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Hazmat Evacuation

Things are getting back to normal at an apartment complex in the 1700 block of Hemlock Street, after a resident of that complex apparently attempted suicide Tuesday afternoon, an attempt that involved hazardous materials. A 911 caller reported that this person was posting suicidal messages on Facebook; they had tried to call the person, but the response was unintelligible. Longview Police arrived at about 4:45 pm, followed by Longview Fire. Firefighters went into the apartment, wearing breathing equipment, and they found a sign that said “Caution CO2.” They found the person on the floor of the bathroom, semi-conscious. That person was removed and taken to St. John Medical Center in serious condition, where that person underwent additional decontamination. During the check of the apartment, a police officer complained of a “burning sensation” on his arm, and also was decontaminated; the officer was eventually treated for chemical burns. Other firefighters underwent decontamination procedures. An analysis indicated the continued threat of hazardous materials, so the Cowlitz 2 HazMat team was called in. That team also found a fire danger in the apartment, so the building was evacuated and the electricity was disconnected. After hazardous materials were removed and neutralized, most of the residents were allowed to return. The responders that were affected have returned to duty, while the investigation continues. The condition of the apartment dweller hasn’t been updated.

SR 503 Crash

Two people are recovering from injuries that they got in a two-car crash that took place yesterday afternoon on State Route 503 east of Woodland. State Troopers say that Kassandra Robello, 28, of Vancouver was northbound about 14 miles east of Woodland, when her car drifted over the center line and collided with a pickup being driven by Robert Bennett, 55, of Ariel. Robello was taken from the scene by a private party, while Bennett was taken to Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital in Vancouver. Robello is being cited for second-degree negligent driving.

Pittsburg Road Homicide

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson now says that the “suspicious death” investigation from Tuesday evening is now a homicide investigation. Dickerson says that the body found Tuesday near Salmonberry Lake is that of Apache Rose Hightower, 24, of Portland, and an autopsy shows that she was the victim of “homicidal violence.” He says that a passerby discovered the body at about 4:30 pm on Tuesday, down an embankment in the 30000 block of Pittsburg Road. Fingerprints were used to make a positive identification. No other information is available at this time, as the Columbia County Major Crimes Team, the Oregon Medical Examiner and Oregon State Police continue to investigate this incident.

Bomb Incidents

Longview Police responded to a pair of possible bomb incidents that were reported yesterday in the city. Around 1:20 pm, officers responded to the 1900 block of 7th Avenue, when a “suspicious device” was found hanging off of a handrail on a stairwell landing. Officers say that the item resembled a Silly Putty container, with about two feet of wire hanging off of it. They contacted the Portland Police Bomb Squad, and they determined that the item was not dangerous. Closer examination showed that it had a small motor inside of it, to make it shake or vibrate, and the speculation is that it came from a toy or a tool. The item was placed in the trash.

Around 6 pm, employees of a bank at the Triangle Center reported finding a bomb threat “note” that had been placed in the drive-through. The note reportedly said “Did you find my bomb yet, every dies, bomb go boom at 6.” They say that the note had been stuffed into a crack next to the drive-through drawer, but no one knows when the note may have been placed there, or who might have done it. Longview Police have no suspects.

Mint Farm Announcement

There’s a new development being announced for Longview’s Mint Farm Industrial Park, proposing to build and operate a fertilizer production facility on 53 acres of land. Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP plans to buy 17 acres of land from the city, along with another 36 acres from PNW Metal Recycling. Pacific Coast Fertilizer is a joint venture involving chemical companies from Texas and Canada, with plans to produce and ship ammonia-based fertilizers. In making the announcement, company officials say that they foresee up to a thousand jobs during construction of the facility, along with 80 to 100 workers to operate the plant. The goal is to have the plant up and running by 2021.

NW Innovation Works Review

Columbia Riverkeeper was dealt a blow in its fight against the Northwest Innovation Works methanol production and export facility, as the State of Washington declines to get involved in the environmental review of the plant. Yesterday, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council declined to get involved, saying that an additional layer of review would create unnecessary delays, along with having to spend additional money that would bring “substantial prejudice” to the company and the Port of Kalama. Cowlitz County and the Port of Kalama are leading the environmental review of the project, which also requires at least a dozen local, state and federal permits. Northwest Innovation Works President Vee Godley applauds the decision, saying that it keeps the project on track, as they comply with all regulations and requirements. There’s still a goal of getting the $1.8 billion facility operational by 2018.

