RIDGEFIELD, Wash. – ilani, a premier gaming and entertainment destination in Southwest Washington, has garnered two dozen awards since opening this past April. Developed by Salishan-Mohegan LLC in collaboration with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, ilani has attracted gaming aficionados from all along the I-5 corridor and is poised to continue its streak of good luck. With a new event center slated to open in 2018, the destination will enhance its offerings with a state-of-the-art facility for hosting meetings, conventions and some of the best entertainment in the Pacific Northwest.

“Open for less than seven months, ilani has clearly made an indelible impression on the local community and our guests,” said Kara Fox-LaRose, president and general manager of ilani. “We are honored to be counted among the best casinos in the region, and we are excited about our evolving offerings.”

ilani’s premier 100,000-square-foot gaming floor has something for everyone. More than 2,500 slot machines and 75 table games include favorites like blackjack, roulette, midi baccarat, craps and pai gow poker. ilani dealers and staff are ready and willing to offer advice and guidance for new players, and the excitement of slots doesn’t end after a trip to ilani: online casino games are available via ilani’s Play4Fun Casino site.

Strictly Slots Magazine Awards and Feature

As the winner of 13 awards in the Native Northwest category from Strictly Slots Magazine, ilani will be featured in the edition published today. The reader’s choice awards are the result of national voting from April to July, with ballots cast by mail or online. ilani received eight first-place wins, including:

  • Best Overall Casino
  • Best Reel Slots
  • Best Nickel Slots
  • Best Dollar Slots
  • Casino Where You Feel Luckiest
  • Best Slot Club, Momentum
  • Best Players Club Lounge
  • Friendliest Casino

Second-place wins for ilani included Best Video Slots, Best 50-cent Slots and Best $5+ Slots. ilani came in third for Best Video Poker and Best Comps. Additionally, the editorial staff of Strictly Slots Magazine named ilani their favorite casino in the region, granting the Editor’s Choice Award for the Northwest.


“We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll…” Starship featuring Mickey Thomas comes to Muze for a free show on Saturday, November 25.

Casino Player Best of Gaming Edition Awards

Ilani recently took home 10 awards from Casino Player Magazine’s Best of Gaming edition published in September. The casino nabbed numerous 2017 Native Northwest Honors, including four first-place wins:

  • Best Casino
  • Best Players Club, Momentum
  • Best Comps
  • Best Video Poker

Second-place finishes with Casino Player Magazine included Best Hosts, Best Reel Slots and Casino Where You Feel The Luckiest. ilani ended up third in the categories of Best Promotions, Best Dealers and Best Roulette.

Finally, Casino Player Magazine’s awards come on the heels of another big win in July’s Best Bets edition. ilani was named among Best Bets: Casino Player’s Expert Picks.

About ilani 
Located on a 156-acre site in Clark County, Washington, ilani, developed by the Cowlitz Tribe and Salishan-Mohegan, a partnership that includes Mohegan Sun, one of the world’s foremost gaming and entertainment developers and operators, is the West Coast’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. With 368,000 total square feet, ilani includes 100,000-square-feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables; 15 restaurants, bars and retail outlets; and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue hosting nationally recognized performances. For more information, visit ilaniresort.com and follow ilani on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

On Thursday, Fuel Medical, a locally-owned and operated company, met at the Camas Fire station on Parker Avenue and did their part in making a child’s Christmas wish come true.

The company purchased, assembled and then donated 13 bikes to the CAROL program, which is a 50-year Camas/Washougal giving program that helps out needy families at Christmastime.
“It’s part team-building, part giving back to the community,” said Stewart Lyon, Fuel Medical’s Marketing Director. “Our entire team is here assembling bikes and we’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
The CAROL program, which is run by the Camas Fire Department receives, organizes, and distributes food, toys and other items to needy families in the Camas and Washougal communities. It’s a long-standing tradition that will help 175 families in the coming days.
Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said Fuel Medical came to him, inquiring about local needs.
“It was great to get the call,” said Higgins. “So, I pointed them to CAROL, and here we all are. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great program and it goes straight to Camas and Washougal families. It helps our people right here, and we’re excited Fuel is partnering with us on this program.”
Fuel co-founders Brendan Ford and Shawn Parker assembled a child’s bike together, with Ford blind-folded while receiving verbal instructions from Parker. The build was successful.
Fuel staff worked in teams to assemble the 13 bikes, which will be distributed to families in the coming days.
Alicia Ramsey, of the Camas Fire Department, was on-hand and was grateful for the support.

“We’re thankful for Fuel Medical, for the purchase and donation of these bikes,” she added. “It’s great to have the help.”

Ramsey said their next task was organizing the delivery boxes in preparation for this weekend.

“This is our first year participating – we’re very excited,” said Parker.
Ford was appreciative that the Camas FD allowed them to use this space to build the bikes.
“It’s been a great experience for our team and we’re happy to help,” Ford said.
  Fuel Medical
Fuel Medical team members complete a bike on Thursday.














Fuel Medical
Fuel Medical finished their bike assemblies Thursday morning and donated the bikes to the CAROL program.

Some facts about United States manufacturing:
  • Manufacturing in the United States produces $1.8 trillion of value each year, or 12.2 percent of U.S. GDP. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.1
  • The industry supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the United States—about one in six private-sector jobs. Nearly 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.2
  • In 2011, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,060 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all industries earned $60,168.3
  • Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and living standards.4
  • Manufacturers in the United States perform two-thirds of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.5
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the 10th largest economy in the world.6
  1. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2011).
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), with estimate of total employment supported by manufacturing calculated by NAM using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis(2011).
  3. Bureau of Economic Analysis (2011).
  4. NAM calculations based on data from the United Nations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the International Labour Organization.
  5. National Science Foundation (2008).
  6. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Industry Economic Accounts (2011) and International Monetary Fund (2011).

