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Rail Protest

Protestors are blocking the Pacific and Western rail line leading to the Global Partners oil and ethanol facility at Port Westward near Clatskanie. It’s reported that about two dozen people moved onto the tracks yesterday, with members of a Portland-based group called “Rising Tide,” and several Columbia County residents. The group is protesting crude oil shipments that are moving through the facility at Port Westward, along with the potential increase in the number of trains coming through. The protestors have also erected a metal tripod, with Sunny Glover, 27, of Portland stationed on a platform above the ground. Glover is telling the media that she plans to stay on the platform until she’s physically removed by law enforcement or railroad personnel. The protestors have a number of signs, including one that says “Oil trains fuel climate chaos”; another says “Ban the Bomb Trains,” and others state similar slogans. At this point, it’s not known if any arrests have been made.

Inglewood Crash

No injuries were reported when a car went through a guard rail and crashed into a car parked in the driveway of a home on Inglewood Drive in Longview. This was reported at about 9:40 pm, first reported that a can may have crashed into the house. The 911 caller then stated that the house hadn’t been hit, but a parked car was damaged. When questioned, the driver said that he got distracted as he coming down the hill, was unable to make the curve, and crashed through the guard rail. A guy wire for a Cowlitz PUD power pole was also snapped off. A portable blood alcohol test showed no signs of driver impairment; at this point, no citations have been reported.

Magnolia Water Break

The water is working again for residents in the area of 30th and Magnolia in Longview, after a large water main break was reported shortly before 9 pm. The intersection was closed and detours were posted, while water service for residents in the area served by that main was interrupted. City of Longview utility workers responded, and were able to complete repairs early this morning. The cause of the break isn’t known at this time.

Candidate Forum

The League of Women Voters of Cowlitz County invite you to hear from the candidates for Cowlitz County Commissioner and PUD Commissioner at a forum that’s planned for this Sunday in the third-floor General Meeting Room at the Cowlitz County Administration Building in Kelso. This is scheduled to start at 2 pm on Sunday, with Mark Smith and Joe Gardner discussing issues in the County Commission race, while Loren Sievila and Dena Diamond-Ott will talk about the PUD Commission post. You’re invited to bring your questions for all of these candidates at 2 pm on Sunday.

LCC Open House

Prior to the start of classes on Monday, you can tour the new $38 million Health and Science Building at Lower Columbia College, at an open house that’s planned for tomorrow from 1 to 4 pm. Along with tours of the new building and its state-of-the-art teaching facilities, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet with health care and science faculty, along with the OMSI Science Fest. The new three-story building is nearly 70,000 square feet in size, and will bring all of LCC’s science programs into the same structure. Biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental studies and physics will all be under one roof, instead of the three buildings that they were spread over. The Nursing program will also move into the second floor of the building, also bringing programs that had been scattered across campus to a single location. The building is also LEED Gold Certified, meaning that it is also built with maximum energy efficiency. There are even electric car charging stations in the parking lot. Special spaces include the 145-seat Laufman Lecture Hall, and the McLaughlin Community Resource Center. You can check it out tomorrow afternoon; classes for the fall term start on Monday.

State of the Cities

While both Kelso and Longview still have challenges, the mood was light at yesterday’s “State of the Cities” report at the quarterly meeting of the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce. This was also Bob Gregory’s last report as the City Manager for Longview, where he said that the picture is clearly improving. Gregory and Kelso City Manager Steve Taylor both report that the financial picture is brightening, as the cities continue to try and pull themselves out of the 2008 recession. Both are pointing to developments currently under construction, along with future developments, including a significant investment from the “budding” marijuana industry. Gregory announced that five parcels have been sold at the Mint Farm Industrial Park, the prelude to an anticipated $45 million investment in marijuana production facilities. He also says that facility will bring 200 full-time jobs to the area. Taylor says that the West Main Realignment Project will serve to jumpstart redevelopment of West Kelso as a commercial destination. Both men say that there are some “exciting prospects” on the horizon, and both are optimistic about the future.

