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News / Clark County News

Top stories: Smelt dipping, Wiener Wagon recovered, Housed but hanging by a thread

By Amy Libby, Columbian Web Editor
Published: March 9, 2024, 6:00am

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Here are some of the top stories on columbian.com this week:

1. Smelt lovers, feathered, furred and gaiter-wearing, go for a dip in Cowlitz River

LONGVIEW — Thousands of eager anglers lined the banks of the Cowlitz River from Kelso to Castle Rock on Tuesday hoping to score a net full of smelt.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife opened smelt fishing on the river from 1 to 6 p.m., drawing people from across the state and even Oregon. Smelt fishing on the Cowlitz River can be feast or famine. The state didn’t open recreational smelt fishing on the river in 2018 or 2019. One-day fisheries occurred in 2020 to 2022, but 2023 was again a bust.

2. Major Columbia River property owner frustrated that I-5 Bridge project has yet to get Coast Guard approval

The owner of an industrial park along the Columbia River in Vancouver reminded a Tuesday gathering of local leaders about a key hurdle to replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge: getting a permit from the U.S. Coast Guard.

That requires reaching a financial agreement with businesses along the river that would be impacted by the new bridge’s proposed lower vertical clearance. The U.S. Coast Guard, which has authority over the Columbia River and other navigable waterways, essentially has veto power over the bridge replacement project: no permit, no bridge.

3. PeaceHealth sued by former worker, accused of wage and hours violations

A former employee of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver has filed a class-action lawsuit against the health system for alleged wage and hour violations, including failing to provide employees with meal and rest breaks.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 27 in Clark County Superior Court by labor law firm Ackermann and Tilajef, on behalf of Harmony Nelson. No members of PeaceHealth management are named in the case.

4. Tipster finds Wiener Wagon that was stolen from owner’s Vancouver home

After Vancouver’s famous Wiener Wagon was stolen early Monday morning, community members rallied in support on social media and searched the streets.

The local landmark — which is nestled on the corner of 12th and Main streets — was stolen from owner Robin Povec’s Rose Village home. At about 3 a.m. Monday, a neighbor saw the wagon being taken, Povec said. Another witness told Povec that they saw the wagon heading over the Interstate 5 Bridge around 4 a.m.

5. Housed, but hanging on by thread: Vancouver family struggles as they watch neighbors end up homeless

A tan duplex in a quiet Vancouver cul-de-sac tells the harrowing story of the city’s housing affordability crisis.

On the right side of the duplex lives a formerly homeless family of four stretching to pay $1,895 in rent each month. The left side sits empty after February’s eviction of a family of six now out on the streets.