Stories by Kathie
Breached dam’s owner to help those upstream
Some cabin owners near Northwestern Lake, the former reservoir on the White Salmon River, have seen their wells run dry since the breaching of Condit Dam in late October.
Bill aims to ease burden on small businesses
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler took a tall stack of federal paperwork to the House floor Thursday as a prop to illustrate what she described as a burdensome regulatory climate that is hampering small-business growth.
Group: Supercommittee’s failure GOP’s fault
It’s only December, but the 2012 election season is under way.
Question of new state revenue is on everybody’s mind
Has the time come for Washington voters to consider new revenue to plug the state’s persistent, ongoing budget gap?
Attendees plead for Larch, social services
The crowd was small but those who did show up on a rainy evening had plenty to say.
Dems say revenue needed
This is no time to raise taxes, local Republican lawmakers said Monday, reacting predictably to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal to ask voters for a temporary half-cent increase in the state sales tax.
Lynn Burditt will take the helm just after the New Year
Lynn Burditt, a veteran Forest Service manager who has a master’s degree in conflict management, has been named area manager of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. She will begin her duties in the Hood River, Ore., office in early January. Burditt succeeds National Scenic Area Manager Dan Harkenrider, who recently retired.
Fish and Wildlife says investors didn’t understand process
Investors in a proposed wind farm in coastal Pacific County say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is largely to blame for their decision last week to terminate the $4 million project after four years of planning and studies.
Gap now totals nearly $1.4-$1.6 billion for next two years
The state's chief economist says that the state has taken in $12 million less than expected since September, and that revenues are projected to drop by $122 million over the next two years.
Participating utilities cite objections over marbled murrelet
Four public utility districts in Southwest Washington have pulled the plug on a proposal to build Washington’s first coastal wind farm in the heart of the state’s most valuable nesting habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet.
A half-dozen concerned citizens huddled in the rain Wednesday on the porch of Marshall House, the Vancouver office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, to show support for federal spending on behalf of the poor and vulnerable worldwide.
Congresswoman follows her predecessor's example
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said Tuesday she’ll sign on as a co-sponsor to a bill to ban insider trading by members of Congress — two days after efforts to pass a similar bill by her predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, were featured on CBS TV’s “60 Minutes.”
Friends says panel’s approval of strategy fails to protect area
Friends of the Columbia Gorge has appealed the Columbia River Gorge Commission’s decision to approve an air quality strategy that the advocacy group says fails to “protect and enhance” air quality as required by federal and interstate laws. “The Columbia Gorge is a national scenic treasure that is suffering from significant levels of air pollution,” said Michael Lang, the Friends’ conservation director. “Unfortunately, state air quality agencies and the Gorge commission have adopted a do-nothing strategy that fails to include any mandatory measures specifically targeted to reduce air pollution affecting the Gorge and its communities. This is wrong, it’s illegal and we are asking the court to send the Gorge commission and state agencies back to the drawing board to develop a strategy with some teeth in it.”
He supports new I-5 Bridge without tolling, light rail
Jon T. Haugen, a former Navy pilot who ran for state Senate in 2008, will challenge U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, in her 2012 campaign for a second term in Congress.
Group wants it to use local businesses in its various dealings
Occupy Vancouver organizers plan thanked the Vancouver City Council Monday evening for its responsiveness to its questions about the possibility of withdrawing some city money from the Bank of America and depositing it in a community bank.
The future is murky when it comes to predicting how the city of Vancouver will fare in the upcoming legislative budget-cutting session. That was the message Mark Brown, the city’s Olympia lobbyist, delivered to council members Monday evening as state and local officials scrambled to figure out how last week’s passage of the state liquor sales privatization measure will affect cities’ bottom lines.
Occupy Vancouver organizers plan to ask the city of Vancouver Monday evening to withdraw some of its money from the Bank of America and deposit it in a community bank.
It could be years before one of the most popular measures on Tuesday’s ballot has an effect. It could be never.
Cost-cutting may also limit supervision of freed offenders
Larch Corrections Center is on the state’s potential closure list again, less than a year after the minimum-security prison camp near Yacolt regained its full capacity of 480 inmates. The Department of Corrections is considering closing one of its three minimum-security prison camps — the others are near Forks and Olympia — to help meet its quota of budget cuts as the state confronts the need to cut up to $2 billion in spending through mid-2013.
Vancouver Democrat optimistic Legislature will OK measure in 2012
State Rep. Jim Moeller announced Thursday he’ll join dozens of other legislators next week in introducing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the 2012 Legislature.
New leaders, loss of director, budget cuts among challenges
STEVENSON — The Columbia River Gorge Commission is facing an anxious transition.
Democrat surprised by margin of victory in district she was appointed to
Democratic state Rep. Sharon Wylie took a substantial lead over Republican candidate Craig Riley Tuesday in her bid to win election to the 49th District seat she was appointed to in April.
Former Woodland police chief Grover Laseke appeared to be defeating Woodland city councilman J.J. Burke Tuesday to win the city’s mayoral race. In partial results, Laseke held a lead of 439 to 276 in the contest to succeed Mayor Chuck Blum, who did not seek re-election.
