Stories by Libby
The Columbian held a live Web chat at noon today, Friday, Feb. 24, to discuss heart health and the issue of screening teen athletes for heart conditions. We will be joined by Matt Nipper, an exercise physiologist at PeaceHealth Heart & Vascular Center.
Vancouver Democrat will discuss gay marriage, other issues
Bring your questions and comments Friday, Feb. 17, for Rep. Jim Moeller on the recent legalization of gay marriage in Washington.
Vancouver Democrat will discuss recent legalization of gay marriage in Washington
Bring your questions and comments this Friday, Feb. 17, for Rep. Jim Moeller on the recent legalization of gay marriage in Washington.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John C. Williams was the keynote speaker at Tuesday's 2012 Economic Forecast Breakfast, presented by The Columbian.
Columbian.com was back up and running at 10:50 a.m. today after an internet service provider outage cut access to the site for roughly eight hours.
Vancouver City Council candidate Bart Hansen took some time on Wednesday to field questions from Columbian.com users.
Vancouver City Council candidates Cory Barnes and Larry Smith took some time on Tuesday to field questions from Columbian.com users.
Vancouver City Council candidate Anne McEnerny-Ogle took some time on Monday to field questions from Columbian.com users.
The Columbian hosted a live chat on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, with Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Craig Wiley, Republican challenger. Both are running for the 49th District seat in the Washington House.
About 150 people gathered Sunday morning in Vancouver for the first Freedom Walk in memory of the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Driver, who was briefly trapped inside parked vehicle, unhurt
A large tree branch fell onto a car parked by Esther Short Park early Tuesday afternoon, startling the driver inside.
Approach helps businesses save money, they say at Vancouver forum
A new model of personalized health care could help local businesses save money on employee health plans, according to a presentation by a panel of physicians at a Community Choices health forum in Vancouver on Tuesday. PeaceHealth and Southwest Washington Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health Systems and Providence Medical Group are all experimenting with a “patient-centered” model in which all of a patient’s needs are met in one place, also known as their “medical home.” The model is essentially high-functioning primary care, focused on prevention and easy access to doctors or other health care providers via same-day appointments and secure email, for example.
The Columbian today launched a new commenting system on its website to improve the reader experience and encourage community members to join the conversation. All readers who wish to comment on Columbian.com stories must now use their real name and post their remarks with a Facebook account. Facebook comments will introduce to Columbian.com accountability similar to what’s required to publish Letters to the Editor in the print edition. The letters are concise and polite while also being challenging and opinionated — and they’re among the most valued and valuable features of the newspaper, said Scott Campbell, publisher of The Columbian.
Facebook comments boost accountability online, help readers share thoughts on community news. This new feaure also reflects a larger adoption of social media tools in The Columbian's newsroom.
State Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, will join Columbian.com readers for our next live Web chat this Friday at 11 a.m. She'll be available to answer reader questions as the Washington Legislature wraps up its special session.
Columbian.com has a new navigation bar.
A new, expanded carousel on the Columbian.com home page allows our editors to feature more local and national news stories.
Have a burning question for Vancouver's mayor? Join us today for a live Web chat with Mayor Tim Leavitt at 1 p.m. on www.columbian.com/chat .
Vancouver businessman and NoTolls.com financier David Madore spurred a lively discussion on Columbian.com over the weekend with his comments on the PressTalk column.
Semiconductor industry leads resurgence in county
Clark County semiconductor manufacturers began operating at full capacity again last year after two years of falling orders, furloughs and layoffs. The turnaround, which started in late 2009, reached a steady pace as consumer demand returned for computers, mobile phones and other personal electronics.
New feature allows The Columbian's online readers to choose which comments they see.
With money from investors drying up, Camas company owes thousands in unpaid wages
Just three months after receiving recognition from the Wall Street Journal for its innovative computing technology, Camas-based Lightfleet Corp. is in severe financial trouble. Lightfleet has received three citations from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries for not paying its employees dating back to October 2008 , according to state records. The company is also having a harder time finding investors to kick in the $25 million it needs to pay off debts and ramp up production, according to Chief Executive Officer John Peers.
