Camas, WA — The Camas City Council will review the final presentation of the proposed Urban Tree Program, and will likely vote on the new ordinance on September 4.

The council recently voted unanimously to have the city attorney officially draft an ordinance, much of which was based on citizen input.

“We are now drafting an ordinance to amend the city’s municipal codes and a resolution to amend the city’s fee schedule,” said the city in an official statement. “City Council will review these items – which will be available to the public – on Tuesday, September 4 at 7 pm, in City Hall. This new date reflects our commitment to ensuring that the ordinance is crafted with the utmost care. The meeting will take place on a Tuesday in accordance with our holiday schedule, with Monday being Labor Day.”

The September 4 meeting on the tree program does not include a public hearing. If adopted, the ordinance will become effective five days later.

Here are some highlights of the proposed Urban Tree Program:

  • Street tree permits. Residents looking to remove street trees from their private property would need a permit. Removed trees will need to be replaced.
  • Creates a new system for protection of trees with new developments that sets a minimum of 20 trees per net acre.
  • Changes municipal code for park and open space trees.
  • Adds very specific tree preservation language to municipal code.
  • Changes the fine and fee schedules for removing trees. Currently, from $500-$1,000, the new proposal is a scale that is based on size. The fine could be higher based on size for trees in critical areas.
  • Replaces Chapter 18.31 in the city code.
  • Amends Chapter 18.13 for landscaping.
  • Creates a city tree fund.

Please visit for more details.

Images from Public Hearing #2

Washington, D.C. — Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 2345, the “National Suicide Hotline Improvements Act of 2018,” which the White House says “requires the Federal Communications Commission, in coordination with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, to study the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.”

HB 2345, sponsored by Congressman Chris Stewart in the US House of Representatives, and its companion bill, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch in the US Senate is the first step toward getting a nationwide three-digit code, like 911, designated to helping those with suicide thoughts and other mental health issues.

Utah Senator Daniel Thatcher has been championing this issue since 2013.

“It has consumed my life, and this is a giant leap in the right direction,” said Thatcher. “We’re all familiar with 911, which is used for emergencies, and I’m sure none of us under 50 remember life before 911. This legislation directs the FCC to look at the efficacy of the other 3-digit numbers and will set one up for mental health. This legislation is a huge deal! It is to mental health what 911 is to physical health. We lose more Utahns under 25 to mental health than to physical health. When it fully materializes, people who are contemplating suicide will have a 3-digit dial code to call, like 611, and there will be professionals answering calls to help people get through a crisis.”

The FCC will examine all 3-digit numbers, from 211-811, and decide which number is best. Thatcher is betting on 611.

So, what are all the 3-digit numbers currently used for? Let’s take a look:

  • 211: Set up for government services. People can call and get help for unemployment, for example.
  • 311: This is a vanity phone number for local governments. For example, if you have a briefcase in a New York City taxi, they will help you track it down. Thatcher says “311 does the same thing as 211.”
  • 411: Not officially designated, but the FCC gave conditional approval for temporary use in 1993, but is widely known and used for information services.
  • 511: Nationwide traffic and weather hotline. Used in some places to call and make sure roads are safe.
  • 611: Not officially designated, the FCC gave conditional permission for telecom to use 611 for customer service. Thatcher says this is the least critical of these numbers, and the most likely to be chosen.
  • 711: This is for the hearing impaired, for tele text.
  • 811: This is the call before you dig a hole in your background hotline. It gets the utility companies to mark out your property before digging a hole — to avoid cutting a electrical or gas line.
  • 911: Easily the best-known number in the world.



Senator Dan Thatcher, with his wife, Summer.

The History

Thatcher has been working on this legislation in his home state of Utah since 2013.

”We discussed what to do with tip reporting on phone lines, and we learned that if a kid calls a suicide line it could take hours to get back with him. It just wasn’t staffed properly,” said Thatcher. “I knew we needed 24/7 coverage with mental health professionals. We needed texting capability, and we needed a phone number that people could remember. A 10-digit number isn’t something people could easily remember.”

So, Thatcher said he tried to get a 3-digit code passed in Utah.

“I wanted 311 to go to Utah for counseling services,” he said. “I worked with local leaders, and it just didn’t happen. We tried really hard to get it done. So, right now we’re using a national life line number. Most people don’t remember 10-digit numbers.”

After failing to get support in Utah, Thatcher approached Senator Hatch and Representative Stewart and they immediately saw the need. They called in experts and they conducted a round table to see how to best approach this. The group saw the value of designating a 3-digit number on a national scale.

Their bill, called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act was passed in the US Congress several weeks ago, and was just signed Tuesday by President Trump.

