Hoquiam preps again for Simpson Avenue Bridge closures

A closure of the Simpson Avenue Bridge later this summer will affect Hoquiam businesses again as highway traffic is diverted over the Riverside Bridge. The City council last night suspended their sign ordinance to allow businesses to use sign boards closer to traffic during the closure.
The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to close the bridge this summer to clean, paint, and inspect the historic span.
Newly appointed Councilman Ron Tibbetts recommended the city look at modifying the sign ordinance to include these types of exceptions in the future.

Hoquiam council sets workshop for zoning restrictions on Liquefied Petroleum Storage

The City of Hoquiam last night held their second public hearing on a moratorium adopted earlier this month that halts new oil export facilities on their side of the Port of Grays Harbor. “There are many reasons why oil and gas should not be stored or shipped from Grays Harbor.” Liz Ellis of Aberdeen noted the area’s seismic and tsunami risks, while Dave Forbes of Hoquiam thanked the city “for taking a stand on the crude oil by rail business. I hope this city keeps it up, and really looks at the consequences for some of that bulk storage.”

Mayor Jack Durney recommended that they look further into zoning “we want to also make sure that whatever we do isn’t harmful to some existing businesses.” Councilman John Pellegrini said they didn’t want to “zone out” any businesses with stricter rules, Durney added “I think a workshop is the ideal opportunity, so that we have some time at the staff level to come up with some options.”

The council voted to hold a workshop on April 20th to addressing zoning, that could prohibit Wholesale Liquefied Petroleum facilities.

Mason County head-on collision claims one driver, sends second to hospital

A head on collision on the Johns Prairie Road in Mason County claimed the life of one driver yesterday. The Sheriff’s Office had initially said on their twitter page that alcohol may have been involved, however later said that a medical issue may be to blame. Detective Bill Adam tells us at approximately 5:31 PM, MACECOM 911 Dispatch received a cell phone call from a woman reporting that she was following a person driving erratically (speeding and crossing the center line) on John’s Prairie Road. While speaking with Dispatch, the suspected vehicle crashed head-on into a pickup truck near the Mason County Public Utilities building in the 2600 block, 2 miles northeast of Shelton.

A Deputy Sheriff was in the area arriving shortly after the crash and assisted a US Army medic who also happened to be in the area. Both the Deputy and the medic administered first aid until Fire Rescue Aid arrived.

Multiple witnesses at the scene described that the erratically driven vehicle crossed the center line, crashing into the oncoming pickup truck.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 47 year old Shelton man was transported to Sanderson Field and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. As of this morning, he is in the Intensive Care Unit in stable condition.

The erratic driver was also transported to Sanderson Field in order to be airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, but succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at the airport.

Mason County Coroner Wes Stockwell was able to contact the driver’s immediate family and released her name as 53 year old Andrea Tyrone of Shelton.

Preliminary reports state that Andrea may have had medical issues that could have been a factor in the cause of the crash. No other information is available at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

 

Washington Nonprofits provide over 7 percent of the state’s jobs and wages

If the nonprofit sector had its own industrial classification, it would be the fourth largest private sector employer in the state, according to a new report released this week by Washington Nonprofits. Washington Nonprofits (WN), the state association for the nonprofit sector, worked with ESD’s Labor Market and Performance Analysis Division to produce a report describing the direct economic impact of nonprofits in Washington state. This report uses data from the ESD’s 2013 Census of Jobs and Wages, the most recent annual information available.
“Washington’s nonprofits make a strong contribution to our state’s job market,” said ESD Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “We encourage both nonprofit employers and workers seeking jobs in the nonprofit sector to visit a WorkSource location in their community to connect.”

According to the report, nonprofits generated 218,500 jobs in 2013, approximately 7.4 percent of the all wage and salary positions in the state.
The report also revealed that nonprofits paid out more than $11 billion in wages in 2013 in Washington state, equal to 7.1 percent of the total wages paid in the state.
Nonprofits in six counties paid more than 10 percent of total wages in 2013, including:

15.1 percent in Asotin County;
11.1 percent in Clallam County;
12.2 percent in Pacific County;
12.5 percent in Pierce County;
11.3 percent in Stevens County; and
16.5 percent in Walla Walla.

