Tickets for this year’s Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo are now available on-line, either through thundermountainprorodeo.com, or at cowlitzcountyfair.com. The 2015 Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo runs July 23rd, 24th and 25th, with performances at 7 pm each night. If you don’t have internet access or would like to get your tickets in person, you can go to the Fair Office at 1900 7th Avenue, 8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Get additional information on the Cowlitz County Fair web page, or by calling 577-3121.
Archive | ‘Local News’
Thousands of angry bees complicated a Longview Firefighter response to a brush fire reported yesterday afternoon on Curtis Drive. Fire crews were called to 171 Curtis Drive at about 5:15 yesterday afternoon, when a brush fire was reported. Firefighters arrived and found a 30-foot-by-50-foot fire, spreading slowly into trees and underbrush. Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor says that response was complicated by thousands of swarming bees, who were agitated by the destruction of several agricultural-style beehives. Several firefighters suffered multiple stings, but they got the fire knocked down within a half-hour. Crews from DNR will remain on the scene to look for hotspots. The cause of the fire is still undetermined.
Slowly, but surely, Cowlitz County is emerging from the depths of the recent recession, as County Assessor Terry McLaughlin reports that he expects the county’s total assessed value to once again match or even exceed the pre-recession levels of 2009. McLaughlin says that there are some big projects on the horizon that could increase the county’s assessed valuation by almost 30 percent, but there are other financial concerns. McLaughlin says that the “levy swap” under consideration in Olympia could have significant impacts on local property tax bills, while Commissioner Joe Gardner says that he’s concerned about the use of Road Fund dollars to balance the General Fund budget. It was also disclosed the results of the 400-page Facilities Assessment Study, saying that the county has about 24 million dollars in maintenance needs, along with 84 million dollars in long-term needs. Commissioner Dennis Weber says that they’re saving money in county government through “Lean” management policies, but he says that some significant issues remain regarding homelessness in the county. Weber says progress has been made in reducing local homelessness, but the “tough part” remains to be done; he also says that the Love Overwhelming shelter has “overwhelmed” staff and the city. Weber says that situation could improve as coordinated mental health services will be brought back into the county.
Facebook was buzzing yesterday as stories and comments flew about the changes being imposed at the Love Overwhelming low-barrier homeless shelter in Kelso. The facility was given two weeks to take steps to reduce the amount of criminal activity, or the place might be shut down. The Daily News reports that Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning granted a motion presented by the City of Kelso, declaring the facility as a drug nuisance. The city also asked for an injunction to force the shelter to move, but Warning set a hearing date of July 9 to hold a full hearing on that request. Shelter managers are now required to meet with the city and the Police Department within a week to try and develop plans for reducing the criminal element in and around the building. Social media started buzzing after there was a mixed message from staff, directing clients to gather their belongings and prepare to leave. They were allowed to return later on. The shelter director, Chuck Hendrickson, has not been answering the phone.
Cowlitz County is making an adjustment to Emergency Outdoor Burn Ban that was imposed earlier this week. In the initial announcement, county officials stated that campfires and other recreational fires would be banned. The County Fire Marshal is now announcing that recreational campfires are still allowed, if they’re built in improved fire pits in designated campgrounds; those fires are also allowed on private property, as long as they’re done with the landowner’s permission, contained in an approved fire pit. Get details by going to the Cowlitz County web page, or call Cowlitz County Building and Planning at 577-3052.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.