The Department of Ecology is winding down its presence in the Winlock area, announcing that the emergency response phase to the cooking oil spill into Olequa Creek is coming to a close. DOE says that the source of the oil runoff is contained, the stormwater system has been cleaned and that oil-contaminated soil has been removed. They say that they have recovered all of the oil that they can from Olequa Creek, and that the owners of the damaged warehouse are signing a contract to have that building demolished and removed. Work continues on disposal of the remaining liquids and solid waste after the spill. It’s now estimated that between 66,000 and 100,000 fish were killed when as much as 1,000 gallons of cooking oil spilled into the creek when fire broke out at the Olympic Trading Company warehouse. Most of the fish killed were sculpin; it’s speculated that the combination of the oil, hot water flushing into the creek, and stress from the warm water temperatures also contributed to the high kill rate.
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Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that they’re looking for a “person of interest” in connection with the July 28th death of Christopher Heller, 30, of St. Helens. He was found seriously injured on July 19th, having been dealt a head injury at a home where he had been working near Rainier. He died from that injury on the 28th. An autopsy shows that blunt force trauma was the cause of death, and the incident is being ruled as a homicide. Dickerson says that they’re interviewing people and they’re following up on leads, but no suspects have been identified.
If you usually use the back roads to get to Vernonia, Mist or other locations in northwest Oregon, be aware that one of the main links from Rainier to Vernonia is closed for the next couple of weeks. Columbia County is replacing a double-culvert with a new concrete arch culvert, work that’s going on about a mile-and-a-half north of the intersection with Highway 47. This closure is projected to run through the 16th of this month. You’re advised to use Highway 47 from Clatskanie or use the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway if you’re trying to get in and out of that area.
You may see some strutting around by staff and faculty at Lower Columbia College, as a new ranking of “best and worst community colleges” puts the local institution at number 22 in the entire country. WalletHub.org says that they used “17 relevant metrics in four dimesions,” including Cost and Financing, Classroom Experience, Education Outcomes and Career Outcomes. College officials also say that LCC has one of the highest median wage rates of recent associate degree graduates coming out of the Washington Technical and Community College System. The most recent rankings put LCC at number seven in the state, coming in just behind several Seattle-are institutions.
The “Leave No Trace” events connected to Mount St. Helens continue this evening, with a Hunters Workshop planned for tonight down in Woodland. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Trainers will be on hand to provide information to hunters and other outdoor recreationists to apply “Leave No Trace” principles to their activities. Tonight’s workshop runs from 7 to 8 pm at the Woodland Community Center, and is open to all who are interested.
Longview native Joe Sundberg is making his mark on the American culinary scene, as a Seattle restaurant that he recently opened with three partners is getting national acclaim. “Manolin” is ranked number 9 out of the Top Ten Upstart Restaurants in the Nation by Bon Appetit magazine. There’s a nautical theme to the restaurant; in fact, the facility is named after a character from Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” The Bon Appetit reviewer says that there’s a lot of good food at Manolin, but the mole sauce is the highlight. Manolin is located near North 36th and North Stone Way, a few blocks from Gas Works Park.
Washington’s tradition of growing fruit is the focus of this month’s First Thursday program at the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso. Seattle anthropologist Julia Harrison will present “Ripe for the Telling: Surprising Stories of Washington Fruit.” Harrison will talk about the wide variety of fruit that comes out of Washington, along with background of some of the characters that helped to build that industry. This “juicy” program is presented by Washington Humanities. The First Thursday program starts at 7 pm at the Museum on Allen Street; it’s free and open to all.
School doors swing open today in Longview, Kalama, Toutle Lake and the Wahkiakum School District, and that has local law enforcement out with another reminder about traffic safety and school zone speed limits. The Speed Limit Detection Cameras in the Longview school zones go active today, but you’re reminded of the 20 mile-an-hour speed limits in ALL school zones, with a $124 ticket coming your way for a violation. There’s NO grace period this year; you could get a ticket on this first day of school.
Brian Hatfield is announcing his resignation as State Senator for the 19th District, saying that he’s going to take a job in the Governor’s office, becoming the Sector Lead for Rural Economic Development. Hatfield has been involved with the Washington Legislature since 1989, starting as a Legislative Aide for Senators Arlie DeJarnatt and Sid Snyder. Hatfield served as a 19th District Representative from 1994 through 2004, then he worked for Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen for two years, before becoming State Senator in 2006. Hatfield says that “It’s truly been a privilege to serve the people of the 19th District,” but he’s also excited to serve the people of Washington in a new role. Over the next few weeks, the Democratic Precinct Committee Officers in the 19th District will submit three candidates to the County Commissioners in the district, and they will appoint someone to serve out the remaining two years of Hatfield’s term. Current 19th District Representative Dean Takko has reportedly said that he’s interested in the position.
Cowlitz County Emergency Management says that people with respiratory issues may want to take some precautions, as a nasty odor reported yesterday morning over Longview was traced to a minor release from one of the waterfront mills. Calls about the strong odors started coming in around 9:30 yesterday morning, and they were quickly identified as Non-Condensible Gases caused by turpentine. While a number of people reported the smell, DEM says that measurements show that the levels being released were well below the amounts that would pose a health hazard. They still advise people with breathing issues to stay indoors, and to take other precautions to limit exposure. A change in the weather over the next few days should help to clear those odors out.