Martin’s Bluff Rail Projects

If all goes as planned, construction on two projects that are intended to help reduce rail congestion and improve train traffic through Cowlitz County will get under way late next year. At yesterday’s Washington Department of Transportation public hearing on the Environmental Assessment for “Task 5” and “Task 6” of the Kelso Martin’s Bluff Improvement Project, Program Manager David Smelser says that there should be significant improvements in rail movements. “Task 5” deals with siding improvements in the Kalama area, building new crash walls and retaining walls, along with just over four miles of a third “main line,” that will allow faster passenger trains to go around freight trains calling at the Port of Kalama. “Task 6” goes from the Longview Junction through Kelso, extending that new “third main” another 3.7 miles, along with modified signal control points, a new bridge over the Coweeman River, and high-speed turnouts to replace the crossovers that are currently in place. Concurrent with this construction, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe also reports that the “Positive Train Control” system will be operational by next year, helping to better control trains and improve rail safety. Task 5 and Task 6 are part of a suite of 20 projects all along the Seattle-Portland corridor, intended to help improve reliability and travel times in the Amtrak Cascades corridor.

Food for Friends Drive

There are a couple of big food drives planned for this weekend, one in Cowlitz County and one in Wahkiakum County. Local churches are heading up tomorrow’s “Food for Friends” Fall Harvest Food Drive in Cowlitz County, with as many as a thousand volunteers heading out tomorrow morning to collect food donations for the Help Food Warehouse and other local food banks. Collections will be made between 9 am and noon; you can leave donations of non-perishable food out on your front porch, or drop those donations by your local food bank. Lisa Chavez with the Help Food Warehouse says that there’s a long stretch between the Postal Food Drive in May and the Walk-and-Knock in December, so an event like this will help keep the shelves full into Thanksgiving. Call 425-3430, extension 259 for more details.

In Wahkiakum County, the Hunger Relief Task Force is helping to run the “Food for Friends” event, collecting donations that will help the Wahkiakum Food Bank, the Helping Hand Food Bank, Saint Catherine’s Church/Saint Vincent de Paul, the GAP Program and the West-end Food Bank. Drop sites are also set up at the Cathlamet Post Office, the Cathlamet Market and at Gragg’s General Store. Monetary donations can also be made through the end of the month at the Bank of the Pacific in Cathlamet.

Weekend Events–9/19-21/14

The Stageworks Northwest production of Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” continues, a comedy about TV show writers form the early 1950’s, actually based on the lives of the writers for Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” Curtain at the Longview Theatre on Commerce Avenue is set for 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday night, along with a 2 pm Sunday matinee. Get ticket information on the Stageworks Northwest website. This is rated PG-13, for strong language and adult situations.

The Three Rivers Mall continues its “Reel Pop-Up Movies” this weekend, with free screenings of “Spy Kids,”, “The Lego Movie” and “Pokemon.” They’ll also have matinee screenings of “Toy Story 3.” This will be near the SW corner of the mall, and you can get the current movie schedule on, or on the TRM Facebook page.

Family Open Gym Nights continue at Youth and Family Link on Friday, running from 6:30 to 8 pm. You’re invited to bring the whole family down for movies, crafts, bingo and other fun. Youth and Family Link is located at 907 Douglas Street in Longview.

The 10th annual Cowlitz Tribal Health Walk is scheduled for Saturday at Lake Sacajawea. Registration opens at 8:45 am, and the runners will start at 9:45 am. The Health Fair as the Hemlock Plaza will also be open from 9 am until noon. It’s free and “family-friendly,” with free T-shirts to the first 500 participants. Pre-registration is encouraged, with a special prize for the first 150 pre-registrants. Call 575-6229 for more information.

The annual “United We Sand” Sandblaster 5K Adventure Race is being held on Saturday on the North Port Property at the Port of Kalama. Awards will be given in all kinds of categories, and there’s also a 1K Walk for the kids, a 1K Dog Walk, a Tire Pull and a Tug-of-War. This is a fundraiser for the United Way of Cowlitz County, and you can get more information on the Sandblaster 5K website or Facebook page. The first wave heads out at 9 am on Saturday.

From 9 am until noon on Saturday, Lower Columbia CAP is holding its “Food for Friends” Community Food Drive, looking for donations of non-perishable food that will go to support the Help Food Warehouse and other local food banks. Local churches are sending volunteers out to the neighborhoods to collect donations; you can leave them on your front porch, or drop them off at your local food bank.

Tour the fantastic new Health and Science Building at Lower Columbia College during an Open House that’s planned for 1 to 4 pm on Saturday. This state-of-the-art building has the latest in educational and building technology, and will house LCC’s nursing, science and technology programs. The building will open for classes on Monday, the 22nd.

