The Milllenium Bulk Terminals coal export project at the old Reynolds Metals plant took a big hit yesterday, as Cowlitz County Hearings Examiner Mark Scheibmeir ruled that the company should not get two major permits for the facility. In making his ruling, Scheibmier says that Millennium cannot mitigate the ten “significant adverse impacts” that have been identified. Nine of those ten impacts were mentioned by the Department of Ecology in September’s denial of the shoreline permit for the project. Scheibmier also included greenhouse gas impacts as a factor in his ruling. His ruling comes after a recommendation from Cowlitz County Building and Planning, which had advised that the permit be approved, but with conditions. Officials with Millennium are disappointed by the decision, still contending that these decisions are being made on issues that are outside the scope of the permit applications. In a prepared statement, Millennium President and CEO Bill Chapman says that this ruling “makes a bold statement, that there is no industrial or port use for this site, or for any other industrial port site in Cowlitz County or anywhere else on the Columbia River System.” The company is planning to appeal the decision to the state Shoreline Hearings Board.
The Port of Longview Commission is moving ahead on a 2018 budget that will reduce Port’s property tax levy by 20 percent from last year, the second year in a row that the levy has been reduced. Port Commission President Doug Averett says that they would like to eliminate the levy completely, but that’s not a smart move at this time. The levy rate for the Port of Longview drops from 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to 26 cents per $1,000. The overall General Fund Budget for the Port of Longview comes in at $31.1 million, with a Capital Projects Budget of $5.1 million. The Port is projecting a net profit of $3.2 million before depreciation, and they also plan to spend just over $400 thousand on Willow Grove Park. This year’s major project out there will be construction of a walking trail around the play equipment at the park. Full details on the 2018 budget are available on the Port of Longview web page.
Traffic on Highway 30 out of Astoria was shut down for about 90 minutes yesterday evening, after what was described as a “large natural gas leak.” The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the highway in the eastern part of Astoria late yesterday afternoon, with no local detours. The road re-opened around 7:30 pm. The cause of the gas leak has not yet been disclosed.
It’s time to start thinking about what’s going to be gracing your living room during this upcoming holiday season, and the Forest Service is announcing that permits for cutting Christmas Trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are now available. Starting today, you can get the permits at numerous locations around the region. The permits cost $5 each, there’s a limit of five permits per household, and the permits are valid for one-time use. If there’s a fourth-grader in your household, you can get your permit for free, as part of the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Kids who have earned an online “Every Kid in a Park Pass” can show that pass at any national forest office to receive a permit. Go to everykidinapark.gov to learn how you can get your voucher. Permits are available at Forest Service offices and at vendor locations around the region. The closest in this area is at Kalama Spirits and Tobacco, located on North 1st in downtown Kalama. Get full details on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.
Friends, family and community members plan to gather this evening at R. A. Long High School, where a Candelight Vigil will be held to honor 2016 graduate Tatum Didier. She died last Friday when the car that she was riding in got hit by a loaded log truck east of Rainier. The vigil is set to start at 6:30 pm at the high school; there’s also a public viewing planned for today, going from 10 am until 5 pm at the Steele Funeral Chapel on Mount Solo Road in West Longview.
Learn about Advanced Directives at a workshop that’s being held today at Community Home Health and Hospice in Longview. Support Services Coordinator Erin Orren will be presenting “Your Life. Your Choice.” From 2:30 to 3:30 this afternoon in the James Avery Center for Grief Support, located at 1000 12th Avenue in Longview. It’s suggested that you RSVP; the first ten people to do that will receive a small gift. Call 360-414-5408 to get signed up, or send an email to email@example.com. Snacks and beverages will be served.
The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments is opening up a series of meetings on Economic Development District Formation, starting this evening in the Kelso City Council chambers. The COG is opening up discussions about the possible formation of a two-county economic development district, and they need input from a wide range of people on the economic development needs of the region. This evening’s meeting starts at 6 pm at the Kelso City Hall. Meetings are being planned in Longview, Castle Rock, Kalama, Woodland and Cathlamet, going through December 12th. Get more information at cwcog.org.
Alvin Jones and the Crystal Pool Revival will be playing at tonight’s “Turkey Trot” at the Longview Moose, helping to raise money for the Longview Senior Center. This show will run from 6 until 10 pm tonight at the lodge on Washington Way, with all proceeds helping to support the Senior Center. Head to the Senior Center today to get tickets in advance, and you’ll get a $5 break. The tickets will be $15 at the door.
