The Morning Press: Strolling the streets, sticking with business



A pedestrian crosses Fourth Plain Boulevard at Andresen Road in Vancouver. In the past decade, at least 35 people have died in Clark County in vehicle-pedestrian collisions, while at least 768 others were injured.

Family members of Milton and Ovillin Sanders gathered on Saturday to tell stories of when the two ran Steakburger in Hazel Dell. The business will close its doors in May.

State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, speaks with The Columbian's editorial board on Friday, March 28, 2014.

No Columbian litter was found, but Benton litter was discovered.

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Is March going out like a lamb? Perhaps a soggy lamb? Check out the local weather forecast here.

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

Pedestrians in peril

Cody Robinson began his walk to LaborWorks early on March 13 so he’d have a better chance at getting a job that day through the temporary employment company.

In the predawn hours, the 20-year-old crossed Andresen Road at Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver and was hit by a southbound SUV, which police say ran a red light at the intersection. The crash broke Robinson’s eye sockets and cheek bones, bruised his lungs and caused head trauma that doctors say could lead to brain damage.

“I’m devastated,” Robinson’s brother, Alex Celorio, said. “You could be doing everything that you’re supposed to do and, like my brother, still get hit by a car. It’s still not enough.”

Robinson’s story is one of several recent pedestrian-vehicle crashes that have devastated families in Clark County. In January, two women were struck and killed by a pickup as they crossed a street in a crosswalk in the VanMall neighborhood. In October, a man crossing Mill Plain Boulevard at Southeast 105th Avenue with a walker was hit and killed by a driver, who police say was sending a text message.

In fact, more than 770 pedestrian-involved vehicle collisions have taken place in Clark County during the past decade, killing at least 35 people and injuring at least 768 others, according to a Columbian analysis of crash data from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Of the 210 people killed in all vehicle collisions between 2004 and 2013 in Clark County, 16.7 percent were pedestrians. Just two other counties in the state — King and Snohomish — have a higher percentage of fatal vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

Read the complete story here.

The first family of Steakburger

When Linda McCormick heard that the Steakburger in Hazel Dell was closing and the building was set to be demolished, she jumped on Facebook to tell her family.

The 65-year-old Olympia woman is the granddaughter of Milton and Ovillin Sanders, who ran the business from 1956 to 1962.

“Within a half an hour, I’d scheduled it,” she said. The make-shift family reunion, that is.

On Saturday afternoon, about 40 members representing four generations of the Sanders family descended upon the burger joint, taking up a majority of the tables. The group ate burgers and fries and slurped milkshakes as the older generations told stories and pored over albums full of black-and-white photos.

“There was no I-5. We watched them start the construction,” said Kathy Sanders, 63. At age 8 or so, she said, she and her siblings and cousins would play in the construction area and even get food for the construction workers.

“We would run out there, take their orders … run back with ice creams all melted,” Kathy Sanders said. Family members didn’t all work for the business, but Kathy Sanders said that “if you were here, you helped out.”

As kids, Milton Sander’s grandchildren used to roll down the mounds of dirt and sand that were used to build the freeway.

“They used to yell, ‘Go play on the freeway,’ ” McCormick said.

“We were filthy from head to toe,” Lana Brady, 63, chimed in.

Read the complete story here.

Pike pushes to try again for a bridge replacement

State Rep. Liz Pike initially coined the new group she’s forming the “Bistate Bridge Crossing Coalition.”

But the Republican from Camas quickly corrected herself.

“Let’s keep ‘crossing’ out of the name,” she said. “Pretty bad memories there.”

While officials involved with the Columbia River Crossing work to shut the $2.9 billion project down, Pike is joining forces with Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to create a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both Oregon and Washington to discuss whether there is a path forward on some type of Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project.

“Let’s start at the beginning and have no preconceived notion of what this is going to look like,” Pike said.

Rivers and Pike said they are in the process of reaching out to Oregon lawmakers and their Democratic counterparts in Washington. By the end of the month, they hope to have about 30 lawmakers signed on to the Bistate Bridge Coalition.

“The first and most important thing is to understand where the old project went wrong and have the candid discussion to determine: Is this really a needed project?” Rivers said. “We have a sense the answer will be yes.”

Read the complete story here.

Press Talk: Look who’s littering

Editor Lou Brancaccio takes a look around:

Out of nowhere, state Sen. Don Benton, who just also happens to be the county’s environmental services director, suggests that maybe the county should put a litter tax on newspapers. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Tax us rascals who hold politicians accountable. But that’s not all. The suggestion goes further. Benton says let’s tax only daily newspapers that — let’s see — have about 30,000 circulation.

Well, I’ll be! Those caveats would only hit (dramatic pause required here) The Columbian.

Now who would have thunk it?

And what do you suppose you would find if you went out looking for litter?

Read the complete story here.

Entrepreneur hopes he’s got a ‘Remarkabowl’ hit

John Wirth has been dreaming up business ideas since his teenage days, but so far he’s never struck it big. Now, as he awaits word on his latest big idea, the Vancouver native says he thinks the fourth time will be the charm.

His product: bowls shaped like footballs, basketballs and soccer balls, which Wirth hopes to market to sports fans, parents of young children and pet owners. It’s an idea so simple that it seems like the sports-themed bowls should already exist. But search on Google, Amazon or eBay, and nothing remotely like Wirth’s “Remarkabowl” pops up.

It’s not just the product that has Wirth convinced that his new company will succeed, however: He says he’s learned from earlier failures, and that this time around he’s got the right team and the right business plan to become an entrepreneurial success story.

Read the complete story here.