The 2016 budget for the Port of Longview is in place, approved at yesterday morning’s meeting of the Port Commission. That budget includes about $31 million in the operating budget, and $6.1 million on the capital side. Port officials say that the capital budget has been reduced by more than two-thirds over the initial presentation, which came in at more than $20 million. In yesterday morning’s presentation, staff says that they’re going to delay several projects, including maintenance of some warehouses, demolition of unused buildings, and the removal of a container crane. They do have $400,000 budgeted for the wastewater conveyance project for berths 6 and 7, $650,000 for expansion of the industrial rail corridor, and more than $200,000 for management of Willow Grove Park. The port’s tax levy will edge up slightly, going to 43 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Looking ahead at 2016, port staff is projecting a reduction in the amount of cargo to be handled through the end of this year, looking at a reduction of $1.7 million in the 2015 bottom line. 2016 is being projected as a good cargo-handling year, but increased expenses will eat away at overall profit. Net income for 2016 is expected to come in at $2.6 million dollars, a drop of nearly 40 percent from the 2015 numbers.
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For the first time in many months, the unemployment rate in Cowlitz County dropped below seven percent. Employment Security announced yesterday that the October jobless rate came in at 6-point-9 percent, down from an even seven percent in September, and an even eight percent in October of last year. Employment Security is also revising the jobs number again, reporting now that Cowlitz County has 600 more jobs over the past year. This past summer, that number was revised downward, saying that 800 jobs had been lost over the previous year. Nonfarm employment is currently registered at 39,400, unchanged from September, but 600 jobs higher than the same time last year. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the number of initial unemployment claims spiked in September, but they went down again in October. The current numbers also show that there are about three thousand Cowlitz County residents that are jobless at this time.
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The Salvation Army is still accepting donations for the Community Dinner that they’re planning to serve tomorrow. Donations for this dinner or for their upcoming Christmas Dinner can be dropped off at the back door of the Salvation Army Temple in Longview, located at 1639 10th Avenue in Longview. You can also call 423-3990 for more information.
This coming Black Friday, there’s also a chance for you to help out the less fortunate while you’re out looking for Christmas bargains. “Warm Coats-Warm Hearts” is holding a Coat Drive, going from 9 am to 1 pm this Friday in the old Korten’s building at Commerce and Broadway in downtown Longview. You can drop off new or gently used coats, hats, gloves or other cold-weather gear. The items collected will be distributed to those in need through the winter months.
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As many of us are making last-minute preparations to head out for the Thanksgiving holiday, weather forecasters say that you may also need to keep an eye on road conditions. Snow levels are expected to drop down to 1,500 feet this morning; with showers coming through, some accumulation is possible, even at the pass levels. What could be more of a problem is black ice overnight tonight, which they say could be possible at ALL elevation levels. Two to five inches of snow is expected today in the Cascades, one to three inches in the foothills, and an inch or two out in the Coast Range. Snow is definitely expected in the Cascade and Coast Range passes, along with the possibility of black ice at ANY elevation overnight tonight. You can call 511 24 hours a day to check on road conditions.
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Longview Police are preparing to post a number of photos on the department’s Facebook page, in an effort to see if the owners of some photo albums can be found. Around 12:40 yesterday afternoon, a man who had bene walking in the 200 block of 20th reported that he had come upon a grocery shopping cart that was filled with photo albums, and those albums were filled with photos. A Community Service Officer examined the albums, and wasn’t able to find any names, addresses or other identifying information. They’re now getting ready to try and post some of these photos on Facebook, to see if any of the subjects in the photos can be named. Those photos could be up later today.
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A chicken salad recall is going out from Costco, as the Washington-based retailer reports that the salad could be contaminated with E. coli, and that at least one person in the state has been hospitalized. The Washington Department of Health identifies the tainted material as “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken”; the salad has an item number of 37719, and was sold in various Costco locations in late October. If you have this in your fridge at home, you should throw it away. In addition to the Washington case, at least four people in Colorado have been sickened by this salad, along with other cases in Montana and Utah. Work is continuing to try and identify the exact source of the contamination. Costco had a similar recall in October of 2013, which was eventually traced to chickens supplied by Foster Farms. Get more information on the Washington Department of Health web page.
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Elevated levels of Domoic Acid in Dungeness Crabs along the Washington Coast is delaying the opening of the commercial crab season. Washington Fish and Wildlife says that the season was scheduled to open December 1st, one week from today, but that is going to be delayed. WDFW shellfish managers say that recent tests show that the crabs are actually safe to eat, but they’re exercising some extra caution before opening the commercial season. Recreational crabbing remains open in all Washington coastal waters, except for Willapa Bay; Puget Sound is also open for recreational crabbing. Additional test results will be checked before the commercial season is open, shooting for the middle of next month.
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The Port of Longview is out with some significant news today. It was announced yesterday that a “Determination of No Significant Impact” has been found for the construction of a “conveyance system” that will expand wastewater treatment at the Port, directing that material away from the Columbia River. The Port plans to expand its wastewater treatment pond behind Berth 7, along with a pipeline that would convey the stormwater to the treatment Area. Approximately 1,700 cubic yards of material would be excavated for the installation of the system, which will help to deal with wastewater generated during ship operations at Berths 6 and 7. Construction is expected to take about three months, but it could be done in phases.
It’s also being reported that someone may be sniffing around the Port’s Barlow Point property. Today’s Daily News reports that some initial discussions are under way between the Port of Longview and a “major household name” that is looking for a manufacturing site. At this early stage, the name of the Japan-based company is not being released, and it’s emphasized that this is still the extremely early phase of the discussion. It’s reported that port officials have met with the company twice so far; they also say that the facility could have up to 200 jobs when it’s completed. They say that the project would require water and rail access, but it wouldn’t be using the large “unit trains” that are used for commodities like grain, oil or coal. It’s possible that more information regarding the property and its possible suitors could be discussed early next month.
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The Washington Public Port Association is honoring the Port of Kalama with its annual “Port of the Year” award. Presented at last weekend’s meeting of the WPPA, the Port of Kalama is being singled out for its combination of long-term vision and innovative planning to create jobs and improve the community’s quality of life.” The Port of Kalama has a number of accomplishments in the past year, including the completion of the new Haydu Park, and development of the building code for the new 70-acre Spencer Creek Business Park. Other honors in the past year also include the team award with the City of Kalama, honored by Governor Jay Inslee as a “Smart Community.” The Port of Kalama was also presented with an Economic Vitality award by Pathways 2020. Port officials say that 2015 was a great year, and they’re looking forward to the future.
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The low water levels at the reservoirs on the Lewis River made for some difficult recreational access during the summer and fall, but it also eliminated almost all fishing pressure on those lakes. Washington Fish and Wildlife also says that almost 52,000 catchable rainbow trout were planted in Swift Reservoir in late May, but anglers weren‘t able to get in there and fish for them. Swift is now just ten feet below full pool, and the boat launch just recently because usable again. Swift had been scheduled to close at the end of this month, but WDFW is now extending the season for that lake through the end of the year. There’s a daily limit of ten trout, but only trout with a clipped adipose fin can be kept. All Bull Trout and Steelhead must also be released. “Landlocked rules” will also be in effect, and ALL salmon larger than 15 inches must be released. PacifiCorp will keep the boat ramp gates open through the end of the year, along with bank access that’s available at Swift Dam. Fishing will be allowed from sunrise to sunset through the end of the year.
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