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Ballots Out

The 2016 Election is now under way in Washington state, as more than 4 million ballots are mailed out by county election departments. The Washington Secretary of State’s Office says that some counties started mailing on Tuesday, and almost all of the rest are sending them out by the close of business today. That includes 62,027 ballots going out from Cowlitz County Elections. Along with the Presidential election, Washington voters are choosing a Senator and all ten U. S. House seats. All 98 State House seats are on the ballot, along with 26 of 49 Senate positions. That includes the 19th District Senate seat. Three Washington Supreme Court seats are on the ballot, along with six statewide initiatives.

The local ballot is massive, taking up six pages in the on-line Voter’s Guide, available on the Cowlitz County Elections website. Along with the local races for Congress and the Legislature, there are no fewer than nine local ballot measures, including sales tax measures to support Cowlitz County 911, Kalama Police, and a Transportation Benefit District in Woodland. The City of Kelso also has three Charter Amendment propositions. Ballots must be returned by 8 pm on Tuesday, November 8th to be valid for counting; they can be mailed, or you can drop them off at one of the Elections Drop Box locations that are set up around the county.

Arson Investigation

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is still working to find the person who torched a vacant home out west of Longview this past weekend. At about 5 pm on Sunday, Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue responded to a 911 call about a fire at 153 Bunker Hill Road. The house, which had not been occupied for several months, ended up being a total loss. A person that was in the area reported seeing a red Toyota flatbed truck in the area at about the time the fire started; Detective Sergeant Brad Thurman says that they have located and talked with the owner of that truck, and he says that person is no longer considered to be a suspect in the case. If you can help out with the investigation into this arson incident, you should call the Sheriff’s Office at 577-3092; you can also text your tip anonymously by using TIP411; text your tip to 847411, and add “CCSOTIP.”

Shake Out Drill

Lower Columbia College and local school districts plan to take part in today’s fifth annual “Great Washington Shake Out,” a statewide earthquake drill that’s taking place this morning at 10:20 am. LCC officials say that participation is optional, but at 10:20 this morning, text messages, flash alerts and website postings will go out, encouraging people to “Drop, Cover and Hold On!” Schools in Kelso, Longview, Toutle, Castle Rock and Woodland will also participate. Washington Emergency Management reports that more than 16,000 Cowlitz County residents have registered to participate, including individuals, families, schools and colleges, local governments, businesses, Indian tribes and some health care facilities. Find out more about this morning’s drill on the LCC web page, or on the Washington Emergency Management web page.

Columbia Closure

Local anglers have only a couple more days of salmon and steelhead fishing on the Lower Columbia River, as fishery managers announce that the river will close on Saturday. Washington Fish and Wildlife reports that the sport and commercial non-Indian catch has been exceeded, and the river will need to close. Starting this Saturday, the Columbia River will be closed to salmon and steelhead angling, going from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the river, going up to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. Biologists are also revising the size of this year’s run, which came in quite a ways below projections. The initial fall chinook prediction was put at 960,000 fish, but they’re now saying that just over 701,000 fish have been counted. Some tributaries remain open for fishing; check with WDFW for the latest regulations and open waters.

NWIW Upgrade

Northwest Innovation Works is announcing a major redesign regarding the methanol production and export facility that they plan to build at the Port of Kalama, saying that the plant will implement a Zero Liquid Discharge system. They say that this ZLD technology eliminates any discharge of waste water into the Columbia River. NWIW says that ZLD uses a combination of technologies to remove contaminants from the wastewater stream; that wastewater will then be recycled and reused inside the facility. They also say that this technology will reduce water usage at the plant by more than 150 million gallons each year. NWIW President Vee Godley says that they are committed to protecting the environment, along with resource efficiency; he says that this ZLD technology, coupled with the Ultra Low Emissions technology to reduce carbon emissions, will continue to have this plant on the front lines of “environmentally responsible manufacturing.” Northwest Innovation Works is spending nearly $4 billion in the development of these methanol production facilities at Kalama and near Clatskanie, producing methanol that will be shipped to China for use in plastics manufacturing. There’s a goal of having the plant up and running by 2018.

Water Line Work

Water line replacement work continues in Longview, with contract crews working today in the area of Baltimore Street, between 19th and 20th. Starting this morning, Baltimore Street will be closed to through traffic between 19th and 20th, as the crew completes water line installation and restoration work. Detours will be posted, and local access to private driveways will be maintained. This closure will be in place for several weeks, with a current completion date of November 11th. Use alternate routes to avoid congestion or delays.

OMSI Event

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry helps to celebrate the 17th annual “Lights on After School” event in the local area, bringing a Traveling Exhibit to the Youth and Family Link building in Longview. OMSI will have displays of live bugs and animals, health and nutrition displays, and “brainteasers,” hands-on puzzles that will challenge your math and science skills, along with needing some “out-of-the-box thinking.” This will be open from 5 to 7 pm at the building on Douglas Street in Longview, and it’s free to all area families and children. Call 423-6741 for more information.

Alzheimer’s Group

If you or someone you know is taking care of a family member or loved one who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory loss, there’s a Family Caregiver Support Group meeting set for this evening in Longview. The Alzheimer’s Association support group meets on the third Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 8 pm in Conference Room 6 at the Kaiser Permanente Clinic on 7th Avenue in Longview. These groups help to provide a consistent and caring place for caregivers to learn, share, and gain emotional support from others who are also on the journey of providing care to a person with memory loss. Find out more by calling 261-4612.

KLOG Thursday Sports

The Kelso Lassie cross country team won the 3A District meet yesterday. The Kelso boys were second. The 2A District meet is at 4 pm today at Lake Sacajawea…..Four Jacks and three Kings advanced to the final round of the 2A District boys golf tournament. Troy Parrish led RAL with a 77 and Blake Hardeman shot an 80 for MM. The final round is underway today at Mint Valley…..LCC is alone in first place after a 3-0 volleyball sweep over Pierce last night. The Devils are now 7-1 in the West division…..In prep volleyball tonight, Kelso is at Fort, RAL at Hockinson and Ridgefield at MM…..Green River beat LCC 3-0 in college soccer yesterday…..In girls soccer today, MM hosts Ridgefield (4:30pm), RAL is at Hockinson (7pm) and Kelso hosts Mt. View (7pm).

LO Offer

The Cowlitz County Commissioners are moving ahead on a proposal to purchase the building that’s currently occupied by the Love Overwhelming homeless shelter. The County Commission voted yesterday to offer $250,000 for the building at 304 Cowlitz Way; Commission Chair Mike Karnofksi says that this is the right time to move on this…lo-purchase…The Emergency Support Shelter currently owns the building, and made the decision to sell the building about a year ago, with the intent of paying down debt on their current building. As the current tenant, Love Overwhelming has the right of first refusal, and it’s reported that the Love Overwhelming board was going to vote on that possibility last night. The result of that vote is not yet known. Love Overwhelming has also been in discussions with other organizations, looking at the possibility of moving. The Shekinah Christian Center on 3rd Avenue in Longview reportedly has been talking about taking the shelter in, but that would require a lifting of the current moratorium on shelters inside the city limits, along with a zoning change. Additional information on this situation could be released later today.