Archive for March, 2014

Hoof Rot Meeting

March 27th, 2014

The topic of hoof rot in the local elk population is the topic of a forum planned for this evening at the Cowlitz Regional Conference and Events Center, starting at 6 pm. Cowlitz County Commissioner Jim Misner helped to arrange this evening’s question-and-answer session, which will examine the root causes of hoof disease, possible decreases in herd size, the safety of eating diseased animals and other issues. Misner will be joined by Mark Smith of the Eco Park Resort near Toutle for this “open mic” event. Hoof rot has reportedly become a major issue for elk throughout this region, spiking sharply since 2008. Washington Fish and Wildlife is now studying the issue, and is now starting to develop some findings and recommendations. It’s speculated that a bacteria is causing the hoof disease, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Some possible intervention measures are also under consideration. WFDW is also planning some public meetings on hoof disease in southwest Washington elk, planned for next month in Vancouver and Chehalis. Tonight’s meeting is open to anyone interested.

Health Rankings

March 27th, 2014

Red flags are going up among public health providers, after the 2014 County Health Rankings Report was released yesterday, and Cowlitz County came in 34th out of Washington’s 39 counties. Cowlitz County Health Department officials say that Cowlitz County ranks dead last in the “Health Behaviors” category, looking at factors like tobacco use, obesity, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption and the age of the mother during pregnancy. County Health Officer Jennifer Vines says that this is just one of the tools that they have for measuring the public’s health. She also says that these rankings are another reminder that social circumstances and day-to-day lifestyle activities strongly influence overall community health. Some minor improvements were seen. Cowlitz County moved up in the area of Clinic Care, going from 21st to 19th; there was also a reduction in the number of Preventable Hospital Stays, going from 60 days in 2013 to 53 days this year. The state average is 44 days. The full report is available on www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Art Deadline

March 27th, 2014

Today is the deadline for entries in the Longview Historic Preservation Month poster contest. 3rd-through-5th-graders in the Longview School District are eligible to submit entries, working on the theme of “Longview Through the Eyes of Our Children.” Bill Kasch with the Historic Preservation Commission says that this is intended to help celebrate Longview’s unique history. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three places in “Most Creative” and “Best Artistry” categories. The poster entries will be collected by teachers later today, and will be collected from the school offices by noon tomorrow. Awards will be presented at the opening of Longview Historic Preservation Month, at 10 am on Saturday, May 3rd in the YMCA Fireside Room.

KLOG Thursday Sports

March 27th, 2014

The Blazers could have LaMarcus back from injury when they take on the Hawks in Atlanta today, KLOG 3:35 pm…..The Washington women’s team advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT with a 62-55 win over San Diego last night…..The Mariners lost to the Rangers 5-3 yesterday, but Erasmo Ramirez pitched very well earning the #2 spot in the rotation. The M’s take today off…..Tanner Ruffe and Triston Goldner combined on a no-hitter as R.A. Long beat Corbett in the Seaside baseball tournament. The Jacks play the host team today. Kelso is at Mountain View, weather permitting…..In softball, Union is at R.A. Long and Woodland at Mark Morris…..In boys soccer, Battle Ground beat MM 2-0 and Evergreen shutout RAL 2-0…..In track today, RAL is at Hockinson and MM at Ridgefield.

Carl’s Standoff

March 26th, 2014

A 43 year-old woman is undergoing mental health evaluation and treatment, after a “self-hostage” situation of more than four hours that took place yesterday afternoon in downtown Longview. This all got started around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, when the woman walked into Carl’s Towing at 12th and Vandercook Way, showed employees a gun on her hip, and announced that she was “taking herself hostage.” Employees were able to evacuate the tow company, and they contacted Longview Police. As many as 40 law enforcement officers from agencies all around the area eventually responded to the scene, including Lower Columbia SWAT. Neighboring businesses were also evacuated as the area was cordoned off, and containment was set up. The woman reportedly made a number of strange demands, including several involving her dogs, which she claims had been left in a truck parked near the business. Police continued to try and communicate with the woman; around 7:30 pm, the SWAT robot was maneuvered into the building. Just before 9 pm, the woman came out of the building; a Taser was deployed, but apparently missed the woman. She did eventually give herself up peacefully, and a pistol was recovered from inside the building. Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha says that this is pretty much the best resolution they could have hoped for in this situation.

Freeway Rollover

March 26th, 2014

Two local women are recovering from injuries they received in a rollover crash that took place yesterday afternoon on I-5 in Castle Rock. State Troopers say that this took place a few minutes before 5 pm, at milepost 49. Phyllis Holman, 52, of Longview was southbound when she hydroplaned on the wet freeway, going off the road to the left. Her 2006 Saturn Vue rolled over in the median, eventually coming to rest on its top. Both Holman and her passenger, Misty Merritt Jones, 32, of Kelso were injured in the crash, and were taken to St. John Medical Center for treatment. Troopers blame the crash on defective equipment, and also plan to cite Holman for driving with her wheels off of the roadway.

Mt. Brynion Outage

March 26th, 2014

A widespread power outage is being blamed on yesterday’s blustery weather, as a tree fell over into some overhead lines on Mt. Brynion. The Cowlitz PUD reports that 849 customers in Kelso were knocked off-line at about 3:25 pm, affecting much of Mt. Brynion and a swath along Allen Street, extending into West Kelso. KUKN Kountry Radio was also taken down for a time by this outage. About half of the customers were back on within an hour, but repairs weren’t fully completed until around 6:40 pm.

PUD Anti-Poaching Policy

March 26th, 2014

After some adjustments to keep ultimate control of contract decisions with the PUD Commission, a new policy that will allow the Cowlitz PUD General Manager to negotiate certain employment contracts was adopted on a 3-0 vote yesterday afternoon. Commission President Buz Ketcham says that the goal is to help retain talented people in key positions…PUDHR…Current GM Don McMaster says that this new policy will help give him some additional leverage in employee negotiations. He says that other utilities have lured some key employees away in recent months, by offering better pay and benefits. Under this policy, “wage bands” will be set for non-represented employees, based on the median wage for similar positions in other PUD’s around the area. McMaster will also have a “bucket” that he can use for merit-based wage increases, given the ability to reward employees that go above and beyond, or who are taking on extra duties. Ketcham was also pleased that they were able to get a unanimous vote on this policy, after initial concerns were raised about some of the provisions. Ketcham says that the 3-0 vote shows that the Commissioners can have differences of opinion, but can also talk things through and come to a resolution that works for everyone.

February Unemployment

March 26th, 2014

Even though the Federal numbers show that local employment held steady in February, some seasonal job losses led to a significant spike in the unemployment rate. Last month’s jobless rate jumped up to 10.2 percent, more than a percentage point higher than the 9.1 percent in January. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that a jump like this is “almost unprecedented.” Still, he says that the overall job picture is brightening, with 1,400 net new jobs in Cowlitz County over the past 12 months. Statewide, the jobless rate also edged up, going from 6.9 percent in January to 7.3 percent in February.

Flood Insurance Meeting

March 26th, 2014

FEMA is holding a public Open House this evening in Kelso, where they plan to present and review the new Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps. A short presentation is planned at 6 pm, followed by the availability of city, county, regional, state and federal agency staff. Those people will then be able to answer specific questions about these new maps. These updated maps are considered to be “preliminary” until they are adopted by Cowlitz County and the cities. You can learn more about how these proposed changes might affect you and your property at tonight’s event. The Flood Insurance Rate Map Open House is being held in the General Meeting Room on the third floor of the Cowlitz County Administration building in Kelso, and is open to anyone interested.