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Everyone has had to adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some it’s been incredibly challenging, and for others it hasn’t, but everyone’s had to make changes.

Meet Dave Sobolik, a local real estate investor with Homevisor (website: www.homevisor.pro) whose work life was turned upside down when Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect in March. The order halted all residential construction, and limited how real estate brokers conduct business.

“In Washington, we can show houses, but we have to call a few hours in advance, because they don’t want people crossing paths,” he said. “I can show clients of a party of two, but one at a time. I can take one through the property practicing social distancing. There are notes saying ‘don’t touch anything, leave shoes at doorways, wear masks,’ etc.”

And, like so many others, Sobolik just stayed home during the quarantine.

“A big part of my time was spent connecting with people in my sphere to check in and see how everyone is doing,” Sobolik said. “I like to do whatever I can to help with their needs. I have offered to do grocery shopping for people. Anybody who needs something I pair them up. I did a lot of research for clients.”

Creatively, as a small business owner, he worried about tenants who weren’t able to pay rent so he reached out to local business owners and community members to record their experiences. It became a fascinating video series — available on his personal Facebook page.

“I call it the SOB Experience. I don’t want to offend anybody I just want to draw attention to what they’re doing. I’m doing 5-15 interviews with each of these people. I released an interview with Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Camas Schools. And, the whole purpose was to get behind the scenes. I’ve interviewed local fitness instructors and therapists. There are many people being creative on how to keep their doors opens. I hope to create awareness.”

The experience, and temporary change of pace, taught Sobolik a lot.

“I’ve learned lots of things,” he said. “Namely, the strength of the human spirit. I’ve had 175 people that I reached out to over three to four weeks.”

And, he found that people are in three buckets:

  1. People who are financially secure that are enjoying their home time, and enjoying this increased focus on family time.
  2. People with short-term income loss, or permanent income loss, who are determined to use this time to improve themselves and are very positive thinking. 
  3. People who lost their job who have no savings and don’t know what to do next, and are in a fear and retreat space. 

“Technology helps us cope,” said Sobolik. “Thank goodness for that. We have to help people, lift them up. Let me know we care.”

Sobolik
www.vixoncabinets.com

What came about as an idea to expand their business, Arktana is bringing product to the people— quarantine style.

“We’ve worked through this pandemic as best we can but we needed to do something different before we get to Phase 2,” said Ann Matthews, owner of Arktana.

So, what is it?

The party requires an enthusiastic leader who lets Arktana deliver their products to their driveway or backyard.

Once the store’s live event begins, these quarantine pods can touch and feel product while team Arktana livestreams the event at their store.

“It gives our customers the opportunity to touch and feel product during the live feed and order on the spot through the website: www.arktana.com and if the item happens to be on the rack at that time they can take it home.”

It’s an idea that is starting off with a bang. The next watch party is scheduled for Friday at 5:30.

Tune in a their Facebook page to watch!

If you’d like to host your own watch party, contact Ann at [email protected]

Notably we are in uncharted times — and economically speaking — very uncertain times. Statistically, the housing market in February 2020 over last year was even, however, sales will be noticeably be down during the months of April and May, which is due to the government-imposed lockdown, and not the normal economic cycle. With the economy shut down we will get negative figures on some of the activity.

Local home prices have still been rising — the economy was very strong before the COVID-19 — and unemployment has spiked, but this is temporary. Once everything is open again, you will see most businesses back at full speed and see people going back to work therefore unemployment will drop and people will get back to work.

The bigger hit like the cruise lines and the airlines will be the hardest and slowest to recover from this pandemic. People fear we are going to have a housing market crash again, and it is very easy to presume, however, when you look at the2008 situation it was completely different then.

WHY?

