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Kara Winger (left) and Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle (right)
Kara Winger (left) and Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle (right)
City of Vancouver presents local Olympian Kara Winger with Key to the City (Photo) - 10/26/21

Vancouver, Washington—On Monday, Oct. 25, Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle presented Olympic athlete Kara Winger with a Key to the City. 

Winger, who competes in the javelin throw and is a four-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020), graduated in 2004 from Skyview High School in Clark County. She is an eight-time USA Outdoor World Track and Field champion, has represented the United States at five World Championships and medaled twice at the Pan American Games, winning gold in 2019 and silver in 2015.

“Kara has made the city of Vancouver, the state of Washington and our entire country proud by not only competing, but also excelling on the international stage and earning a spot in Olympic history,” Mayor McEnerny-Ogle said. “She has the heart of a champion and embodies the true spirit of commitment to excellence, dedication and achieving success.”

At the Tokyo Olympic Games earlier this year, Winger served as one of two captains of the track and field team and represented the entire U.S. Olympic Team by carrying the flag in the closing ceremonies.

“For them to vote for me to carry that flag was amazing,” said Winger. “It’s been months and I still don’t have the words to describe how great it felt. It’s a dream I didn’t know to dream. I’ve lived all over the world temporarily, and I’ve lived across the country, but Vancouver is always my loudest and strongest support system.”

Winger, now 35 years old, plans to compete for one more year and recently began training to qualify for the World Athletic Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, in the summer of 2022. 

Winger is the second Olympic hometown hero to be honored this year. In August, gymnast Jordan Chiles was also presented with a Key to the City. Chiles graduated from Prairie High School in 2019. She competed in the vault, floor exercise and balance beam events at the summer Olympics and won a silver medal for Team USA in the women’s artistic all-around event.

Read the associated proclamation.

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Senior social clubs return to Vancouver's community centers - 10/22/21

Vancouver, Washington – The City of Vancouver’s popular “50 and Better” social clubs for seniors are back at Firstenburg Community Center (700 N.E. 136th Ave.) and Marshall/Luepke Community Center (1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd.). 

The city’s “50 and Better” club program is an important part of social life for many Clark County seniors, providing low-cost opportunities to connect with others over shared hobbies and interests. Most clubs do not require prior knowledge or experience and are an excellent environment to learn new skills. 

A wide variety of clubs are available including book clubs, card groups, mah jongg, knitting and ukulele. Participants are invited to join an established club or stop by during open hours to enjoy friendly conversation.

Clubs are held in the Trapedero II room at the Firstenburg Community Center, which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Luepke Senior Center, located behind the Marshall Community Center, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No advanced registration is required; most club materials are provided. 

Senior clubs and programs were put on hold in March 2020 due to COVID-19. To ensure the safety of participants and staff, the Vancouver Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is taking a tiered approach to reinstating in-person programs. Other senior programming, including hikes and trips, are likely to return in early 2022.

View the “50 and Better” club calendars at www.cityofvancouver.us/50AndBetter. For more information contact Firstenburg Community Center at 360-487-7001 or Marshall/Luepke Community Center at 360-487-7100. Face coverings are required at both community centers. 

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Free after-school programs for teens now available at Vancouver community centers - 10/20/21

Vancouver, Washington – Middle and high school youth ages 11-18 will find safe, supervised and drug-free spaces to socialize and have fun after school at the Firstenburg Community Center (700 N.E. 136th Ave.) and Marshall Community Center (1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd.). 

The after-school activities at both community centers include open gym time and game room access. Marshall Community Center also has Xbox One and PlayStation 4 video game systems available. The Teen After-School Program at Firstenburg Community Center runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Marshall Community Center program runs from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 

A free Teen Program ID card is required to participate. To receive an ID card, teens must complete the Teen Program Agreement form and drop it off at the community center they plan to use. The Teen Program Agreement is available online at www.cityofvancouver.us/teens. To receive a printed copy, visit Firstenburg or Marshall community centers.

Learn more about the Vancouver Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department’s teen programs at www.cityofvancouver.us/teens. For additional details, contact Firstenburg Community Center at 360-487-7001 or Marshall/Luepke Community Center at 360-487-7100. Face coverings are required at both community centers. 

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Celebrate the Day of the Dead with Vancouver Ballet Folklórico - 10/18/21

Vancouver, Washington – Vancouver Ballet Folklórico will host “Luminaria Día de Muertos,” a free Day of the Dead event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at Esther Short Park (605 Esther St.). The event is supported by Artstra, the Clark County Arts Commission and the City of Vancouver.

Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an ancestral celebration that remembers and honors those who have departed. The holiday originated in Mexico and is observed by people of Mexican heritage in many regions around the world. 

People of all ages and backgrounds are invited to attend Luminaria Día de Muertos and learn more about this traditional festival. Attendees will experience a Procession of the Ofrendas (offerings) and Burial of Sadness, beautiful luminarias (small paper lanterns), traditional Mexican dancing by Vancouver Ballet Folklórico, a visit from La Catrina, and an altar to the beloved deceased. 

This year, Día de Muertos also offers the community space for healing after two difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people experienced significant loss.

Luminaria Día de Muertos is open to all ages. The event is outdoors and will continue as scheduled, rain or shine. Face coverings are encouraged. 

Learn more about Luminaria Día de Muertos at www.cityofvancouver.us/Luminaria

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Plant a Free Tree with Help from Vancouver Urban Forestry
Plant a Free Tree with Help from Vancouver Urban Forestry
Make a Difference, Plant a Free Tree with Help from Vancouver Urban Forestry (Photo) - 10/15/21

Vancouver, WA – Vancouver Urban Forestry wants to help residents make a sustainable difference that can last for generations. From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 23, national Make a Difference Day, Vancouver Urban Forestry will be giving away free yard trees as part of a first-come, first-served yard tree giveaway.

Advanced registration is required, with a limit of one tree per eligible household. Several varieties of trees will be available, for as long as supplies last. To register or to determine eligibility to participate in this opportunity, please visit www.cityofvancouver.us/urbanforestry.

Each fall, Vancouver Urban Forestry, a branch of Public Works, distributes free yard trees to encourage the community to help grow our urban forest by planting trees on their private properties within the city. Registered recipients choose their trees in advance and receive instructions on where to pick them up and how to properly plant and care for them.

To maintain physical distancing and meet state and local health guidelines to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, this year’s Yard Tree Giveaway will be a drive-through event from 10 a.m. to noon in the Luepke Center parking lot at 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd. In addition to the free tree for each eligible, pre-registered participant, Vancouver residents will also be able to pick up a free sign to support traffic calming in their neighborhoods and a leaf coupon that allows for free disposal of leaves at designated drop-off sites.

Urban Forestry staff are available to provide yard tree delivery and planting for residents with limited physical mobility. Email Urban Forestry at banforestry@cityofvancouver.us">urbanforestry@cityofvancouver.us for details.

Trees provide natural canopies and shade neighborhoods, promote clean air and water, and enhance the quality of life for all. Based on a 2011 tree canopy study, private property in Vancouver has the most potential to grow our community's urban forest. Vancouver's total tree canopy is only 18.6%, which means the community is missing out on the many environmental, economic, health and social benefits that a healthy tree canopy provides. Planting trees on private property will help meet Vancouver’s goal of 28% tree canopy by 2030.

For questions and to sign up, please visit the Urban Forestry webpage or call 360-487-8327.

City of Vancouver, Vancouver Police Department reach police reform milestone - 10/12/21

Vancouver, Washington—On Monday, Oct. 11, City Manager Eric Holmes and Police Chief James McElvain shared the Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) final report on the Community Task Force on Policing with Vancouver City Council. View their presentation.

This benchmark report represents another major step of a police reform process created more than two years ago to better understand the use of force within VPD and to increase equity, accountability, transparency, public trust and confidence in VPD. View the final report.

The Community Task Force on Policing was created in June 2020 by Holmes to review and assure transparency and accountability during the implementation of 84 recommendations made by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to reform VPD’s culture, policies and practices around use of force. 

The task force, comprised of members representing the Vancouver City Council, the Chief's Diversity Advisory Team, mental health resources, homeless resource providers, police labor organizations, the City Manager's Office, the Office of the Chief and Vancouver’s diverse communities, met monthly between September 2020 and September 2021. Chief McElvain’s final report shows 74 of the 84 recommendations have successfully been addressed, with work on the final 10 already under way.

“I commend both the task force and the Vancouver Police Department for their thoughtfulness, efficiency and urgency in reviewing and implementing the reform recommendations made by PERF,” said Holmes. “Chief McElvain’s report shows the tremendous amount of work that was accomplished in one short year. Our transparency with the with task force members around policies, training and data tracking supported well-informed decisions to help build a better policing system for our community.”   

