Authors get the word out

By Mary Ann Albright February 27, 2011 6 a.m.

After 23 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, 16 of them as a motorcycle officer, Gary Smith amassed a cache of stories. He saw funny and touching incidents, and also examples of extreme brutality. “When I used to talk to people who weren’t involved with law enforcement, they said you should write a book,” said Smith, who’s now retired and resides in Vancouver.

New player took the stage in 2010

By Mary Ann Albright February 27, 2011 6 a.m.

A new player entered the local performing arts scene last year. Metropolitan Performing Arts Academy opened in January and runs its programs out of Alki Middle School in Salmon Creek.

Cuckoo for cupcakes

By Mary Ann Albright February 22, 2011 6 a.m.

Cupcakes are all the rage right now, and the trend is sweeping Clark County. The newest arrival on the local cupcake scene, The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery, opened at the beginning of the year in Battle Ground Village and celebrated its grand opening Feb. 5-6. The Sugar Mama’s Cupcakery (360-723-5420, offers a rotating menu of 10 to 12 cupcake varieties daily. Two of the most popular were inspired by Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo and his wife, Gilda.

Riders take reins in Ridgefield

By Mary Ann Albright March 3, 2011 11:32 a.m.

The Washington State Horse Expo offers something for everyone, from the most experienced equine enthusiast to a novice who has never spent time around horses but wants to learn more about them. The three-day event will feature trick-trained horses, reining demonstrations, an Extreme Cowboy Race, as well as vendors, horses for sale, a Kids’ Corral, and clinics and seminars led by local, regional and national equine experts.

Slocum House adds stand-up comedy to its lineup

By Mary Ann Albright February 11, 2011 6 a.m.

Slocum House Theatre Company had already expanded its offerings to include improvisation, courtesy of the Portland troupe Sideburns, and now it’s adding stand-up comedy to the mix. On March 5, Vancouver comedian Andrew Berkowitz and four Portland area comedians will perform in a stand-up showcase at Slocum House.

Vancouver chef makes rich brownies perfect for chocolate aficionados

By Mary Ann Albright February 8, 2011 6 a.m.

Brownies and truffles are rich, delicious treats on their own, but combined they reach a whole new level of decadence. That’s what Vancouver chef Bonnie Gougér discovered when she got to experimenting in the kitchen and stumbled upon what would become the foundation of Brownies From Heaven, a business she launched in 2008. For her Brownies From Heaven creations, Gougér takes a made-from-scratch brownie, hides a homemade truffle inside, covers it with flavored cream cheese, then tops it with chocolate ganache and various garnishes.

Vancouver's Gallery 360 comes full circle

By Mary Ann Albright February 4, 2011 6 a.m.

Gallery 360’s framed business license rests proudly on a glass display case filled with handcrafted jewelry and other treasures. Getting that little piece of paper was a labor of love for members of the co-op gallery and Mosaic Arts Alliance, its nonprofit parent organization. “It was a long road getting that,” said Jamie Lutz Carroll, president of Mosaic.

Arts are alive in Ridgefield

By Mary Ann Albright January 28, 2011 6 a.m.

Downtown Ridgefield may not have the volume of art galleries that Vancouver enjoys, but the talent is there, and the town is trying to establish itself as an enclave for the artistically inclined. “I’ve had this sense since I moved here that this is the perfect place to become an artists’ community,” said Clark County Arts Commissioner and founding Ridgefield Art Association member Elizabeth Madrigal, who’s also on the board of the nonprofit Arts of Clark County. She cited the walkability of downtown and north Clark County’s abundance of natural beauty, as well as the town’s cooperative culture, as proof.

Co-op nurtures food growers

By Mary Ann Albright January 21, 2011 6 a.m.

When The Grange was founded in the 19th century, the intent of the fraternal organization was to encourage farm families to band together for the common good. Next week, the Minnehaha Grange Hall will return to those roots, hosting the first of two informational meetings for a new Urban Abundance program that's for now being called the Urban Farmers Co-op. “Having the meetings there is going back to the original spirit of farmers working together,” said Warren Neth, founder and director of the Vancouver-based Urban Abundance, a project of Slow Food Southwest Washington, the local chapter of the national nonprofit Slow Food USA. Urban Abundance encourages people in cities and suburban areas to grow and share food.

Bits 'n' Pieces: 3 young musicians to play with orchestra

By Mary Ann Albright January 21, 2011 6 a.m.

