The Port of Kalama reports landing a second tenant for warehouse and office space at the new Kalama River Industrial Park. The Port says that Marco Industries of Tulsa, Oklahoma is leasing 30 thousand square feet of space in the new 110,000 square-foot industrial building that the Port is building at the park just off of exit 32 on I-5. Marco Industries manufactures and distributes ventilation, closures, fasteners, flashing, underlayment and other components that are used with metal roofs and wall systems. Port officials say that numerous Marco products will be used in the construction of the building at the Kalama River Industrial Park, just as components from Bridger Steel will be used in the walls and roof of that building. It’s expected that Marco Industries will hire eight to ten people in its start-up phase. Marco President and CEO Blake Atkins says that the Port of Kalama is an “ideal” location for them, allowing the company to expand in the Northwest; he also says that the proximity to transportation and the available workforce helped to seal the deal. JH Kelly will be breaking ground on the building in the next month, with a goal of having Marco Industries and Bridger Steel moved in and operating by next July.
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The Longview City Council has another long night planned, starting at 5 pm with a workshop session. They will discuss the implementation of new stormwater rules, and they will also take a look at the proposed utility rate schedule for next year. City Staff is proposing increases in the water, sewer and stormwater utilities, but no increase in solid waste rates. The proposed increases would hike the average monthly utility bill in Longview by $3.79, or an increase of 3.1 percent. The Council will provide direction to staff on what the rate schedule should be.
The regular meeting starts at 7 pm, where the Council will be asked to take action on an ordinance that will provide for the sale of 15 million dollars in General Obligation bonds; money from those bonds will help pay for improvements at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, a new ladder truck for Longview Fire, and for other projects. Action on the 2018 property tax rate will be taken, the third-quarter review of the city’s General Fund will be presented, and the Council will also discuss continued financial support for Pathways 2020. An executive session on collective bargaining is also scheduled for 8 pm. The workshop and the regular meeting are open to the public, while the executive session is not.
As Democrats take the majority position in the Washington State Senate, 19th District Senator Dean Takko is getting a new appointment. Takko has been named to chair the Local Government Committee in the State Senate; he will also serve as vice-chair of the Economic Development and Trade Committee, and as a member of the Transportation Committee. Senate leaders say that Takko was chosen on his record of accomplishment as an effective legislator, working hard to find compromise instead of conflict. Takko says that the Legislature needs to “lead by example,” making the state a better partner for local governments by reducing the barriers caused by excessive bureaucracy.
Roll up your sleeve and head over to lower Columbia College today and tomorrow, as the college hosts Bloodworks Northwest for a two-day blood drive. From 9 am until 3 pm on both days, Bloodworks will be taking donations of blood, which will then be distributed to hospitals and clinics around the region. They will be closed for lunch from 11:30 to 12:30 on both days, as well. Call 1-800-398-7888 to set up an appointment, but walk-ins will be taken, as well. Remember to bring your photo ID.
The next-to-last Community Conversations lecture for the fall term will be offered at noon today, with LCC Language and Literature Instructor Janell Haynes-Hughes presents “Where Are All of the Poor Kids?: Class Consciousness in Teen Movies.” The free lecture will be presented at noon today in the Laufman Lecture Hall at LCC, on the first floor of the college’s Health and Science building.
The Lower Columbia Professionals invite you to a Bunco fundraiser that they’re hosting this evening at the Longview Eagles. Your entry fee will get you into the game, and also includes food. There will also be prize raffles and other fun, in addition to the Bunco games. The doors open at 5:30 pm; all proceeds will go to the LCP Scholarship Fund.
The “Views and Brews” lecture series that’s offered by the Mount Saint Helens Institute head to Ashtown Brewing in Longview this evening, presenting a program on “Day Hiking in the Olympic Pennisula.” Award-winning guidebook author Craig Romano will have slideshows of trails in the Olympic Penninsula, Grays Harbor and the Long Beach Penninsula, as Romano updates his book titled “Day Hiking Olympic Pennisula.” Romano hiked some two thousand miles in creating his second edition of the book, with 136 separate hikes detailed. Views and Brews runs from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Ashtown; you must be 21 or over to attend.
The Cowlitz PUD is working on a couple of power outages this morning, after another windy weather system came through last night. At 4:30 am, power was out in the Vader-Ryderwood area, an outage that affected 295 customers. The PUD was also working to restore power to 80 customers in the downtown Kelso area. The PUD reports that they responded to a number of scattered outages overnight.
