The Morning Press: Mayoral race, I-5 Bridge votes, CRC suit, B.G. Walmart, scams



An artist's rendering of the proposed Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

Construction of a Battle Ground Walmart store heads toward a 2014 completion by subcontractor crews working under Boise, Idaho-based general contractor McAlvain Group of Companies Inc.

Fabian Debora, a former gang member and drug addict, walks off the stage after addressing a group of professionals Friday at Clark College. The Keeping Our Kids Safe Conference aims to address issues that face youth including gangs, suicide, substance abuse and sex abuse.

Seniors and people with limited English skills can learn to beat telephone scams, even on phones as old as this one, seen in 2004 at the the Telephone Pioneer Museum in Eugene, Ore.

This weekend’s top stories and news you may have missed:

Mayoral candidates vary on vision

In the past four years, the city of Vancouver has cut operational costs, improved its credit rating, landed major employers such as PeaceHealth, Integra and Farwest Steel Corp. and started a $40 million waterfront access project to transform the city’s west end.

But no matter how many first-term accomplishments Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt cites, to some people he will forever be defined by his flip-flop on bridge tolls.

Those people include his challenger, City Councilor Bill Turlay, who called the Columbia River Crossing the defining issue of the mayoral race.

“This is going to be a referendum (on the CRC),” Turlay said of the Nov. 5 election.

Read the full story here.

Advisory votes get mixed reviews

A set of advisory votes next month will allow Clark County residents to weigh in directly on light rail, bus rapid transit and three proposed bridges across the Columbia River.

The nonbinding measures will give voters up-or-down decisions on three bridge alignments: a replacement Interstate 5 bridge, a new bridge to the west of the freeway, and a new bridge to the east at Southeast 192nd Avenue. All three are described as “toll-free” proposals in the voters’ pamphlet.

The measures don’t ask voters to favor one idea over another. Each is a separate measure, so a resident could vote in favor of all three, against all three, or any combination he or she chooses.

On light rail and bus rapid transit, two measures will ask if Clark County commissioners should oppose any such project that does not first gain approval through a county-wide vote. One measure will ask the question for light rail, the other for bus rapid transit.

Read the full story here.

Retail giant Walmart planting its footprint in Battle Ground

It’s a bright October afternoon, and Battle Ground’s main drag is bumper to bumper as residents make their rounds to stores and restaurants along the commercial corridor.

The steady traffic on the Clark County city’s Main Street, which doubles as state Highway 502 leading west to Interstate 5, provides a stream of business for the retailers along its shores. Complexes anchored by Fred Meyer, Albertsons and Safeway line the route on the east and west sides of Battle Ground’s busiest intersection at Main and Southwest 10th Avenue, which is also state Highway 503. Smaller “mom-and-pops,” such as florists, cafes and hardware stores, fill in the spaces around the anchors. On this particular day, the parking lots bustle with shoppers carrying parcels and loading grocery bags into their trunks.

It’s the kind of hectic activity that retailers relish.

Many expect a change in local shopping patterns when Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Bentonville, Ark.-based parent of Walmart stores, enters the Battle Ground retail mix next year.

Read the full story here.

Oregon Iron Works sues over I-5 bridge mitigation deal

Oregon Iron Works has sued the Oregon Department of Transportation, accusing the state of bad faith in negotiating mitigation payments in connection with the Columbia River Crossing project.

The company was one of three manufacturers that inked deals with project leaders earlier this year as compensation for a bridge height that would squeeze their operations on the Columbia River. Oregon Iron Works agreed to accept $11.8 million. Greenberry Industrial would get $24.8 million under its agreement; Thompson Metal Fab would receive $49.8 million.

Oregon Iron Works, which was first to sign its agreement, said in a complaint filed Friday in Clackamas County, Ore., that the deals later given to the other two companies would put it at a competitive disadvantage. Oregon Iron Works argued the payments promised to Thompson and Greenberry aren’t based on their actual business capacity.

Read the full story here.

Conference goal: Safe, healthy youth

Looking around the room filled with nearly 100 people, Kellie Henderson said one thing was very clear: “We live in a community that cares a lot about its kids.”

School officials, social workers and criminal justice professionals were among the crowd Friday at Clark College’s Gaiser Hall to dissect a complicated issue: how the community can do a better job keeping youth safe and healthy.

Henderson is one of the organizers of the Keeping Our Kids Safe Conference. The annual two-day conference, put on by the Safe Communities Task Force, offered breakout sessions for professionals Friday on gang identifiers, sex trafficking and youth suicide, among other topics. A half-day conference for parents is scheduled for today.

To kick off the conference, former gang member Fabian Debora told his story.

Read the full story here.

Seniors can learn to hang up on scams

Forewarned is forearmed, and officials want people to be ready to defeat attempts to rip them off over the phone.

Dianna Kretzschmar, liaison at the Fort Vancouver Convalescence Center and president of the Friends of the Elder Justice Center, said seniors are typical targets for phone scams because they still have a land line and a phone number in the White Pages. They may also be hard-of-hearing or have cognitive issues stemming from dementia that make them more likely to fall for a ruse.

Scammers can sweet-talk their way into stealing money or may use empty threats to get what they want. It’s more difficult to solve these types of crimes because most of the perpetrators aren’t local.

Read the full story here.