Well, the facts are:

  • The mortgage industry structure of loans is now completely different, and housing lenders are not giving the subprime loans to anyone anymore. There are strict lending guidelines in place to prevent this.
  • This time people must really qualify now to get a loan.
  • Homebuilders overbuilt back then, too, and now there is an industry shortage of homes. In fact, there has been a shortage for some time for both new homes and resale.
  • During the pandemic, residential construction was halted, and fewer homes were listed, which has created even more of a shortage. We do not expect the mortgage interest rates to blow up, either.
  • The Federal Reserve went all in back in 2008/09, and it took them eight months to reduce the rate.
  • This time they went in all at once and they reduced the rates altogether.
  • Homeowners are sitting on wealth. There has been a great appreciation for homeowners over the last three years. Even if there is a five percent price correction in the housing market, most homeowners will absorb that. If there is a decline it will be very temporary, even as we are in an inventory shortage this is still healthy for homeowners.
  • Buyers and sellers are sitting waiting for the economy to be opened once that happens I see a surge in listing inventory and buyers will be back out shopping for a home, then it will even back out in the following months to a steady strong Clark County real estate housing market.
  • Even though home prices have risen, the interest rates are historically low, so still affordable for buyers.
  • Buyers will continue to move to affordability, benefiting mid-sized markets.

We came into this in a strong market and I believe there is great cause for optimism coming out. I hope this gives you an insight on the real estate market. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me anytime or visit www.clarkcountyrelocations.com

Written by Louise James

Housing
Louise James shows the new way finder signs in downtown Camas.

CAMAS, WA – Today, the City of Camas announced that after a two-week construction stoppage, it will proceed with the Lake-Everett Roundabout and four other essential public projects: improvements to Brady Road, construction of the 18th Avenue Reservoir, construction of the Lacamas Creek Pump Station and improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. All are authorized under Governor Inslee’s original March 23, 2020, Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.

All contractors, consultants and City employees are required to follow COVID-19 safety precautions and guidance provided by Labor & Industries (L&I) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) while on the construction site. Noncompliance may result in the temporary suspension of work. To meet the requirements, several changes have been made:

  • Contractors have expanded and improved their own COVID-19 Response Plans in accordance with CDC, OSHA and L&I guidance and recommendations for the type of work being performed.
  • Contractors’ plans are being reviewed by a certified industrial hygienist who not only has expertise in COVID-19 and illness prevention, but also in job-site safety planning and prevention. Contractors must submit final plans prior to starting work.
  • All staff inspectors, project managers, consultants and subconsultants have received training from the industrial hygienist on the contractor’s plan, their own protection and COVID-19 compliance.
  • The City has designated an experienced construction inspector to serve as a COVID-19 safety inspector who will visit job sites, monitor safety and check COVID-19-procedures daily.

The City of Camas will continue to track all COVID-19 news and updates and will react accordingly on all projects. For an up-to-date listing of changes to City programming and operations during the COVID-19 crisis, the public is encouraged to visit www.cityofcamas.us/ourcommunity/covid-19.

For full Lake-Everett Roundabout project details and ongoing construction updates, the public is invited to visit www.cityofcamas.us/lakeroadconstruction. Information on other capital projects is available at http://www.cityofcamas.us/projectsalerts.

Inspired by a Boston-based project, local photographer Lara Blair has decided to bring #TheFrontStepsProject to Camas.

“It is killing me to not be able to capture families during this historical time,” said Blair, who has a studio in downtown Camas. “The difficulties, goodness of humanity … all of it. I saw a really cool article about an East Coast photographer capturing people on their porches at a six-foot distance, and she’s encouraging photographers across the country to do the same. It’s called #TheFrontStepsProject.”

Blair said she needs to do this because she “misses taking pictures and misses seeing people’s faces.” She sees this as a chance to give back, and have this documented as part of our history.

“I live in the sticks and we are completely isolated, and I’ve been following all the distancing rules.”

Her plan is this:

  • Get in her car and drive to a neighborhood to a few houses in the same vicinity – stand more than six feet away from the families (hello zoom lens!) and capture them for a few minutes, wave goodbye 😊 and get in her car to go home.
  • Post and send a picture for them to see.
  • Have the family make a small (or big!) donation to a charity (we are currently talking to a local charity who benefits kids). Details will come soon.

