At this month’s meeting of the Lower Columbia School Retirees Association, Karin Austin will be in to explain her “Luggage of Love” program. The program starts at 9:30 am in the dining room of the Somerset Retirement Apartments, located at 2025 Tibbets in Longview. The program is open to all current and retired school employees in the local area. Breakfast will be available for purchase, and a door prize will also be awarded. Call 425-5428 for more information.
The Lewis County Department of Emergency Management is asking citizens and public agencies in that county to report damage estimates from the recent storm as soon as possible. Officials with Lewis County DEM say that they need to document the extent of damages, to see if they might be eligible for possible recovery assistance. You can report those preliminary damage estimates to Lewis County DEM by calling 360-740-1152. The collection of loss estimates will continue until the State of Washington makes a determination on a possible disaster declaration. So far, Cowlitz County hasn’t started this process, saying that there wasn’t enough damage done to qualify for any help.
The Cowlitz PUD is out on a recruitment drive, looking to fill three open slots on the Electric Rates Advisory Committee. Brent Arnold with the PUD says that seats representing residential rate classes are open in all three Commissioner Districts; the election of Dena Diamond-Ott to the PUD Commission opened up the seat that she had on the ERAC, while the slots for Commissioner Districts 2 and 3 came through attrition. The 15-member committee meets several times a year, reviewing rates and making recommendations to the PUD Commission for action. If you’re interested in serving, get more details and an application form on the Cowlitz PUD web page. The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 15th.
The Washington State University Extension is offering a class that could help keep food service around the area safe for everyone. From 9 am until 1 pm today, there’s a “Person in Charge Class” at the Cougar Cottage on Washington Street in West Kelso. State Food Rules require that at least one certified “Person in Charge” be on hand during all hours of operation for any food establishment. This class helps to provide in-depth knowledge of food safety. Upon completion of the four-hour class, participants will be able to insure that employees or fellow volunteers are following state-mandated food safety practices. Call 577-3014 for registration information.
The first of two special blood drives being held in the area is set for today at the Washington State Department of Transportation offices on Talley Way in Kelso. This will run from 7:15 am until 12:15 pm today at the WashDOT facility at 2400 block of Talley Way. This is in addition to the regularly-scheduled blood drive that will go on from 1 to 6 pm at the National Guard Armory on Vandercook Way in Longview. Along with giving the Gift of Life by making your donation, you will also receive a limited-edition potholder-oven mitt as a thank you for your donation. If you miss today’s event, there’s also a special blood drive planned from 9 am until 2 pm tomorrow at the Fibre Federal Main Branch on Commerce Avenue in Longview.
If there’s a 6 to 9 year-old in your house, you’ll want to take that boy or girl to the Longview Parks and Recreation Building at 5 pm today, where Bob Koenig with the Bits and Bots Robotics Team will talk about the creation of the area’s first-ever Junior FLL robotics league. Teams of six to nine year-olds can be formed within schools, churches, organizations or in the community at large. They’ll be meeting once or twice per week through January and February, leading up to an exposition at OMSI on February 28th. Teams will be building a motorized LEGO model, will do research on a project, and will make a presentation. Adult coaches and mentors are also needed for each team. Anyone interested in being involved should attend today’s meeting. Call Bob Koenig at 575-7702 if you have other questions.
The Trail Blazers beat the short handed San Antonio Spurs 108-95. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard had 23 points each for Portland…..Gonzaga easily romped over Texas Southern 94-54 last night. Kyle Wiltjer had 23 for the Zags and Longview’s Rem Bakamus added two points. Gary Payton II had Oregon State’s first triple-double in 26 years as the Beavers beat Grambling 71-43. The last guy to do it was his dad…..Ryan Sturdivan hit a 40-footer at the buzzer to give Woodland a 49-47 win over Kelso last night. R.A. Long rallied from 10 down in the 4th quarter to get into OT. The Jacks then beat Heritage 58-54 behind the 17 of Hunter Jones…..In girls hoops tonight, Kelso hosts Black Hills, KLOG 6:55 pm. Also, Mark Morris is at Woodland and R.A. Long visits Fort Vancouver.
Years of legal wrangling and bureaucratic paper-shuffling finally came down with a positive result for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, as U. S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein granted the tribe’s motion for summary judgment, ordering that 152 acres of land near La Center be taken into trust as a reservation for the Cowlitz. Tribal Chairman Bill Iyall says that “This is the time for all Cowlitz people and the community to celebrate.” He says that this 152-acre reservation will provide the Cowlitz with the same opportunities as other federally-recognized tribes. Iyall says that Rothstein also dismissed the case that had been filed by Clark County, the City of Vancouver and other citizens; the Department of the Interior will now acquire that land by January 11th of next year. Iyall says that this decision “provides justice” for all Cowlitz Indians, for those who came before, and who have given their lives on behalf of the Cowlitz people. The Cowlitz are planning to build a casino and hotel complex on this land.
The investigation into Friday afternoon’s train-caused fatality near Kalama is continuing. The Cowlitz County Coroner identifies the victim in the incident as Jerry Lee Ward, 50, a transient who has ties to the Longview area. Ward was killed at about 1 pm Friday afternoon, as he was walking alongside the BNSF tracks near the intersection of Dupont and Toteff Roads, just south of Kalama. It’s noted that Ward was next to the tracks, and was hit by material extending from the train itself. Officials with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe say that the crew saw Ward and blew their horn, but he stayed too close to the tracks. CPR was attempted, without success. This is the third local train fatality in the past three months.
Charges of assault and domestic violence are still pending against Eric Wooldridge of Kalama, after he was allegedly involved in a three-hour standoff Friday evening at a home in Kalama. It’s claimed that Wooldridge assaulted a family member, and then barricaded himself inside a home in the 100 block of River Ridge Lane. Lower Columbia SWAT was activated and arrived on the scene as other family members were evacuating the house. Wooldridge finally gave himself up peacefully at about 7 pm Friday night, and was taken to St. John Medical Center for a mental evaluation. As of this morning, it appears that evaluation is still ongoing.