Indy Way/Oregon Way Project

You can now look at the latest design concepts for proposed revisions to the intersection at Industrial
Way and Oregon Way, as four main layouts are unveiled for public review. At yesterday’s Open House on the project, four potential options were presented, each of which would have overpasses that would take vehicle traffic over the rail traffic in that area. Two options are fully elevated, while two include a mix of at-grade and over-grade routes. Project Engineer Claude Sakr says that the next step will be to develop cost estimates, and to continue to evaluate the efficiency and need for each option. Cowlitz County needs to keep this moving forward, to maintain access to $85 million that was allocated to the project by this year’s Legislature. A Draft Environmental Impact statement is due out next year, and there’s goal of starting construction by 2020. Full details about the project and its funding are available on the project web page.

Today’s Events

Starting today, there’s a slight change to the public hours of operation at the County Building and Planning Department. From 7 to 8 am today and every Thursday, the office will be closed for a weekly staff meeting. They’re also announcing hours for the Permit Center, which will now be open form 7 am until 6 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 8 am to 6 pm on Thursday. Call 577-3052 if you have questions.

“Legendary Teachers” are being honored today in Kelso and Longview, as “Legendary Teacher Day” is observed. This was created in 2014 as a “Day of Tribute” to teachers, intended as a time to celebrate local teaching legends. The districts are encouraging the community to acknowledge a “legendary teacher” in your life; proclamations have been issued by the Kelso School Board and the Kelso City Council. Kelso Schools are also invited every Kelso Teacher of the Year since 1989 to be special guests at Friday night’s Kelso football game against Centralia. You’re also encouraged to recognize your own “Legendary Teacher” by going to the Legendary Teacher Day page on Facebook.

There’s a big Job Fair planned for today at Woodland High School, with as many as 40 different employers expected for the event. This will run from 3:30 to 6 pm, and will feature workshops, displays and interactive opportunities to connect with employers. The Cowlitz Indians and their Ilani casino and resort will also be represented. There will be a free shuttle taking participants to the Job Fair, loading at the Longview Transit Center and the Kelso Train Depot before heading to Woodland High. This event is open to all are job seekers; make sure to bring your resume and “dress to impress.”

KLOG Thursday Sports

Robinson Cano hit a 12th inning sacrifice fly to give the Mariners a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays. Felix Hernandez pitched great in a seven inning no decision. Edwin Diaz gave up a 9th inning homer in blowing the save. The M’s have today off before a three game set at Minnesota. They are two games out of the Wildcard chase…..The LCC volleyball team blew a 2-0 lead and lost the league opener at Pierce 3-2. The Devils host Grays Harbor Friday night at 7 pm…..Centralia defeated LCC 3-1 in women’s soccer last night. The Devils host Bellevue at 12 pm Saturday…..In prep volleyball tonight, R.A. Long is at Washougal and Mark Morris hosts Columbia River, both at 7 pm…..In girls soccer today, River is at MM (5 pm), RAL at Washougal (6 pm) and Kelso at Hudson’s Bay (7 pm).

KapStone Leadership Shifts

KapStone Paper and Packaging is announcing changes in upper-level management, reporting that current Chief Executive Officer Roger Stone will step down at the end of this year. The company says that Stone will retain his role as Executive Chairman of the Board, but Matt Kaplan will become the new CEO, while also continuing as the President of the company. Randy Nebel is being promoted to Executive Vice President of Integrated Packaging, responsible for KapStone’s Mill and Corrugated Container operations. Nebel has been working as the company Vice President and General Manager since 2013, along with his role as President of KapStone’s Mill division. Tim Kineally will retire from his position as Vice President, General Manager and President of the Container division. Bill Kessinger will be promoted from his position in Roanoke Rapids, becoming Vice President and Manager of the Mill system, while Pat Ortiz will become the Vice President and General Manager of the Corrugated Container system. All of these changes become effective on January 1.