Monday, March 27, 2023
March 27, 2023

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From the Newsroom: A Top 10 deja vu

By , Columbian Editor

It’s the last weekend of the year, a time when the newsroom selects our local Top 10 Stories Of The Year. Look for this year’s roundup in print and online Sunday.

We have followed the same process for at least the last 20 years. Reporters, photographers and editors are asked to nominate the top stories they worked on this year. We compile them into a list — most years, there are between 20 and 25 nominees — then ask the newsroom staff to vote for the 10 most important stories of the year. We also invite non-newsroom members of our editorial board — who are Ben, Scott and Jody Campbell — to vote.

As we were compiling this year’s list of nominees, I noticed that a lot of the story lines seemed familiar. I went back to the archive to see how many stories on this year’s list have appeared on multiple lists since 2012. It didn’t surprise me to find that at least five of this year’s stories, or very similar ones, have made the list at least three times in a decade.

Homelessness and affordable housing issues have been on all but one list since 2015. According to that 2015 story, “The average rent for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Vancouver is $1,013.” That same apartment is now closer to $1,700 per month.

Here’s a shocker: In 2012, the median sales price for a home in Clark County was about $190,000. It’s now in excess of $500,000.

By the way, the only year homelessness or affordable housing didn’t make our Top 10 stories list was 2020, when six of the Top 10 stories were directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wildfires are another frequent theme on our Top 10 stories list. This year, it’s the Nakia Creek Fire, which put a good scare into a large swath of Clark County but ended up causing little to no damage to private property. Other years’ lists included the Eagle Creek Fire, which caused major damage to the Columbia River Gorge, and a series of distant fires that turned the air in Clark County into a dirty, stinking, dangerous, orange cloud for days.

Another story that appeared on half of our Top 10 lists in the last decade was the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project. This story made the early lists as the Columbia River Crossing project ground to a halt, then resurfaced in the last few years as the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program gained momentum.

Other stories on this year’s list that were on previous lists: shootings involving police officers, which have now made the list five times, and the closure/demolition of local landmark businesses, which has now made the list three times. Do you remember playing miniature golf at Steakburger before it closed in 2014? I still miss that place.

Here are a couple of stories that appeared frequently in the past but didn’t make this year’s list: development at the Waterfront Vancouver; political shenanigans involving Don Benton, David Madore or both; and development and construction at ilani. All three could have made the 2022 list: Several major buildings, led by the Hotel Indigo, opened at the waterfront this year. Benton ran for county council but was defeated by Sue Marshall. And ilani expanded its casino — adding a sports book, dining venues and more gaming space — and made major progress on its hotel, due to open in the spring.

Farewell to Leonard Pitts

Regular readers of our editorial page may have spotted a Dec. 16 farewell column from Leonard Pitts. Pitts, who wrote for the Miami Herald, was one of my favorite syndicated opinion columnists. I thought he made insightful arguments, even when I disagreed with him. I know he was a reader favorite, too, because when his column was temporarily unavailable a few years ago, I heard a lot of complaints!

Now that Pitts has retired, we will fill his regular Friday slot with a variety of other syndicated columnists.