Community leaders express hopes for 2014

Responses include continued economic improvements and time with families

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Bob Hitchcock

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Nick Swinhart

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Scott Higgins

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Rich Blum

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Rand Thornsley

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Mitch Lackey

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Sean Guard

Prosperity and tolerance are among the responses local leaders gave when they were asked about their hopes and wishes for 2014.

Their replies have been edited for brevity.• Renee Tkach, manager of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge “Towns to Trails” project, hopes people will “explore and inhale the beauty that is in our backyard.

“For me, it has changed my life,” she added.• Rich Blum, pastor of Bethel Community Church, in Washougal, described his wish as sincere and simple.

“It is simply that everyone in Camas and Washougal would know Jesus personally and that they would experience his love, grace and salvation,” Blum said.• Carrie Schulstad, incoming director of the Downtown Camas Association, hopes to work with a variety of stakeholders to strengthen the vision for downtown moving forward.

“Many effective and meaningful activities, projects, and events are already happening in downtown, and I’d like to work with everyone to build on these things to help us grow in 2014 and well into the future,” she said. “I am thrilled that the Plant Fair is returning to downtown Camas and that the DCA has been given the opportunity to coordinate this.

“I look forward to all that this will bring to downtown and the community,” Schulstad added. “2014 is going to be stellar.”•Nick Swinhart, chief of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department, said his desires for this year are that the local communities continue to prosper, “while the dedicated fire department personnel remain safe in their vigilance to protect our citizens.”• David Ripp, executive director of the Port of Camas-Washougal, said it is his goal to continue the success at the port with the current and future development.

As a Rotary Club member, he also wants to continue providing “Service Above One’s Self.”

“I feel that I can have a helping hand in developing our community, but also play a part in helping those who need a helping hand,” Ripp said.

• Tom and Karen Hall, owners of the Camas Hotel, mentioned good health, happiness and prosperity for everyone in the community.

“We hope for more Camas and Washougal residents and tourists to discover how much fun it is to shop, dine and visit downtown Camas,” they said.

The Halls are hoping people who work in downtown Camas will park their vehicles on the upper side streets, now that the city has changed the parking time limits from six to eight hours.

“Let’s leave some room for customers,” they said. “We hope, dream and pray that this year Camas will move forward with plans to develop a downtown central plaza, where people can gather and children can play.”

• Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey said Camas and Washougal are small towns, but they are both growing.

“Although the growth is inevitable, keeping that ‘small town feel’ can be preserved with some effort,” he said. “I hope that as our communities grow in population and land size, that we cling to those small town values and beliefs that have made Camas and Washougal special places.”

• Greg Goforth, a residential and commercial real estate sales agent with Windermere/Crest Realty Co., said people often talk about sustainability in terms of energy efficient buildings.

He wants sustainability in the economy, as well as more time with his wife, family, friends and co-workers.

“My hopes for 2014 are to keep life simple and stay even more focused and ‘in’ the moment,” Goforth said. “We all get so darn busy these days, it’s very difficult.”

• Bob Hitchcock, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4278, is looking forward to a productive year of more projects directed toward veterans and their families.

• Carol Keljo, a former recipient of the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club “Service Above Self” award, said her wish for the new year is that everyone try hard to be respectful and courteous to those who have differing opinions.

“Nothing good is accomplished by being rude and disrespectful,” she said. “I believe opposing opinions are good for community building, creativity, and synergy, so I hope there will be more tolerance and politeness in 2014.”

• Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brent Erickson would like to see a continuation of prosperity and growth for the local area.

He is hoping businesses will grow and the economy will keep getting stronger in East Clark County.

“Everyone benefits from a stronger business climate,” Erickson said.

• Rand Thornsley, managing director of the Liberty Theatre, would like to see the trend of positive growth continue in downtown Camas.

• David Zavortink, director of the Camas Public Library, hopes the economy continues to improve.

He wishes that everyone in Camas would take advantage of the many things the library has to offer. That includes books, online magazines, children’s and adults programs and ebooks.

“I also wish for a long hot summer with adequate rain that only falls when I’m sleeping and that the deer would quit eating everything I plant,” Zavortink added.• Washougal School Superintendent Dawn Tarzian hopes the children in Washougal will develop optimism, resilience, self-discipline, confidence, and tenacity as a result of their time in the local classrooms, as they learn to read, write, and problem-solve.

“I would also hope that any remaining freezing weather and snow this winter occur only on the weekends,” she added.

• Camas Mayor Scott Higgins is hopeful the new year brings peace, happiness and a stronger sense of community to the city.

“I believe that will come as we continue to serve the needs of our neighbors and see the joy in that service,” he said. “ I believe these traits have made Camas a special place to live, and I pray that will continue into 2014.”

• Washougal Mayor Sean Guard would like to see the economy continue to improve.

“I hope that the sales of empty homes in Washougal continue so that our neighborhoods are stronger and our utility rates will continue to stabilize with more people on the system,” he said. “I hope we continue to see businesses grow and new businesses move into our community, bringing much needed jobs and choices for residents.”

Guard wishes for some firm plans to help ease the city’s future budget deficits as well as plans to improve streets and sidewalks. His wish list also includes a larger library, along with a youth center and a senior center.

“Finally, I wish everyone a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous 2014,” Guard said Monday.