A day-long protest is planned for today at the Cowlitz PUD building in Longview, with disgruntled ratepayers coming by to express their displeasure with recent spikes in power bills. Today’s event is being organized through a Facebook movement, started after people began seeing extremely high electric bills in recent weeks. The protest is scheduled to go form 6 am until 6 pm today, and organizers are offering advice on steps to take to insure that this is a peaceful and orderly event. In a printed statement, the PUD says that it recognizes the concerns of its customers; they say that a combination of increased demand coupled with a rate increase to cause the bill spikes. People involved in today’s event aren’t buying that answer. Get more information by going to Facebook and search for “Civil Protest at Cowlitz PUD.”
There are some math issues related to one-time “special items” that skew the numbers somewhat, but Weyerhaeuser is reporting that 2015 was a great year, with net earnings of $533 million. That compares with net earnings of $700 million in 2014, but that year also included after-tax earnings of $998 million that was connected to the sale of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. Weyco President and CEO Doyle Simons says that 2015 was “a milestone year,” as the company announced a “transformational” merger with Plum Creek Timber. Simons says that this merger will create the world’s premier timber, land and forest company. He says that they’re continuing on the path of improving performance and operational excellence, while also delivering cash to shareholders. He says that should continue in 2016, with the completion of the Plum Creek merger, a “strategic review” of their cellulose fibers business, and a continued focus on operational excellence.
A 15 year-old Kelso High School student is facing prosecution for possession of marijuana, after an incident that was reported earlier in the week. Kelso Police say that the teen was arrested around 7:30 yesterday morning, after a fire alarm went off at the high school on Tuesday. Police and school officials say that they found that the teen was in possession of marijuana, when he actually smoked the weed at school and set off the alarm. The incident happened shortly after noon on Tuesday.
A Clatskanie woman is being charged with multiple counts of sex and liquor violations. The Clatskanie Chief reports on the January 28th arrest of Monica Blackwood, saying that she was booked into the Columbia County Jail seven felony counts of second-degree sexual abuse, eight misdemeanor counts of providing liquor to a minor, seven misdemeanor counts of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, and one count of evidence tampering. Blackwood is currently free after posting bail.
Joel Kaech, 25, of Salkum is pleading “not guilty” to charges connected to an alleged kidnapping and rape that took place last weekend. The Centralia Chronicle reports on yesterday’s arraignment in Lewis County Superior Court, where Kaech entered “not guilty” pleas to counts of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and felony harassment. Kaech was arrested last Sunday, after a 32 year-old Longview woman reported that he had “taken her hostage” after he gave her a ride from Longview to Lewis County. Prosecutors asked that Kaech be ordered to surrender a DNA sample, but he objected to that. The judge eventually granted the motion to collect the sample. Kaech was also sentenced to ten days in jail on a contempt of court charge, after he swore at the judge in his first court appearance on Monday. Kaech continues to be held in the Lewis County Jail on bail of $500,000.
The City of Longview is going out for bids on Phase 1 of the R. A. Long Park renovations in the Longview Civic Circle. The “Call for Bids” was published earlier this week, asking qualified companies to bid on a project that will include construction of a concrete plaza, steps, sidewalks, a fountain, lights, electrical controls and other items. Bid documents are due at the Longview City Manager’s office by 2:30 pm on Tuesday, the 23rd. Bid documents can be reviewed at the City of Longview Engineering office, or by going to the Builder’s Exchange web page at bxwa.com.
They’re moving the headquarters for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to a new location in Vancouver, a move that they hope will increase the reach and visibility of the forest. Starting on March 1st, the current forest headquarters will close, and then will re-open with the National Park Service at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Visitors Center. Forest Supervisor Gina Owens says that this is a great opportunity to provide a joint presence with the NPS, and they look forward to working with the Park Service at this revamped Visitor Center. The Fort Vancouver Visitor Center is located at 1501 East Evergreen Boulevard in Vancouver. More information will be available on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.
Project leads for Washington Fish and Wildlife say that there are “clear signs” that smelt-dippers will have some success when the Cowlitz River opens for a one-day season. The Cowlitz will open for recreational smelt dipping from 7 am until 1 pm tomorrow, and WDFW says that the indicators are pointing to the positive. They say that the progression of predator movement shows that the main part of the run is approaching the Cowlitz; on Monday, several hundred seals and sea lions were spotted at the mouth of the Cowlitz, along with several dozen bald eagles. They also say that commercial dippers had some success earlier in the week. There is a bag limit of ten pounds of smelt per person; that equals about a quarter-full five-gallon bucket. No license is required, but you need to be aware that game wardens will be out, making sure that dippers are observing the catch regulations.
