Also at yesterday’s PUD Commission meeting, it was disclosed that the Fitch Rating Service is upgrading the utility’s standing on several outstanding bonds. Fitch is raising the PUD’s outlook on the Production System Revenue Bonds from “negative” to “stable,” and will continue to give those bonds an “A” rating. In making this announcement, Fitch says that the revision to “stable” reflects the measures taken by PUD management to stabilize financial performance. They also say that the PUD is engaged in “conservative budgeting” in the face of varying hydrological conditions, and they’re projecting only “minimal” rate increases as the BPA hikes wholesale power rates later this fall. PUD officials say that this rating will have benefits for both the utility and its ratepayers, as they’ll get a better interest rate on future bonds, which means lower interest payments and more stable rates over the next 20 years. CFO Trent Martin and Internal Auditor Royce Hagelstein are getting credit for offering advice that was “instrumental” to getting this revised rating.
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The Kelso School Board meets this morning at 11:30, where they’ll be holding a workshop on the budget for the upcoming school year. The public release of the budget is planned for Monday, the 22nd, at the regular School Board meeting, which will start at 5 pm. Both meetings are scheduled to be held in the Board Meeting Room at the Ruth B. Clark Administration Building on Crawford Street in Kelso.
Today is the deadline to get your entries in for the first-ever “Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle” Contest, being put on by the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Over the past few weeks, people have been buying items at the Habitat ReStore on 11th Avenue in Longview, and then they’ve been working to convert those items into other things, like art, toys, furniture or other items. Eight prizes are being awarded in the contest; find out more by contacting the Habitat ReStore at 1145 11th Avenue, or by calling 636-6765. You can also get information on volunteering to help construct Habitat homes while you’re there.
An 18 year-old Longview man is being charged with multiple counts of child rape and molestation, accused of sexually assaulting a 13 year-old Kelso girl several times during the spring. It’s alleged that David Michael Cahill, 18, forced the autistic girl to perform oral sex on him as they walked through an alley to Vacation Bible School in April of this year. Kelso Police say that Cahill knew that the girl was severely autistic, reportedly having the mental capacity of a six year-old. Police also say that Cahill has some mental issues, but is considered to be “highly functioning,” and was aware that what he was doing was wrong. Authorities learned about the alleged abuse after several in-depth interviews with the girl, after she had told a school counselor that “a man had been touching her.” Cahill was arraigned yesterday in Superior Court, and was released on his own recognizance, with strict orders to avoid contact with the victim and other minors.
Norman Lee Jensen, 55, is listed in satisfactory condition at St. John Medical Center, after suffering a number of injuries in a motorcycle-versus-deer collision last night on Sunset Way. Deputies and aid personnel were called to the four thousand block of Sunset Way just before 9 pm, where it was reported that a motorcycle had crashed into a deer, and that the rider was down. When Deputies arrived, they found Jensen bleeding from his face and arms, and he also complained of “popping” in his back. He was transported to St. John with what they suspect is some broken ribs. Jensen’s wife, Teri, was also aboard, but she suffered only some minor injuries. They say she drove herself to the hospital for treatment. The deer did not survive the collision. The crash investigation continues.
The suspect in a Fourth of July DUI incident in Cougar is complaining that he was assaulted by the group of people who detained him for law enforcement. Richard Wilson, 69, of Ariel called the Sheriff’s Office at about 10:30 yesterday morning, claiming that a group of about 20 people had attacked him after the incident at the Cougar RV Park. It’s alleged that Wilson was speeding when he drove into a crowd at the RV park, hitting and injuring a 12 year-old boy. That boy was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, where he was treated for a broken leg. It’s reported that others on the scene pulled Wilson from his SUV, and held him until Deputies arrived. They say that portable breath tests showed that Wilson was well over the legal limit for driving, so he was arrested on charges of vehicular assault and DUI; he’s currently free after posting bail. It was noted on a Deputy’s report that Wilson had several injuries when they arrived, but it was unclear at that time if those were the result of an assault. Wilson’s report from yesterday morning is being forwarded to Sheriff’s Detectives.
Meetings are planned today in Portland and at the Blue Mountain Community College campus in Hermiston, where the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality plans to take public comment on draft air quality, storm water and water quality permits for the proposed Coyote Island coal export terminal in Boardman. This would be the eastern end of the coal export project proposed by Ambre Energy of Australia. The western end of the project would be at Port Westward near Clatskanie, where the coal would be transferred from barges to ships that would transport the coal overseas. Because of the huge numbers of people anticipated, DEQ has required people to register in advance for the day-long hearings, to try and minimize the waiting times for those who want to present comments. They also say that this system will insure that the people involved will actually get a chance to speak, rather than having to travel many miles and wait several hours, then to get shut out of the opportunity. Today’s hearings run from 8 am until 8 pm at BMCC and at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, broken up into two-hour sessions. Get more information from the Oregon DEQ website.
The board for the YMCA of Southwest Washington in Longview has several meetings with members set up over the next eight days, where they plan to discuss the merger of the facility in Longview with the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, based in Portland. In a letter sent to members late last month, Mike Claxton says that the local Y has been engaged with the national YMCA organization, working on a strategic plan over the past year. During that process, Claxton says that they discovered that the Longview Y has been “operating on auto-pilot,” and hasn’t been working to stay current with program and service offerings. As a result, the Y board decided to take what they call “a somewhat aggressive approach to renew the organization,” re-examining the facility and organization from top to bottom. They also determined that aligning with the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette will bring in access to updated programs and services, along with access to services in fundraising, grant writing, human resources, marketing and advertising and in accounting. Claxton says that the Y of Columbia-Willamette has a demonstrated track record of “getting things done,” running clean and efficient buildings while offering a dynamic array of programs and services that evolve with changes in member demands. A series of membership meetings are planned to discuss this merger, starting today at noon and 6 pm. Additional meetings are set for 9 am tomorrow morning, and on Wednesday, the 17th at 10 am and 7 pm. Contact the YMCA on 15th Avenue in Longview if you have other questions.
Rainier Junior-Senior High School history teacher Andrew Demko is in Washington, D. C. this week, taking part in the 2013 Summer Educators’ conference, hosted by C-SPAN. During this conference, teachers in grades six through 12 will be learning more about C-SPAN, and how they can effectively integrate the cable news channel’s offerings and online resources into their classrooms. They’ll have sessions on C-SPAN’s mission, programming and event coverage, along with training on how to use C-SPAN’s online resources. They’ll also get information on StudentCam and Teacher Fellowship opportunities, along with examples from others who have successfully incorporated C-SPAN’s offerings into the classroom.
It’ll be Island Music and Boat Drinks at tonight’s Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event. Brooke Fisher with the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce says that the theme for this month’s Business After Hours is “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and will feature tunes from the Cowlitz Ukulele Association, along with island-themed food and beverages. This is taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm today at Cowlitz County Title Company, located at 1159 14th Avenue in Longview. You can register on the Chamber of Commerce website, or call 423-8400 for additional information.