“I would like to come to one neighborhood at a time and capture a few families all at once. DM me on Facebook (@Lara Blair Photography) or email me so I could set up a schedule— It would be great to have a point person for each and each ‘hood. [email protected]

Blair can also be reached via Instagram at @Braveandtruegirl

Lacamas Magazine will document the sessions on video, and will feature the completed #TheFrontPorchProject on the Lacamas Magazine YouTube Channel in the coming weeks.

Camas resident Heather DeVore loves to work hard, but she’d rather work outside — rain or shine — than sit at a cubicle or desk all day long. So, after a career commuting to Portland, DeVore has traded in the laptop for a dog leash, and she’s not looking back.

“Once the company I worked for closed down, I realized I should be taking care of pets all the time,” DeVore said. “So, I took an online first aid CPR course for cats and dogs. It’s been great! I now have several clients.”

Why pets? 

“I love animals, especially dogs,” she said. “I rescued an older German Shepherd from the Humane Society. My son suggested we should adopt older dogs to give them a good ending. We had him four years, and he was just 10 when he passed away. He was a big dog! His name was Max. We called him Maximus Prime. His last days were great. We went to the park, he had steak and ice cream from Top Burger, played with all his best friends. He was so happy. I feel like he knew the end was there.”

Her service, which is called Heather’s Hounds Dog Walking & Pet Care, is about giving care to pets during the day while they’re cooped up in crates or kennels. DeVore said she feel so much better working outside.

“People have to work, and they don’t like leaving their dogs alone without exercise during the day, so that’s where I come in,” said DeVore. “We’re just having the best time. With most clients, I go over to their homes, let them out, and play with them in the backyard everyday. Some clients I take their dogs out on walks. It’s good for them.”

She also enjoys the different personalities. At one client’s house, Cash, a German Shepherd pup doesn’t want his sister, Adrienne, to have any attention. 

DeVore
Heather walking dogs as it begins to rain. She walks them rain or shine.

“Adrienne just stares at you. We’re working on being calm when he goes into the crate, and calm when I put him in. Each dog has their own personality. I have one dog at home, Miss Myla, who is a German Shepherd. I’ve also had another pup stay at my house for the weekend.” 

DeVore usually starts her morning with her own dog, and then at 11 she tends to clients. There seems to be a growing demand. 

She’s also an avid wood worker. 

“I build shelves, shiplaps, tub trays, and lots of cool things. I just looked stuff up and decided to start making things.”

More on that next time.

Contact Information

Facebook: Heather’s Hounds Dog Walking and Pet Care

360-635-1122

[email protected]

Getting divorced at any age is destabilizing and has consequences far beyond simply ending your legal marriage.  Often, one spouse relies on the other for health insurancecoverage.  The end of a marriage, therefore, also may result inthe end of that coverage.  

When the spouse losing coverage is over 55, however, losing health insurance coverage may not be an option. With Medicare eligibility up to 10 years away, it is important for anyone going through a divorce to proceed carefully and take whatever steps possible to maintain coverage. 

In Oregon, lawmakers have sought to bridge that gap. If you are 55 years or older and divorced, you may be able to continue your existing coverage until you are eligible to enroll in Medicare or another group coverage. To take advantage of that, the law requires you to notify the insurance plan administrator within 60 days of the entry of the dissolution judgment. You must then elect continuing coverage with whatever form the plan administrator provides. More information can be found here.

In Washington, however, no comparable law exists. Without such protection provided by law, you—with the help of your attorney—will want to consider more creative solutions for guaranteeing continuing coverage.

Jordan Jeter is an attorney at McKeanSmith.

