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Fort Vancouver library vote nearly a lock

first_imgBook it: Passage of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District’s property tax levy increase is all but sealed.After another 801 ballots in Clark County were counted on Friday, the measure still leads 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent across its four-county territory.The library district gained 14 votes in the “yes” category, which put its positive spread at 460 votes.With only an estimated 700 ballots left to be counted in Clark County, it would take nearly a 6-to-1 “no” vote to flip the result: Highly improbable.“It seems extraordinarily unlikely these results would change,” said Greg Kimsey, county auditor.Bruce Ziegman, FVRL executive director, also stopped short of declaring a done deal.“It’s a big relief. It looks real good,” Ziegman said on Friday afternoon.The tax measure still trails in Clark County by 1,133 votes. Friday’s updated count was 38,449 votes for, 39,582 against — failing, by 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent.But strong support in Klickitat (63.7 percent) and Skamania (52.7 percent) more than offset that deficit. In the Woodland area of Cowlitz County, the levy trails, 255 votes to 288.No ballot updates were due in those three counties until next week. For all of Skamania County, only about 25 ballots remain uncounted.The new grand total for the levy, through Friday: 43,645 votes for, 43,185 votes against.Oregon delivers joltClearly, the upriver Columbia Gorge vote saved the district’s bacon.Besides crediting library boosters’ campaign there to corral votes, Ziegman noted the July 1 closure of all three Hood River County library branches.The closure came after residents in that neighboring Oregon county rejected a May 18 library funding measure, 54 percent to 46 percent.In no time, Oregonians who long had held reciprocal library privileges streamed into the Stevenson and White Salmon library branches — only to learn they now must pay $95 for a FVRL library card, to access books and other materials.“It was a big impact here,” said Jennifer Hull, librarian at the White Salmon branch. “I think it scared the heck out of everybody. It is sort of shocking, when an institution that’s been there for 100 years, overnight, is gone.” (Hood River libraries date back to 1912.)High unemployment persists in Skamania and Klickitat counties, giving library services such as Internet access that much more value, Hull said.“It’s not fair to say it’s just a fear factor” triggered by the Hood River closure that energized voters this week, Ziegman said. “Those libraries are centerpieces in those communities, in White Salmon and Stevenson, and they really care about it.”last_img read more