The Morning Press: Light rail, KFC, Govt Island fire, H.S. football



This week’s top stories and news you may have missed:

Leavitt suggests city pay annual light rail costs

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said Wednesday he will schedule a city council workshop to discuss paying annual maintenance and operations costs for light rail, estimated to add up to millions over the long-term.

Calling the C-Tran Board of Directors a “dysfunctional” group — of which he and two other members of the city council belong — Leavitt said the city needs to step up and pay for light rail, planned as part of the Columbia River Crossing project that would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

“We as the urban center, we’re on a different trajectory than the rest of the county,” Leavitt said. “We have a vision of how we are going to handle growth, create jobs and create opportunities to live, work and play.

“Unfortunately, the C-Tran board is dysfunctional and seems to have lost sight of the difference between urban and rural public transit,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt’s plans for a workshop were first reported in Willamette Week and came as a surprise to other members of the council, as a workshop on light rail has not been put on their calendars.

Read the full story here.

Era ends for county’s KFC franchise

It’s the end of an era for a longtime Vancouver franchise that established the first free-standing KFC in Clark County and went on to build others.

Declining sales caused Dickinson Northwest Inc. owner Scott Dickinson to quit the business of serving Kentucky Fried Chicken, a job he’s had since working as a child helper at his father’s Hazel Dell restaurant, the long-closed Totem Pole.

The secret-recipe chicken was first introduced to the county in 1956 as part of a handshake deal between Totem Pole owner George Goodrich and KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders, who was just starting his national franchise.

In 1961, Goodrich sold the Totem Pole to Dickinson’s father, Chuck Dickinson, who died in 2011. The elder Dickinson established more KFCs before selling the chain in 1996 to Scott Dickinson, who grew the business to a string of eight KFC restaurants, including seven in Clark County, before the recession hit.

Read the full story here.

Government Island fire brought under control

Vancouver firefighters were among the 80 responders who battled a spectacular three-alarm wildland fire Monday afternoon on Government Island.

The blaze was brought under control at 5:46 p.m., Portland Fire & Rescue said. Mop-up continued into the evening and crews were working to insure the fire did not rekindle.

Investigators were combing through ashes, hoping to determine a cause.

There were no injuries.

Thousands could see the plumes of smoke from the fire and drivers on Interstate 205 northbound were delayed.

The Glenn Jackson Bridge on Interstate 205 goes over the western portion of the island in the Columbia River. There is no access from the freeway to the 1,600-acre island, so fighting the wildland blaze meant using boats to shuttle equipment and personnel.

Read the full story here.

Clark County Fair saw jump in visitors, revenue

After the 2012 Clark County Fair saw an operating loss of $108,000, Clark County’s Director of General Services Mark McCauley said the goal was to work for a “home run of a fair” in the future to make up for the deficit.

Looking at the first returns for this year’s fair attendance and revenues, it appears McCauley called his shot on the home run.

The final tally is still being processed, but officials report that the 2013 Clark County Fair shattered 10-year averages for attendance, gate revenue, carnival profit and food and beverage sales.

The 10-day fair brought 269,269 individuals through the gates. That translated to $821,066 in gate revenues.

Both numbers are up from their 10-year averages of 261,939 people attending the fair and $769,989 in gate revenues.

The carnival reported a gross of $1,222,576. Butler Amusements Inc., which operates the carnival, told Fair Manager John Morrison.

Read the full story here. Also, click here for closer look at the numbers related to the weather.

Litterbugs infest local roadways

An Otter Pops wrapper, an empty bag of Sun Chips, and a discarded to-go coffee cup.

The litter sprinkled along Fourth Plain Road on Tuesday didn’t just magically appear, even though litterbugs are rarely identified.

While the act of littering carries fines ranging from $103 to $1,025, relatively few citations are issued. An offender has to be caught in the act by a law enforcement officer, and in the past 21/2 years, only 187 citations have been issued in Clark County.

Yet trash can be found along most major arterials and highway ramps in Vancouver, and just as it didn’t magically appear, it won’t magically go away.

Read the full story here.

Fresh starts, optimism on first day of football practice

Everything moved so quickly Wednesday afternoon at McKenzie Stadium.

The new-look Evergreen Plainsmen were on the football field, and they weren’t wasting any time during their drills.

“It’s fast, but not fast enough,” Evergreen coach Don Johnson Jr., said.

A football coach is rarely satisfied.

Especially on the first day of practice.

Wednesday marked the official opening of the 2013 high school football practice season in Washington. The first games in Southwest Washington will be Friday, Sept. 6. Until then, it’s all about preparation.

For three Clark County programs, the day is a bit more special, as new men take over the head coaching posts.

Todd Quinsey is the new coach at Fort Vancouver, Brian Schott is taking over at Hockinson, and Johnson runs the show at Evergreen. They have been working with their teams throughout June and July, but now stuff’s about to get real.

Read the full story here and keep up with high school football all season long at the Columbian’s 360Preps.