Posts

Camas, WA — About 50 members of a local group called Open Camas Schools rallied for several hours today at the Camas School District (CSD) administration building and alongside Everett Street.

Their intention is to encourage CSD to start opening up more classes to in-person learning. Camas schools have been mostly closed to in-person learning since March, with the exception of special education and a handful of other students totaling about 600 district wide.

Open Camas Schools is a grassroots group of parents and some teachers who are greatly concerned about students falling behind academically, as well as the mental and emotional challenges emerging from continued isolation from peers, academics, and sports.

”I’m here to support Camas schools,” said Mike Hubbell, a concerned parent who helped organize today’s rally. “I want to see our kids back in school. I believe there’s a better method than how we’re currently teaching our kids — to sit and just watch a screen.”

Is the timing right now challenging given the lockdown?

“I think there’s always going to be challenging times,” he said. “When you look at the opportunity we are missing with our kids there’s nothing more important than our kids being educated. The biggest challenge is seeing my kids in sports, and how that’s affecting their ability to play sports, their ability to practice sports, and the whole camaraderie that people see when they play sports. Kids love to play with other kids. They’re missing out on those opportunities right now, and that’s a big part of what our lives are about. The hard work, the dedication that comes with that. Parents don’t get together anymore.”

He also said the schools are the hubs of community.

“The moment you destroy schools, you destroy sense of community.”

Mike Hubbell, Open Camas Schools

He’s also very concerned about the mental well being of students.

“Too much screen time is dangerous,” Hubble said. “What kind of message are we sending to our kids?”

Heather Wynn was also in attendance.

“We’re here as parents asking the district to hear us,” said Wynn. “Online learning is not working for many, many students for many reasons, not just academically. It’s harming them mentally and socially. So, we are here to say it can be done safely. Once the lockdown is over let’s get on this. Let’s get them back in school happy and healthy.

“We know this lockdown has put a damper on things, we’re not tone deaf, but we did plan this weeks ago. We’ve done car rallies, and we’re just getting nowhere with them (CSD Administration). They’re not listening to us. They are using one metric, and this metric is not meeting the needs of the children.”

What’s the metric?

”Case numbers per 100,000,” she said. “It has to be 75 or under and it’s the only metric they are using. They’re not paying attention to other statistics from other school districts that have been open. So, we believe all those things have to be put on the table. We are here to ask them to look at other schools who are doing it safely, even here in our local area. And, then make the decision based on that. Look at what the children are asking for. How many are failing? I personally know of two children — not in this area — who have committed suicide.”

Wynn wants CSD to open up schools once this current lockdown is over. She’s not asking all families or teachers to come back to school.

“I don’t want them to go against what they believe,” she said. “You can see people are saying we need these in-person options for our kids. We want our children to be better served. It can be done safely. They have the space in the buildings. Follow all the protocols. Do a hybrid model. To teachers we say we need you in the classroom.”

The Open Camas Schools Facebook page has 922 members as of this writing.

CSD Statement

Dr. Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Camas Schools, issued this statement today:

“We recognize that this is a challenging time for everyone and appreciate that the pandemic has affected all of our families uniquely.  We understand the value of in-person learning experiences and have been incrementally increasing the number of students served that way within the recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health.  We also value input from our community – students, staff, and families.  Last night, we held another town hall to engage the community in a conversation about remote learning, increasing in-person learning opportunities, and the current transmission rates in our community.  My hope is that we can rally together in our community and every other community on behalf of our students, drive down transmission rates and get all of our kids back in school.”

The Town Hall was virtually attended by about 200 people. Here are some resources CSD posted today from the event.