Senator Hatch’s office released this statement:

“With this topic, my heart is both heavy and hopeful—heavy because suicide has already taken so many lives; hopeful because this legislation can turn the tide in the campaign against this epidemic,” said Hatch. “With this bill, we can prevent countless tragedies and help thousands of men and women get the help they so desperately need. I’m grateful this lifesaving proposal has been signed into law.”

Representative Stewart’s office released this statement:

“This is a great day for Utah and a great day for the Nation. We now have the opportunity to make the National Suicide Prevention Hotline more accessible and easier to remember. By creating a hotline dialing code that is short and easy to remember, we are taking an important step towards potentially averting tragedy.  This new law truly has the ability to save lives. I’m grateful that the President signed this into law in a timely manner.”

It was a fantastic day for Thatcher, as well.

”I don’t think people understand what just happened,” said Thatcher. “I think we’ll look back and wonder how we ever lived without this. I may be crying all day.”

Editor’s Note: We know Senator Thatcher because he helped co-sponsor a bill in Utah that built on our #MarchKindness campaign. In Utah, the bill became known as #MSDKindness and encouraged citizens across Utah to conducts acts of kindness to honor those students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, FL.


Senator Dan Thatcher, with his wife, Summer.

Vancouver, WA — The McKean Smith Law Firm, which was founded in 2015 by Collin McKean, a native Washingtonian, and Annelisa Smith, a native Oregonian, is preparing to occupy brand-new office space on the fifth floor of the Vancouver Waterfront Building.

The plan is to occupy the fantastic 3,610 square foot space, which overlooks the Columbia River, in January 2019. The office has spectacular views of Mt. Hood and will provide a great working environment for this growing firm. The new Vancouver Waterfront space will accommodate their current successful Vancouver team and give that office the ability to expand over the next several years. McKean Smith knows that Clark County and the Vancouver community requires a committed office with attorneys and staff committed to supporting the SW Washington practice from a centralized and distinctive location at the Vancouver waterfront.

The firm has been working with Ankrom Moisan Architects to help apportion, design and build out the space. Ankrom Moisan has been a part of the Vancouver Waterfront project for several years and McKean Smith looks forward to leveraging their deep knowledge of the space and its surroundings.


Outside the Clark County Courthouse. From left: James Wriston, Gabe Foster, Deanna Rusch, Collin McKean.

“We understand that when clients first walk through our doors there is often a feeling of uncertainty of what their futures have in store,” said McKean. “But while this uncertainty may seem daunting at first, we want our clients to find solace in the fact that our offices will always provide a safe, warm, and welcoming environment where we work together making solutions for a brighter future. We care about our Clark County clients and we want to show them that by providing them a beautiful office with truly serene views.”

The firm has ten attorneys, nine of which are licensed to practice in Washington. The firm is committed to supporting SW Washington communities and represents clients in domestic relations matters, business transactions, trusts and estates, real estate, criminal justice, personal injury, and civil litigation matters. Clients working with McKean Smith understand that a broad level of knowledge and experience can make all the difference. McKean Smith attorneys work to achieve complete solutions to complex legal matters.

McKean Smith provides substantive one hour consultations to help you understand your legal rights and the procedures you must follow to make sure you get to exercise those rights. They will help you figure out the right way to get the legal advice and support you need. They support you at each stage of your case and encourage mediation and settlement whenever possible. However, family law sometimes requires using the tools available through the litigation process.They want to help each client achieve their goals.

To learn more, visit

Analyzing the Math and the Effects of the McCleary Law

Over the last several weeks, Camas Education Association (CEA) union representatives, with assistance from the Washington Education Association (WEA), have met face-to-face with Camas School District (CSD) representatives to negotiate and bargain for new teacher contracts.

At stake is $7.1 million, which is CSD’s share of the $2 billion that is being appropriated from the State of Washington to “amply fund” teacher salaries across 295 school districts in the state. The $2 billion is new money that is being generated from the McCleary law that was passed late in the Washington State 2017 Legislative session. The law is funded by the largest property tax in state history.

That law, according to CEA union lead, Mark Gardner, was passed after the Washington State Supreme Court mandated the State Legislature “amply fund” teacher salaries, citing the state Constitution. The Legislature took years to draft a law to satisfy the court’s judgment (which required a legislative “fix” in 2018) and was done at the end of an unusually long, and often times, bitter, legislative session.


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The CEA is seeking from CSD $5.9 million of those funds — to be used for pay increases for certificated staff, which comprises teachers, counselors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, librarians, choir and band teachers. Principals are not included in these bargaining and salary negotiations.

Union negotiators are asking for 11-12% raises for 432 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE’s) based on 2017-18 staffing, and at this time, CSD is offering a pay increase of 4%. There’s a discrepancy in the FTE , as CSD says this year’s budget plans for 452 FTE’s. CSD staffs more FTEs than allocated by the state through local funding sources. This creates a discrepancy in the total cost of proposed compensation packages.

