The Morning Press: Streets pay for city's growth, newcomers flock to county

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

Streets pay for Vancouver's growth

photoA skateboarder travels along Northeast 18th Street near Evergreen High School on Tuesday. Finishing the transformation of 18th Street from a rural two-lane road to a major urban arterial with sidewalks and bicycle lanes ranks among the city's top transportation priorities, but infrastructure funding has been scarce and the city council will be discussing a new revenue source.

(/The Columbian)

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"Boom Town," read a headline from 1994: "Vancouver annexes more land in the '90s than any other city in Washington, and it's just the start."

The city's territory had grown more in four years than it had in the past four decades. And that was before the 1997 Cascade Park annexation — the largest in state history — brought in 58,000 more residents and made Vancouver the state's fourth-largest city.

With an estimated 164,500 residents today, Vancouver remains the fourth-largest city. Its likely to stay that way.

Vancouver has no plans for large-scale annexations of Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek or other areas in its urban growth boundary, even though by doing so it would become the state's second-largest city with a population of more than 275,000 and have arguably greater clout in Olympia.

Those "boom town" days are over, partly because of the impact the city's rapid growth has had on its streets.

Read the full story here.

Newcomers flocking to Clark County

photoSheryl and Michael Hendrix are settling into the 3,800-square-foot home they purchased and built in the Prune Hill area of Camas. The couple moved to Camas to be closer to family in Portland. They opted to stay on the Washington side of the border to pay lower property taxes and avoid paying the Oregon state income tax.

(/The Columbian)

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Clark County newcomers Michael and Sheryl Hendrix are still unpacking the boxes in their newly built Camas house. But they are already feeling at home.

Since moving to the small town in June to be near their first-born grandchild and their adult children in Portland, the Seattle transplants are amazed by the friendly people in Camas.

"Perfect strangers smile at you when you pass them on the street," said Michael Hendrix, a commercial pilot for Alaska Airlines.

His job transfer here makes Hendrix representative of the key demographic behind a new wave of Clark County newcomers who are helping the area recover from its bruising housing bust. Realtors say transplanted workers from other states and the Puget Sound area are the largest segment of the housing market and help explain the surge in new residents indicated by a recent driver's license report.

Read the full story here.

Christmas in Afghanistan: Marine moms send gift packages

photoShannon Collins of Wisconsin carries an armloads of stocking hats for gift boxes headed for her late son's unit in Afghanistan on Sunday. Collins flew to Vancouver to help the mother of a local Marine assemble the packages.

(/The Columbian)

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A Marine unit in Afghanistan lost one of its own in October, and a Wisconsin woman lost her son.

Now some Christmas cheer is on the way to those Marines at Camp Leatherneck, in memory of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins.

Rajenta Jacques, the mother of a local leatherneck, welcomed Shannon Collins into her family's east Vancouver home, where the two Marine moms were part of a weekend gift blitz.

Along with friends and family members, they turned 100 flat shipping boxes into cardboard Christmas stockings.

The shipment is going to members of Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force. They're stationed at Camp Leatherneck, the Marine Corps' largest base in Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Collins was a member of the unit when he was killed on Oct. 5; he was 19.

Read the full story here.

Tanker truck crash results in 3,200-gallon gasoline spill

photoEmergency crews work to clean up a tanker truck accident on Northeast 18th street Friday in Vancouver.

(/The Columbian)

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An overturned tanker truck that spilled 3,200 gallons of gasoline shut down a half-mile stretch of Northeast 18th Street in Vancouver Friday, resulting in a massive cleanup effort.

While an investigation into what caused the crash is ongoing, Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said it appeared to have happened after the east-bound truck struck a center-lane median east of Four Seasons Lane. The wheels of one of the truck’s two tankers went up onto the median, then back down onto the road, causing the liquid to slosh and the tanker to roll over.

Authorities have not issued a citation, Kapp said.

And while the crash didn’t cause any injuries, it did close the road to traffic starting at 1:16 a.m. Twenty-five firefighters from the Vancouver Fire Department responded to the crash to ensure vapors from the spilled gasoline didn’t ignite. Crews worked to clean the gas-slicked road until it reopened around 2 p.m., after the site had been completely cleared.

Read the full story here.

Patrol on watch for drowsy drivers

photoWashington State Trooper, Alexis Tonissen, talks to an aggressive speeder she pulled over along the side of I-5 North in Cowlitz County in March. The driver, who was on his way to a night class at a community college, blamed exhaustion for his erratic driving.

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The hectic holiday season can leave you short on sleep and lead to trouble on the road.

"We look at drowsy driving the same as though you were impaired by drugs or alcohol," said Trooper Will Finn. That's because lack of sleep affects you in the same way. You're reaction time is slower and ability to focus is compromised.

Washington State Patrol troopers are out looking for impaired drivers all year, but more people are on the road around the winter holidays.

Troopers look for vehicles that are weaving, drifting and dramatically changing their speed. They're not sure if they're dealing with a drunken driver or a drowsy driver until they talk with them. The statistics vary on how many people drive drowsy, with anywhere from 4 to 50 percent of people admitting to getting behind the wheel when they haven't had enough sleep.

Finn said it's often under reported as a contributing factor in a crash.

There were 12 fatal crashes on Washington highways involving drowsy drivers in 2012, according to WSP. Sleep-related crashes make up a disproportionate amount of rear-end and head-on collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Read the full story here.