The Eastern Washington Eagles beat a Pac-12 team for the first time in nearly 15 years. The Eagles beat Stanford 67-61. Also, Gonzaga pounded Howard 106-69. Tonight, WSU host Seattle U. at 6 pm…..The Blazers are at home against the Orlando Magic tonight, KLOG 6:05 pm…..The Seahawks signed Byron Maxwell to a contract to help deal with the loss of Richard Sherman. It’s Maxwell’s second tour with the Hawks. Seattle host the Falcons in Monday Night Football…..The LCC volleyball team leaves for Tacoma today as they open the NWAC Championships against Linn Benton Thursday at 4:30 pm. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game, won by LCC…..In prep bowling today, MM takes on Prairie and RAL plays Battle Ground, both at the Triangle at 3:15 pm. Kelso is at Heritage.
A family of two adults and three children is getting help from the Red Cross after a large tree came down onto their double-wide mobile home. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue reports that the incident happened about 2 pm yesterday afternoon, at a home in the 100 block of Kitchen Drive, off of Pacific Avenue North, just past Rocky Point, near Holcomb Road. Cowlitz 2 says that the mother of the family and a child were in the house when the tree fell, but neither one was hurt. They say that the tree took out a 10 to 12-foot section of wall, also caving in the roof. Fire officials say that the family declined Red Cross assistance at first, but they accepted that help later in the afternoon. Two adults and three children were displaced by the “weather-related home disaster,” and are now getting basic things like housing, food, clothing, comfort kits and other assistance from the Red Cross. No injuries were reported; it was noted that this tree had been marked for possible removal after the last storm season.
It’s also reported that a falling tree took out a power line and also hit a car on Ocean Beach Highway near Stella, an incident that happened a few minutes before 3 pm. No injuries were reported, and the scene was cleared within a half-hour.
The Cowlitz PUD reports that the power is on for everybody this morning, but they were scrambling to deal with outages all over the county. More than 2,700 customers lost power at some point during yesterday’s storm, with outages reported in Kalama, along Sunset Way in Longview, the Ryderwood-Vader area, Castle Rock-Delameter, Silver Lake and Baker’s Corner. Outage were also reported in Wahkiakum County.
This is now being called a “moderate” storm by forecasters; we had a peak gust of 31 miles an hour at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso, also 31 miles an hour in Longview. Kalama’s peak gust was also 31 miles an hour, while they had a gust of 24 miles an hour in Castle Rock. Just over a half-inch of rain was recorded at the Airport, Longview had 31 hundredths, Castle Rock got nearly an inch, and Kalama had four-tenths of an inch of rain. Abernathy Mountain had a peak gust of 52 miles an hour, with nearly an inch-and-a-half of rain. Naselle Ridge recorded a peak gust of 89 miles an hour early yesterday afternoon. Another wet and windy system is expected to come ashore tonight, but the wind gusts should not be as strong.
The Weather Service now has a High Wind Watch up on the South Washington and North Oregon coastal areas, reporting that another strong system is coming in tonight. The watch starts at 4 pm today, and goes through “late tonight.” South winds are expected to kick up to between 30 and 40 miles an hour at that time, with gusts up to 65 miles an hour on the beaches and headlands. Coastal communities could see gusts of 50 miles an hour, but only briefly. The strongest winds are expected between 10 pm and 4 am.
As this storm rolls through, Winter Weather Advisories are going up in the South Washington and North Oregon Cascades, with heavy snowfall expected above 3,500 feet tonight and tomorrow morning. The heaviest snow is expected between 3 and 6 am tomorrow morning, but they say that between 9 and 13 inches of snow could fall in the South Washington Cascades during this system. 6 inches to a foot is possible in Oregon. They say that you should be ready for “difficult conditions” if you plan to travel in the mountains.
A 14 year-old Longview boy is under arrest after a domestic violence incident that took place at a home on Arapaho Lane. Around 5:15 yesterday afternoon, the boy’s mother called from the home up on Columbia Heights, reporting that he had used the freezer door to hit her in the head. The woman also claims that there’s been some history of violence with the boy; she claims that he armed himself with scissors, and then chased her around the house in a previous incident. Yesterday’s incident happened on some property that the mother rents for her horses; Deputies went to the property, and reportedly caught the teen out in a field. He’s now being held in the Cowlitz County Juvenile Services Center.