Program seeks to spur commercial, residential activity
Business owners in unincorporated Clark County now have another option to cover one often-overlooked cost of opening in a new location: sewer connection fees. The Clark Regional Wastewater District Board of Commissioners recently voted to provide low-interest financing for commercial customers to connect to the district’s sewer system. Commissioners will also allow homebuilders to delay paying the connection fees for unsold houses in new subdivisions until after those houses are occupied.
Networking event also provides training for local entrepreneurs
The elevator speech can be the most important way for a startup to catch the attention of investors or customers. But business owners are often stumped by the task of coming up with this quick overview of their business — a pitch that shouldn’t last much longer than an elevator ride, Lynn Elyse Farmer told entrepreneurs attending a recent PubTalk networking event in Vancouver. Farmer advises entrepreneurs to think of the speech more as the start of a conversation, instead of an announcement.
Company seeks a better way for first responders?
The seconds and minutes after a gunman threatens a school are the most critical time for law enforcement to help prevent a tragedy. Yet, these first responders often arrive to a scene without all of the information and tools they need, said Vancouver Police Officer Rey Reynolds. That’s why Reynolds founded FastNav, a Web-based navigation software system to help police officers quickly and easily respond to school disasters including potential bomb threats, shootings and terrorist attacks. FastNav aims to improve on the current state-adopted Rapid Responder system, which has many of the same features and information but is too clunky for patrol officers to use, Reynolds said.
Longview heating and cooling firm launches Vancouver pilot project
Like most companies tied to Clark County’s once-booming construction industry, Entek Corp. has had a rough few years. But the heating and cooling contractor has managed to keep most of its staff employed full time throughout the downturn. Entek made it through by reinventing its approach to contracting. Instead of just “getting air through ducts,” the company now also looks at how efficiently that air is moving through the entire building in order to help its clients save energy and cash. Though fewer clients are calling about new construction, the shift to efficiency has kept the phones ringing.
Despite economy these firms, mainly in the tech sector, have seen revenue climb and have added jobs
While national economists predict this year’s slow business growth to continue well into next year, a handful of Clark County companies are expanding ahead of schedule. Many are hitting double-digit revenue growth this year and expect to continue or exceed those growth rates in 2011. Those rising profits haven’t necessarily translated into new jobs this year. Business owners are reluctant to expand while uncertainty over the pace of economic recovery lingers.
Reduced natural gas use over the summer caused a loss of $7.4 million, or 28 cents per share, for NW Natural Gas Co. in the quarter ending Sept. 30, the company reported Friday.
Startup falls short in venture capital contest, but makes connections
Camas-based mobba didn’t make it into the final round at the Venture Northwest competition Thursday in Portland. But co-founder Ed Herinckx still views the experience as a victory for his three-year-old startup, he said shortly after pitching his business to a roomful of venture capital investors. Mobba was the only Washington company among 10 invited by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network to spend roughly 10 minutes on stage pitching their business plans. Presentations take place in groups of three or four companies at a time, with voting from the audience after each round. The winner of each round advances to the final stage to compete for a grand prize package of services worth $27,000.
Telemark will move to B.G.; Camas still in running for Fisher HQ
Camas is still in the running as a potential headquarters for Fisher Investments, and Hayward, Calif.-based Telemark will follow through on plans to move its headquarters to Battle Ground, following the defeat Tuesday of Washington’s ballot Initiative 1098. The measure, which would have introduced a state income tax on those making more than $200,000 per year to pay for education and health care programs, failed with about 65 percent of voters opposed and 35 percent in favor. But while Clark County businesses are celebrating the election results, educators are concerned that voters’ recent assault on new taxes means the state won’t be able to fulfill its constitutional obligations.
County, clerk could still be liable for $340,000 lost in the BOCC failure
Clark County has so far recovered about two thirds of a $976,700 court deposit lost when the Bank of Clark County failed almost two years ago. But taxpayers and Clark County Clerk Sherry Parker could ultimately be on the hook for the remainder, roughly $340,000, according to attorneys involved with the case. Parker, who handles all the court’s financial transactions, deposited the money at BOCC in 2008 on behalf of defendants in a decade-long lawsuit over soil contamination at the Battle Ground Shopping Center. Those defendants, Douglas Ray and Irwin Jessen, owners of the shopping center, lost the case and were required to put up the money to cover damages in case their appeal was denied.
