Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Jan. 19, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Our readers weigh in on ‘Clark Asks’

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Did you see our story this week on the “zombie” apartment complex near Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center that has been under construction for several years, yet has never been completed? What happened, and will the apartments ever be finished?

It was what we call a “Clark Asks” story, which is our name for reader-suggested stories that we are curating and reporting with the help of a software product called Hearken.

We’ve been using Hearken, with our “Clark Asks” branding, since June 2017. The goal of the project is to better connect us with our readers, and to prompt you to ask questions and suggest stories that will be of interest to a lot of people, yet somehow never seem to end up in print. We’ve answered more than a dozen questions so far.

A lot of the questions have tended to be about history, including our first-ever Clark Asks story, which explained how Mill Plain, Fourth Plain and the other plains got their names.

Before the apartments story, our previous Clark Asks offering was Katy Sword’s Oct. 3 Neighbors piece about the salmon story that plays at the glockenspiel in the Esther Short Park clock tower. Our next story, we hope, will be about a large partially finished yacht that has sat, apparently abandoned, in a storage yard at the Columbia Business Center for decades. (This is turning out to be a tough subject. If you know anything about it, please email reporter Calley Hair, calley.hair@columbian.com.)

The stories start with reader suggestions, which you can submit via a link on our home page, www.columbian.com. Look for it in the “must clicks” banner toward the top of the page.

Our web editor, Amy Libby, collects the questions. She throws out the specious ones, like “Why are all politicians corrupt?” and puts together a list of questions that appears to be the kind we can answer. The next step is to submit them to readers for a vote. We print the list in the paper, but the voting takes place online. To boost reader interest in voting, we try to have a voting round occur at the same time a Clark Asks story appears.

This week, readers are being asked to decide if we should answer a question about new pavement markings at some pedestrian crossings, or a question about why Clark County doesn’t use red-light cameras, or a question about whether people find native artifacts in their yard, and, if so, what happens to them. If you want to vote, the polls are open on our Clark Asks page for a few more days.

After the poll closes, we’ll assign the top vote-getting question to the beat reporter. Transportation reporter Dameon Pesanti will likely get the pedestrian crossing or red-light stories, and neighborhoods reporter Adam Littman probably will get the story about the artifacts. We hope that they’ll find an interesting story.

That’s what happened to Anthony Macuk, our newest reporter. One of his first assignments was to find out what was holding up construction of that apartment complex, which is called the 134th Street Lofts. It turns out that a dispute had erupted between the project manager and the investor that landed in court. As a result, nothing has happened at the site for several months. Apparently the dispute has been at least somewhat resolved; an attorney for the investor told Macuk that construction was going to resume this week.

Thanks for asking!

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