VANCOUVER – Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s office announced Friday the appointment of civil lawyer Derek Vanderwood, a long-time Camas resident, to be Clark County’s newest Superior Court judge.
Vanderwood, a partner at the firm English, Lane, Marshall & Vanderwood, succeeds Judge John Nichols, who retired this month after serving 18 years on the bench.
“Derek has a long-standing reputation in Clark County for being a smart and committed lawyer,” Inslee said in a prepared statement. “I know he’s ready to take on this role and serve the people in a new capacity.”
Derek Vanderwood, of Camas.
Friday’s announcement was the culmination of a months-long process, which began last summer when Judge Nichols announced his retirement. At that time, Gov. Inslee posted a notification for application with a mid-September deadline.
Vanderwood was one of three applicants, which included Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Fairgrieve and criminal defense attorney Christopher Ramsay. Each applicant had the opportunity to present their case to the Clark County Bar Association, as well as conduct interviews with Gov. Inslee and the General Counsel.
“I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to serve,” said Vanderwood. “I’ll be wrapping up matters at my practice, which will take some time. I’ll likely start serving in this new position in late February.”
Vanderwood has been practicing law in Washington state since 1994, and has lived in Clark County since 1996. At his Vancouver firm, he focuses on injury claims, civil litigation, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and consumer safety cases.
One of his highest profile cases involved a suit against Hyundai for defective seats in which the jury awarded the plaintiff, Jesse Magna, $8 million. Vanderwood and firm partner, Dennis Lane, represented Magna, who was ejected from the vehicle during a late 90s automobile accident. The award was appealed to the state’s highest court, and was ultimately upheld.
Vanderwood, who is originally from Grand Junction, Colo., is married to Allison Teuscher Vanderwood, who grew up in Clark County. They have five children – four sons and one daughter – who have all attended Camas public schools.
Service to community is part of Vanderwood’s life, as he has been serving as a Bishop (an ecclesiastical leader) for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Camas since 2012. The voluntary, non-paid position requires many hours each week dedicated to serving church members and local residents. He also volunteers his time serving the community at large in other capacities, such as being a parent volunteer at Camas Little League, among other organizations.
Vanderwood’s supporters say, “He follows the letter of the law, and is very much into respecting individual privacy rights.”
“In the Washington judicial system there are two trial courts: District and Superior,” said Vanderwood. “Superior is the higher court and the distinction is in size and ramification. The Superior Court works with more serious criminal cases, as well as large financial claims. Over time I will be working on a mix of family, criminal, civil, and juvenile cases, and that can change with rotations.”
While Vanderwood has primarily focused on his law practice, he said he’s been drawn to serving on the bench in recent years, and looks forward to the opportunity.
He will need to run for election in November 2015. Each Superior Court judicial term is four years.

OLYMPIA, WA — Eighteenth District Representative Liz Pike has been appointed to serve on the House Local Government Committee.  The committee considers issues relating to the operations and financing of counties, cities, and some special districts. It also considers issues relating to the Growth Management Act and land use issues such as local permitting and the subdivision of property.

Pike, who served on the Camas City Council from 2003 to 2007, says the new committee assignment is a good fit that will allow her to utilize her past experience in city government.

Liz Pike
Lacamas Magazine Archived Photo: Rep. Liz Pike at the 2012 Clark County
GOP Convention at the Hilton in downtown Vancouver.

“During my time on the city council, I learned about municipal budgeting, ordinances, land-use policies and the Growth Management Act, as well as many other issues involving local government. I’ve walked in the shoes of the local elected officials and I know the challenges they face and the services expected from local government by the public,” said Pike, R-Camas. “I have six small cities just within my legislative district, so I’m looking forward to helping them, their constituents, and other local governments across the state.”

Pike said one of her priorities will be restoration of the Public Works Assistance Account, which makes low- and no-interest loans to cities and utilities to finance water, sewer and street projects. Last year, the Legislature used the money, $354 million, to help balance the state operating budget. As a result, no loans were issued. Pike said those monies are vital to local governments to provide funding for needed infrastructure. The sweeping of those funds was one of the reasons Pike voted last year against the operating budget proposal.