Of the nine musicians selected as winners in MetroArts Inc.’s annual Young Artists Debut! Concerto Competition, three are from Vancouver. Fred Lu, Michael Siess and Hannah Graves were chosen from an initial pool of 68 applicants. They will perform in an April 12 concert along with conductor Niel DePonte and professional musicians from the Oregon Symphony and Oregon Ballet Theatre orchestras.

Alliance returns with Gallery 360

By Mary Ann Albright January 14, 2011 6 a.m.

After being absent on the downtown Vancouver arts scene for several months, Mosaic Arts Alliance is back with a new space, Gallery 360. Mosaic is the nonprofit parent organization of the former Sixth Street Gallery, which closed in September after members could no longer afford rent at the space they’d called home for the past five years.

Local woman helps kids to get cooking

By Mary Ann Albright January 9, 2011 6 a.m.

Among the lessons to be learned at The Kids Cooking Corner: Always check the label on food coloring. “Our red velvet cupcakes turned out to be copper velvet cupcakes,” said 11-year-old Cody Payne, after his cooking team accidentally added yellow to the batter.

Local dog a stand-in for mascot, wins over fans

By Mary Ann Albright December 31, 2010 11:36 a.m.

Whether it’s in the local Columbia Credit Union, at a Dairy Queen drive-thru or on the Lewis & Clark College football field, Buddy makes friends wherever he goes. He’s hard to miss. His personality is outsized, and his stature is even bigger. When the 152-pound Newfoundland encountered a miniature pony once at the Vancouver Farmers Market, the two stood nose-to-nose.

New Year's movies for those who pop corn, not corks

By Mary Ann Albright December 27, 2010 6 a.m.

Not everyone’s idea of the perfect New Year’s Eve involves a big party or a night out on the town. For some people, the best way to say goodbye to one year and greet the next is a quiet night at home with a good movie. Local film experts have suggested a number of movies that make for good New Year’s Eve viewing. Some take place on New Year’s Eve — or feature scenes from that night — while others center on themes typically associated with New Year’s, such as self-improvement, reinvention, hope and revelry.

Newcomers club also a place for old friends

By Mary Ann Albright December 24, 2010 6 a.m.

The Clark County Newcomers Club may be a bit of a misnomer. Its mission is to welcome people to the area, but most members haven’t been new to the club or to Clark County for quite some time. The group is really about friendship. And friendships formed through the club last long after people have established roots in the community.

5 tips for hassle-free returns

By Mary Ann Albright December 24, 2010 6 a.m.

Even Santa occasionally strikes out in the gift-giving department, so many people will need to make a return or exchange after Christmas. The stores are usually crowded and the lines long on Dec. 26 as people flock to post-holiday sales. However, there are tips that will facilitate hassle-free returns.

Camas singer signs with independent record label

By Mary Ann Albright December 24, 2010 6 a.m.

Camas singer Katelynne Cox’s holiday wish has already come true. Cox, 16, recently signed with Red Hammer Records, a Portland-based independent record label. Red Hammer Records will release her first full-length album, “One Girl,” on March 22. Cox’s previous EP, “Unbelievable,” was released on her own independent label, KC Records, in 2008.

Festivus … for the rest of us

By Mary Ann Albright December 20, 2010 6 a.m.

Each year on or around Dec. 23, Battle Ground resident Nick Grier and his family greet each other with an unusual salutation it takes “Seinfeld” lovers to appreciate: “Happy Festivus!” The Griers don’t go all out with a Festivus pole or air their grievances, two hallmarks of the holiday as observed by the “Seinfeld” character Frank Costanza. They do, however, celebrate it in a joking way, sometimes even with arm-wrestling to fulfill the feats-of-strength requirement.

Local artisans setting sales on Etsy

By Mary Ann Albright December 19, 2010 6 a.m.

Sue Anderson was excited to discover that the unwanted sails taking up space in her and her nautically inclined friends’ homes could get a second lease on life. Anderson, a technical writer from the Lake Shore neighborhood who’s active with the Vancouver Sailing Club, recently began taking old sails and transforming them into totes and wine bags.

Local filmmaker raises funds for Carter-Cash project

By Mary Ann Albright December 17, 2010 6 a.m.

Beth Harrington has been working on her documentary film about legendary country music dynasties the Carters and the Cashes since 2003. As a former singer with the band Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Harrington was able to combine her love of music and of documentary filmmaking in the project, titled “The Winding Stream.”

For the perfect Christmas card, pose your pet with Santa

By Mary Ann Albright December 10, 2010 6 a.m.

