The Morning Press: Freeholder leader, school safety, Camas football heading to state

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There is an arctic front heading our way. Check out the week's weather forecast for Clark County here.

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

Clark County's schools strive for safety

photoSchool districts throughout Clark County use interior and exterior surveillance equipment at multiple locations like this camera at Woodburn Elementary School in Camas.

(/The Columbian)

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CAMAS — Woodburn Elementary School still smells new. Bathed in natural light from the two-story library, the hallway feels welcoming and gives students a glimpse of the books and other learning tools awaiting them inside.

The Camas school is the newest elementary school in Clark County, and also the best example of optimum school security.

The security is subtle. After school begins, interior double doors that allow students to pour into the school in the morning are locked. For the rest of the day, all visitors are routed through the school office.

Except for the front door, all exterior doors are locked and can be opened only by staff with electronic fobs. Digital security cameras keep a watchful eye on the school's interior and exterior. School administrators have an unobstructed view of the parking lot, front doors and playground.

Read the full story here. Check Day 2 of the series here.

'Nan now' a leader again as county plans its future

photoThe Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce named former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen "Statesman of the Year" for her work in shepherding a bipartisan board of freeholders through the process of drafting a proposed county charter.

(/The Columbian)

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Forget about the Columbia River Crossing, C-Tran's light rail decisions and whether county commissioners should have hired state Sen. Don Benton to head the Environmental Services Department. All of that should be irrelevant to the group of 15 freeholders tasked with drafting new rules for Clark County government.

At least that's the philosophy of newly elected freeholder chair and former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen.

"Bottom line, I do not believe in structural changes to government when it's simply because people are unhappy with folks who are sitting in that structure currently," Henriksen told The Columbian on Tuesday, just hours before her fellow freeholders picked her as chair. "Don't worry about

what is controversial today. You want to pick a structure and a governance process that will help future leaders make the tough decisions of their day."

That visionary approach is consistent with Henriksen's mayoral career, which many say was instrumental in transforming the mill town into a thriving industrial hub.

Read the full story here.

Holiday patrol keeps watch on shoppers' cars

photoThe Vancouver Police Skywatch observation tower will be stationed at Westfield Vancouver mall throughout the holiday shopping season to thwart car prowlers.

(/The Columbian)

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As eager shoppers streamed into Westfield Vancouver mall in search of Black Friday deals, Bob Kennedy raised the cabin of the Vancouver police Skywatch tower to overlook the cars they left behind.

From his 25-foot high perch, Kennedy can radio authorities if he spots anyone peering into car windows looking for an easy mark. He and other Neighbors On Watch volunteers work with mall security and Vancouver police to prevent car prowls during the holiday shopping season.

"Police need the help," said Dean Van Nostern, another volunteer. "If we can help just a little, they appreciate it."

The mall in Vancouver is just one of the shopping centers targeted by the sixth annual Operation Christmas Presence. Although Skywatch will remain at Westfield throughout December, Neighbors on Watch also patrol other parking lots with an eye out for suspicious activity.

"People are getting to know there's a police presence," said Cpl. Duane Boynton, the neighborhood police officer for the Van Mall area. "If we didn't do it, we'd see prowls go up."

Read the full story here.

Clark County employment on upswing

photoCody Coss, 16, a Homelink student, listens to Ed Bush, an employment specialist with Goodwill, at a Youth Summer Job Fair in May at the Vancouver Community Library.

(/The Columbian)

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More often than not, there's been little to cheer about Clark County's recovery since the economic crash ended more than three years ago. But even a hard-core pessimist would be hard-pressed to avoid cracking a smile at the numbers the region put up last month.

In the 12 months ending in October, Clark County added 4,100 jobs across its private and public sectors, according to a report released Tuesday. That robust hiring by employers translated to an annualized growth rate of 3.1 percent. That's nearly double the annual pace at which both Washington state and the nation are growing: 1.7 percent. Usually, when the county's economy is healthy, its annual growth rate clocks in at roughly 2.5 percent to 3 percent.

To be sure, the county continues to dig its way out of a deep hole gouged by the 5-year-old financial crash. And doubts linger over whether the wages attached to the jobs being created are up to snuff. Still, the county's economy no longer limps along, trying to find an engine to propel it forward. In October, employment growth fully entered acceleration mode.

Read the full story here.

Camas routs Bellarmine Prep to reach 4A state title game

photoCamas' James Price carries the ball against Bellarmine Prep at the Tacoma Dome, Saturday, November 30. 2013. (Steven Lane/The Columbian)

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TACOMA — A season of hype. A season of praise. A season of wow moments.

But only now can these Camas Papermakers say they have made school history.

Reilly Hennessey threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Papermakers to a 49-21 victory over Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma in a Class 4A state football semifinal game Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome.

After consecutive losses in the semifinals, it is this Camas team that will be the first in program history to play for a state championship. The Papermakers (13-0) will face Chiawana of Pasco in the title game next week back in the dome.

“Since November 24, 2012, this day has been on my mind,” Hennessey said, noting the loss last year in the semifinals against Skyline. “The chance to do it over again and what I’d do over again. This opportunity, I’m so thankful. And I’m so glad I’m with all these people I get to share it with.”

He shared the football with five receivers, mostly going to Zach Eagle, who caught 11 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns.

Read the full story here.

OurBar burnishes Clark County food scene

photo The Lamb Sandwich at OurBar in Washougal.

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Why: Every once in a while, a new restaurant opens that truly shines on the landscape of the culinary scene. OurBar, opened in April, is one of those that exudes this character of accomplishment with ease. From the atmosphere to the entrees, every step of the process comes together with confidence. Local, fresh ingredients, homemade bread, and innovative selections that are exclusive to OurBar's menu provide a departure from the ordinary end of the spectrum. Instead of formulaic, OurBar is creative.

Read the full review here and our Pinterest Dining Out map.