The Weather Service is adjusting the Excessive Heat Watch that was issued yesterday morning, shortening the duration of that watch just a bit. The Excessive Heat Watch now runs from Friday afternoon through Saturday night. Low-elevation temperatures are expected to be between 90 and 100 on Friday, and could get all the way to 100 on Saturday. Pass-level temperatures are expected to approach 90 both Friday and Saturday. You’re advised to take precautions to protect yourself, your family, your pets and other vulnerable individuals from this excessive heat.
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Longview Police are trying to get a handle on a sudden spike in the number of car crashes in the city. Captain Deborah Johnson says that the number of vehicle collisions in the city doubled between May and June, with another week left in the month. Between June 1st and 19th, there were 68 collisions inside the city limits. That compares to 29 crashes in all of May. When those numbers are meshed with the end of school, Johnson is out with a reminder to slow down and to drive defensively, so you can avoid those collisions. An analysis shows that most of the crashes took place between 11 am and 6 pm, with Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays as the “most popular” days. Crashes happened all over the city, but most were east of Lake Sacajawea. LPD once again reminds us that most crashes can be avoided if you obey the speed limit, pay attention to others on the road, stay off your phone, and maintain a safe following distance.
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Ryan David Hoven, 32, of Kelso is under arrest after a police chase that took place yesterday afternoon in West Kelso. Around 1:40 pm, Kelso Police responded to a report that a man was riding a four-wheeler on the streets near Northwest 3rd and Inch Street. As officers moved in, Hoven allegedly ditched the quad, taking off on foot. Officers say that Hoven jumped several fences in his effort to evade them. He was eventually arrested at Taser-point, stopped in the back yard of a home in the 300 block of Northwest 1st. Hoven was booked into the Jail on a no-bail Department of Corrections warrant; he could also be charged with obstructing an officer.
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The board of the United Way of Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties is announcing a “strategic change” in the way that they allocate funds to member agencies. New Executive Director David green says that distributions to member agencies will now be based on actual donations, rather than on pledges. It’s hoped that this change will help to prevent and avoid the over-allocations that led to the removal of Kalei LaFave as Executive Director. Green also says that donations made to specific agencies or programs, or “designated funds” will be distributed on a quarterly basis after they’re received. The first payout of these designated funds will take place early next month. In line with these new procedures, only funds designated by donors will be distributed at this time; all other funds are being held over to the next allocation period, following the current Campaign Year, which ends next March. After that, allocated funding will be distributed on a monthly basis. Green says that this information is being shared with each United Way agency; get more on this situation by calling the United Way at 423-5320.
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Local natural gas customers will get some relief on their bills, as state regulators order the company to pay a fine and issue refunds over improper billing practices. The settlement with the Utilities and Transportation Commission stems from a staff investigation, showing that Cascade violated state laws and rules connected to late-billing charges. The UTC is ordering Cascade to refund more than 192 thousand dollars to customers that were improperly charged between June 1st of 2012 and December 31st of 2013. The company is also agreeing to pay a fine of $275,000. Those penalty costs cannot be passed on to customers. The company is also taking steps to improve its billing system, to prevent similar situations in the future. Based in Kennewick, Cascade Natural Gas serves nearly $200,000 in 65 communities around the state, including Longview and Kelso.
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The Port of Longview Commission is holding a special meeting this morning, where they plan to take action on a state offer of financial aid to Cowlitz County, regarding the finalization of a planning grant that deals with the Mt. Solo Landfill. After the 9 am meeting, a workshop is planned through the rest of the day, where the Commission will review and discuss Willow Grove Park. The workshop is scheduled to start at 10:30 am, starting with a review of public comments. The Commissioners will discuss the “vision” for Willow Grove, and then they’ll try to finalize the mission, goals and objectives dealing with that land. At 3 pm, they plan to discuss concepts and priorities, before adjourning at 4:15 pm. The 9 am meeting will be held in the Port Commission meeting room, while the workshop will be run in an upstairs meeting room. Both meetings are open to the public.
