Local authorities are still waiting for the word from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before they can dispatch a sick sea lion that has been stranded on a sand bar in the Cowlitz River for nearly a week. Mike Nicholson with the Cowlitz County Humane Society says that he’s been keeping an eye on the animal, and has been in touch with the federal officials that administer the National Marine Mammal Protection Act. Based on the reports that have already been provided, officials with NOAA are saying that the animal should be left alone for the time being, to see if it might make it back into the water on its own. Nicholson says that a veterinarian is expected to check on the sea lion today or tomorrow, and there could be action taken after that examination. Nicholson says that reports that the sea lion had been shot don’t appear to be true. There have been other reports of dead sea lions floating down the Cowlitz, but none of those reports have proven to be true.
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The Longview School District is announcing that the “interim” labels are being taken off of Assistant Principals Scott Merzoian and Lori Larson, saying that both will continue in the positions that they’ve been holding for this school year. Merzoian has been at Monticello Middle School, while Larson has been at Mount Solo Middle School. Both were appointed for this year only, but the decision was made to retain both people in these positions, based on an internal review process. District officials say that the decisions were based on staff feedback, demonstrated leadership abilities and the stability that this will afford to incoming Superintendent Dan Zorn. Lori Larson has been with the Longview School District since 1983, while Merzoian came to Longview from Kelso, where he had moved after 16 years as a math teacher in the Toledo School District.
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Word is getting out about a $7 million project on Sauvie Island, intended to help try and save Sturgeon Lake. The lake takes up nearly 25 percent of the island, but it’s slowly shrinking and drying up. The lake is used be salmon and steelhead smolt as a safe restring place as they head out to the ocean, and it also provides crucial habitat to millions of migrating birds. The West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District has spent the last two years raising $1.6 million as a match for a $6 million grant from the Corps of Engineers. The restoration project is scheduled to begin in 2017, with dredging of a creek that supplies the lake, along with culvert replacement and removal of some levees. The Conservation District also needs to figure out how to come up with 17 thousand dollars for ongoing upkeep of the renovated area.
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Money from Nike will help to pay for trail development and construction in the Clatskanie area. The City of Clatskanie is announcing the acceptance of a $20,000 Nike Employee Grant, with that money being directed to the Clatskanie Heritage Trail. An open house is planned for Saturday, May 9th, where designers will ask for community input on signage, activities and heritage topics. To get additional details on this project, call Oregon State University Extension at 503-397-3462.
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Longview Police are looking into a “shots fired” incident that was reported last night as a possible gang incident. Around 9:30 pm, 911 calls started coming in from the 300 block of 28th Avenue, with the callers reporting that someone may have been shot. One of the callers said that they heard one gunshot, followed by a woman yelling “Call the cops!” Officers responded, and eventually determined that no one had been injured. They do say that it looks like at least one round was fired, in what police are now calling a drive-by shooting. No suspects have been identified.
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Charges of felony drug possession and obstructing an officer are being filed against Louis James Thibodeaux of Longview, arrested yesterday evening after Longview Police claim to seen Thibodeaux urinating in public. This got started just before 6 last night, when officer supposedly saw urinating in the area of 26th and Alabama. Officers say that Thibodeaux stopped when he was first contacted, but then he tried to run. He didn’t get very far, and was arrested after a very brief foot chase. A check of Thibodeaux’s person reportedly turned up illegal drugs, which were reportedly in “delivery quantities.” He’s currently being held without bail, awaiting his first court appearance.
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A body that was found in the Columbia River near Kalama back on the 16th of this month is that of a foreign ship crewman who had jumped ship late last year. A fisherman reported finding the body, not far from the ship berth where Aung Kyaw Thu Tun, 37,of Myanmar had been reported as missing back on December 26th of last year. County Coroner Tim Davidson notes that Tun died shortly after he jumped from the ship, landing in the Columbia. It’s noted that there were no traumatic injuries to the body; Davidson says that the cause of death is drowning, and the manner of death is classed as an “accident.” Tun had been working as the chief cook on the “Unico Stella,” which had been docked at the Temco grain terminal, not far from where the body was found.
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Local Animal Control Officers are trying to get in touch with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife and other federal agencies, to try and get permission to euthanize an injured sea lion. Animal Control says that the sea lion has been lying on a sand bar in the Cowlitz River next to Gerhart Gardens Park, where it has been for several days. Because of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, federal permission is needed to destroy one of these animals. We don’t know yet if that permission has been granted.
A person living up on Cunningham Lane in Kelso called for help early this morning, saying that there were two bears close to the house. The caller also says that one of the bears tried to kill one of his cats. The caller is being referred to the State Patrol and to Washington Fish and Wildlife, who plan to come to this area later today, to assess the situation.
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Longview’s water line replacement projects are continuing, with a series of street and alley closures planned in the area of 15th and 16th, along Baltimore, Cypress and Nichols. The city says that the alley between 15th and 16th will be closed for about a week as work is done in the alley between 15th and 16th, going from Baltimore to Cypress. The intersection at Cypress, 15th and 16th will also be closed during this work; those closures will be in place 24 hours a day. Intermittent closures are planned in the alley between 15th and 16th, from Cypress to 15th and from Cypress to Nichols over the next couple of weeks. That work is expected to take about three weeks; the intermittent closures will occur between 7 am to 5 pm, and the alley will be open during non-work hours. Detours will be posted. Contact Longview Public Works for more information.
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The Cowlitz Indians now say that they’re hoping to start construction on the casino-resort project near La Center by the end of this year. The Vancouver Columbian reports that the tribe signed a labor agreement with the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Building Trades Council, making sure that group is responsible for all site preparation and construction. Designs for the building haven’t yet been finished, but Tribal Chairman Bill Iyall says that they’re still shooting for a 134,000 square foot gaming facility, along with shopping and retail space. There’s also a court hearing on the granting of a reservation to the Cowlitz, but the tribe is expressing confidence that they will prevail. Construction could take as long as two years.
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