After 35 years of public service, including 10 years as Longview’s City Manager, Bob Gregory says that he plans to step down at the end of this year. Gregory had some trouble keeping his emotions in check as he made his announcement during last night’s Longview City Council meeting…gregoryresigns…Gregory came to work for Longview in 1998, after spending four years as a water resource engineer with Cowlitz County, and ten years of work as Kelso’s Public Works Director. He took that same job with the City of Longview in 1998, and then was promoted to Assistant City Manager in 1999. He succeeded Ed Ivey as City Manager in 2005. Gregory says that some major things were accomplished during his tenure, including the acquisition and development of the Mint Farm Industrial Park, along with the renovation of Longview’s water and sewer system. Gregory also says that he’s proud of the work done in revitalizing the Highlands. Mayor Don Jensen says that the search process will start in short order, beginning with the selection of a headhunting company. If a successor isn’t hired by December 31st, then current Assistant City Manager Dave Campbell would assume the position of Interim City Manager.
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The company that owns and operates St. John Medical Center in Longview is announcing some upper-level changes, announcing that Mary Elizabeth “Beth” O”Brien will be the filling the newly-created position of Chief Operating Officer in the organization. O’Brien currently works at the senior vice president and group executive officer with Catholic Health Initiatives, overseeing the operation of CHI hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Maryland. She will now be responsible for all operations in the PeaceHealth hospital system, covering ten hospitals in three states, an 800-member multi-specialty group practice, and the system’s laboratory. Alan Yordy will continue with PeaceHealth as President and Chief Mission Officer, focusing on external affairs. Both O’Brien and Yordy will continue to report to the PeaceHealth Board of Directors.
As local ILWU members take their turns on the picket line outside of the United Grain Corporation terminal at the Port of Vancouver, the facility is being shut down, as state grain inspectors now refuse to cross that line. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has been picketing the terminal for 17 months, after United Grain locked out the ILWU over a contract dispute. In the middle of last month, Governor Jay Inslee directed the State Patrol to quit providing escorts for inspectors crossing the picket line, and now, those inspectors refuse to cross those lines. The Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association is now asking the federal government to step in and provide inspection services, but a spokesman for that group tells the Vancouver Columbian that they are “shut down, for all practical purposes.” A spokesperson for the ILWU says that it was wrong for the state to provide taxpayer-funded police officers to escort operations of a private corporation. A representative for the governor says that the WSP services were always intended to be temporary, and that the only real solution to this situation is for both sides to come together and negotiate.
Millennium Bulk Terminals is announcing a “milestone” in the environmental review of the proposed coal export facility in West Longview. On the 15th of this month, the Cowlitz County Commissioners approved a contract amendment with the co-lead agencies on the project, adjusting the consultant’s contract for additional work on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project. This amendment allows work to shift from the scoping and evaluation of existing conditions, moving on to study and data gathering. Cowlitz County, the Department of Ecology and the Corps of Engineers continue to coordinate as co-leads on this environmental review process. Full details are available on the project website.
Longview Fire officials are alerting Longview Police about an apparent arson incident that took place last night at a cell tower site off of Olive Way. Around 11:20 pm, fire officials called LPD to the site in the 32 hundred block of Olive Way, where they had put out a fire in some machinery at the cell tower site. Evidence at the scene indicates that this fire was intentionally set. Fire officials didn’t elaborate on how much damage was done, but they did send the alert to LPD, advising that extra patrols should be initiated, if they were possible. No suspects have been identified, but there is some evidence that is now being examined.
The Cowlitz County Superior Court is announcing the loss of its Court Services Manager. Earlier this week, it was announced that Court Services Manager Farahnaz Tamimi-Schmidt lost her battle with cancer, passing away last Sunday. After acquiring a degree from Linfield, Tamimi-Schmidt came to Cowlitz County in 1993, starting locally as a case manager and therapist for the Lower Columbia Mental Health Center. She was hired by the Cowlitz County Juvenile Department in 1996, and then was promoted to Court Services Manager in 2003. Court Administrator Chad Connors says that the loss of Tamimi-Schmidt hits hard, saying that she impacted countless lives and made this community a better place. An account to help support Tamimi-Schmidt’s family is set up at the People’s Community Credit Union, with donations being accepted at branches in Battle Ground, Hazel Dell and Vancouver.
The family of former Cowlitz County Prosecutor and State Appeals Court Judge C. C. Bridgewater says that no funeral service is being held, but they do say that gifts in his memory can be made to Youth and Family Link, or to Cowlitz County CASA, an organization that Bridgewater supported right up to the time of his death. Bridgewater passed away last Sunday at the age of 70, succumbing to the effects of congestive heart failure. That condition forced him into retirement, but he still served as a volunteer lawyer for CASA, and also supported fundraisers for Youth and Family Link. Gifts supporting each group can be made at www.linkprog.org, or at www.cowlitzcountycasa.org.
Some people in the Grays River Valley are asking the Wahkiakum County Commissioners to draft an ordinance on public nudity, reporting that a new arrival in the area is raising some concerns by doing all of his chores in the buff. In the Wahkiakum County Eagle, Christine and Robert Symonds are quoted as saying that a new resident of the area is a nudist, and can often be seen naked outside of his home, or along the county road. Robert Symonds says that he has had a conversation with the man, who reportedly said that he intends to build a privacy fence, but no fence has been built. Commissioner Blair Brady says that the Symonds aren’t the only ones who are upset; the Commissioners say that they will study the matter further, hoping that some conversation with the individual in question can help to resolve the situation without having to enact a new ordinance.
The Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo opens tonight at the Cowlitz County Fair, with a shift coming in the talent and competition. After 30 years of being connected to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo is now affiliated with the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association. That means a new slate of competitors, all going after a share of the $40,000 in prize money that’s up for grabs. The first session is set for 7 pm tonight, followed by the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” breast cancer awareness event at 1 pm tomorrow. The finals are set for 7 pm tomorrow night. Rodeo attendees can also enter the 2014 Ram Rodeo Sweepstakes, giving them a chance to win $45,000 that can be directed toward any Chrysler Group vehicle, locally sponsored by McCord Dodge of Longview. An extra ticket is needed to attend the Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo sessions, but admission to the Cowlitz County Fair is free, with a full slate of live entertainment on the Dick Hannah Toyota Front Porch Stage, starting at noon. That’s in addition to the animal displays, the midway carnival and other fun stuff. Things wrap up on Sunday with the Mud Bogs and Mini-Monster Trucks, starting at 1 pm.
Stageworks Northwest continues a new production this weekend, one that will allow you to join in with gusto. A melodrama called “Chaos at the Cannery” runs through the 27th at the Longview Theatre on Commerce Avenue, with showtimes at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday, and a 2 pm Sunday matinee.
Youth and Family Link continues with its Family Open Gym Nights on Friday, running from 6:30 to 8 pm. You’re invited to bring the whole family down for movies, crafts, bingo and other fun. Youth and Family Link is located at 907 Douglas Street in Longview.
They’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Way of Columbia County at this year’s “Rhythm on the River” Blues Festival down in Clatskanie. Didgeridoo artist Harper and his band “Midwest Kind” are this year’s headline act, along with performances by Ruby Falls, Steelhead and Linda Myers. Donations will be accepted at the gate; things get started at 11 am on Saturday at the Clatskanie City Park.
There’s an “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” fundraiser planned for Saturday morning at the Longview Applebee’s restaurant, going from 8 to 10 am. Proceeds from the event will help to continue the fight against childhood cancer.
Castle Rock’s annual “Mountain Mania” event runs all day on Saturday, celebrating the city’s logging and outdoor history. The Mountain Mania 5K Fun Run and Walk starts at 8:30 am at Lions Pride Park, and there are all kinds of events going on through the day in downtown Castle Rock.
The second of this year’s “Music on the Mountain” concerts at the Johnston Ridge Volcano Observatory Amphitheatre is set for Saturday night. “Cody Beebe and the Crooks” is described as a “hybrid of Santana and Nine-Inch-Nails,” and will be performing in the amphitheatre from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Admission is free.
The Boys U-10 Select Timber Barons soccer team is holding a Bunco fundraiser on Saturday evening at the Kelso Eagles hall on South Pacific Avenue. This will run from 6 to 8 pm, with prizes for most wins, most losses, Most Buncos and Last Bunco. They’ll also be holding prize raffles; proceeds will help buy uniforms and pay for tournament entries for the team.
Down on Puget Island, the Willamette Valley Basenji Club is hosting a “sight-hound lure coursing event,” where dogs will compete by trying to track an artificial rabbit around a ten-acre field. This is being held at the Misty Rivers Plantation on Cross Dike Road, and will be open to the public at 8 am on Saturday and Sunday.
The Cowlitz Community Farmers Market is open, but not in its usual location. They will have plants, honey and other handcrafted items available for purchase. Hours in the 7th Avenue parking lot at 9 am until 2 pm on Saturdays and Tuesdays through October. For Cowlitz County Fair Week only, the Farmers Market will be held on the Fairgrounds property, rather than in its traditional parking lot location.
The Downtown Longview Farmers and Artisans Market is open from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday at 15th and Broadway in downtown Longview. Along with the locally grown produce, they’ll have all kinds of hand-made crafts, specialty foods, flower baskets and other items for sale. Find out more by calling 957-2515.
The 2014 Cowlitz County Fair opens today and runs through Sunday, with this year’s theme of “Feel the Excitement.” The gates open today at 11 am, with free admission to the fairgrounds until 11 pm, today tomorrow and Saturday. Sunday’s hours at 11 am to 7 pm. Kids are invited to take part in a 1 pm pie-eating contest, sponsored by the Cowlitz County Historical Museum. Today’s headline event is the “Love and Theft” concert, which is set for 7 pm in the Grandstands at the Rodeo Grounds. A separate ticket is needed to get into the show; those tickets will be available at the Fairgrounds. Other headline events include the annual Thunder Mountain Pro Rodeo, which will have sessions at 7 pm tomorrow night, 1 pm on Saturday, and the finals at 7 pm on Saturday night. Sunday’s highlight event will be the Mud Bogs and Mini-Monster Trucks, which will also include the opportunity for local drivers to compete. That show is set for 1 pm Sunday afternoon. There’s also free entertainment throughout the day on the Dick Hannah Toyota Front Porch Stage, along with bingo by the Cowlitz PUD, raising money to support the Warm Neighbor Fund. All of that is in addition to the livestock and animal shows by local FFA kids, the 4-H competitions, floral entries, photograph entries and the commercial booths. Again, admission to the fairgrounds is free, and the weather is supposed to start turning around. Bring the family and come on down.