The Morning Press: Election countdown, new police chief, electronics, zombies

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Tuesday's election may have a full ballot, but will turnout be tepid?

photoClark County election official Darlene Hellbusch processes ballots on Oct. 29 at the Clark County Elections Office. Clark County hires 90 temporary election employees to sort, scan and inspect ballots. Clark County switched to all-mail balloting in 2005, a move meant to reduce errors by having only a single voting method.

(/The Columbian)

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Tuesday’s ballot has more names than ever — many of which won’t ring a bell with voters.

There are 110 candidates for 15 nonpartisan freeholder seats, in addition to dozens of people running for seats on nonpartisan city councils, school boards and fire districts. But a big ballot doesn’t guarantee a big turnout, particularly not here.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey predicts 42 percent of registered voters will participate in the general election, which he said will cost an estimated $493,000, approximately $50,000 more than other odd-year elections. Those costs cover printing and mailing ballots, hiring 90 temporary employees and combining the local voters guide with the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet. Clark is one of only about 10 counties that still produce a printed local voters pamphlet, Kimsey said, and that alone costs $90,000.

As of Friday, 16 percent of ballots had been returned.

First results will be announced by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver hires new police chief

photoJames McElvain was hired by Vancouver as the city's new police chief. His first day is Dec. 16.

James McElvain will soon take over as Vancouver’s next police chief, city officials announced Friday.

McElvain, 49, has 28 years of law enforcement experience and has spent the last 17 years in California’s Riverside County. There, he served in the sheriff’s department and as a police chief for three cities with a combined population larger than Vancouver. He’s a captain at the Ben Clark Training Center, which trains new law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and provides advanced training for seasoned members of the force.

His first day on the job in Vancouver is Dec. 16, and he’ll earn an annual salary of $150,000. Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes named him as the top finalist early last month, but McElvain still needed to undergo a psychological exam and take a polygraph.

Read the full story here.

Camas electronics firm increasing global focus

photoCID Bio-Science demonstrates its plant-measuring equipment with an in-office display at it Camas headquarters.

(/The Columbian)

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When Leonard Felix saw the ad, he was first puzzled, then intrigued.

"Electronics manufacturer for sale in Camas?" he recalls thinking. "I thought I worked for the only electronics manufacturer in Camas."

Felix, at the time a director at Sharp Electronics, wanted to know more. Seven years later, he's the owner of the business that piqued his curiosity. That business, CID Bio-Science, has more than doubled its annual sales since Felix took over. It recently moved into spacious new Camas offices, designed around the principles of lean manufacturing. And Felix is preparing to expand into new markets that he hopes will fuel growth at the company for years to come.

CID Bio-Science, founded in 1990, makes portable instruments used in agricultural research. One product allows scientists to scan plant root growth beneath the earth. Another measures the canopies of trees and forests.

Read the full story here.

Run2Survive fun for living and undead

photoMarilyn Tycer, 28, of Vancouver said her spooky-looking contact lenses blurred her peripheral vision during the Run2Survive race Saturday.

(/The Columbian)

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Can a zombie run three miles?

Purists claim that their bodies are far too decayed for running, much less long-distance running. And yet, behind the fields of Endeavor Elementary School, a breed of enhanced zombies laced up their sneakers and ran in search of human flesh.

Run2Survive was one of three events Saturday in support of the Evergreen School District Foundation. It was the first time Energy Events, which also sponsors the Vancouver USA Marathon, jumped onboard the zombie run fad, said race director Brian Davis.

The foundation gets most of its money for scholarships and grants from a spring gala. Park Llafet, vice president of fundraising, said he wanted to add a fall fundraiser that was more geared toward the community.

Read the full story here.

Martha’s Pantry volunteers pitch in like their lives depend on it

photoMultitasking hostess Michele Kruchoski takes a phone call while welcoming fellow volunteer Albert Fletcher to Martha’s Pantry, a food pantry and community center for people with HIV/AIDS. “She’s fabulous,” Fletcher said of AIDS survivor Kruchoski and the energy she brings.

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Michele Kruchoski figured she was a goner.

She’s been living with full-blown AIDS for more than a decade, and her compromised immune system waved the white flag years ago as a rare and usually fatal brain ailment, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, stepped in and took over.

She suffered two strokes and became severely disabled. Unable to walk or talk, she assumed she had no future. She accepted hospice care.

Now watch Kruchoski go, playing hostess at Clark County’s only food pantry and drop-in center dedicated to people like her: people living with HIV/AIDS. People who used to have no hope, and precious little community.

“Martha’s Pantry has been my second home,” Kruchoski, 50, said. “They opened up to me when I really had nothing. Now, look at me: I am standing on my own two feet.”

Not just standing, she’s hustling. Thanks to advances in treatment, decent medical insurance and the support of a loving family, Kruchoski’s prognosis is promising; despite remaining partially paralyzed, she spends hours each week greeting newcomers and filling boxes in a small suite of basement rooms at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Hazel Dell.

Read the full story here.