Pets are part of the family in many households, so who better to feature on your Christmas cards? Whether scrambling to put together this year’s holiday missive or planning ahead for Christmas 2011, now is a good time to get an awww-worthy photo of your four-legged friend with Santa. Several pet shops throughout Clark County are offering Santa photo sessions this weekend and throughout the month. They include Petco and PetSmart locations, as well as Beastie Boutique in Salmon Creek and Naturally Healthy Pet in Camas.

Former Vancouver resident appears on “Wheel of Fortune”

By Mary Ann Albright December 6, 2010 10:56 a.m.

Former Vancouver resident and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class John Alanis competed on “Wheel of Fortune” on an episode airing Nov. 18 as part of “Wheel Salutes Our Military” week. The training consultant and Arabic linguist won $10,360 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Hawaii.

Clark County celebs offer holiday gift suggestions

By Mary Ann Albright December 5, 2010 6 a.m.

This time of year, Santa and Mrs. Claus start making their lists and checking them twice. But for the rest of us, finding the perfect gift for loved ones can be challenging. If you’re in need of inspiration, we’re here to help. The Columbian asked some high-profile, creative Clark County residents to suggest items they like to give during the holidays.

Christmas is taking center stage in dance, theater, music

By Mary Ann Albright December 3, 2010 6 a.m.

From an oratorio to a ballet to a modern take on the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” this weekend is ushering in the holidays with a packed lineup of seasonal performances.

Enation’s music will be heard on “General Hospital”

By Mary Ann Albright November 15, 2010 6 a.m.

Battle Ground actor and Enation frontman Jonathan Jackson will pull double duty on the Nov. 16 episode of “General Hospital.” Jackson, 28, plays Lucky Spencer on the soap opera, and on this particular episode, his musical talents also will be featured. The song “Eyes of Grace” off Enation’s “World In Flight” album will play during a “General Hospital” montage. “General Hospital” airs at 2 p.m. on ABC channel 2.

Local band, author use ‘crowdfunding’ sites

By Mary Ann Albright November 14, 2010 6 a.m.

When the local band Chris Margolin & The Dregs were planning their new album, members knew they’d need help coming up with the money for studio rentals, as well as mixing and mastering. So they turned to their fans, using Kickstarter to raise $2,113 from 41 backers this summer. Some were people they knew, and others were unknown patrons who just believed in their music and wanted to help make a follow-up to the 2008 EP “Fallen Leaf” happen.

Vancouver art galleries adjust

By Mary Ann Albright November 5, 2010 6 a.m.

Propelled by the economic downturn, the revolving door continues to spin on Vancouver’s visual arts scene. Some galleries have closed or relocated in recent months, while others have cropped up, and many owners and managers have found it necessary to have another source of income besides art sales in these tough times.

Local actors, filmmakers team up for short indie film

By Mary Ann Albright November 5, 2010 6 a.m.

Locals will recognize plenty of Clark County spots in the short independent film “James vs. Reality.” Filming locations included various Camas locales, the golf course at The Cedars on Salmon Creek in Brush Prairie, and outside the Academy building in downtown Vancouver. The film, which features cast and crew from the greater Vancouver-Portland area, will celebrate its theatrical release Tuesday in a free event at the Bagdad Theater in Portland (go to for more information).

Magenta Theater to present murder mystery dinner show

By Mary Ann Albright November 1, 2010 6 a.m.

Watch a couple episodes of “The Sopranos” or a few Martin Scorsese movies, and it becomes clear that rivaling mob bosses are a hallmark of the gangster genre. One thing these bosses almost always have in common is they’re male. Vancouver writer Gary Corbin decided to present a new twist on this familiar formula by having women vie for control of the Chicago organized crime scene in his interactive murder mystery dinner show, “Mama Versus the Mob.”

Longtime Vancouver resident uses his radio show to help promote local bands

By Mary Ann Albright November 1, 2010 6 a.m.

Less than a year ago, Vancouver resident Jeff Allen knew nothing about running a radio show. Now he’s the host and producer of “Viva La Luna” on Portland rock station 101.1 FM KUFO. The show is on Sundays from 9 to 10 p.m. Allen, 36, took over the show in January. It focuses on Northwest rock bands, both well-known ones, such as Everclear, Soundgarden and Nirvana, and groups still trying to break out.

CYT works to make finances perform

By Mary Ann Albright October 23, 2010 6 a.m.