For example, if you are negotiating a settlement with your spouse, consider asking for them to keep you on their health insurance plan until you are eligible for Medicare. If your spouse is unwilling or unable to continue coverage for you, consider asking—either in negotiations or at trial—for a higher monthly support amount or greater share of the marital assets to offset your increased healthcare expense amount.

Although a more unorthodox approach, some couples even choose to remain legally married so that one spouse can continue accessing the other’s health insurance coverage. These couples reach an agreement as to all the terms of their divorce but choose to put off finalizing the divorce until Medicare eligibility. 

If all creative problem-solving has failed, and you find yourself needing to obtain coverage after your divorce, you may be eligible for continuing coverage under the Federal COBRAlaw. COBRA allows a person who is divorced to continue theirexisting coverage for 36 months. Depending on how close you are to the age of Medicare eligibility, that 36 months might fill the gap. COBRA coverage, however, is expensive, and it is generally recommended that you try to get health insurance from other sources instead.

For more information on healthcare resources, please visit WAHealthPlanFinder.org or OregonHealthCare.gov

Contact the law firm of McKean Smith today for a consultation. Visit McKeanSmithLaw.com.

For the first time in its 16+ year history, Lily Atelier, the iconic Downtown Camas women’s clothing boutique, now has a website — www.lilyatelier.com — which is now open for business.

When Marilyn Reed, Lily Atelier’s new owner, purchased the store in November 2019 she came with a plan to build on the brand’s success, which included a new website, store renovations, technological additions, and many other projects.

“We’re so pleased that Lily now has a website,” said Reed. “This helps us provide an ever better level of customer service, and it allows us to reach so many more people.”

The site encapsulates the Lily Atelier brand with vendor images and descriptions, sale items, product for purchase, a look at the store’s history and where it’s headed, as well a new blog to keep customers updated on Lily news.

“Our blog will build on our fantastic social media sites to include news about product, staff, store updates, and fashion tips. It’s so exciting,” said Reed.

Local Camas merchants have been very supportive of the expansion, and consider Lily Atelier a destination boutique.

“People come from all over to visit Lily Atelier,” said Carrie Schulstad, Executive Director of the Downtown Camas Association. “Having a website will help them reach even greater heights! This store is a great contributor to the success of downtown Camas. We couldn’t be happier for them. We are very grateful and thank them for their added enthusiasm and investment in downtown Camas, and for the increased engagement that they’re planning for.”

The iconic women’s boutique has become a destination venue for many of their customers, and many call in orders from all over the country as they are able to procure hard-to-find products. Lily Atelier is also credited with being a major contributor to the continued Downtown Camas renaissance.

Lily Atelier
Visit www.LilyAtelier.com

What started in 2000 as a small construction company called Victor and Sons has grown into Vixon Cabinets, one of Southwest Washington’s largest and premiere cabinet makers.

Know for high quality cabinets and unique designs in some of the area’s best homes, Vixon continues to make strides in innovation and service.

Family patriarch, Victor Chernichenko, an inventor who is very hands on, organized the company with sons Roman, Alex, and Eugene, and over time they’ve found their unique places in the family business that now oversees 250 installations a year.

Victor runs the shop. He also enjoys gardening.

Roman heads design and engineering. He also makes great wine.

Alex runs quality assurance. He also loves to spend time outdoors in the great Pacific Northwest.

And, Eugene, who is also a bread maker by night, is the General Manager. He’s become the voice of Vixon, but the roles weren’t always so clear.

“I used to wear 15 hats,” said Eugene. “I built cabinets, did finishing and sanding. Alex and Oleg did installations. I took care of that part of running the business, then once we got enough people I managed the shop and did sales. At one point I was painting in the evening and managing by day. The jobs came together based on our personalities. I dealt better with customers and was willing to say what’s necessary to get things done. Roman likes the details and making sure things are perfect. Alex is a workhorse and has good customer service. He knows how to smooth things out.”

Vixon’s business continues to prosper because of the quality of their work, strict adherence to schedules, special designs, and commitment to customer service.

