Cheers: To a reunion. Former students and their families were welcomed back to the Providence Academy building near downtown Vancouver this week, celebrating the past and the future of the Vancouver landmark. About 150 people took part in a luncheon and got a look at the ever-changing building, which was constructed in the 1870s by Mother Joseph and housed a school until 1966.
In recent years, Providence Academy has undergone big renovations, and more are on the way. Kathleen Buck, a 1952 graduate of the school, said: “I was here in the chapel when ceiling pieces were falling on the floor and everything was in disarray. When the roof leaked and stuff, it just broke my heart. Now this is looking good.” There likely is no better way to honor Mother Joseph Day — officially April 16 throughout the state — than by celebrating the building that is the centerpiece of her legacy.
Jeers: To theft. As harebrained schemes go, this one is a doozy. A former employee at a Portland Fred Meyer store has been sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $229,714 in restitution after being caught stealing from the store’s self-checkout machines.
Emily Tallman apparently would enter the store after hours, open the self-checkout machines and use a clipboard to block security cameras as she pilfered cash. An investigation started in early 2017 when store managers noticed the self-checkout machines were short of cash and Tallman told them she could not figure out why. The kicker: Tallman was the store’s loss prevention manager.
Cheers: To beeping eggs. Columbian reporter Andy Matarrese detailed a special Easter egg hunt at the Washington State School for the Blind. With the use of special beeping eggs, visually impaired children are able to partake in a traditional rite of the holiday.
“He had a blast — ‘I can hear them! I can hear them!’ ” said one mother, who brought her family from Seattle for the event. Sponsored by the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, the hunt provides opportunities for children who might otherwise be left out and helps families connect with services for visually impaired kids.
Jeers: To bad luck. The Lucky 21 Casino in Woodland closed this week without warning, leaving employees missing about three weeks’ worth of pay. The state Department of Industries likely will cover some of the back pay, but that requires employees to file a complaint and could take a while.
Richard LeMieux, the casino’s general manager, told The Columbian: “If we had the money, we would’ve paid. (The staff) are angry, and they have the right to be angry.” Small casinos in the region have struggled since the ilani casino opened two years ago near La Center, but LeMieux said Lucky 21 has also suffered from bad luck: “This casino defied all mathematical odds, and I cannot explain it.” The big losers are employees, along with taxpayers who might have to pick up the bill from the casino’s losing streak.
Cheers: To a policy review. The Vancouver Charter Review Commission is considering changes to the city’s salary review commission, which determines the pay for elected officials. This follows a 2016 fiasco in which the commission proposed outrageous salary increases for the mayor, mayor pro-tem and city councilors.
In the end, the process worked; reasonable raises eventually were approved. We’re not sure there is a better method for determining annual pay increases, but the issue warrants discussion. Periodically reviewing the charter is an essential part of ensuring a responsive government.