Governance of the Cowlitz Transit Authority is the main topic of discussion at tonight’s Longview City Council workshop, starting at 6 pm in the Longview City Hall. City staff says several issues have come up that make the current governance model unwieldy. They cite the evolution and expansion of the CTA, which operates River Cities Transit, along with City Council objections and resistance to CTA-approved actions. Staff says that these conflicts present “challenges” to implementation of direction from the CTA, so they’re asking that the governance model be reviewed again. Also on tonight’s agenda will be an update on the city’s application to the Corps of Engineers, asking for permits to modify the Cowlitz River intake that allows the city to keep Lake Sacajawea flushed with fresh water. Staff will be discussing the results of a meeting that was held on the 3rd of this month, involving the City, the Corps and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Tonight’s meeting is open to the public.
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Working with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says that the 2015 salmon seasons are now set. Anglers will be allowed to catch more Chinook than last year, while the quota for Coho is being reduced. The PFMC is setting a quota of 64,000 Chinook, which is 4,900 above last year’s quota. They’re also going to allow a quota of 150,800 Coho, which is about 34,000 fewer fish than last year. Recreational ocean fisheries will open on June 13th, and the Buoy 10 fishery will be open from August 1st to December 31st. The summer season on the main stem of the Columbia from Astoria to Bonneville Dam will be open from June 16th to July 6th. Full details for all of the seasons and quotas is now posted on the WDFW website.
A raw milk dairy in Yacolt is issuing a voluntary recall of its milk and cream products, after routine tests show a potentially hazardous bacterial contamination. Spanish Sonrise Dairy is recalling all raw cow milk, goat milk and cream with expiration dates between April 16th and April 21st, after routine sampling by the Washington Department of Agriculture showed contamination by a bacteria called “Listeria.” Listeria is a foodborne bacterial infection that is particularly hazardous to pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. The products were sold at Amboy Market, Sonrise Market at Dollars Corner, New Seasons Market in Vancouver, Camas Produce and Arnada Naturals in Vancouver. The dairy voluntarily removed all products from store shelves late last week; if you have any of these products in your home, you’re advised to throw them away.
The man who’s planning to build a waste-to-energy facility on the old Boise Cascade property in Saint Helens is hosting a pair of open houses on that facility, one tonight and one on Saturday afternoon. Paul Woods is the founder of St. Helens Organic Recycling; he’s proposing to build a facility that would use “anaerobic digestion” to break down organic waste in an airtight tank, converted food waste and reclaimed cooking oil into a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. The gas would be sold to Cascade Tissue to power their machines, and then the waste product would be sold as fertilizer. A conditional use permit for the project has been issued by the St. Helens Planning Commission. This evening’s open house will run from 6 to 8:30 pm at the St. Helens National Guard Armory. Saturday’s open house will go from noon until 2:30 pm. More details are available on the company’s web page.
There are only a few slots left for tonight’s “Sip Dip-N-Doodle” event at the Mill City Grill, a fundraiser for the Lower Columbia Professionals and their scholarship fund. Participants will get a chance to channel their “inner Bob Ross,” as artist Katie Crowe will lead the session, coaching each person as they create their own painting. Canvas, paint and brushes will be provided; your admission fee will also include one drink ticket and appetizers from the Mill City Grill kitchen. Only 30 spots are available, and only a few were left as of yesterday afternoon. Contact the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce for more information.
Today and tomorrow in St. Helens, the Oregon Coast Children’s Theatre and Center for the Arts is putting on workshops for children and teens. The OCCT is going to be teaching about “Broken Plate Mosaics,” and each student will be making their own Terra Cotta pot, which will be covered with mosaics. The students will also help in the creation of a large mosaic vessel, which will be displayed at the St. Helens Library. These workshops are open to kids between the ages of six and 18, but kids age ten and under must be accompanied by an adult. Next Thursday and Friday, OCCT will be putting on an “Introduction to Puppetry” workshop. The workshops run from 3:30 to 6:30 pm; it’s free to take part, but pre-registration is required. Call the St. Helens Library at 503-397-4544 to get signed up.
Lavon Phimphavong, 24, of Longview is undergoing a mental health evaluation at St. John Medical Center, and could also face criminal charges after an incident that took place Monday at Lake Sacajawea. Longview Police says that a woman was driving a minivan on Nichols Boulevard at about 11 am on Monday; while stopped at the light at 26th and Nichols, a woman who was eventually identified as Phimphavong tried to get into the passenger side of the van. The driver jumped out of the vehicle, which rolled forward and hit a tree. Longview Police say that Phimphavong chased the victim on foot, and then jumped into the lake for a swim. Officers were able to get Phimphavong out of the water, and she was taken to St. John. They say that charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest are pending.
It’s being reported that two family dogs were saved, but another dog died in a house fire that took place yesterday afternoon on Silverdust Drive in Kalama. Crews from Cowlitz Fire District 5 were called to the home of Debbie Horn early in the afternoon, after neighbors reported seeing smoke and flames. No one was home at the time of the fire, and other nearby homes were also evacuated, because of the threat of explosion from propane tanks that were in the house. No humans were in the house at the time of the fire, but firefighters did enter the burning home to attempt the rescue of the dogs. A pug came out safely, but a lab needed oxygen after being brought out. A boxer that was in the house did not survive. The fire did extensive damage to the home, going through the kitchen and the family room. Friends and family are assisting the Horns, and it’s also reported that they have insurance. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
A man who brought the world press to Cowlitz County is out of prison, having served time for his role in a 2001 car crash near Pullman, resulting in the deaths of three Washington State University students. Frederick Russell is now 36 years of age; he was sent to prison in 2007, convicted of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault in the deaths of the three students on June 4th, 2001. After a night of drinking in Moscow, Idaho, Russell tried to pass in a no-passing zone on Highway 270, crashing head-on into the car with the three victims. Just before Russell’s original trial was scheduled, he left the country, heading to Ireland. After negotiations at the highest levels of government, Russell was extradited back to the United States, and his trial was moved to Cowlitz County Superior Court. After a multi-week trial that was monitored by press from around the world, Russell was convicted and sent to prison. Earlier this week, Russell was released from the Larch Mountain Correctional Facility near Yacolt. He still faces another 18 months of supervision, and also owes $94,000 in restitution to the families of the victims.
After 16 years as the Winlock Police Chief, Terry Williams is announcing his retirement. The Centralia Chronicle reports that Williams announced his retirement at Monday’s meeting of the Winlock City Council. Williams has actually worked with the Winlock Police Department for 36 years, including the last 16 as the Chief. His last day on the job will be June 30th. Winlock Mayor Lonnie Dowell tells the paper that they will look at several options; those include the hiring of a new chief, or hiring a new patrol officer, and then contracting with another city or agency to provide department leadership. Currently, Winlock has one full-time police officer and a chief, along with several reserve officers.