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Columbian Newspaper

Bomb kills at least 30 near girls’ school in Afghan capital
Author: Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — A bomb exploded near a girls’ school in a majority Shiite district of west Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 30 people, many of them young pupils between 11 and 15 years old. The Taliban condemned the attack and denied any responsibility.

Ambulances evacuated the wounded as relatives and residents screamed at authorities near the scene of the blast at Syed Al-Shahda school, in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said. The death toll was expected to rise further.

The bombing, apparently aimed to cause maximum civilian carnage, adds to fears that violence in the war-wrecked country could escalate as the U.S. and NATO end nearly 20 years of military engagement.

Residents in the area said the explosion was deafening. One, Naser Rahimi, told The Associated Press he heard three separate explosions, although there was no official confirmation of multiple blasts. Rahimi also said he believed that the sheer power of the explosion meant the death toll would almost certainly climb.

Rahimi said the explosion went off as the girls were streaming out of the school at around 4:30 p.m. local time. Authorities were investigating the attack but have yet to confirm any details.

One of the students fleeing the school recalled the attack. the screaming of the girls, the blood.

“I was with my classmate, we were leaving the school, when suddenly an explosion happened, “ said 15-year-old Zahra, whose arm had been broken by a piece of shrapnel.

“Ten minutes later there was another explosion and just a couple of minutes later another explosion,” she said. “Everyone was yelling and there was blood everywhere, and I couldn’t see anything clearly.” Her friend died.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, the Afghan Islamic State affiliate has targeted the Shiite neighborhood before.

The radical Sunni Muslim group has declared war on Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims. Washington blamed IS for a vicious attack last year in a maternity hospital in the same area that killed pregnant women and newborn babies.

In Dasht-e-Barchi, angry crowds attacked the ambulances and even beat health workers as they tried to evacuate the wounded, Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigar Nazari said. He implored residents to cooperate and allow ambulances free access to the site.

Images circulating on social media purportedly showed bloodied school backpacks and books strewn across the street in front if the school, and smoke rising above the neighborhood.

At one nearby hospital, Associated Press journalists saw at least 20 dead bodies lined up in hallways and rooms, with dozens of wounded people and families of victims pressing through the facility.

Outside the Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital, dozens of people lined up to donate blood, while family members checked casualty posted lists on the walls.

Both Arian and Nazari said that at least 50 people were also wounded, and that the casualty toll could rise. The attack occurred just as the fasting day came to an end.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters in a message that only the Islamic State group could be responsible for such a heinous crime. Mujahid also accused Afghanistan’s intelligence agency of being complicit with IS, although he offered no evidence.

The Taliban and the Afghan government have traded accusations over a series of targeted killings of civil society workers, journalists and Afghan professionals. While IS has taken responsibility for some of those killings, many have gone unclaimed.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, blaming the Taliban even as they denied it. He offered no proof.

IS has previously claimed attacks against minority Shiites in the same area, last year claiming two brutal attacks on education facilities that killed 50 people, most of them students.

Even as the IS has been degraded in Afghanistan, according to government and US officials, it has stepped-up its attacks particularly against Shiite Muslims and women workers.

Earlier the group took responsibility for the targeted killing of three women media personnel in eastern Afghanistan.

The attack comes days after the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 American troops officially began leaving the country. They will be out by Sept. 11 at the latest. The pullout comes amid a resurgent Taliban, who control or hold sway over half of Afghanistan.

The top U.S. military officer said Sunday that Afghan government forces face an uncertain future and possibly some “bad possible outcomes” against Taliban insurgents as the withdrawal accelerates in the coming weeks.

Group asks U.S. to cut funding to Idaho over wolf-killing bill
Author: Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A conservation group is asking the U.S. government to cut off millions of dollars to Idaho that is used to improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities because of legislation that could lead to 90% of the state’s wolves being killed.

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, saying states may be deemed ineligible to receive federal wildlife restoration money if states approve legislation contrary to that goal.

