If you’re planning to hit the road this weekend or next weekend, the Department of Transportation says that it’s probably going to be a good idea to avoid the Olympia area on I-5. This weekend and next weekend, crews will be working to repair a worn expansion joint that crosses all of the lanes of the freeway near Capitol Lake. A lane shift was put into effect last night, moving all three northbound lanes to the left, and reducing the southbound off-ramp to Highway 101 to one lane. The Deschutes Way on-ramp to the northbound freeway is also closed until Monday at 5 am. Starting at 10 pm tonight and working until 5 am on Monday, contractors will shift and reduce lanes in both directions of the freeway. During daylight hours, traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction, and then at night, traffic will be funneled into one lane in each direction. Ramps in the work area will also close and will remain closed until Monday morning. Some projections say that backups of up to 14 miles are possible in each direction of the work zone. You’re advised to use alternate routes or alternate modes of transportation to avoid this area, or budget plenty of extra time and patience if you have no other options.
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Getting ready for a major food drive that’s coming up one week from Saturday in Wahkiakum County, food drop sites are being set up this weekend at the Cathlamet Market and at Gragg’s General Store. Sue Garn with the WSU Extension works with several community groups in Wahkiakum County, including the Hunger Relief Task Force, saying that this is a tough time of the year for local food banks. The “Food for Friends Food Drive” is planned for Saturday, the 20th, with volunteers going door-to-door to try and collect donations for food banks in Wahkiakum County. A food drop is also set up through this month at the Cathlamet Post Office, and monetary donations are being accepted through the month at the Bank of the Pacific. Call Sue Garn at 747-1772 if you need more information.
There’s a day-long CPR/First Aid Class being offered tomorrow by the YMCA of Southwest Washington, going from 9 am until 3 pm at their facility on 15th Avenue in Longview. The class will include adult, child and infant CPR, along with instruction on use of an adult AED and First Aid, plus information on dealing with bloodborne pathogens. Participants will be certified in CPR and First Aid at the completion of the class. There is a fee to attend, and there’s also a maximum of 12 students. This class is open to the public; you do not need to be a Y member to enroll. Call the YMCA at 423-4770 if you need more information.
Get those shovels sharpened and the clam guns cleaned up, as Washington Fish and Wildlife is reporting that the upcoming fall razor clam season could be even better than last year’s banner harvest. Coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres says that their assessments show more clams than last year’s near-record numbers, so they’re optimistic that the 2014-2015 clam season will be as good or better than last year. Comments are now being taken on the 2014-2015 season, which is tentatively set to start in the second of October. Full details are available on the WDFW website; comments must be received by the 23rd of this month.
There’s a free training for those of you who would like to volunteer at the Lower Columbia School Gardens around the area, going from 9 am until noon this Friday and Saturday in the “Garden Lab,” which is room 26 at Northlake Elementary School in Longview. Call Ian Thompson at 431-6725 for additional information.
Spain will be featured at Friday night’s 18th annual International Dinner and Auction, celebrating the cuisine and culture of that country. This will run from 6 to 9 pm on Friday at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, and proceeds will help to support the ESC and its outreach mission. Get more details on the Ethnic Support Council web page, or call Cindy Lopez Werth at 360-751-4427 for ticket information.
Stageworks Northwest opens a production of Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” a comedy about TV show writers form the early 1950’s, actually based on the lives of the writers for Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” Curtain at the Longview Theatre on Commerce Avenue is set for 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday night, along with a 2 pm Sunday matinee. Get ticket information on the Stageworks Northwest website. This is rated PG-13, for strong language and adult situations.
“Grapes, Grains and Grooves” is being held Friday and Saturday at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, a fundraiser for the Longview Early Edition Noon Rotary. This runs from 5 to 10 pm on Friday and from 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday, with fine wines, craft beers, more than 58 vendor booths and live music going on throughout the event. Go to www.grapesgrainsgrooves.org for ticket information.
The Three Rivers Mall continues its “Reel Pop-Up Movies” this weekend, with free screenings of “Pirates of the Caribbean, 1-through-4.” They’ll also have matinee screenings of “Toy Story 2.” This will be near the SW corner of the mall, and you can get the current movie schedule on www.threeriversmall.com, or on the TRM Facebook page.