“I’ll also be working to limit unfunded mandates to our cities and counties that are working with limited budget authority. If we could reduce some of the financial burdens on our local governments, it would increase delivery of services to those communities and help our citizens immensely,” she added. “That’s the direction of change I hope to make with this new committee assignment.”

CAMAS, WA — The Lacamas Heights Elementary community invites all members of the Camas community to help celebrate their 50th Anniversary with two special events on January 17.

At 2:30 pm, staff and students will host a school-wide assembly where guest speakers will share memories from their years at Lacamas with staff and students; additionally, current students will share a special presentation reflecting back on the great history of Lacamas Heights.

All who attend will be treated to a sneak peak at a movie short titled “The Lacamas Story.” This will be an opportunity to provide today’s students with a glimpse of what has made Lacamas the school that it is today.

For the second event, all former students, teachers, and staff are invited to a Celebration Reception, which begins at 5:30 pm. This will be a time to tour the school, reminisce with former students and staff, reconnect, and celebrate the impact that Lacamas has had over the past 50 years.

There will be pictures, memorabilia, birthday cake, and the premier of our short film, “The Lacamas Story,” but most importantly, there will be teachers, administrators, staff, and students who called Lacamas Heights Elementary School their school from 1963-2014. This is an exciting opportunity to reconnect Lacamas alumni, and organizers hope community members will help to spread the word about this special day.

Lacamas Heights Elementary, in Camas, to celebrate 50th anniversary.



Residents, businesses, churches and students had trowels in hand this Sunday scurrying around the streets of downtown Camas. Pushing wheelbarrows, installing hoses, planting flowers and pulling weeds never looked so fun and community oriented. Hosted by the Downtown Camas Association (DCA), Journey Church and the members of the National Honor Society at Liberty Middle School, families and business leaders took over the streets and sidewalks early Sunday afternoon.

Downtown Camas
Several volunteers gathered at Downtown Camas to beautify the area.
Camas Improvements
Children receive instruction on how to set plants into the flower beds.
Bead Paradise, Focus Designs, A.L. Insurance, Navidi’s and Journey Church were among the local shops in on the action. Lacamas Magazine and Kids Ink NW dropped their cameras and tablets to get in on the dirty fun too. Tony Dangerfield led a contingent of Liberty Middle School National Honor Society Members on the beautification day.
The end result…lovely and quaint downtown Camas is even lovelier today.
Landscaping Downtown
Hard at work.


If you ask a student at Grass Valley what makes their school special, they’ll tell you that Grass Valley is a Green School!  First grade teacher Julie Della Valle is the leader who makes this happen, and Clark County Environmental Services agrees. The organization will honor Mrs. Della Valle with the “Make Every Day Earth Day” award at a ceremony on April 12.

Della Valle has initiated and managed many activities designed to get students and adults focused on the environment.  Most noteworthy of these are: the Eco Officers Club, a school-wide Earth Day celebration, and the accomplishment of being a Level II Washington Green School.

Having the Eco Officers club ensures the school’s green efforts start with kids.  Mrs. Della Valle hosts weekly meetings and guides students in their efforts to reduce Grass Valley’s trash output and maximize recycling potential.  The kids assess each classroom’s effectiveness in recycling through trash audits and award them for their efforts.  Eco Officers teach their peers how to decrease trash production and increase their recycling and reusing habits.

“What we have found is that the adults in our building and parents at home are learning right along with the kids,” commented Grass Valley Principal Patricia Erdmann.


Earth Day
Julia Della Valle teaches at Grass Valley Elementary in Camas.


For the past two years, the Eco Officers have contributed to the Washington Green School Summit.  The efforts of Eco Officers and their leader have spilled over into other Green Team activities, such as the SOS (Save Our Scraps) program in the cafeteria.