Idaho received about $18 million last year in that funding, which comes from a tax on sporting firearms and ammunition. States can use it to pay 75% of the cost for projects including acquiring habitat, wildlife research and hunter education programs.

The conservation group’s request is a reflection of the long-simmering tension between ranchers and those seeking to protect wolves in the American West. About 1,500 wolves are in Idaho, with disagreement over whether that is too many or not enough because the predators are known to attack cattle, sheep and wildlife. Ranchers say they lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to those attacks.

The Idaho legislation, backed by the agriculture industry, allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves and opens up ways the predators can be hunted.

Those methods include hunting, trapping and snaring an unlimited number of wolves on a single hunting tag and allowing hunters to chase down wolves on snowmobiles and ATVs. The measure also allows the killing of newborn pups and nursing mothers on private land.

“We won’t stand idly by while federal taxpayers are forced to fund Idaho’s wolf-slaughter program,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Idaho is entrusted with protecting its wildlife for all Americans, and its failure to do so should be met with serious repercussions, including the loss of federal funding.”

Idaho lawmakers have approved the legislation. Republican Gov. Brad Little, whose family has a long history with sheep ranching in Idaho, hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the measure.

Last week, nearly 30 former state, federal and tribal wildlife managers sent a letter to Little asking him to veto it, saying the methods for killing wolves would violate longstanding wildlife management practices and sportsmen ethics.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission also opposes the bill because it removes wildlife management decisions from the commission and its experts and gives them to politicians.

Supporters say the changes could help reduce the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150, alleviating attacks on cattle and sheep. The Idaho Cattle Association said it supports the measure because it allows the free-market system to play a role in killing wolves.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, using remote cameras and other methods, reported in February that the wolf population has been holding at about 1,500 the past two years.

About 500 wolves have been killed in the state in each of the last two years by hunters, trappers and wolf-control measures carried out by state and federal authorities.

Idaho’s wolf conservation and management plan calls for at least 150 wolves and 15 packs. Supporters of the measure say the state can increase the killing of wolves to reach that level.

According to the plan, if Idaho’s wolf population fell to 100, there is a possibility the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could resume management of the predators in the state.

Alway gets 70 years in murder at Hockinson property
Author: Jessica Prokop

The primary defendant in the April 2017 beating and fatal shooting of a man at a Hockinson property was sentenced Friday to about 70 years in prison.

A Clark County Superior Court jury found Neil Allen Alway, 43, guilty last month of first- and second-degree murder, and two counts each of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery.

Alway faced a total sentencing range of 67¾ to 82 years in prison, with multiple firearm enhancements and some counts running consecutively. His sentence will also run consecutively with sentences in 2015 and 2017 cases.

According to the prosecution, Alway was out on bail in an assault in Cowlitz County and supposed to be serving a nine-month sentence in Clark County in a 2015 burglary case when he killed 34-year-old Raymond C. Brandon.

Three co-defendants who agreed to testify against Alway at trial — John Michael West, 47, Traci Lynn Mendez, 45, and Ashley Wideman, 27 — were sentenced earlier this week. West and Mendez received about 18 years for second-degree murder, and Wideman received a suspended sentence and credit for time served for unlawful imprisonment and second-degree rendering criminal assistance.

A fourth co-defendant, Ashley Lorraine Barry, 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced in 2019 to about 13 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Alway and West were beating Brandon when Alway decided to kill him.

Mendez had conspired with the others to lure Brandon and his girlfriend, Allison Fields, to her residence to settle a debt over a Subaru Forester that Brandon was driving, according to prosecutors.

The couple arrived on the morning of April 20, 2017, and were ambushed by the group. A chaotic confrontation ensued, and Alway and West led Brandon outside, where he was attacked and fatally shot in the chest. Fields was forced to stay with the group or risk being killed herself, court records say.

Afterward, Mendez drove the group and Fields in her SUV to a farm off Northeast 119th Street, and Fields eventually escaped, court records say.

Alway had planned for months to assault and rob Brandon because he owed Alway money for the Subaru, which Brandon and Fields had been living in for a few weeks. They’d been driving it to the Hockinson residence to shower, eat breakfast and, according to the defense, use drugs. Brandon’s body was found a week after he was killed.

