Morning Press: Joe Biden defense, Kaiser pharmacy, food bank crops

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

New developments in 'Joe Biden defense' case

photoJeffrey Barton

Clark County's prosecutor said Tuesday he will dismiss a firearms-related charge against a Vancouver man who said he was merely taking Vice President Joe Biden's advice on how to defend his property from car prowlers. Instead, the man will be prosecuted for obstructing a police officer.

Jeffrey C. Barton, 53, made international news when he told journalists: "I did what Joe Biden told me to do. I went outside and fired my shotgun in the air."

That is a reference to the vice president's answer to a question in February 2013 about home defense. Biden responded that Americans don't need to own semiautomatic weapons because a couple blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders.

Barton's comment, dubbed the "Joe Biden defense," was circulated widely among Second Amendment activists, and also landed a two-minute segment on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Barton was scheduled to be tried next week in Clark County District Court on a misdemeanor charge of illegally discharging a firearm in connection with the incident at his home. But Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said Tuesday he has doubts that a jury would be persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that Barton violated the law when he fired shots into the air in a county-designated no-shooting zone.

Read the full story here.

Kaiser pharmacy users see long waits

photoKaiser Permanente members across Clark County and the rest of its Northwest region are experiencing pharmacy wait times significantly longer than usual — the result of a system upgrade implemented earlier this month. And Kaiser officials say it will take a few more weeks before those wait times show any substantial improvement.

Stephen Bryant waited 2½ hours after knee surgery to get his prescription.

Lynn Rullman waited an hour to place her prescription order before leaving empty-handed.

And after a fruitless hourlong wait, Suna Shaik will use vacation time Friday in order to get her EpiPen prescription filled.

Kaiser Permanente members across Clark County and the rest of its Northwest region are experiencing pharmacy wait times significantly longer than usual — the result of a system upgrade implemented earlier this month. And Kaiser officials say it will take a few more weeks before those wait times show any substantial improvement.

"I've been out in a lot of our pharmacy waiting rooms talking to patients. I want to apologize to them," said Mike Kinard, vice president for ambulatory care services at Kaiser Permanente. "The kind of wait times people are experiencing in our pharmacies is unacceptable by our standards."

About three weeks ago, Kaiser Permanente rolled out a new pharmacy system in about one-third of the region. Two weeks ago, the system went live in Clark County, where Kaiser has about 100,000 members, and the rest of the region.

The new system is used across the country and replaced Kaiser's 25-year-old system that was nearing the end of its life, Kinard said. The system performed well during testing, and employees were well-trained on the new system, he said.

Read the full story here.

Legacy of a tragedy: Crash victim teaches, even in death

photoMarlys Thorp and her son Jay Thorp look at Roy Thorp's wrecked Subaru Impreza. After the investigation into the crash that killed Roy Thorp, his family donated the car to the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

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WOODLAND — Roy Thorp was nicknamed "Professor" because he loved to help, tell stories and teach.

And although his smashed-up Subaru and a new memorial road sign are reminders of his tragic death, they also carry on his legacy of teaching, his loved ones say.

The 76-year-old Vancouver man was memorialized with the sign unveiled Saturday as family and friends gathered alongside Northwest Hayes Road on the three-year anniversary of the drunken-driving crash that killed him.

"I hope it helps somebody," said Thorp's widow, Marlys Thorp, 74. "If we just stop one person from drinking and driving, we've accomplished something."

It's not too often that memorial signs are erected; there are only a handful around the county, and most are placed along highways. Thorp's family wanted to make something good out of a bad ending and remind others about the consequences of drunken driving.

"God bless, Marlys," said Connie Jones, 75, who was the passenger in Thorp's car the evening of the crash. She still has scars on her arm and just recently stopped using a cane after her intensive recovery.

On Aug. 16, 2011, Thorp was driving in his Subaru Impreza to a board meeting at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill with Jones. They were volunteers on the board, and Thorp was treasurer.

Read the full story here.

Volunteers harvest Bob Buker's corn for Clark County Food Bank

photoAl Fischer, 86, joins other volunteers as they harvest corn at the historic Buker farm property on Wednesday August 20, 2014. The corn will go to the Clark County Food Bank.

(/The Columbian)

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Before there was centralized, public acreage on Northeast 78th Street that's popular with volunteers who grow tons of produce each year for the Clark County Food Bank, there was Bob Buker.

And there still is. On Wednesday morning, a couple dozen volunteers combed the cornrows at the historic Buker family farm on Alki Road, tucked just inside the Vancouver city limits, and harvested all the ripest, readiest ears. From there it was driven over to the food bank, where it'll be stored, packed and ultimately given to Clark County's neediest people.

"Bob grows the best corn in Vancouver," said Colleen Otton as she got ready to start picking. "It is delicious."

Buker, 84, was on hand to manage the labor and share the wisecracks Wednesday morning. He said he tilted toward agriculture as a career and way of life early on, after establishing an "unmatched academic record: I failed third grade. Nobody else managed to do that," he said.

Still, Buker combined book learning and dirt learning in the end, earning a Ph.D. and becoming a professor of agronomy at Ohio State University. His expertise and innovations kept him traveling all around the world to help struggling farmers in places such as China, Uganda, Somalia, and many of the post-Soviet "Stans" of central Asia.

On Wednesday morning, Buker said the same motivation that used to drive him all over the globe continues to drive his effort to keep his acreage productive.

"To help mankind where the need is desperate," he said. "Here, I'm trying to help people who are temporarily in trouble."

Read the full story here.

Marijuana prices hit another high

photoMain Street Marijuana is one of two pot shops currently open in Vancouver. Two of four prospective Vancouver pot shops that haven’t moved forward with the licensing process will have 60 days to do so before they get bumped off the Liquor Control Board list, a representative of the agency said.

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You know what they say in the marijuana business — what goes up must ... continue to go up?

Cannabis prices hit another new high this week at Vancouver's two stores, with 1-gram bags from one grower selling for between $32.50 and $38 after taxes. That's high, especially compared to the roughly $20 a gram charged when the stores first opened, and the street value on the black market of $5 to $10 per gram.

"I know I've said before that we thought the prices would come down, but this is really it," said Ramsey Hamide, a manager at Main Street Marijuana. "I don't think prices will ever get any higher than they are now. We've just had bad news after bad news, but there's no way it's going any higher."

The price problems are due in part to high taxes, including a federal tax that stores have to pay on the excise tax they give the state. That legality of that tax is somewhat iffy, but until there's more clarity about it from the feds, accountants have recently advised both stores to collect it, marijuana store owners said.

On the state side, Washington charges a 25 percent excise tax on the product three times: once when it goes from grower to processor, once from processor to seller, and once more when it's sold to a customer. Some growers have also gotten processor licenses, which allow them to skip paying the excise tax between grower and processor.

Read the full story here.

In case you missed it:

photoAn oil well pumps crude out of the ground near Williston, N.D. A historic boom in the Bakken region has pushed the state's oil production past 1 million barrels of crude per day on average.

(/The Columbian)

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A proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver has led to plenty of debate this year, so we decided to take a look at our connection to the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. the second part of our series focuses on the groups in the Northwest, including the Port of Vancouver, seeking to cash in on N.D. oil boom. Find more information at www.columbian.com/crude.