Morning Press: City manager's pay raise, Steakburger site, pot sales

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

Vancouver city manager gets 17 percent raise

photoEric Holmes

Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes received a 17 percent salary increase Monday by unanimous vote of the city council.

Holmes, 44, now earns $199,000 a year, up from $169,659.

The salary adjustment, announced toward the end of Monday evening’s council meeting, was made after the council reviewed what leaders earn at other public agencies.

For example, Holmes, who oversees approximately 950 employees and an operating budget of nearly $350 million, was earning the same as Elson Strahan, president of the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust, who oversees 18 employees and a budget of $3.8 million. With the raise, Holmes will still earn significantly less than Wayne Nelson, general manager of Clark Public Utilities.

Nelson, who earns $245,000 a year, oversees 361 employees and an operating budget of $464 million, according to a chart provided by the city.

Read the full story here.

Steakburger razed as project ramps up

photoNot much was left of the iconic Steakburger on Tuesday morning as demolition crews made quick work of a restaurant that was popular with generations of Vancouver residents. The original Steakburger dates to the 1940s, and the building at 7120 N.E. Highway 99 opened Jan. 1, 1962, according to a family history.

(/The Columbian)

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Steakburger took its last food order May 29, ending a final burst of popularity that’s common when a long-loved but faded institution approaches its demise. This week, with the Golf-O-Rama miniature golf course and outbuildings already gone, the big machines got to the heart of the matter and leveled the restaurant that called 7120 N.E. Highway 99 its address for more than half a century.

Steakburger, which served generations of Vancouverites, was removed to make room for a $5 million redevelopment featuring four buildings, including two drive-through restaurants. The county issued permits for the project on Monday, said Mike Jenkins, of Vancouver-based MAJ Development Corp., the project developer.

“We’re in full construction mode,” Jenkins said.

Read the full story here.

Marijuana store eyes July opening in Vancouver

photoFarmer Tom Lauerman's Sour Diesel medical marijuana strain could be picked up by a commercial growing operation in Vancouver this year.

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The first recreational marijuana store in Clark County could open on Main Street in Vancouver in about two weeks.

The store, Main Street Marijuana, came in first in the Washington State Liquor Control Board lottery for retailers in Vancouver. The business expects to receive final inspections from the board by the end of the month, said Ramsey Hamide, a manager.

"We're planning on opening the first (of July) or the eighth, depending on the process for the first batch of stores," Hamide said. "The eighth is probably more likely."

The board plans to permit stores around the state to open in groups on those dates, he said.

Main Street Marijuana has been rapidly remodeling what had been the location of Pacific Jewelers.

The store won the lottery under the name of Mary Jane & Friends and is owned by Reid Eickhorst.

Read the full story here.

Read more on the legalized marijuana at our blog: http://blogs.columbian.com/cannabis-chronicles/

Lack of bike lanes in waterfront plans questioned

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The $1.3 billion development planned for Vancouver's downtown waterfront has been described as bicycle-friendly.

But as the city prepares to put the Columbia Way project out to bid, bike advocates have been questioning why plans don't include bike lanes. Columbia Way, which branches off Columbia Street, will serve as the east-west arterial. Plans call for one lane in each direction, with on-street parking and shared bicycle lane markings, or "sharrows."

Columbia Way would also have 12-foot-wide sidewalks, the standard width for downtown, said Chad Eiken, the city's director of community and economic development.

Madeleine von Laue, chairwoman of the Clark Communities Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said the committee has been concerned since seeing plans more than three months ago.

Sharrows and signs won't work for cyclists, she wrote in a Feb. 28 letter to the city's public works department. "Drivers may not understand those symbols or may choose to ignore them," she wrote. "And, again, if the city is concerned about traffic congestion, the best way to alleviate that is to encourage safe and enjoyable alternatives," she wrote.

Read the full story here.

Ridgefield boy, 7, undergoes heart transplant

photo Jack Conover, 7, of Ridgefield listens to the beat of his new heart. Jack underwent a heart transplant early Saturday morning at Seattle Children's Hospital.

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Jack Conover was just 4 days old when he had his first open-heart surgery. The second came four months later.

On Saturday, 7-year-old Jack had what his parents hope will be his last heart surgery for at least 15 years.

The Ridgefield boy, born with a congenital heart defect, underwent a heart transplant in the early morning hours at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"We got it just at the right time," said Kelly Conover, Jack's mom. "He wasn't able to get too sick."

That's not to say Jack was healthy. Far from it.

Prior to the transplant, Jack's oxygen saturation was about 74 percent. He quickly became out of breath and didn't have the energy to be active. He couldn't play sports, though he loved to watch them, and he was never able to keep up with other kids.

After the transplant, Jack's oxygen saturation jumped back up to 98 percent, which is considered normal. He's healing well and, while he is in pain, he has managed a few smiles.

"It's hard to see your baby in so much pain," Conover said. "But recovery wise, he's doing amazing."

Read the full story here.

Preventive steps can help limit mosquito populations

photoNow is a good time to reduce mosquito populations by removing standing water from around the home.

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Nothing like a little spring rain to bring new life, colorful flowers, green leafy plants and, well, a brand new generation of mosquitoes to Southwest Washington.

The disease-spreading blood-suckers are in prime form right now, looking for good breeding spots in sources of standing water to grow their numbers.

Clark County Public Health — which obviously doesn’t believe in free mosquito love — is warning people to get ahead of the problem by checking areas around the home and removing breeding spots.

Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus and other diseases, so it’s best to err on the side of caution, said Don Strick, a spokesman for the agency.

“This is more about prevention,” Strick said. “We’re trying to get people used to doing this every month around the house.”

The agency suggests draining standing water from old tires, flower pots, plastic tarps, wheelbarrows and other items. Water should be changed in bird baths, ponds and pet bowls at least twice a week.

Read the full story here.