A great example of the community coming together in this recycling effort is the Bottle Cap Drive that Della Valle brought to Grass Valley.  In cooperation with a local business, Grass Valley students are collecting thousands of threaded bottle caps that would otherwise end up in landfills.  The Eco Officers spend hours collecting and sorting the bottle caps (which are recyclable, but need to be separated from the plastic bottles) to help with this effort. Once again, the grownups in these children’s lives have become caught up in the tide of this effort and are eagerly participating.

For the past seven years, Julie Della Valle has organized an annual, school-wide Earth Day celebration.  She involves every single student and staff member in the celebration along with many parents.  Each year students design and make their own Earth Day flag to decorate the school.  They also host a school-wide garden cleanup to help recognize the day and to beautify the school grounds.  Additionally, Della Valle created a walking field guide for nearby wetlands and park areas identifying many local species students can find along the way. Many classes have taken advantage of this resource to explore the native plants and animals in the area around the school.  This opportunity is something that all Grass Valley zebras look forward to every year.

Beyond Earth Day, Mrs. Della Valle maintains native perennial plantings in the school garden and composts in her classroom.

In 2012, Mrs. Della Valle led the way for Grass Valley Elementary to achieve Level II Washington Green School status.  Reaching Level II acknowledges that they sustained our goals to reduce trash and recycle, and are now making strides to conserve energy throughout the building.

Students and staff members at Grass Valley Elementary are proud of their accomplishments in conservation and stewardship of the local environment and recognize that Julie Della Valle has been the catalyst in these efforts. Her commitment to the environment and the passion for sharing her knowledge empower the children to ensure a green future. Thanks to her determination and enthusiasm the entire Grass Valley community is making our world a better place.

Content provided by Camas School District.


Camas Senior Tucker Boyd is organizing
a fun track fitness camp for elementary-aged
kids (K-5).

Camas High School senior Tucker Boyd is excited about a project he’s been working on: the Future Papermaker Fitness Camp, to be held from April 1-April 5 at Helen Baller Elementary School.

For Boyd, this is his Senior Project, which is something all CHS seniors are required to do for graduation. But it’s more than that.
Boyd has had a successful track career at CHS and dominates most meets in the 800m and 1600m runs. He’s made a name for himself, to be sure.
So he thought it would be a good idea to teach young kids about a sport that he thoroughly enjoys.

He designed a fitness camp for elementary-aged youth wherein they’ll learn the fundamentals of track.

“The events will be spread across several days,” Boyd said. “They’ll learn a lot about running, as well as safety and nutrition.”

Boyd is coordinating the effort and has recruited volunteers to assist in the camp.
“We’ll start off with a daily warm-up routine,” Boyd said. “We’ll help with techniques and teach them the proper fundamentals. It’ll be fun.”
The camp will train on the following:
  • 100m
  • 200m
  • Softball throw
  • Standing long jump
  • 800m
 At the end of the camp, the participants will receive certificates of completion, as well as ribbons for placement in each event.
The cost of the camp is $25 and it runs from April 1-April 5 from 1-3 pm at Helen Baller Elementary. The program is for K-5 students.

To sign up for the event, fill out the attached registration form and send it in. For questions, refer to the email on the form.

The proceeds from the camp will be turned over to the CHS Track and Field program to help with increasing transportation costs.

“Camas Track and Field has grown in popularity,” Boyd said. “So our transportation costs to away meets has gone up. This money will help with that.”
Boyd presented his plan to the Senior Project Board and it was approved in early December. He’s recruited people to help market the camp and is looking forward to running the event.

Jaime HerreraOn Thursday, U.S. Representative (WA-3) Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would transfer Pearson Air Museum and the surrounding seven acres of land from National Park Service control to the City of Vancouver.  The bill would allow the City of Vancouver to restore its partnership with the Ft. Vancouver National Trust, and once again make Pearson Air Museum fully accessible and open to the local community.

“For years, Fort Vancouver was the shining example of a local community benefitting from a successful public-private management,” said Herrera Beutler.  “Forcing this change through congressional action was not my first choice.  I am still hopeful that the National Park Service will work out a solution with the City and the Trust, and I will continue to do whatever I can to facilitate a compromise.  However, if compromise fails, the Park Service needs to know a legislative fix is moving forward.”

