Morning Press: Val Ogden, Papa Murphy's, Wal-Mart, Freeholders

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Here are some of the week's top stories and news you may have missed:

Former First Citizen Val Ogden dies

photoDan and Val Ogden met in 1946, when Val was a senior at Washington State University. Dan Ogden had been corresponding with her college roommate at the time. After Val graduated and moved to Spokane, “I called her up and asked her for a date and we went dancing. And we went on from there,” Dan said. (Contributed photo)

Val Ogden, a tireless community advocate and former legislator who worked to promote women in leadership roles, secure funding for the Washington State University Vancouver campus in Clark County and improve the lives of those less fortunate, died Wednesday afternoon. She was 90 years old.

Her family said the cause of death was cancer.

Ogden served as the executive director of the Clark County YWCA, was Speaker Pro Tempore in the Washington Legislature and was named Clark County’s First Citizen in 2006. More recently, she was on the county’s freeholder board, a volunteer group tasked with writing a charter to govern Clark County.

Her resumé, which is too long to reprint here, appropriately earned her the moniker of Energizer Bunny.

“This will leave a big hole in our community,” said Marsha Manning, a friend of the Ogdens' and an active member of the Clark County Democratic Party. “Val was a community citizen. Her name is all over town. A lot of people are going to be very sad.”

Read the full story here.

Papa Murphy's sued by franchisees

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A group of Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza franchise owners this month filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver-based parent company in Clark County Superior Court.

In the 11-count complaint, more than 20 franchisees accuse Papa Murphy's International of failing to disclose accurate information about the financial performance of stores located in Southern and Southeastern states and of collecting more than the contracted amount for advertising. The franchise owners, who together represent more than 60 of the company's 1,400 stores, also said they were not told that they would need to spend more on advertising in order to achieve sales comparable to stores located in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country, said Howard Bundy, a Kirkland attorney representing the franchisees.

When contacted via e-mail on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Papa Murphy's International, said the company has not seen the lawsuit.

"At this point, the company has not received or seen a copy of the lawsuit filing and, therefore, cannot comment on its contents at this time," said the written statement issued by Jessica Liddell, a senior vice president with the Norwalk, Conn.-based public relations firm, ICR.

Papa Murphy's International, which is headquartered near Westfield Vancouver mall, last month filed an initial public stock offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $70 million. The company is still in its "quiet period"and is limited as to the amount of information it or related parties can release to the public.

Read the full story here.

Tribal-state compact sets rules for proposed Cowlitz casino

photoThe Cowlitz Tribe plans to build a casino on this site near La Center, west of Interstate 5. La Center is in the background.

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A tentative tribal-state compact for a proposed Cowlitz casino in Clark County was released Tuesday by the state gambling commission.

The compact will be applicable only if the Cowlitz Tribe survives a legal challenge to its plans to take approximately 152 acres west of La Center into trust. That lawsuit, filed by Clark County, the city of Vancouver, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and other plaintiffs, is pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Under the proposed compact, the tribe could build two gaming facilities. One could have as many as 75 gaming tables, and a second could have up to 50 tables.

Initially, the wager limit would be set at $250, but after a year the limit could increase to $500.

The tribe could also have as many as 3,000 “tribal lottery player stations,” with as many as 2,500 in one facility. Any terminals beyond the tribe’s allotted 975 terminals would have to be leased from other tribes, however.

Melinda Froud, an attorney for the state gambling commission, said the “player stations” aren’t called slot machines because they don’t contain a random number generator. At a Las Vegas slot machine, for example, the player is just playing against the machine. At terminals in Washington tribal casinos, players are pitted against other players, she said.

Read the full story here.

Wal-Mart in Orchards?

photoWal-Mart's newest neighborhood market will open May 1 at Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards. The company also appears to be moving ahead on plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter store at Eastgate Plaza, south of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard between 143rd and 147th avenues.

(/The Columbian)

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Just as Wal-Mart prepares to open its second Neighborhood Market in Vancouver and its third Clark County Supercenter in Battle Ground, the giant retailer appears to be moving forward with plans for a long-mothballed project in Orchards.

But first, developers are proposing revisions to the retail project, once called Eastgate Plaza. It once was part of a larger commercial site called the Birtcher Business Center, planned as a mixed use of industrial, office and flex space in a 218-acre pasture on the south side of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard between 137th and 152nd avenues.

Once the revisions are made, Wal-Mart hopes to open the store by the end of next year, said Deborah Ewing, a vice president and managing broker with Eric Fuller & Associates Inc. commercial real estate firm.

"They plan on being open by third quarter 2015," she said. The plan fits right in with Wal-Mart's dramatic Clark County expansion. Its newest Neighborhood Market, a smaller concept focused on grocery sales, is set to open May 1 at Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards, less than one year after the area's first Neighborhood Market opened near Westfield Vancouver mall. A 154,000-square-foot Supercenter is under construction in Battle Ground and earmarked for a late spring opening.

Read the full story here.

Freeholders set plans for elections, pay

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After lengthy discussions Tuesday, the board tasked with writing a charter to govern Clark County voted on several divisive issues.

Those decisions were about how the electorate would vote for county commissioners; how much each member of the county's five-person board would be paid; and whether a county employee could also hold a partisan elective office.

Four of the five commissioners would run in individual districts in both the primary and general elections, while the chair of the board would be elected by a vote of the entire county.

A proposal that was floated earlier in the year called for Clark County to be divided into five districts instead of the current three. Each of the five districts would be represented by a commissioner, and each commissioner would have to be elected by the entire county in the general election.

Another early concept for electing county commissioners called for two at-large positions. But that idea was scrapped after some freeholders said it would create an imbalance on the board.

While some freeholders, such as Jim Mains, called Tuesday's decision a compromise, others were more skeptical.

"I remain convinced that all the councilmembers should be elected countywide," said Sheriff Garry Lucas, who also sits on the freeholder board.

Read the full story here.

Vancouver teacher, family, visit the president

photoPete Souza/Official White House photo President Barack Obama holds the hand of Lincoln Rose Pierce Smith, the daughter of Jamie Smith, former deputy press secretary, in the Oval Office. Watching are her cousins Sage and Elsa Smith, daughters of David Smith and Bethany Rivera, a teacher Fort Vancouver High School.

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A Vancouver teacher and her family with West Wing connections met President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on April 4.

Bethany Rivard, a teacher at Fort Vancouver High School, traveled to Washington, D.C., with her husband, David Smith, and their daughters, Sage Smith, 6, and Elsa Smith, 5. They were invited to attend the president's departure meeting with Jamie Smith, his former deputy press secretary. Jamie Smith, David Smith's sister, had worked at the White House since June 2011.

As Rivard and her family stood around the president's Resolute desk, her niece, Lincoln Rose Pierce Smith, 11 months, the daughter of Obama's former deputy press secretary, took her first steps — as she walked toward the president. White House photographer Pete Souza snapped a picture. It was posted online as the White House photo of the day and was sent electronically to 20 million recipients. Rivard's daughters are seen standing in front of Obama's desk.

Read the full story here.