Morning Press: New county commissioner, Vancouver opposes oil terminal, new grocer



Ed Barnes addresses the Clark County Democrats on March 28 before they selected and ranked their top three candidates to fill the commissioner seat vacated by Steve Stuart. Barnes chairs the Labor Round Table of Southwest Washington, which on Friday passed a resolution expressing gratitude to those who worked on the defunct Columbia River Crossing project.

Vancouver resident Cathryn Chudy holds up a piece of mail she received from Tesoro-Savage as she testifies in front of the Vancouver City Council on Monday.

Natural Grocers is open for business in the Hazel Dell Square shopping center off 78th Street.

Vancouver resident Diana Robinson walks past a row of flower gardens at her apartment complex last week. Residents of Brandt Norwest and Brandt Terrace apartments have been told by management that they'll no longer be allowed to have personal plants in the ground outside their homes.

This photograph of the Old Garden Roses garden at the O. O. Howard House at the Historic Reserve showed the emerging rose blooms on a stormy Spring morning 2014. The worn bench is an invitation to sit, enjoy and to anticipate "more to come" from Mother Nature.

Looks like another beautiful weekend is on the way. Check out the local weather forecast here.

The week’s top stories and some news you may have missed

Mielke, Madore appoint Ed Barnes as third county commissioner

Clark County commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke on Tuesday appointed Ed Barnes, a retired labor leader and frequent critic of the commissioners, to join them on the three-member board.

The decision ends a two-month appointment process begun when Democrat Steve Stuart stepped down from his District 3 seat on April 11.

The two commissioners, both Republicans, failed to reach an agreement May 27 on a successor after interviewing the three candidates. They met again Tuesday afternoon to choose among three Democrats nominated by the county party: Craig Pridemore, Kelly Love Parker, or Barnes.

Barnes, who accepted the nomination to serve the remainder of Stuart’s term, will be sworn in next week so his family can watch him take the oath. The seat’s term expires at the end of the year.

A vocal critic of Madore, Mielke and Department of Environmental Services Director Don Benton, Barnes was seen as a dark horse candidate for the appointment. Pridemore, a former county commissioner and state senator, was the Democrats’ top pick for the appointment and had the backing of both Love Parker and Barnes. Pridemore is also the only candidate running an election campaign for the position’s next term. He’ll face Republican Jeanne Stewart, a former Vancouver city councilor.

Read the full story here.

Council approves resolutions opposing Tesoro-Savage project

Close to 700 people attended a Vancouver City Council meeting Monday, and a majority of speakers urged councilors to fight an oil-handling facility at the Port of Vancouver.

The meeting ended at 1:25 a.m. today, with the council voting unanimously to formally intervene in the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council process and voting 5-2 to adopt a council policy to fight not only the Tesoro-Savage project, but all proposals that would result in an increase of Bakken crude oil being hauled through Clark County.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilor Bill Turlay voted no on the second resolution. Each of them said they didn’t have enough information about the project. When councilors asked whether delaying the vote a week or two would give them enough time, Leavitt said he wanted to wait for the environmental impact statement to be completed and Turlay said he didn’t know.

“I don’t know how long I’ll need, to be perfectly honest with you,” Turlay said. “Push it through. You’ve got the majority. What are you asking me for?”

Councilors Jack Burkman, Larry Smith, Bart Hansen, Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Alishia Topper voted in favor of the second resolution.

The meeting was in the Heritage Ballroom at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, next door to City Hall, in anticipation of the large crowd. City Attorney Ted Gathe said the meeting didn’t set the record for the longest council meeting (that belongs to a meeting that ran until 3:30 a.m.) but likely set a record in terms of attendance.

Read the full story here.

Madore escalates C-Tran offensive

Clark County Commissioner David Madore hasn’t been shy about publicly criticizing C-Tran in recent months, often accusing the transit agency of misconduct or undue secrecy.

Now Madore appears to have escalated the offensive by taking it to the Washington State Auditor’s Office, and reaching out to at least one outside attorney.

Madore, who also serves on the C-Tran board, sent an email to the auditor’s office in April outlining a series of accusations related to C-Tran’s handling of public records, how it follows its own policies and how it approved a controversial contract with TriMet last fall, among other claims. The complaints were formally submitted through the auditor’s “citizen hotline,” and Madore sent a separate email to a Seattle law firm alleging the same misconduct.

That came as news to C-Tran, which didn’t find out until after the fact, said public affairs manager Jim Quintana. The emails were recently released by the county in response to a records request by Vancouver resident Michele Wollert, who then passed them on to C-Tran.

That’s how Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, C-Tran’s board chair, learned of Madore’s complaint, he said.

“It is rather disappointing that we have to receive this kind of correspondence from citizens in our community,” Leavitt said. Not coming directly to other board members showed a lack of “nerve” and “professional courtesy,” he added.

Read the full story here.

Natural Grocers opens in Hazel Dell

Lakewood, Colo.-based organic grocer Natural Grocers will hold a grand opening Tuesday for its first Clark County market, as it brings its no-frills concept to formerly vacant space in a Hazel Dell shopping center.

The store at 7604 N.E. Fifth Avenue carries vitamin supplements, specialty groceries, all-organic produce, and meats raised without antibiotics, growth promoters or feed containing animal byproducts, said Kemper Isely, president of the company that was started in 1955 as a door-to-door vitamin business by his parents, Margaret and Phillip Isely. The business gradually grew, as the bulk natural foods and vitamin supplements offered by the Iselys caught on.

The company, called Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, is publicly traded now and operates about 110 stores in 14 states west of the Mississippi. Isely said store prices are kept low because Natural Grocers’ store model doesn’t have labor-intensive departments such as deli counters and bakeries. The company also gets a volume discount when buying organics for its large chain. Isely said store prices are generally between 10 and 15 percent lower than Whole Foods and other organic food sellers.

Read the full story here.

New garden rules cause outcry at Vancouver complex

In 17 years living at the Brandts, Mary Widerburg has called several different units home. Every time she moves within the central Vancouver complex, her flower garden moves with her.

“It’s a job,” Widerburg said. “It always takes longer to move my garden than my house.”

Widerburg is now moving her garden again — but not her home. That’s because she and the rest of the community have been told by management that they’ll no longer be allowed to have anything planted in the ground in front of their homes. An April 30 letter gave residents 60 days’ notice to tear out any plants, decorations or personal items placed around the regular landscaping.

Starting July 1, “any flowers or items planted in the grounds or decorating the grounds will be removed and disposed of,” according to the letter from the Vancouver-based Al Angelo Co., which owns and manages the property.

Widerburg, like many, was shocked at the new policy after years of nurturing a garden that’s become a big part of her life. She’s started moving some of her treasured plants — including a rose bush planted by her late husband — to her daughter’s house. Last week, she walked along a sidewalk carrying a jar with long, white calla lilies cut from her garden.

“A piece of my joy is gone,” Widerburg said.

Read the full story here.

Reader photo challenge

Garden roses were in bloom on a stormy spring morning by the O.O. Howard House at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. “The worn bench is an invitation to sit, enjoy and to anticipate more to come from Mother Nature,” said photographer J.H. Goggin, who submitted the shot to The Columbian’s Reader Photo Challenge. This month’s theme is “Change of Seasons.” Submit your shots to Some photos will be featured in print; many will appear online.