Several environmental groups are filing an appeal with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, asking that agency to reconsider its decision to allow a massive expansion of the Global Partners oil transfer facility at Port Westward near Clatskanie. The Clatskanie Chief reports on this development, saying that the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Neighbors for Clean Air, the Center for Biological Diversity, Columbia Riverkeeper and Sierra Club filed a “Petition for Reconsideration.” These groups claim that the DEQ ignored basic clean air provisions that are contained in state and federal law. Under the revised permit, Global Partners would be able to expand their facility to move more than 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil each year. The groups filing the appeal say that this proposal has “significant implications” from spills, rail traffic and air quality. A timeline for handling the appeal hasn’t been disclosed.
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It’s time to batten down the hatches, as the Weather Service warns of a strong storm that’s expected to hit the region tonight and tomorrow. A High Wind Warning goes up at 3 pm today on the South Washington and North Oregon coastal areas, continuing until 9 tomorrow morning. Late this afternoon, winds are expected to pick up, with sustained winds of 35 to 45 miles an hour on the beaches and headlands, and gusts of up to 70 miles an hour. Heavy surf is expected, as well. Locally, winds are expected to pick up after midnight, with heavy rain, as well. Forecasters say that we could get more than three inches of rain in the Kelso-Longview area out of this system. The winds are expected to die down around 9 tomorrow morning, but the showers and rain is expected to continue through the rest of the week.
The operators of the U-Haul truck and trailer rental franchise on Oregon Way in Longview are asking for additional patrols from Longview Police, reporting that they are under almost constant barrage from gas thieves. Yesterday morning, employees at the facility called LPD to report that gas caps had been removed from several large trucks, with between 20 and 25 gallons of gasoline stolen. They estimate the loss at about $90. They figure that the theft took place some time between midnight Sunday and 7 yesterday morning. The manager at the facility claims that his trucks are being hit several times a week, going back several months. Many of those thefts have not been reported. Management at the facility says that they’re in contact with the corporate offices about ways to improve security, but in the meantime, they asking Longview Police to help out with closer monitoring of the property.
Washington Fish and Wildlife is announcing a reduction in Coho salmon production at the North Toutle and Kalama Falls hatcheries, due to a reduction in federal funding. Jim Scott lead the WDFW Fish Program, and he says that the Mitchell Act funding that helps pay for hatchery operations has been cut by about a half-million dollars. As a result, the number of Coho being released into the Kalama River and the Deep River net pens is being reduced by 600,000 fish, along with 24,000 fewer steelhead going into the lower Columbia tributaries, starting next year. Those 600,000 Coho are not going to waste, however; earlier this month, 600,000 hatchery Coho salmon were released into Riffe Lake, as a first step in bringing hatchery costs in line with reduced funding. Scott says federal funding for hatchery salmon production on the lower Columbia has been declining, resulting in fewer fish coming out of those hatcheries. Under the current funding scenario, seven percent fewer Coho will be released in the coming year, and nearly two percent fewer summer steelhead. Scott says that they’re working closely with the Northwest Congressional delegation on this issue, but without an increase in federal funding, we should expect to see additional reductions in the future.
St. Helens Police are looking into a stabbing that was reported Sunday morning, with a man being seriously injured in the incident. Police Chief Terry Moss says that his officers were called to 234 Cruse Way at about 7:15 Sunday morning, where they found an adult male bleeding profusely from multiple wounds. Paramedics from Columbia River Fire and Rescue responded and provided first aid, and then they took the unidentified male to a hospital in Portland. Moss says that the victim is expected to survive. The Columbia County Major Crimes Team was called in to assist on the case, and with their help, a suspect was identified. Moss also says that it looks like the suspect and the victim are acquainted. At this time, the suspect remains at large, but Moss says that it appears that this person does not appear to be an ongoing risk to the public. The investigation is continuing, and St. Helens Police will take any information that you have. Call 503-397-3333 if you can help out.
Longview City Council member Ken Botero continues his series of Candidate Forums this evening, inviting the contenders for Cowlitz County Sheriff in to talk about the issues. Current Sheriff Mark Nelson, and the challenger, Deputy Darren Ullman, are expected to be at tonight’s event, which will start at 7 pm in the Longview Women’s Club, located at 835 21st Avenue in Longview. Mark Koelsch will moderate the forum, taking questions from the audience via index cards that will be distributed. The forum is open to anyone interested in this topic.
County Prosecutor Sue Baur will be joined by Christi Brittain of the Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center in presenting an anti-bullying program at tonight’s Longview Library Teen Tuesday event. Baur and Brittain will present a program called “Stop Bullying: Speak Up!,” starting at 6:30 pm in the Library auditorium. The teens attending will also have a chance to record a six-second “I Speak Up” Vine video as part of Anti-Bullying Month. This event is open to all teens from all across the area; no library card or pre-registration is needed.
New Kelso School Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich says that the new school year is off to a great start, with enrollment above original projections, and student achievement already showing improvement. Gelbrich presented his Fall Report at last night’s School Board meeting, saying that it’s “heartwarming” to see this across-the-board effort. Gelbrich says that secondary school reading scores are up from the past couple of years, including a 10 percent increase in the 8th grade. Secondary math scores are also up. Writing scores for 7th and 10th-graders are up substantially, with the sophomores posting their highest scores in the past six years. Science scores are up in 5th and 10th grades, but are down slightly in the 8th grade. He says that K-2 staff continues to work on literacy for the kids in those grades, saying that getting those kids reading and writing at grade level is the “gateway” for success in school later on. Secondary school parent conferences conclude today, and Gelbrich also notes that Kelso High School Senior Jazmine Edmiston is being recognized as the Rotary Student of the Month.
Christian McKenzie Thompson, 18, of Kelso is under arrest, as Kelso Police continue to investigate a vandalism spree that was reported early yesterday morning in South Kelso. Officers were alerted about a young man that was spray-painting graffiti on the garage of a home in the 1000 block of South 4th. It was eventually learned that there were at least a half-dozen victims, with vandalism discovered at home on South Pacific, South 4th and South 5th. Officers made contact with Thompson a few minutes after the first 911 call, and say that he initially stopped when they called to him. However, as the Officer approached, Thompson allegedly rode off on his bicycle, and then when apprehended after a chase that went for several blocks. Thompson reportedly denied any involvement in the vandalism, but a search of his person reportedly turned up some meth. He’s now being held without bail in the Cowlitz County Jail for possession of meth and obstructing an officer, as the vandalism investigation continues.
Melvin Monroe DeSpain, 54, of Longview is in custody, after he allegedly tried to rob the Key Bank near the Civic Circle this past Friday afternoon. Longview Police say that this got started around 3 pm on Friday, when DeSpain allegedly handed a “demand note” to a teller. After getting an undisclosed about of cash, DeSpain took off on foot, but he didn’t get far. Longview Police stopped DeSpain a few blocks away, near the 15th Avenue Safeway store. Bank employees identified DeSpain as the suspect, so he was arrested and booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and making false statements to police. He’s currently being held without bail, pending his first appearance in Cowlitz County Superior Court.