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Go 4th

The annual Go 4th Festival gets under way today, with the food vendors and the Lake Sacajawea Flea Market opening at 10 am. The Longview Firefighters Floating Hole-in-One is open all day; at 3 pm, the live music starts at Martin’s Dock, and today’s highlight, the Longview Cardboard Boat Regatta, starts at 5:30 pm.

The Kids’ Festival runs from noon until 6 tomorrow, along with the “Log Truck Wrapper Race” at Louisiana and Kessler; that goes from noon until 5 pm. Live entertainment goes from 3 pm until 10 pm tomorrow at Martin’s Dock, the Longview Pioneer Lions “Spirits of Longview” Beer Garden starts at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon at the Expo Center, and the Firecracker 5K Fun Run starts at 6 pm tomorrow at Hemlock Plaza.

On Saturday, The Lions Club Pancake Breakfast starts at 8 am, the Timber Carnival preliminaries starts at 9, and the Wrapper Race resumes from 9 am until noon. The Parade from downtown Longview to the lake starts at 10 am on Friday, and the Lions Club Kids Races on the lawn at R. A. Long High School start at noon on Saturday. The Timber Carnival begins at 1 pm on Saturday, and the fireworks finale over Lake Sacajawea starts around 10 pm Saturday night.

The 23rd annual Bow Tie Bash Car Show will also take place in downtown Longview on Saturday, with more than 200 classic and custom vehicles expected to be on display. Buttons to help support Go 4th and the 4th of July fireworks display are still available for purchase all over town, at the price of just one dollar apiece. The Longview Public Library is also closed on Friday and Saturday.

Longview Police will be directing traffic around the lake after the fireworks shows. Traffic trying to get onto Kessler or Nichols between Washington Way and Louisiana will be directed toward Ocean Beach Highway, Tennant Way and 15th, or the Civic Center. Officers will be posted at major intersections to assist pedestrians leaving the lake. The Hemlock Footbridge will be one-way toward Nichols after the fireworks show; that bridge will also be closed to foot traffic during the show. You’ll also need to take the Washington Way Bridge construction into your Go 4th travel plans.

Other Festivals

You may also want to get out of town for the 4th, and there are a number of other local events that can help you celebrate Independence Day. Heritage Days runs through Saturday down in Clatskanie, with events planned both Friday and Saturday, including a fireworks display Saturday night.

They’re having fireworks on Friday night out at the Port of Ilwaco, and festivities are also planned on Saturday in Ocean Park, Long Beach, Saint Helens, Warrenton, Astoria, Seaside, Vader and Vernonia. With the extreme fire danger all around the area, fire officials once again ask that you hold off on your own fireworks displays, and advise that you and your family take in one of these community events instead.

Heat/Fire Danger

A Heat Advisory continues for the local area through tomorrow evening, with high temperatures expected to exceed 90 today, and to approach 90 tomorrow. The advisory covers Cowlitz County, and extends through the Portland-Vancouver metro area, down through the Willamette Valley. You’ll need to take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your pets from the high heat; make sure to check in on elderly or vulnerable neighbors, to make sure they’re safely getting through the heat wave.

The Forest Service is announcing increased fire use restrictions, effective tomorrow. Starting on Friday, open campfires will be restricted, allowed only in metal fire pits or rings, in developed recreation sites. They say that you can still use gas or propane stoves and lanterns; violations of the current fire policies could land you in jail for up to six months, along with a fine of up to five thousand dollars. A full list of developed areas where campfires will be allowed is available on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.

Toledo Skimmers

You may want to check with your bank or credit union if you used the ATM at a Timberland Bank in Western Washington in recent days, as it’s now being reported that criminals have been using “skimmers” to obtain personal information and to clean out bank accounts. Officials with Timberland say that the Toledo branch is among those that were hit; other branches include Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Lacey and Gig Harbor. It’s reported that a number of Toledo residents have had bank accounts emptied, along with other customers of that branch. Bank officials say that fraud victims will be reimbursed; you’re advised to inspect the ATM before using it, to make sure that a skimmer hasn’t been installed. Authorities are going over ATM videos to see if the suspects can be seen installing and removing the devices. The FBI and the Secret Service are also being called in.

Port Commission Candidates

Port of Longview Commissioners Bob Baagason and Darold Dietz have more than a few applications to sift through, as nine people step up to try and fill the Commission seat that’s being opened up by the resignation of Lou Johnson. The list include Doug Averett, Mert Barney, John Jabusch, Kent Preston, Steven Campbell, Garth Ullakko, Mark Smith, Spencer Wiggins and Rick Von Rock. Johnson stepped down from the Port Commission at the end of last month; the remaining Commissioners will select a replacement, choosing after public interviews that will be held at as-yet unscheduled public meeting. Port officials say that they hope to have the dates set before the next regular Commission meeting on July 14th.

Tuition Reduction

Students at Lower Columbia College will have a bit more money to spend on books and other necessities, as Governor Jay Inslee signs a state budget that includes a five-percent tuition decrease at LCC. It’s estimated that at full-time resident student will save about $285 in the 2015-2016 school year. College officials say that there are still some particulars that aren’t set, and they don’t have an entirely clear picture of what LCC’s full state allocation will be. Still, LCC leaders say that this is a “good day” for higher education in Washington.

NAMI SW Washington Opens

There’s a new resource for mental health assistance available in the local area, as the National Alliance on Mental Illness opens an office in Kelso. NAMI Southwest Washington is leasing space in the old Kelso Finance building at 109 Allen Street, offering support and education about mental illness to the Cowlitz County area. Group meetings are planned each week, along with other services. This office covers Cowlitz, Clark and Skamania counties, and will be open from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, or by appointment. Call 360-695-2823 for more information, of you can get connected by becoming a fan of their Facebook page.

Amtrak Schedule Upgrades

Amtrak is announcing schedule changes on the Cascades schedule that should improve service. Starting on the 11th of this month, train 509 will leave Seattle at 6:05, which is 35 minutes later than the current schedule. They say that this permanent change better serves business travelers, and also allows more time for visitors to Seattle. From July 11th to September 13th, six different trains are having ten minutes shaved off of the schedules between Portland and Seattle, reducing that travel time to three hours, 40 minutes. Those times are expected to improve even more, when the Kelso-to-Martin’s Bluff rail improvements are completed by 2017.

Lodging Tax Apps

The City of Kelso is opening up the process for submitting applications for Lodging Tax dollars for the 2016 budget year. If your community agency or organization would like to try and tap into this funding source, you need to submit a Request for Funding to the Kelso City Manager’s office by 5 pm on Friday, July 31st. Dollars from Kelso’s Lodging Tax are available to agencies and events that promote tourism and encourage people to come to town and sample the local color. Applications can be downloaded from the City of Kelso web page, or you can pick up a packet at the Kelso City Hall. Call 577-3301 if you have other questions.

KLOG Thursday Sports

Taijuan Walker pitched one hit ball for six innings in the Mariners 7-0 shutout of the Padres. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz each hit homers. The M’s are in Oakland for a game with the A’s tonight, KLOG 6:00 pm…..The Cowlitz Black Bears were swept in Medford after a 10-3 loss last night. The team is back home for a three game set with the Kelowna Falcons. Tonight’s game is 6:35 pm and Friday’s tilt begins at 7:05 with a fireworks show after…..The Pacific Tech Senior Legion team begins play today at the Cowboy Classic in Twin Falls Idaho…..The Longview Junior Legion Independence Day tournament runs Friday through Sunday at RAL and MM…..The Mont Valley Men’s Club Red-White-and Blue Golf tournament is Saturday. The entry deadline is 5 pm today.