“We are excited about our work with the ESD,” said WN’s Public Policy Director Rick Anderson. “Neither organization had all the data needed to understand the nonprofit sector’s economic impact. We look forward to future collaborations to gain further insights on the role of the nonprofit sector in shaping our state’s economy.

Hoquiam business owner expands to include U-Haul, celebrates 22 years living the American Dream

John Ham came to America more than 22 years ago from Seoul, South Korea with plenty of entrepreneurial ambition and the goal of achieving a successful career.

Ham has made the most of his opportunities as a gas station and convenience store operator for 20 years and continues to grow his businesses, adding U-Haul® products to Sunshine Deli Mart and Gas at 2298 State Road 109 in Hoquiam.

Ham owns two convenience stores, both of which are U-Haul neighborhood dealers.

Continue reading Hoquiam business owner expands to include U-Haul, celebrates 22 years living the American Dream

Cantwell, Heitkamp Lead 20 Other Senators in Call for Crude-by-Rail Safety Investments

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today led a letter with 20 other Senators calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to support robust investment for a Safe Transportation of Energy Products program to address increasing safety concerns related to the transportation of Bakken crude and other energy products.

 

The Senators also called for increased funding for crude-by-rail safety efforts conducted by agencies such as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Substances Administration (PHMSA), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

 

“The rail system in the United States has seen a massive increase in crude-by-rail since 2007 driven in large part by remarkable increases in energy development,” the Senators wrote. “In light of several tragic accidents involving crude-by-rail trains – including the most recent derailments and explosions of tanker cars carrying crude oil in West Virginia and Illinois – communities stretching across our country from the Midwest to coastal ports and refineries are rightly concerned about the safe movement of these combustible products.”

 

Cantwell and Heitkamp were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

 

Five years ago, very little crude oil was hauled by the nation’s railroads.  Today, more than 1.1 million barrels per day – with more expected – move by rail, largely originating in the Midwest. There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains in North America since the start of February.

 

The Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund is intended to address current and emerging safety issues related to the transportation of combustible energy products like Bakken Crude. It would include providing additional crude oil route safety managers, inspectors and tank car specialists at FRA, special agents at FMCSA to provide additional oversight of energy product transportation, and additional safety equipment, training, and outreach through PHMSA. Along with these personnel and resource additions, the Local Rail Facilities and Safety Program will provide critical infrastructure improvements to facilities handling tank cars, particularly to small stations.

 

Below is the full text of the letter.

 

The Honorable Susan Collins

Chairman

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

184 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed,

As you begin consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we urge you to support robust funding for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products Program and related authorities, the multifaceted approach to crude-by-rail safety by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). We strongly support cross-modal coordinating dollars as well as individual account increases within the related agencies to address this critical safety issue. In addition, we ask that you support the Local Rail Facilities and Safety Grant Program to help small railroads and stations make critical infrastructure improvements.

 

As you know, five years ago, our nation’s railroads hauled very little crude oil by rail. Now, railroads transport approximately one-tenth of U.S. crude oil output – approximately 1.1 million barrels per day. The rail system in the United States has seen a massive increase in crude-by-rail since 2007 driven in large part by remarkable increases in energy development from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and Montana. In light of several tragic accidents involving crude-by-rail trains – including the most recent derailments and explosions of tanker cars carrying crude oil in West Virginia and Illinois – communities stretching across our country from the Midwest to coastal ports and refineries are rightly concerned about the safe movement of these combustible products.

 

The Safe Transportation of Energy Products Program would provide U.S. Department of Transportation the resources to address critical safety issues related to the transportation of Bakken crude and other energy products. This program includes providing additional crude oil route safety managers, inspectors and tank car specialists at FRA, special agents at FMCSA to provide additional oversight of energy product transportation, and additional safety equipment, training, and outreach through PHMSA. Along with these personnel and resource additions, the Local Rail Facilities and Safety Program will provide critical infrastructure improvements to facilities handling tank cars, particularly to small stations. Protecting our communities from the hazard posed by crude-by-rail requires close coordination and investment across U.S. Department of Transportation programs.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this critical program, which will give U.S. Department of Transportation the flexibility and resources it needs to promote public safety, react quickly to emerging issues, and protect communities across our country from future tragedies involving the movement of energy products.

