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In case you missed it, here are some of the top stories of the week:
Today, lawmakers head to Olympia for the 60-day legislative session. It will be an intense, short session with a long to-do list, and underlying every policy discussion, from boosting teachers’ wages to blocking new taxes, will be the understanding that it’s an election year.
The most daunting task facing legislators is a familiar one: fully funding the state’s public education system.
Read the full legislative preview here.
This winter’s Columbia River chum salmon return could be the largest in more than a decade.
Fisheries biologists monitoring the return say the 2015 run could be as high as 20,000 salmon — the largest since 2002. In 1999, the federal government listed the Columbia River chum salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the vast majority of returning chums are wild in origin. The majority of this winter’s returning adults left the Columbia as fry in 2012. The numbers are encouraging, but they are still a far cry from the historic returns. Before the populations began to crash in the early 1950s, runs estimated at more than 1.3 million chum came back to the Columbia.
Learn more about the return of chum salmon.
After working a year without a contract, the Vancouver Police Officers’ Guild has reached a labor agreement with the city for 2015-16 that includes a wage hike.
On Monday, the Vancouver City Council will consider authorizing City Manager Eric Holmes to sign the agreement with the guild, which represents 190 rank-and-file officers.
Retroactive to the beginning of 2015, the new contract will provide officers and corporals with a 2 percent pay increase for both years. Sergeants will receive a 3 percent raise both years.
Find out more about the new contract.
When the Columbia River swelled with snowmelt in May 1948, rising ominously high, Belva Griffin recalls a neighbor packing up and moving out of Vanport, fearing the water would crest the dikes that surrounded the city.
“Everybody just laughed at her,” said Griffin, recalling the weather was sunny and dry.
The next day, May 30, a dike gave way, unleashing a torrent of water into the Oregon town of 18,500 across the river from west Vancouver. At least 12 people died and at least a dozen people remained unaccounted for. Many residents in Vanport, which was built to house shipyard workers during World War II, lost everything. Vanport’s buildings, temporary structures without foundations, drifted in the water.
Never rebuilt, the city is now the site of Delta Park and the Portland International Raceway.
Saturday, a handful of Vanport flood survivors gathered at Vancouver’s Water Resources Education Center for opening day of a special exhibit about the calamity that uprooted their community.
Learn more about the exhibit.
Hakan Gurocak slid his right hand into a futuristic-looking metal glove in an engineering lab at Washington State University Vancouver. The glove could be a prop in the new sci-fi “Star Wars” movie. But it’s not a prop.
The glove uses haptic technology, and by wearing it and special goggles, a person can experience a realistic sense of touch while interacting with virtual objects. Haptic sensations are created by actuators — motors, electronic brakes and pneumatic systems — which apply forces, vibrations or motions to the user.
Gurocak, an engineering professor and director of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, has been working with a team of graduate students on developing the technology for 14 years. Recently he was granted two patents for his work in the haptic field. He is the only WSU Vancouver professor to hold a U.S. patent.
Read more about the WSUV program.