With this edition of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record being published on New Year’s Eve, it just seems natural to remember all of the events, people, decisions and other news that made the pages of this community newspaper during the past 52 weeks. For certain, there was no shortage of local news in 2013. Camas and Washougal city governments produced some of the most notable stories, ranging from the defeat of Proposition 1 in Washougal to the hiring of a new city administrator in Camas. In addition, Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center construction began, Washougal City Council approved a utility rate reduction, Camas dealt with vandalism of its cemetery, and the consolidation of the Camas and Washougal fire departments finally became official.
“Failure is not an option.” This statement was made by Mayor Scott Higgins following the recent approval by the Camas City Council of the 10-year inter-local agreement that officially merges the Camas and Washougal fire departments to create one unified entity. The unanimous vote was the final step in a process that has spanned more than two years.
In Camas, Washougal and Clark County overall, growth is happening. One need only drive down the west slope of Prune Hill and glance to the north at the number of bare hillside lots ready for construction, to see that many new homes will soon be built for new families moving in. But in case you haven’t witnessed that stark scene in west Camas or in other locations in the community, a story published in The Columbian last week provided some new details of local growth.
Last night, the Washougal City Council made the right decision to include funding for the East County Family Resource Center in its 2014 budget, as it has done for the past several years. For the second year, the issue of whether the city of Washougal should provide funding to this non-profit social services organization became a topic of discussion and debate during budget talks. This time around, the concern primarily focused on where young women who think they may be pregnant and need a pregnancy test are referred to for additional services. The answer is Sea Mar Community Health Centers, which gives pregnant women information that lays out all options. This could include abortion, in addition to adoption and becoming a parent. According to Sea Mar officials, women are not encouraged to make a particular choice.
As the Camas High School football team prepares for the Washington State Championship game on Saturday, football fever is alive and well in Camas. It’s an excitement that has slowly built up during what has turned out to be a dream season for the 2013 Papermakers. The past three months have produced convincing wins against all 13 opponents Camas has faced, beginning with a 47-14 win in September against Jesuit High School — a team that is now playing for the Oregon 6A state championship against Central Catholic.
On a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon, The Fairgate Inn in Camas held its annual holiday high tea. As always, the event was beautifully decorated and the food was absolutely amazing.
As the tide turns toward the beginning of the holiday season, the goodness in people’s hearts truly begins to show. Local volunteers, both young and old, are an inspiration as they spring into action. They coordinate food and toy drives, prepare hot meals for people in the community, put together gift baskets, collect jackets, hats and mittens, and raise money to benefit those in need. All of these efforts are done on both large and small scales, from a penny drive to events like Stuff the Bus that generates thousands of pounds of donated food each and every year. The great part about all of these efforts is that they allow each and every one of us to give what we can, because even the smallest contribution has the capacity to help someone in need.
It might be an understatement to suggest that in Camas and Washougal, high school sports are a big deal. Friday night football games draw hundreds, if not thousands, of screaming fans — students, parents and community members alike — to Fishback and Doc Harris stadiums. This is also where crowds faithfully cheer on the soccer teams and track and field teams. Volleyball and basketball supporters also pack local gymnasiums to the gills.
Youth suicide. It’s an issue that no parent ever wants to imagine could touch their lives. But statistics prove that the unfortunate reality is that it does. Often unexpectedly. The Washington State Department of Health’s 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, released earlier this year, unveiled some surprising statistics when it comes to youth suicide. As part of the survey, students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 answered questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors.
Recent vandalism perpetrated at the Camas Cemetery has tugged at the heart strings of many local residents. Last Wednesday, it was discovered that approximately 15 headstones, many of them in the southeast “pioneer section” of the cemetery, had been pushed off of their pedestals and onto the ground. On Thursday, Michael Garwood, 21, of Camas, was arrested on charges relating to the vandalism. He remains in the Clark County Jail on 15 counts of violating laws governing the protection of cemeteries and one count of second degree malicious mischief. The case remains under investigation by the Camas Police Department. Additional arrests are possible.