 *   Town Hall Recording<https://camas-wednet-edu.zoom.us/rec/share/AqkBv7RuEDngRF1nvRYEGVYeIuHBoenB9XZfh71nSsDPl86WtDLs95usXn3io9MZ.1oufgBhpi2iQ-bYU>
 *   Presentation Slides<https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1BGyVnno1sR-b_534495KBEkD9vU0IecvgLKX1t7fhzg/edit?usp=sharing>
 *   Thoughtexchange prior to Town Hall<https://my.thoughtexchange.com/report/9f1740ee28e0a23b0b9b1ad48369f555> – read community members’ concerns and questions that we used to help plan the Town Hall
 *   Thoughtexchange during the Town Hall<https://my.thoughtexchange.com/report/f8f583c4132ba1bf6002d3f6dc3e4ebf> – read participants’ questions and concerns captured at the end of the Town Hall Meeting.

Open
Open Camas Schools rally in front of the CSD Administration building.

Camas, WA — Given the dynamic situation that COVID-19 presents to school districts, Lacamas Magazine asked Dr. Jeff Snell, Camas School District Superintendent, several questions about how the district is managing operations.

Question #1: Local teacher’s unions recently wrote a letter stating they refuse to go into the classroom until Clark County gets into moderate range for COVID-19. What have you heard from CEA? What is your position as the administration?

Snell: We meet weekly with our teacher association to discuss remote learning challenges and opportunities and increasing in-person learning experiences.  Our staff has been amazing at continuing to evolve our remote learning instruction, identifying students who need a little more support, and then coming up with ways to provide that support.  Their creativity and problem solving is a tremendous asset for our district and community.  They recognize how important it is to provide every service possible for students and families.

Question #2: When will first and second grade start going into the classroom?

Snell: We have been methodically increasing the number of students served in person through small groups.  In-person services, in small groups, align with the WA Department of Health recommendations during high COVID-19 activity levels.  We will monitor how well kindergarten goes and work with Clark County Public Health before consideration of adding any additional grade levels.  Obviously case rates have been increasing in our region so we want to be thoughtful about next steps.

Camas

Question #3: How many students in CSD have been permanently pulled from being in public school?

Snell: We track enrollment, a measurement of new students, and students leaving the district.  This fall, our enrollment has been down by about 5%.  

Editor’s Note: With enrollment at about 7,000, approximately 350 students have been pulled.

Question #4: What is the financial, per-student impact when a Camas student is pulled?

Snell: Each student generates about $11,500 in state funding. 

Question #5: Is Camas School District doing anything to help students who are having major mental/emotional problems?

Snell: This year in particular we are focusing much of our work on supporting systemic social emotional learning.  Teachers, counselors and other district staff are providing intentional opportunities for students to grow their emotional capacity.  We do this by highlighting topics such as self-awareness, stress management, and social awareness. In addition, our staff is focused on creating safety and belonging along with positive teacher student connections. When needed, our staff will connect students and families with community resources to assist students that are struggling emotionally.  

In addition to the direct support to students, we also take a whole system view on wellness.  We have a Parent Wellness program that offers parents a variety of opportunities to learn and connect with others in our community. This year we started a Parent Podcast and continue to provide workshops and book studies on a variety of topics.  We are about to host two virtual books studies that are free and open to everyone, “Grown and Flown” and  “The Financial Aid Handbook”. In addition, we have an upcoming Parent Wellness virtual workshop, “Brain Based Sensory Supports for Remote Learners”. Whenever possible, we record our workshops and archive them on our All-Student Wellness page on the district website.  This site has a host of information, articles, community resources and archived workshop videos. 

Question #6: Many parents are asking why is CSD so focused on equity and diversity education right now? They say shouldn’t general education be the focus given how many students are falling behind? And, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on equity and diversity once the kids are back in school?

Snell: Our focus over the past five years has been on seeing and serving EACH student.  Creating a community where every student feels like they belong is critical for any learning to happen.  This is the goal of our equity work.  

