The Morning Press: C-Tran and light rail, high school football, oil boom, Sam Elliot

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

C-Tran's deal with TriMet stands

photoProtest signs sit outside a C-Tran meeting on Tuesday October 8, 2013.

(/The Columbian)

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The C-Tran Board of Directors on Tuesday stood by a controversial contract with TriMet to operate light rail in Vancouver, after a boisterous rally and a parade of speakers mostly against the agreement.

Before the meeting, about 150 people gathered in a space in The Academy building to protest C-Tran, the agreement with TriMet, and the Columbia River Crossing project that would bring light rail to Vancouver.

In a special meeting two weeks ago, the C-Tran board narrowly approved a plan that spells out the terms under which C-Tran and TriMet would operate the planned light rail extension to Clark College. The contract itself was finalized the day of that meeting; the heads of the two transit agencies signed it the next day.

Read the full story here.

Oil boom reverberates in Clark County

photoAn influx of new residents in western North Dakota has left small towns struggling to keep up with a continuing oil boom. New construction has dramatically changed places such as Watford City, N.D., where former Clark County resident Chris Piche now operates his own trucking business.

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Chris Piche arrived with goals and a formidable work ethic.

But moving from Clark County to the job-rich oil fields of North Dakota in 2011 was still a leap of faith.

"I didn't know how it was going to turn out when we left," Piche said. "I just packed up my pickup and took off, and we've been going ever since."

The move paid off. By 2012, Piche was running his own trucking business hauling oil and gravel. Mathews Transport Inc., based near Watford City, N.D., now has three employees, he said. Piche himself logs upwards of 70 hours during a six-day work week.

"It's a different kind of stress, but it's a good kind of stress," said Piche, who used to work for Battle Ground-based contractor 3 Kings Environmental. "It's my own."

Read the full story here.

Families, food banks fear food stamp cuts

photoAlan Hamilton, executive director of the Clark County Food Bank.

Food pantries in Clark County and across the nation are bracing for a huge uptick in hunger, as a scheduled reduction of food stamps benefits is set to take effect on Nov. 1.

That reduction has been long expected, according to Alan Hamilton, the executive director of the Clark County Food Bank, because it ends a temporary boost in benefits that was added as the Great Recession took hold four years ago.

What wasn't expected until this summer is an additional cut to food stamps that's likely to be somewhere between $4 billion and $40 billion nationwide. The House of Representatives recently passed a $40 billion cut, and the Senate previously approved a $4 billion cut. When (and if) Congress and the president emerge from the current budget stalemate that's put the government into partial-shutdown mode, the final negotiated cut to food stamps is expected to be somewhere in between.

Read the full story here.

Six-story apartment complex planned in Uptown Village

photoThe Uptown is a 166-unit apartment complex planned by developer David Copenhaver for a full city block in Uptown Village.

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A $32 million urban apartment development that is one of the largest downtown projects in recent history is being planned on a mostly idle city block in Vancouver’s Uptown Village.

A portion of the site is now the temporary home of Dulin’s Village Cafe and was once the home of The Holland Restaurant.

Called The Uptown, the six-story building is developer David Copenhaver’s contribution to an ongoing national trend that has suburban dwellers drawn to once-neglected downtown areas. It will feature 166 apartment units, 150 underground parking spaces, ground-floor retail space facing Main Street and on Washington Street, street-level apartments with brownstone-type walk-ups. A central courtyard is designed to bring natural light in on every floor and a rooftop terrace will offer “stunning” views of downtown and its surroundings, Copenhaver told a downtown business crowd of about 60 people on Thursday.

Read the full story here.

Haves, have-nots in local high school football

photoBefore this season, Fort Vancouver and Hudson's Bay combined to win two games, one against each other. These school represent a trend where schools in less affluent areas struggle on the football field.

(/The Columbian)

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Football, like so many other sports, has become specialized.

And specialized means expensive.

On the field, the past 10 years has seen a widening gap between Clark County high schools in wealthy and poor areas.

The reason? Economically stressed athletes struggle to meet the sport's growing year-round demands.

Columbia River coach John O'Rourke said he started noticing the change about 15 years ago.

"There is a real emphasis now on the private trainer, helping you improve both your conditioning and your statistics," said O'Rourke, now in his 20th season as River's head coach. "That put a lot of pressure on people to get enough money to go to camps. Even at our school, there are a significant number of students who need some kind of financial assistance (to attend camps)."

It wasn't long ago when high school football really was a one- or a two-season sport.

Read the full story here.

Yes, that's Sam Elliott's voice in Clark spots

photoSam Elliott is part of a new Clark College Foundation campaign.

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After speaking on behalf of pickup trucks, beer and Smokey Bear, actor and Clark alumnus Sam Elliott is lending his distinctive voice to Clark College.

The 1965 Clark College graduate has provided the baritone punch line for a series of television commercials supporting the college's fundraising campaign.

Elliott doesn't appear on screen in the commercials; his name isn't credited when Elliott is delivering his tag line.

"We do not identify him in the commercial," said foundation spokeswoman Rhonda Morin, who noted that Elliott's voice pretty much speaks for itself.

Read the full story here.