Morning Press: Medicaid, oil trains, Clark College, volcano

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

Vancouver Clinic to reduce Medicaid services

photoThe Vancouver Clinic will no longer accept new Medicaid clients and, over the next three years, will reduce the amount of Medicaid services it provides to Clark County residents.

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The Vancouver Clinic will no longer accept new Medicaid clients and, over the next three years, will reduce the amount of Medicaid services it provides to Clark County residents.

The Vancouver Clinic currently provides primary and speciality care for more than 36,000 Medicaid clients — more than any other community Medicaid provider — as well as specialty care for those other providers. Medicaid services account for 25 percent of the clinic's total business. Over the next three years, the clinic will reduce that amount to 10 percent.

"We've had an open door to Medicaid," said Duane Lucas-Roberts, chief executive officer of The Vancouver Clinic. "That's one reason our volume is so high. The problem is, that's not sustainable. There won't be a Vancouver Clinic."

To get to more stable ground, the clinic will not accept any new Medicaid clients and will not replace existing Medicaid clients as they leave the clinic or are removed from the Medicaid program, which serves low-income children and adults, said Ann Wheelock, the clinic's chief financial officer.

Read the full story here.

Clark College acquires land for north county campus

photoClark College President Bob Knight said today that the college has acquired land in Ridgefield for a north county campus.

(/The Columbian)

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Clark College has acquired 59 acres near the Ridgefield Interstate 5 junction that will allow it to take root in north Clark County with educational programs within a decade, college President Bob Knight told The Columbian on Wednesday.

The satellite campus, to be named after the Boschma family that donated and sold land for the college expansion, will extend the reach of the vital institution to an area that increasingly is poised for growth.

The campus would start with one building as early as 2020 and could eventually grow to include four to six buildings, positioning the 81-year-old community college to accommodate growth, Knight said Wednesday in advance of his planned announcement at the Vancouver community college’s annual donor appreciation dinner.

“Everything shows the growth is in the Ridgefield and Battle Ground area,” said Knight, the college’s president since 2007. “We’re being as visionary as we can.” State legislation has already authorized $38.48 million for the project’s design and construction.

The Ridgefield land tract, slightly northeast of the freeway’s junction with Pioneer Street, was purchased by the nonprofit Clark College Foundation for $5.67 million from the Boschma Family LLC, owned by former dairy farmers Hank and Bernice Boschma. The Boschmas also made a $3.1 million land donation as part of the deal.

Read the full story here.

Online map shows rail lines, oil facilities

photoA train hauling oil passes through the Columbia River Gorge on its way to Vancouver in March.

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Keeping tabs on all of the oil-by-rail projects cropping up in the Northwest just got easier.

A new online map offers the public a comprehensive view of main and short rail lines in the region and locations of all 13 operational, under construction or proposed crude-by-rail off-loading hubs. It also includes brief details about the Oregon and Washington projects, including permitting status and estimated train volumes.

The interactive map (http://bit.ly/1o76V8l) is one product of the Regional Response Team and the Northwest Area Committee (www.rrt10nwac.com). The groups, composed of federal and state personnel, are charged by federal law to protect public health and safety by ensuring effective, coordinated responses to spills of oil and other hazardous materials.

The map complements the groups' ongoing work to craft new oil-spill response plans and to boost existing ones, Conor Keeney, oil spill equipment and contractor coordinator for the state Department of Ecology, said Wednesday. Keeney serves as chairman of the Northwest Area Committee and coordinates the committee's oil-by-rail task force.

Read the full story here.

Sheriff hopefuls have eye on resources

photoSheriff candidates Shane Gardner, from left, Ed Owens, Chuck Atkins and John Graser go over the speaking rules prior to a forum Thursday in Vancouver.

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Consider it a sign that the election season has officially begun.

All four candidates for Clark County sheriff were seated at one table at a Thursday evening forum sponsored by the National Women's Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation and Unitewomen.org.

Together, the candidates took aim at differentiating their positions, particularly on matters regarding domestic violence, human trafficking and hate crimes.

Sgt. Shane Gardner; Ed Owens, a former detective; and retired commanders John Graser and Chuck Atkins fielded questions from the public at the filled-to-capacity YWCA community room.

While they generally agreed on the big issues, they differed on the details.

"We need to enforce the law with the community, not on the community," Gardner said. "We need to open our eyes and know our neighbors."

Read the full story here.

Letter details 1842 Mount St. Helens eruption

photoNorth Clark County resident Cindy Sutton recently found a letter among a collection of family items that details an eruption of Mount St. Helens in November 1842. Its author may have been Sutton's great-great-grandfather.

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AMBOY — Growing up in north Clark County, Cindy Sutton's grandfather always told her that Mount St. Helens had erupted, long ago.

This was before 1980, when the mountain's unrest and massive May 18 eruption removed all doubt of its status as a still-active volcano. Before that, Mount St. Helens slumbered quietly for decades.

Now Sutton has uncovered a new window into the volcano's explosive history. Going through a collection of family items last winter, Sutton found a handwritten letter that appears to offer a first-hand account of a past eruption — in 1842.

"I was shocked when I started reading it," Sutton said.

Written in neat cursive on faded, brown ruled paper, the section begins: "St. Helens erupted Nov. 22 — 1842. Was seen 8 miles north of Salem."

Read the full story here.

'Sunshine Girl' Web series gets deal

photoColumbian files Paige McKenzie, left, and her mother, Mercedes Rose, listen during a 2011 filming session for their Web series "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl."

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Big productions sometimes have small beginnings.

And it looks like the Vancouver-filmed YouTube series "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" may be one of them.

The show, centered on a local teen who moves into a haunted house, was picked up this month for a major book and movie deal from The Weinstein Co. — the group that produced "Silver Linings Playbook," "Django Unchained" and "The King's Speech."

The film will star Paige McKenzie, 20, who also stars in the YouTube series. It will include McKenzie's mother, Mercedes Rose, and Vancouver director Nick Hagen as producers.

"This is what I've been working on for close to 15 years," Hagen said of the deal. "The book's set in Washington state, in a made-up town kind of based on Vancouver."

He said he hopes the movie will film in the area, but that's still up in the air, he said.

Read the full story here.