It continues to be the responsibility of public schools to serve each and every student who enters our doors. To serve students requires that we create conditions of safety and belonging for all students, with heightened attention to students from marginalized or underserved groups. Our ultimate goal of instilling in each student a love of learning and achievement that opens doors to their futures cannot happen until a student feels seen, safe, and cared for as they are. The pandemic presents many challenges, one of which is widening already existing disparities. Our continued learning about and attention to equity and social emotional learning will ensure that we don’t lose sight of creating more equitable outcomes. This is at the heart of our focus to see and serve each student.  

Question #7: Public records state that half of Union High School students are failing right now. What percentage of students are failing in Camas High School right now? I personally know about 20 of them.

Snell: At the progress report time, about 500 students had a failing grade or near failing grade.  Last year at this time, there were about 300 students. This is a significant change.  Our staff is working to support students across our system who are struggling.  Sometimes that means finding ways to connect with these students in ways beyond remote learning. 

Camas, WA — Several local businesses attended the annual Downtown Camas Association (DCA) awards event Monday night at the Liberty Theatre. Under the theme “mask-querade” event attendees enjoyed popcorn and drinks while DCA leaders Caroline Mercury, Carrie Schulstad and Shannon Van Horn addressed the experiences of 2020 through a video slideshow, commentary, and awards presentations.

Given the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, some of the award designations were altered for 2020, such as “Help Your Neighbor” and “Phenomenal Pivot.”

The annual events ceremony is an opportunity for local merchants and community supporters to review the successes and challenges of the year, and 2020 was filled with unique hurdles. Businesses endured state mandates that closed some of their operations altogether, altered how they serve customers, and required new rules such as physical distancing and face masks.

”It really does make a difference when we’re all together,” said Schulstad, DCA Executive Director. “Tonight is about you. Yes, we will cover the things the DCA has been doing this year, but the main focus will be celebrating the resiliency and the innovation that our small businesses have shown time and time again in downtown. This has been a very hard year. Having to change a lot and having to change often, having to feel the sting of laying off employees. Having to change the entire way you operate. Trying new things without knowing they will work. Not knowing when all this will end. These are monumental times. Yet somehow our downtown businesses have found the fortitude and the strength to rise up, and find a way.”

Mercury emphasized that Juxtaposition, a high end furniture and home decor store, opened on the eve of state mandated coronavirus business closures.

“Suzanne and her team have been so tenacious and so gracious in continuing to do what needs to be done to operate a business effectively under any circumstances, and who could have imagined these circumstances.”

Mercury mentioned the opening of the Clara Flats apartments on 6th Avenue, and that The Wild Hair, a destination salon, celebrates 30 years in business.

Award Winners

  • Juxtaposition: Best Downtown Space Improvement
  • Lara Blair: Something New in Camas Award.
  • Papermaker Pride: Help Your Neighbor Award
  • Camas Library: Phenomenal Pivot Award
  • Ann Matthews: Downtown Spirit Award
  • Gary Carter: Volunteer Award
  • Salud Wine Bar: Great Growth Award
  • Liberty Theatre: Incredible Innovation Award 
  • Camas Antiques: Creative Marketing Award

The Caffe Piccolo team was recognized for their spirit and support of all downtown Camas events.

DCA
www.acreativetwistcorp.com
DCA
Juxtaposition team.
DCA
DCA Awards

The Camas School District provided an update regarding their plans to transition to in-person learning, which is being hampered by increasing COVID-19 cases in Clark County. In addition, the administration provided an update on the upcoming February replacement levy. Here’s the direct statement from CSD:

Transition to Increased, In-Person Learning Experiences

Unfortunately, our community COVID-19 Activity Level rates continue to trend in the wrong direction. This is our sixth consecutive week in the high activity level, which continues to delay our transition to a full hybrid model. Current guidance from the Washington State Department of Health in the high activity level is to deliver learning services remotely and identify small groups or cohorts of students for in-person learning services based on those students with the highest need, such as students with disabilities, students living homeless, those farthest from educational justice, and younger learners. Since August, we have increased the number of small groups for in-person learning services throughout the district. Building on that success, we announced this week our next targeted group will be our kindergarten students in groups of 10 or less beginning November 9. 

