The Morning Press: Park fees, rescued dog, new Walmart, pets contest

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Looks like a warm, dry weekend ahead. Check the forecast here.

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

Clark County parks paying for fee removal?

photoHal Bauder, Clark County parks maintenance crew chief at Lewisville Park, examines a bathroom facility Thursday damaged by vandals. "It's a bit unusual for us," said Bauder about the graffiti.

(/The Columbian)

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When parking fees first disappeared at Clark County’s Lewisville Regional Park, Tori Denfeld said, she was pretty happy with the news.

Denfeld said the park has been a bastion of safe family recreation for her six children for years, and she and her husband made sure to budget for the parking pass to use the location.

Denfield said she hadn’t heard that Clark County commissioners had been considering removing the fees this year — a campaign promise introduced by freshman Commissioner David Madore. So when Madore and Commissioner Tom Mielke voted on the night of April 2 to remove the parking fees, which ranged from $2 to $8 depending on the park, Denfield said she was initially pleased.

“We’re a large family with not a large income and any time something is cheaper, well, that’s great,” said Denfield. “I thought it was nice at first. But then it went downhill.”

Read the full story here.

Wal-Mart opens first Neighborhood Market in Vancouver

Local musicians performed the national anthem, city officials gushed and employees cheered for Vancouver’s sparkling new Walmart Neighborhood Market, which held its grand opening Wednesday morning.

A first for Vancouver, the grocery- and pharmacy-only store concept was warmly received by about 100 people from local businesses and neighborhoods on its inaugural day of business. The store is in a remodeled portion of the long-vacant WinCo Foods grocery store site at 7809 N.E. Vancouver Plaza Drive.

“It’s always a pleasure to be part of a new business opening that creates jobs,” said Larry Smith, a Vancouver city councilman and deputy mayor.

About 80 people were initially hired to open the 41,000-square-foot Vancouver store, operated by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with a staff of about 65 full- and part-time employees.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver, Northwest key in fight against climate change, environmentalist says

The Northwest and Vancouver could emerge as key tipping points in the global fight against climate change, nationally known environmental activist and author Bill McKibben told a capacity crowd at Clark College on Wednesday night.

As controversy swirls around plans for new fossil fuel terminals, the region has an opportunity, McKibben said to an audience of about 400 people in Gaiser Hall. Given the geography of the resources, the proposed facilities and the markets they'd connect to, stopping them in the Northwest would mean stopping them entirely, he said. Doing that would mark a victory in a much larger effort to reduce or reverse the catastrophic effects of climate change, he said.

"This area has emerged as this great choke point," McKibben said. "If it doesn't happen here … it doesn't happen anywhere" — at least not on the same scale, he added.

Vancouver has become a focal point in its own right in the fight over fossil fuels and climate change. McKibben's visit only raises the profile of the issue locally. On July 27, demonstrators plan to stage a protest by land and water on the Columbia River in a show against fossil fuels.

Read the full story here. Read about McKibben's water tour of the proposed oil terminal site here.

Humane Society seeks 2-year deal with Clark County

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington has told Clark County commissioners that in 2014 it will stop housing stray animals for the county unless it gets a two-year contract to operate animal shelter services and is paid near the actual costs.

Contract discussions between the county and the Humane Society have simmered for several months after a dispute over how much the county should pay for such services.

The county is legally required to house the stray animals it picks up. And since the county doesn't have an animal shelter of its own, it contracts for service with the Humane Society.

For a number of years, the county paid the Humane Society less than what it said it cost to house animals. In 2012, the county's $120-per-animal payment totaled $265,000.

The Humane Society requested the county boost its payment to $132.50 per animal in 2013, and to $145 per animal in 2014. But Commissioner David Madore balked at that contract, saying he wanted to see more information on salaries at the organization.

Read the full story here.

Chihuahua mix rescued from roof of Orchards-area house

A dog is now safely on the ground after straying onto the roof of a house in the Sunnyside neighborhood Monday morning.

Barry Klettke was backing out of his driveway on his way to his morning walk, with his Tibetan terrier Bella in the passenger seat, when he heard Bella growl.

“I looked up to see what she was looking at and saw a dog was standing on top of my roof,” he said.

He called 911 at about 10 a.m. to notify authorities of the strange situation. Clark County Animal Control Officer Patrick Higbie responded to the house, 8911 N.E. 79th St., to bring the 15-pound Chihuahua mix down.

“This is a first,” he said. Higbie has responded to calls where birds, such as chickens, were stuck on roofs, but never a dog.

Higbie had responded to a different call about a half hour earlier where someone reported a Chihuahua on the loose in the neighborhood, but he didn’t find the canine when he searched the area. He left, responding to other calls, before getting dispatched back to Klettke’s house.

Read the full story here.

And speaking of pets, here are the Cutest Pet Contest Winners

The votes are in. The committee has spoken. And purebred husky Neeko is the winner of The Columbian's Cutest Pets Photo Contest.

Neeko was 7 weeks old when the photo was taken and just celebrated his first birthday this week with owners Kenny and Nalani Murphy. The Washougal residents adopted Neeko from a Vancouver pet store.

The Murphys and Neeko get to share the first prize of gift certificates from All Natural Pet Supply and Tails R Waggin' Doggy Day Care.

Theresa and Thomas Lemke and their dog, Molly, took second place in the contest. Theresa Lemke, a TriMet bus driver, adopted Molly after she was abandoned at a bus stop and picked up by another driver. The Vancouver couple have had Molly for about four years and think she is about 5 years old.

Their prize is a gift certificate from the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.