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.
Saturday and Sunday at Tam O’Shanter Park, it’s the annual Kelso Highlander Festival, with all kinds of competitions, dances, live music and other fun going on all weekend. New for this year are a scone-baking competition and an arm-wrestling competition, in addition to the traditional clan celebrations and Highland games. Admission is free, and the entire family should come on by.
The weather should be great for this year’s “Tour de Blast” Bicycle Tour, heading out from Toutle Lake High School at 7 am, heading up the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway to Johnston Ridge, and then coming back to the high school. There’s an “end of the ride” pasta feed that will go from 11 am to 5 pm, with three different rides available, depending on your skill level. You WILL be able to register at the high school Saturday morning. Go to www.tourdeblast.com if you need more help.
The 8th annual “Cruise for the Cure” will run all day Saturday in downtown Longview, going from 9 am to 4 pm. This is being organized by New Hope Cancer Recovery as a fundraising event, and the first 150 participants will get a “goodie bag.” They’ll have trophies, entertainment, a silent auction, a raffle and other great fun. Call 360-597-5109 for more information.
“Dogapalooza 2014” is planned for Saturday and Sunday at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds, going from 9 am to 4 pm each day. They’ll have Flyball Tournaments, Lure Coursing, Agility Dog Clinics, even “Canine Good Citizen” testing. Admission is fee, and more information is available by getting in touch with The Dog Zone on California Way in Longview.
They’re raising money for the Safe and Sober Graduation Night for Kalama’s class of 2015 at tomorrow’s “Ride and Seek” clue-based scavenger hunt, which will have participants heading to different locations around the Kalama area to find their clues. This is event is open to all vehicles, and you can get signed up Saturday morning in downtown Kalama between 9 and 11 am. Meet back in downtown between 3 and 5 pm, and see if you can solve the “End of the Ride” puzzle.
Starting at 10 am on Saturday, it’s the “Bike Park Blowout” at the Castle Rock Bike Park. This event is open to kids and adults of all ages, with 15 separate challenge stations to test your skills on two wheels. Medals will be awarded to the top participants. Take exit 48 or 49 on I-5, and just follow the signs. There’s no cost to take part.
The La Leche League of Cowlitz County is hosting a Birth and Family Wellness Fair on Saturday, running from 10 am to 4 pm in the John Searing Auditorium at the Cowlitz PUD Building in Longview. Alternative health care providers will have booths and lectures pertaining to childbirth and family health. Admission is free.
The Abernathy Assembly is holding its Fall Kickoff event on Saturday, going from 10 am until 2pm, with a bounce house, an obstacle course, volleyball, board games, a hot dog lunch and more. They’re located at 702 Abernathy Creek Road, about eleven miles west of Longview.
The Emergency Support Shelter Claim Support Specialist Michelle Prendahl will talk about service they have available, along with fraud prevention for those age 50 and over at this month’s meeting of the Lower Columbia AARP, starting at 12:30 pm on Saturday at the Kelso Senior Center.
The Willapa Hills Audubon Society is hoping for a one-hour encounter with Vaux’s Swifts on Saturday, hoping to watch the birds swarm into the chimney of the Carpet One building in Rainier before they continue south to Portland. Meet at the flagpole in front of the Rainier City Hall at 6:45 pm with your lawn chair and a blanket.
Come to the Cowlitz Community Farmer’s Market and find produce, plants, crafts, baked goods, eggs, entertainment, and fun! Come on down and join the fun there’s something good for everyone! Hours are 9 am until 2 pm on Saturday in the parking lot on 7th Avenue, across from the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds.
The 3rd annual “Drag Race for a Cure” is planned for Sunday out at the Riverdale Raceway, just east of Toutle. A portion of the day’s proceeds will go to the New Hope Cancer Recovery group. The gates open at 8 am on Sunday, and practice starts at 9. Racing gets under way at 12:30, and will go until 5.
There’s a free screening of “Project Wild Thing” on Sunday up at the Johnston Ridge Volcano Observatory, a feature film billed as a “hilarious, real-life story of one man’s determination to get kids out into nature.” A pre-film presentation starts at 5:45 pm on Sunday, and then the show starts at 6. Adults will need to pay admission into the Observatory.