Budget cuts are coming, governor tells students.
Vancouver company helping mother nature restore White Salmon River’s path
WHITE SALMON — Dale Kuykendall strolls a few hundred yards from his makeshift office to a ledge offering a jaw-dropping view of the newly unleashed White Salmon River.
Gregoire suggested easing the hit where landowners already pay higher tax rates
Nearly 100 school officials representing all 30 Southwest Washington school districts asked local lawmakers Friday to spare school levy equalization funding as they set about the grim task of slashing $2 billion from the state budget. The legislative forum, sponsored by Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver, drew nine lawmakers, including five from Clark County: state Sen. Craig Pridemore and state Reps. Jim Moeller, Tim Probst, Paul Harris and Ann Rivers.
Equestrian enthusiasts holding work parties to resurface some sections
The four miles of trail that wind through Whipple Creek Regional Park’s 300 forested acres are popular with users of all stripes — equestrians, hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, search and rescue crews and cross-country runners, including from nearby Skyview High School. Not all of those uses are compatible with each other — or with the trail system itself.
Pair vying to fill 49th District seat for rest of current term
Democratic state Rep. Sharon Wylie continues to hold a big fundraising lead over Craig Riley, her Republican opponent, as the campaign to fill a 49th Legislative District seat for the remainder of the current term moves into the homestretch. As of Thursday, Wylie had raised $139,415 and spent $102,995 in her bid to hold onto the seat to which she was appointed last spring after Democratic Rep. Jim Jacks resigned the position.
State Sen. Craig Pridemore announced Wednesday that he will run for state auditor in the 2012 election and will begin campaigning for the post immediately, while also serving out the final year of his second four-year term.
Returns called on track with previous elections; ballots due 8 p.m. Tuesday
Clark County voters are on track to return 40 percent of ballots mailed by the time polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday — about the same rate they reached in the 2007 and 2009 elections. As of Tuesday, county elections officials had received 41,326 ballots back out of 226,302 mailed — about 18.3 percent. That rate should more than double by Nov. 8, said elections manager Tim Likness.
Debris from Condit Dam breaching can pose a danger
Stay away. That’s the message PacifiCorp, local law enforcement officials and experienced river guides are delivering regarding the White Salmon River both above and below Condit Dam in the wake of the dam’s dramatic breaching last Wednesday.
Officials still surprised at how fast lake drained
One day after the breaching of Condit Dam, the former reservoir behind the dam continued to offer a fascinating case study in how quickly an altered landscape can revert to its original form. Since Wednesday, when explosives opened a tunnel in the 98-year-old dam through which the reservoir drained in little more than an hour, sediment has continued to slough off the sides of the reservoir and also has built back up in places.
After 12 years of planning, hole blasted in Condit Dam
WHITE SALMON — Davis Washines watched in awe, then bowed his head. He wiped tears from his eyes. The sight of the White Salmon River rushing freely through the base of Condit Dam — released for the first time in 98 years Wednesday by a ground-shaking detonation of 700 pounds of dynamite — set off a rush of emotion for Washines and dozens of others watching on a live video feed, just a short walk from the blast site.
Salmon were captured, relocated above Condit
On June 13, after 12 years of delays, negotiations and regulatory hoops, PacifiCorp pulled the trigger. The Portland utility announced that it had reached agreement with federal regulators on all issues and would proceed in late October with breaching Condit Dam. The window was tight. Threatened fall chinook salmon arriving in the lower three miles of the White Salmon River below the dam would have to be captured and transported above the dam, out of the path of a massive sediment surge and into their native waters. An estimated 2.7 million cubic yards of sediment had built up behind the dam in its 98 years. No one knew what lay beneath the sludge.
Read The Columbian's live coverage of Wednesday's explosive breaching of Condit Dam.
$40,000 TV spot focuses on her record as lobbyist, Ore. legislator
A $40,000 TV ad paid for by an out-of-state political group attacks state Rep. Sharon Wylie for having been a registered lobbyist in Washington state and for allegedly supporting tax increases and accepting tobacco money while she served as an Oregon state legislator in the 1990s.
Safety a key consideration ahead of historic blast
Watching crews set dynamite and blow a hole in the bottom of a 125-foot-tall hydroelectric dam might sound like a fun way to spend a day in the Columbia River Gorge. But PacifiCorp is taking no chances as it makes final plans for the historic breaching of Condit Dam on Wednesday, and state, federal and tribal officials will be working overtime to prevent mishaps as the White Salmon River bursts through a 12-by18-foot tunnel . A huge surge of released water and sediment is expected to rush downstream to the river’s mouth and all the way to the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam. The Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the dam by two feet to make room for the added volume.
With less timber to sell, the Gifford Pinchot uses innovative management, partnerships to generate new revenue sources and restore damage from decades of logging
Back before the spotted owl, the salmon and ecosystem management changed the rules of the game, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was one of the biggest timber producers in the Northwest. The numbers tell the story.
