The Cowlitz County Commissioners are once again looking to shift levy capacity from the Road Fund to the General Fund, to help try and balance the upcoming budget. At yesterday’s regular meeting, public hearings were held on the 2015 Road Fund and regular Property Tax Levies, where levy capacity shifts were proposed. Commissioner Jim Misner says that they need to make these moves, or there would be serious impacts. County financial managers are proposing that the Road Fund levy be voluntarily set at a $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, instead of the maximum of $2.10 per $1,000. They say that the unused capacity can then be shifted to the General Fund, moving about $2.1 million. That would increase the regular Property Tax levy from $1.73 to $1.96 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Action on these proposals is being set over for a week, as research is done on the cost of needed computer upgrades in the Treasurer and the Assessor’s offices.
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Third District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is going to bat for the towns of Vader, Toledo and Pe Ell, asking the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to review the process that declares that these cities are “too affluent” to qualify for HUD development grants. Beutler is also inviting Secretary Julian Castro to make a personal visit to the towns, and to get a first-hand view of the issues that they’re dealing with. Beutler and the leaders of these communities say that HUD is getting “flawed data” from the American Community Survey, and that the data is “painting inaccurate portraits” of the towns and the issues that they face.
“Safety Corridor” signs that have been up on Highway 30 between St. Helens and Scappoose since March of 2011 will soon be coming down. It’s now being reported that the Oregon Department of Transportation is “decommissioning” that portion of roadway, as the average crash rate has declined, and is continuing to go down. ODOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Nicole Charlson says that this is good news, as safety on this stretch of road has improved considerably. The “Safety Corridor” signs will come down early next month, but safety measures will continue, including increased State Police presence and the installation of centerline rumble strips, starting early next year.
There’s a book signing planned for this afternoon at the Lower Columbia College Bookstore, where Castle Rock author Kristine Kibbee will be signing copies of her fantasy novel “Whole in the Clouds.” Kibbee says that this is “a tale of magic and wonder,” for all of the misfits who feel backwards in their bones.” This is Kibbee’s first “middle grade novel,” and is getting high ratings on “goodreads.com” and other literary review web pages. Kibbee will be available to sign copies of her new book between 3 and 4:30 this afternoon at the LCC Bookstore. A limited number of copies of “Whole in the Clouds” will be available for purchase.
We’ll find out what’s going on at the ports in Cowlitz County at today’s Quarterly Meeting of the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, planned for this evening at the Cowlitz Regional Conference and Events Center. Geir Kalhagen with the Port of Longview, Jennifer Keene with the Port of Woodland and Mark Wilson with the Port of Kalama are scheduled to speak, providing updates on current happenings, while also taking a look at possible future developments. This runs from 5:30 to 7:30 pm; you can get registration information by going to the Chamber of Commerce web page.
There’s another Flu Shot Clinic planned from 4:30 to 6:30 pm today at the Southwest Washington YMCA, which is teaming up with Rite Aid to provide these vaccinations. You can also get a free “immunization evaluation” when you come in for the shot. This is open to all; you do NOT need to be a Y member to take part. The shots are free for those who don’t have insurance; if you do have coverage, just show your insurance card. Call 423-4770 if you need more information.
Local school kids are once again invited to stop by the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso this afternoon, as the monthly “Wednesday Workshop” sessions continue. The topic for this month’s workshop is titled “National Native American Heritage Month and More,” and will run from 3:30 to 5 pm. The Wednesday Workshop is open to all elementary-age school kids in the area, with a variety of activities, crafts and learning about local history. It’s free to take part, but pre-registration is required. Call 577-3119 to get signed up, or if you need more information.
The Sauvie Island Moorage Company is being fined by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, charged with repeated waste disposal violations in the Multnomah Channel. The DEQ announced the fine last week, saying that the moorage has failed to properly monitor its waste disposal since 2009. The agency has documented 20 instances of improper monitoring, which is needed to be sure that the sewage disposal system is operating properly. DEQ is fining Sauvie Island Moorage more than $4,000 dollars for waste disposal monitoring violations, and more than $2,500 for violating waste disposal limitations. The violation notice requires that a corrective action plan be developed within 60 days, which must then be implemented within six months of DEQ approval. Sauvie Island Moorage has until the 24th to appeal the penalties.
There’s an Air Stagnation Advisory up for the local area until further notice. The Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency issued the advisory yesterday afternoon, saying that the stagnant weather conditions from over the weekend are persisting, which is trapping air pollutants at ground level. At the present time, air pollution levels are at “good to moderate” levels, but lingering high pressure and excessive wood smoke accumulation could cause the levels to rise to unhealthy levels. The Clean Air Agency is asking everyone who doesn’t rely on wood for heating to use alternate heating sources until weather conditions change; they’re also asking those who are dependent on wood to use clean, dry, seasoned firewood. They’re also asking that outdoor burning be postponed until the air ventilation improves. Get more information on the SWCAA website.
In less than two months, local residents have stepped up and donated the money needed to help purchase, train and outfit a new K-9 unit for the Longview Police Department. The Longview Kiwanis announced the start of the fund drive on September 26th, as Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha announced the pending retirement of “Chase,” the department’s current apprehension K-9 unit. Yesterday, LPD sent out a “thank you” to the Kiwanis, individuals and other groups that have stepped up to raise the $10,500 dollars needed to purchase the next dog. In particular, Duscha points out the efforts of Holly Bishop and the Kiwanis; it’s noted that Bishop purchased K-9 decals that merchants could post in their windows, to help publicize their support of the effort.