The Community Concerts continue on Sunday at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, with a quintet called “Habaneros” performing at 3 pm. This group is formed from members of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, and they’ll be playing a program of classical works. Call 636-2211 for ticket information.
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.
Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue Chief Dave LaFave reflected on his own near-death experience that took place over the last year as he also commemorated the 13th anniversary of the terror attacks that took place on this day, saying that his own ordeal brought these events even closer to his heart. LaFave also spoke about the firefighters and police officers who went into the World Trade Towers on that day, and how they went in with the attitude that “we’ve got this,” not thinking that they were going to their deaths. LaFave says that sometimes, “we don’t have this,” and we then have to deal with the result. There was also an extra ceremony at today’s commemoration, as Life-Saving Medals were presented to Kelso Police Sergeant Kevin Tate, Officer Dave Shelton, and Firefighters Dustin Nunes, Ryan Fisher, Mike Zainfeld, Joe Tone and Alex Warren, noting the roles that each man played in resuscitating Judy Footh, 62, after she choked on a piece of meat at her home on June 29th of this year.
At 8:30 am, Longview Firefighters will turn out for a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, to be held at the main station on Commerce Avenue in Longview. Both events are open to the public, and you are invited to come by and take part.
It’s still summer, as evidenced by the special weather statements being issued by the National Weather Service. High temperatures are expected to be up around 90 at least through the weekend, and with that, we are also going to see gusty and dry east winds. A Wind Advisory goes into effect at 7 this morning, and continues until 10 pm. The strongest winds are expected to be coming out of the Columbia River Gorge, blowing at 15 to 30 miles an hour, with gusts of up to 45 miles an hour. Local wind gust of 30 miles an hour are possible. The strongest winds are expected to arrive between 2 and 7 pm.
In addition, the Weather Service is warning of critical fire weather conditions today and tomorrow, with Red Flag Warnings up for much of the region. The combination of extremely dry conditions, low humidity and strong east winds will increase fire danger substantially, meaning that new fires will spread rapidly, also contributing to the spread of existing fires. There’s also a potential for campfire bans, so you should check ahead on that before going on a camping trip or other outdoor adventure.
It was kind of a rough day for security guards in Longview. Around 11:10 am, a call came into 911, reporting that two dogs were attacking a security guard in the parking lot of S.t John Medical Center. Longview Police responded to the scene, as a call also went out to Animal Control Officers with the Humane Society. Kessler Elementary School was also alerted that some possibly vicious dogs were in the area. The dogs were seen running north, and one of the animals was captured about 35 minutes after the attack. Animal Control continued to monitor the area, and reported having both dogs in custody shortly before 1 pm. The severity of the injuries to the guard were not disclosed; authorities also have said what possible charges the owners of the dogs might face.
About five minutes after the dog attack at St. John Medical Center, Longview Police were called to the Social Security Administration offices on Ocean Beach Highway, where it was reported that a man was attacking a security guard. Those on the scene also reported that the attacker had been pepper-sprayed, and that a citizen had moved in to try and provide assistance. It was reported that the attacker had been subdued and handcuffed within just a couple of minutes; Longview Police arrested the 54 year-old Kelso man on misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment. That person is currently free after posting bail of $2,000.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers lined out its preferred alternative of management of sediment from Mount St. Helens at a lightly-attended public meeting held last night in Longview. Despite the apparent lack of local interest, Project Manager Tim Kuhn says that they’re excited about getting to this point. The preferred alternative that the Corps is looking at is a “phased construction” plan that would extend out to 2035, using a combination of raising the spillway of the existing Sediment Retention Structure, construction of “grade-building structures” on the sediment plain above the SRS, and as-needed dredging in the lower 20 miles of the Cowlitz River. The total cost of these measures is currently put at about $280 million, with the bulk of that targeted at the Cowlitz River dredging. Since that would only be “as-needed,” there’s a chance that the overall cost could be lower. Under the current timeline, the revised Environmental Impact Statement would be approved in spring of next year, which would then be followed by the funding request and continued monitoring of the river. If dollars are appropriated, then design would be done in 2017, and the first phase of construction would begin in 2018. A second public information meeting on this Draft EIS will be held next Wednesday, starting at 5 pm in the Toutle Lake Schools multi-purpose room.