There are several factors contributing to the current discussions, which include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Discrepancies with Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) total compensation cost.
  • Near and long-term effects of CSD’s levying capacity, which has been cut by 50 percent.
  • Complexities and confusion of the McCleary legislation.

Lacamas Magazine spent considerable time getting the union’s perspective on the matter, which was presented in a YouTube video on August 10. We also spent time on August 10 learning about the CSD perspective on these negotiations, and inquired about pay increase complaints from union members.

According to CSD, Camas teachers have been getting increases since the 2014-15 school year, as well as Time Responsibility Incentive (TRI) increases that are consistently above state average. TRI is compensation for additional responsibilities provided by certificated staff, such as end year closeout and new year preparation time.

Over that period, according to state-audited figures from CSD, starting teachers received annual increases of 3.5%, 4.5% and 7.3%. Average teachers received annual increases of 5.1%, 5.6% and 7.3%, and Top teachers received annual increases of 4.8%, 4.5%, and 7.3%. Overall increases during that three-year period are between 16% and 19%.

“We have the best teachers and a high retention rate,” said CSD Communications Director, Doreen McKercher. “We greatly appreciate them, and want to compensate them as well as we possibly can.”

During their August 9 bargaining session, CSD agreed to increase the raise from 3.1% to 4%.

How Are Teachers Funded?

According to CSD, this is one of the biggest changes in the new funding model. Previously, the state would fund the number of teachers allocated based on student population. If districts decided to go beyond the state allocation, that would require a local levy, which is what Camas does. The amount of money received used to be based on the experience of the teaching staff, and if a district had a larger percentage of experienced teachers they would receive funding through a factor called staff mix. Camas has a veteran staff mix, said McKercher, so CSD has greatly benefited from the previous system. In the new model, the state provides an average teacher salary amount for the state plus any regionalization for each district — and now staff mix has been eliminated. Districts with more veteran teaching staffs receive less proportional funding than they did previously. If compensation is greater than state funding per FTE then additional revenue will be needed in the future to avoid cuts.


This charts shows state funding per FTE.

Both parties had a sixth bargaining session on August 11, in which CEA president Shelley Houle said the following (via Facebook post):

“Today we met with our district’s bargaining team to each propose an offer. Although we feel a significant gap still exists, positive steps were taken to find more common ground. We added three more bargaining dates that will take place after August 21st in anticipation that we can dig into the minutia of what a salary schedule would look like for Camas educators.”

“But, our work is far from done and there is no guarantee that the needed common ground will be found. We still must plan for the worst and continue to organize. All actions and events will proceed as planned. We appreciate your support and commitment to seeing this through.”

Specifics of Saturday’s bargaining session have not been made public.

“The status of the negotiations are ongoing, which is a good sign,” said CSD Superintendent, Jeff Snell. “Any time conversation is taking place, there are opportunities to learn more about other perspectives and hopefully find common ground. The change in the way we fund schools has put both our unions and district in a very challenging situation. There’s a lot to work through and figure out. Decisions obviously have implications for this year and the future as well, so we all want to be thoughtful about them.”

Snell also addressed community frustration, and asks for patience in the process. The complexities and effects of the McCleary fix are adversely affecting 270 of the 295 districts across the state. Only 25 districts have settled — and they are generally in smaller, less populated areas.

“I understand there is a lot of frustration about the process this year,” said Snell. “I’m frustrated too. I’m not frustrated with our staff. They deserve to be compensated well and the union’s job is to try to negotiate the best contract possible. I’m frustrated because we’ve advocated side-by-side for so long to increase the funding our students deserve in this state. Now we’ve been given a new system that is creating chaos. The new system is dividing districts instead of bringing them together. It would be easy to blame one side or another, but that’s too simple. That charge would be warranted if this was just happening in Camas, but it is not. I have had the privilege of collaborating with so many amazingly talented teachers, secretaries, custodians, administrators, board members, all of the diverse roles it takes to run a school district, from all over the state. A common theme amongst each of them is their commitment to students and to each other. It’s a gift to serve in public education and to do it well requires all of us working together and supporting each other. My hope is this challenge brings out the best in each of us and we come out of it even stronger.”



Camas School Superintendent Jeff Snell speaks at the 2017 Camas High School Graduation Ceremony.


FTE Count

The union’s proposal is based on a 432 person FTE head count, which is different from the CSD’s 452 person FTE count. That’s a difference of 20 positions, reflecting a financial discrepancy of approximately $2 million, and is a major reason CSD can’t reach the 11% pay increase demand.

“CSD has passed flawlessly state financial audits for the past nine years, so our numbers are reliable,” said McKercher. “We’ve addressed this discrepancy with the union during the August 2 bargaining session.”

