The Morning Press: Columbia River Treaty, Christmas tree visit

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Columbia River Treaty: Review of landmark deal could have big implications for county

photoThe Columbia River Treaty, ratified in 1964, reshaped how the U.S. and Canada manage flood control and power generation on the river system. The two countries are reviewing the sweeping agreement ahead of a key date next year, after which a revision is possible.

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When a major flood swelled the Columbia River and inundated parts of Vancouver in early 1996, it wasn't just local barriers and sandbags that kept a bad situation from becoming worse.

It was also Canada.

Hundreds of miles upstream in British Columbia, Hugh Keenleyside Dam held back additional water before it could make its way down through Washington and Oregon. Canadian managers had been put on notice by their U.S. counterparts that they needed help; the two countries worked together to contain one of biggest Northwest flooding events of the last century.

Keenleyside is one of three Canadian dams, along with a fourth in northwest Montana, that were built as a result of the Columbia River Treaty — a sweeping agreement finalized in the 1960s to manage flood control and hydroelectric power generation on the river.

But as a milestone in the agreement approaches, both nations are taking a renewed look at the treaty. On the U.S. side, the review has revealed some political and cultural fault lines in the Northwest as a host of players seek common ground. Those involved say the outcome could carry big implications for residents of Clark County and Southwest Washington, their property and their pocketbooks.

Read the full story here.

Capitol Christmas tree pauses on its journey

photoIsaac Setondji, 8, jumps up to touch the trailer carrying the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree during its stop in Vancouver Saturday.

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Jeff Reynolds and his family were among the hundreds of people who gathered in downtown Vancouver on Saturday for a glimpse of the Washington tree destined to be the Capitol Christmas tree in the other Washington — D.C. — on the other side of the country.

The 88-foot-tall Englemann spruce was featured at the Capitol Christmas Tree event in Heritage Square in downtown Vancouver. Kids also had a chance to meet Smokey Bear, visit with Santa and his elves, make a Christmas ornament out of a pine cone and send Christmas cards for active members of military. Families chatted with rangers from the Colville National Forest, where the tree was grown, about the tree and recreational opportunities. The event was sponsored by the Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees, the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office.

Read the full story here.

Parade salutes Veterans Day

photoU.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Greg Gilbertson of Washougal salutes Vietnam veterans during the 27th Annual Lough Legacy Veterans Parade at Fort Vancouver.

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George Spencer, 71, and his wife, Sharon, stood along Officers Row watching the 27th annual Veterans Parade at Fort Vancouver presented by the Lough Legacy on Saturday.

As recent arrivals in Clark County, it was the Spencers' first time to view the parade. They were treated to dry weather and a display of more than 2,500 individuals -- including veterans, Gold Star families, scout troops, Buffalo Soldiers and marching bands -- at the Fort Vancouver National Site.

"I see so many young faces here," said George Spencer, who served two tours in Vietnam and traveled the world during a 22-year stint in the Marine Corps. "That makes everything I did worthwhile."

Read the full story here.

C-Tran eyes its piggy bank for BRT

photoC-Tran began exploring a possible bus rapid transit system for Vancouver's Fourth Plain corridor in early 2011; the C-Tran board endorsed the concept in the form of a locally preferred alternative in 2012. In fall 2013, the agency is applying for a $38.5 million federal grant toward the $53 million construction cost.

C-Tran expects to burn two-thirds of its uncommitted capital reserves to build a bus rapid transit system in Vancouver, according to documents recently submitted to the Federal Transit Administration.

The agency must come up with about $6 million out of its own pocket to pay for the $53 million project. With the finance plan submitted to FTA, C-Tran leaders have answered how they plan to do that.

They haven't, however, gotten the approval of the C-Tran Board of Directors — a required step before the planned system can receive federal money.

The C-Tran board endorsed the overall bus rapid transit concept in the form of a locally preferred alternative in 2012. The board has continued to advance the project this year, even as some board members have expressed reluctance or outright opposition amid lingering questions.

Read the full story here.

Former agent opens up about the day JFK died

photo The limousine carrying President John F. Kennedy races toward the hospital seconds after he was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Secret Service agent Clint Hill is riding on the back of the car. As Nellie Connally, wife of Texas Gov. John Connally, bends over her wounded husband, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy leans over the president.

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Clint Hill had planned to become a high school history teacher.

He's now giving history lessons that can only be told by a Secret Service agent who was with President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Hill was in the car right behind the Kennedys' convertible as the presidential motorcade drove past the Texas School Book Depository.

What happened in the next few seconds changed America, Hill said.

It certainly changed the life of the Secret Service agent, who was photographed climbing aboard the presidential car after the first shot rang out, and then using his body to shield the Kennedys.

For years, Hill tried to bury his memories.

"I hadn't described it with friends, family or fellow agents," Hill said.

On Friday, Hill shared some of those memories with a crowd at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. The "Symbol of Freedom" event was a fundraising lunch for CDM Long-Term Care Services, a local nonprofit.

Read the full story here.