Dissatisfied with the direction of City of Camas leadership, 15-year Camas City councilor Melissa Smith officially announced Wednesday she is challenging incumbent mayor Shannon Turk with a write-in candidacy.

“It hurts my heart to have to do this, but I cannot abide by what is going on,” said Smith. “I feel truly bad for Shannon, and this may be uncomfortable for a while, but I just want the citizens to have a voice.”

Smith went on the record for about 90 minutes answering several questions. Here are the questions asked and her direct answers.

Question: Does your candidacy mean you have no confidence in Shannon Turk?


I wouldn’t have put in for it if I did have confidence in her. I don’t see any leadership in the current mayor. The appointment process was council’s decision. I knew Shannon would probably get it, but this time is a citizen’s choice and I trust the citizens to make the right choice. This is my home and just like everyone else who lives here, I want to take care of her. I want to see Camas be prosperous and collaborative; a place where opposing views are heard as long as things are done in a civil manner. You can’t totally shut people out.

The October 2 Open House for Proposition 2 was not good for the voters. People were so upset they didn’t have the opportunity to speak. People were angry and residents kept saying they all got different answers from council members. We on council didn’t get any information prior to the meeting. That’s very troubling.

Question: Does this mean you have no confidence in Camas City Administrator Pete Capell?

Absolutely none.

Back in 2016, I begged former Mayor Scott Higgins to fire Pete. I think a majority of council would support firing him. Higgins refused to fire him. That’s when Higgins starting coasting when he went into the real estate business. I know that when we lost Nina Gregore (the prior city administrator) it really affected Scott and when Pete got hired Scott really leaned on Pete, and Pete just picked up the pieces for Scott. And Scott gave Pete complete free reign. When Scott left working as mayor 40 hours a week then Pete ran amuck and just started creating a hostile environment for staff.

Shannon has had a year to deal with him, and she hasn’t. She was supposed to do an evaluation on him with our input and she hasn’t done that. That was due last January.

Question: You said last year that you would spend 40 hours a week as mayor, and that this time commitment is crucial. You said: “We need a mayor who can commit to 40 hours a week. The staff is phenomenal, but we’re at a time in our city’s history where we need a full-time mayor. There are so many important issues happening in our growing city.” Why did you say that, and do you still believe that?

I said that because I look ahead. I talk to staff, I don’t always just rely on the agendas. I’m always researching and connecting with people. What is it that concerns citizens? We are growing and we have to bring in more living wage jobs for families. We do have a great staff. The role of mayor is supposed to be held in reverence. Held in esteem. You set yourself up because you’re the leader of the city or organization. This is regardless of pay — you’re responsible for the lives and the future and the economic development for the city.

Being there 40 hours a week you are more accessible. Shannon works full-time. She works for the city of Vancouver. I like her as a person, I truly do but she’s not very responsive. That’s hard. It has a negative effect. If the staff doesn’t have their leader there isn’t a rudder. That happened with the last 18 months of Scott’s term — he just wasn’t there very often. I can right the ship and create stability. This Prop 2 shows there’s a lack of communication going on. I want to get in there and fix it and correct and move in a positive direction.

From 2018: The four mayoral candidates. From left: Councilor Melissa Smith, Georerl Niles, Councilor Shannon Turk, and former Camas Mayor, Dean Dossett.

Question: What are the top reasons you want the job?

Leadership: I don’t see true leadership in the current mayor, and I think I have the skills sets to do this job.

Life Experience: For me it’s not a status thing, or a money thing. $22,000 a year isn’t much. I have a lot life lessons. I have traveled extensively throughout the United States with my job and personal life. I’ve been to foreign countries. I have a broad outlook on life. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen real racist things in the South, and I’ve been serving the city of Camas for many years. I know how things work.

North Shore: We need to build a good infrastructure for that part of town.

Collaboration: Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Because of health issues I’ve learned that how you manage your energy is more valuable in the long-run because it makes you more productive, more efficient, more balanced. Energy is more important than time. I’m very much about closing the loop on projects because of the different work experiences I’ve had. From conception to completion, you need to look at the glitches, then analyze them and so you need critical thinking. It’s having the ability to bring the right people together and do the what/if scenarios.

Building the New Camas Pool: I’m very much for a new pool, and I’m very open to the competitive part of swimming. I applaud what they do with football, but there are other sports that need the same support. I think the mill’s R&D property needs more research. There are other properties we need to research. The people don’t want it at Fallen Leaf Lake. We just need to get it done and put together a smarter, cost effective package.