The district included this additional $7 million state allocation into their 2018-19 operating budget, which totals $94.43 million. Eighty-one percent of the district budget comes from state funds, while federal and local funds provide the remaining 19 percent to meet operating expenses.



Mark Gardner is one of the CEA bargaining negotiators.

Levy Capacity Diminished by 50%

Because the McCleary law used property taxes to fund the Supreme Court mandate, it changes the way all school districts use levies to fund gaps in operating expenses. The result: CSD’s ability to levy has been reduced by 50% — from $3 for every $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.50.

“Because of McCleary, we are already losing $4.9 million in levy capacity in the next school year,” said McKercher. “They should have let us ride out our levy. McCleary takes away levies that people already voted for. We’re currently in the first year of a four-year levy.”

The McCleary law essentially negated the votes of Camas voters.

“We’ll have to go back out for a levy at only $1.50 instead of $3 in about a year,” said McKercher.

The CEA says “While local levy collection will decrease, it will be more than offset by the increase in state allocation.”

CSD disagrees.

“The district will be exhausting ALL state funding in 2018/2019 and using local levy revenues to continue to employ positions beyond what the state funds. The new legislation is reducing our local levy revenues by 50% in the calendar year 2019, which we use to fund positions and pay beyond the state allocation, 100% of extra-curricular activities, and subsidize underfunded areas of Special Education, Student Transportation, and Food Services.”

The district will be using local levy dollars to fund additional positions and pay of approximately $6.3 million districtwide and an estimated $2.2 million to cover the underfunded Special Education programs.

McKercher said that losing 50% of levy capacity is a blow to the district, and is a major repercussion of the McCleary fix. Levies started to become necessary as state funding didn’t keep pace with running a school system. Levies essentially filled in the gaps.

The other issue is that levy money only flows in twice a year, and if homeowners are behind on their property tax payments, that could affect operating revenue.

“All districts have to contend with this,” said McKercher. “We’re in this mess because of a badly written law. This is a state-wide effort, and WEA is focusing on changing the law, but it’s coming at the expense of our relationships.”

The McCleary “Fix”: Bad Legislation

According to Bill Keim, former Executive Director of the Washington Association of School Administrators, the McCleary legislation has fundamental flaws:
• Local levy reduction aren’t equal across the board, and cuts local levy authority by a statewide average of $947 per student.
• Creates a new approach to the Local Effort Assistance (LEA), which aims to help areas with lower property values. He says the new system creates the “haves” who can secure a total of $2,500 per student in local funding and the “have-nots” who can only secure $1,500. This approach is blatantly inequitable.
• A net negative effect on levy and LEA. He says: “The district that fared best with these changes is estimated to gain over $3,800 per student, while the district that did worst will lose over $9,500 per student. Those lost dollars will be hard enough for the districts to accommodate, but these are also the most flexible funds districts receive. Their loss will make it much harder for the districts to accommodate local priorities or to smooth out the anomalies in other state funding allocations.”
• He says: “58 school districts will receive more money than needed to provide their 2017-18 workforce with a 19% increase, and 237 districts won’t receive enough. On one end of that equation, the biggest winner will receive $7,175 more than it needs, and at the other end, the biggest loser receives $15,394 per certificated instructional staff (CIS) less than needed. The legislative message in the face of this problem seems to be just make it work.”
• A major challenge to account for local funds, and clarification on limitations of enrichment funds. He says: “That clarification is very important because, for the first time, school districts must account separately for their use of local funds, the State Auditor will audit that accounting, and there are sanctions for the inappropriate use of those funds. To date, no one in any position of authority has offered a definitive interpretation, much less released WAC rules that generally guide school districts with the implementation of new laws. Given the landmark nature of these laws, the absence of that guidance is very troubling and will require 295 districts leaders to make their own interpretation about this part of the legislation.”
• While some districts like Lake Washington fared well under this law, he says most will not. Keim says: “While that will likely be portrayed as administrative tightfistedness, the reality is that most school districts will have much less new funding to put on the table. That highlights the fact that in the post-McCleary era, student zip codes will still determine the quality of education they receive. And the sad reality is that in many communities, that disparity may be even greater than before.”

McKercher said the impact of McCleary as it currently stands, will force CSD to lay off staff and/or eliminate programming in two to three years.

The other outstanding issue is that legislators in 2018 passed a budget that lowers property taxes by $400 million over the next two years — which is designed to give property owners some relief after the sticker shock of getting tax bills following the McCleary legislation in 2017. While property taxes, which are a primary source of school funding, are reduced, so are the levies. That puts more squeeze on all school districts.

The Effects of a Strike

The CEA is currently organizing a strike vote, which is planned for August 27. According to Gardner, it’s not something they want to do.

“We are planning our curriculum and operating as if everything will be normal on September 4,” Gardner said.

