A look back at some of the weekend's top stories:
Neighbors all but cheered as they gathered to watch flames twisting through the roof of a vacant duplex in the Ogden area of Vancouver last month.
"I hope it burns to the ground," one man muttered.
The duplex fell into disrepair sometime after it went into foreclosure in 2008. Frustrated neighbors complained to Vancouver code enforcement and the police, who had little luck getting action from the bank.
Shades of this scenario are playing out around Clark County. The Great Recession and accompanying housing crash generated a torrent of foreclosures. Many were never completed, leaving empty houses that wreck neighborhoods. It's not simply a matter of aesthetics: The neglected and vacant houses attract criminal activity and pose a safety hazard.
Although the number of foreclosures has fallen, many houses have been empty for years. In the first quarter of 2013, 1,132 Clark County properties were in foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac Inc. The California-based data company recently undertook its first inventory of so-called zombie titles, and counted 586 in Clark County. These are properties abandoned by homeowners after banks notified them of the intent to foreclose, but then didn't follow through.
Read the full story here.
When Ryan Erlewine and his wife bought their home five years ago, they believed the newly developed Lacamas Meadows would be an ideal setting for their family. The quiet Camas neighborhood of new homes was a stone's throw from Grass Valley Elementary School and about a mile from Lacamas Lake.
But at the end of Erlewine's cul-de-sac, 350 or so feet from his front door on Grass Valley Drive, a proposal is afoot that could undo the pastoral setting: the development of a 75-foot Verizon Wireless cellphone monopole on a swatch of private land.
"I'm all for property rights," Erlewine said, "except when those rights infringe on mine."
The dispute over the placement of the cellphone monopole has pitted newcomers to the neighborhood, such as Erlewine, against both the city and the longtime owners of the property on which the antenna will go.
A hearings examiner working for Camas approved the monopole two years ago, when fewer people lived in the neighborhood. Because Verizon didn't build it during that two-year span, the city asked the wireless provider to reapply, which the company did in April.
Again, the hearings examiner approved Verizon's application. The company is within its legal rights to place an antenna on the land, said Sarah Fox, Camas' senior planner.
Read the full story here.
(Larry Steagall / For The Columbian)
PASCO — This is baseball euphoria for the Skyview Storm.
The Storm survived a crazy championship game to cap their wild championship run Saturday night at Gesa Stadium, winning the first state title in program history.
Relief pitcher Brooks Hanson threw four scoreless innings, and the Storm took advantage of nine South Kitsap errors to beat the Wolves 8-5.
"I don't know, man. I'm going to cry. It's awesome. We're No. 1. We are No. 1," said Brian Valentine, who had two hits and drove in two runs. "We brought it home. We brought the trophy home."
From the beginning of the season, the Skyview goal was to win a state championship. The dream had been there for a long time.
"I love being part of history, especially with these guys," Hanson said. "I've been playing with them (for years)."
Hanson entered the game with two runners on and no outs in the third inning, with Skyview holding a 6-5 lead. The Wolves did not score the rest of the game. Hanson struck out five.
Some things you may have missed:
Former Vancouver man has visited the remains of more than 100 ships that have sunk during the past 2,700 years, including the Titanic
Jim Delgado's work has involved some of history's most significant moments, with names and events that include HMS Titanic and the USS Monitor, Pearl Harbor and D-Day.
Some of those names also designate the final resting places of people who were caught up in that history. It's something Delgado keeps in mind in his job as a maritime archaeologist.
The former Vancouver resident is the director of America's maritime heritage, a position that is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Delgado also is a diver, author, historian and television host. In those roles, he has visited the remains of more than 100 ships lost over the last 2,700 years.
"It's not the number of wrecks; it's the powerful stories associated with some of these ships," Delgado said from his home in Maryland. "Even when you don't have a crew list, those sites, those wrecks can speak to you.
"Whether it's 2,000 years or 50 years, when you drop down and see something like that, you're struck by how fast life goes. How people can disappear from the historic record and how you — as an archaeologist — can help address that," Delgado said. "That's pretty powerful as you begin to grapple with what you're seeing. It's the fact that these encapsulate real people's stories."
Read the full story here.
Any dedicated reader will tell you that quality fiction -- like life itself -- twists and zigzags in vital and unpredictable ways. Before that becomes true for readers, it's got to be true for the writers.
"There's a point when your characters surprise you. They take control of the book and you've got to let them. You've got to follow them," said Vancouver novelist Carolyn J. Rose.
"Your characters go off and do things while you're not there," warned Vancouver novelist Sheila Simonson, who once assigned newborn twins to a couple in one book -- and realized, years later, that the stick-figure tykes had grown into full-fledged people who demanded exploration in their own right.
Rose, Simonson and some peers gathered recently at Cover to Cover Books and Espresso to mingle and discuss their work. Cover to Cover is the labor of love of irrepressible bookseller Mel Sanders -- who zigzagged her store back to life at 6300 N.E. St. James Road after a fire in a neighboring downtown site smoked Cover to Cover out of its original Main Street home.
Sanders only sells local authors she believes in. When The Columbian asked for her cream-of-the-crop picks, this is the group she assembled. Their works should keep your brain twisting and zigzagging this summer while you're lounging by the pool or the beach or the lemonade stand.
Read the reviews here.
Honesty, for so many of us, is an elusive thing.
Oh, I'm sure when you look at all the journalists and all the newspapers in this country, you will find those who have not been honest. But the vast majority of us are honest for two basic reasons:
• It's the right thing to do.
• Credibility in this business is everything, so we strive to always be fair and honest. (Check our website now to see how many commenters are weighing in on this point!)
I was thinking about this after I received a call from the Junior Joy Team. It's a cool organization that promotes the concept that you create a better community by spreading joy, optimism and inspiration.
Michele Larsen heads the Junior Joy Team and she was looking for someone to speak to Hough Elementary pupils about … honesty.
Oh I'm sure there are other professions out there that could speak on this issue. But with big business being — well — big business and with politicians being — well — politicians, I received the call.
I actually enjoy speaking to students so I jumped at the chance.
I hopped over to Hough.
Read Lou's full column here and share what you think about honesty.