Off Beat: 2011’s major stories had side effects, fallout

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Our review Sunday of the top stories of 2011 was limited to brief recaps, so there was no room for other aspects of significant events.

Like how …

• One of our top local stories was a player in last month’s Russian election.

• Mail addressed to the U.S. Army wound up in a Vancouver woman’s mailbox.

• A new local landmark escaped the Japanese tsunami.

Polls and Russians

As part of the city’s downtown makeover, the new Vancouver Community Library was among our top local stories. But it also was part of one of Russia’s biggest stories, the Dec. 4 parliamentary election.

Several Russian citizens who were in Southwest Washington a month ago were able to cast their votes in a special polling station set up in the library.

Library officials said the Russian consulate in Seattle rented the Klickitat meeting room on the fourth floor of the library that day. From the library’s perspective, it was simply a room rental and the library wasn’t involved in how it was used.

According to a Russian news outlet, 369 polling stations were set up in more than 140 countries for voters who were abroad on election day.

Post(al) exchange

When the U.S. Army moved its last remaining Reserve and National Guard units from Vancouver Barracks, not everything made the smooth transition to the new military reserve center in Sifton.

A Vancouver woman called The Columbian to let us know some of the Army’s mail was being forwarded to her house.

“It should have all been going out to the new center,” said Bill Schell, with the U.S. Army’s 88th Regional Support Command. “How it ended up at her place, I have no idea.”

Schell filed another change-of-address form.

Dodging the tsunami

One of the components of a new Japanese Garden that was installed at Clark College about two months ago had a narrow escape.

A Japanese sculptor worked on a piece called the “Smooth Stone” before it was ready to be sent to the United States. The stone was supposed to be shipped from the port in Sendai. But because of a delayed truck delivery, the stone was not there when the Japanese tsunami devastated the harbor.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.