A Celebration of Life is planned for tomorrow at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Kelso, honoring the brief life of Edgar Vasquez, 13, of Kelso. The Coweeman Middle School 8th-grader died last Saturday, after being shot accidentally by a friend. Family and friends from around the area, across the state and from as far away as Mexico will be gathering for tomorrow’s celebration, which will start at 4 pm at the church on West Side Highway, just south of Lexington. A reception dinner will follow, while the investigation into the boy’s death is continuing.
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The County Commissioners are moving ahead with the hiring of a “county administrator”-type of person, announcing that an offer has been extended to former County Commissioner Axel Swanson, offering him the position as “Chief of Staff.” Current Commission Chair Joe Gardner says that Swanson has accepted the contract terms being offered, as the administrative hierarchy is shuffled. The Commissioners came to the decision to create the Chief of Staff position with the pending retirement of Finance Director Claire Hauge, who is leaving her job in January of next year. To make sure that Swanson’s hire is revenue-neutral, Hauge’s position and a second position in the Office of Financial Management will NOT be filled, and she actually recommended Swanson for this new position. The Commissioners say that the creation of this position comes after years of discussion about better coordination, communication and effective decision-making among department heads. They say that most department heads will report to Swanson; elected officials won’t report to Swanson, but they will go through his office in coordination of budget expenditures and personnel decisions. Swanson currently works as the Director of Research for the Washington Association of Counties; the director of that group says that he’s excited for Swanson, saying that he’s well-prepared for a position of this sort. The Commissioners will consider Swanson’s contract at next Tuesday’s meeting.
Ballots for the November 7th General Election are going out today from Cowlitz County Elections and other election offices around the state. Local races and measures dominate this year’s ballot, with city council, school board, port and fire commission races. Local measures include the $121.6 million Longview School District bond measure, a measure to replace the Kalama Police Station, library and school measures in Castle Rock, and several issues in the Woodland area. Later today, nearly 63,000 ballots are being mailed out from Kelso, and your ballot should arrive in your mailbox in the next few days. Call County Elections at 360-577-3005 if they don’t arrive, or if you have other questions.
This won’t be the best weekend to try and get out and enjoy the outdoors, as a strong and wet weather system blows in tomorrow. The Weather Service says that we should expect heavy rain over the weekend, with a warm front stalling near the Washington-Oregon border. As the Jet Stream runs parallel to this front, an “atmospheric river” is trained on the Pacific Northwest, dumping large amounts of rain. They say that we could get 4 to 8 inches of rain in the higher hills, 3 to 6 inches on the coast, and between 1 and 3 inches on the valley floors. Rain in this area is expected to be heavier than the Willamette Valley and areas to the south.
We could see some localized urban flooding out of this system, as storm drains are plugged by leaves and other debris. Flooding of the mainstem rivers is not expected, but areas that have been burned by wildfires could be prone to flash floods and debris flows. Smaller streams like the Grays River in Wahkiakum County could also see some flooded areas. There is a Flood Watch up for Lewis, Grays Harbor and other western Washington counties, with the most rain expected from Stevens Pass southward. The Flood Watch is up from tomorrow afternoon through Sunday afternoon.
There’s also a High Wind Watch coming up for the coast, starting tomorrow morning and going until late tomorrow night. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles an hour are expected on the beaches and headlands, with gust to 65 miles an hour. Coastal communities should see winds of 25 to 35 miles an hour, with gusts of up to 60. In the higher elevations of the Coast Range, winds of 25 to 35 are predicted, with gusts of 50 to 60. These winds could damage trees and could cause power outages. Driving could be a challenge.
In the Cascades, there’s a Winter Weather Advisory up until 5 pm today, saying that heavy snow is falling in the mountains. The snow level is at about 4,500 feet, and they expect between 3 and 7 inches of snow falling at the pass levels. Between 8 and 15 inches is expected at elevations higher than that. Visibility is expected to be extremely limited during these storms, so be ready for challenging conditions if you’re heading over a mountain pass.
Kelso Police continue to investigate a car-versus-pedestrian collision that was reported yesterday behind the Riverview Plaza on Kelso Drive. The incident was reported at about 2:20 pm, with the 911 caller reporting that a woman had been hit and injured. Few other details are being made available at this time, other than to say that the woman went to St. John Medical Center under a “Full Trauma” alert. Other information should be released later on.
Cowlitz County Emergency Management is offering a day-long training in the Incident Command System, taking place tomorrow at the Abundant Life Church of the Nazarene. This is free, classroom-style training that will provide training and certification in ICS 100, ICS 200 and ICS 700, running from 8:30 am until 4 pm at the church on South 4th Avenue in Kelso. The training is directed toward first responders, volunteers, government and non-government organizations and others that respond to disasters and events needing a coordinated response, but anyone interested can attend. The church is located at 615 South 4th Avenue in Kelso; call Emergency Management at 360-577-3130 to find out more.
