State of the Community event highlights projects and partnerships

Ribbon cutting set for completion of phase 1 of street project

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Camas leaders focused on projects, partnerships and prosperity during the presentation of the first “state of the community” address.

The Sept. 24 event was a joint venture of the city of Camas, Camas School District, and Port of Camas-Washougal. Speakers focused on the positive, and outlined recent accomplishments and future endeavors.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins highlighted a number of construction projects that have likely been visible to local residents, or soon will be — the most significant being the 38th Avenue extension.

“If you just drive around the geographical area of the city of Camas, you can’t help but run into construction project after construction project,” he said. “Things are going on in our community.”

The $11 million 38th Avenue extension project begins at 20th Street in Vancouver and will eventually connect all the way to Pacific Rim Boulevard in Camas.

“That will provide increased safety and pedestrian access for our citizens,” Higgins said. “But really, more importantly, this is a jobs corridor that we are able to open up to development, to having employment opportunities in Camas. It also opens access to retail opportunities that up until now have been reserved only for the city of Vancouver in the 192nd avenue corridor. It is an extremely important project for us.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony will celebrate the completion of the first phase of this project. The event will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m., near the intersection of Bybee Road and Northwest 38th Avenue.

The project, started by contractor Tapani Underground in March, provides a 44-foot to 46-foot wide paved road, two bike lanes, two vehicle travel lanes with a center left-turn lane, and curbs and sidewalks on both sides of the road.

The road extension is supported through sources including a federal grant administered through the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Surface Transportation Program, State Transportation Improvement Board funding and a low interest loan from the State Public Works Trust Fund.

Future phases will continue the roadway improvements east to the intersection of Northwest Parker Street and ultimately Grass Valley Park.

Higgins also mentioned future projects including the Frieberg Strunk Road project that will open up land near the Vancouver-Camas border for job opportunities; the Jones Creek and Boulder Creek water line construction, that will increase water supply access; and the 2 million gallon water reservoir that will be built in Grass Valley to expand capacity.

Another highly visible project is the now under construction Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center, located off of Lake Road next to Heritage Park.

“While it may not be the complete answer that many have dreamed for, it is an answer,” Higgins said. “We are really excited that we are going to be able to bring this project online in the spring of 2014. This is going to be a community center that people are going to be able to rent and to use with their families to host private events and take advantage of the natural resources we have in Camas.”

Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland spent time talking about the accomplishments of the school districts students and teachers.

“We have outstanding staff, caring teacher, great administrators, but without the partnership of our community, the support of our parents, our students would not receive the great education they currently do,” Nerland said.

The district currently has 6,000 students and 350 classroom teachers,

“Every single one of our teachers meets the highly qualified standards set by the federal government in the no chile left behind act,” he said.

Earlier this year, the school district surveyed 500 parents, of which 97 percent said they believed that the Camas School District was a place where their students received a high quality education.

“One of the key pieces of the Camas way is our people,” Nerland said. :Our people who work right here in the Camas school district. They all play a key role in the education of our kids, and that is the Camas way.”

Port executive director David Ripp provided some details on future plans to open up the Columbia River Waterfront with additional public access and a trail. The information about the area’s cleanup and revitalization was also the focus of an open house held at the port that same evening.

“It’s the gem of the Columbia River,” Ripp said. “It’s something we are proud of.”