Why Kindergarten? Kindergarten is the foundation and start of the K-12 experience. It is such an important year for our youngest learners, and developmentally there are opportunities we just can’t replicate in a remote environment.

“Bringing small groups of kindergarten students into classrooms for in-person education is a cautious and incremental approach that fits within state health department guidance,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Public Health director and county health officer in a press release on October 25. “With small group sizes and continued preventive measures, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, we believe in-person education is safe for both students and staff because children this young are less likely to transmit the virus to others.” 

You can view all the details of the transition plan including timelines, resources, and presentations at http://www.camas.wednet.edu/covid-19/2020-fall-reopening/

The Big Five

The CDC indicates that in order for schools to achieve the lowest possible risk of transmission, we must implement five mitigation strategies to the extent possible, practical, and feasible, as outlined below: 

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department

Replacement Levies in February

Local levies are an essential revenue stream for our district and are approved by voters for a set number of years. In 2017, our community approved two levies, a programs & operations levy and a capital technology levy, which will expire at the end of 2021. Our School Board continued their discussion about replacing these expiring levies in the upcoming February election. Our school district has long benefited from strong community support. That support enabled us to build the district we have today. In addition to local levies, voters have also approved local bonds that have built the amazing schools and facilities we have in our district. Because of the way we’ve scheduled our bonds, taxpayers will see a reduction in their tax rate even with the approval of replacement levies in February. Our Board has explored two options for the replacement levies and plans to finalize their decision at the November 9 board meeting.

Camas, WA — Grains of Wrath and Fuel Medical are organizing a fundraiser this Thursday to benefit Mariah Corbin, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

All day Thursday (11 am-10 pm) Grains of Wrath will donate 10 percent of the day’s revenue to benefit Corbin and her family.

“On top of that, Fuel will donate three times that amount to help out the Corbin family,” said Brendan Ford, Co-Founder of Fuel. “This is a great Camas family and we need to do all we can to support them.”

Mariah’s father, Derrill, said the the official diagnosis — Anaplastic Pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma Grade 3 — came September 16, and they were told that scientifically recovery is not likely.

“We do have good insurance, but there are so many other expenses, such as travel to research hospitals in either California or Boston for treatment,” Derril said. “Support of community is making this work. We are so grateful.”

There is also the additional cost of remedies, alternate treatments, and clinical trials.

Mariah is currently studying theology and is diligently working toward finishing her degree in the midst of this cancer battle.

Brendan Greenen, managing partner at GOW, said Dollar For will have donation stations on Thursday for card donations that will go directly to the family.

Derrill said while the prognosis is hard to bear, they are buoyed by their spiritual faith.

Local friends set up a GoFundMe campaign to assist the Corbin family, and they ask for the community to support this cause. Here is that link: http://gofundme.com/f/mariahmiracle

Corbin
The Corbin family.

Camas, WA — Champ Pizza officially opened its third Clark County restaurant today in Camas at Lacamas Center on 3rd Avenue next to Dollar Tree.

”We’re pretty excited about this,” said managing parter, Tyson Cook. “This opportunity came pretty quickly and we jumped on it.”

Champ Pizza Camas is located in the former Little Caesar’s footprint, and they’re ready to go. Champ Pizza makes a quality pizza that’s ready fast with delivery and pickup options.

Hours:

  • 11-9 Sunday – Thursday
  • 11-10 Friday and Saturday

“We use 100 percent whole mozzarella cheese, we make dough daily made with buttermilk and Parmesan,” Cook said. “We bring in all our produce and slice it in house. We also offer premium meats — ham, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, etc. We don’t cut corners there. We pride ourselves on our service, we believe a customer deserves a quality pizza every time. We can deliver and be ready just as quickly as the competition. We will serve all of Camas and Washougal.”

And, they’re ready to get to know you. 

