The Morning Press: Breast cancer fighter, Old Apple Tree, designer

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The weekend's weather was glorious. Check the forecast for today and beyond here.

This week's top stories and news you may have missed:

Neighbors, best friends wage fights against breast cancer together

photoCrystal Alhilali, left, and her best friend, Linda Stief, undergo chemotherapy treatment Aug. 15 at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver. Both women were diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and made a pact to go through treatment together.

(/The Columbian)

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From the moment Linda Stief and Crystal Alhilali met five years ago, they believed there was a bigger reason for their meeting.

Stief and her husband, John, moved into their home in the Sifton neighborhood in 2007. The next year, Alhilali, her husband, Ahmed, and their six daughters moved in next door.

The two women clicked immediately.

"It was like we had known each other forever," Stief said. "We're like kindred spirits."

In August 2009, Alhilali, who was 35 years old at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stief stood by Alhilali's side throughout the treatment, surgery and recovery.

That diagnosis, they thought, was why the women were destined to be friends. But that was just the beginning.

In April of this year, Stief was diagnosed with breast cancer. A month later, Alhilali received her second breast cancer diagnosis.

Together, their perilous journey toward recovery had begun.

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Visit The Columbian's Breast Cancer Awareness page.

Coal may bring new life to Longview plant

photoPart of Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview's current industrial operations is handling about 100,000 short tons of coal annually, imported by rail for use by the neighboring Weyerhaeuser complex.

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The sprawling site of a former aluminum smelter in Longview faces so many hurdles in its bid to be reborn as a coal-shipping terminal that it's hard to know where to start.

Terminal developers must navigate a bramble of none-too-easy to obtain permits from local, state and federal governments.

Spirited opposition gathers in the form of activists carrying a litany of concerns, among them: the exacerbation of human-induced climate change, increased train traffic in communities small and large, and toxic coal discharges from trains into the Columbia River. And the global market for coal softens, prompting business analysts to question the wisdom of massive capital investment in exports.

Yet the leaders of Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview exude both patience and confidence. They fire back against critics with arguments and long-term analyses of their own.

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Old Apple Tree Festival proceeds despite shutdown

photoNatalie Oneil, 7, of Vancouver, looks inside an empty tree costume at the Old Apple Tree Festival on Saturday.

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Fantastic weather made for a fantastic Old Apple Tree Festival on Saturday, with hundreds of people turning out to absorb history and fresh-pressed cider in the sunshine.

"If it had been last weekend, we would have been here in boats," said one member of the rootsy band Another Shade of Bluegrass during a pause in the pickin'.

"People love this," said Charles Ray, the city's urban forester, as he handed out clippings from the area's only surviving European pioneer, planted here in 1826 from seeds that sailed all the way from London -- and considered the oldest apple tree in the Pacific Northwest.

The shutdown of the federal government affected the festival in minor ways. Parking adjacent to the site was not available as it has been in past years. The National Park Service did not participate; a walking tour that was supposed to be guided by an NPS archaeologist, taking visitors over the land bridge to Fort Vancouver's little worker village, was deleted from the final schedule. Visitors wandered over there anyway and peered in the windows of the two little houses on the site.

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Couve Couture veteran pushes designs, herself

photo Cathy Rae Kudla walks next to her collection on the spring Couve Couture runway in April. She'll debut new looks at FashionNXT Portland.

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High runway fashion no longer is reserved for far-away cities or television screens. And fashion designers can come straight from Clark County.

FashionNXT Portland is a four-day showcase of the city's best fashion and design talent. Held at the Vigor Industrial Shipyard on Swan Island, the runway will be filled with spring collections from a bevy of local, national and international designers.

Cathy Rae Kudla of Ridgefield will be bringing her latest collection to the Portland stage as part of the FashionNXT's emerging designers showcase.

While the ideas for a spring collection had been simmering, Kudla didn't find out until the end of August she had been accepted to the show. "I've been sewing day and night. With the type of sewing that I do, it requires a tremendous amount of work. But I prefer quality over quantity."

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