Saturday, May 21, 2022
May 21, 2022

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Cheers & Jeers: Adieu Tower Mall; a foul call

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To a demolition. The site once known as Tower Mall, along Mill Plain Boulevard in the Heights District, is being demolished. While some might lament the loss of a building that housed Vancouver’s first shopping mall (it opened in 1970), the demolition that began in October is a sign of progress.

The city of Vancouver purchased the property in 2017 and officials are working on plans for a mixed-use development. Retail, residential and office space are in the works, along with parks, walking paths and access to transit. The ambitious proposal for a site that covers 62 acres will transform a long-neglected part of the city. All of that is a long way off; the entire project is expected to take about 20 years. But removal of the Tower Mall building is the first important step.

Jeers: To Brian Kelly. It’s not that the college football coach left the University of Notre Dame for Louisiana State University; it’s that he misled the family of Vancouver’s Tobias Merriweather. The Union High School senior has committed to attend school and play football at Notre Dame, so Kelly and three assistant coaches recently paid him a visit.

Moments after Kelly left their home, the Merriweather family saw media reports that Kelly was taking a new job at LSU. They texted one of the assistants and said he responded with, “I showed this to Coach Kelly, and he says, ‘That’s bull (expletive).’ ” College football is a high-powered, high-priced industry filled with intrigue and scrutiny, and you can’t fault Kelly for accepting a 10-year deal for $95 million. But the coach’s subterfuge with a local family is unseemly.

Cheers: To Walk & Knock. The region’s annual benefit for the Clark County Food Bank brought in 88,600 pounds of goods on Saturday, and that number will increase with continued counting. That is quite a bounty considering that donors had to go out of their way this year.

Typically, volunteers knock on doors throughout the region to collect nonperishable food. This year, to promote social distancing, collection sites were set up for drive-thru donors. Walk & Knock is believed to be the nation’s largest single-day food drive, and organization president Tom Knappenberger said, “I’m just in awe of a lot of the people who do this. We’re in the shadow of Portland for so many, but this is something that is at the heart of Vancouver.”

Jeers: To a kettle thief. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office says a man assaulted a Salvation Army bell ringer and took the cash kettle from a local Fred Meyer. The bell ringer suffered minor injuries. Nationally, Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign annually brings in about $140 million in donations to help support people in need.

A suspect has been arrested in the case; we trust that he will find coal in his stocking this Christmas.

Cheers: To fair and transparent elections. The November election has officially ended in Clark County, with manual recounts showing that Kim Harless won a race for Vancouver City Council and Teresa VanNatta won a seat on the Hockinson School District board. The recounts were mandated because of close results after ballots were counted by machines.

In the city council race, each candidate received one more vote than they had following the machine count. Vote totals in the school board race were unchanged. Cheers go to all candidates for the November election — and to county election officials who diligently and professionally perform duties that are essential to our democracy.

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