For years, Christian Youth Theater Vancouver/Portland was a shining example among the area’s performing arts groups. But as the faith-based nonprofit continued to put on shows last year, it found itself in fiscal crisis — short on cash, high on debt and leaving bills unpaid.

Clark County Wedding Expo this weekend

By Mary Ann Albright October 22, 2010 6 a.m.

If people take away one idea from this weekend’s Clark County Wedding Expo, event organizers hope it will be that everything needed to plan your I-Dos and other special events can be found on this side of the river. The Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds is holding a wedding extravaganza Saturday and Sunday, and although the venue has hosted wedding shows before, this is the first time it has promoted one itself.

Orchards woman is named Miss Washington USA

By Mary Ann Albright October 14, 2010 6 a.m.

2010 Miss Orchards USA Angelina Kayyalaynen is no stranger to competing at the national pageant level. In 2008, she represented Washington at the National American Miss Pageant and finished in the top 10. Kayyalaynen was crowned Miss Washington USA earlier this month, so her previous experience should serve her well next spring when she competes for the Miss USA title. If she wins, Kayyalaynen will go on to compete for the international Miss Universe title.

Camas man is named the face of a Karen Kingsbury character

By Mary Ann Albright October 14, 2010 6 a.m.

When best-selling Vancouver Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury launched an online contest to find the face for a character in her new series, she received more than 150 entries from across the country. But she didn’t have to look far to find the ideal person to portray Cody Coleman on at least one cover in the four-part Bailey Flanigan series. Kingsbury and her team selected Solomon Rexius, a 25-year-old Eugene, Ore., native living in Camas while attending Western Seminary in Portland.

SethAaron makes splash at Portland Fashion Week

By Mary Ann Albright October 15, 2010 6 a.m.

Industrial shipyards on Portland’s Swan Island turned into a sartorial epicenter Saturday evening as models, designers and fashionistas descended to see SethAaron Henderson and three other “Project Runway” alumni present collections. The show was part of the seventh annual Portland Fashion Week, a five-day event that wrapped up Sunday and featured local, regional, national and international designers’ spring and summer collections.

Kindness that unlocked a soul

By Mary Ann Albright October 10, 2010 6 a.m.

For years, Mitch Thatcher was emotionally and physically withdrawn. He didn’t like to make eye contact or participate in groups and struggled with sensory overload. Even indoors, Mitch, who is on the autism spectrum, wore a coat with the hood up as a buffer from the outside world. “I felt more in my own space,” Mitch, 14, recalled.

Brautigan Library to call Clark County home

By Mary Ann Albright October 4, 2010 6 a.m.

The fictional library at the heart of Richard Brautigan’s novel “The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966” isn’t filled with works by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. Rather, it’s a repository for unpublished manuscripts of any sort by anyone. Now Vancouver is getting its own version of the library Brautigan envisioned, through a collaboration between the Clark County Historical Museum and Washington State University Vancouver. The museum is becoming home to the Brautigan Library Collection, until recently housed in Vermont.

Cool designer, hot collection

By Mary Ann Albright October 3, 2010 6 a.m.

‘Star Wars” was among the first things to pop into Vancouver fashion designer and “Project Runway” winner SethAaron Henderson’s mind when he toured the SolarWorld plant in Hillsboro, Ore., this summer. He was seeking ideas for a solar energy-inspired collection to debut at Portland Fashion Week. “When I was there, it felt like I was on the Death Star. I felt like I was in outer space,” said Henderson, 39. “It just felt very futuristic. It’s all machines and metal. It was a very cold, industrial vibe.”

Harvest Fun Day heads to the farm

By Mary Ann Albright September 24, 2010 6 a.m.

Since Harvest Fun Day celebrates Clark County’s rural heritage, it only makes sense that this year’s event is moving from downtown Vancouver to a more agrarian setting. Clark County Historical Museum’s annual event typically takes place in the museum and a nearby parking lot. Now in its seventh year, the community celebration is moving to the 78th Street Heritage Farm in Hazel Dell, a 79-acre parcel of land that used to be a county poor farm and, more recently, a Washington State University agricultural research station.

Weight loss ‘Day by day, meal by meal’

By Mary Ann Albright September 20, 2010 6 a.m.

Until a few years ago, Ridgefield stay-at-home mother Renee Kuhn lived in a world of limitations. Because of her size — at her peak, the 5-foot 4-inch Kuhn weighed 398 pounds — she couldn’t go on rides with her son at the Clark County Fair. Walking outside to get the mail or going up the stairs left her breathless, sweaty and in pain.

