On the heels of Kelso’s dire budget news, the City of Longview is also looking at severe personnel cuts to balance the budget in the coming year. Today’s Daily News reports on Saturday’s budget workshop, saying that the city has to fill a deficit of $1 million for 2011, and another $1.6 million in 2012. City Manager Bob Gregory says that health insurance costs, employee pension contributions and contracted cost-of-living wage increases are putting serious pressure on the budget, as revenues continue to rise only slightly. They’re now projecting that the city will have to cut at least ten positions, eliminating those slots through layoffs and attrition. Budget managers are NOT recommending any measures to boost revenues, deciding at this time to avoid asking for things like a levy lid lift or creation of either a parks district or a transportation district. There’s still another $840,000 that needs to be cut to balance the budget; they’re looking at reducing that somewhat by moving the urban forest care to the stormwater utility, saving more than $300,000. The City Council will formally act on the 2011-2012 budget within the next two months.
Archive | September, 2010
Residents who use the Toledo telephone prefix and members of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe may be eligible to receive a laptop computer and a discount on broadband internet access, as the Toledo Telephone Company is awarded a $2 million Federal grant. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the award of Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants yesterday, and Toledo Telephone was awarded $2.1 million under the Toledo-Cowlitz Broadband Initiative. The local phone company says that fewer than 50 percent of households in the 864 prefix area and less than 20 percent of people in the tribal area have broadband, with a population that’s older, low-income, unemployed and under-educated. Toledo Telephone says that it’s partnering with the Cowlitz Tribe in the grant, looking to help increase economic and educational opportunities. They expect to expand broadband subscribership and training of approximately 750 residents, focusing on basic computer literacy and job searching skills. Participants will have to complete a training curriculum on a computer that will be “on loan” until the end of the two-year training period. Full details on the program are available by calling Toledo Telephone at 360-864-4552.
You need to know about a couple of road closures that are planned for today. The rail crossing on Cowlitz Gardens Road will be closed from 7 am until 5 pm today, so Burlington Northern/Santa Fe can do some maintenance on the crossing. A similar closure is planned from 7 to 11 am tomorrow at the Yew Street crossing in South Kelso. Cowlitz County will be closing Lone Oak Road today and tomorrow, as crews complete asphalt removal and backfill of the roadway, as part of the Lone Oak Slide Repair Project. Starting at 7 am today, Lone Oak will be closed from the intersection with Pacific Way to Monticello Drive. A detour has been set up, re-directing traffic to 37th Avenue and Sunset Way. The closure is currently scheduled to run until 5 pm tomorrow.
Three men are recovering from injuries that they received in a Saturday night boat crash on the Columbia River near Clatskanie. Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that the crash happened at about 10 pm Saturday night, on the Columbia near the mouth of the Clatskanie River. A witness says that the boat had been traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a wing dam. All three men aboard the boat were injured; Bradley McKay of Clatskanie, 40, Michael Lindberg, 50, of Portland and Clifford Fetter, 39, of Sandy were all taken to St. John Medical Center. McKay, who has been identified as the driver, is in stable condition, while Fetter is in serious condition. Lindberg was treated and released. The witness used his own boat to rescue the three men, then he set the wrecked boat adrift. It was recovered yesterday afternoon in the area of Sand Island, about two miles east of Jones Beach. Dickerson says that information on the crash itself is sketchy. He does say that they know that the boat was traveling at high speed, and there’s another report that they may have been traveling with another speeding boat. The crash investigation is continuing, and anyone with information should call the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at 503-366-4600.
State Troopers continue to investigate a crash that happened yesterday morning on Highway 101 near Chinook, injuring one man. They say that the crash happened at about 1 am, about five miles south of Chinook. Thomas Stucki, 27, of Ocean Park had been southbound when his car skidded sideways on the road, then hit a barrier and rolled onto its side. The car then skidded another 100 yards, rolled onto its top, then came to rest in the oncoming lane. Stucki received a shattered knee, along with several lacerations to his face. He was taken to Columbia Memorial in Astoria, then was transferred to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, and is listed in fair condition this morning. Troopers are looking for witnesses to the crash, and are asking anyone who can help to call 1-800-283-7808, or 360-533-5707. They say charges are pending in the case.