Those are some of the reasons why Vixon’s products keep making appearances in the Parade of Homes and in some of the best homes in the area. They’ve developed great relationships with many local builders.

Vixon
A custom built bathroom.

“We’ve been using Vixon since 2015, and they’ve probably done around a dozen projects with us,” said Cheri Clarkson, of Soaring Eagle Homes. “We appreciate that they are a family owned, local custom cabinet shop. They are extremely creative and willing to tackle any request we have.  As a designer/custom home builder this is a critical element as each client is unique and every project is different.  Whether it’s a special design element, custom stain color, secret door.… you name it, they can figure it out. 

Their ever-growing business includes the expansion of their Vancouver showroom, which is located at 3315 NE 112th #60, Vancouver, WA 98682. Currently they have 15,000 square feet of shop space used to move in supplies, sand, cut, paint, finish, and assemble quality cabinets.

It runs like a fine oiled machine, using a combination of technology (laser-guided saws) and experienced craftsmanship paying attention to the tiniest of details.

You can see more at www.vixoncabinets.com

Experience Matters: A Proud History of Craftsmanship

This is the fifth generation of Chernichenko carpenters with a rich history in the former Soviet Union.

“We came over to the United States in December 28, 1989,” said Eugene. “It was right before the full collapse of the Soviet Union. We saw it from here. We lived in Georgia, now the Republic of Georgia — in Batumi City. Georgia was the state. We lived on the Black Sea and it was a tourist place. When my dad got there with his parents, they moved and he worked in construction.”

Eugene parents felt a strong need to leave for the United States, and were sponsored by a church in Portland.

Nine months after arriving in Portland, the family moved to Vancouver. Eugene was 7 years old.

“My dad learned English while he was preparing to move here,” Eugene said. “When he got here he started translating their newsletters into the Russian language. He did that for New Traditions owner.

He did that for a number of years then went back into mill work, and worked for New Tradition Homes. We built homes for a few years in the late 90s then transitioned into a full cabinet shop.”

It’s a company that’s really focused, said Clarkson.

“Their quality is excellent,” she added. “They stand behind their work and have a great attitude when resolving issues when they arise.”

And, Eugene makes great bread, too!

As part of a Camas High School DECA marketing and fundraising program, several teams of students designed coffee labels and continue to sell coffee through Thursday, December 5.

The coffee bags cost $10 per bag and are roasted locally from BJ’s Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, WA

There are two offerings:

  • Primo Blend (Ground/Whole Bean) — One of their most popular blends. Smooth, mild and crisp for an excellent morning coffee. Medium Roast.
  • Espresso Blend (Whole Bean) — Their espresso blend consists of four very distinct origins. Together these coffees produce an espresso that is rich in flavor, with full body and luscious crema. Medium Roast.

Please make checks payable to Camas High School.  Students must collect money and turn it in for full order fulfillment.  There is an option to pay with the CHS online system, but your order must be paid no later than Thursday, December 5th. Click this link:  https://wa-camas-lite.intouchreceipting.com/decacoffee/

Your order will be ready for delivery (by students) or pick up at CHS Lunch Box by Friday, December 13th. 

Camas DECA
Some of the coffee labels CHS students created.

“Camas DECA is donating 60 percent of their profits ($3 per bag) to the C.A.R.O.L. program that is coordinated with the Camas Fire Department,” said Camas DECA adviser, Suzie Downs. “The program provides food and gifts to families in Camas and Washougal who are struggling to make ends meet. The other $2 profit will go to Camas DECA to help offset competition travel costs.”

If you have any questions, please contact Suzie Downs at: [email protected]

The Camas DECA coffee project is part of the Marketing 1/Intro to Business curriculum to teach students about product branding and entrepreneurship. Each class is marketing and selling their own unique brand label to compete with the other three participating classes. This project helps students understand what it takes to brand a product, take it to market, sell it. They also have to deal with competition, as there are three other businesses selling coffee to their target market — you!

Camas DECA