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KSD Facilities Planning

A team of nearly 20 people is starting work on the examination and analysis of the facilities in the Kelso School District. Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich says that the Facilities Improvement Team has been convened to guide the process of evaluating how well Kelso School District facilities are providing adequate space, infrastructure and safety to support the best learning environment for students. The Facilities Improvement Team includes school board members, teachers, administrators, community members and members of school support staff. The meeting schedule and other activities of the F-I-T will be published on the Kelso School District web page. Gelbrich says that they also need to hear from the community on facilities planning, so they’re opening up an online community input page through Thoughtexchange. Those who get signed up will be able to share their thoughts between the 17th and 27th of this month; those who shared their thoughts will be able to prioritize ideas between March 7th and 19th. Reports and results from that input will be shared in April.

No Smelt Dipping

It appears that there will be NO recreational smelt dipping this year, after a second round of commercial test dipping came up empty. Washington Fish and Wildlife reports that only one single fish was caught during the commercial dips earlier this week, far short of the 150-pound per-boat goal that would have triggered from sport dipping. Fish managers are still expecting about three million pounds of smelt to come through the Lower Columbia this year, similar to the smaller runs in 2011 and 2012. Those numbers are well below the 16.6 million pounds that came through in 2014. Biologists continue to monitor the run, saying that they are continuing to collect data, trying to determine if the main run has arrived yet. If dipping is eventually allowed, it will probably look like last year, with dipping allowed on one day only. Regardless of the run size, Native American smelt dippers are anticipated over the next few weeks, continuing with their ritual and subsistence harvests. Last, Native Americans collected a little over 8,500 pounds of Cowlitz River smelt.

MOU Changed

The County Commissioners say that they hope the third time is the charm as they vote to rescind and replace the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Longview on the land swap for a destination hotel at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds. Commissioner Joe Gardner says that they’re now confident that this deal is finally done. Cowlitz County is trading a large portion of the open lot east of the Conference and Events Center to the City of Longview as the site for the hotel, the area that’s currently used for the midway at the Cowlitz County Fair, and for parking of classic cars during Unique Tin. The city is giving up several small parcels adjacent to the fairgrounds as its portion of the swap. New County Commissioner Arne Mortenson says that he wants to see some RFP’s before the city and county commit to a hotel vendor. Studies done in 2010 and 2013 both recommend that a hotel be located near the fairgrounds, as an amenity that would help to draw additional events to the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds, along with the Conference and Events Center.

Volcano Monitor Bill

Senators in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii are putting forward a bill that would help to improve and coordinate volcano and earthquake monitoring on the west coast. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are backing a bill that would connect the volcano monitoring stations in the Cascades, Alaska and Hawaii, and would also create a 24-hour Volcano Watch Office, to provide round-the-clock situational awareness regarding active volcanoes in the United States. A release from the Senate Energy Committee claims that the Alaska Volcano Observatory has been underfunded for years, while being one of the busiest observatories in the world. Active volcanoes are also being monitored in the Cascades, and in Hawaii. This bill is in its early stages, and hasn’t yet been scheduled for any hearings.

Raised Bed Deadline

Today is the deadline to get signed up for the highly popular Raised Bed garden program that’s offered by the Washington State University Extension. The Home VEG, or Vegetable Educational Garden, program is intended to promote vegetable gardening in Cowlitz County; ten applicants will be selected to have a raised bed built for them, also including soil and seeds. Get signed up by calling WSU Extension at 577-3014, extension 3.

Valentine’s Dance

The Longview Senior Center Valentine’s Dance happens this evening at the Longview Moose Lodge. The King Brothers will perform at tonight’s party, which will run from 6 to 10 pm. They’ll have food and prizes, along with the live music. Get a break on your tickets by buying them in advance at the Longview Senior Center, located at 1111 Commerce Avenue. All proceeds from the dance will help to support the Longview Senior Center and the programs they offer. Call 270-9519 or 636-0210 for more information.

KLOG Wednesday Sports

The Mark Morris boys will play Woodland for the 2A District title Friday night. The Monarchs beat Centralia 77-61, while the Beavers downed R.A. Long 69-51. The Jacks try and stay alive tomorrow night against River at MM. The Kelso boys will try and stay alive at the 3A Bi-District when they take on Capital tonight, KLOG 5:55 pm…..The Kelso Lassies season ended with a 38-30 loss to Peninsula last night. The Mark Morris girls face a loser-out game tonight against Woodland at RAL, FM 101.5 The Wave 6:45 pm…..The LCC basketball teams are at home tonight against the Green River Gators. The women’s game at 6 pm and the men’s game at 8 pm…..The Trail Blazers have one more game before the All-Star break as the play at Utah tonight, KLOG after the Kelso boys playoff.

Kapstone Fire

It’s been a challenge for firefighters from Longview and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue, as they continue to deal with a fire that broke out yesterday afternoon at KapStone Paper and Packaging. Crews were called out about 12:30 yesterday afternoon, when a furnace fire was reported at the Longview mill. It’s reported that the fire started in an area on the fourth floor of the mill; the response has been complicated by asbestos-containing material that surrounds the furnace. They say that getting the fire put out without disturbing this asbestos is extremely difficult. Firefighters were at the mill for about two hours initially, and then they were called back at about five pm. Calls have been made for additional resources, and fire crews have been at the mill through the night, also working on other levels above the original fire site. There’s also some fire damage to the exterior of the building. No injuries have been reported, while this fire response continues this morning.

Love Overwhelming Move

Love Overwhelming is announcing that it plans to move to a building in the 600 block of 14th Avenue in Longview, with a goal of opening a homeless shelter in that location, if the city will allow it. On Sunday, A note from Love Overwhelming Director Chuck Hendrickson started circulating on social media, announcing that Love Overwhelming “found a location,” following the purchase of their current building by Cowlitz County. Yesterday afternoon, Hendrickson announced that they plan to move to 614 14th Avenue in Longview, right across the street from the Longshore Credit Union building. Hendrickson says that they plan to move their administrative offices into this location, and they also plan to develop the building into a shelter, if the city allows it. At this time, there’s a moratorium on emergency shelters inside the Longview city limits, as an ordinance on the location and operation of shelters in the city is finalized. The current moratorium expires on April 15th. A large crowd is expected today at the Ad Hoc Committee meeting that the Longview City Council has formed to work on this ordinance, reportedly meeting at 5 pm on Wednesday at the Longview City Hall.

Murder Hearing

Jeremy Brian Leiniger, 20, of Kelso had his first appearance in Thurston County Superior Court yesterday, where probable cause was found to charge him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 53 year-old Clark Edward Calquhoun of Rainier, Washington. Details regarding the crime and the connection between the two men are now coming out. It’s reported that Leiniger and Calquhoun worked as ranch hands at a relative’s farm outside of Yelm. Calquhoun’s girlfriend says that Leiniger asked the older man to go to the farm and feed the cattle on the evening of December 31st, and he was never heard from again. Authorities say that there was some speculation that Calquhoun had stolen some things from Leiniger’s relative. Investigators now say that Leiniger lured Calquhoun into some woods, and then shot him. The body was then dumped into the Coweeman River, past the end of Rose Valley Road. Leiniger is now being held in the Thurston County Jail on bail of $2.5 million, with formal arraignment scheduled on the 28th of this month.