Today is the last day that you can fish for and keep Coho and Chinook salmon on the North Fork of the Toutle and the Green River near Mount St. Helens. Washington Fish and Wildlife reports that returns of both species of salmon to the North Toutle Hatchery are well below the forecasts, and they need to suspend fishing to try and get enough fish to meet their “egg take goals.” They say that closing these rivers to fishing will help to increase the numbers of fish available as broodstock, and will help ensure future hatchery returns. The rivers close at midnight tonight, and will remain closed to Coho and Chinook fishing until further notice.
Learn about Growing Succulents at a workshop that’s being offered on Friday at this month’s meeting of the Kelso Garden Club. Teresa Bergson will be the speaker, with the program starting at 9:30 am at the Central Christian Church; the church is located at 401 Crawford Street in Kelso.
The Kalama Lions Club is putting on a Garage Sale this Friday and Saturday, going from 9 am to 5 pm each day at 909 Cloverdale Road in Kalama. Proceeds will help support programs supported by the Lions. Call 360-749-0061 for details.
Up in Ryderwood, the annual Fall Arts and Crafts Sale happens on Friday and Saturday. Around 30 vendors and artists are expected to have items on display and for sale in an array of media. The theme is “Christmas in October,” and they will also have the “Grandma’s Kitchen” benefit bake sale going on. The money raised will help support the Ryderwood Women’s Club, and will also help pay for restoration of Pioneer Hall.
Get up to the Toledo Senior Center for a Beef Stew Dinner that will be served Friday evening. They’ll start dishing it up at 4 pm, and will go until it’s gone. Proceeds will help to support the Senior Center and its programs.
The very first Howl-O-Ween Fall Festival happens on Friday at the Humane Society of Cowlitz County, going from 5 to 9 pm. They’ll have hot dogs, snacks and other goodies for the kids. They will also have carnival games, face painting, cake walks and a costume contest. Raffles will be set up, and they’ll have discount prices on adoptable dogs and cats. The Humane Society is located at 909 Columbia Boulevard in Longview, just off of Fibre Way.
Down in Skamakowa, the 4th annual Haunted House will be open on Friday and Saturday night at the Wahkiakum County Fairgrounds, going from 7 to 11 pm each night. Admission is free, but they will be taking donations to make the event even bigger and better next year. The Fairgrounds are located just off of Ocean Beach Highway in Skamakowa.
This is the final weekend for the Stageworks Northwest 2017 season-opener, putting on a production on Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” cast with women in the main roles. The show will runs through the 22nd at the Longview Theatre on Commerce Avenue; showtimes are at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, along with a 2 pm Sunday matinee. Get details and ticket information on stageworksnorthwest.com.
The Love Street Playhouse production of “Always Patsy Cline” will be presented Friday night at the Lewis River Golf Course, a few miles east of Woodland. Showtime is 7:30 pm; get ticket information at lovestreetplayhouse.com.
The Cinema of Horrors Haunted House continues this weekend at the Three Rivers Mall, going from 7 to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. You’ll actually be able to go through two terrifying scenarios, built inside of the old Three Rivers Cinema building.
The month-long “Halloweentown” festival continues this weekend in St. Helens, starting Friday night with the ShoeString Players production of “War of the Worlds,” the re-creation of the 1938 Mercury Theatre production that shocked the country. Showtimes at St. Helens High School are at 7 pm Friday and Saturday, along with a 2 pm Saturday matinee. Saturday at noon will be the Haunted Hot Rod and Hearse Rally, the Windermere Masquerade Ball is at 5:30 pm, and there’s a concert at 8. On Sunday, the “Bite Me Family Bike Ride” happens, along with a Teen Halloween Costume Party and Dance.
Cowlitz On the Move is presenting “Move It Saturday” this weekend, a multi-modal event that’s intended to get you and the kids outside and moving. Walkers, runners, bikers, joggers, skaters and everyone else is invited to the Starbucks on Minor Road in Kelso at 8 am on Saturday, where you’ll be able to check out the route; they say that the route can be modified to match your schedule or fitness level. Go to cowlitzvalleyrunners.com to get more information.
Check out a variety of martial arts and fighting styles at Saturday’s “Quest of Champions” tournament at the Cowlitz County Expo Center. Along with competition in Kung Fun, karate, weapons, grappling and more, there will be demonstrations and vendor displays. All division will win real samurai swords, and cash prizes will also be awarded. Call 360-751-3131 to find out more.
