The Morning Press: Fatal house fire, oil terminal ruling



A passer-by, who didn't want his name published, sent this photo of a burning house to The Columbian. One woman died as the house burned Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, in Vancouver, Wash..

The proposed Tesoro-Savage oil transfer terminal at the Port of Vancouver would include operations at Terminal 5, west of Interstate 5.

The legislative building in Olympia houses the Senate and House chambers.

The intersection of Falk and 42nd at SR 500 in Vancouver is one of many projects being pushed to fund by business groups.

Kathy Stevens of Portland shows 14-year-old son Nathan Smith a photograph of her grandfather. Capt. John A. McAllaster was among the missing after his B-26 bomber went down over Korea on April 4, 1952. He also flew during World War II. They were part of a Saturday event for MIA families hosted by the Defense Department. Colleen Stevens, Kathy's mother, also was in attendance at the event.

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

Woman dead in Vancouver house fire

A woman trapped in a bedroom during a two-alarm house fire died Friday morning, despite the best efforts of her son and firefighters to rescue her.

The blaze was reported at 10:19 a.m. at 15209 N.E. 74th St., which is north of Fourth Plain Road and east of Ward Road in the Sifton area.

The woman was reported trapped in a bedroom of the single-story ranch-style home. She was rescued by firefighters, but did not survive.

Read the full story here. Read follow-up stories here and here.

Judge rules partly in favor of port over oil terminal

A Clark County judge Friday ruled partly in favor of the Port of Vancouver in a lawsuit that claimed the port violated state environmental and open public meetings laws in approving a lease to build the largest oil-handling facility in the Northwest.

Superior Court Judge David Gregerson dismissed a claim by three environmental groups that the port violated the state Environmental Policy Act by approving a lease to build an oil terminal before an environmental impact statement was issued.

The decision means the lease — involving 42 acres and worth at least $45 million over an initial 10 years — remains intact, although the ruling could be appealed. Meanwhile, the oil-by-rail proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies, which faces strong public opposition, is moving through a yearlong environmental-impact review by a state-level permitting agency.

Read the full story here.

Clark County’s state legislators primed for start of busy session

There are plenty of unknowns heading into the 2014 legislative session, which kicks off Monday in Olympia, but road improvements, government spending, health care and marijuana are likely to top the agenda, lawmakers from Clark County say.

They especially point to the transportation debate as one to watch during the 60-day session.

Last year, legislators couldn’t reach an agreement on a $10 billion transportation plan, which would have raised the gas tax by more than 10 cents a gallon and would have paid for a number of transportation projects across the state. That plan initially included $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing, but money for the CRC has since been stripped from the proposal.

With the CRC left out, a revised plan began circulating among lawmakers this fall. It includes only $41.4 million in projects for Clark County. Some lawmakers hoped to have a transportation package passed before this year’s regular session, but negotiations stalled.

Read the full story here.

Business leaders want state to hit the roads

Clark County’s economic development wish list to the state Legislature, and maybe to voters, is for money to invest in road expansions and improvements, with additional funding for infrastructure and education added for good measure.

Those points are summarized in a single-page document developed by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Identity Clark County, and the Columbia River Economic Development Council — three of Southwest Washington’s biggest business and economic development organizations. It’s no surprise that these three groups are pushing for improved road capacity, a key ingredient in attracting more jobs and people to the county. With state funding for the Columbia River Crossing a long shot, and with the Legislature showing more interest in addressing transportation needs statewide, the business groups know that now’s the time to talk road improvements.

Read the full story here.

Families remember MIA

PORTLAND — The stories spanned decades of conflict in different areas of the globe. Gwen Davis and Dick Kim talked about their missing brothers; Ann Holland remembered her lost husband.

Colleen Stevens had a scrapbook documenting her dad’s service in two wars.

Some represented their uncles, and an 89-year-old woman was there on behalf of her son.

“Every story is different, but they’re basically the same,” Holland said. “We’re waiting for them to bring somebody home.”

They were among the participants Saturday when the Defense Department invited families of 95 missing service personnel to an event in Portland.

The session, hosted by the Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, included private briefings for some families. Thirty-five families were scheduled to contribute DNA samples that might be helpful in identifying remains.

Read the full story here.