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NBA shutdown allowed many in league unexpected time to heal
Author: TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

Portland guard Damian Lillard was in the gym a few days ago and took notice of what injured Trail Blazers big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins were doing during their individual workouts.

That’s when he realized a bright side of the NBA’s coronavirus shutdown.

The injured guys weren’t injured anymore.

Plenty of aches and pains around the NBA have healed in the almost-four-month span since the league had to suspend its season because of the pandemic, which means the 22 teams that will be arriving at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida next week should be coming in with mostly healthy rosters.

Keeping players healthy once they get to Disney will be another challenge, as workloads ramp up quickly for the July 30 resumption of games — but, at least at the start of camps for the resumed season, rosters will be deeper than they were when the league shut down on March 11.

“I hate to even use that term, like a ‘silver lining’ came out of this because this is something that nobody ever predicted,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And it’s hard to say good things came from it.”

Fact is, though, some good things have emerged on the injury fronts. After 60 or 65 games, most players were likely dealing with some sort of aches-and-pains issue anyway.

Miami’s Meyers Leonard was in a race against time just to get back for what would have been the April start of the playoffs after a horrifically bad sprained ankle, and Heat rookie Tyler Herro had been out with another ankle issue. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo was dealing with a slight knee sprain when the season was suspended. Dallas’ Kristaps Porzingis was getting some occasional maintenance days for his surgically repaired knee.

“The knee was feeling great the whole time. It was just a matter of me getting back into a rhythm, getting that skill for the game again, that touch around the rim and little things like that,” Porzingis said. “I feel like now with the extra time that we had to put in the individual work and get a lot of shots up and keep working on my game, I feel really comfortable on the court. I’ll be really back into my rhythm and into the feel of the game. I’m just ready. I’m ready to be back on the court.”

Collins hadn’t played since Oct. 27 because of a left shoulder dislocation that required surgery. Nurkic hasn’t played since March 25, 2019 because of a gruesome injury — fractures to his tibia and fibula in the left leg. And now the Blazers, who will be fighting to make the Western Conference playoffs, will have a pair of 7-footers back at Disney to bolster those postseason hopes.

“They look great,” Lillard said of Nurkic and Collins. “They make me feel way more confident going in, both of them. Like I forgot … I didn’t forget, but I forgot who they were. It’s been so long that I almost forgot.”

Nurkic is looking forward to reminding everyone what he was.

“I’m healthy as possible,” Nurkic said.

While it’s true that players would have preferred to be in rhythm and not have had this much time off, there are plenty who have raved about the benefit of unplanned rest. Boston’s Gordon Hayward said he was able to give his left foot — which still gets sore from time to time, a residual effect of his awful left ankle fracture in 2017 — a bit of a break, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis said the time off left him feeling completely refreshed.

With games coming about every other day at Disney, that time off now is a valuable commodity.

“It’s been good,” Davis said. “It’s given me a chance to let my body recover, kind of take a midseason break now and just let everything heal and get back to like how I was beginning of the year … to get back to the best version of myself. I feel 100% healthy. I don’t feel — I am. I’m ready. Ready to go.”

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AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed.

New strategy for Vancouver parks facilities a shut-and-open case
Author: Calley Hair

When park facilities across Vancouver reopened this week, it wasn’t because the COVID-19 risk had ended, or even lessened.

In fact, the decision to open playgrounds, sport courts, picnic shelters, barbecues and restrooms to the public came in the middle of the worst week yet for coronavirus, with 143 new local cases identified by Thursday.

But according to Julie Hannon, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, reopening the park facilities was a strategic move. People were ignoring the closures, implemented on March 23, and using the park amenities anyway. So city staff decided to change course.

“We’ve had them technically closed, and we’ve been taping them off for the entire period until now, and there’s so many times people have been using them,” Hannon said. “It made more sense to pivot our strategy and make the playgrounds as safe as possible.”

