The Morning Press: A review of the week's news




A look back at some of this week's top stories:

Fire displaces 500 Crestline Elementary students

photoAn early morning fire destroyed Crestline Elementary School in east Vancouver on Feb. 3.

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More than 500 Crestline Elementary students and staff may learn Monday what will happen to the rest of their school year after a three-alarm fire destroyed their building early Sunday.

The school at 13003 S.E. Seventh St. in the Cascade Park neighborhood is closed and students are being told to not report to school today.

Sunday’s fire is believed to be the first catastrophic loss of a school in Evergreen Public Schools’ 67-year history.

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers cried, hugged, grieved and watched from a sidewalk as Crestline continued to burn hours after the fire was reported.

The cause might not be determined for a week, a fire official said. But a teacher said she saw kids lighting fireworks near the school on Saturday night.

Read more about the fire and students' return to classes on our special coverage page.

Jury convicts Wellers in child abuse case

A Clark County Superior Court jury this afternoon has convicted Jeffrey Wayne Weller on 14 of 15 charges related to felony child abuse. His wife, Sandra Doreen Weller, was convicted on nine of 10 counts.

The verdict was read beginning just after 4 p.m., after all of the parties are assembled at the courthouse for the reading of the verdict. The jury deliberated all morning and much of the afternoon.

The Wellers showed little reaction as the verdicts were read, but locked eyes as the jury was polled to make sure its verdict was unanimous. Their supporters in the public gallery wept.

The couple was accused of starving and beating teenage twins, adopted by Sandra Weller before her marriage to Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Weller, 43, also was charged with strangling the twin girl and assaulting his 13-year-old biological son and Sandra Weller’s 11-year-old biological son.

As the guilty verdicts were read, Jeffrey Weller slowly shook his head, and showed little other emotion.

Judge Barbara Johnson had warned all of the people in the courtroom against outbursts.

The couple denied the charges on the stand Thursday.

Read the full week's coverage of the trial here.

Park service ends deal with Vancouver

The National Park Service has terminated an agreement with the city of Vancouver, putting Pearson Air Museum under management of the park service's Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust has been operating the museum on behalf of the city.

The museum's historical artifacts and educational programs won't be going far, Elson Strahan, president of the national trust, said Monday afternoon.

The trust will move museum-owned exhibits and instructional assets, including a flight simulation lab, to hangar space at adjoining Pearson Field.

The agreement among the park service, city and trust was established in 1995.

"They terminated an agreement that was written to be put in place until 2025," Strahan said.

Read the full story, the decision to move the museum and the community response.

County commissioners to consider anti-CRC resolution

Clark County commissioners next week will consider a resolution opposing the Columbia River Crossing.

The item was added to Tuesday’s meeting agenda at the request of Republican County Commissioner David Madore, a critic of the project.

Madore said he requested the agenda item to follow the lead of Clackamas County, Ore., though commissioners there failed to pass a nearly identical resolution Thursday.

At the five-member Clackamas County commission, the measure against the CRC received two yes votes, one no vote and one abstention. Another commissioner was not present. That left the resolution short of the required three votes for approval.

As for Clark County, Madore said he views the resolution as in line with voters’ wishes.

“We are basically representing the people, that (voters on) Proposition 1 said, ‘Don’t fund this project. Don’t fund light rail,’ ” Madore said.

In November, voters in C-Tran’s taxing district soundly rejected Proposition 1 — a proposed sales tax hike to help cover the cost of operating light rail in Vancouver, planned as part of the CRC. Even business groups that favor the CRC project had opposed the tax proposition.

Read the full story here.

Some things you may have missed:

Area football players set for college

John Norcross proudly sported a green shirt.

Roldan Alcobendas said he could not wait to play on the red turf.

Wednesday was a day for some high school athletes to show off their new colors.

At Camas High School, Norcross and Alcobendas were the football representatives at a table of nine athletes who were honored by the school on “Signing Day.”

Norcross, The Columbian’s All-Region football player of the year this fall, signed his letter of intent with Portland State, where he expects to play linebacker. Alcobendas, a kicker, will play for Eastern Washington.

The February signing period began Wednesday for athletes in football, soccer, and track and field. Some high schools also held ceremonies for athletes in other sports who signed in the fall period.

Nationally and locally, though, this day is most known for football.

Read more here.

It takes a community to raise a barn

photoA whole community of friends and family members -- many of whom just happen to be skilled builders -- turned out Saturday morning to replace John Matson's Hockinson workshop, which burned down last month. More than $10,000 was donated for the project, and gifts of supplies and labor came from all over.

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John Matson stood back and trembled with emotion while dozens of people scurried around his Hockinson property, trying to replace the irreplaceable.

"This is overwhelming," said the retired carpenter and builder, 74. "It's not as big as it was, but it's bigger than I deserve."

It seemed like the whole neighborhood turned out Saturday morning to prove otherwise, raising a new wood shop for Matson on the spot where the old one went up in smoke on the morning of Jan. 9.

A team of experienced framers and roofers scrambled up above, guiding into place the triangular trusses that were hoisted up and over by a crane; below, a crew of younger guys with shovels dug around the old foundation to lay new water pipes. Others sawed boards and two-by-fours to size. And still others stood around drinking coffee and remembering how much Matson has meant to them over the years.

"It doesn't surprise me," said John's son Walt Matson, 45, sizing up the busy crowd of 40 or so. "Knowing Dad and all the people he helped over the years. Whether it was bringing food to someone who was hungry or helping fix a broken door or leaky roof or whatever. If somebody was in need of help, he always helped."

Read the full story here.

Winery rules under scrutiny

Steve Syverson wasn't thrilled to have a winery open up shop on land just downhill from his Battle Ground home a few years back.

He says he's supportive of the county welcoming such businesses in general, but he's grown weary of having the Rusty Grape Vineyard operate just a few hundred feet from his living room.

"I'm all for the wineries. I wish them well," Syverson said. "That being said, it's not always a good fit."

He's had a few problems with folks parking on the shoulder of his adjacent fields, which he leases for his horses. And the lights from cars shine through his windows when cars drive up the entrance to the winery.

But that, Syverson says, he could live with. It's the sound from outdoor events that have caused conflict with his neighbors.

"It's really just the noise," Syverson said of his issues with the winery. "We wanted to be away from the city, away from the noise. We're not."

Syverson attended a Clark County commissioners workshop meeting last week, where he was able to share his concerns as the county looks at revising its rules for county wineries.

Read the full story here.