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Were you away for the weekend? Catch up on some big stories.
(Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)Buy this photo
The town of Westport, on a windswept peninsula that juts into Grays Harbor, shows off panoramic views and offers tourists restaurants and stores festooned with American flags.
Make no mistake, though, it's a flinty workplace where many jobs remain tied to natural resources in the harbor itself. The town's expansive marina furnishes a sizable commercial fishing fleet, an industry that rewards those who can roll with nature's ebb and flow.
"You don't always see the treasure," said Larry Thevik, who at age 66 has plied these waters for 44 years in pursuit of albacore, salmon, halibut and, nowadays, Dungeness crab. "Sometimes you see the hardship."
It's difficult enough for Thevik and other fishermen to deal with commercial fishing's good and bad seasons, and the uncertainties that haunt their marketplace. But another industry that sees Grays Harbor as a gateway to the world wants to muscle into the area in a big way. Three companies are proposing to build or expand terminal operations that would bring in crude oil by rail from the Midwest and transfer it to ships for transport to refineries and, ultimately, consumers.
Backers of more oil infrastructure say the industry can co-exist with others. Thevik disagrees. He sees risks piling up. He fears the specter of unprecedented amounts of toxic crude ruining a fishing industry, worth tens of millions of dollars annually, that depends on a sustainable ecology.
In opposing the oil industry's expansion in his community, Thevik joins with a growing number of people along rail lines stretching from the North Dakota oil fields to the Pacific Ocean in challenging a critical cog in the industry's wheel: getting its product to market.
On a recent morning, Thevik, ensconced inside his 42-foot boat, "Midnight Star," moored at Westport's Float 8, considered the implications. "Is this a good use of the estuary?" he said. "Is this a good way to use the gift that is Grays Harbor?"
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Medical providers at Legacy Health hospitals are seeing a disturbing new trend: high rates of late-stage colorectal cancer cases showing up in emergency departments.
Legacy Cancer Institute released data Thursday on the number of Stage 3 and Stage 4 colorectal cancer cases being diagnosed as a result of visits to area emergency departments. Legacy Health began tracking the diagnoses after Dr. Harald Schoeppner, medical director at Legacy Medical Group-Gastroenterology in Gresham, Ore., noticed the trend in his office.
Across the Legacy system, 48 percent of all Stage 4 colorectal cancer cases and 30 percent of all Stage 3 cases were diagnosed as a result of an emergency room visit. Those rates are higher in Vancouver.
At Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, 65 percent of Stage 4 cases (11 of 17 colorectal cancer cases) and 37 percent of Stage 3 cases (15 of 41 cases) were diagnosed after trips to the ER.
Mount Hood Medical Center and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center had even higher rates, with 81 and 89 percent, respectively, of Stage 4 diagnoses coming after ER visits.
"Two-thirds of all Legacy patients who are diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer after a visit to the ER have never been screened," Schoeppner said. "Their average age is 73, so it's not because they are uninsured, it's because they do not believe it's important."
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The Washington State Liquor Control Board's decision to license a recreational marijuana grower in unincorporated Clark County will draw another rebuke from county commissioners.
Commissioners intend to sign off on a letter to the liquor board in the next week reaffirming their May decision to ban pot stores, processors and producers from taking root within their jurisdiction. It will be the second letter sent by commissioners to the state board about the permit since the beginning of the year.
The liquor control board, which regulates marijuana statewide, received an application from Gensys One Corp. to produce and process marijuana earlier in the year and reviewed it against the wishes of county commissioners. Commissioners sent the liquor control board a letter in January requesting disapproval of the application on the grounds that the county had no zoning standards in place for marijuana facilities and would possibly ban them outright in the near future.
But in a letter to county commissioners, dated June 17, the liquor control board wrote that the county's "objection is not grounds for seeking denial" because it failed to meet any of the elements contained in the state's regulation of recreational marijuana. The liquor control board also did not allow the county to have an administrative hearing to appeal the decision.
The liquor control board then sent a letter, dated July 8, notifying Gensys One Corp. that its license was valid through November 2014.
Commissioners intend for the second letter to reaffirm their position that, despite the state's approval of the license, they will not allow the facility, or any company tied to recreational marijuana, to do business on unincorporated land. According to the legal opinion of Chris Horne, the county's chief civil deputy prosecutor, the county's zoning ordinance trumps the state's permit.
"It's a direct and blunt communication," county Administrator Mark McCauley said of the letter to the liquor control board.
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(Courtesy of Matt Wastradowski)
Two longtime friends are training for a 48-mile charity bike ride on July 19, where they plan to stop at every Burgerville — and there are 11 — in Clark County.
The plan started as an ongoing joke between 31-year-olds Matt Wastradowski and Dusty Hartshorn, who realized they shared a love for the local fast-food chain after meeting in 2002, when they worked at the former Fred Meyer on Fourth Plain Boulevard.
"For the longest time we've joked about going to every Burgerville in Clark County in one day," said Wastradowski, a former Columbian staffer. "We realized it was doable."
But they wanted the trip to mean something more than an excuse to nosh on pepper bacon cheeseburgers and Walla Walla sweet onion rings. Their Burgerville journey into a charity ride to raise money for the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
They'll still be chowing down, of course.
"Up until last weekend, I've never ridden a bike more than 8 miles in a day," Wastradowski said. "It'll be a challenge for me. This is unlike anything I've ever done and I couldn't be more excited for it."
After brainstorming their plan, called the Tour de BV, the friends teamed up with Burgerville. Each of the Burgerville restaurants in Clark County has a donation bucket on the counter, and diners can also give money to the MS society to receive a bicycle coloring page for kids to decorate and have displayed in the restaurant.
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(Steven Lane/The Columbian)Buy this photo
Clark County families face more than seven lazy weeks stretching into the horizon before school begins in the fall. Many families fill their children's summer schedules with programmed camps and classes. But many don't have the money or the desire to do so.
A June 20 article in The Atlantic spoke to the benefits of kids' free play — creative time to play and daydream — during the summer.
"Unscheduled, unsupervised playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children," wrote Jessica Lahey. "It is fertile ground: the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health."
How do Clark County families with children play together during the summer?
"We do lots and lots of parks," said Erin Iwata of Ridgefield. She is mom to Hiro, 6, Judah, 4, and Kai, 2.
Sarah Coomber of Woodland and her son Daniel Coomala, 9, formed a hiking club with two other families to explore Clark County trails. One of Coomber's favorite trails meanders through the 314-acre La Center Bottoms Stewardship Site. The 8-foot-wide trail on the east bank of the East Fork of the Lewis River offers bird blinds to view animals in their natural habitat.
Wess and Emily Daniels of Camas take Lily, 6, Mae, 4, and Clement, 2, to Spanish story time at the Camas Public Library and to the kids' floor at the Vancouver Community Library. They like the Camas Farmers Market and outdoor movies too.
Eileen Peterson and her 10-year-old grandson Dayton Peterson, both of Vancouver, checked out a stack of books, graphic novels and movies Tuesday afternoon at the Vancouver Community Library. Peterson said they go to the library about every three weeks during the summer. Dayton's other summer adventures include riding his bike along the Burnt Bridge Creek trail with his grandpa, Tom Peterson; camping with his family; and playing with friends.
Read the complete story — and lots more ideas — here.