Criminal history

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Anna Klein had asked the judge to sentence Alway to 82 years in prison due, in part, to his lengthy criminal history.

“This was a senseless act of violence over, apparently, a Subaru, that Mr. Brandon lost his life over,” Klein said.

She said Brandon was tied up and led to a shed, where he was beaten for 20 minutes, all while “screaming for help, begging for his life.” Instead, Alway shot him, she said, and left his body there for seven days.

“He did not treat Mr. Brandon as a human being,” Klein said.

Defense attorney Tony Lowe told the court Alway fought in the Iraq War, and he doesn’t know what impact it had on him. Alway got involved with the drug culture after returning home, Lowe said, adding that “all hell broke loose.”

The attorney said Alway went to trial because he did not commit Brandon’s murder; he plans to appeal.

Alway echoed his attorney’s statement.

“First, to Raymond’s family, I truly, from the bottom of my heart, feel sorry for your loss,” he said, later adding, “I did not pull the trigger on Mr. Brandon. He was alive when we left him.”

Brandon’s loved ones told Alway they had no sympathy for him.

Brandon’s aunt, Rita Brandon, said he chose to live his life the wrong way.

“I’ve seen the look in your eyes. You’re the devil,” she said.

Brandon’s sister told Alway he could have stopped with the beating and didn’t have to kill her brother.

“He’s sick. He’s a career criminal, and he’s never going to change,” she said to the court.

Before handing down her decision, Judge Jennifer Snider said whether she gave Alway a high- or low-end sentence was moot, because he will essentially serve a life sentence.

Judge nixes reduced Klamath River flows for sucker fish
Author: Associated Press

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A judge has ruled against the Klamath Tribes in a lawsuit that accuses federal regulators of violating the Endangered Species Act by letting water levels fall too low for sucker fish to spawn in a lake that also feeds an elaborate irrigation system along the Oregon-California border.

The ruling, reported Friday by the Herald and News in Klamath Falls, comes as the region confronts one of the driest years in memory. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last month announced that farmers who irrigate from its Klamath Project water-management area will get so little water that farming may not even be worthwhile this summer.

At the same time, the drought has brought to a head a conflict between the water needs of two protected fish species in the region after decades of instability. The Klamath Tribes consider the federally endangered sucker fish central to their creation story and culture, while the Yurok hold the federally threatened coho salmon in the lower Klamath River sacred and rely on them as a critical food source.

With scarce water in the Klamath Basin, the tribes are left to try to use the courts to secure enough of the precious liquid for the respective fish species.

The Klamath Tribes sued the bureau earlier this year, arguing it had violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing the Upper Klamath Lake to dip below a certain level in 2020 and 2021 that is necessary for successful sucker fish spawning.

The tribes asked the judge to order the bureau to reduce downriver water releases from the lake while the rest of the case worked through the courts, but U.S. District Judge Michael McShane declined. If granted, the order would have meant less water in the Klamath River to combat disease outbreaks downstream that are a huge concern for the Yurok and Karuk tribes and a threat to coho salmon.

The bureau argued it wasn’t liable for harm done to sucker fish this year because of the extreme drought and has no control over how much water enters Upper Klamath Lake in dry times.

“The Bureau cannot control the current hydrologic conditions; they can only work within these natural limitations,” McShane wrote. “The Bureau is not responsible for the unprecedented drought this year.”

Jay Weiner, the Klamath Tribes’ lawyer, said his clients were still reviewing the ruling and were not able to comment on the specifics.

“It’s safe to say we’re disappointed,” he told the newspaper.

The situation in the Klamath Basin was set in motion more than a century ago, when the U.S. government began drawing water from a network of shallow lakes and marshlands and funneling it into the dry desert uplands. Homesteads were offered by lottery to World War II veterans who grew hay, grain and potatoes and pastured cattle.