Question: Why are you a write-in candidate for Mayor?

I can jump in and make quick changes. This would be a shock for council if I win but we would come back together whole. I am who I am. I would give Pete Capell the option to resign first, and if he didn’t leave I would fire him. I would go in a different direction. We’ve gone without a city administrator for many months before. I’d be in the office each day to support staff. We’d then get the replacement process started. I would implement business people, development people, school leaders, community leaders to form a diverse group for an interview panel. The mayor stays out of it until you have the final two.

Question: Why did you not file in May and be placed on the ballot?

I wasn’t thinking about it then. I had told Shannon that I would not run a campaign against her. This is really painful to me to break my word. I know she’s hurt by it, but I’ve just been looking back over the past four years and I see the same leadership continuing from Higgins onto Shannon. No one is steering the ship.

Question: Are you upset with the rollout of Proposition 2, even though you voted to push it out as a bond? Did Mayor Turk push it out too fast? Is it too bold of a bond?

Yes, because I didn’t realize everything that had been rolled up into the bond language. The rollout was a 15-minute presentation with so many items on the bond issue, and we needed more time to learn about it. The street signals, for example, should come from public works funding — they shouldn’t be in a GO bond. This bond has too much in it and there is not a clear enough breakdown of why these items are in Prop 2.

Everyone just said $78 million for a pool is ridiculous, but when you see all the line items I would have done it differently. Prop 2 is five bonds in one. It’s too much.

We’re not sure about locations, they said we have multiple sites to choose from. I asked where those sites are, but my question wasn’t answered. To not have anything locked down but to trust them is not acceptable. I take my part of the blame on that.

In hindsight, I would have voted no to the rollout of the bond. I would have looked at different ways to fund this. Swimming and a community center is high on the list. Nobody talked about parking or fixing the street or scalability.

You want to believe in your leadership and believe you’re being told good information. Fault me for trusting the information that was presented to us. That’s why I’m stepping up now because the communication is so lacking. It’s not clear to the community.

The proposed 6+ acre aquatics center site is adjacent to Fallen Leaf Lake, and just across the street from Heritage Park, along Lake Road.

Question: Camas leadership told the pool committee that surveys showed that Camas voters would support a $35 million bond for a new pool. Why did Capell and Turk push for more than twice that?

It’s foolish. Because it means you’re not listening to the citizens. Lack of communication is frustrating a lot of people, and it’s been happening for several years. We’re in a ‘what the hell’ is going on period? I can take criticism from the public. I have no problem with that.

Question: What other concerns do you have about city leadership?

  • Bad Communication
  • Lack of transparency
  • Lack of timely responses
  • Lack of vision
  • Lack of planning
  • Holding back details

Question: What is your vision for Camas over the next 30 years?

I want to see affordable housing for people, and try to work with developers to dive into the codes and see if we’re able to allot so much land through RCWs. I want to bring in more living wage jobs to the area.

I want to focus on a new pool to replace Crown Park and/or build a large pool complex. Having the right pool is good for the economy and for our citizens, but it has to be done through proper processes.

North Shore is my main priority and how we build that out and provide services. We have garbage, water, fire, police requirements, and we need to set up an infrastructure for these services. We need to figure that out quickly because there’s building already happening. Current leadership has no vision.

We just need better, more frequent communication with the citizens. Have a quarterly update from the mayor on what’s going on. Do a city newsletter.

Question: What are your city mismanagement concerns?

For the Bank of America building we paid $1.6 million and that was over asking price. Then we were told we had $400-500,000 for renovations. At our last meeting they said it was more than $1 million for renovations. So we will have spent $2.6 million on the building to simply prepare the building for full occupancy.

We could have built a 14,000 square foot facility on 38th in Grass Valley for $2 million. Pete and Shannon said it would cost $30 million to build a new city hall.

We don’t have the right skill sets for the positions that are in charge of getting the right information to have city council make the correct and true decisions. We have to fix this problem now.

Question: Why are you qualified to be mayor?

Experience on the council. We have a good staff. I have always been a believer in hiring people smarter and better than you.

I will never leave anyone hanging. I will always follow through and come back with an answer. I often don’t hear back from Pete for days or even a week. That’s not good.

Question: Is this vengeance for not being appointed as mayor in 2018?

No. Not getting appointed hurt, but I’m OK now, this is my journey. For me, this is my last chance to show the citizens we can right the ship. It’s more important for the citizens to elect their mayor than to have city council pick your favorite.

