Wednesday, July 28, 2021
July 28, 2021

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From the Newsroom: We’ll read the stories to you

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

As a member of the baby boom generation, I get into a lot of fights with technology. Sometimes I win.

Here’s a technological win for our subscribers: The digital replica of our print newspaper, aka our ePaper, now has a feature that will read the stories to you.

I tried it and it is easy to use. Go to our ePaper site, epaper.columbian.com, and click on any story. When the story opens in its own box, look at the icons at the top. Click on the icon at the right, which shows a human head with sound waves coming out of it. A little box saying “read aloud mode” pops up. Close the box, and click on the play button, which is an arrow symbol that replaced the head.

You’ll hear a computerized voice read the headline, byline and body of the story. I thought the voice was clear and easy to understand, and I could adjust the volume using the sound controls on my keyboard. (It only works on stories; you can’t click on “Peanuts” and hear Charlie Brown talking.)

Remember, home delivery customers get access to the ePaper at no extra charge. There’s a lot of content that doesn’t make the actual printed paper, including a whole Monday digital edition of the newspaper to read. You can also find the Money & Markets page, including stocks of local interest, Tuesdays through Saturdays and mutual funds prices on Sundays.

If you haven’t activated your digital subscription, you can do so at columbian.com/digital. If you have problems, phone our customer service line, 360-694-2312.

Predictions come true

Another side benefit of being a boomer, and a journalist, is seeing stories you wrote about many years ago come to fruition. I thought about this on Monday, when I edited Anthony Macuk’s story about the upcoming closure of Lucky Loan, Main Street’s last traditional pawnshop.

When I moved here in the late 1980s, there were too many pawnshops downtown for city leaders’ tastes. Frankly, downtown wasn’t a very nice place to be then, with abandoned cardrooms and empty storefronts. A huge derelict brewery was the biggest landmark.

The redevelopment started with a document called the Esther Short Redevelopment Plan. According to The Columbian, the city paid consultants $183,080 to draft what became a mission statement for 30 square blocks. When it was completed in December 1996, leaders said they saw “tremendous potential” for development of office space, a hotel, apartments and places to eat and drink that would bring many citizens downtown for the first time since Vancouver Mall opened in 1977.

In 1998, I worked with a colleague, Sherri Nee, on a big story headlined “New life downtown.”

“After 25 years of suburban flight, downtown Vancouver appears on the brink of major redevelopment,” the story opened. “Big projects announced or planned are giving the area its best chance to reclaim its heritage as the center of a city.”

Another story I wrote that year looked at the potential of redeveloping the Vancouver waterfront.

“While plans for downtown redevelopment swirl around it, Boise Cascade says it is not interested in selling its apparently underused property at 907 W. Seventh St.,” I wrote. “Still, pressure is mounting on Boise as the city and private developers move toward investing millions of dollars to transform a sleepy, industrial downtown into a place where many people live and work. The Boise Cascade property could be a major piece of that future.”

Today, of course, we enjoy the beautiful Waterfront Vancouver project, stroll through revitalized Esther Short Park, and visit the Vancouver Farmers Market in a downtown that continues to get more vibrant and interesting.

When I edited Anthony’s pawnshop story Monday, it made me think about all of the changes we’ve experienced downtown in just a couple of decades. As a journalist it’s been fun to observe and document the process.

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