The project turned the region into an agricultural powerhouse — some of its potato farmers supply In ’N Out burger — but permanently altered an intricate water system that spans hundreds of miles from southern Oregon to Northern California.

In 1988, two species of sucker fish were listed as endangered under federal law. Less than a decade later, coho salmon that spawn downstream from the reclamation project, in the lower Klamath River, were listed as threatened.

The water necessary to sustain the coho salmon downstream comes from Upper Klamath Lake — the main holding tank for the farmers’ irrigation system. The sucker fish in the same lake need at least 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) of water covering the gravel beds that they use as spawning grounds.

The salmon in the lower Klamath River periodically suffer from a disease outbreak because of lower-than-needed water flows. The Yurok Tribe says the river needs enough water flowing down it to “flush” out worms that host disease spores that infect and kill salmon.

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes
Author: Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — States asked the federal government this week to withhold staggering amounts of COVID-19 vaccine amid plummeting demand for the shots, contributing to a growing U.S. stockpile of doses.

From South Carolina to Washington, states are requesting the Biden administration send them only a fraction of what’s been allocated to them. The turned-down vaccines amount to hundreds of thousands of doses this week alone, providing a stark illustration of the problem of vaccine hesitancy in the U.S.

More than 150 million Americans — about 57% of the adult population — have received at least one dose of vaccine, but government leaders from the Biden administration down to the city and county level are doing everything they can to persuade the rest of the country to get inoculated.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Friday that the federal government has dedicated $250 million for community organizations to promote vaccinations, make appointments and provide transportation.

He cited examples such as holding conversations with small groups of people in minority communities in St. Louis and asking Rhode Island churches to contact community members and offer them rides to vaccination sites. He also noted that a global Hindu American organization has turned temples into vaccination centers, making it easier for elderly members to get shots in a familiar setting. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has added a vaccination site in which people can get their shots in a Formula 1 garage near the race tunnels.

The Biden administration announced this week that if states don’t order all the vaccine they’ve been allotted, the administration will shift the surplus to meet demand in other states.

In another sign of the burgeoning national surplus, Biden announced last week that his administration would share the nation’s entire stock of AstraZeneca doses with the world once it clears safety reviews.

The huge supply and dwindling demand has highlighted the vast inequalities during the pandemic, with countries like India buckling under a disastrous surge of the virus and other nations having no doses at all. At the same time, wealthy countries like the U.S. are awash in vaccine, and seeing cases and deaths plunge as a result.

The federal government allocates vaccines to each state based on their population size, and then it’s up to the states to decide how many doses they want to order every week. Early on, states routinely asked for the full allocation —- and were clamoring for more shots — but now they are scaling back requests.

Wisconsin officials have asked for just 8% of the 162,680 doses the federal government had set aside for the state next week. Julie Willems Van Dijk, the state health department’s deputy secretary, acknowledged earlier that demand is softening and vaccinators are drawing down existing inventories before ordering more doses.

In Iowa, officials have asked the federal government for 29% of that state’s allocated doses next week. Kansas officials asked for less than 9% of their 162,000-dose allotment this past week. Counties have been turning down doses as demand plummets, leaving the state with a stockpile of almost 647,000 doses.

Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the state has five weeks’ worth of doses on hand. Last week, state officials for the first time requested fewer doses than allotted because of declining demand. The state plans to request just 9% of its allotted doses for everywhere but Chicago for next week.

Connecticut has requested 26% of its allotment for next week. South Carolina plans to order 21% of its doses.

North Carolina has scaled back its request for the past week by 40%. Washington state also cut its order by about 40% this week, the first time the state’s order has been smaller than its allocation.

Not everyone is dialing back. Maryland and Colorado are still ordering their full amount. So is New York City. The average number of daily shots in the nation’s largest city has dropped about 40% since peaking at more than 95,000 in mid-April, but city officials want a steady supply of doses to create more shots at doctor’s offices, neighborhood pharmacies and other small providers, hoping to appeal to people who have skipped mass vaccination sites.

