A special workshop on community safety is planned for this afternoon, arranged by the Cowlitz County Health Department and Cowlitz On The Move. This is part of a Community Transformation Grant that has awarded to the Health Department, and will be focused on the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill. Representatives of “Washington Bikes” will be leading today’s workshop, looking at simple changes in driving speeds or sidewalk alignment that can help make safer environments for all. Today’s Neighborhood Safe Streets workshop is set to run from 2 to 5 pm in the John Searing Auditorium at the Cowlitz PUD building in Longview. It’s free to attend, but pre-registration is required. Call 414-5599, extension 6434 to get signed up.
The operator of a hair and nail salon in downtown Longview reports that someone vandalized the entryway into their shop. An employee of the salon in the 12 hundred block of Broadway called Longview Police at about 10:45 yesterday morning, reporting that the back door into their building had been kicked in. After going down a breezeway to the business entry, piles of dog feces were found in front of the door, and feces had also been smeared on the door. A large rock was also found inside the door that had been forced open. So far, no motive for the incident has been determined, and no suspects have been identified.
The long-dormant Berth 4 at the Port of Longview is being targeted for development as a new export facility for propane and butane. A Houston-based group called Sage Midstream now has an option to explore development of a project they’re calling “Haven Energy,” which would take propane and butane produced by the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota, then would export that liquefied material to markets around the world. Haven Energy President Greg Bowles says that they plan to build the safest facility of its kind……Bowles says that this would be a $275 million capital investment, bringing propane and butane in by train, and then transferring that to deep-draft ships for export. Bowles says that they’re planning to build the first-ever “full-containment” storage tanks for up to 900 thousand barrels of propane and butane, which would be far in excess of the current safety regulations. He also says that the rail tank cars used are overbuilt for safety, along with the ships that would carry the material down the Columbia. Bowles says that they’re trying to be open and up front with this process from the beginning, wanting people to be involved and to understand what’s being proposed. He estimates that the project would involve about two thousand construction jobs, along with two to three dozen permanent employees at the facility itself. Currently, they’re hoping to complete planning and engineering through this year. Next year would be involved with permitting and the start of construction, with a goal of being operational by the end of 2017. Port officials are expressing support for the project, but they also point out that this is in the initial stages of exploration, and that no agreement to site this facility has been signed.
The Northwest Innovation Works methanol export project that’s being proposed for the Port of Kalama took a huge step forward yesterday as the Port of Kalama Commission approves a lease agreement for the multi-billion-dollar investment. The agreement that was approved last night includes a two-year contingency period, allowing the Port and Northwest Innovation Works to conduct in-depth analyses of environmental, safety and feasibility issues. If all of those contingencies are met, then a 30-year lease for construction and operations would go into place. Kalama Port Commission President Alan Basso says that this is a “landmark opportunity” for the port and the local area. It’s projected that construction will involve a thousand jobs, along with 200 permanent positions at completion. Governor Jay Inslee is also expressing support for the project, saying that this is part of the global transition to a “clean energy economy.” Inslee says that he’s instructing the Department of Commerce to continue working with the port and with Northwest Innovations on this project. It’s planned that a facility to produce and export methanol to China would be developed on a parcel of land just north of the SteelScape plant; that material would then be converted to “olefins” in China, which are used in a wide variety of manufacturing processes. It’s hoped this plant and a sister facility at Port Westward in Oregon can be up and running by 2018.
The new traffic patterns in West Kelso are taking shape, as 1st Avenue is now fully open to traffic, and West Main Street is also open to traffic. At this time, Catlin Street closed between 1st Avenue and Ocean Beach Highway, as paving is completed on that eight-block stretch of road. There are still some choke points, which will remain congested until new traffic signals are installed and new signage is completed. The focal point of that congestion is the intersection at 1st, West Main and Allen Street, which will remain as a four-way stop until the new signals are installed. Long backups could be seen on the Allen Street Bridge as traffic crept through that four-way stop. The 5th Avenue detour is also closed, along with other side streets onto Catlin as that paving work is completed. City officials are hopeful of having that paving done today, or tomorrow at the latest, and then the final work on signals, signs and landscaping will get under way.
Today is the deadline to get your nominations in for the 2014 Robert A. Long Historic Preservation Award. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission wants to recognize community members that have contributed to the history and story of Longview, and who have completed work in the field of historic preservation. You should include a written summary of accomplishments and contributions to the history of Longview by the nominee. Full details on the criteria for consideration are available on the City of Longview website under “News and Events.” Those nominations need to be dropped off at the Longview City Hall by the close of business today. The nominations will be reviewed at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting set for April 28th, and the award itself will be presented at the opening of Longview Historic Preservation Month, which will begin on Saturday, May 3rd.
Dorell Wright hit a 3-ponter with 7.9 seconds left to give the Trail Blazers a 100-99 win over the Sacramento Kings. The Blazers have won six of their past seven games…..Garret Richards and two relievers allowed just one hit to lead the Angels to a 2-0 win over the Mariners. The M’s have tonight off…..In college softball, Chemeketa came to Kelso and swept LCC 1-0 and 11-3. The Devils will try and regroup at the Skagit tournament in Mt. Vernon this weekend…..In prep softball today, R.A. Long is at Woodland and Mark Morris at Clatskanie…..In prep baseball, Washougal visits RAL and Tumwater is at MM…..Alonzo Hernandez scored two goals in the final six minutes to get the Jacks into OT, then Colton Willie’s PK in the second OT gave RAL a 3-2 win over Washougal.
A major hurdle regarding the possible development of the Cowlitz Indian Casino Project was crossed yesterday, as the Washington State Gambling Commission announces the tentative approval of a compact with the tribe. Under this proposed compact, the Cowlitz Indians would be permitted to build two facilities for gambling, one with up to 75 table games and the second with up to 50 tables. In addition, the tribe would have permission for up to 3,000 “tribal lottery player stations,” the official name for the coin-operated machines that are played in tribal casinos. The compact would only go into effect if the tribe is successful in Federal court, winning the lawsuit that has been filed by Clark County, the City of Vancouver, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and other plaintiffs. Other provisions of the compact require that two percent of gross gaming revenues help to pay for “community mitigation,” including things like local law enforcement and emergency services. One-half of one percent would also be dedicated to non-tribal charitable organizations. A public hearing on the proposed compact is planned for the afternoon of May 8th in Tumwater. The full 143-page compact document is available on the Gambling Commission website.
A child from Scappoose is at a hospital in Portland after suffering burns in an apartment fire that took place yesterday afternoon. The fire was reported at about 4:15 pm, at an apartment building on Southwest 4th Street. Fire officials say that a second-floor unit was filled with smoke and flames, but an adult and four children were able to escape. They do say that one child was burned, and was taken to a hospital in Portland for treatment. At this time, they’re speculating that a child playing with a lighter was responsible for the fire. The Red Cross is assisting the family with temporary housing, clothing and personal items.
It’s now speculated that excessive speed may have been a factor in yesterday morning’s rollover crash at Northeast Nichols and Ocean Beach Highway, where the female driver was trapped for a short time. The crash took place at about 5:20 am, when Gail Ellis, 51, apparently lost control of her car, careening off the road and through a city-owned metal light pole. Longview Fire officials say that the pole was knocked into the street as the car rolled onto its top. Firefighters were able to extricate the woman, who was taken to St. John Medical Center to be treated for cuts and other minor injuries. She was released several hours later. At this point, no citations have been issued, but Longview Police continue to investigate the incident.