The initial police review and reform process began in June 2019 when the city manager and police chief commissioned PERF to perform a review of the VPD’s culture, policies, training, documentation and data on use of force and officer-involved shooting incidents. PERF delivered its final Use of Force Report in June 2020, offering the set of 84 recommendations to reform the VPD’s culture, policies and practices around the use of force.

“We value the opportunity to collaborate with the task force and city council to implement policy changes, increase data collection and enhance our training program based on the recommendations and policing best practices,” said Chief McElvain. “Full implementation of the PERF recommendations ensures that VPD is responsive to the needs of the community, that it is accountable and transparent to the community it serves, and that it’s able to evolve with the changing needs and dynamics of the community.”

The final 10 recommendations not yet implemented are currently being addressed by VPD:

  • Seven recommendations are related to the development of an internal Critical Incident Review Board. VPD will begin work on the recommendations in 2022 after the department has addressed significant changes in policing aligned with new state laws. 
  • One recommendation is related to data collection to quantify de-escalation and the department is actively working on procedures to capture this data.
  • Two recommendations are part of current negotiations with the police unions for its 2022 contracts.

The task force was also charged with reviewing and advising the city on establishing its police camera program. VPD will begin testing equipment as part of a 60-day pilot program that is scheduled to begin in early November, with full implementation of the camera program expected in early 2022.

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City seeks applicants to fill vacancies on the Salary Review Commission - 10/08/21

Vancouver, Washington – The City of Vancouver is seeking applicants to fill three vacancies on the Salary Review Commission. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7

This seven-member volunteer commission studies the relationship of salaries to the duties of Mayor and City Councilmembers and establishes the salary and compensation for the Mayor and City Council. Each member serves one four-year term. 

Qualifying applicants must live within Vancouver city limits and be registered voters. City officers, employees and their immediate family are not eligible to apply. Applicants must also be available for an interview with Mayor McEnerny-Ogle on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Applications may be submitted online at www.cityofvancouver.us/boards. For a printed application or for further information contact the Boards and Commissions Coordinator at Vancouver City Hall, 415 W 6th St., P.O. Box 1995, Vancouver, WA 98668-1995, or by phone 360-487-8600 and email c_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us">bc_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us.

For more information about the Salary Review Commission, including links to past meeting agendas and minutes, please visit Salary Review Commission | City of Vancouver Washington.

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Land bridge to close in October for pavement and overlook renovation - 10/01/21

Vancouver, Washington--The City of Vancouver will temporarily close the Confluence Land Bridge, which arcs over State Route 14 east of Interstate 5, for an estimated three-month paving renovation project.

The closure is expected to begin about mid-October and continue through approximately January 2022, weather and construction conditions permitting.

The city’s contractor for the project, Colf Construction, LLC, of Vancouver, will remove the Land Bridge’s failing decomposed granite surface, replacing it with architectural pavers, and renovate the People Overlook, also know as the Kanaka Village Overlook. Construction on the overlook, the most northerly of the Land Bridge’s three overlooks, will include installation of six supporting basalt column sculptures on 2-foot-diameter concrete foundations a minimum of 5-feet below the surface. Total project construction cost is estimated at approximately $350,000.

The 20-foot-wide Confluence Land Bridge, opened to the public in 2007, connects the Columbia River Renaissance Trail with the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Discovery Historic Loop Trail.

While the Land Bridge is closed, bicyclists and pedestrians traveling the Columbia River Renaissance Trail can still access the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site using the Discovery Historic Loop Trail through downtown Vancouver to Evergreen Boulevard. To view a map of the Discovery Historic Loop Trail, visit cityofvancouver.us/discoverylooptrail.

The Confluence Land Bridge was developed by the Confluence Project in partnership with the National Park Service and the City of Vancouver. The wide, curving landscaped bridge features scenic viewpoints, historical interpretive signs, Native American words and imagery, and native trees and plants across its span.

For more information about the bridge and the Confluence Project, visit confluenceproject.org/river-site/Vancouver-land-bridge. To learn more about the city’s parks and trails, visit cityofvancouver.us/parksites.

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City seeks volunteer to serve on its Downtown Redevelopment Authority board - 10/01/21

Vancouver, Washington – The City of Vancouver is seeking community- and business-minded applicants interested in filling a vacancy on its Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA) board. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. 

The DRA is a public corporation chartered by the city. It owns the Vancouver Hilton Hotel and Convention Center and is responsible for overseeing its operations, finances and promotion. The DRA board is also one of the major stakeholders in the city’s Waterfront Gateway Project, a long-term redevelopment plan for the city-owned properties around the hotel and convention center.