Does your experience help or hurt you?

I’m not going in there to make friends and hang out with my council peers. I’m not saying I won’t be social, but that’s not my thing. I don’t share my life stories, but if you need my help, I’m there. I have always gone in with pure intent because I’ve seen how friendships can be used as emotional blackmail to sway votes. I am like the Lone Ranger. I’m just direct.

Having said that, nobody has said to me directly they’ve been offended by me. They haven’t told me. If I need to improve myself, I’ll do it but you have to talk to me.

I’m saying that I don’t like the mayoral appointment process. It’s a popularity contest. It’s not based on competency or skills.

Question: What is the role of a City Council person?

To create policies, collaborate on ideas and vision of how we want to see things brought to light. We hold the purse strings for funding as the legislative branch. A lot of ideas should come from the city administrator, then investigate and create a policy around it. I think a lot of things get stopped at his (Capell’s) door that we don’t get to see them on council. I’ve tried for years with this current leadership to get more details. They don’t provide them.

They think we’re not trusted enough. We need to demand it back. That’s why I want to be mayor to have more transparency. I’m starving for information and I got tired of asking because we don’t get it. I want good debates. I want good discussions.

We need to be able to speak up, instead we do too much withdrawing and retreating.

Question: What would you do on day one?

I would meet with staff and ask about their concerns. I would meet with citizens and do the same thing. I would reach out to former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen and Washougal Mayor Molly Coston and get their input. I would work closely with the port. I would reach out and learn from them. I don’t take elections personally. People say I’m divisive. I’m not divisive on council. I was part of a Facebook group that was very outspoken, but I was a moderator on that. I know how to handle divisive people. I’m tired of tolerating lack of administration and operations. Paul Dennis and Lloyd Halverson were our last good leaders.

The mayor at this point needs to be the focal center of a lot of communication. I know well enough what type of information needs to get out.

Question: How are you getting the word out?

I’m not going to do signs. I’m going to use media, Facebook, and other social platforms to get the word out. Website is coming. This is truly grassroots. I think I have a good chance of winning.

In response to this news, Turk said the following:

“Melissa has previously indicated her desire to be Mayor and sought appointment to the position less than a year ago. It doesn’t surprise me that she would run for the office. Melissa is a good person and I have enjoyed working with her, first as a city councilor and now in my role as Mayor. I look forward to discussing the issues with both write-in candidates in the short time remaining before the election.”

Turk also said she’s open to debating Smith and the other write-in candidate, Barry McDonnell.

“Yes. I had mentioned that I had a write-in at the Camas youth advisory council meeting when they were discussing the upcoming candidate forum (date is the last two weeks of October, not firm yet) and they added the mayor position to the lineup.”

To learn more about Smith, read this article: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2018/11/camas-mayor-candidate-smith-makes-full-time-leadership-commitment.html

The City of Camas released this operations analysis for the Community Aquatics Center, known as Proposition 2, which is coming up on this election season’s ballot.

The City of Camas has been working with Ballard King & Associates, a recognized recreation consulting firm, to project potential operational costs, revenue, and a fee structure for the proposed Community Aquatics Facility. 

The consultant created a basic operations analysis for a facility that is approximately 78,000 square feet and includes a recreation pool, lap pool, gym, track, two group exercise rooms, weight/cardio area, community room, and child watch area.

The figures used to calculate the operations analysis are projected estimates for 2022, based on community center/aquatic center facilities that are similar in size and scope. Certain costs, including those for facility user fees and programs, will be subject to the discretion and approval of the Camas City Council and will have a direct impact on the operational budget summary listed below.

Operations Analysis Assumptions:

  • The first year of operations will be late 2022 or later. The budget represents the second full year of operation.
  • The operations plan includes a basic assessment of staffing needs and rate of compensation for full-time and part-time staff.  Revenues are based on a general fee structure only with an aggressive rate of utilization/sales.   
  • The minimum wage in Washington will be at least $14.32 an hour in 2022.   
  • This operational budget represents the full anticipated expenses and revenues for the center.
  • The center will be operated by the City of Camas. 
  • This operations estimate is based on a basic program and concept plan for the facility only.  This operations plan will need to be updated once a final concept design has been developed. 
  • The center will be open seven days a week for a total of at least 105 hours a week.  
  • Indirect city overhead costs have been figured at 18% of total operating costs.          