Overnight rainfall totals weren’t all that high, but wind gusts that could do damage came through. There was a 37 mile-an-hour gust at the airport in Kelso just before 2 am; Longview had a 36 mile-an-hour gust around 11:30 pm, Castle Rock and Kalama had gusts of 30 miles an hour. Out west of town, the wind howled all night long on Abernathy Mountain, with gusts of 51 miles an hour recorded at just after midnight and just after 1 am. The winds are expected to die down later today, and the rain is expected to ease up through the day.
Flooding is the next possibility we need to be prepared for. The Weather Service has a Flood Watch up for the coastal areas near the mouth of the Columbia, also extending into the Coast Range in Washington and Oregon. Heavy rains near the coast have rivers and streams on the rise, with the Grays River in Wahkiakum County listed as having the highest chance of flooding. Flood Watches are also in effect through this afternoon in Grays Harbor County, as four to five inches of rain is expected in the Olympics. They say that the Satsop River could be near flood stage this morning.
If you’re going into the mountains, there’s a Winter Weather Advisory up through 6 pm today in the South Washington Cascades, with heavy snow expected through at least 6 pm. The snow level is around 35 hundred feet, with 7 to 13 inches of snow possible above that level through this evening. If you’re heading over a mountain pass, be aware that visibility could be extremely limited.
Brent Ward Luyster, 37, of Longview took the stand in his own defense yesterday in Clark County Superior Court, completely denying that he shot or killed anyone. The Vancouver Columbian reports on yesterday’s proceedings, saying that Luyster broke down on the stand as he recounted getting the news about his friends being shot and killed. Luyster flatly denied shooting anyone on the night of July 15th, 2016, and he says that he doesn’t know why his former girlfriend would say that he did. Luyster says that he went to the house where there shootings took place, and had conversations with the victims; he claims that no one was angry. Luyster says that he didn’t hear any gunshots, and he claims that his 12 year-old son was calm and collected, not “scared and shaking” like Andrea Sibley had testified. After calling another four witnesses, the defense rested its case. Several rebuttal witnesses are expected this morning, and then closing arguments could be presented later today. It’s possible that the case could be in the hands of the jury by this afternoon.
The Milllenium Bulk Terminals coal export project at the old Reynolds Metals plant took a big hit yesterday, as Cowlitz County Hearings Examiner Mark Scheibmeir ruled that the company should not get two major permits for the facility. In making his ruling, Scheibmier says that Millennium cannot mitigate the ten “significant adverse impacts” that have been identified. Nine of those ten impacts were mentioned by the Department of Ecology in September’s denial of the shoreline permit for the project. Scheibmier also included greenhouse gas impacts as a factor in his ruling. His ruling comes after a recommendation from Cowlitz County Building and Planning, which had advised that the permit be approved, but with conditions. Officials with Millennium are disappointed by the decision, still contending that these decisions are being made on issues that are outside the scope of the permit applications. In a prepared statement, Millennium President and CEO Bill Chapman says that this ruling “makes a bold statement, that there is no industrial or port use for this site, or for any other industrial port site in Cowlitz County or anywhere else on the Columbia River System.” The company is planning to appeal the decision to the state Shoreline Hearings Board.
The Port of Longview Commission is moving ahead on a 2018 budget that will reduce Port’s property tax levy by 20 percent from last year, the second year in a row that the levy has been reduced. Port Commission President Doug Averett says that they would like to eliminate the levy completely, but that’s not a smart move at this time. The levy rate for the Port of Longview drops from 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to 26 cents per $1,000. The overall General Fund Budget for the Port of Longview comes in at $31.1 million, with a Capital Projects Budget of $5.1 million. The Port is projecting a net profit of $3.2 million before depreciation, and they also plan to spend just over $400 thousand on Willow Grove Park. This year’s major project out there will be construction of a walking trail around the play equipment at the park. Full details on the 2018 budget are available on the Port of Longview web page.
Traffic on Highway 30 out of Astoria was shut down for about 90 minutes yesterday evening, after what was described as a “large natural gas leak.” The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the highway in the eastern part of Astoria late yesterday afternoon, with no local detours. The road re-opened around 7:30 pm. The cause of the gas leak has not yet been disclosed.
It’s time to start thinking about what’s going to be gracing your living room during this upcoming holiday season, and the Forest Service is announcing that permits for cutting Christmas Trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are now available. Starting today, you can get the permits at numerous locations around the region. The permits cost $5 each, there’s a limit of five permits per household, and the permits are valid for one-time use. If there’s a fourth-grader in your household, you can get your permit for free, as part of the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Kids who have earned an online “Every Kid in a Park Pass” can show that pass at any national forest office to receive a permit. Go to everykidinapark.gov to learn how you can get your voucher. Permits are available at Forest Service offices and at vendor locations around the region. The closest in this area is at Kalama Spirits and Tobacco, located on North 1st in downtown Kalama. Get full details on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.