Ideal candidates will have experience in property management, project financing, financial management and contract management. Experience in either the lodging or restaurant industries, or both, would also be helpful. There is no city residency requirement to serve on the board. Applicants must be available for an interview with city councilmembers on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

The DRA has no employees. It contracts with an asset management firm specializing in lodging, restaurant and convention facilities to monitor the ongoing operations of the hotel and convention center and advise the board on operational, financial and budget issues. 

Regular DRA meetings are held approximately six times per year at 11:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of the relevant month. Additional special meetings are advertised and held as needed, typically once or twice per year. Due to COVID-19, meetings are currently being held remotely.

The open position is currently held by an individual whose term is expiring and may reapply. Per Vancouver City Council policy, all incumbents who wish to reapply for their positions will be re-interviewed along with any other qualifying applicants. 

Applications may be submitted online at www.cityofvancouver.us/boards. For a printed application or for further information, contact the Boards and Commissions Coordinator, P.O. Box 1995, Vancouver, WA 98668-1995, by email at c_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us">bc_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us, or by calling 360-487-8600.

For more information about the DRA, including links to current and past meeting agendas and minutes, please visit www.cityofvancouver.us/dra.

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City seeks volunteers to serve on its Planning Commission - 09/30/21

Vancouver, Washington – The City of Vancouver is seeking volunteers with an interest or experience in community planning, urban design or housing policy to fill three seats on its Planning Commission. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31.  

The seven-member Planning Commission makes recommendations to Vancouver City Council on topics related to the future growth and development of Vancouver. Commission members serve four-year terms.

The commission reflects a broad range of neighborhoods, professional and community experience and perspectives and seeks to be representative of the cultural diversity of the Vancouver community. Applicants must be Vancouver residents or live in the unincorporated Urban Growth Area just outside the city limits and be active in business, neighborhood or community affairs. Applicants must also be available for an interview with city councilmembers on Wednesday, Dec. 8. 

The three open positions are currently held by individuals whose terms are expiring and may reapply. Per Vancouver City Council policy, all incumbents who wish to reapply for their positions will be re-interviewed along with any qualifying applicants.

Participation in the Planning Commission requires a time commitment of approximately 15 hours per month. This includes regular attendance at monthly meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Attendance at other sub-committee or city council meetings may also be required. All meetings are currently being held remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications may be submitted online at www.cityofvancouver.us/boards. For a printed application or to request the application in another format or language, contact the Boards and Commission Coordinator in the City Manager’s Office at P.O. Box 1995, Vancouver, WA 98668-1995, c_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us">bc_coordinator@cityofvancouver.us, or by calling 360-487-8600.

For more information on the city’s Planning Commission, including links to meeting agendas and minutes, visit www.cityofvancouver.us/pc

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Vancouver City Council awards contract to first supportive campsite service provider - 09/29/21

Vancouver, Washington – On Monday, Sept. 27, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to award a professional services contract for the operation of the city’s first supportive campsite for people experiencing homelessness to Vancouver-based Outsiders Inn—a homelessness advocacy and support organization. 

The nonprofit will run daily operations at the campsite ensuring safety, security and sanitation measures are maintained, and that camp residents have access to the stabilization resources and services they need. 

“Securing a committed and experienced service provider like Outsiders Inn is the next important step to urgently addressing the systemic issue of homelessness in the city,” said Jamie Spinelli, homeless services coordinator for the city. “They are a peer run organization with services delivered by trained individuals who have lived experiences with homelessness, so they know what support is needed, how best to deliver it and do it with compassion.”

Determining a location for the first campsite is the next step in implementing the Vancouver’s supportive campsite program, which is part of the city’s Homelessness Response Plan. The city’s goal is to open three supportive campsites by the end of the year, providing support to approximately one-quarter of the estimated unsheltered population in Vancouver.

“Our city’s temporary supportive campsite program is not designed to resolve homelessness in the community, but rather to alleviate some of the most immediate, severe impacts to people and place,” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes. “Because these sites are supported, campsite residents will have greater access to services, increased stability, and more safe, healthy and humane living conditions as individuals work to resolve their homelessness.”

Once the city selects locations for the campsites, the city will do extensive and robust outreach to all residents and business owners within 1,200 feet of the selected sites, seeking their input during a public comment period.

The supportive campsites will be managed 24/7 by nonprofit on-site operators, will have screening or fencing, will provide sanitation and hygiene services, and offer limited health services on site. 

Per the terms of the approved, one-year contract, the city will pay Outsiders Inn $571,148 for the services rendered.

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