They haven’t identified the specific projects yet, but the Longview School Board is going toward “Option 1” that was presented by the Facilities Advisory Committee, a package of building replacements and upgrades that would cost an estimated $225.7 million. The package looks at consolidating the high schools, but the decision on which campus will be used will be made at a meeting coming up on March 6th. The School Board plans to identify specific projects at that meeting on the 6th. The package that was approved last night proposes closing Columbia Heights Elementary, while Mint Valley, Northlake, CVG and Olympic elementary schools would be replaced. Kessler would be expanded, while other elementaries would be upgraded. A “High School Task Force” would be formed and a survey would be conducted, to see which campus that the community would prefer. Elementary and middle school boundaries would also be re-drawn. Details on this package are now available from the Longview School District, prior to next Monday night’s special meeting.
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The proposed Northwest Innovation Work methanol production and export facility at the Port of Kalama took strides toward completion, after the Cowlitz County Public Hearings Examiner approved two major permits for the project. Yesterday, Hearing Examiner Mark Scheibmeir approved the Subtantial Shoreline Development Permit and the Conditional Use Permit for the facility. However, Scheibmeir also denied an application from the company regarding the use of its docks as a lay berth for cargoes not related to methanol. Scheibmeir’s decision requires NWIW to use ultra-low emissions technology, and also calls for other environmental enhancement steps. Ships will be required to use shore power, rather than idling their engines for on-board electricity. This decision now goes to the Washington Department of Ecology for review and approval; a decision from that agency should be out early in April. Northwest Innovation Works is proposed to build a $1.8 billion methanol production facility, exporting that material to China, where it will be used in plastics manufacturing. Company officials are still shooting for having the plant up by early 2018.
The Sheriff’s Office is out with a public appeal, looking for help in finding $40,000 excavator that was stolen Friday night from a business outside of Kelso. Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig says that the Kubota excavator was stolen from Spencer’s Trucking and Excavating, located at 2780 Pacific Avenue, just north of Kelso. They say that the model KX121-3 “Super Series” excavator has rubber tracks, along with a bucket that had a “thumb” on it. The theft happened some time between the close of business on Friday and before daylight Saturday morning. The machine has a custom logo on the side, with the company name in blue and white writing. It’s also noted that the suspect shot the lights out before leaving. If you have information on this case, call the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 577-3092 and leave a message with Deputy Aguilar. Refer to case A17-593.
Longview Police are looking into a burglary reported yesterday morning at a watch and clock repair shop on Ocean Beach Highway. The shop owner reported finding the break-in yesterday at about 8:20 am, saying that the front door had been kicked in. The owner says that two clocks were stolen, along with pocket watches, wrist watches and other items. The total loss is estimated to be in the area of five thousand dollars, including the damage to the door. No suspects have been identified.
Northwest 3rd Avenue in Kelso is closed just off of West Main Street, after a sewer main collapse. The damage was reported around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, and barricades are now up between West Main and Grant Street. City officials say that they don’t know how long it will take to make repairs, so you’ll need to detour around this closure until further notice.
Stephen G. Kamhout, 56, of Winlock is being charged with DUI after he allegedly crashed into a propane tank at the Ritchie Brothers auction yard, causing a huge fireball. The crash took place at about 1:50 yesterday afternoon, when a station wagon driven by Kamhout went off of North Military Road, and slammed into a 500-gallon propane tank. Employees evacuated their offices while firefighter responded; they were able to keep the fire from spreading to two other 500-gallon tanks and to other buildings; it’s reported that Kamhout walked away from the crash, and wasn‘t hurt. He was arrested and booked after field sobriety tests were administered. Damage was limited to the station wagon and the propane tank.
R. A. Long High School is getting an elite award, honored with one of only 104 AVID Schoolwide Sites of Distinction. AVID stands for Achievement Via Individual Determination, and this award recognizes the highest level of excellence in teaching and readiness for college. This is the fifth year that R. A. Long has been involved in the AVID college readiness program.
You’re invited to come by the Monticello Park retirement community for a Blood Drive that will take place today. This will run from noon until 6 pm at the facility that’s located just off of 7th and Hudson in Longview. Call 575-1778 to make an appointment, or get details on the Bloodworks Northwest web page.
Monica Drake comes to Longview today as part of the Northwest Voices Literary Series, conducting a writing workshop and a reading. Drake currently teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art; she recently won an award for her debut novel, which is called “Clown Girl.” Other works include “The Stud Book” and “The Folly of Living Life: Stories.” Drake will be holding a writing workshop from 3:30 to 5 pm in Main 145 at Lower Colombia College, followed by a reading in the Longview Library at 7 pm. Both events are free and open to anyone interested.
There’s a Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper planned for this afternoon and evening at the Rainier United Methodist Church. Along with buttermilk, blueberry and Swedish pancakes, they will also be serving ham, scrambled eggs and light beverages. Proceeds will support missions of the UM Women’s Center.
A 40 year-old man is recovering from burn injuries that he received in a Saturday apartment fire in Longview. The fire was reported a few minutes before 4 pm at the Valley View Apartments, located at 2120 46th Avenue. Those on the scene reported that “something blew up,” as flames were shooting out of a lower-floor unit. The entire building was evacuated while firefighters worked to suppress the fire and keep it from spreading to other units. As the firefighters were working to keep the fire contained, the injured man approached them, with burn injuries to his hands and face. First aid was started, while the firefighting effort continued. The man was treated and then was taken to St. John Medical Center. It took about a half-hour to get the fire completely under control. It was eventually learned that the fire got started by the injured man, as he was trying to re-fuel a butane lighter. The lighter ignited as he was trying to fill it, and then he dropped the still-lit lighter. The fire ignited some nearby materials and then quickly spread. The one unit was extensively damaged, but the other units are inhabitable. The Red Cross is providing assistance to the displaced tenants.
Multiple felony charges are being filed against Iosipo J. Johns, 26, of Longview, and others could be filed his arrest yesterday morning. Longview Police say that Johns was driving a vehicle that had been involved in a robbery and a kidnapping that took place last Friday in Yakima. LPD reported spotting the car at about 8:30 yesterday morning, driven by Johns in the 200 block of 21st Avenue. Longview Police tracked the car to the area of 30th and Dover, where Johns was involved in a crash. During the check on the car, the information from Yakima came up, also saying that the car was stolen, and that the driver was armed with a pistol. Police say that they did recover a pistol; Johns is now being charged with possession of a stolen car, illegal possession of a gun, felon in possession of a gun, and possession of illegal drugs. He’s also being served with a previous warrant. A 17 year-old runaway girl that was in the car is also being returned to Yakima. The investigation is continuing.