The citizens committee that’s working on Longview’s Drinking Water Improvement Study held its third meeting last night, and its members are now going over a list of 53 possible options for supplying the Longview and Beacon Hill water supply systems. They’re also looking at a proposed list of criteria for evaluating those options; facilitator Adrienne DeDona says that they’re trying to work off of the results of last year’s phone survey. DeDona and the consultants that are helping the Citizens Advisory Committee worked through a “problem identification statement” at last night’s meeting, saying that they want to “Provide a recommendation for a sustainbable, safe and satisfactory water supply for Longview and Beacon Hill system customers.” The values and criteria are also based on the phone survey results, looking at a goal of high-quality, sustainable and affordable water. The next meeting is planned for Tuesday, March 17th, where they plan to finalize these evaluation criteria.
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Authorities in Lewis County continue to investigate the discovery of skeletal human remains, found near some trees on a vacant lot on Kresky Avenue in Chehalis, near the Yard Birds Mall. The Centralia Chronicle says that surveyors who had been working in the area found the remains early Monday afternoon. Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod says that the remains are those of an adult female, and they do have some information on a possible identity. Chehalis Police say that there don’t seem to be any signs of foul play in the case, but there’s still no word on the cause or manner of death. There’s also no word on how long the remains have been in this location. The investigation is continuing.
After it was determined that eight “challenged” ballots had been mailed late and were disqualified from the counting, the results of the Toutle Lake School Modernization Bond were finalized, with the 7 million-dollar measure passing by one single vote. The eight ballots were examined yesterday by the Cowlitz County Elections Canvassing Board, which is comprised of County Commission Chair Mike Karnofski, County Auditor Kris Swanson, and County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen. TDN reports that the board closely scrutinized and then rejected all eight ballots as being mailed too late. That leaves the final vote count at 609 “yes” and 405 “no,” which translates to an approval percentage of 60.06, just one vote over the 60 percent needed for approval.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium will actually be visiting school kids in Kelso today and tomorrow, part of an ongoing tour of the “Aquari-van.” This is part of an 18-week tour of Washington, Oregon and Northern California, bringing marine science-themed materials and fun to local primary schools. The Aquari-van has four different themed programs, which are rotated through the year. The Oregon Coast Aquarium Aquari-van will be visiting Wallace Elementary School today, followed by a visit to Catlin Elementary tomorrow. Get more information on the Oregon Coast Aquarium web page.
The contract for Longview’s new Superintendent of Schools is now in place, approved at last night’s Longview School Board meeting. The three year contract with Doctor Daniel Zorn is effective from July 1st of this year, and runs through June 30th of 2018. The base salary for the contract is $160,000 per year, and also includes a $4,000 auto expense allowance, but he will NOT be furnished with a car. Zorn will be reimbursed for up to $6,000 in moving expenses, and the district will contribute $5,000 to his retirement account each year. Zorn will also be paid $727 per day for a “transition period” of six days, prior to the contract going into effect. By way of comparison, Suzanne Cusick was paid 185 thousand dollars the final year of her contract as Longview Schools Superintendent.
The current Superintendent of Schools in St. Helens is now on the short list of finalists for the same position in Centralia. Dr. Mark Davalos has been running the St. Helens Schools since 2011, coming to Columbia County from the Portland School District. He’s going up against Deborah Holcomb with the Highline School District, Joseph Potts of Kent, and Richard Thompson with the San Juan Island School District. The Centralia School Board is setting up public meetings with each of the finalists, which will be held next week.
Four people are under arrest after a chase and search that took place early this morning in Longview. They say that this got started at about 1:20 this morning, when two subjects on bicycles refused to stop for an officer. Shortly after the pursuit got under way, both subjects dumped their bikes and took off on foot. The Longview K-9 “Chase” was in the neighborhood, and quickly tracked down one of the suspects. Officers traced the other suspect to a home in the 3100 block of Field Street. Christian McKenzie Thompson, 18, is now being held on two contempt of court warrants, while Dallas James Lewis, 22, is being charged with obstructing an officer, and will also face a drug count. The people in the house, Christopher Matthew Jones, 18, and Larissa Lee Gaebel, 22, are both being charged with obstructing an officer, and are each being held on $1,000 bail. It’s also noted that Thompson and Lewis were wearing “gang attire,” so the investigation into their activities is continuing.
The man who was killed Saturday morning on the train tracks near Kalama is now being identified as Dustin Thomas Volz, 40, an active-duty member of the military who had been on a day trip from the Tacoma area, heading to Portland. The County Coroner’s Office says that Volz died from “multiple blunt force traumatic injuries,” killed instantly at about 10:30 Saturday morning as he stepped in between the two main rail lines off of the 300 block of Dupont Road near Kalama. Volz and a female companion had been heading to Portland when they pulled off to smoke a cigarette and take some pictures. In the past six months, four people have been killed by trains in Cowlitz County.
At today’s monthly meeting of the Cowlitz County Board of Health, Superior Court Judge Gary Bashor, researcher Nick McRee and Nick Pithan with the Cowlitz County Court system will present the most research on the Cowlitz County Drug Court. Pithan says that this up-to-date research is a key to the prolonged success and efficiency of each Therapeutic Court program. He says that by regularly evaluating these outcomes and adherence to national standards, they can be sure that these programs are meeting the needs of their clients, while ensuring the best benefits to the community. Today’s presentation is scheduled to start at 10 am in the County Commissioners Hearing Room, and is open to the public.
There’s a Blanket Drive going on through March 6th at Kelso High School. Hannah Guler with the Kelso High School Leadership Program says that they’re trying to help out the new Love Overwhelming Shelter in Kelso, which is in serious need of blankets for the people who come in. Guler claims that the Shelter doesn’t have enough blankets right now, with some of the clients using shower curtains, instead. Donations can be dropped off at the main office at Kelso High School, with those donations accepted through Friday, March 6th.