Notes About the Information

Interior of proposed pool.
  • Indirect costs of $476,473 are those services provided by the City such as human resources and financial services. The facility would benefit by sharing existing resources. 
  • Admission revenue assumes non-city residents paying 25% more.
  • Annual Passes equal 10% of the households in the service area.

Operational Budget Summary

Expenses:         $3,123,542 

Revenues:         $2,280,047         

Difference:         ($843,496)

Recovery %:        73%

Note: The City currently provides recreational services with a budget of approximately $400,000 per year with revenue of $84,000 in 2018. The Camas outdoor pool was subsidized about $100,000. Combined, these could help offset the operational deficit, bringing the difference down to approximately $343,500.

To learn more, visit http://www.camascommunityaquaticscenter.com

Frustrated with Proposition 2, the demolition of Crown Park Pool, and the overall direction of city leadership, Barry McDonnell, 41, a newcomer to politics, is officially a write-in candidate for Camas Mayor.

With his write-in paperwork with Clark County just confirmed, McDonnell, who works in Loss Prevention for Sephora, admits it’s a long shot bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Shannon Turk but feels this is a worthy endeavor.

“Three or four weeks ago it popped into my head and I knew this was something I would be doing,” said McDonnell. “I was talking about the community with Anastasia (his wife), and felt this is something I could do. I want to protect Camas.”

Protect Camas from what?

“The reason we moved to Camas three-and-a-half years ago is because we were looking for a place to settle down,” he said. “We were so excited and we feel so lucky to have found it. But now we are seeing a lot of changes. There’s been frustration with those changes and the way communication works between the city and its citizens. There’s an opportunity here to change this.”

Top three reasons he’s running:

1) Bring transparency to city government.

2) Be fiscally responsible for taxpayer’s money — “I think when we ask for money we just have the base level of the project be more clear. They should have their details more pronounced.”

3) He wants to be a voice for the people.

McDonnell said his view about Camas leadership started with the Crown Park pool process and the ensuing demolition.

“I wanted to protect it and understand it,” he said. “The process didn’t feel right — I felt like there was another agenda. I look at the amount of time we pulled together as citizens and the research we did, and how we shared that information. But, when we attended the city council meetings it felt frustrating that we didn’t get any responses in those meetings. Randy Curtis (the City of Camas Parks and Rec Board Chair) told my wife in conversation during a P&R meeting that in closing the Crown Park Pool, they were hoping it would create a sense of urgency and enthusiasm in the public for a new community aquatic center. In our family, and our community of friends, it’s served to do just the opposite.”

McDonnell said the city rushed to build the community center outlined in Proposition 2.

“Looking at the big picture they’ve been trying to get a new pool for 18 years,” he said. “They’ve spent so much money trying to build a new pool, and we’re not any closer to it. It’s somewhat embarrassing. Between demolition costs and all their research I think we’ve spent $687,000, and that shows we’re not being very efficient. I still don’t think we’re any further getting the community a new pool.”

The projected cost of Proposition 2 is part of what is driving his candidacy.

What does he thinks the community wants?

“We want a pool,” he said. “We all agree on that. The location and the price tag of Proposition 2 are red flags. If we change the structure I can find out what the community wants. Then we can change the way the city interacts with the people.”

How would he change the structure?

“First, change the formats of the city council meetings,” he said. “Be more interactive with the people in the council chambers. Explain why we’re going in a certain direction. For example, Proposition 2 doesn’t make sense to me. There’s a lot of public frustration. I don’t know where the vote is going to go. If it passes you go with that, but I feel like the city has lost its way.”

“I think there’s a lot of different things that happen. As mayor I would hold myself accountable to the people. I would encourage participation. It’s about bringing people together to formulate the ideas and have them bubble up from the people.”

If elected, McDonnell would start by getting a feel for what the people are looking for. Then he would get to know and understand city staff, understand the expectations, and take the time away from his family to be successful in the job.

Aware of the demands and responsibilities, he said his experience in Loss Prevention is a great asset because it helps to evaluate stressful situations and find the best solutions.

He knows that change is inevitable, and he sees the growing frustration in city limits about trees being removed, along with crammed and poorly designed housing developments — but how would he navigate the Growth Management Act?

