The Morning Press: Fair kicks off, per diem, Nautilus, summer school

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This weekend's top stories and news you may have missed:

Pancake breakfast gets fair off to running start

photoThousands are served pancakes, sausage and drinks during the annual free pancake breakfast at the 2013 Clark County Fair on Friday at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

(/The Columbian)

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The rides, the animals, the exhibits, the games and, of course, the pancakes.

The 2013 Clark County Fair must be open for business.

It’s a fair tradition to open the gates in the early morning on opening day for the thousands of people willing to wait for free pancakes and sausage links before they check out the rest of what the fair has to offer.

John Morrison, the county’s fair director, said folks were milling about the entrance as early as 5:30 a.m.

At the front of the line was Walter Lewis, who said he’s been among the first to dine at the pancake breakfast every year for the past two decades.

See more fair coverage here.

Rep. Moeller leads local legislators in special sessions per diem

State Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, tops the list of Clark County legislators who accepted the most in state-paid food and lodging allowances during the legislative overtime sessions this year.

The daily allowance, called per diem, provides state lawmakers up to $90 a day to cover meals and rent when they are working in Olympia during legislative sessions. According to state House records, Moeller accepted per diems every day during the 48 days of legislative overtime — a taxpayer cost totaling $4,320. He was the only member of the local delegation to claim expenses for every possible day.

After this year's regular 105-day ended, legislators were called into a special session on May 13 because they still hadn't agreed on the state's 2013-15 operating budget. The first special session lasted the maximum 30 days and was likely the most unproductive legislative session in Washington state history, with zero bills passed, according to the Associated Press.

Read the full story here.

Course correction for Running Start student

When Alex Peterson found himself floundering in the first quarter of his Running Start classes at Clark College, he realized he was in over his head.

School had always been easy for the 16-year-old Columbia River High School student. But halfway through the term, the workload increased, and he couldn't keep up. Soon, he was failing his classes.

Alex didn't know what to do.

"I kind of didn't do anything until after the fact," Alex said.

He didn't tell his parents or seek help at Clark College. But he did make sure he was the first at the mailbox every day until his report card arrived.

"I left my report card on the table and waited in my bedroom," Alex said.

It took about five minutes for his parents, Mike and Lisa Peterson, to find his report card and talk to their son.

Read the full story here.

Nautilus has seen its fortunes reversed

Vancouver-based Nautilus has been through more ups and downs over the past decade than the fitness fans who use its TreadClimber exercise machine. But Bruce Cazenave -- Nautilus' fourth CEO since 2003 -- believes the era of cost-cutting and layoffs is finally over.

He took the reins two years ago, after turnaround firm Sherborne Investors had slashed some 900 jobs, sold off several product lines and cut spending on research in order to conserve cash. Under Cazenave's watch, Nautilus has returned to profitability, moved to a smaller headquarters building and picked up the pace of product development.

Cazenave, 57, sat down with The Columbian to discuss his time at Nautilus, and where he thinks the company is headed next. This interview is edited for space and clarity.

You were picked to take over Nautilus before Sherborne Investors exited the company. Why did Sherborne choose you?

Read the full story here.

Vancouver woman wins $466K in lawsuit against husband

To the Clark County jury, Birdie L. Whithorn of Vancouver appears to be a wife who decided to sue her husband for a half of a million dollars because he caused an October 2008 motorcycle accident that injured her.

An important piece of information — that Kent D. Whithorn's liability insurance company, Farmers Insurance, refused to pay his wife's medical bills — was kept from the jury. In civil court, information about whether a plaintiff or respondent has insurance is inadmissible, said Birdie Whithorn's attorney, Don Jacobs of Vancouver.

Nevertheless, the jury on Wednesday awarded $466,323 in damages to the wife at the end of a three-day trial in front of Superior Court Judge David Gregerson. That included $291,323 in economic damages and $175,000 in non-economic damages.

Read the full story here.

Dining Out: Ace's the place for fish, chicken

Why: Ace's Famous Fish, Chicken & Chowder operates kiosk-style, providing tasty menu selections and outdoor dining. The golden, crisp batter used at Ace's is a family recipe that's been in use for more than 50 years. Top-quality ingredients, such as organic, never-frozen chicken, are made-to-order fresh.

Atmosphere: At first glance, Ace's shiny chrome food trailer appears similar to a food truck, but it has a fixed address, located street-side in front of Living Hope Church. The dining area is flanked by wooden box planters and offers picnic tables to dine at.

What I tried: I sampled the Land n' Sea Combo, which consists of one piece of fish and three pieces of chicken with fries and cole slaw. I also tried a bowl of the homemade clam chowder.

Read the full review here.