“We’ve got the demand to keep using our supply effectively,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Health experts have generally said about 70% of the nation’s population would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. The Biden administration wants to get 70% of adult Americans vaccinated by July 4, but has acknowledged the downward trend in vaccinations and the challenge to win over people who doubt the vaccine’s effectiveness or simply don’t want to get shots.

The president announced Tuesday that federal officials will expand smaller and mobile vaccination clinics for hard-to-reach communities and push education campaigns. He also has touted incentive programs, such as discounts for shoppers who get vaccinated at grocery stores.

North Carolina health officials are considering paying younger people to get shots. West Virginia has announced people between the ages of 16 and 35 will be eligible for a $100 savings bond if they get the vaccine or have gotten it. Detroit officials started a program Monday to pay people $50 for every city resident they sign up for a first dose and bring in for an appointment.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins University, said he wasn’t “despairing” over the slowing of demand.

“Herd immunity is not necessarily a moment when the music plays and the sun shines,” he said. “It is about how easy it is for the virus to pass around in a community, and I think there is a lot more progress to be made. People who think, ‘Well, we are done with the large stadiums, so that is it, we are not going to vaccinate any more people’ are wrong. You can vaccinate a lot of people if you make it convenient for them, if you get it to their doctor’s offices, if you answer their questions. But it is going to take a different type of effort to do it.”

Major U.S. pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack
Author: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The operator of a major pipeline system that transports fuel across the East Coast said Saturday that it had been victimized by a ransomware attack and that it had halted all pipeline operations to deal with the threat. The attack is unlikely to affect gasoline supply and prices unless it leads to a prolonged shutdown of the pipeline, experts said.

Colonial Pipeline did not say what was demanded or by whom, but ransomware attacks are typically carried out by criminal hackers who seize data and demand a large payment in order to release it.

The attack on a pipeline operator, which says it delivers roughly 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, underscored again the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to cyberattacks both by criminal hackers and U.S. adversaries. It presents a new challenge for an administration still grappling with its response to major hacks from months ago, including a massive breach of government agencies and corporations for which the U.S. sanctioned Russia last month.

In this case, Colonial Pipeline said the ransomware attack Friday affected some of its information technology systems and that the company moved “proactively” to take certain systems online, halting pipeline operations.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company transports gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil from refineries primarily located on the Gulf Coast through pipelines running from Texas to New Jersey.

The company said it hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the nature and scope of the attack and has also contacted law enforcement and federal agencies.

In a statement late Friday, Colonial Pipeline said it was “taking steps to understand and resolve this issue,” focused primarily on ”the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation.” It said it was “working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline.”

While there have long been fears about U.S. adversaries disrupting American energy suppliers, ransomware attacks by criminal syndicates are much more common and have been soaring lately.

Oil analyst Andy Lipow said the impact of the attack on fuel supplies and prices depends on how long the pipeline is down. An outage of one or two days would be minimal, he said, but an outage of five or six days could cause shortages and price hikes, particularly in an area stretching from central Alabama to the Washington, D.C., area.

Lipow said a key concern about a lengthy delay would be the supply of jet fuel needed to keep major airports operating, like those in Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

A leading expert in industrial control systems, Dragos CEO Robert Lee, said systems such as those that directly manage the pipeline’s operation have been increasingly connected to computer networks in the past decade.

But critical infrastructure companies in the energy and electricity industries also tend to have invested more in cybersecurity than other sectors. If Colonial’s shutdown was mostly precautionary — and it detected the ransomware attack early and was well-prepared — the impact may not be great, Lee said.

Ransomware scrambles a victim organization’s data with encryption. The criminals leave instructions on infected computers for how to negotiate ransom payments and, once paid, provide software decryption keys.

Mike Chapple, teaching professor of IT, analytics and operations at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and a former computer scientist with the National Security Agency, said systems that control pipelines should not be connected to the internet and vulnerable to cyber intrusions.

“The attacks were extremely sophisticated and they were able to defeat some pretty sophisticated security controls, or the right degree of security controls weren’t in place,” Chapple said.