“We know the GMA is a big obstacle, it is something my wife and I have looked into, and honestly, been overwhelmed by. The overarching theme of our campaign is to have a community driven focus for the future, and there are many things that I would need to call on our community members to help us, as a city, navigate and challenge together. I’ve heard from folks about how the neighbors in Sunningdale Gardens studied these laws and went to bat to challenge the developers. They were able to get more green spaces and parks than were originally planned, and I think that’s great and it’s important to me that we live in a city where both our government and the people are on the same page when it comes to being willing to challenge and have high expectations of developers who work in Camas.”

Creating a 30-year vision

“I will work with the community to help put that vision together. I don’t have all the answers. Working with them the vision will come forth. Listening is being a leader. Have a discussion. Understand what the situation is. The community is the one trying to create a vision.”

What’s his vision for North Shore?

“I couldn’t tell you. I’ll assess the situation. We’ll figure it out — at the end of the day we would like a pool. I would like to understand what all the options are. I don’t really know. I’m not going to have all the answers. My skill set is in helping identify the direction we’re going to take, and make sure there are check-in’s all the way.”

McDonnell insists he isn’t funded by any large or small interest group.

“I have a 30-day campaign,” he said. “It’s a last minute kind of thing. It’s just friends and ourselves. We’ve had a few people donate.”

Learn more at www.writeinbarryforcamas.com where he also has a podcast discussing this journey. He is hosting a candidate Meet and Greet at Crown Park this Sunday from 2-4 pm.

Originally from Ireland, he, Anastasia, and their four children have lived in Atlanta, Florida, Colorado, and Camas. He has the support of his whole family.

Is he opening to debating Mayor Turk?

“I’d be open to a debate with Mayor Turk,” he said. “I think it would be healthy.”

This is the statement issued this evening by Vancouver Police:

On October 3, 2019, at approximately 2:09 pm, Vancouver Police responded to a call of a shooting at 515 Washington Street (Smith Tower Apartments). When officers arrived, they located three victims in the lobby of the apartment building suffering from gunshot wounds. Two female victims were transported to area hospitals for medical treatment and one male victim was deceased.

Officers determined the suspect, Robert E. Breck, 80, a resident of the building, was inside his apartment, refusing to come out. Verbal communication was established with the suspect by officers from the crisis negotiation team while other officers and SWAT members evacuated residents. At approximately 4:45 p.m. the suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Robert E. Breck was booked into the Clark County Jail on one count of Murder I. and two counts of Attempted Murder I.

All residents have been given the clearance to return to their apartments.

The investigation is continuing and nothing further will be released at this time.

Washougal High School Advanced Culinary students were put to the test on September 26 when they created and served a special lunch entrée for students and faculty. 

In addition to preparing ingredients and cooking the meal, students were asked to market the lunch special using posters, Instagram, announcements, and Twitter. 

“This was the first time for many of the students to participate in this type of activity,” said Brenda Hitchins, WHS Culinary Arts teacher.  “They applied organizational skills, teamwork, sanitation, time management, cooking methods, presentation, and making sure everything was cleaned up at the end.”

The lunch offer was “Pasta Pronto” and featured penne pasta with either marinara or alfredo sauces and a choice of other delicious additions such as red onions, sliced olives, fresh spinach, and sausage.

“Culinary students sautés the ingredients, toss in penne pasta, and finish with their choice of sauce,” Hitchins said. “It takes teamwork and coordination as they pass the pan down the line for each step.  The dish is finished and placed in paper boat and topped with a whole wheat breadstick.  Students can add parmesan cheese and chili pepper flakes if they choose.”   

Regular school lunch pricing applied.

“Lunch numbers have been low, so we partnered with Mark Jasper of Sodexo to put on this event,” said Hitchins.  “We had a goal to serve more than 230 lunches and we brought the number up to 208.” 

“This lunch project was a great opportunity for students to apply what they are learning in class to a real-world situation,” said Margaret Rice, WSD Career and Technical Education Director.  “The experience gave them the chance to serve peers, practice what they know and assess how it went so they can improve upon their skills. We hope this is the first of many opportunities like this.” 


Students were required to first complete “Introduction to Culinary” and “Baking and Pastry” classes to enroll in “Advanced Culinary I and II”.  

“Our biggest challenge is setting up the stations and get the food ready before the event,” Hitchins said. “Students are giving up their lunch time to participate in these school lunches as well as their part of their fourth period class to help breakdown and clean.” 

Hitchins believes participation in these type of events builds student self-esteem and confidence.

“Our goal this year is to teach them how to quantify what skills they have so they are able to present this information on different platforms such as a resume, job interview, and volunteer service,” she said. “Some students struggle to be at school.  My goal for this class is not only that they are learning a life skill, but they are finding a reason to want to come to school and participate.” 