Buzz grows for ‘Dandelion’

By Mary Ann Albright September 19, 2010 6 a.m.

As the end credits of “Like Dandelion Dust” rolled, tissue packets crinkled, and some of the dozen or so friends and family and community members gathered in bestselling Vancouver Christian fiction writer Karen Kingsbury’s home theater dabbed their eyes. The film, an adaptation of Kingsbury’s 2006 novel, centers on the battle between adoptive and birth parents over a 6-year-old boy. It’s a topic that struck a chord with Bethany and Allen Larson, who were among the guests at the private screening.

Sixth Street Gallery gets new home, name

By Mary Ann Albright September 18, 2010 6 a.m.

The downtown Vancouver gallery, hubbed at 105 W. Sixth St. for the past five years, is moving a few blocks north to 111 W. Ninth St.

Wine walk offers new twists

By Mary Ann Albright September 17, 2010 6 a.m.

Uptown Village’s annual Sip & Stroll event is getting a makeover this year. The shopping, wining and dining evening, held during the winter holiday season in the past, has been moved to Sept. 18 to capitalize on the warmer weather. The Uptown Village Association previously organized the event on its own, but this year it’s getting help from the Hough Foundation.

Local filmmaker, beekeepers explore global bee crisis in documentary

By Mary Ann Albright September 15, 2010 6 a.m.

The United States lost about a third of its managed honeybee colonies from October 2009 to April 2010, due in part to a little-understood phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. Several Clark County residents are trying to shed light on the global bee crisis in the documentary “Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?” The film premiered Friday at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland and continues there through at least Oct. 4.

Will her chicken be champ?

By Mary Ann Albright September 7, 2010 6 a.m.

For the second time this year, Vancouver culinary whiz Monica King has landed in the spotlight. This spring King, a 37-year-old Vancouver resident, was one of 100 finalists in the 44th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest for her Tropical Chicken Pizza. Now she’s heading to California to compete as one of six finalists in the Foster Farms West Coast Chicken Cooking Contest with her recipe for Balsamic Mushroom Chicken with Honey Goat Cheese.

Closing gallery hopes to relocate

By Mary Ann Albright September 6, 2010 6 a.m.

Members of the Sixth Street Gallery artists’ co-op are close to finalizing a deal to relocate three blocks north. It’s a cost-cutting move for the gallery, which has been struggling financially due to dwindling sales, class registrations and donations. The artists have to be out of their current location at 105 W. Sixth St. at the end of the month, but the gallery will be open to the public through Sept. 26. Members hope to have the new space open Oct. 1 for the First Friday Art Walk.

‘Goodfellas’ grad reflects on role in Scorsese classic

By Mary Ann Albright September 5, 2010 6 a.m.

It’s difficult to maintain an upward trajectory in the acting business when your first job is a pivotal role in a Martin Scorsese film. The 1990 mob film “Goodfellas” catapulted Christopher Serrone to fame when he was just 12. Serrone, who recently moved to Vancouver, has struggled over the past 20 years to replicate that initial success. With a new movie out in November and other television and film projects in the works, Serrone believes he’s finally about to get his second big break.

Wine and jazz and more, much more

By Mary Ann Albright August 27, 2010 6 a.m.

The Vancouver Wine & Jazz festival isn’t trying to be tricky with its name. It really is focused on wine and jazz. The music lineup includes Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning blues singer Mavis Staples, and as well blues singer and guitarist John Hammond and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn, both Grammy winners themselves. About 200 wines will be available for patrons to sample as they take in the aural delights.

Cedar Creek Grist Mill celebrates cornmeal

By Mary Ann Albright August 24, 2010 6 a.m.

Legend has it, hush puppies — fried balls of cornmeal — got their name during the Civil War, when Southern soldiers would toss the treats to their dogs and tell them to hush. The word hoecake is derived from how the cornmeal flatbread was cooked in the 18th century: in the field on a hoe held over an open flame.

Vancouver’s Trysh Hill wins online karaoke contest

By Mary Ann Albright August 23, 2010 6 a.m.

Aspiring Vancouver singer Trysh Hill loves country star Miranda Lambert, but scheduling conflicts have always prevented her from seeing the star live when she toured to the Northwest. So when Hill saw that MySpace was having a Lambert-themed karaoke contest, and that the winner would receive a trip to New York to attend one of Lambert’s shows and meet her, Hill decided to enter.