“We really want to be involved with the community and will continue our Athlete of the Month program,” Cook said. ”We will also give many teens an opportunity to have a good job.” 

Champ
Making dough.

Camas, WA — Julie Bonaci Scordino got a surprise visit from Camas Police Sunday morning, who handed her three voting ballots that had been stolen from her Parker Estates mailbox.

Officer Debra Riedl brought the soaked ballots, which had been found early Sunday morning — with other stolen mail — by a resident near Klickitat Park, the Camas Police said. In total, nine ballots were found and returned.

“They opened up every individual mailbox door and my neighbor got footage on her Ring at 5:30 on Sunday morning and the guy opened every single one,” said Scordino. “Our ballots were in there. The police said they were tossed out at a local park along with the mail from several other neighbors. The police said four community style mailboxes were broken into throughout the neighborhood.”

The police said they were contacted by neighbors and they viewed surveillance video of the possible suspect. 

“The suspect has not been identified at this time and the investigation is ongoing,” said Alisha Stevens, of the Camas Police. 

How did they open up the mailboxes? 

“They took a vice grip and put it on the locking mechanism to twist it,” said Scordino. “You can see marks on where they spun the locks on every single mailbox.”

Now, Scordino has to get new ballots from the Clark County Elections Office in downtown Vancouver. 

Police
www.resultsfitnesstraining.com

“They are all wet,” Scordino said. “To get new ballots we have to go there in person, or we can print them out from their website, but I’d rather get them replaced. They didn’t offer to mail us new ones. At least nine ballots that I know of were stolen. And, now our mailboxes cannot lock.”

Scordino received much attention Sunday when she posted about the theft on her Facebook page. Some of the response was quite negative, which surprised her.

“My intention is for people to watch out for their mail,” Scordino said. “I give major kudos to the Camas Police, it was well handled by them.”

The Camas Police said mail theft is not uncommon and Camas officers responded to similar calls several times a year.

“In general, the suspects are looking for mail items that can be used for financial gain (checks, credit cards, personal info that can be used for opening fake charge accounts),” said Stevens. “In these cases the unwanted mail is often dumped nearby, just as the ballots were in this case. Camas Police would like to remind citizens to be vigilant and observant, especially with the upcoming holiday season. Be aware of your mailbox and those of your neighbors. Immediately report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”

Police
The suspect and suspect’s vehicle caught on surveillance video.
Police
Broken into mailboxes.
Police
All the locks were twisted and broken.

This is a message from the All Paws on Deck Team and Camas DECA team regarding the Camas Dog Mayor Contest:

Our All Paws On Deck team would first like to thank each of the 35 dogs who applied to be 2020 Camas Dog Mayor. It was a very difficult decision and we wish we could have all 35 dogs be finalists. However, all dogs went through an extensive voting process in which our team narrowed the applicant pool down to 10 finalists.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the final 10 candidates. You can take a glance at them by clicking ​https://drive.google.com/file/d/16ao9-_qPZz4p5Pq8_Chn8m7nuocwGGTn/view and get to know them a little more by clicking ​https://all-paws-on-deck.webnode.com/dog-mayor/

Starting ​October 20th-30th​, you can cast your vote for the 2020 Camas Dog Mayor by donating a sum of money towards your favorite candidate. The winner will be determined by which dog has raised the most money. All proceeds will be donated to the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, and the Southwest Washington Humane Society. On ​November 2nd​, the 2020 Camas Dog Mayor will be announced on our website and all of our social media pages. During our campaign we will also be having challenges, treat recipes, contests, and activities on our social media pages! You may even be featured on our social media pages. Click ​https://all-paws-on-deck.webnode.com/products-/ to see a more detailed description of each day’s activity.

Again, we would like to thank each and every dog that applied. We are looking forward to seeing who wins the title of the 2020 Camas Dog Mayor! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact either Esha Minhas or Ryley Anderson at ​[email protected]

Sincerely, The All Paws on Deck Team/Camas DECA

Mayor
www.champpizza.com
Mayor
Camas Dog Mayor candidates.

