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Morning Press: La Center military grads; Marshall Park remodel; WWII veteran dies; Changes at utility

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In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories from the weekend:

Three La Center alums graduate from U.S. military academies

LA CENTER — U.S. military academies are some of the most elite colleges in the country, with as few as one in 12 applicants being admitted. La Center High School is the smallest traditional high school in Clark County, with about 125 graduates per year.

However, little La Center produced three military academy graduates this year. Patrick Mayolo, 24, graduated from La Center High School in 2012, and recently graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Also graduating from West Point was Sean Nolan, 22, a 2015 La Center graduate. Kristen Nye, 23, who graduated from La Center in 2014, recently wrapped up her four years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

La Center school officials can’t recall any other local students graduating from one of the United States’ five service academies, much less in the same year.

“It says a lot about our rigor that we have with the curriculum, and collaboration we have with students and their families,” said high school Principal Carol Patton, who has been in the La Center district for 15 years. “They trust teachers to provide a well-rounded education.”

Read the full story: Three La Center alums graduate from U.S. military academies

All-abilities play at the heart of Marshall Park remodel

On a recent summer afternoon, Marshall Park was full of kids climbing ladders, rocking on swings, hurtling down slides and traversing jungle gyms.

Like nearly all parks, Marshall Park was made with able-bodied children in mind when it was built and dedicated more than 20 years ago. For many kids with disabilities, traditional playgrounds leave them out of the fun.

But there’s a plan in the works to remodel Marshall Park, and it’s being guided by a simple philosophy: That parks should be for everybody.

“There’s a real need for it in the city, in terms of making sure there’s places where people can play together regardless of abilities,” said Melody Burton, marketing manager at Vancouver Parks and Recreation.

“It really is about the city leaning into its values as parks being a place for all people.”

In partnership with Harper’s Playground, a Portland-based nonprofit that helps communities build inclusive play spaces, Vancouver Parks and Recreation is soliciting feedback from residents and developing a plan to remake the 14-acre space.

Read the full story: All-abilities play at the heart of Marshall Park remodel

Ridgefield’s Dorothy Dwyer, a WWII veteran who worked for Eisenhower, dies

Ridgefield’s Dorothy Dwyer, who worked for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower as one of the first women shipped overseas during World War II, died July 3. She was 98.

An online obituary says Dwyer’s family will remember her for her loving, adventurous and humorous spirit, as well as for her love for gardening and serving her country.

In an interview with The Columbian in 2009, Dwyer shared a few of her photographs and memories from her military service, including a snapshot of Winston Churchill and the time she literally ran into French Gen. Charles de Gaulle in a hallway.

Dwyer was part of the first step in the offensive against Hitler’s European fortress, when the Allies moved their forces into North Africa in 1943.

At that point, she was working in the nerve center of the Allied effort in Europe and Africa.

“Churchill was there a lot to meet with Eisenhower,” she told The Columbian. “I was going around a corner and walked into the stomach of Gen. de Gaulle,” who stood about 6-foot-5.

Read the full story: Ridgefield’s Dorothy Dwyer, a WWII veteran who worked for Eisenhower, dies

Changing of the guard at Clark Public Utilities

Clark Public Utilities’ emphasis on customer service started more than a quarter-century ago, during a push to deregulate electricity.

Robert Hill, the utility’s customer service manager, remembers when then-CEO and General Manager Bruce Bosch asked two basic questions. What would happen if customers had a choice? Would they choose Clark Public Utilities?

“Bruce was the one who really transformed the culture,” said Hill, who recently completed his 28th year at Clark Public Utilities. “That was when I was just starting with the company. There was a real cultural shift.”

Bosch, viewed as decisive and visionary by some and abrasive and dictatorial by others, guided the utility through a contentious period when it built the River Road Generating Plant before resigning in 1997. Wayne Nelson became the utility’s top executive in 1999 and ushered in a period of comparative stability.

Nelson’s retirement at the end of June marked a changing of the guard, one that new CEO and General Manager Lena Wittler wants to be barely discernible to the public utility district’s electricity and water customers.

“My hope is that it won’t,” said Wittler, who took over for Nelson on June 4. “My hope is they will continue to see the stability, the stability in rates. We haven’t had a rate increase in eight years.”

Read the full story: Changing of the guard at Clark Public Utilities


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