The Environmental Protection Agency is taking aim at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, claiming that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that the Corps has prepared for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility is “inadequate.” In a letter sent to the Corps earlier this week, EPA officials say that the study conducted by the Corps is “too narrow in scope,” and failed to adequately analyze possible impacts on air quality, transportation, noise, climate change, water quality and several other topics. The public comment period on the D-E-I-S ended on Tuesday, the day that the EPA’s letter was submitted. It’s reported that more than 3,300 comments have been submitted on the statement. The original schedule had the Corps releasing the Final E-I-S in the middle of next year, but the EPA is now suggesting that an entirely new study be done, with an additional public comment period. It’s not yet know how this letter might impact the Corps and the process of completing this environmental review. Cowlitz County and the Washington Department of Ecology are also completing a separate Environmental Impact Statement process.
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Weyerhaeuser is announcing the completion of the sale of its Cellulose Fiber segment, selling five pulp mills and two modified fiber mills to International Paper. The deal comes in at $2.2 billion in cash; it was first announced in May of this year, as Weyco made the move to sell off all of its paper businesses. The sale includes pulp mills in Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Alberta, along with the modified fiber mills in Mississippi and Poland. President and CEO Doyle Simmons says that this sale “delivers compelling values for shareholders,” and marks a “significant milestone” in the journey to becoming the world’s premier timber, land and forest products company. Company officials say that they expect to use a “substantial portion” of the $1.6 billion in after-tax proceeds to pay down debt.
Several sportfishing groups are making an appeal to Oregon Governor Kate Brown, asking her to block the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife from altering rules regarding commercial gillnet fishing on the Lower Columbia River. Earlier this week, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Northwest Steelheaders, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Northwest Guides and Anglers Association sent a “sternly worded” letter to Brown, threatening to hold support for ODFW if they proceed with their plans. Early last month, a proposal to allow some commercial gillnets between Sauvie Island and Beacon Rock were put forward. This will be a topic at Friday’s meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which will be meeting in Salem.
They’re starting the process of finding a new Chief Operating Officer for PeaceHealth, as Beth O’Brien announced that she’s leaving the organization, heading back east to be with family. O’Brien was only with PeaceHealth for two years, coming to the Vancouver-based health care chain from Catholic Health Initiatives in Colorado. She started in health care as a Registered Nurse, working her way up into administrative roles. O’Brien says that she’s extremely proud of what’s been accomplished in her two-year tenure, and she’s “inspired” by what PeaceHealth will accomplish in the future. Her last day is December 9th; PeaceHealth says that an immediate search is being conducted, looking for O’Brien’s successor.
Open Enrollment for Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans closes on the 7th of this month, and there are some assistance events being set up in the local area. United Health Care plans to be set up at the Kelso Senior Center this afternoon, starting at 2 pm. Local licensed and certified sales representatives will be available to provide information and to answer questions about Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Similar events are planned for 10 am on Monday, the 5th at St. John Medical Center, and at 10 am on the 6th at the Longview Senior Center. Call 1-855-338-3986 for more information.
The holiday bazaars start today in the local area, starting with the Holiday Faire that’s being put on by the Artisan Guild of Mt. St. Helens. This show will run from 9 am to 6 pm today and tomorrow at Cassava’s located at 14th and Broadway in Longview. Along with the artistic gift items that will be for sale, they’ll have Christmas treat bags for your dogs and cats for $2 apiece; proceeds from the sale of those bags will go to the Humane Society of Cowlitz County. They’ll also be accepting donations of cash, cat and kitten food, along with new and usable towels.
The fifth annual Holiday Bazaar is happening this weekend at the Sunny Meadows Community Center, located in the 4400 block of Ocean Beach Highway. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm today, tomorrow and Sunday; they also plan to be open next weekend and the weekend after that. This is being sponsored by RIB Crafts, and is a benefit for military care packages.
After getting dumped on with several feet of snow over the past week, the White Pass Ski Area is planning to open this weekend. The resort is announcing that it will open Saturday and Sunday, running the Great White, Platter and Carpet lifts from 8:45 am to 4 pm. Holiday and Far East may also be open, but you should be ready for the possibility of some “thin spots” on some runs. The Nordic Center will also be open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The “Brews, Brats and Boards” fundraiser for the Ski Patrol will also be held this Saturday, going from 5 to 9 pm. Get full details on skiwhitepass.com.
Woodland Police say that they had to Tase April Renee Taylor, 29, twice as they took her into custody early yesterday morning. Woodland Officers report making contact with Taylor shortly after 1 am yesterday, during a traffic stop in the 1400 block of the Dike Access Road. They say that she was not cooperative, and made threats with a knife that was on her person. Taylor was eventually subdued and booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of making threats with a knife, resisting arrest, and a no-bail Department of Corrections hold. The vehicle that Taylor was driving has also been impounded.
An APB is out for David Serrano-Mosso, 20, of Centralia, after he was identified as the suspect in a shooting that took place yesterday afternoon. Lewis County Deputies responded to an apartment complex on Ives Road yesterday afternoon at about 2:40 pm, when it was reported that a man had been wounded. They say that a 19 year-old man was bleeding from a leg wound. The man says that he was standing outside of the building when Serrano-Mosso arrived as a passenger in an SUV. The victim claims that Serrano-Mosso called out to him, and when he approached, Serrano-Mosso pulled out a handgun, and shot at the victim, grazing his leg. They say that the victim and the suspect are acquainted. The SUV and the driver have been found, but Serrano-Mosso is still at large. Authorities say that he should be considered as “armed and dangerous”; call the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at 360-748-9286 if you know where he might be.
A fine of nearly $125,000 is being levied against SSA Pacific, saying that some simple safety measures could have helped to prevent a fatal fall at the Port of Longview. In June of this year, 48 year-old Jim Meadows died after a fall while loading logs onto the “Forest Trader.” The Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced a fine of $124,709 against Seattle-based SSA Pacific, citing three “Willful” violations aboard the ship on June 21st and 22nd of this year, violations that exposed workers to fall hazards. Galen Blanton with OSHA says that “Meadows’ death was preventable, if only a few commonsense measures had been taken.” It’s also noted that SSA Pacific had been cited for similar violations in Oregon and in Florida over the past three years. In its response to the citation and notification of penalty, SSA Pacific cites a rule regarding the use of “spotters,” rather than physical barriers in certain situations. SSA Pacific has until January 18th to abate the violation.