Moving forward, students will work more with Jasper and Sodexo in creating other lunch offerings.  They will forecast ingredients needed, do complete station set up, food prepping and all while meeting the school lunch program standards. 

“Students will run the event and learn about planning, how to make sure they are prepared, delegating duties to others, and reflecting on the event so they think about their learning and assess their performance objectives to see how they have grown,” said Hitchins.

For a related story, click here: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2018/06/under-pressure-washougal-high-students-show-off-culinary-skills.html

Vancouver, Wash. — In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month in October, Vancouver Police Department personnel will be wearing purple ribbon lapel pins to show their support of domestic violence victims and raise awareness about domestic, spousal, and teen dating violence.  The department has also outfitted a vehicle with a purple police logo which will be driven to community events and presentations where officers will be providing information on domestic violence, the danger signs of this crime and resources for victims.

Throughout the month, the department will also be posting information, statistics, tips and resources regarding domestic violence on the department website (www.vanpolice.org) and social media (https://twitter.com/VancouverPDUSAhttps://www.facebook.com/VancouverPoliceUSA/)  to further increase awareness around this important issue.

Domestic violence affects millions of men and women of every race, age, religion, culture and status. Domestic violence is not just physical violence; it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. Since the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law in 1994, over $7 billion in federal grants have been sent to state and local governments to facilitate programs that prevent domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence. The Vancouver Police Department has been the recipient of multiple grants related to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and police response and investigation of these crimes.   

Statistics around domestic violence:

  • On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines
  • 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year and 90% of those are witnesses
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 14 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner
  • 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon
  • 1 in 3 high school students experience either physical or sexual violence, or both by someone they are dating
  • More than half of women (69.5%) and men (53.6%) who have been physically or sexually abused or stalked by a dating partner, first experienced abuse between the ages of 11-24
Domestic Violence

For additional information and resources, visit the Vancouver Police Department Domestic Violence page at: https://www.cityofvancouver.us/police/page/domestic-violence

If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, or call the local hotline at the YWCA Safe Choice (360)-695-0501, the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-562-6025 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

I live just outside the City of Camas in rural Clark County, but if I were in the city, I’d be voting no on the proposed $78 million city owned swimming pool. It’s not government’s role to build recreational aquatic centers that unfairly compete with the private sector. $78 million for a community pool? (Editor’s Note: the total bond is asking for $78 million; the estimated pool build cost is $37 million). That’s outrageous! Residents are already overtaxed today between local levies for fire districts, local school levies and bonds, libraries, and enormous never-before-seen gigantic property tax hikes passed by the Washington State Legislature to fund massive public education increases. Where does it end? Most people are fed up with their property tax bill as it is.

Furthermore, imagine how much it will cost annually to maintain and operate a $78 million recreational pool! Where is that money going to come from? Don’t forget about all those new government workers that will also be needed to operate the facility. They come with huge legacy costs, not just new salaries, but new pensions and new benefit costs that taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for.

If the recreational aquatics center is such a brilliant idea, why aren’t private sector businesses clamoring to get in on this business model?

Instead of building extravagant public swimming pools that most citizens cannot afford, I recommend city leaders focus on attracting more family wage jobs to our industrial areas so that more residents can work where they live. In doing so, more industries will help shoulder the property tax burden now crushing many of our working families. More good jobs in Camas will also reduce commuter traffic on SR 14 and across the river into Oregon. City leaders would also be wise to prioritize improving transportation congestion within the city to manage the choke points resulting from the thousands of new houses they keep approving! Quality of life in and around Camas is diminishing from traffic problems at peak times.

Camas has been a beautiful place to live for many generations of working class families. With recent actions, it almost appears as if City leaders want to relegate Camas forever as an overpriced bedroom community where only the wealthiest families can afford to live. There’s an election coming up. City taxpayers should pay attention to those on the ballot that continue to advocate for higher spending as opposed to those who insist Camas live within its means.

Pike is a three-term Washington State Representative.

Past article about this bond measure: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2019/07/camas-takes-community-aquatics-center-design-sports-field-renovations-to-next-step.html

The Camas website regarding Proposition 2 is www.camascommunityaquaticscenter.com

It was standing room only at Thursday’s annual Camas State of the Community at Lacamas Lake Lodge, which featured addresses from Port of Camas Washougal Director Dave Ripp, City of Camas Mayor Shannon Turk, and Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell.