Aberdeen and Washington DOT plan changes to downtown traffic

Eight blocks of the one-way Wishkah Street in downtown Aberdeen will be changing from three to two lanes later this year. Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson said in February. “”They’re going to reduce the lanes from Rite Aid to Alder [Street] down to two lanes.”

The city met again with the State Department of Transportation last week to get some timelines. Public Works Director Malcolm Bowie said at that meeting “We have two lanes coming in, two lanes going out, and we widen that out to three through going through town. So it does make some sense going back down to two going through, and that’s what we’ll be shooting for.”Bowie also detailed plans for almost the same stretch of road, one block over on Market Street where the city plans to change 8 blocks from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a turn lane in the middle and a bike lane on the South side.

Along with the traffic revisions on those two streets, we’ll see some new ADA ramps on sidewalks throughout town. “around 200 wheelchair ramps, that we’ll be putting in downtown. As part of the historical district as well.” WSDOT says they plan the revisions to Market street sometime this summer, the city of Aberdeen is breaking ground mid-April on the ramps, and plans to re-stripe Wishkah Street around August. Funds for the Aberdeen City project are in part provided by the Transportation Benefit District, which Bowie noted gives the city some room to work on the city streets.
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Attempted robbery at Aberdeen Safeway

The Aberdeen Police responded to Safeway on March 22nd at 7:55 A.M. on the report of a lone male had attempted to rob a cashier at the store. The suspect had left the store on foot.
 
Officers were provided a description of the suspect.  Officer Morella located a subject matching the description crossing M Street at Heron St.
 
Other officers responded to the location and took the 57 year old Hoquiam male suspect into custody without incident.
 
Investigating officers contacted the cashier at Safeway.  It was obvious to officers that the female cashier was visibly upset from the experience with the suspect.
 
The cashier told the officers that she was working a register when she observed an older male standing at her register.  She said he did not have any items to purchase with him.  
 
According to the employee, the suspect told her he wanted all the money from her register.  The cashier said she was not sure what the suspect was asking her. She told the investigating officers that the suspect put his hand into a pocket in a threatening and told the cashier that he was robbing her.  In response, the cashier said, “no you’re not,” and told the suspect to leave, which he did.
 
The suspect was booked into the City of Aberdeen jail on a charge of Robbery in the 2nd Degree.
 
The investigation is continuing.

Scuba diver dies while getting certified in Hoodsport

A novice scuba diver died over the weekend while trying to get certified. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office was called to Hoodsport just before 10 Sunday morning to the report of a diver pulling another diver to the dock, yelling for someone to call 911.

CPR was in progress when first responders arrived, but they were unable to resuscitate 51 year old Timothy Burns of Lyons, Oregon.

Burns was diving with trained and certified diving instructors, who reported that while submerged, he began to experience trouble and was brought to the surface by a diving instructor. The preliminary investigation appears that this was a diving accident.

Aberdeen could purchase waterfront park with help from Public Land Trust

The City of Aberdeen is getting closer to owning a waterfront park underneath the Chehalis River Bridge. Public Works Director Malcolm Bowie said yesterday that the group Trust for Public Land has obtained an option on about 9 acres of the former Anderson Middleton property. “That’s where it’s at, and if it moves forward it sounds like Trust for Public lands will acquire the property, then the City of Aberdeen will have up to 7 years to apply for RCO grants for reimbursement.” Adding that the national non-profit is in the environmental review and appraisal stage of purchasing the property, and would then allow the city 7 years to secure grant funding from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office. “It gives the City of Aberdeen a unique opportunity to own a strategic piece of waterfront and actually build a waterfront park, so congratulations.”
The land fits nicely into a bigger plan for waterfront development in Aberdeen, as recommended by consultant Cary Bozeman.