Brian Bethune, a professor of applied economics at Boston College, also said the impact on consumer prices should be short-lived as long as the shutdown does not last for more than a week or two. “But it is an indication of how vulnerable our infrastructure is to these kinds of cyberattacks,” he said.

Bethune noted the shutdown is occurring at a time when energy prices have already been rising as the economy reopens further as pandemic restrictions are lifted. According to the AAA auto club, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by four cents since Monday to $2.94.

Colonial Pipeline said it transports more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily, through a pipeline system spanning more than 5,500 miles.

The FBI and the White House’s National Security Council did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The federal Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency referred questions about the incident to the company.

A hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water supply of a small Florida city raised alarms about how vulnerable the nation’s critical infrastructure may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders.

Anne Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity and emerging technology, said in an interview with The Associated Press in April that the government was undertaking a new effort to help electric utilities, water districts and other critical industries protect against potentially damaging cyberattacks. She said the goal was to ensure that control systems serving 50,000 or more Americans have the core technology to detect and block malicious cyber activity.

Since then, the White House has announced a 100-day initiative aimed at protecting the country’s electricity system from cyberattacks by encouraging owners and operators of power plants and electric utilities to improve their capabilities for identifying cyber threats to their networks. It includes concrete milestones for them to put technologies into use so they can spot and respond to intrusions in real time. The Justice Department has also announced a new task force dedicated to countering ransomware attacks.

Ridgefield students score at Thespian Excellence Awards
Author: The Columbian

RIDGEFIELD — Nine Ridgefield High School students have been recognized for their excellence in theater with Washington State Thespian Excellence Awards.

Members of Ridgefield Thespian Troupe 8635 won awards in multiple categories. Two of those students qualified to compete at the international level, and in a school first, one student was elected to the state student board. Two students received scores of “superior” to earn gold medals in their categories: seniors Kaitlyn St. John in the solo musical theatre category, and Peter Schafer in the monologue category. Both students qualified for the International Thespian Excellence Awards in June.

Seven Ridgefield High School students also achieved scores of “excellent” to earn silver medals: sophomores BriAnna Robbins, Ella Ross and Summer Sedgley; juniors Avari Harrison and Sophia Miller; and seniors Cameron McGravey and Peter Schafer.

Ridgefield High School sophomore Summer Sedgley was selected to serve as a state officer for the Washington State Thespians organization for the 2021-22 school year.

Energy Adviser: Improve home with insulation
Author: The Columbian

Homeowners searching for ways to make their houses more efficient are often surprised to learn that the best place to start may be hanging over their heads.

“When it comes to lowering heating and cooling costs and improving personal comfort, adding insulation to the attic of an older home often delivers some of the best return on investment a homeowner can make,” Clark Public Utilities Energy Counselor of the Day Trevor Frick said. “But, probably because it’s literally out of sight, it’s also out of mind, and often one of the last places people think about investing in home improvement.”

A thick layer of attic insulation will help your home stay warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and lower the amount of energy needed to keep your living space comfortable. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other home improvement projects, and can pay for itself pretty quickly, in terms of energy costs saved.

It’s easy to know whether your attic needs insulation. Grab a flashlight and a ruler and head up there. If you can see your ceiling joists through the insulation or measure six inches or less, then your home could benefit from an extra layer.

Homes built before the 1990s, when building codes began to require greater attention to energy efficiency, are the most likely to benefit from additional insulation.

At first glance, adding insulation to the attic seems like something the handy DIYer could do, but there’s more to a good insulation job than may meet the eye. While just about anyone who can climb a ladder can place insulation, good work is rarely so simple.

“Insulating is a lot like paint — the site preparation makes all the difference in the quality of the job done,” Frick said.

Using expanding foam to seal air leaks around light fixtures and plumbing and sealing duct work that may be present in the ceiling will make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of the attic insulation. Ensuring that exhaust fans are also sealed and properly exit the home and that the attic itself has proper ventilation are critically important to avoiding costly problems down the road.

