The Morning Press: Light rail, murder conviction, wine, marathon



Here is a review of some of the week's top stories and some news you may have missed, including a closer look at light rail in Portland, Wolter found guilty of murder, a missing naked woman, and running the marathon for good cause.

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

Light rail: Blight or bliss?

PORTLAND — Love it or hate it, light rail's tracks are firmly embedded in plans for the Columbia River Crossing. But what will that mean for Vancouver?

Opponents worry extending Portland's MAX light rail line to Clark College will import crime and blight into downtown Vancouver. Proponents see light rail as key to addressing long-term transportation needs.

Look at neighborhoods touched by Portland's 27-year-old light rail system and some trends appear clear: property values climb when trains arrive. Others are hazier: crime has fallen in the neighborhoods near MAX, but there's more crime on trains and at stations. And light rail is about more than just statistics. By spurring development of dense housing, transit brings renters into neighborhoods where homeowners have long dominated, boosts foot traffic on local streets, and changes the feel and composition of established communities.

Read the full story here.

Jury: Wolter guilty of murdering estranged girlfriend

photoFriends and family of Kori Fredericksen — Cassie Perkins, from left, Tammi Murphy, Marie Solares and Stephanie Dedmore — react to Dennis Wolter being found guilty of first-degree aggravated murder as the verdict was read in Judge Robert Lewis' courtroom on Thursday.

(/The Columbian)

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Jurors found Dennis Wolter guilty Thursday of the first-degree aggravated murder of his estranged girlfriend, Kori Fredericksen, in May 2011.

Attorneys, friends and family hurried into Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis’ courtroom at about 1 p.m. Thursday for the verdict. Jurors reached the verdict after about four hours of deliberations, which began late Wednesday afternoon.

Jurors said the murder was aggravated for three reasons: Fredericksen had a restraining order against Wolter, she would have been a witness in a state criminal domestic violence case, and he used a deadly weapon.

Wolter, 46, was also found guilty of tampering with a witness, Dannielle Williams, to whom he confessed the crime.

Wolter stood motionless next to his defense attorney. His sister and other supporters were silent.

Read the full story and view a video here.

Deputies search for naked Vancouver teen missing in Skamania

Deputies are searching for a naked Vancouver woman, 19, who left her campground in west Skamania County on Sunday afternoon.

Maureen Kelly reportedly left the Canyon Creek Campground in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest just after 5 p.m. Sunday on a “spiritual quest,” wearing only a fanny pack that contained a compass and a knife. The woman was supposed to return that night, but didn’t. A friend reported her missing around midnight.

Canyon Creek is steep and mountainous with heavy timber and brush, said Dave Cox, Skamania County Undersheriff. Deputies aren't sure whether Kelly is on a road or trail in the area, or moving cross country.

Read the full story here.

Some things you may have missed:

Today's students face graduation gauntlet

Thirteen days before his graduation from Heritage High School, senior Gabriel Morales, 17, was told he wouldn't be graduating, after all.

He earned a grade point average of 2.83 and had more than the required credits, but he had barely missed passing his state reading assessment in March. Failing the High School Proficiency Exam, shortened to the HSPE, was preventing him from graduating on time with his class.

He wasn't alone in his predicament. A total of 173 Heritage seniors -- 33 percent of the 525 enrolled seniors -- failed to pass tests or complete other graduation requirements and did not receive a diploma.

Gabe's story, at least, has a happy ending. He completed an alternative to the HSPE exam called a Collection of Evidence and was given permission to take part in graduation ceremonies, though he still won't receive his diploma until his COE is scored and his work is deemed proficient.

Read the full story here.

Winefest will roll, under modified name

Don't call it "Vancouver Winefest" or "Vancouver Craft Winefest."

Really, please, don't.

Call it "Craft Winefest of Vancouver," the legally acceptable name for a three-day event this month at Esther Short Park.

A federal judge ordered the name change on Monday as he granted a preliminary injunction requested by Bravo! Vancouver's Michael Kissinger. Kissinger argued the inaugural event sounded too much like Bravo's annual "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival," which he started in 1998.

The lawsuit was filed May 17 against Cody Gray and Lucas Hoyle of Choice Events, organizers of the "Vancouver Winefest."

Read the full story here.

Mighty marathoner on a mission

This Sunday, 3-year-old Micah Snell will finish his fifth marathon — his third in just three months.

Of course, he won't run the race like the other entrants.

On race day, Micah will traverse the 26.2-mile course through and around downtown Vancouver in a jogger stroller pushed by his dad, Jeff Snell. The Camas toddler will don a bright orange Micah's Miles shirt and snuggle under an orange blanket. He'll share his seat with his orange sock monkey and his tiger stuffed animal.

While Jeff runs, Micah will eat — his feeding tube is set to a slow drip — nap and babble, his way of communicating with Jeff.

For most who have cerebral palsy, a marathon is out of reach. But not for Micah.

Read the full story here.

Candace Buckner: Local bus driver honored by Blazers

Vanora Volk opened the door to her Vancouver Public Schools bus No. 73 on Thursday morning, smiled at her surprise and purred a welcome.

"Good morniiiing," she sang.

On the sidewalk in front of Minnehaha Elementary stood teachers, district officials, a horde of curious kids paying no mind that the bell was about to ring and the one former Portland Trail Blazer who denied her an autograph way back when.

More on that later, but let's get back to Volk and why the Blazers decided that she -- a gray-haired school bus driver who's known for wearing silly hats around her kids and telling dirty jokes around her motorcycle club -- has embodied the spirit of Damian Lillard's "Respect, Pass It On" program.

In March, the campaign began as a way to curb the serious problem that still plagues our schools and our society: bullying.

Anyone who took the online "Respect" pledge -- the vow to take responsibility for my opinions, to not tolerate harmful language, to apologize if my words have a harmful effect -- got a free T-shirt from the team.

Read Candace's column here and follow her blog here.