Camas, WA — Adam’s Street Bar and Grill, a popular destination, has sustained $250,000 in financial losses stemming from the September 18 heavy rains and ensuing floods that wreaked havoc across town, said bar owner Greg Shelby.

“We’ve been down here most every day cleaning up trying to get things done,” said Shelby. “It’s such a big mess, we’ve had to move a lot of things, and at this time we haven’t had any help from any insurance or from the City of Camas, which I don’t think is right. I know there’s negligence on their part.”

He said the city cited a massive downpour and the streets were plugged up, and that there were no open drains on the streets the morning of the floods. The water poured in from the streets and flooded his 2,500 square foot business basement with nearly five feet of water, which damaged major appliances, ruined months of frozen food, equipment, and restaurant supplies.

He said there are many faults in the city’s plumbing system, which he said is ancient. 

“I’ve had the city out here before with minor drainage issues before, which still haven’t been resolved,” he said. “This is all devastating. I stock up on stuff. Our freezers were full, our walk-in was full, my dry storage was full. We had a pallet of paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, everything was ruined. We threw away all our food. I just need to keep cleaning, we had just had the floors all done here. I had great cooking equipment, I had to throw away so much stuff.”

Shelby said his insurance company claim is still in process.

Adams
https://www.lesschwab.com/store/?storeId=714

“The volume of water overwhelmed the capacity of the system with heavy downhill flows,” said claims adjuster Karen Tailman, of Sedgwick, representing the City of Camas in a letter to Adam’s. “This was not simply a matter of the catch basins overflowing, but of surface water cascading down the roadway and collecting to the lowest point.

“Accordingly, we find no evidence of negligence on the part of the City of Camas that caused or contributed to your loss, it was simply an act of nature.”

The adjuster said the city crew work was halted between September 7 and September 17 due to the unhealthy smoke conditions stemming from the Oregon wildfires.

Shelby is fighting back and has hired an attorney to handle the case. They are citing a May Downtown Camas Infrastructure Analysis by McKay Esposito that called out drainage and ponding issues throughout downtown Camas, particularly on 4th Avenue. 

The report said “based on interviews with the City staff, several streets were identified as having ponding issues. One cause described was root intrusion into many sanitary sewer lines, especially along 4th Avenue. It is recommended that the lines be video inspected to gain a better understanding of repairs needed.”

The following areas were identified in the report:

  • 6th and Adams ponding — usually due to clogged drains from leaves, etc.
  • Dallas from 7th to 6th — bubble up issues
  • 4th and Birth periodic street flooding
  • 5th and Dallas floods frequently
  • Lots of root encroachment into lines, particularly on 4th.

In addition, Council member Ellen Burton said just days before the floods Public Works Director Steve Wall addressed the many drainage problems in the downtown area.

Adam’s
Debris is still being cleaned up.
Adam’s
Outside Adam’s Bar and Grill.

The virtual NASA conversation to include Q&A participation from Vancouver iTech Preparatory and Camas’ Odyssey Middle School

VANCOUVER – Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will host a virtual Q&A with Camas native, NASA Astronaut Dr. Michael Barratt and Vancouver iTech Preparatory and Camas’ Odyssey Middle School, on October 15. The event will feature a presentation by Dr. Barratt focusing on NASA’s Artemis Program, and will give students the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session.  

When: Thursday, October 15

             10:30 – 11:30 AM PST

Planned agenda:

10:30 – 10:35: Administrator Bridenstine — Opening Remarks

10:35 – 10:40: Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler  Opening Remarks 

10:40 – 10:55: Astronaut Michael Barratt — Discussion and slides

10:55 – 11:25: Q&A (Alternating Questions asked from participating teachers and schools)

11:25 – 11:27: Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler — Closing Remarks

11:27 – 11:30: Administrator Bridenstine — Closing Remarks

NASA
www.electlarryhoff.com