A strike has many repercussions:

1) The state won’t waive walkout days — and will enforce the state mandate that students attend for 180 days.
2) If a strike goes past September 15, CSD employees who do not work will lose their benefits for that month.
3) If a strike goes past September 15, CSD employees who do not work will not get paid.
4) Family schedules will be adversely affected.

McKercher said the district is committed to compensating CSD employees as much as possible, and that she’s worried about how the effects of a strike will affect long-standing relationships in the community.

There are still several bargaining sessions on the August calendar, and we will continue to report news as it becomes available.

Camas, WA — At their third quarterly event Wednesday night at Salud Wine Co., 100 Women Who Care Clark County heard from three non-profit charitable foundations, and voted to help out the Camas Farmer’s Market.

As is their quarterly process, each member nominated a charity of their choosing, and each card was placed into a bucket. At random, three cards representing three different organizations, were selected: Camas Farmer’s Market, NW Cave, and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.

Members who nominated these three groups each spoke for several minutes on the benefits and services each non-profit provides.

Prior to those testimonials, the group also heard from representatives of Villages Northwest, the recipient of $10,000+ from the past meeting. They reported they’re using the funds to expand their operations in Camas-Washougal. They were pretty excited about the generous gift.

Kimberly Koch, owner of Truly Scrumptious, represented Camas Farmer’s Market (of which she’s a Board member) and explained that the market provides two valuable programs to help lower-income families.

One program is called Produce Pals, which provides $2 per child at each market event to purchase fruits and vegetables.

“It encourages people to try new, healthy and fresh foods,” said Koch.

The other Camas Farmer’s Market program is called SNAP Match. The market will match any SNAP funds to be used at market booths, and is only available. For example, if a consumer has $5 in SNAP funds, the market will match $5 to be used on fresh produce there.

With the money raised from 100 Women Who Care, the market will expand those programs, and be able to help more people — especially children, to get access to high quality food.

To learn more visit or


Camas, WA — After many weeks of negotiations between Lacamas Athletic Club and Camas High School (CHS), the school’s athletic program was forced to find a new home for the Girl’s swim team this season, and is leaving the future home of the two-time State Championship winning Boy’s swim team in doubt.

“Our girls swim program will be swimming this season at Cascade Athletic Club,” said CHS Athletic Director, Rory Oster. “Cascade Athletic Club and Evergreen School District has been excellent in working with us to accommodate our kids. All I can say is that our preference would be to have Camas High School girl’s swim program using Lacamas Athletic Club facilities. Unfortunately an agreement could not be made in order to do so for this upcoming swim season, my hope is that our boys swim team will be able to use Lacamas Athletic facilities as again, that is the preference of Camas School District Athletic Department.”

Oster said that Camas High School will not have any “home meets” and that all of their competitions will be at other pools.

In June, Denise Croucher, owner of Lacamas Athletic Club, approached Oster with demands that CHS could not meet. Among those initial demands, according to Mike Bemis, CHS Head Swim Coach, was to find another coach who wasn’t affliated with Columbia River Swim Team (CRST) — a competitor of the Lacamas Athletic Club’s Headhunters private club swim team. Bemis is a two-time State Championship swim coach for CHS, and the team won back-to-back State titles in 2017 and 2018.

Camas reaffirmed their loyalty and commitment to Bemis and his successful program.

According to Bemis, Lacamas Athletic Club accused him and CRST of recruiting athletes away from the Headhunters program.

”Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Bemis. “These are great kids and we have athletes from multiple clubs who compete for Camas High School. The athletes all get along quite well, and it shows with their accomplishments. CRST, for which I work very part-time, has not recruited any athletes from Lacamas or any other club.”

Bemis said the final gap that couldn’t be bridged was that Lacamas Athletic Club also demanded that Bemis sign an agreement between CRST and Lacamas Athletic Club that neither club could recruit any swimmers from each other’s clubs that are aged 14 or older, and that after turning 14, they could never switch club teams.

”That’s an agreement I simply could not sign,” said Bemis. “I have no authority to do that, and the owner of CRST was never approached. Such an agreement also infringes on parental choice as to where they want their child to practice and compete.”



Camas High School girls swimmers hold up the US flag during the pledge of allegiance at a 2017 home meet.

The management at CRST concurs.

”We were never approached by Denise or anyone at Lacamas Athletic Club with an agreement,” said Darlene Lumbard, owner of CRST. “I even spent four days next to Denise at a recent club meet and nothing was ever said. In fact, the kids from both programs get along very well.”

When Lacamas Magazine approached Croucher in late June about possible outcomes, Croucher said of Oster: “He may be considering moving the team, but this is not the outcome we are hoping for.”