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The Longview School District is out with a public notice, announcing that they are now soliciting “Requests for Proposals,” looking for organizations that might be interested in leasing out the old Structured Learning Center on Memorial Park Drive. The district says that the lease would cover 1-point-8 acres, containing the SLC building, the driveway and parking lot. It’s also noted that “substantial investment” is needed to modernize and improve the building for current use. The district is looking for an initial lease agreement of five years, along with provisions that the district can end the lease, if the building is needed for district purposes. Get additional information by contacting Assistant Superintendent Chris Fritsch at 575-7003.
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At 10 this morning, there’s a special event planned at the Oregon National Guard Armory in Saint Helens, when the local detachment will return from its latest deployment to Afghanistan. A gathering is planned to welcome these men and women back home. You’re encouraged to come by and show your support for these service men and women.
From 4 to 7 pm today, you can help the Rainier Junior-Senior High School History Club raise money for an upcoming trip England and Scotland, with a goal of taking that trip next year. Panda Express will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the History Club.
The Chamber of Commerce is trying a new format for this evening’s “State of Cowlitz County” event, which will start at 5:15 pm in the Laufman Lecture Hall at LCC’s new Health and Science Building. County Commissioners Dennis Weber and Joe Gardner will be joined by County Assessor Terry McLaughlin at this evening’s event, which has a new format. The Chamber of Commerce says that there’s no charge to attend the event; by making this “free,” it’s hoped that more people might attend. The Chamber still needs a headcount, so if you plan to go, they would like to RSVP by calling 423-8400, or go to the Chamber web page.
There’s a meeting planned for this evening in Vancouver, where the Department of Fish and Wildlife will try to explain fishery changes on the Kalama River, moves that are intended to help reduce the number of hatchery-origin summer steelhead in the upper reaches of the river. Studies show that 50 to 75 percent of summer steelies in the upper Kalama are hatchery fish, which are having a negative impact on wild stocks. Some of the moves already made include an increase in bag limits for hatchery steelhead, along with the suspension of transporting hatchery fish to the upper river. Tonight’s meeting starts at 6 pm, and is being held at the WDFW offices on Grand Boulevard in Vancouver.
“13 Nights on the River” continues this evening on the waterfront in St. Helens. “LoveBomb Go-Go” is scheduled to perform this evening, following the open-air market that will run from 3 to 6 pm. Admission is free, and the entire family is invited to come by.
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Early this morning, the National Weather Service issued an “Excessive Heat Watch” from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. They say daytime temperatures are expected to be in the high 90’s on Friday, near 100 on Saturday, and in the 90’s on Sunday. The Heat Watch covers much of southwest Washington and western Oregon; it’s noted that this is “abnormally early” for a heat wave of this type. You’re advised to take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your pets as the temperatures climb.
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Cowlitz County officials are moving up the Burn Ban that they originally had planned to go into effect on July 1st. At 12:01 this morning, restrictions went up on land-clearing, residential and forest-management burning; this ban also covers camp fires and recreational fires. All current outdoor burn permits are also being rescinded by the Cowlitz County Fire Marshal. Cowlitz County officials say that they’re working with Clark County and other local agencies to coordinate the burn bans, so that they’re consistent across the region. This ban will be in place until at least September 30th, as forecasters predict an early and severe fire year. Contact the Cowlitz County Fire Marshal at 577-3052 if you have other questions.
The Oregon Department of Forestry is also cinching down the fire restrictions in northwest Oregon. Last week, ODF declared the start of Fire Season, enacting restrictions on public use of state forest lands. Restrictions include a ban on fireworks, exploding targets and other “fire-prone activities.” As of last Friday, smoking is allowed only in closed vehicles on improved roads. All open fires are prohibited, including campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at designated locations. Motor vehicle use is restricted to improved roads and designated areas, including motorcycles and ATV’s. Contact the Oregon Department of Forestry for more information.
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