Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Aug. 9, 2022

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From the Newsroom: Top local stories of yesteryear

By , Columbian Editor

We have been working for a month or so to put together our annual list of the top local stories, which usually appears on the last Sunday of the year. That’s tomorrow! The top story of the year was a big surprise to me. Hint: it doesn’t involve COVID-19 or housing.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Clark County for quite a while, or maybe it’s just journalistic curiosity, but I enjoy going back into the archives to see what the top stories were a few years ago. Here is what I found:

Top stories of 2016

Several of the top stories of 2016 were still top stories this year. Lack of affordable housing was our top local story in 2016. As it turned out, it was just a taste of what was to come. The story notes that the median home price in Clark County had reached $290,000, leaving people unable to buy homes, and that market-rate rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,242. Those were the days! Now median home prices are approaching $500,000, and market-rate rent is $1,467.

The second-biggest story in 2016 was homelessness. Again, it ended up foreshadowing increasing problems.

Third place was the political downfall of entrepreneur/county official/political operative David Madore; followed by construction of ilani, which opened the next April. There was a tie for fifth between the debate over oil trains/oil terminals in Vancouver and Camas High School’s state championship in football.

The rest of the 2016 list: Don Benton loses county job; early stages of Waterfront Vancouver construction; Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton visit Clark County during presidential election campaign; and Brent Luyster arrested after triple homicide near Woodland.

Top stories of 2011

The Great Recession and its aftermath was the top story of 2011 — for the fourth year in a row. “We are definitely experiencing hard times,” said a local food bank president.

Other top five stories were the breaching of Condit Dam; two murder-suicides with arson, including one in which a Vancouver father killed himself and five of his children; coordinated police raids on 56 local marijuana growing operations; and plans to relocate a minor league baseball team from Yakima to Clark College (it didn’t happen).

The rest of the top 10 included downtown redevelopment, anchored by the opening of the Vancouver Community Library; two different cases where parents were arrested for locking up their children; continued progress on the Columbia River Crossing bridge project (it didn’t happen, either); and a tie for 10th place between removal of a derelict Columbia River barge and the sale of First Independent Bank.

Top stories of 2001

This was the year of the 9/11 attacks, but our top local story was massive layoffs. Some 13,000 people — 7.3 percent of the local workforce — lost their jobs as tech firms and others cut back.

Energy issues took second as the price and supply of electricity fluctuated rapidly. Next, a turf war between the two local hospitals erupted when Legacy Health announce it would build a hospital in Salmon Creek. Downtown development took fourth place as the clock tower and brick plaza were added at Esther Short Park, and the Vancouvercenter complex broke ground on the old brewery blocks east of the park. Fifth place was our local 9/11 response.

Rounding out the top 10 stories of the year: Teen imposter convicted of stealing state benefits; Interstate 5 widened between Main Street and Northeast 78th Street; voters reject local human rights commission; population growth slows after more than a decade; and Georgia-Pacific’s Camas mill releases noxious plume, sickening 52 schoolchildren.


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