The Morning Press: Businesses post-CRC, Pike talks to teachers, gangs in parks, local races

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Weekend's top stories and news you may have missed:

Political parties take increasingly active role in nonpartisan elections

When Vancouver Councilman Jack Burkman received an email last month from the Clark County Democratic Party chairman about a chance to interview with the central committee, his first thought wasn't how to win the party's endorsement.

It was that the political party shouldn't be making endorsements at all.

"Thank you for this offer, but I ask you not to move … into formally endorsing in nonpartisan races. You will be fundamentally changing the character of these races," Burkman wrote back to Mike Heywood, the party's county chairman. "When you formally endorse as an organization, you cross a line I believe will harm our community."

Several share Burkman's concern that increased party involvement will distort nonpartisan races and impose rigid thinking on civic leadership, while others say it's healthy for local democracy. For better or worse, the parties are more involved in nonpartisan races this year.

Read the full story here.

Police presence reins in gangs

photoBoth Water Works Park and Evergreen Park in Vancouver have seen a slight uptick in crime, which has police Cpl. Duane Boynton making extra patrols in both areas.

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Instead of holing up at his desk, Vancouver police Cpl. Duane Boynton writes his reports and fires off some emails while sitting in his patrol car parked at Water Works Park.

The practice is not so that he can get out of the office -- though he said he doesn't mind the fresh air when it's not raining. The real goal is to be a visible presence at a few of the city's parks in his patrol area that have recently been the focus of complaints.

"I get an eye on it every day," he said of Water Works Park near Clark College. Boynton, one of four neighborhood police officers with Vancouver police, said he also keeps an eye on Evergreen Park.

If he sees something amiss, he investigates, but he said his presence alone is helping.

"I'm a big believer in deterring crime," he said.

Read the full story here.

Life after the CRC's demise

photoMatt Brislawn, owner of Briz Loan & Guitar shop, was worried that the CRC project's light-rail component would have reduced his store's visibility, so he welcomed its demise.

(/The Columbian)

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The Columbia River Crossing’s spectacular flameout came just in time for Vancouver’s July 4 fireworks extravaganza, when bursts of bright light disappear into the black night sky.

And, as in a fireworks display, the CRC’s disappearance has left the city’s business leaders, economic development officials, property and shop owners wondering: “Is there anything else?”

In this early stage of reflection on the end of a project that consumed more than $170 million and a decade of planning, business leaders are not expecting big transportation improvement anytime soon. The twin towers of the Interstate 5 Bridge are likely to dominate the city skyline far into the future.

“Every individual and business that was waiting for a decision on the new bridge now knows their fate. They should sit back, take a deep breath and plan accordingly to resume their lives,” said Craig Angelo of the Al Angelo Co., a dominant downtown property owner.

Read the full story here.

Fireworks toll: four injuries, a few fires

With fireworks booming across the county, fire officials and law enforcement were kept busy into Friday morning, responding to noise complaints, fires and injuries.

Four people were hurt in two fireworks incidents Thursday night.

A 12-year-old boy suffered third-degree burns and two others were also injured when a modified firework went off earlier than expected in Vancouver’s Arnada neighborhood Thursday night.

Vancouver firefighters were called at 10:21 p.m. to 2226 I St., where they treated three males, ages 12, 13, and 21, who had been injured by the blast of a “sparkler bomb.” None of the injuries was life-threatening

The 12-year-old boy had burns on his inner thigh and right knee, and also had a sparkler wire embedded in his right biceps muscle, Battalion Chief Chris Lines said.

Read the full story here.

Teachers quiz Pike at open house

CAMAS — State Rep. Liz Pike answered Friday to a crowd of educators hurt by her recent Facebook post, which told teachers to get a new job if they weren't happy with their pay.

"I should have selected my words much more carefully," the Camas Republican told the group of about 40 people at her Camas legislative office. "It was a little snarky."

Pike said she wrote the post after getting home from a memorial service for a deceased family member, opening her email inbox, and seeing hundreds of nearly identical emails from teachers who were asking for cost-of-living pay increase. She added: "I guess I was a little frustrated."

Read the full story here.

Better photography is in your hands

photoSwimmer Brittney Thom, left, gets a playful nose pinch from teammate Shiloh Kieth, right, as Brittney's sister, Whittney Thom, joins in on the fun. Columbian Photo Editor Troy Wayrynen recognized that if he kept his camera aimed at the friendly trio, he would likely be able to capture a unique interaction as they were waiting for the start of a relay at a Special Olympics regional swim meet on May 5, 2012.

(/The Columbian)

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Heather Greene remembers the moment her photos began the transition from standard snapshots to meaningful artistic expressions.

The 63-year-old Vancouver woman became fascinated with photography decades back when working as a model on the East Coast. She started discussing the art form with her photographers and began picking up tips here and there. Her curiosity revealed a new passion in her life, but the pursuit to perfect her skills hasn't been an effortless journey.

In the 1990s, after many years of practice, the amateur was snapping shots of people jumping up from behind a sand dune in Cape Cod, Mass. She immediately knew she captured something magical. It was one of the first times she felt that way about her own photo.

"The joy on their faces, the sand moving under their feet and the blue sky; it worked," she said. "I had a visceral reaction to (the photo). I knew the moment I took it that it would be a good image."

Learn more tips here.

Volcanoes title shot falls short

photoVancouver Volcanoes Josh Tarver (8) looks to the basket against the Bellingham Slam during the IBL championship game on Friday.

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PORTLAND — The Vancouver Volcanoes landed their archrival's best player before the start of the 2013 season.

So on Friday night, with the International Basketball League championship game on the line against the Bellingham Slam, Vancouver put their last hope into his hands.

However, Paul Hafford — who played for Bellingham last season — could not save his new team and barely missed a deep, potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer as Vancouver lost 117-114.

Bellingham (18-2) won its second straight IBL title as well as eliminated Vancouver (16-5) for the consecutive year.

Although the Volcanoes finished a successful season with an undefeated home record, the team could not figure out Bellingham and lost three times to the adversary.

"They shoot the ball better," Hafford said, explaining Bellingham's strengths compared to other opponents. "They play well together and they play team ball."

Read the full story here.