Morning Press: Spencer award denied; Tentative grain agreement; problem trees



ILWU Local 4 members remain outside the United Grain terminal, on Tuesday August 12, 2014, after word of a tentative agreement has surfaced.

Clyde Ray Spencer, whose 1985 life sentence for child molestation was commuted in 2004 by outgoing Gov. Gary Locke, listens to his daughter testify that she didn't believe that she was ever molested in Clark County Superior Court.

Physical therapist assistant Kathy Wiederman helps Kathy Hammersley walk using a walker at the Cascade Park Care Center. She'll be getting a prosthetic leg and going home this month.

These trees have an interesting history in Chinese culture, but they're considered noxious weeds in the U.S. They're known to spread fast and grow well in tough urban landscapes. So, eradication can be challenging.

Will the sun shine on Hoops on the River — which is now in the park? Check out the local forecast.

Tentative agreement reached in N.W. grain terminal dispute

A bitter two-year labor dispute that engulfed everyone from Vancouver police and Washington’s governor to state and federal agriculture officials may have ended, as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Northwest grain terminal operators have reached a tentative contract agreement.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced the unsettled accord Tuesday, saying it was reached just before midnight Monday in talks between the Longshore union and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association. In Vancouver, the announcement means normal export operations at United Grain Corp. at the Port of Vancouver may proceed. United Grain, the West Coast’s largest grain elevator, has been all but shut down since July 7, when the state Department of Agriculture stopped providing grain inspections in response to threats from pickets.

Gov. Jay Inslee praised the tentative settlement, saying it allows grain inspectors to immediately resume their work at United Grain. Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Grain Handlers Association, said United Grain’s operations will be fully up and running “as soon as the inspectors are available.”

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Judge strikes $9 million award to Spencer

He rules jury erred in finding that sheriff’s officials violated rights

A U.S. District Court judge has vacated a $9 million jury award in the case of former Vancouver police officer Clyde Ray Spencer, who spent nearly 20 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of sexual abuse.

Judge Benjamin H. Settle of the U.S. District Court in Tacoma threw out the jury’s decision in a written order Wednesday, effectively quashing the multimillion-dollar settlement and laying the groundwork for an appeal or retrial.

From his home in California, Spencer said he was “extremely puzzled by the judge’s decision to ignore the jury verdict,” adding that his attorney, Kathleen Zellner of Chicago, intends to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

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County acts on massage parlors

Commissioners OK ordinance tightening rules

Clark County has taken an initial step in putting the squeeze on illicit massage businesses.

Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that will place some new requirements on practitioners of massage therapy and reflexology. The ordinance came in response to concerns about fly-by-night operations that were possibly complicit in providing a venue for illegal sexual activity.

The county’s ordinance requires businesses located within unincorporated Clark County provide proof that they and their employees are licensed by the state before the county issues a certificate of occupancy. The rules closely follow those recently put in place in the city of Vancouver.

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Battle Ground woman loses right leg, left toes to infection

She’s happy to be alive and ready to do more than just survive

Nearly two weeks of Kathy Hammersley’s life are missing from her memory.

On the evening of April 27, Hammersley remembers running a fever and not feeling well. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed, with a nurse named Rhonda asking if she knew where she was.

Hammersley, 51, later learned she had been hospitalized at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center with an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria. She was unconscious and on a ventilator for nearly two weeks, her body battling septic shock.

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Blazers sign Garrett for training camp

After making an addition to their front court last week, the Portland Trail Blazers added another body to their backcourt for the upcoming training camp.

The Blazers signed point guard Diante Garrett, who played most recently with the Utah Jazz, to a two-year non-guaranteed deal according to a source.

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Vancouver’s Urban Forestry Commission targets fast-growing ‘trees of heaven’ for removal

With its shady green canopy and centuries-old medicinal lore, the Chinese long ago bestowed the name “tree of heaven” on a plant you’ve probably seen countless times around Vancouver.

But here in the states, many tend to think of the tree along the lines of its more sinister nickname: the tree of hell. And for Vancouver’s Urban Forestry Commission, it’s at the top of the most wanted list for removal.

That’s because the deciduous tree (ailanthus altissima) has become a real troublemaker, said Tim Carper, an instructional staff member at Clark College who sits on the Urban Forestry Commission. This summer, the commission is at the start of a citywide war on the tree of heaven.

It began last week with the removal of four towering giants in yards throughout the Carter Park neighborhood. Susan Sanders, who lives in the neighborhood, spearheaded the effort to cut down the trees with a $1,500 grant from the Vancouver Watershed Alliance.

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