Sgt. Doug Lane will be at the Kelso Senior Center at 1 pm on Friday, presenting a program on Fraud and ID Theft Prevention. The program is free and is open to all. The Kelso Senior Center is located in the old Catlin Hall at 108 NW 8th Avenue in West Kelso.
Friday and Saturday night at Kelso High School, it’s “Play On!,” a “play-in-a-play” comedy by Rick Abbot. This show is about a theatre group that’s putting on a play, with additional comedy ensuing. “Play On!” will be presented in the KHS Auditorium at 7 pm Friday and Saturday, tickets will be available at the door.
Down in Woodland, the Love Street Playhouse is presenting Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” running at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have matinees at 2 pm on Sunday. Check out Oscar and Felix each weekend through the 28th. Go to lovestreetplayhouse.com for ticket information.
From 4 to 8 pm on Friday, you can help out the Thunderfoot FC girls soccer team in Kelso when you go to Burgerville for dinner. A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds will go to the soccer team, along with 100% of cash donations that are offered. Burgerville is located at 6th and West Main in West Kelso.
The third annual Civil War Food Drive kicks off Saturday and runs through the 19th of this month. Students from Mark Morris and R. A. Long High Schools will be striving to see which school can collect the most food and cash donations for the Help Food Warehouse. Last year’s event collected around 17,000 pounds of food and about $1,500 for the Help Food Warehouse. This year, they have a goal of collecting 20,000 pounds, and $5,000 cash. Things get started tomorrow morning with Walk-n-Knock Food Drive; get your donations out on your front porch for students to pick up. Donations will also be accepted at the Fred Meyer store, at either high school, and at the CAP offices on Commerce Avenue. Businesses can also schedule pickups by calling 430-4187 for Mark Morris donations or 751-9578 for R. A. Long donations.
You’re invited to the Longview Eagles on Saturday, where you can take part in a Relay for Life Bingo event. Kids age 8 and up can also come into the 1 pm session, which will then be followed by a “speed session.” They’ll also have “food, fun and prizes.” All proceeds will go to the Crusaders Relay for Life Team.
A series of free classes called “The Good, The Bad and The Internet” opens at 1 pm on Saturday at the Longview Public Library. This is a class on the basics of going on the Internet, with guidance on how to “find the good things and avoid the bad things” when you’re online. This class will be offered on the first Saturday of each month through June. You can go to any or all of the classes. Space is limited, so you should call 442-5300 if you need more help.
The annual Father-Daughter Ball is planned for Saturday night at Toutle Lake High School, starting at 7 pm. This year, they’re having a Masquerade Ball theme, and each daughter attending will receive a mask. Ray Bartley from Cookin’ Country will DJ the event; tickets will be available at the door.
They’re hosting a “Valentine for Vets” dinner and auction at Buccini Hall in St. Helens on Saturday, sponsored by the St. Helens Elks. Proceeds from this gala event at St. Frederic Catholic Church will benefit the Elks Veterans Bunker, a local resource center for local veterans and their families. Things get started at 5 pm on Saturday; tickets can be purchased at the door.
Scott Wright used to teach music in the Longview Schools between 1987 and 1997, now he’s returning to Longview to perform on clarinet in the Winter Concert of the Southwest Washington Symphony. Wright will perform a piece called “Collateral Damage: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra” this Sunday afternoon. To avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl, the concert is being moved up to 1 pm on Sunday in the Wollenberg Auditoruim at the Rose Center for the Arts. The box office opens one hour prior to the show.
The Portland’s five game win streak is over after Toronto beat the Blazers 110-103…..Gonzaga is back in first after a 92-63 win over Loyola. Oregon downed Colorado 76-56 and Oregon State beat Utah 71-69…..The LCC hoop teams host Pierce tomorrow night with the women at 5 pm and the men at 7 pm…..In boys hoops, Columbia River beat Kelso 56-41. Tonight, Mark Morris can clinch a league title with a home win versus Washougal and Woodland visits R.A. Long…..Last night in girls, Woodland beat R.A. Long 62-43 and Washougal defeated Mark Morris 55-47…..The District wrestling tournaments are all day tomorrow. Kelso hosts the 3A, Ridgefield is the host team for the 2A and the 1A action is at Stevenson.