The bill uses a “land conveyance” procedure to permanently transfer control of seven acres of land recognized as the Pearson Air Museum Complex from the National Park Service to the City of Vancouver.

The Fort Vancouver Trust quickly moved out of museum last week after the two entities failed to reach an operating agreement.

The Save Pearson Air Museum movement continues as supporters work with local and federal officials to push back against last week’s abrupt closure of the beloved facility.

Just over a week ago, after 18 months of failed negotiations, the National Park Service (NPS), which owns the Pearson Air Museum property, gave museum operators (Fort Vancouver National Trust) just a few days to vacate the premises. At issue is control of how the trust operates and coordinates with event organizers. The NPS wants to exert more control of day-to-day operations.

The trust has continually shown a profit for several years and has turned the Pearson Air Museum into a popular attraction, with 45 additional events slated over the next six months.

According to her office, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler will introduce legislation this week that would turn control of Pearson Air Museum and surrounding land to the city of Vancouver.

It’s exactly what supporters like James Beckelhiemer have been hoping for.

“This museum really belongs to the people of Vancouver,” said Beckelhiemer. “The NPS, or the federal government, really shouldn’t have ownership.”

Herrera Beutler’s decision to pursue a legislative fix is happening alongside local efforts to overturn the NPS decision.

On Monday, the Vancouver City Council reassured concerned residents that they were working hard to overturn the NPS move.

The Fort Vancouver National Trust, which had been operating the museum on behalf of the city, removed belongings from facility.

“These planes and other property belong to many different people,” said Beckelhiemer. “Many were on loan to the museum, and they wanted to make sure their property was accounted for.”

NPS had thought the pieces would remain.

City Manager Eric Holmes wants to get the museum up and running as soon as possible.

“We are wanting to make sure we pursue any and all avenues,” Holmes said Tuesday. He said Herrera Beutler’s legislative fix “may be one way to get there, but I’m not ready to say it’s the only way.”

Holmes said on February 8 he spoke with staff members from the offices of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Herrera Beutler.

Cantwell spoke with NPS Service Director John Jarvis and urged him to find a solution.

Tracy Fortmann, superintendent of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, who ordered the closure, said that she was not aware of any pending legislation, and declined further comment.

Herrera Beutler’s office plans to announce details of the pending legislation in the coming days.

The Pearson Air Museum has been vacant for more than a week.


Pearson Air Museum
The Pearson Air Museum land is owned by the National Park Service, a
federal entity, but has been operated by the Fort Vancouver National Trust,
on behalf of Vancouver, for many years.
Pearson Air Museum Protestors
Pearson Air Museum supporters continue to mount pressure on local
and federal officials to overturn the NPS decision.

Earlier this week, the National Park Service (NPS) abruptly closed the Pearson Air Museum after months of negotiation failed to produce a new agreement between museum operators and the NPS.

As Pearson Air Museum operators and supporters cry foul, local politicians are speedily working to draft legislation to address several key issues involved in this debate.

On Saturday, dozens gathered at the museum and surrounding areas to protest the actions of the NPS. Former Mayor Royce Pollard and State Representative Liz Pike attended.

“We are protesting many things,” said one protestor. “They just can’t close it and move things out as quickly as they did. This is a public entity. We need to have our say.”

To learn more, visit


By Seth Sjostrom

More than 4,000 participants tested their physical and mental toughness Saturday at the Pacific Northwest’s first Spartan Race held in Washougal. The Washougal Motocross track formed the ideal setting for the mud-obstacle course with its hilly landscape and winding trails.
The Spartan Race crew set up a course encompassing four arduous miles, twenty muscle ripping obstacles, and gobs of thick mud. Sound like fun? As a participant, I can tell you it was!

A strange thing happened as I arrived at the park. A feeling washed over me reminiscent of stepping on the baseball field before the first pitch (a long, long time ago) – my chest felt tight, a pit welled up in my stomach, a mild anxiety took root through my veins. For whatever reason, I was nervous. To be clear, I wasn’t entirely sure why. A fellow racer nearby echoed the sentiment. As did another.