Camas School District School Board President, Doug Quinn, served as Master of Ceremonies while the Camas School Orchestra (Rose Hinchliff, Ireland McGree, and Luke Martinez) performed the prelude music and Autumn Sterle sang the National Anthem.

State of the Port of Camas Washougal

At the onset of his address, Ripp said the Port receives income from three sources: 1) Grove Field airport ($153,837 net); 2) The CW Marina ($417,859 net); and 3) Property/commerce center leases ($1,660,988 net).

Ripp then discussed the Port’s work on the Washougal waterfront development.

“We’ve been working on this since 2010,” said Ripp. “The site was originally a lumber mill, which closed down. We wanted to do something that enhances what’s there and have the public enjoy it.”

He explained obtaining the site was possible through a grant, which has two phases: 1) Cleanup; and 2) Planning. In 2014, the Port did the full cleanup, and in 2015, they built the park and trail, and purchased the remaining portion of the Killian site. Once the trail was finished, they looked at master planning, hired an outside firm, and then presented the public with three options, all of which include public access to the waterfront.

Master plan at Washougal Waterfront.

“In 2021 we want to put a shovel in the ground to get it moving,” said Ripp. “On June 7, the natural play area was opened to the public on June 7. This is our crown jewel of waterfront trail park.”

Ripp then explained the growth and success of the Steigerwald Commerce Center, which received $3 million in grants allowing the Port to double the building’s size. Six businesses are presently there, and the center is operating at 100 percent occupancy. They are now looking at Building 19, a 27,000 square foot facility purchased this year.

The new roundabouts are very helpful with business trade at the Commerce Center, said Ripp, though he acknowledges neighbor frustration.

State of the City of Camas

In her first State of the Community address, Mayor Shannon Turk spoke about four topics:

  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Economic development
  • Recreation opportunities
  • Communication

“The infrastructure improvements that we will be working on this year enhance safety and traffic flow on our roads and ensure the availability of clean water.”

Significant improvements will be made on Brady Road from 16th Avenue to Pacific Rim Boulevard, which include the following:

  • Widening the roadway
  • Addition of bike lanes
  • Street lighting and landscaping
  • Center turn lane/median
  • Utility work begins this fall thru winter
  • Final work/paving — late summer 2020

A two-million-gallon reservoir will be built at NW 18th and Tidland to help the city maintain its commitment to providing clean, quality water to all areas of the city.

Turk also provided an update on the Lake/Everett Road roundabout, scheduled for construction from 2020 to 2021, and showed a fly-over traffic simulation, as seen here: https://youtu.be/iFlQ51XrSyM

The North shore subarea plan (the area north of Lacamas Lake) furthers the vision of our city leaders in the 1980s, she said, and is “setting up our city for the next three to four decades.” The area contains 800 acres of land, of which 160 acres is owned by the city for legacy land open spaces and land preservation (along the north shore).

The North Shore plan creates new developments including homes, shops, and master planned commercial development.

“It shows where we need to invest,” said Turk. “Visit www.camasnorthshore.com, where you can learn more or provide input by taking a survey.”

During the next portion of her talk, recreation opportunities, Turk discussed the Community Aquatics Center and Sports Field bond measure. The 78,000-square-foot multi-use facility includes a recreational pool, lap/competitive pool, community spaces, multipurpose gym, locker rooms, child watch area, and many other amenities. Turk worked with Camas City Council to put this project to vote, known as Proposition 2, on the November ballot. During her presentation, she explained the need for the new facilities, cited decades-long support for the project, and encouraged all Camas residents to continue to provide input on the design, location, and features of the project, which will continue to be refined after November 5.

“This provides an opportunity for seniors to be active and socialize, as part of an aging-in-place strategy,” said Turk. “It gives our children and teens an opportunity to play sports for fun through intramural programs, increasing their activity and connecting them with friends, instead of what they hold in their hand. And it allows us to ensure that all of our children in our city know how to swim and view our community center as a destination for fun diving, instead of swinging off rope swings or jumping off rocks. This is a 78,000-square-foot facility that is designed to highlight the natural surroundings. This is our concept and it is beautiful. That does not mean that things will not be tweaked or changed, but right now this looks awesome.”


