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May 22, 2022

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In Our View: Christmas Cheers: PDX Next; detective work

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To improvements and expansions at Portland International Airport. While holiday travelers will feel the pain of PDX Next, the multiyear project will bring vast improvements to what was already one of America’s best airports. Two completed projects, an expansion of Concourse E to accommodate Southwest Airlines, and a new Concourse B to handle regional flights, give travelers a tantalizing peek of what is to come. The entire $2 billion project won’t wrap up until 2024; in the meantime travelers should allow lots of extra time to navigate construction. Pay attention to signs. Unless you have your frequent flier number memorized, things likely will have changed since your last visit.

Cheers: To dogged detective work. On Nov. 6, 2004, two boys cutting through a brushy field in Hazel Dell came across a decomposing corpse. Detectives and the medical examiner were able only to determine that the body was that of a woman, her height, weight and approximate age. A search of the FBI’s missing persons database provided no clues. The case went cold, until Randon Walker, an investigator with the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office, got the case in 2018. This time, Walker, who had worked the case in 2004 as a sheriff’s detective, used new DNA technology and got a match. This Christmas, the family of Donna Lee Swindell, 57, will know a sense of closure.

Cheers: To PeaceHealth and Mercy Housing Northwest. The two organizations are collaborating to build 69 affordable apartments on land east of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Half of the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be reserved for individuals and families that make up to 30 percent of the area’s median income; the rest will be for renters who make up to half of the median income. The apartments, which are designed to fit with the surrounding single-family neighborhood, will come with services such as health and wellness assistance, homework clubs for kids, and financial planning assistance. Construction is already well underway.

Cheers: To Native American mascots. In recent years, schools and even professional sports teams have eliminated thoughtless caricatures that served as team mascots. But accurately portrayed Native American culture should be taught and celebrated. So cheers to the Washougal Learning Academy and the Cowlitz Tribe. As reported by our sister paper, the Camas-Washougal Post-Record, they joined to create an eagle to serve as the school’s mascot. Done in a Coast Salish style by Cowlitz artist Sarah Folden, the eagle is both a credit to the school and 3,000 years of local artistic tradition.

Cheers: To an improved garden in front of Providence Academy. The historic structure at 400 E. Evergreen Blvd. is graced with a garden in front of the building, first designed by Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1873. The Historic Trust plans to preserve, expand and reinterpret the garden in memory of Mother Joseph, one of Washington’s greatest pioneers and most remarkable citizens. The trust’s historian said the new garden will be more accessible and enjoyable for all.

Cheers: To a bricks-and-mortar home for the Vancouver Virtual Learning Academy. The unit of Vancouver Public Schools serves families with remote learning or semi-remote learning services, and will now operate from revamped facilities at the former George C. Marshall Elementary School. Marshall’s pupils and teachers recently moved to a new building nearby, allowing for the old school to be renovated for its new purpose.

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