Following the official move to Cascade, Croucher was asked to reply to details about the negotiations, and she said:
”Our agreement with the school district had to be re-negotiated because the current terms no longer worked due to the time changes at the school district; they could no longer swim at 2:30 pm. It is not uncommon to renegotiate the terms yearly if needed. With our drastic membership growth over the past two years, the members’ pool usage has also increased. This makes an agreement more difficult as we have to keep our valuable member’s needs a top priority. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement this year that worked for both parties. Being a private business, we will not discuss the details of a business agreement. Hopefully we can accommodate the school district’s pool rental needs in the future.”

At one of the 2017 Camas High School home swim meets.

“I think again this just goes to show you that you can’t demand this upon parents,” said CHS Assistant Swim Coach, Leslie Levesque. “She [Croucher] has no legal ground to stand on. Parents have the right to decided which club their kids swim in. This is absurd. And Mike said we can easily practice in the morning times at Lacamas as we did last year.”
The move has scheduling, traffic, and other complications, and poses some additional burdens on the coaches, Cascade Athletic Club, and the parents. Bemis also expressed gratitude toward Cascade for making this accommodation. The club will see how things go with the girl’s season, and then make decisions about the future with the boy’s season. Levesque said CHS will have two lanes at Cascade Athletic Club from at 5:30 am, 6:15 am, and 7:15-8:45 each evening, and will share the pool with CRST.

Camas High and Washougal High School seniors honored at Senior Night.

Making It Work
“We’ve been put out to pasture,” said Bemis. “This makes it a lot tougher to keep winning championships. It creates travel issues. No home meets. It’s hard to build up new kids in a situation like this. It makes it more challenging to get to the facilities. This is my biggest fear. It’s been challenging to work with Lacamas Athletic Club over the years but we’ve always made it work these past 12 years — until now. We’re really grateful to Mitch Merwin at Cascade — he’s been great to work with. He’s been very helpful.”

Swimming at a home meet.

A Parent’s Perspective
“Well, besides the Lacamas pool being a beautiful facility, I’m glad the Camas school district isn’t playing the blackmail game,” said Sarah Segall, mother of CHS swimmer, Bailey Segall. “Denise never treated the swimmers well and frequently wouldn’t have the pool open when they arrived for an early morning practice. It will be tight to have all the swimmers at Cascade but the girls seem excited about the opportunity to train with each other. Although it’s not ideal for them to drive so far across town for their practice, it will show their dedication to the sport. It would be great if the city of Camas were made aware of the need for a facility for the community as well as for the high level swim program at the high school. CHS is still working out details on transportation from morning practices to school, and is uncertain how this will impact the boy’s swim team season.”

The future of practice and home meets is in question for the 2X State Championship winning CHS Boys Swim Team.

“For practice we are able to give our students options for attendance so it has the ability to fit everyone’s schedule,” said Oster. “Camas SD and Evergreen SD will be sharing facilities during practice times. Our hope is that Lacamas Athletic Club has a change of heart by the time boys season begins and welcomes us back to our prior relationship which has always been positive and effective.”

Statement from Camas City Councilor Rusch

“Although the only information I have on this is what’s been reported in your article, this is disappointing,” said Camas City Councilor, Deanna Rusch. “However, I can say the City is actively working to pursue a year round pool/aquatic center/community center. A multi jurisdictional committee is set to begin meetings September 5 to discuss this. I look forward to serving on this committee and to helping to further the current momentum and progress we are having on making sure Camas has a safe and fun place to swim. My goal would be to provide a year round facility for our swimmers and divers.

Further, although the existing Crown Park pool will be demolished, City Council hasn’t made a decision on what will happen in its place. I, for one, don’t believe a small neighborhood pool and a larger community center pool are mutually exclusive and I’m examining all of our options in this regard.”

Swim Gallery


Tulsa, OK — July was a very busy month for Camas elementary student, Aubrie Wheeler, who won the top title at a National Horse show in Tulsa, OK, which was preceded by wins at two major competitions in Longmont, CO.

“From July 5-6, Aubrie competed at the Rocky Mountain Regional POA High Point Show and won (9 & Under Divison), and from July 7-8, she competed at the World West POA Show High Point (9 & Under Division),” said Mamie Wheeler, Aubrie’s mother. “Then we went on to Tulsa, Oklahoma to our National show, where she won National Congress High Point All Around 9 & Under. That was three overall titles in three shows — at the national level.  It was a huge accomplishment for a little one!”

POA (Pony of the Americas) is the breed of her horse, and over the course of four days, Aubrie competed in 43 classes, and won the overall title for her division at both of those shows. There were participants from nine states, and Aubrie was high point all around 9U for both shows. She had a bunch of class wins, and she was the top of her division in both shows. There were 14 in her division.

Each class is a separate event, or competition. At end of show, judges combine class totals together and name overall titles. She won the national title at the National High Point All Around 9U.

Aubrie Answers Questions

What is your favorite part of showing your Pony? 

