News Briefs

Murray reserves $72M for defense, jobs

Washington State’s Defense Appropriations Bill will include $72 million to boost in-state jobs and federal defense projects.

The funds for fiscal year 2009 will go to 21 companies that make military equipment or have federal defense projects.

Vancouver-based nLight received $1.2 million for development of a lightweight multi-purpose laser that should help reduce civilian deaths and friendly fire incidents in combat. nLight also is developing U.S.-based fiber laser technology.

Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works, which has a Vancouver facility, received $4 million for research and development on its Sealion craft. The project is expected to help create and keep family-wage jobs in the Vancouver-Portland metro area.

State seeks NW Natural rate hike comments

The office of the Attorney General of Washington will accept comments on NW Natural’s proposed gas rate increase this fall.

Portland-based NW Natural has proposed raising rates for its 65,000 customers in three Washington counties along the Columbia River. The increase would include a monthly fee for all customers between $5 and $12 – a monthly increase of about 6 percent.

NW Natural also proposes “revenue decoupling,” which allows for a surcharge to make up for lost revenue that results when customers use less energy.

The company has given notice of the proposal in customer mailings.

A public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Clark Public Utilities Electric Center, 1200 Fort Vancouver Way, in Vancouver. Comments can also go to the State Utilities and Transportation Commission at comments@utc.wa.gov or 800-562-6152.

‘Untrustworthy’ insurance agents could lose licenses

The Washington State Court of Appeals decided in August that insurance agents could lose their licenses if they are deemed “untrustworthy.”

The decision came about in the case of insurance agent Jack Chandler, who had his insurance license revoked in 2002 for untrustworthy sales conduct with elderly consumers. Chandler appealed the decision on the grounds that the term “untrustworthy” was unconstitutionally vague and subjective.

The court denied the appeal last month based on Chandler’s misleading marketing tactics and failure to disclose complaints against him in California.

Truck drivers have high injury rate

Truck drivers have some of Washington State’s highest workplace injury rates, finds a new report from the state Department of Labor and Industries.

The trucking industry accounts for 10 percent of the state’s work-related fatalities, with 63 deaths between 1997 and 2005, the report found.

During the same period, Washington’s trucking industry had $265 million worth of claims annually for injuries to muscles, tendons and joints. Occurring less frequently were vehicle collision injuries, which cost the industry an average of $46,500 per claim. One in 13 truck drivers are seriously injured on the job annually.

Life Flight expands regional services

The Kelso-Longview Airport will be home to a new emergency medical helicopter base for Life Flight Network.

Aurora, Ore.-based Life Flight will begin operating in the Kelso-Longview area in mid-September. The company also has helicopter bases in Eugene and Dallesport, Wash., and has provided emergency medical flights in the Vancouver-Portland metro area for 30 years.

The company is owned and operated by Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center, Oregon Health and Science University, both Portland-based, and by Seattle-based Providence Health System.

Clean fuel cars to get sales tax exemption

Vehicles that run on clean, alternative fuels will be exempt from Washington sales tax starting Jan. 1, 2009.

The exemption also will apply to some hybrid vehicles, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Payments made toward qualifying vehicles before 2009 will qualify for the exemption if the vehicle is registered, titled and delivered to the buyer between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.

The exemptions also generally apply to leases and out-of-state purchases of new qualifying vehicles, and to new vehicles that are converted to use alternative energy.

Exemption notices were sent to auto dealers, according to DOR.

County seeks input on watersheds

Clark County’s Clean Water Program will accept public input this fall and winter on conditions of the watersheds of the East Fork of the Lewis River and lower Salmon Creek.

People living or working near those rivers can contact the county about water quality, erosion, storm water, drainage, habitat or noxious weeds at 360-397-6118, ext. 4345.

The input will assist with the county’s Stormwater Needs Assessment Program, which was founded in 2007 and has submitted more than 20 capital projects for storm water improvement.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Skills Center takes national honor

The Clark County Skills Center will be honored for its professionalism curriculum this fall.

The Vancouver skills center won the Character Education Partnership’s award for Promising Practices in Character Education. The award recognized the center for teaching students about behaviors that employers demand, such as teamwork, problem solving and resource management.

The center will be honored at a ceremony in October near Washington, D.C.

REAL ESTATE + DEVELOPMENT

First parade home earns certification

Vancouver-based Tamarack Homes was the first of this year’s Clark County Parade of Homes houses to earn certification from the National Association of Home Builders.

Green practices used in construction of The Cottage, led by Tamarack’s owner Ryan Zygar, received NAHB’s National Green Building Program certification in Washington and Oregon. The Felida home includes recycled or sustainable materials, plus systems for energy efficiency and water conservation.

The parade is hosted annually by the Building Industry Association of Clark County.

Waterfront developers continue to seek input

A community resource team of 30 members is scheduled to reconvene Sept. 24 to discuss Vancouver’s waterfront redevelopment project. The team met the first time Sept. 10.

The team was formed by the city of Vancouver and Tualatin-based Gramor Development Inc. Its members represent groups including Identity Clark County, Leadership Clark County, neighborhood associations and Vancouver Parks and Recreation.

It is scheduled to meet again Oct. 15 at a location to be determined. Each meeting includes a 15-minute public comment period.

An open house with a presentation from the team will be Nov. 5, also at an undetermined location.

 

HEALTH CARE + HOSPITALS

SWMC services mark milestones

Vancouver-based Southwest Washington Medical Center reached the 25th anniversary of its behavioral health services in August.

The program provides the only hospital-based mental health care in Clark County, according to SWMC, and serves about 700 inpatients each year. It also offers outpatient day treatment and workplace assistance for employers.

Also in August, SWMC’s palliative care program, Bridges, completed its first year of providing services to advanced chronic illness patients and their families.

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