Cheers: To an oasis. New Seasons Market has opened a grocery store at 1506 Main St., serving downtown with a variety of groceries and fresh produce for the first time in decades. For years, a full-service grocery store has been desired near the downtown core, and the opening demonstrates the role that government policy can play in designing cities and encouraging private development.
“This is a product of deliberate decisions that have been made by the Vancouver City Council for decades in order to build the density that we needed in order to get to this point,” Councilor Ty Stober said. City leaders have encouraged downtown residential development, and builders have made use of those policies, creating population density that attracts retail industries. The result in this case is an essential business within walking distance or a short drive for thousands of residents. As the store’s manager said, “If this is a food desert, this is your oasis.”
Jeers: To the closing of Larch. Despite pleas from the public, corrections workers, and current and former inmates and their families, the state Department of Corrections has closed the Larch Corrections Center in east Clark County.
Advocates spent months putting forth strong arguments for maintaining the center. Among them: Larch housed and trained teams of wildland firefighters, and the center had a strong record of providing education and effective rehabilitation for those who were incarcerated. But the pleas were not enough, and state officials went through with plans for closure. Some corrections officers were transferred to facilities elsewhere in the state, and others were laid off last week. The outcome is disappointing.
Cheers: To local vineyards. Central Washington bills itself as “Wine Country,” but Southwest Washington has its own burgeoning roster of wineries. Local growers say the grape-growing season was delayed by a cool, wet spring, but a relatively mild summer has yielded a strong harvest this fall.
“We had plenty of heat and sun; they kind of go together to speed up the ripening process,” said Kenton Erwin of the Southwest Washington Winery Association. Someday, we trust, sommeliers will be saying, “Ah, 2023 Clark County — a fine vintage.”
Jeers: To a rude awakening. Some users of the MyShakeApp received an alert at 3:19 a.m. Thursday — seven hours before a planned test. The MyShakeApp is an earthquake warning app and is California’s official early warning system. As part of International ShakeOut Day, some users received a verbal warning in the dark hours of Thursday: “This is a test of the earthquake early warning system. This is only a test.”
The U.S. Geological Survey attributed the error to “a mix-up between times zones set in the test alert system.” We hope it gets things straightened out before the system is needed in earnest.
Cheers: To a “buttercrunch special treat.” Popular confection Almond Roca recently celebrated its 100th birthday in — of all places — Tacoma. The popular candy was created by the city’s Brown and Haley in 1923, and the company remains based there.
“It’s tough. We compete against companies 100 times our size. We’ve had to evolve, a lot,” Brown and Haley’s CEO said. That evolution has involved production facilities, but the product remains pretty much unchanged, down to the familiar gold foil wrapper. Even the immediately recognizable circular pink tin packaging dates back to 1927. The moral of the story: Boeing and Starbucks are not Washington’s only globally recognized companies.