Archive for August, 2013

Low Water

August 28th, 2013

The Army Corps of Engineers is also sending out a warning, alerting users of the Columbia River of low water levels downstream from Bonneville Dam. This coming Saturday, the Corps plans to shut off flows that provide for spill over Bonneville and other Columbia River projects. Those spills are intended to help flush juvenile salmon downstream to the ocean. That extra flow is no longer needed, though water will still be flowing through dam powerhouses. At the same time, they’re going to start storing water behind Grand Coulee Dam for a variety of projects. By Labor Day, water levels on the Columbia from Bonneville to Longview could be as much as four feet lower than they would have been on Friday, the 30th. Boaters are advised to use extreme caution, particularly when anchoring in shallow areas. Water levels could drop considerably in just few hours, due to the multiple effects of low seasonal flow, the flow reductions from the dams and the cycles of the tides. Other low-water hazards will also become more prominent.

PeaceHealth Cuts

August 28th, 2013

Vancouver-based PeaceHealth is announcing a series of personnel reductions, including the elimination of 30 positions at St. John Medical Center in Longview. The health care provider announced the reductions yesterday, which they blame on declining patient volumes. A variety of factors are cited in that decline, including cuts in reimbursements due to state and federal health care reforms, loss of referrals due to the end of the contract with Kaiser Permanente, and required investments in electronic health records. Earlier in the year, all PeaceHealth facilities were directed to come up with 130 million dollars in savings, and these personnel reductions are part of that cost-cutting effort. A number of positions are being eliminated through consolidation and elimination of vacant positions, but layoffs will still be needed. That includes 30 slots at St. John, and 124 positions at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver. PeaceHealth officials say that the affected personnel will “be notified shortly.” Even after the reduction, St. John will remain as one of the area’s largest employers, with around 1,200 employees.

PUD Rates

August 28th, 2013

As expected, the Cowlitz PUD Commission voted to increase residential power rates by an average of five percent, effective on Sunday, Septermber 1st. The rate increase is in line with the recommendations of the citizen-staffed Electric Rates Advisory Committee; PUD Commission President Buz Ketcham says that group did a great job of starting the utility on the road to rate equity for all customers…pudrates…Starting on Sunday, the “basic charge” on residential power bills will go up by $5. The kilowatt-hour charge for power will remain essentially the same. Commercial and industrial customers will actually see their rates go down; “schedule 5” customers will get a four-percent decrease, “schedule 8” customers will have a two-percent reduction, and “schedule 9” customers will have a fifteen-percent cut. The utility’s Rate Stabilization Fund will help to pay for those reductions. The most recent Cost of Service Analysis showed that those rate classes were subsidizing residential rates; state law requires that all classes of ratepayers pay an equal share. It’s planned that the rate inequity be reviewed again next year, to see if additional adjustments are needed. The ERAC had proposed a three-year process, whereby annual increases would be used to bring residential rates in line with the commercial and industrial rates.

Kayser Declares

August 28th, 2013

The campaign doesn’t come up for another three years, but PUD Commissioner Ned Piper already has a challenger for his seat, as Castle Rock farmer Mike Kayser announces his candidacy. Kayser says that he’s concerned about a lack of transparency at the PUD…kayser…While he hasn’t held public office, Kayser is active in local politics, and also served on the Electric Rates Advisory Committee. Kayser says that he has serious concerns about how the PUD is being managed, and by the actions of the Commission itself. He says that we need an “open and transparent” Cowlitz PUD, and that we’re not getting that right now. This would be Kayser’s third run at local elected office, having lost a run for the state Legislature ten years ago, followed by a losing run for Port Commissioner six years ago.

Health and Safety Fair

August 28th, 2013

What had been the annual Senior Fair is being expanded into an event called the “Community Health and Safety Fair,” which will run from 9 am to 3 pm today in the John Searing Auditorium at the Cowlitz PUD building in Longview. PUD officials say that this is intended as an event to get customers in touch with services that meet their needs, providing a place to learn about products and services offered by local agencies. More than twenty organizations and groups are signed up to take part, providing information on things like home safety, veterans resources, nutrition, health and wellness, senior care services, energy efficiency, health resources and other topics. Admission is free; refreshments will be served, and they’ll also be giving away door prizes.

Chamber Way Work

August 28th, 2013

As we make those travel plans for the Labor Day holiday weekend, be aware of some construction in the Chehalis area that could slow you down. Work starts today on repair of a damaged girder on the Chamber Way. Starting at 7 this evening, single-lane closures of the freeway are planned at that bridge, going until 7 tomorrow morning. Those overnight lane closures will run Monday through Friday, continuing into the fall. In addition, at least four full closures of the northbound freeway will be required during this repair project. The dates for those closures will be announced when they are scheduled. Off- and on-ramps are expected to remain open during this work. Get more details from the Washington Department of Transportation.

Democrat Women Meet

August 28th, 2013

Current Longview City Council member Steve Moon and former Councilman Chuck Wallace will be featured at this month’s meeting of the Cowlitz County Democratic Women. Moon is running for the position he was appointed to last year, and is being challenged by Janice Barrera. Wallace is trying to get back on the council after a four-year hiatus, running against incumbent Chet Makinster. Today’s meeting starts at 11:30 in the Kelso Senior Center, located in the old Catlin Hall in West Kelso. A no-host luncheon will be available for purchase.

Shay Donations

August 28th, 2013

The anonymous donor who had been looking to build up some steam for the Shay Locomotive Pavilion donation drive apparently has accomplished that goal, as the City of Longview announces that five separate checks for $1,000 apiece have been donated in the past five days. The donor announced that they would make three separate donations of $1,000 apiece, if others in the community stepped up with individual $1,000 donations. Five separate donations were received within a week, along with another donation of $3,000. Other smaller donations of $5 to $100 have also been received. Between $50,000 and $75,000 is needed to fund the Pavilion, which would be constructed next to the Longview Public Library; this collection of $11,000 is just a start on that total. If you would like to help out, donations can be made to “Friends of Longview-Shay Locomotive Pavilion, P. O. Box 1042, Longview, Washington.” All donations are tax-deductible.

KLOG Wednesday Sports

August 28th, 2013

The Texas Rangers downed the Seattle Mariners 4-3 in 10 innings last night. The Rangers scored the game winner on a controversial balk call against Danny Farquhar. The M’s and Rangers play a day game today, KLOG 11:30 am. Felix Hernandez gets the start for Seattle…..The Seahawks cut the roster down to 75 yesterday, including placing Percy Harvin on the PUP list. Harvin will miss at least the first six games of the season…..WSU football coach Mike Leach will go with Connor Halliday as the starter at quarterback when the Cougs take on Auburn Saturday…..There will be no public tours of the new Husky Stadium before Saturday’s opener with Boise State…..Green River beat LCC 2-0 in women’s soccer yesterday in Tukwila. LCC plays Skagit today at 10:30 am.

Highway 101 Crash

August 27th, 2013

Felicia Conley, 52, and Jyme Clayberg, 72, of Longview are at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, after having suffered “serious, but non-life-threatening” injuries in a two-car crash late yesterday morning near Gearhart. Oregon State Police say that Conley and Clayberg were driving south on Highway 101, as Elias Urdahl, 28, of Shelton was driving north. Urdahl slowed for traffic, and then was rear-ended by a truck driven by Craig Freuhling, 26, of Naselle. Urdahl’s truck was pushed into the path of the car Conley was driving, and they crashed. Urdahl and Freuhling were unhurt. So far, no citations have been issued.