was likely in this race. There was a lot of back-and-forth needed to make it happen.

I have been lucky enough to sit through two Columbian Editorial Board meetings featuring these candidates, and really enjoyed hearing from both of them. You would be hard-pressed to find better candidates.

The debate will be televised live at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, by CVTV. If you don’t have Comcast cable TV, it will be streamed on If that time doesn’t work for you, I am sure it will be rerun several times before the election, and available to be streamed on demand.

The debate will be co-sponsored by The Columbian, The Longview Daily News, the Skamania County Pioneer and the Goldendale Sentinel. It’s hosted by three regional branches of the League of Women Voters, from Clark, Cowlitz and Klickitat-Skamania counties.

Our politics reporter, Calley Hair, will be one of the panelists who questions the candidates. We are still soliciting questions from the general public, too. If you want to submit a question, go to the Clark Asks portal on our webpage,

So far we have received several dozen questions. Several people are asking about election security or health care. There are questions about new subjects like the pandemic and wildfire smoke, and old subjects like abortion rights. It will be an interesting debate.

Governor’s race

We are still working on bringing you more on the governor’s race. Two-term incumbent Jay Inslee is pretty well known in this part of the state, but his challenger, small-town cop Loren Culp, not so much. Our jack-of-all-trades sports editor, Micah Rice, sat through Culp’s stump speech Sunday, and we are trying to arrange a joint editorial board interview. I will be sure to let you know if that happens.


Springwood Landing resident turns 100
Author: The Columbian

EAST VANCOUVER — Springwood Landing retirement community resident Jack Grauer turned 100 on Aug. 26. A celebration was held with his family and friends at 2 p.m. that day in the community’s back yard. Grauer was born on a farm in Sheridan, Ore., and lived there, as well as other towns in Oregon: McMinnville, Silverton, Salem and Grants Pass. He graduated from Beaverton High School in Beaverton, Ore., in 1938, spent three years in the Army Air Corps, and went to Oregon State University to study journalism and public speaking. Grauer has climbed Mount Hood “at least 40 times,” according to a news release, and published a book: Mount Hood: A Complete History.”