Proper ventilation is important, but attic fans, which are commonly marketed as major improvements, aren’t usually necessary. An electric fan in the attic is just one more thing that can break. Plus, if the attic isn’t sealed up tight, the fan can actually suck conditioned air out of the home and blow it outside, which will lower the home’s energy efficiency. Passive attic ventilation coupled with good insulation and air sealing can be very effective at keeping your home comfortable.

People often feel like they can save a lot of money by doing the work themselves, but Frick recommends getting a few bids to compare the expense. Unlike the average person, contractors don’t pay retail prices for materials. They buy insulation in bulk for some huge savings, that can help offset the added cost of professional labor. Plus, they’re not just going to throw in the insulation and leave. They’ll inspect the home’s condition, see things the average person will probably miss, then discuss the options.

“Even though it does cost more than doing it yourself, the quality of the work done by the professional will almost always be higher, and therefore the effectiveness of the extra insulation will be bigger and the energy cost savings will come sooner,” Frick said.

Clark Public Utilities customers who own electrically heated homes may qualify for significant incentives on professional home insulation upgrades. Some conditions apply. Contact The Energy Counselor of the Day at 360-992-3355 during business hours, or visit clarkpublicutilities.com anytime for more information.

For those determined to DIY, insulation can be done well with patience and attention. Tiny gaps in insulation can cause big reductions in both comfort and cost savings so it’s worth the time to research tips for insulation and follow all instructions and safety precautions.

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

Vital Statistics
Author: The Columbian
Marriage licenses

APPLICATIONS FILED

Angelica Perchatkin, 28, Vancouver, and Vasily Kutsar, 33, Vancouver.

Chelsea Mae Pittman, 30, Vancouver, and Guillermo Luna Franco, 36, Vancouver.

Eric Turner, 56, Portland, and Karen Lynn Boubacar, 59, Portland.

Jennifer Ashley Turkington, 25, Vancouver, and Brian Servando Wright, 26, Vancouver.

Joanna Nicole Yorke, 33, Vancouver, and Taylor Nathan Payne, 26, Vancouver.

Joshua James Cunningham, 25, Vancouver, and Emily Marie Porris, 20, Ridgefield.

Lynn Marie Hyde, 55, Vancouver, and Gary Michael Doden, 53, Vancouver.

Michelle Lynn Krahn, 48, Vancouver, and John Robert Blood, 41, Vancouver.

Marriage dissolutions

PETITIONS FILED

Angelina E. Guzman and Byron Otoniel Guzman Lopez.

Bhavani Shankar and Vedhavathy Krishnamoorthy.

Donita Gail and Robert Lee Andrews.

Florence and James Williams.

Jordan A. Martinez Lee and Emily Dru Russell.

Joshua Gene and Trisha Marie Warbis.

Court sentencings

The Columbian’s policy is to publish all Clark County Superior Court felony sentencings, as provided by the Clark County Clerk’s Office. Addresses are provided by the courts and may have changed by the time of sentencing.

SUPERIOR

Artur Gennadiy Nichiporchik, 24, 5917 N.E. 59th Court, Vancouver, 30 days that can be served on electronic monitoring, third-degree assault.

Edward Patrick Blake, 33, 12810 N.E. Eighth Place, Vancouver, six months, possession of any vehicle which that person knows or has reason to believe has been stolen.

Garrett Lee Kinnison, 26, 111 E. Humphrey St., Yacolt, 10 months, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

James Ray Davidson, 34, 10818 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver, 90 days, two counts of possession of a controlled substance by prisoners or jail inmate.

John Michael West, 47, 23704 N.E. 10th Ave., Ridgefield, 220 months, second-degree murder.

Traci Lynn Mendez, 45, 1707 S.E. Eighth Ave., Vancouver, 220 months, second-degree murder.

Valon Saeliew-Sione, 19, Gresham, Ore., 31 months, first-degree attempted robbery, second-degree robbery.

Seattle Times Opinion

Is capitalism killing conservatism?
Author: Ross Douthat

The wealth capitalist dynamism piles up, the liberty it enables and the technological distractions it invents let people live more individualistically in ways that eventually undermine conservatism and dynamism together.

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