AW: Being with my ponies and making new friends.

Who are your new friends this year?

AW: Olivia and Avery Mae (Tennessee), Grace (Georgia), Olivia and Kelly (Oklahoma), Katie (Wisconsin) & McKenzie and Hailey (Illinois).  And I made the trip with my friends Chloe and Kylee from Washington!

What is your favorite event at the shows?

AW: Gaming.

Why do you like Gaming?

AW: Cause you get to go fast.

What does it take to win the an Overall National Championship?

AW: You have to work hard.  Practice a lot.

What is your goal next year for the National POA Congress show?

AW: To win the Overall High Point Championship again!

What do you need to do to reach that goal?

AW: Practice and try hard.


“We do a lot of training ourselves, and we work with two trainers,” said Mamie. “She rides 5-6 days a week, and trains with a trainer in Ridgefield, while the other trainer comes to our house. We’ve been competing since January, and she has competed in two to three competitions a month since March. This was helping her prepare for Nationals — to get lots of practice.”

Her trainers are Anthony Wilson of Wilson Performance Horses in Ridgefield, and Amy Vesneske, of Battle Ground. Veneske specializes in jumping, and Wilson specializes in pleasure horses. Mamie teaches the speed competitions.

“We are a fourth generation equestrian family,” said Mamie. “We raise our own babies. Grandpa did rodeo, and her dad was a professional bull rider for several years. She was born into it, and has competed in rodeos and horse shows since she was 2 years old.”



Camas, WA — It was standing room only Monday night at Camas City Hall as residents listened to a public presentation on the proposed Camas Urban Tree Program, and spent more than an hour expressing their opinions about tree planning. It ended with the Council voting to have the City Attorney draft an official Urban Tree Program ordinance that will be voted on in the near future.

Senior City Planner, Sarah Fox, presented the tree program, which has been in progress since 2016, and explained its key points. The city views trees as public assets.

Here are some highlights of the proposed Urban Tree Program:

  • Street tree permits. Residents looking to remove street trees from their private property would need a permit.
  • Changes municipal code for park and open space trees.
  • Sets a minimum of 20 trees per net acre.
  • Adds very specific tree preservation language to municipal code.
  • Changes the fine and fee schedules for removing trees. Currently, from $500-$1,000, the new proposal is a scale that is based on size. The fine could be higher based on size for trees in critical areas.
  • Replaces Chapter 18.31 in the city code.
  • Amends Chapter 18.13 for landscaping.

Please visit for more details.

Following her presentation, City Councilors listened to more than an hour of public comment on the program.


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Public Comments

The first citizen to address the council was Karen Weiss, who is concerned with preservation of older trees.

”Smaller trees can’t replace the older growth trees,” she said. “How do you define critical trees? Can a 100 year-old tree be replaced by a bunch of smaller trees? I’m also curious about who governs the fines? I’m worried that people will simply pay the fines and developers can get rid of the trees. How can you protect super old trees?”

Residents expressed concerns that fines weren’t high enough.

Geri Rubano asked for fines to be increased four-fold, and recommended that tree density should be up at 30 per net acre.

“The plan you have now definitely provides more protections than we have now,” said Cassi Marshall, who was appointed to the work on the program as a citizen representative. “It’s a great place to start.”

Longtime Camas resident, Lynne Lyne stole the show Monday night with an impassioned plea to stop clear-cutting.

“Why on Earth has it just been the past two years that the Council has said ‘hey maybe we need to look at the way we’re developing our town?’ I agree with Geri completely … why the heck do you allow clear-cutting, non-stop clear-cutting …? Clear-cutting with houses crammed together … is that the quaint, wonderful town of Camas we want to create for ourselves? I would think it’s not … I’m dumbfounded that this has been allowed to go on for so long.”


Cassi Marshall expresses her support of the Camas Urban Tree Program at Monday’s Public Hearing.

Public consensus, based on those who spoke at Monday’s meeting, is to raise the number of trees per acre unit from 20 trees to 30. The public also wants to make the fines greater, and a better explanation of how fines are processed and decided. There was a great deal of concern about clear-cutting.

Following the public comment time, council members and city employees answered several citizen questions, which included how fines are processed, what percentage of trees would be required to be evergreen, why clear-cutting is allowed, and when this would take effect.

Fox said fines would be put into the fee schedule that would be assessed by a code enforcement officer. She added that “generally unauthorized tree removal isn’t from our development community, it’s from our citizens who go into open spaces behind our houses, which are really the city’s open spaces and parks, and they’re cutting down a tree for a view — usually that’s the reason …”

She said the proposal allows the officer to respond to the illegal activity and deal with the issue, and enables them to write a ticket on the spot. The fine would be based on the size of the tree. The next step provides guidelines on how to assess the actual value of the tree, which would be an additional fine. The violator is also required to replant.