Looming health, social service cuts have many on edge
More than 350 recovering drug addicts, long-term care providers, caregivers for the disabled and others who depend on Washington’s tattered safety net got a stark look Thursday at what another $883 million in state social services and health cuts would feel like. The statistics, and the programs they represent, were much more than numbers to scores of speakers who came to hear Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Susan N. Dreyfus lay out the options the Legislature will face when it meets in special session Nov. 28 to carve another $2 billion out of the 2011-13 state budget lawmakers adopted just five months ago.
Advocates fear effects on backcountry; mining firm calls action frivolous
RANDLE — On a brilliant fall day, with the maples and cottonwoods beginning to turn, a deep quiet settled over a remote section of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the northwest edge of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. South of this depressed timber town, in the Green River watershed, the legacy of the volcano’s 1980 eruption is written on the hillsides.
Washington secretary of state looks back as clock ticks on his final term
Washington could be largely irrelevant in the 2012 presidential nominating process now that the state’s 2012 presidential primary has been canceled and some states are considering holding their primaries as early as January, Secretary of State Sam Reed said in an interview with The Columbian. The budget-strapped Legislature voted to cancel the 2012 presidential primary to save $10 million. That makes it less likely that front-running Republican candidates will schedule stops in Washington next year, Reed said. He noted that the state’s February 2008 presidential primary drew Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain to the state, but said the primary was undercut by the decisions of the two major political parties to use the results of their caucus votes to choose delegates to their national conventions.
Both eye communications, traffic improvements
Two candidates with long experience in local government are vying to succeed Woodland Mayor Chuck Blum, who chose not to seek re-election. John “J.J.” Burke has served nine years as a member of the Woodland City Council and lost narrowly to Blum in the 2007 mayoral race. He is a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee and several other civic groups.
Democratic incumbent faces Republican investment counselor to retain appointed House seat
Their last names rhyme. The similarities stop there. Democratic Rep. Sharon Wylie, the appointed incumbent in the 49th Legislative District, faces a robust challenge from Republican Craig Riley, who ran in the 49th last year and lost to veteran state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, by just under 7 percent of votes cast.
Newcomer to political office, ex-fire chief say city needs to focus on budget, livability
Woodland voters will fill two open city council seats along with choosing a new mayor on Nov. 8. Two 70-year-olds, retired repairman Robert Ripp and retired real estate broker Scott Perry, will face off for Seat 7, relinquished by former Councilman Darwin Rounds, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor.
City voters being asked to approve 0.1 percentage-point sales tax hike
The Woodland police station, built in the early 1970s, has outlived its life span, and Woodland voters are being asked to authorize the city to impose an additional 0.1 percentage-point sales and use tax to build a new one. Woodland’s police department shares its building with the city’s fire department and government offices. The building lacks space for conducting interviews and storing evidence, and the lone detective’s office is in a janitor’s closet. The department’s 12 employees work in a 1,000-square-foot space that has a single holding cell. When there’s a need to lock up adults of different genders or an adult and a child, one suspect is handcuffed to a bench.
Protesters plan one-day, nonviolent event in Esther Short Park
Local organizers plan a nonviolent one-day “Occupy Vancouver” assembly at Esther Short Park Saturday to “show this nation that we are aware of the injustices,” in the words of organizer Dan Walker, and to show solidarity with the Oct. 15 International Day of Occupation.
Town’s annual celebration spreads abundance of activities across the landscape
RIDGEFIELD — The weather gods delivered a warm, mellow autumn day Saturday as this spiffed-up town celebrated both bluegrass music and its neighboring wildlife refuge, a major stopover for migratory waterfowl this time of year. Bluegrass bands occupied just about every vacant stretch of grass or pavement downtown. Two indoor venues, the restored Old Liberty Theater and the Pickled Heron Gallery, featured a dozen bands, from the homegrown Countryside Ride, together five years and about to cut its first record, to Portland-based Whiskey Puppy, which toured The Netherlands last month.
Energy facility council wants 15 of 50 proposed turbines removed to protect views of Gorge
Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council recommended Thursday that Gov. Chris Gregoire approve a proposed wind project on private forest land in Skamania County, but with 15 of the project’s 50 turbines eliminated to protect views in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The council met in Stevenson, and neither its members nor its staff were available for comment after the meeting adjourned at about 7 p.m. The vote to approve the project with modifications was 6-0, with one member absent.
Local jobs in forest products industry at stake, she says
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler took to the House floor Thursday in support of a bill that would delay a federal rule aimed at curbing pollution from boilers and process heaters used by many forest products companies. “Those businesses provide tens of thousands of good, family-wage jobs to the folks in my region,” she said in her five-minute speech. Cowlitz County would be particularly hard hit, she said.
They ask federal agency to reconsider its finding
Five conservation groups have asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to formally reconsider its finding that a proposed wind project in Skamania County would not harm the northern spotted owl. In a letter to the agency sent Wednesday, the groups cite a biologist’s report that nine owl sightings near the proposed wind turbine sites were documented in surveys last year. Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is scheduled to announce its recommendation on the controversial wind project at a special meeting in Stevenson on Thursday. The meeting is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. at the Hegewald Center. No testimony will be taken.