Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

Unemployment Drops

October 22nd, 2014

Cowlitz County’s unemployment rate continues to improve, dropping to an even 7 percent in September. The Washington Employment Security Department says that’s slightly less than August, and nearly two full points lower than the 8.8 percent that was recorded at the same time last year. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the county’s labor force has increased slightly over the past year, and the number of employed residents is “up substantially.” Bailey also says that there’s been an offsetting drop in the number of unemployed residents, which are all positive signs for the local employment picture. The number of continuing unemployment claims is continuing to drop, and the number of initial claims is at “very low levels.” The number of Cowlitz County non-farm jobs grew by 900 in September; construction grew by 400 jobs, along with another 300 jobs in public education. Over the past 12 months, local payrolls have grown by an extremely healthy 2.4 percent.

Council Actions

October 22nd, 2014

Longview’s water gets a below-average grade from its citizens, the results of a survey conducted by the consulting team that the city has contracted to study the city’s water supply. The Daily News reports that results of the survey were presented in a workshop held last night; Riley Research Associates interviewed around 300 Longview residents and almost 130 customers of the Beacon Hill Water and Sewer District, and they graded Longview’s water at 4.5 out of 10. They report that “very few” people rated the water over 5. One of the biggest complaints is the spotting from silica; taste is also a significant issue, along with odor and color. The consultants report that 82 percent of the people surveyed have some sort of complaint about the city’s water. When asked about possible rate increases to pay for an alternative water source, more than 50 percent “strongly oppose” an increase of $20 per month, while an increase of $5 per month was “strongly supported” by 38 percent of the respondents. Additional information on the survey and its results will be presented at the November 6th meeting of the Longview City Council.

The 2015 utility rates for Kelso are set, after action last night at the City Council meeting. Water and sewer rates will rise two percent each, while stormwater rates will rise by 18 percent. Monthly water rates will rise from $30.66 to $31.27, sewer rates will go from $54.48 to $55.57, and stormwater rates go from $7.55 to $8.91. The rates go into effect at the beginning of next year.

Wednesday Workshop

October 22nd, 2014

The Wednesday Workshops at the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso continue today, giving local school kids a chance to connect with the facility on Allen Street. The topic for today’s workshop is “National Book Month and More,” and will run from 3:30 to 5 pm. The kids taking part will be involved in a number of hands-on activities. The Wednesday Workshops are free, and are open to all elementary school-are kids in the area. Pre-registration is required, and you can take care of that by going to the front reception desk, or by calling the Museum at 577-3119.

Clam Dig

October 22nd, 2014

You’ll need the rain gear and you’ll need to make sure you keep an eye on the surf, but the next Washington razor clam dig opens today and runs through next Tuesday. Long Beach and Twin Harbors are open for digging on the evening tides all seven nights; tonight’s low tide is at 6:31 pm, and tomorrow night’s is at 7:07 pm. Mocrocks will be open for digging Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Copalis will be open on Saturday. Be sure to have a current shellfish license, dress for the weather, and be sure to observe the bag limit regulations. Go to the Fish and Wildlife website or contact your local outfitter for more information.

Benefit Dessert

October 22nd, 2014

They’re serving up some sweet treats tonight at Kelso High School, as the Husky Helpers at Huntington Middle School work to raise money to help the family of a recent Kelso High School graduate who is battling cancer. Hailey Spears recently graduated from Kelso, and is now undergoing cancer treatment at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Kelso School District Custodial Supervisor Gary Spears is traveling back and forth to be with his daughter, after he completes his duties at the school district. The expenses connected to this effort are mounting, so the Husky Helpers are putting on a Dessert Benefit that will be held this evening in the Kelso High School Commons. The doors will open at 5:30 pm, and tickets are 5 dollars apiece. If you’re unable to attend, cash donations are also being accepted by the Husky Helpers at Huntington Middle School in North Kelso. Call 501-1700 if you need more information.

Train Fatality

October 21st, 2014

Kelso Police are investigating yet another fatal train-versus-pedestrian collision that took place shortly after 4 am in the 100 block of North 1st Avenue in downtown Kelso. Few details about the incident have been released, other than to say that an unidentified person was killed after being struck by a moving train. This is the second incident of this type in Kelso in the past two weeks, and the tenth fatality of this type this year in Washington state.

25th and Nichols Fire

October 21st, 2014

Longview Fire crews responded to a fire in an apartment above a detached garage, reported shortly before 8 am in the area of 25th and Nichols. So far, there hasn’t been any information released in regard to the cause of the fire, the amount of damage done, or if there were any injuries.

DEQ Appeal

October 21st, 2014

Several environmental groups are filing an appeal with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, asking that agency to reconsider its decision to allow a massive expansion of the Global Partners oil transfer facility at Port Westward near Clatskanie. The Clatskanie Chief reports on this development, saying that the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Neighbors for Clean Air, the Center for Biological Diversity, Columbia Riverkeeper and Sierra Club filed a “Petition for Reconsideration.” These groups claim that the DEQ ignored basic clean air provisions that are contained in state and federal law. Under the revised permit, Global Partners would be able to expand their facility to move more than 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil each year. The groups filing the appeal say that this proposal has “significant implications” from spills, rail traffic and air quality. A timeline for handling the appeal hasn’t been disclosed.

October Storm

October 21st, 2014

It’s time to batten down the hatches, as the Weather Service warns of a strong storm that’s expected to hit the region tonight and tomorrow. A High Wind Warning goes up at 3 pm today on the South Washington and North Oregon coastal areas, continuing until 9 tomorrow morning. Late this afternoon, winds are expected to pick up, with sustained winds of 35 to 45 miles an hour on the beaches and headlands, and gusts of up to 70 miles an hour. Heavy surf is expected, as well. Locally, winds are expected to pick up after midnight, with heavy rain, as well. Forecasters say that we could get more than three inches of rain in the Kelso-Longview area out of this system. The winds are expected to die down around 9 tomorrow morning, but the showers and rain is expected to continue through the rest of the week.

Gas Theft

October 21st, 2014

The operators of the U-Haul truck and trailer rental franchise on Oregon Way in Longview are asking for additional patrols from Longview Police, reporting that they are under almost constant barrage from gas thieves. Yesterday morning, employees at the facility called LPD to report that gas caps had been removed from several large trucks, with between 20 and 25 gallons of gasoline stolen. They estimate the loss at about $90. They figure that the theft took place some time between midnight Sunday and 7 yesterday morning. The manager at the facility claims that his trucks are being hit several times a week, going back several months. Many of those thefts have not been reported. Management at the facility says that they’re in contact with the corporate offices about ways to improve security, but in the meantime, they asking Longview Police to help out with closer monitoring of the property.