The decision also affected Wintler Community Park, the Leverich Park disc golf course and Swift Skate Park, which had shut to the public. All three sites are now open.

After communicating with Hannon, City Manager Eric Holmes issued an emergency order on Tuesday announcing the parks would be reopening, effective immediately. The order will be reviewed by the city council at its regular meeting Monday evening.

Hannon said she’s been eyeing the spike in coronavirus cases with apprehension, adding that the new number of cases gave her pause. Clark County now has 901 confirmed cases of the virus, including 29 deaths. No new statistics were available Friday due to the holiday.

But keeping park facilities closed didn’t seem to be helping, she said. It just meant that people kept using them, and staff wasn’t cleaning them.

“So many people are using (the playgrounds) anyway, that trying to keep a practice in place that is ineffective, instead of pivoting to make them as safe as possible — you have two choices, and the first one stopped working,” Hannon said. “Keeping them closed wasn’t proving to be any safer. It was less safe.”

Now that park facilities are officially open, Hannon said that the city will contract with the same professional cleaning service that’s already sanitizing the handful of city park restrooms that have remained open during the pandemic. Crews will try to get to each play structure at least once and potentially twice a week.

However, Hannon said, the city can’t guarantee to visitors that the playgrounds will be free of COVID-19.

Precautions still in play

In a press release Tuesday, Holmes emphasized that lifting the closures does not mean that park visitors can disregard the precautions necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Though pickup games on the sport courts are allowed, players should try to avoid groups of more than five people. In scenarios where park visitors are likely to be close to one another — like during a basketball game, or on a play structure — face masks are strongly encouraged.

Wintler Community Park had been closed because its sandy beach draws crowds during the summer. If visitors arrive and find the park too crowded to safely maintain 6 feet of social distance, they’re advised to find another place to go. The same goes for all public spaces.

And as ever, the emergency order states, anyone experiencing symptoms of an illness should stay home. So should people who have been in contact with anyone diagnosed or suspected to have had coronavirus within the last 14 days.

Signs have been posted at park locations reminding visitors of the necessary protocol, Hannon said.

“All those safety issues are still in play,” she said.

In the Service
Author: The Columbian

Builder Seaman Ana Tomic, a native of Vancouver, completed a successful two-year tour aboard the USS Constitution on June 29. As one of the Navy’s special programs, being selected for duty aboard the USS Constitution requires a high standard of excellence.

“My tour aboard USS Constitution was unexpected but filled with so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” said Tomic. “I will hold this place close to my heart but I am so excited to push play on what I joined the Navy to do.”

Launched in 1797, the three-masted wooden sailing frigate is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat.

Washougal art teacher adapts in pandemic
Author: The Columbian

WASHOUGAL — Once schools closed and distance learning began, a challenge arose for Alice Yang, sixth-grade art teacher at Canyon Creek Middle School. “During our first week of distance learning in mid-April, students hadn’t gotten their art kits from me yet, so I had to come up with a project using household items,” Yang said in a news release. “We started our unit by looking at some artists who use cardboard and paper as their medium. I uploaded a video that shows several ways of connecting cardboard, some that do not use glue.” Projects submitted by students included a cuckoo clock, a Polaroid camera, shoes, and a boat. One project, created by Morgan Musser, stood out with its intricate detail. “Morgan worked about six hours a day for this week-long assignment,” said Yang. “Some felt a bit down that theirs weren’t at the same level, so we stopped and talked about the danger of comparison and how everyone is good at something.” Distance learning overall has been a challenge for Yang and all WSD art teachers. “Not having access to materials is the biggest roadblock,” she said. Access to the internet is also a driving factor in students’ ability to complete work. Most of the projects involve viewing videos in Google Classroom, and though all students have iPads, some don’t have the capability of using it for online work.

