The Morning Press: Heroin recovery, massage parlor, flu season



After a year of working to beat the methamphetamine addiction that began after she graduated from Evergreen High School, Mandy Cooper, 22, feels she's turning a page in her life. She now shares a home in Camas with her boyfriend and his grandmother.

Rainbow Massage, which has since closed, greeted people as they entered the Shumway neighborhood via H Street.

A flu shot being administered October 2012 in Jackson, Miss. More children than ever got vaccinated against the flu last year, and health officials are urging families to do even better this time around. A severe flu strain swept the country last winter, sparking a scramble for last-minute vaccinations. There's no way to predict if this year will be as bad. But protection requires a yearly vaccine, either a shot or nasal spray. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it was time for people to start getting immunized.

Ashley Nelson spent five months at Palmer Station, Antarctica, studying the adaptation of icefish as a marine biology undergraduate with the University of Oregon. A field trip to Sea World in San Diego in seventh grade inspired Nelson to become a marine biologist. She graduated from Skyview High School in 2009.

As swaths of the country deal with an arctic air front, what does the forecast look like in Clark County? Check it out here.

Here is some of the weekend’s top stories and news you may have missed:

For Travis and Mandy, steps away from addiction

As Mandy Cooper sat near the large picture window in the house she shares in Camas, backlit by the low winter sun waning in the distance, she reflected on a topsy-turvy year that began with a monthlong drug binge with her then-boyfriend.

“It feels like I’m watching someone else’s movie,” she said. “I can think back and remember all the things we did, and all the things we went through, and it doesn’t feel like it happened to me. It’s weird, because I didn’t see this for my life.”

Exactly a year ago, she and her then-boyfriend Travis Trenda were strung out on heroin and methamphetamine. They were on the run from their families, the authorities and, they’d later say, themselves. The two spent 2013 battling personal demons tied to their addictions. Now, a year after the binge that set them on the road to recovery, they’re still fighting — with varying results.

Read the full story here.

‘Foot massage’ under suspicion

The L-shaped brick building seems innocuous enough.

Tucked between 39th Street and the Interstate 5 onramp, the multi-unit building greets people as they enter the Shumway neighborhood via H Street. A small blue sign with “Oriental Foot Massage” and a Portland telephone number is posted at the parking lot entrance.

But about six months ago, the business at 3811 H St. drew complaints from neighborhood leaders, according to police. Now it has become the subject of a Vancouver Police Department investigation and has landed on the radar of Washington health department inspectors.

Vancouver police reported finding an employee practicing reflexology at the business without a license, a misdemeanor, though the case remains unresolved. In a Dec. 27 letter to The Columbian, the owner of the business, Hui “Steven” Zhu, proclaimed his innocence.

Zhu said his English is limited, and the previous owner convinced him the business was operating legally. The previous owner only showed him the business’s finances to prove it was making good money, Zhu said.

Read the full story here.

New strain of H1N1 flu hitting Clark County hard

It may be a new year, but a familiar foe is reappearing in Clark County.

The flu strain H1N1 is the most prominent flu virus circulating the county, the state and the country. H1N1 was first introduced in 2009, then nicknamed “swine flu.”

The current strain isn’t identical to the 2009 strain, but it’s very similar, said Dr. Alan Melnick, health officer/administrator for Clark County Public Health.

The current H1N1 strain is hitting the young- and middle-aged adults particularly hard, as did the 2009 strain. The virus causes severe respiratory illness among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, Melnick said.

“This one, for some reason, targets that group,” he said.

Across the state, flu activity has surpassed epidemic thresholds. In Clark County, flu activity is elevated but not yet epidemic.

Read the full story here.

Six local business leaders share their objectives for 2014

The turning of the calendar page from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 is no different from any other moment. Yet many of us use that moment, and the days that border it, as a time of serious personal reflection that sometimes leads to positive change.

Because the start of the new year arrives just after the shortest day of the year, the period of reflection seems hard-wired biologically as a way to cope with the long nights and short days of winter. The gradual expansion of daylight that brings the earth’s awakening signals a time for renewal of mind, body, and spirit. Many people launch diets or sign up for gym memberships to improve their health, and they give more generously. Businesses and nonprofit groups tap into those instincts by selling diet plans and gym memberships, and offering an opportunity to make tax-deductible charitable donations.

In the spirit of the season, The Columbian decided to ask some local business leaders about their resolutions for the new year. We asked Kelly Parker, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, to suggest names, and we followed her recommendations to recruit participants in this admittedly random exercise.

Read the full story here.

Skyview grad Ashley Nelson finds adventure in Antarctica

An overnight field trip to Sea World in San Diego in seventh grade changed the course of Ashley Nelson’s life.

That experience whetted her desire to become a marine biologist. She’s pursued that goal ever since.

Last summer, Nelson’s passion for ichthyology — the study of fish — compelled her to travel more than 8,000 miles from her studies at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., to spend five months as a research assistant at Palmer Station, Antarctica.

It was a long way from home for the 2009 graduate of Skyview High School.

Nelson’s primary thesis teacher first told her about the Antarctica opportunity and said: “It sounds right up your alley.”

When Nelson, 23, told her parents that she could spend five months researching icefish in Antarctica, but it would mean graduating a few months later than planned, her mom, Karen Nelson, said: “Go for it! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

In May, Nelson flew to Santiago, Chile, and then to Punta Arenas, at the country’s southern tip, at the foot of the Chilean Andes. There she was outfitted with gear and clothing needed to withstand the extreme winter weather of Antarctica.

Read the full story here.