When the DJ tossed out the smoke bomb and a staffer dressed in full Spartan garb took the mic, we knew it was time, nervous or not we were about to launch. “Who are you?” the Spartan asked. The racers chorused the response “I am Spartan!” No looking back, we were off.

The first ¼ mile of the race was a long, winding ascent. As more of a hiker than a runner, I endured a string of fleet-footed racers streaking by me. Working our way up the course, I was actually glad to see the first obstacle – a rib-high wall to vault over – we were entering the meat of the course.

Another wall and uphill climb later, we faced our second challenge. A series of heavy cement blocks were strung through pulleys. One by one, the Spartans hoisted the blocks in the air. As mine hovered at the peak of its line, a drill-sergeantesque voice called out, “If you drop my weight, you’ll owe me thirty burpees!” I gingerly let my block lower to the ground, it actually lifting me momentarily off my feet. A burpee, the Spartan Race penalty for a failed task, is a military derived exercise involving a squat which lays into a push-up and ends in a jump-squat (more or less). On this trail, you did not want to exhaust yourself with burpees.

The next challenge had us climbing up and over a high wall, slipping under a wall with a small gap at the bottom and through a windowed wall. This would be repeated three times before we were sent on our way to face another challenge. A pile of sandbags stacked at the ready, we were to hoist the 40lbs over our shoulders and march them up a circuit and back. At this point, the challenges seemed to regulate the athletes. While I am sure a few studs (and studettes) continued their dominance, most of the group I had started with seemed to be generally clustered. Pure speed was not the answer, neither was strength, or endurance. Somehow, the mix that the Spartan race had unfolded tested the whole of the participant and it began to become clear that it was so much more about digging deep and soldiering on than its pure physical elements.
While there had been sections of mud to either run or crawl through, the series of mud pools we encountered next added an entirely different muddy component to the course. I found the neck-deep pools to be quite refreshing after the sandbag exercise, though I did find I had to stop and squeeze empty a pocket full of water an – unusual feature of my hiking trousers.

Sufficiently introduced to the mud, we met a section that would up the ante considerably. A seemingly endless line of undulating hills were completely laced with barbed-wire hovering a scarce ten inches off of the ground. On our bellies, we slithered through the mud army-crawl style through the sea of hills. Adding to our enjoyment was a pair of the Spartan crew spraying us and the course sadistically with a fire hose. With the crest of each hill, I would hear fellow participants groan as they were met with yet more wire-covered knolls. Elbows and knees dug in, they would set back to work, determined to drive their way through to completion.

Pushing beyond the barbed wire sea, we found ourselves confronted by a series of 9 foot walls. Some had enough room to offer a running start; a few were at the very top of a hill, thwarting any such launching opportunities. Here is where I fully realized another key about the Spartan Race. Along with the physical and mental test to oneself was the camaraderie and common goal of your fellow Spartans. To be honest, when I was first told of the race, I envisioned a testosterone-fueled ego fest. What I found, instead, was a community of encouragement. The race was one of completion, for you and those around you. Time trials and ego were nowhere in mind, replaced by the joy of the test and supporting those that chose to be tested alongside you. Who knew that while climbing over a wall and stopping to help others over that same wall, while entirely caked with mud and sweat, I would find a message endearing and profound.

Pushing on with renewed vigor, I tackled the next weighty challenge. Our task was to drag a heavy cement block tethered to a steel chain around an uphill circuit and back. As I was lugging my shackle up the slope, I felt for some of my fellow Spartans. This was one of the more physically demanding tasks that the course was to offer. As I and a few of my fellow Spartans returned to the pen which housed the blocks, we drug them a little further to set up the next Spartan so that they didn’t have to fight the weight over the edge of the corral.