You Can Help
Author: The Columbian

Clark County Court Appointed Special Advocate is hosting multiple one-hour online informational sessions for interested volunteers or community members who want to learn more about the program. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interest of children who have come into the state’s care as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment. All are welcome to register for the online session. Upcoming sessions will be held on July 7, 18, 25 and 30. To register visit: https://casaclarkcounty.org/casa-information-sessions-2/. Find out more by visiting https://casaclarkcounty.org/what-we-do/our-programs/casa/what-is-casa/ or emailing cwhite@ywcaclarkcounty.org.

Plan garden with warming climate in mind
Author: DEAN FOSDICK, Associated Press

Every year now, gardeners should be rethinking what they grow and where because of climate change, experts say.

The growing season has become longer, delivering bigger harvests but requiring more weeding and controls. Plants are under stress because of rising temperatures, less frequent but more intense precipitation, and changed pest and disease problems. Flowers and the insects that pollinate them are falling out of sync.

“Conditions have become more challenging for gardeners since the weather has become more unpredictable,” says Richie Steffen, executive director and curator of the Elizabeth Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle.

“We’ve had much hotter summers, while our winters have been all over the place,” he says. “Some were dry. Some were very wet. And in this region at least, our wet spells tend to come with much heavier rains rather than our typical misty rains.”

The average home gardener should examine water use, and estimate how much of that precious resource is going to be necessary and available in the future, he says.

“Be less rigid about lawns and not so fastidious about keeping them watered all summer,” Steffen says. “Create more habitat and extend the flowering season for pollinators.

“And be more selective about plant selection. Many things not so readily available 20 or 30 years ago are available now.”

The most trustworthy plants are those that regenerate quickly and can handle extremes, says Jessi Bloom, owner of NW Bloom EcoLogical Services in Redmond.

“Another group of plants to consider is edibles, for personal resiliency and food security,” she says.

The climate in 2025 will be different even from that in 2020, so take that into account when doing your landscape planning, says Sara Tangren, invasive species foreman for Empire Landscape in Silver Springs, Md.

“For perennials, stick with locally native plants. But when it comes to trees, look to a broader range,” Tangren says. “I’m not recommending natives when talking trees. Go for something instead that can take the heat.”

You also can expect more dormancy in lawns, she says.

“They’ll be going brown in summer, but you can transform that look in part and save on mowing by deciding which portions of the yard you really use,” Tangren says. “Start planting perennials, shrubs and trees there instead.”

Precipitation is becoming more intense but less frequent, and temperatures are getting hotter, she notes.

“Two inches of rain used to be a big deal around here, but now we’re seeing 7 inches. That sounds like plenty, but when it falls in one day and the average temperature is 5 to 10 degrees higher, then the evaporation rate is higher and you don’t have any access to it,” Tangren says. “Soils don’t store water as readily when they get too much at a time.”

Many things are blooming earlier than ever before and also lasting longer into the fall. “That’s giving us more production but also more work,” she says.

Trees are leafing out faster, while the window for wildflower blooms is getting slower and they’re being shaded out.

Death Notices
Author: The Columbian

Betty Mae Brown, 98, Washougal, died July 1, 2020. Evergreen Memorial Gardens Funeral Chapel, 360-892-6060.

Robert William Deffenbaugh, 70, Vancouver, died June 29, 2020. Hamilton-Mylan Funeral Home, 360-694-2537.

Velma L. Woodards, 92, Vancouver, died June 19, 2020. Vancouver Funeral Chapel, 360-693-3633.

Car club visits Vancouver Specialty and Rehabilitative Care
Author: The Columbian

NORTH GARRISON HEIGHTS — Eight car owners with Rose City Classics car club participated in a parade for Vancouver Specialty and Rehabilitative Care, 1015 N. Garrison Road, Vancouver. The facility specializes in short-term skilled patient needs. At the rehabilitation clinic, the club did two brief drive-bys as residents looked at the old cars. Rose City Classics, a club for those with an interest in 1955-1957 Chevrolets, typically runs a charity event at Woodland Planter’s Days on Father’s Day weekend, but it was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Find out more at rosecityclassic.com.