The Easy Rider Game Show Association is hosting a special benefit event on Saturday, looking to raise money to help Haley Spears, 20, and her family, as she battles Lymphoma. The Equestrian Game Show starts at 9 am in the Indoor Horse Arena at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds, and there will also be a huge silent auction, with 100% of proceeds going to Spears and her family.

In connection with National Car Seat Check Saturday, Safe Kids Lower Columbia is holding a Car Seat Inspection Clinic on Saturday, going from 10 am until 1 pm at the Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue main station on Vine Street in Kelso. Technicians will show you how to properly install your car seat, and will also have replacement seats available for a nominal fee.

Starting at noon on Saturday, the Cowlitz Indians are holding their annual “Honoring the Spirit of All Cowlitz People” Powwow, starting at noon and going until 10 pm on Saturday at Toledo High School. Grand Entries of the tribes will be held at 1 and 7 pm, there will be dancing and drumming competitions, and a salmon dinner will be served at 5 pm. Admission is free.

The monthly “Soup’s On!” community lunch is set for this Saturday at the Kelso First Baptist Church, starting at 11:30 am. They’ll also have a Clothes Closet available for those who might have that need.

Celebrating her new Sci-Fi novel “Adaline,” local author Denise Kawaii invites you to a “combination” Book Signing and Ice Cream Social, going from 4 to 6 pm at the Baskin-Robbins store at 15th and Commerce in Longview. “Adaline” is a story about a boy raised by robots, intended for younger readers, age 10 and up. She says that the first 50 people to attend will get free ice cream.

The YMCA of Southwest Washington is holding an Open Facility Night for the Adult Goodtymes program, going from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the building on 15th Avenue in Longview. Call 423-4770 for more details.

Enjoy some great barbecue, tasty beverages and smooth blues while you’re helping to raise money to support the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts at Saturday’s “Blues and BBQ” benefit. Starting at 5 pm on Saturday, “Half-Step Down” will provide the musical entertainment, while Tombstone BBQ of Kalama dishes out some great grub. The big concert starts at 7 inside the theatre, with Dave “Buttermilk” Whittaker, Robbie Laws and Karen Lovely fronting the band. Call 575-8499 for ticket information, or go to the CTPA website.

There’s Community Vegan/Vegetarian Potluck and Talk planned for Saturday evening at the Youth and Family Link building on Douglas Street in Longview. Ted Cole will be talking about aero-ponic gardening, and the group will also be sharing the dishes that everyone is bringing. You’re asked to also bring a vegetarian or vegan dish to share. Call 431-4182 for more details.

Come to the Cowlitz Community Farmer’s Market and find produce, plants, crafts, baked goods, eggs, entertainment, and fun! Come on down and join the fun, there’s something good for everyone! Hours are 9 am until 2 pm on Saturday in the parking lot on 7th Avenue, across from the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds.

At 1 pm on Sunday, you can join with thousands of people all over the world who plan to “Sound Off for Climate Change,” starting at 1 pm at the Arch next to the Hemlock Plaza at Lake Sacajawea. Organizers say that they plan to make noise with bells, whistles, drums, musical instruments or other devices for 350 seconds, which also symbolizes the mark of 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, the benchmark for a stable climate. This is being organized by the Green Faith Team at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

The Downtown Longview Farmers and Artisans Market is open from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday at 15th and Broadway in downtown Longview. Along with the locally grown produce, they’ll have all kinds of hand-made crafts, specialty foods, flower baskets and other items for sale. Find out more by calling 957-2515.

KLOG Friday Sports

The 68th Civil War is tonight as Mark Morris hosts R.A. Long (FM 105.5 KUKN). Kelso hosts Prairie in the home opener (FM 101.5 The Wave)…..Logan Morrison hit a three run homer in the 9th inning to give the Mariners a 3-1 win over the Angels. The M’s are one game behind Oakland and KC in the Wild Card race. Seattle is at Houston tonight, KLOG 3:00 pm…..The Huskies host Georgia State in college football tomorrow, 2:00 pm FM 101.5 The Wave. Also, the Oregon Ducks visit WSU and San Diego State is at OSU…..The Seahawks and Broncos meet in a big Super Bowl rematch Sunday in Seattle…..In volleyball last night, MM blanked Hudson’s Bay 3-0 and Ridgefield beat R.A. Long 3-1…..In girls soccer, MM over Bay 4-1, Kelso beat Hockinson 3-1 and Ridgefield over RAL 8-0.