The Morning Press: CRC's demise, top-earning public employees, NHL draft, new Walmart

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CRC meets demise as Legislature adjourns

photoA cable-stayed design is one of the options for a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

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The Columbia River Crossing is dead.

After intense political wrangling, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, and a controversy that embroiled Clark County for the better part of a decade, the Washington Senate delivered the fatal blow to the beleaguered project Saturday. Lawmakers there turned back a last-ditch effort to push through a transportation revenue package that would have steered crucial funding to the CRC and other projects across the state. The full Legislature’s adjournment without approving that money left the planned Interstate 5 Bridge replacement with an aggressive schedule and a $3.4 billion finance plan ready to fall apart.

Instead, both states’ governors said Saturday that they’d pull the plug. The project’s downtown Vancouver office will begin shutting down. Its dozens of employees and consultants will land elsewhere. Funding that Oregon lawmakers had already committed will evaporate. And Clark County will move on to life after the CRC.

Gov. Jay Inslee will meet with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and transportation officials to decide next steps, said Inslee spokesman David Postman. But the assumption all along was that the project would fold if Washington lawmakers made no commitment this year, he said.

Read the full story here.

Clark County's top earners

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As chief executive officer of Clark Public Utilities, Wayne Nelson manages the second-largest public utility district in the state. The agency has the distinction of being the leanest utility statewide, with the lowest operations and maintenance cost per customer of any public or private utility and the highest number of customers per employee of any public utility.

Nelson is paid less than the labor market's median base salary for similar positions, but his $230,000 salary plus vehicle allowance was enough to earn his own distinction: The highest-compensated public employee in Clark County in 2012, according to The Columbian's annual salary survey of 38 public agencies and municipalities.

While Nelson has received raises for his job performance, two former police chiefs cracked the Top 10 for getting paid to stop doing their jobs.

Cliff Cook, who earned $138,420 in 2011, was paid $208,581 for eight months of work in 2012, seventh on The Columbian's list. Cook resigned as Vancouver's top cop following a meeting with City Manager Eric Holmes. The decision that the department needed fresh leadership was described as mutual.

Read the full story here and look at the database here.

Wal-Mart close to opening Neighborhood Market in Vancouver

photoVancouver's new Walmart Neighborhood Market in the Vancouver Plaza shopping center takes up a smaller footprint than its predecessor, WinCo Foods, a no-frills grocery competitor that moved to a nearby location in 2008.

Just as it is about to open Vancouver's first Neighborhood Market store at Vancouver Plaza, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is moving forward with plans for another of its small stores in the city.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is named on final site plans for a grocery store on the former Fred Meyer site at Fourth Plain Boulevard and Grand Avenue. Wal-Mart officials have long declined to comment on the site. Its plans, now being reviewed by the city, call for construction of a 41,100-square-foot store that would border East 20th Street with an expansive parking area stretching to Fourth Plain. The company confirmed its plans to The Columbian on Friday, with a spokesman saying the store is expected to open next year.

In the meantime, workers at the new store at 7809 N.E. Vancouver Plaza Drive are stocking that 42,000-square-foot store's shelves with nonperishable foods. Frozen foods, dairy, meat and produce will arrive at the last minute, said Troy Hannah, store manager.

"We're receiving freight and getting ready to welcome customers," Hannah said.

The store will open at 8 a.m. July 17.

Read the full story here.

Winterhawks' Seth Jones picked No. 4 by Predators

NEWARK, N.J. — The Nashville Predators selected Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones with the No. 4 overall NHL draft pick Sunday.

Many experts expressed their surprise that Jones, rated No. 1 by many scouting services, wasn't one of the first three picks.

"I'm extremely happy with where I am," Jones said. "I'm pretty familiar with (assistant coach) Phil Housley. I'm glad I'll be playing under (team captain) Shea Weber.

"It's been a long journey to now and it's finally over and we can finally start a new chapter."

Jones, 18, listed at 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, was a cornerstone of the Winterhawks' WHL championship season, helping his team reach the final of the Memorial Cup tournament.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver re-enactors will join Union forces in Gettysburg for 150th anniversary

photoGreg Moore, left, and Mitch Rice, right, set the marching pace for members of the 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry during a Memorial Day event at Vancouver Barracks. About 20 of the re-enactors will take part in 150th anniversary events at Gettysburg during the next few days.

(/The Columbian)

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"I died at Antietam," Jim Waite said as he reflected on his Civil War experiences.

"I died at the Battle of Nashville," he continued.

And at the Battle of Franklin, he turned his blue-jacketed back to the Rebels and ran.

Now Waite is getting ready for the Battle of Gettysburg.

"This is the one everybody's been looking at," the Vancouver re-enactor said. "I've been targeting this."

The July 4-7 commemoration will mark the 150th anniversary of the battle that changed the course of the Civil War.

Waite and 19 other local participants will be among up to 15,000 re-enactors wearing blue or gray. The combined forces will include 400 horses and 135 full-size artillery pieces.

These Yankees and Confederates will replay nine different engagements that were fought from July 1-3, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Read the full story here.

More freeway closures coming to Salmon Creek

Construction work in the Salmon Creek area will bring another round of freeway closures starting Sunday night, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

But if this month's Carmageddon-That-Wasn't offered any indication, it should again be smooth sailing.

The drill may sound familiar: Crews will be hoisting a dozen huge concrete girders over the freeway, setting the backbone of a new bridge carrying Northeast 139th Street over Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. WSDOT will divert all traffic away from the action with safety in mind.

This time around, the work will affect only the southbound side of I-205, closing all lanes. And the closures will take place at night, beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, lasting until 5 the following mornings.

Read the full story here.