Cheers & Jeers: Growth good; protests off-base
Author: The Columbian

Cheers: To a growing Vancouver. Not everybody will cheer this development, but Vancouver ranks second among Washington cities in population growth over the past year. According to the state Office of Financial Management, an additional 4,400 people called Vancouver home in April when compared to April 2019. Clark County added more than 10,000 people, making it the fourth fastest-growing county.

Population growth is not welcomed by all, bringing with it increased traffic and stresses on housing and other infrastructure. But we look at it as an indication of the area’s desirability, as well as an opportunity for economic growth. Plus, it means we have some new neighbors to meet.

Jeers: To a targeted protest. Although they reportedly were peaceful, organized protests at the homes of two Vancouver city attorneys go beyond the bounds of decency. The groups Patriot Prayer and People’s Rights Washington helped organize the protests in support of the owner of a local dog-grooming business, who is charged with operating her business in violation of emergency stay-at-home orders in May.

According to online videos, about 100 people peacefully gathered in front of the home of one attorney and stayed for more than six hours before moving on to the home of another city attorney. As long as protesters were not creating a disturbance or blocking traffic, they have every right to be there. But gathering in front of an office or marching past a home would seem less menacing than spending most of the day on the sidewalk. Public officials are open to criticism for their actions, but homes should be off limits.

Cheers: To playgrounds and parks. Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes has issued an emergency order opening public parks and playgrounds, which had been shut down under coronavirus restrictions.

But, as growing numbers of COVID-19 cases have demonstrated, caution is warranted. City officials note that there is no regular cleaning of play structures and shelters, and they ask patrons to maintain social distancing and stay home if they are experiencing any illness. If precautions are observed, the openings can be beneficial for residents without further spreading the virus.

Jeers: To scammers. Clark Public Utilities reports a spike in scams targeting customers by threatening to shut off their power. Nearly 1,900 scams were reported in June — 10 times as many as the next highest month this year.

Fraudsters typically warn that a bill has gone unpaid and that a shutdown is imminent, often instructing customers to use a prepaid credit card to settle the bill. Clark Public Utilities will never threaten to immediately shut off power, and a suggestion to use a prepaid card for any bill should be viewed with suspicion. “They are extraordinarily convincing,” a utility spokesperson said. “They put you in a pressure cooker, and you have to make this decision immediately.”

Cheers: To Climate Pledge Arena. The arena for Seattle’s upcoming National Hockey League team is going to have an innovative name that is ideal for these times. Amazon purchased naming rights for the building and chose “a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action,” company CEO Jeff Bezos said.

Corporations routinely pay millions of dollars for the naming rights to arenas and stadiums as a marketing venture. Amazon is taking a more meaningful approach with the name for the remodeled Key Arena, which will be the world’s first certified net-zero carbon arena.

10 tips for a less stressful move
Author: Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service

Moving for many is a stressful life experience. Summer is a popular time for those looking to make such a life transition. With planning, you can minimize the negatives of relocating.

When it comes time for you to make your move, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Moving is a very personal experience, and it may be best to use a company with which someone you trust has had a positive experience.

2. Secure at least three quotes. The lowest quote may not be the best choice.

3. Bigger isn’t always better. Large companies have multiple crews, and your experience may depend on the movers assigned to your move that day. With a smaller company you may likely deal directly with the owner or at least get a more personal touch.

4. Looking to save? Pack or unpack yourself. These add-on services may not be needed.

5. Have pricey art or valuables? Look for a company that specializes in crating, wrapping and moving higher-end items. Not every moving company has this level of expertise.

6. Try not to move at the beginning or the end of the month. Many moving companies have different pricing structures depending on the time of the year and/or time of the month.

7. Read reviews. Online reviews from real customers may impact your decision.

8. Oversee your move personally. It is always best for you to be on site on the day of your move.

9. Separate and pack essentials. There may be a delay in receiving your belongings. Be sure to keep the essentials packed in a suitcase you can carry with you.

10. Purge and reorganize. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to take your clutter with you!

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