Snowbird Joe Pleckinger has taken recycling to another level.

An avid baseball fan, Pleckinger turns broken, worn out professional bats into handy must-have household items and gadgets that catch your eye. You’ll never know which major leaguer crushed it to the fences when you salt your fries, flip your burger, or cut your pizza.

Pleckinger’s shop in Arizona has become his center of innovation, as he turns bat handles into a putting iron grip, a unique spatula, or pen holder. His latest is a towel rack that is a must-have for anyone who loves baseball.

Repurposing these Louisville sluggers has become a passion for Pleckinger, who along with his wife, Carole, spends the harsh Northwest winter months in sunny, warm Arizona. That’s where he has his shop, and that’s where he’s built relationships with professional baseball teams who travel to the land of sun for Spring Training.

He’s friends with staff and players on two professional teams — the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, and he manages to collect their broken, worn out bats destined for the trash heap.

“I do this for fun,” says Pleckinger, who spends the late spring and summer months in Vancouver/Camas, where he enjoys watching his grandsons, Jake and Zach Blair, play baseball.

“It’s a hobby,” he said. “I just love creating these handy gadgets for people. I’m told how much people love to have these in their homes, so I just keep making more.”

Grandpa Joe, as some call him, continues to expand his line. He recently installed a towel rack in the Camas Little League Snack Shack, and now has a walking cane in his product line. The salt and pepper shakers, though, are fun conversation starters.

“People love the salt and pepper shakers,” said Pleckinger. “And you never know which major league baseball player swing these bats. It’s all about having a good time.”

And for those who are interested in seeing Pleckinger’s products, or would like to hear a good baseball story, are welcome to call him. He can be reached at 623-792-8740 or 360-892-8740.

You’re bound to have a good time. Play ball!


Photo by Kris Blair.

By Seth Sjostrom

Today’s economy is tough. That’s no secret. We all find ways to cinch the purse strings and do more with less. But are we doing the most with the dollars that we spend within our communities? One local organization has been created to answer that question.

Buy Vancouver is a collective of small, independent businesses that strives to educate the buying public that where and how they spend their dollars impacts their very community and local economy. The group’s premise is three-fold: locally-owned, independent businesses contribute to the unique character of the community; for every $100 spent, $45 spent with a local business remains in the community versus $15 spent at a chain; local, independent businesses create higher-paying jobs.

Mary Sisson, owner of Vancouver-based Kazoodles toy store and founder of Buy Vancouver firmly believes in the organization’s stance, “I have been promoting ‘shop local’ since we opened in 2006.” Mary developed great depth of experience in cultivating independent businesses through editing the ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) national newsletter.  Pulling together similarly minded business owners like Paper Tiger Coffee Roaster’s Kenny and Sue Fletcher and Vintage Books’ Becky Millner, Buy Vancouver was born.

“Our goal is to raise awareness among local buyers that where they shop makes a difference in their community,” Mary states. Many buyers prefer to buy American when they have the choice; in fact, they are often open to paying a premium for to do so. The same goes for supporting local shop owners, but buyers have to be aware of their options.

Early manifestations include a group effort in a coupon exchange where several businesses hand out the coupons of other local businesses. To further make connections in the minds of Vancouver shoppers, 21 businesses took part in a “Where’s Waldo” scavenger hunt. Each participating store had a hidden Waldo that children and families could seek out in celebration of Where’s Waldo’s 25thanniversary.  Those who submitted entries with a least 16 Waldos found were eligible for a drawing where the winner would receive the complete collection of the famous seek and find books. While not technically a Buy Vancouver event, it represented what the group of businesses could accomplish together.

Buy Vancouver has begun to take shape with fifteen official current members, with more adding on each week. Any Vancouver business that is locally owned, independent to the point where “they could change their name if they wanted to without running it up the corporate chain”, and is not publicly traded is eligible for membership.  A mere $25 fee used to cover marketing costs is the only dues demanded.

Buy Vancouver is looking towards the near term future, sponsoring a booth at Vancouver’s Peace and Justice Fair, September 8th. The booth represents their first public forum to espouse their call buy local message. Kenny Fletcher is impressed with the collaborative effort of the businesses involved so far, “Some groups can tend to be a bit passive. All of the members of Buy Vancouver are very active in the organization, each of us taking on a needed area. Even at the Peace and Justice booth, we are all ready to be involved. We will be bringing coffee for the booth’s staffers, at the very least.”

Beyond the Peace and Justice Fair, the group is in full growth mode, feeling membership is ready to explode as their early efforts are recognized. Putting together a comprehensive list of local independent businesses with a corresponding guide is on the docket for the immediate future as is increasing their presence in the community. A pair of related goals includes supporting calls for tax fairness for online merchants and for manufacturers to enforce minimum pricing – both things issues negatively impacting local independent businesses.

As you are wandering around Vancouver or in town for a shopping trip, take note of the circulating salmon sign in the window of local merchants denoting they are an independent purveyor and member of Buy Vancouver. As Vancouver’s neighbors struggle with the same challenges, there are surely lessons to be gleamed from banding together to support local independent businesses, the building blocks of the American dream.

About the contributor: Seth Sjostrom is a local resident and author. His thriller Blood in the Snow, is currently available and Seth releases his holiday title Finding Christmas in September. For more information on Seth or his books, visit www.wolfprintpublishing.com.

If you’re in need of a garage door repair or installation, Ponderosa is who you need to call. Check out their newest video!