We were warned about the next piece. “We are opposed to broken necks!” the MC declared before we had started. As we crested a hill, found ourselves at the precipice of a giant slip and slide fed by large fire hoses. With one well-timed leap, I was hurtling down the slope. I think most Spartans sat carefully down on the slide, I reasoned this as the crew member monitoring the section laughed hysterically at my abrupt landing and lightning-paced descent into the murky pool below. Bruised backside aside, I made impressive time!
Saturday’s Spartan Race at the Washougal Motocross track.





As we rounded the next bend, we were met by the most impressive obstacle yet – a daunting hill climb latticed in barbed wire. Once more in the army crawl position, we pushed along on our bellies fighting a deep layer of mud, gravity and thousands of barbs tearing at our backs. This ascent coaxed the most groans, stalls and contemplation from racers to bail out and accept the punishment of burpees. If any voiced their concern, a steward would promptly warn the penalty had raised to sixty burpees. Stacked tight under the daunting barbed wire, we urged each other on. If someone faltered and began to slide, we would catch their foot or grab a hand and pull them along or stabilize them. Gutting it out, the procession pushed ahead. As we reached the final stretch, the slope steepened. Mud soaked ropes lined the bank offering our exit strategy. Hand over hand, we made our way to the top.

The final push had us traversing monkey bars, our slick hands fighting for grip. Giant tractor tires became a strength-testing game of ring toss. Sliding into a pool, we were asked to climb ropes high into the air to ring a bell, signaling we had reached the pinnacle – if not – more burpees. I felt strong as my right hand stretched out and gave the bell a hearty thwack.

My elation was tempered as I watched Spartan after Spartan fail to stick a spear into a hay bale mounted high on a pole. “Aim high,” one fellow Spartan offered as I took his spot. I did, hitting the target square in the center! I watched as the spear sailed through the air, finding its mark. I slumped as the weapon turned sideways and fell harmlessly to the ground. My first set of burpees.

The next two obstacles were more to my liking. A wooden climbing wall with challenging hand and foot holds to traverse. I scurried along, pounding the bell signaling I reached the end. Scampering, I launched myself up and over a giant cargo net. The finish was near.

I raced towards the final obstacles. An innocent looking line of posts dotted the trail. Leaping on one of them, I teetered as I found the posts were loose in the ground. Holding my balance I centered myself. Carefully, I made another step. Balance. Another step. My pulse quickened, I was going to make it. Another step. My knobby mud shoes fought for grip on the wooden post. Step….down. More burpees.

As I completed my second set, squat, push-up, jump, I endured racers wooshing past, heading for the finish. Landing my final burpee, I sprinted for the home stretch. Surprised I still had gas in the tank, I overtook fellow Spartans. Ahead of me, a blaze of logs and coals stretched across the entirety of the trail, launching myself forward, I cleared the hurdle and raced for the finish. Seeing the end, I was confronted with the final impediment – a cadre of ruthless Spartan crew armed with battle batons, pushing and pummeling at us, daring us to progress forward. Leaping, I dodged one attacker, enduring a fierce blow from another and dashed across the finish line!

Attendants were immediately at my side, honoring me with a Spartan badge, providing me with much needed water and a banana. I made my way to my son who grinned as I crossed the finish. I threw my arms out, but was met with resistance. Hayden eyed me suspiciously, noting the thorough coating of mud, he was not taken to my offer for a hug. Relenting, he leaned into me, his now Spartan dad.

Prior to the race, I questioned my toughness. I was uncertain to the spirit of the contest. I found the call “I am Spartan” to be a bit goofy. On my triumphant walk to the vehicle with my son, I was pleased with the performance of my 40 year old body. I embraced the mission of the race, not as a contest, but rather a building of community, a collection and triumph of human spirit. I was proud to announce with my fellow racers “I am Spartan!”

Pleased with my accomplishment and the overall experience of the Spartan, I am left with one final question, how can I build one of these in my backyard?

The Spartan Race returns to the Pacific Northwest in August 2013. In addition to the adult race, there are children’s versions accommodating two different age groups. For more information, visit
About the contributor: Seth Sjostrom is a local resident and author. His first release, Blood in the Snow, is now available. For more information on Seth or his books, visit