“We did put a bond on the ballot and we are asking you to pay for this,” said Turk. “There’s $72 million for the center, $37.2 million of that amount goes to building the facility itself. The rest goes to offsite and onsite improvements including parking at Heritage Park, a roundabout that will help you get in and out of Heritage Park and proposed Community Center easily. It includes a light at Lake Road and Sierra … These costs are in here.”

Turk said the ballot measure also includes $6 million in sports field renovations (new turf, fields, and lighting).

Contractors will be selected for the project through a bidding process. The city expects to receive competitive bids, which will likely come in significantly lower than the estimated $78 million price tag. Private donations could further lower the overall cost. If the final price tag of the project is indeed less, the city will reduce the projected tax rate of $1.04 per $1,000 in assessed property value, and collect fewer taxes from residents. (Any new taxes would not start until 2021.)

Moving on to the final topic her presentation, Turk explained the city’s commitment to improving city communications. She emphasized the reintroduction of council ward meetings, as well as the inclusion of more open house events, surveys, social media posts, and project mailers.

Turk also introduced Camas 101, which is an eight-class program, starting in January 2020, that includes the following:

  • Learn more about your city
  • History of Camas
  • Role of Mayor and City Council
  • How projects are determined and funded
  • What the city actually does
  • Creating a connected and engaged community — wants people to learn about local non-profits.

“We instituted ward meetings in the spring and will do more in the Fall,” said Turk.

State of Camas School District

“Our focus this year is writing our collective story,” said Snell. “You give your best into that school year with all your hopes and dreams. You take each year’s lessons and apply them to the next year. We get to shape what those stories look like. We see and serve each student. Each means each of you will get something out of this.”

He’s also pleased that Helen Baller Special Education teacher, Amy Campbell, was named as Teacher of the Year.

“We’re excited she gets a platform to advocate for special education and to represent Camas School District,” said Snell. “I can’t think of a better person to do that.”

Snell provided a review of the challenges that McCleary legislation created, the stress it placed on levies and that they will continue to work within these constraints.

“We want to inspire them to be learners,” he said. “Standardized tests are one thing, but we need to do the very best we can with our students. They will be making decisions about our community and world.”

He said the Garver Theatre is coming back online from the 2016 bond.

Read more about the last State of the Community address here: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2018/09/mayor-higgins-snell-deliver-camas-state-of-the-community-speeches.html

Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell.

Vancouver, WA —  On September 21, 2019, Vancouver, Battle Ground and Washougal Police Departments and Clark County Sheriff’s Office will have additional officers enforcing the DUI laws, in an effort to keep drunk, drugged and high drivers off the road. Officers, who are also drug recognition experts, will be among those conducting these increased DUI patrols. In addition, officers from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board will also be participating in this emphasis.

Alcohol and drug impaired driving is the leading contributing factor in Washington fatal crashes, with alcohol and cannabis being the most common combination of intoxicants. Getting behind the wheel intoxicated can mean a DUI, if you don’t plan ahead for sober transportation. As a reminder, Uber offers first time users a special coupon code for $25 toward their first trip. Sign up for the Uber coupon code RIDEHOMEVANC at https://get.uber.com/go/ridehomevanc.

Thanks to a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, law enforcement agencies in SW Washington have extra officers conducting DUI enforcement throughout the year to help keep our roadways safer.

If you are driving and see a suspected impaired driver, call 911.

For more information on the Vancouver Police Department’s commitment to DUI enforcement and DUI prevention tips, visit https://www.cityofvancouver.us/police/page/dui-enforcement


CAMAS, WA — On Thursday, September 19, leaders from the City of Camas, Camas School District and Port of Camas-Washougal will come together for their annual State of the Community event at Lacamas Lake Lodge, 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

“I encourage absolutely everyone with an interest in the future of Camas to attend State of the Community 2019,” said Mayor Shannon Turk. “Whether you live, work, or play here, I’m confident that you will leave with a new sense of all the wonderful things in store for our three organizations.”

The event will feature presentations by Port of Camas-Washougal CEO David Ripp, Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell and City of Camas Mayor Shannon Turk. To round out the City’s presentation, attendees will receive a detailed brochure that reviews the last year and relays helpful information including recent goals and accomplishments and a breakdown of Camas property taxes.

A portion of the evening will be dedicated to answering questions submitted by the public as they arrive at the lodge.

The event will be recorded and available for viewing in the weeks following the event at the City of Camas YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ33V5v1DNIF24opS3mevqg


To read about last year’s State of the Community, click here: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2018/09/mayor-higgins-snell-deliver-camas-state-of-the-community-speeches.html