Cuts correspond with shutdown of Columbia River locks
Vancouver-based Tidewater Barge Co. will lay off about 200 employees this December in response to a planned shutdown of three Columbia River locks, according to the company. Starting Dec. 10, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close the navigational locks at The Dalles, John Day and Lower Monumental dams for three months in order to replace the lock gates. Announced more than a year ago, the work will stop all barge traffic east of The Dalles, Ore., until the upgrades are complete around March 18.
Buy software, equipment by year’s end to reap most benefits, they’re advised
Local business and tax advisers are telling companies to consider making software or equipment purchases before the end of the year. A business tax credit for buying equipment, which was set to expire Dec. 31, has been increased and extended through 2011 with the recent passage of the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act.
Camas-based mobba has no small ambitions, despite the lowercase “m” at the start of its name. The 3-year-old company plans to go head-to-head against established online retail giants such as eBay, Amazon and Yahoo as well as upstarts like Groupon. Its goal: to be the No. 1 online marketplace for group buying. Mobba.com, a website to buy and sell all sorts of goods and services, uses social networks to bring like-minded buyers together in search of bargains. It is also a marketplace for retailers to sell their products in bulk.
Bank cut new loss reserves nearly in half
Riverview Bancorp’s profits climbed 453 percent last quarter from a year ago, according to a quarterly earnings report released Tuesday. The Vancouver-based parent of Riverview Community Bank reported net income of $1.1 million or 6 cents per share in its fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 30, compared with $202,000 or 2 cents per share a year ago.
3 local firms aim to help others improve Web presence
If you’ve never visited The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits in Vancouver, you could read a description on the restaurant’s website to see what it’s like. Or, you could watch a 30-second video featuring a pizza chef twirling rounds of dough high in the air and behind his back, interspersed with shots of flames from the oven and the finished piping-hot product. Which one is more likely to make your mouth water?
With the 2010 holiday shopping season fast approaching, the consumer electronics industry is seeking new ways to convince customers to open their wallets. Even with consumer confidence low and unemployment high, the industry expects this to be the best year yet for consumer electronics. For a product to succeed, however, it must first get noticed. Two popular consumer electronics companies with Vancouver offices have launched promotional campaigns in recent months intended to drive up holiday sales of their electronic products. The stakes are high for Wacom and Logitech as both manufacturers compete to sell in a crowded market.
East Vancouver’s Philly Bilmos adds iPhone accessibility
East Vancouver restaurant Philly Bilmos has released an iPhone application to serve its customers on the go. The app features Bilmos’ full menu of cheese steaks, subs, pasta and salads. A stream of its Twitter feed and Facebook posts also helps alert customers to special promotions or events at the restaurant’s Southeast 164th Avenue location. A call button provides easy ordering.
Form of computing gains ground in county, but it’s not for everyone
As software companies in Clark County expand, many are looking to the clouds. Cloud computing — when companies deliver their services through the Web instead of requiring customers to install software on a computer — is so successful that the Washington Department of Commerce has designated it as one of four technology areas of competitive advantage for the state.
Expert: Home prices likely to remain low
Clark County home sales increased slightly in September as first-time homebuyers continued to take advantage of lower prices and interest rates. Sales increased 10 percent from August, with 414 new and existing homes selling in September, according to the latest Riley & Marks benchmarks report released Wednesday. Sales were down 25 percent from a year ago, however, and were still dramatically below this year’s sales peak of 640 homes in June, the final month the $8,000 federal home buyers tax credit was available.
Market share rankings mostly unchanged; leading institutions’ deposits shrink
Almost two years after the failure of Bank of Clark County caused a shake-up in the local market, banks are still vying for customers. The stakes are high for a piece of the $4.25 billion in deposits held by banks with operations in Clark County. According to an annual snapshot released Monday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., JP Morgan Chase kept its No. 1 position in the county — but just barely. Vancouver-based First Independent Bank, which occupies the No. 2 spot, is now virtually tied with Chase.