The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office now reports that the Onalaska-area homeowner who shot and killed a man outside of his home in April of this year is now being charged with first-degree manslaughter and and first-degree assault. The Centralia Chronicle reports on the charges now being filed against Ronald Brady, 56, of Onalaska. On April 19th, Brady allegedly shot and killed Thomas McKenzie, 56, of Morton, also firing at McKenzie’s wife, as they were outside of a home that Brady was building. There had been a burglary at the home earlier in the day, and Brady had been staying in the home, in case the thieves returned. Brady claims that he saw a car pull into the driveway, then he grabbed a rifle after hearing a knock on the door. Brady went toward the garage, apparently knocking something over and alerting the McKenzie’s. Joanna McKenzie, 32, claims that they had been given permission to take some parts off of a truck that was parked in the driveway of the home. She says Brady “flung” the garage door open and started firing; Brady says flashlights were shined in his eyes, and he fired in their direction. Thomas McKenzie was hit in the chest and was fatally wounded. After the Sheriff’s Office initially said that Brady would not face charges, the Prosecutor’s office now says that there had been “no apparent instigation” from the McKenzie’s, and that the shooting was “unwarranted.” Brady is due for his initial court appearance on October 12th.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into allegations of abuse being brought by a man who claims that he was beaten and abused while being held in the Wahkiakum County Jail. The Daily News reports on the claim being brought by Sigrin Hjaltalin, 24, who’s claiming that he was shot more than 30 times with pepper spray, and was hit more than 15 times with a baton when he was in the jail back on July 16thl. At this time, the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office is declining comment, but in documents provided to investigators, they say that they were dealing with a disruptive inmate. They acknowledge using pepper spray more than 20 times, and using force to get Hjaltalin into a chair used to control unruly inmates, but jail officials say that any use of force was in line with what’s needed to deal with a disruptive or violent inmate. Hjaltalin remains in the Wahkiakum County Jail after pleading guilty to a domestic violence assault charge, and is due in court today for sentencing on that charge.
Several construction projects around the area continue to have traffic impacts. Daytime lane narrowing continues this week on the Lewis and Clark Bridge, with oversized loads restricted from using the bridge between 6 am and 6 pm today through Friday. Also be aware that they may be intermittent lane closures on the bridge through the week, with delays of up to 10 minutes at a time. Nighttime single-lane closures on the bridge also continue from 9 pm to 5 am tonight through Wednesday morning, as deck repair work is done. Also be aware that there could be lane closures on Ocean Beach Highway in the Mt. Solo area, work that’s connected to the West Longview Sewer Diversion project, along with the daytime single-lane closure on Third Avenue near Industrial Way, part of the Super Wal-Mart project.
Flushing of water mains between 15th Avenue and the Cowlitz River from Ocean Beach Highway to California Way and Baltimore Street will be done tonight. The City of Longview is set to run from 8 pm to midnight. Advisory signs will be posted in the work area. You’re advised to refrain from using water during the flushing work, and to run water through an outside faucet or into a bathtub after the flushing work is done, to wash out sediment that might be stirred up by the flushing work.
Leon Washington returned two second half kickoffs for touchdowns of 101 yards and 99 yards to lead the Seahawks to a 27-20 victory over San Diego. Seattle will travel to St. Louis to play the Rams on Sunday…..Josh Wilson hit a three run homer to lead the Mariners to a 6-2 win over Tampa Bay Sunday. The M’s begin the final week of the season with a game at Texas today, KLOG 4:00 pm…..The Kelso volleyball team hosts Columbia River tonight at 7 pm…..The Kelso girls soccer team hosts River in a 4 pm match at the Dike Field today…..In boys golf, Mark Morris hosts Hockinson today at the Longview Country Club, while R.A. Long and Washougal tee it up at Orchard Hills…..The Blazers host Media Day today before opening training camp tomorrow.