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



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

Overtime puts squeeze on local cities' budgets

A rash of late-summer wildfires and other unforeseen events made 2012 a lucrative year for a handful of public employees. Records show the top three overtime earners in Clark County’s largest cities made nearly $350,000 combined in overtime.

Firefighters received the lion’s share of the overtime pay in Vancouver, Camas and Washougal. In cities without fire departments, such as La Center, Battle Ground and Ridgefield, police officers were the top overtime earners.

In some cases, the extra pay equaled a third of a six-figure, or near-six-figure, take-home salary. Although receiving overtime is nothing new for public employees, especially among on-call emergency responders such as police officers and firefighters, city officials say they vow to keep costs low; personnel expenses account for more than 80 percent of most cities’ operating budgets.

Read the full story here.

Clark County commissioners vote to oppose CRC

photoClark County Commissioners Tom Mielke, from left, David Madore and Steve Stuart

Clark County commissioners now officially oppose the Columbia River Crossing project.

Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke both voted in favor of a resolution Tuesday afternoon that states the county “strongly objects to the efforts to commit any funding to the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail Tolling project as currently planned.”

Clark County’s resolution alone does not change the course of the CRC. The county is not one of the six local signatory agencies that have shaped and approved project plans so far.

All three Clark County commissioners do, however, hold seats on the nine-member C-Tran board. C-Tran is one of the local signatories on the CRC.

Clark County’s resolution states that the county will inform the local signatories of its stance on the project. The approved resolution also states that the county “urges” other Washington and Oregon jurisdictions to follow suit.

Read the whole story here.

Liquor superstore coming to Vancouver

California liquor store chain BevMo plans to open its first area superstore in east Vancouver's Target-anchored Mill Plain Town Center, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The store at 700 S.E. 160th Ave. is expected to open April 5, according to Kris Mulkey, the company's director of public relations. BevMo is hiring employees to staff its 11,000-square-foot store opening next to The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant in the shopping mall.

"The store will feature a large selection of spirits, wine, beer, a growler station, and special tasting room," Mulkey wrote in an email response to questions about the new store. The BevMo chain will compete head-on in price for liquor sales with other major retailers, including Costco, and BevMo will offer convenience for consumers who only want to buy liquor without navigating a full-service store.

Since June 1, private retailers in Washington could be licensed to sell hard liquor, an enterprise once handled entirely by a state-controlled system. BevMo burst onto Washington's liquor-selling scene early on, opening stores in Tacoma, Silverdale, Seattle and Tukwila. In addition to the Vancouver store, the company plans to open another Seattle store and a Bellingham store.

Read the full story here.

Leavitt announces re-election bid

photoVancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt says Vancouver has become more friendly to business under his leadership.

(/The Columbian)

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt confirmed Thursday that he will seek a second four-year term.

He made the announcement at a 2 p.m. event at Sigma Design, a downtown firm, amid a small invited­ gathering of supporters and media.

A day earlier, Leavitt kicked off his campaign with a private event that raised $35,000 for his re-election effort.

“In 2009, you handed me the reins of the city,” Leavitt said. “I told you then that it was time for a better idea. During the deepest doldrums of the recession, we’ve accomplished significant improvements with that better idea. Yes, we could have buried our heads, we could have shirked our responsibilities, we could have complained that it was others at fault. But we didn’t. Instead, we pulled up our bootstraps and went to work.”

Read the full story here.

Some things you may have missed:

Sean Price is back in the game

Sean Price has heard his share of pregame pep talks, but still he sits inside the cramped Clark College locker room and hangs on to every word from head coach Alex Kirk as if he's receiving prophecy from the oracle.

Price leans forward, his hands on both knees, listens intently and nods emphatically.

Six and five is the only thing that matters. Price agrees.

Gotta take this Green River game personally. Price acknowledges.

Need this win for the playoffs. Price shakes like a bobblehead.

Almost a decade ago, Price would've placed himself inside a plush locker room while listening to Coach and surrounded by his Division I teammates. When he graduated from Columbia River High School, Price never would have envisioned his career playing out quite like this — at 25 years old, only two years younger than the fresh-faced Kirk, and fired up to play inside a half-full community college gymnasium for a chance to get that sixth conference win of the season.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver charity the Giving Closet helps the very poor

Midtown Vancouver isn't exactly the slums of Calcutta. But when Denise Currie was on a church mission in India in the late 1990s, her mission leader passed along this message, which came straight from the lips of Mother Teresa: "There is poverty in America, too. You need to stay home and serve the ones in your own backyard."

Currie found the poverty in Calcutta appalling. But poverty in the richest nation in the world started to appall her on a whole different level.

"At first, I had no idea there was so much poverty right here in Vancouver," she said. "The recession has really shined a new light on it."

Today, Currie is the force behind The Giving Closet, a quiet charity operating out of a network of warehouse spaces on Northeast 65th Avenue, south of Fourth Plain.

Everything is free at The Giving Closet, which started in a church attic and has grown to fill two big rooms with the bare necessities of life: clothing and shoes; bread and emergency food; household appliances, books and toys. Teams of volunteers keep the racks and shelves filled as wave after wave of clients come through.

Read the full story here.

Don't let 'silent killer' sneak up on you

It's America's "silent killer," contributing to nearly 1,000 deaths a day. Yet many people don't even know they have it.

It's not a mysterious disease. It's high blood pressure, and nearly 1 in 3 adults -- or about 67 million people -- have it, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. And in most cases -- up to 95 percent -- the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, according to the American Heart Association.

Regular blood pressure checks are key to catching and controlling high blood pressure, said Dr. John Koehler, a family medicine physician for Legacy Medical Group-Battle Ground.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, one while the heart is contracting (systolic) and the other when the heart is relaxing between beats (diastolic).

The measurement is expressed like a fraction, the systolic number over the diastolic number.

Read the full story here.