The annual Altrusa Harvest Party happens this Saturday at the Kelso Public Library, going from 11 am until 2 pm. They’re putting on a puppet show, the kids can decorate cookies, and they can also get a book. The kids can get their faces painted, and they can also wear their Halloween costumes. The Kelso Library is located in the Three Rivers Mall. Call 360-423-8110 to get more information.
The Kelso First Baptist Church on S. 4th Street invites you over to another “Soup’s On” community lunch, being served from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday; the Clothes Closet will also be open. Call the church at 360-423-2513 for more information.
A Spaghetti Dinner is being served this Saturday at the Faith Lutheran Church in Kelso, helping to raise money to help 3 year-old Sawyer Barnum and his family, as the little boy deals with a rare and deadly form of epilepsy. The dinner will run from noon until 5:30 pm at the church on Fishers Lane in West Kelso, with all funds going directly to Sawyer Barnum’s medical expense account. Call 360-751-7932 to find out more.
There’s a Harvest Bingo Night happening on Saturday, an event being put on by the Big Leaf Montessori School in Longview. This will run from 4 to 8 pm at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on 22nd Avenue in Longview. Bingo starts at 4:30 pm; there will be raffles for spa packages, a turkey dinner and more. “VIP Packages” are also available, which include Bingo cards, extra raffle tickets, and your own hostess. Admission is free for the whole family.
The Mark Morris High School Foundation holds its Annual Dinner and Auction on Saturday, starting at 6 pm on Saturday at the LCC Student Center. You must get your tickets in advance; none will be sold at the door. Call 360-575-7663 to get more information.
Time is running short to get down to the Cowlitz Community Farmers Market for the freshest locally-grown produce, berries, baked goods and other items. This happens in the parking lot on 7th Avenue across from the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds, on Saturdays and Tuesdays through October. Hours are 9 am until 2 pm.
The “Wandering Reel Film Festival” meanders into the Kelso Theatre Pub on Sunday, a “short-reel film festival” featuring “meaningful films,” intended to show how cinema can affect our lives. This is set to start at 6:30 pm Sunday at the theatre on S. Pacific Avenue in Kelso. Get more information on the KTP web page, or on their Facebook page.
The Kelso Bridge Market continues on Sunday, starting at 10 am at the Three Rivers Mall. Local farmers and crafters will be set up with fresh items, artworks and specially-made crafts. Admission is free.
Be ready for some clogged storm drains and flooded intersections as you make your way in this morning, after last night’s rain and wind. More than .40″ of an inch of rain fell between 2 and 3 am today at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso, with a peak wind gust of 28 miles an hour. Longview had .49” of rain in the past 24 hours with a peak gust of 33 miles an hour, while Kalama had .33” of rain, with a top wind gust of 32 miles an hour. Despite the gusty winds, the Cowlitz PUD reports no major power outages.
Forecasters say that we need to be ready for another strong system; photos of an “atmospheric river” of rain dialed in on the Pacific Northwest are making the rounds on the internet, showing how the weather stream is coming right at this region. Another strong storm is expected Saturday and Sunday; the Weather Service says that “a period of significant rainfall” is expected Saturday and Sunday, bringing a threat of flooding in some areas. Some models show between five and eight inches of rain in this area, and as much as 12 inches in the Coast Range and the Cascades coming out of this system.
Wave-watchers will be heading to the coast, as a High Surf Advisory is now up on the South Washington and North Oregon coasts. The Advisory runs from 1 pm today until 10 tomorrow morning, reporting that offshore wave heights will be between 19 and 22 feet; waves as high as 26 feet are expected on the Central Oregon coast. They say that you’ll need to be extremely careful on the beaches, as wave run-ups will be higher. They also say that jetties, rocks, coastal cliffs and other areas near the water’s edge could be slick and slippery.
The Port of Longview is announcing that they’re entering into an agreement with International Raw Materials, a five-year lease of “Bridgeview Terminal,” the old Berths 1 and 2 underneath the Lewis and Clark Bridge. The lease marks the return of IRM to the Port of Longview; they previously operated at this port between 1981 and 2001. Terms of the deal that was approved yesterday include guaranteed cargo levels, starting at 250,000 metric tons in the first year; in the second year, that number doubles to 500,000 metric tons for each year following. It’s projected that the IRM business will translate to at least 30 longshore jobs, handling dry bulk commodities like potash, soda ash and similar materials. It’s also projected that the Port of Longview will receive another $1.5 million to $2 million per year from this activity. There are still some issues that need to be settled between IRM and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, but company officials are optimistic that those can be settled. Current Port Commission President Doug Averett says that this should be a great deal for the Port, based on IRM’s previous record. He says that they’re looking forward to a long-term agreement “that will bring additional economic vitality to the region.”