After the end of his marriage and losing his job as a locomotive engineer last year, former Vancouver resident Chris Parker moved to Alaska on the promise of construction work. He’s now living in a friend’s garage, waiting for a job offer that hasn’t come. That’s why he was shocked to learn he was being sued by his credit union over a delinquent loan on his GMC Yukon. His lender, Columbia Credit Union, had already repossessed the vehicle and sold it. Then in February, the credit union filed a lawsuit in Clark County Superior Court to recover the remaining $11,000 debt.
Vancouver-area providers concerned about effects on customers
A pending merger between Qwest Communications and CenturyLink has some smaller Vancouver-area telecoms worried about their businesses. State regulators have also expressed concerns. Integra Telecom is one of several local telecom providers that buy access to Qwest or CenturyLink lines at wholesale prices and resell phone and Internet services. The Portland-based company, which employs 50 workers in Vancouver and counts one in every five Vancouver businesses as a customer, says service issues associated with the merger could also lead to problems for local businesses that depend on their Internet service to survive.
Wells Fargo settles with 8 attorneys general
Attorney General Rob McKenna on Wednesday announced a settlement agreement that calls for Wells Fargo Bank to provide home loan modifications to customers in eight states who hold Pick-a-Pay subprime loans from Wachovia Bank and Golden West Corp., which did business as World Savings Bank.
Associated Hygienic Products will transfer some of 101 employees
Duluth, Ga.-based Associated Hygienic Products on Monday announced it’s closing its Vancouver plant and moving a portion of its 101 employees to factories in Texas and Ohio, according to a federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act notification. AHP, a subsidiary of Disposable Soft Goods International, manufactures disposable baby diapers at 801 S.E. Assembly Ave. in Vancouver. “Due to market demands, product changes, facility constraints and growing logistical issues, the high capital investment needed to maintain operations in Washington state is not economically feasible,” according to the notice.
State leaders will seek $20 million from legislature
State leaders will seek $20 million from the legislature next year to fund three clean-energy projects aimed at long-term job creation, state Department of Commerce director Rogers Weed said Thursday. “Mandates and incentives aren’t as effective as market-driven technology applications” in creating jobs, Weed said. “By defining projects like this you push through a lot of barriers that slow down energy innovation.”
Honor could help Lightfleet earn needed venture capital
Lightfleet Corp. of Camas has won a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award for its method of connecting computer processors using beamed light instead of copper or fiber-optic wire. The company won in the computing systems category and was one of 17 companies nationwide honored by the awards.
When Erika Diimmel opened Bikram Hot Yoga Vancouver she needed help finding new customers for her business, which opened four months ago at 1801 S.E. 164th Ave. in east Vancouver. So Diimmel, a recent transplant from Seattle, turned to the online coupon service Groupon. After signing up, the yoga studio sold more than 1,300 coupons to new customers by offering 20 classes for $20, a $220 savings. The sale netted more than $38,000 in one day. Groupon took a 50 percent cut of the proceeds and sent a check to Diimmel for the rest, said Julie Mossler, Groupon spokeswoman.
Bank raises money for 5 local groups by tapping into Facebook, Twitter
With the launch last week of its new charitable giving campaign, First Independent Bank has also started an experiment in fundraising online through social media. The bank’s “Ready to Give” program aims to raise money for five Clark County charities each year by tapping its customers’ Twitter and Facebook networks, in addition to using traditional print and online advertising, said Stacey Graham, chief strategy officer at First Independent Bank. For every dollar raised online, the bank will donate $1, up to $5,000 to each charity or $25,000 total for Evergreen School District Foundation, YWCA Clark County, Innovative Services NW, Columbia Dance and the Clark County Food Bank.
A more-aggressive FDIC sues prominent developers who borrowed from Bank of Clark County
When the Bank of Clark County failed almost two years ago, many of its borrowers feared the worst — that their loans would be sold to outside investors and targeted for immediate collection. For at least three of Vancouver’s prominent developers, that scenario has become reality. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and its private partner last month filed lawsuits in Clark County Superior Court against developers Corey Harris, Sam Vilhauer and Ian McFatridge after they couldn’t pay off their commercial real estate loans originally held by BOCC.