Fines would go into a city tree fund.

Fox said the program requires 50 percent of new trees be evergreen, and also requires the other trees be a native species, as well.

Councilor Greg Anderson indirectly addressed a clear-cutting question from Camas resident, Keith McPhun.

Greg Anderson Indirectly Answers Clear-Cutting Question

The new ordinance would only apply to new developments, and would not be retroactive to developments already agreed to.

”I would love it if the fines were higher, and it was 30 instead of 20, and I understand why the compromises were made in looking at all the factors but I think this is better than what we have now,” said Councilor Deanna Rusch.

”I feel my question about clear-cutting was only partially answered,” said McPhun.

The council’s vote on Monday mandates the City Attorney draft an official ordinance, which will be based on the Camas Urban Tree Program presentation by Fox.

Camas, WA — Over the last two years, city of Camas officials have been working on an Urban Tree Program to better protect the city’s trees. To voice your concerns, ideas, and suggestions, the city is inviting local residents to attend a public hearing at the Camas City Council chambers on Monday, August 6 at 7 pm. The address is 616 NE 4th Avenue, Camas, WA 98607.

If you cannot attend, submit your comments to or call Sarah Fox at 360-817-7269. For meeting minutes and video from the first public tree hearing, which was held on June 19, go to and click the video on the right. Public comment begins at the 34-minute mark. The city appreciates all those who attended.


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For the latest information, visit

Washougal, WA – Excitement is building as the 2018 Washougal Art Festival draws nearer.  Presented by Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance (WACA), the event features 26 professional regional artists and will be held Saturday,
August 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Reflection Plaza, 1703 Main Street, Washougal.

“We are expecting another large turnout at this year’s festival,” said Janice Ferguson, WACA President.  “Now in our third year, we have artists and community members who look forward to this annual event.  We love
transforming Washougal’s Reflection Plaza into a gallery of fine works of art.”

Wilson Cady, local birding enthusiast and artist, created the artwork that was used for the 2018 Washougal Art Festival poster and advertising.  “Wilson will be at the festival and plans to work on his current piece,” said
Ferguson.  “He is looking forward to chatting with people about his process and his inspiration.”  A limited number of signed 2018, 2017 and 2016 posters will be available for purchase at the festival for a $20 donation each.

Event proceeds will bring more public art to Washougal. This year’s festival will help fund a mural inspired by Washougal matriarch, Princess White Wing (Betsy Ough) created by renown Native American artist, Toma
Villa. The piece will be created for the outside wall of the Washougal Public Library.


For a preview of artists selected to participate in this year’s event, visit the WACA website at

They are Linda Andrew-Riggs, water color; Kathy Beckman, acrylic on canvas; Eric Berlin, handcrafted animal porcelain jewelry; Heidi Curley, mixed media; Marilyn Estenes, textile  creations and photography; Katy Fenley, handcrafted sterling silver jewelry; Chrissie Forbes, found object robot art; Anni Furniss, mixed media painting; John Furniss, wood; Vickie Green, fused glass; Cheryl Hazen, recycled mosaics; Glo Lamden-Mccollough, acrylic on canvas; Kobie Moore, painted acrylic, mixed media; Toni McCarthy, jewelry; Liz Pike, oils; John Reylea, acrylic on reclaimed wood; Christine Rice, block printing print making; Karen Reule, sterling and silver filigree jewelry; Ena Shipman, ceramics and handcrafted jewelry; Gary Suda, high fire ceramic pottery; Cyndee Starr, mixed media; Tamra Sheline, watercolor on yupo (plastic); Kiri Torre, one-of-a-kind jewelry design; Barbara Wright, watercolor, ink, colored pencil, graphite; and Beck Lipp, wood.

The festival is family-friendly and features The Paint Roller – Mobile Paint Party who will be offering free, fun, artistic projects for children. Another popular element of the festival is the raffle for works of art donated by participating artists.  Tickets are $5 each and visitors choose the work of art they would like the chance to win.  Raffle winners do not need to be present to win and will be given a phone call but must be available to pick up their prize by the end of the day.

New at the festival this year will be food available for purchase at the plaza.  Local restaurant, Alex Smokehouse, will be serving delicious barbeque meals and more.

While in Washougal, visitors are encouraged to discover works of public art using the WACA art map which provides locations, artists name and the year for more than 30 installations around town.  Maps will be available at the raffle table.

WACA Board Members and Festival Committee members working alongside Ferguson, are Chuck Carpenter, Joyce Lindsay, Rene Carroll, Suzanne Grover, Kelli Rule, Susan Warford and Jim Cooper.

The Festival is sponsored in part by the City of Washougal Hotel/Motel Tax Fund.  Other event sponsors include The Paint Roller – Mobile Paint Party, Washougal Coffee Company and Camas Gallery.