Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

ATV Dumped

April 23rd, 2014

The Sheriff’s Office is trying to find the actual owner of an ATV that was left in the middle of 42nd Avenue yesterday morning. Around 6:30 yesterday morning, a woman living in the two thousand block of 42nd reported that a full-sized Chevy Silverado pickup had sped through the area, leaving behind a green four-wheeler that had fallen off the bed of the truck. The truck was last seen heading north on 42nd. When Deputies arrived, they found a dark green “Jet Moto” quad lying in the street. When the quad was picked up, there hadn’t been any recent reports of stolen ATV’s in the area. The Sheriff’s Office was planning to contact local ATV dealers to see if there might be a connection. The investigation is continuing.

Prison Terms

April 23rd, 2014

After accepting a plea agreement that reduces his charge from first-degree assault to second-degree assault, David Michael Thorpe, 34, of Longview is being sent to prison for ten years. Today’s Daily News reports on Thorpe’s plea agreement and sentencing; in February, Thorpe was arrested after he had called 911 to report that his mother was injured. The investigation shows that Thorpe himself had injured the woman, beating her severely over the course of several days. Her injuries were reported to be life-threatening. After taking the plea agreement, Thorpe was sentenced to the maximum term available, and was also ordered to pay $1,875 in restitution.

Timothy James Berrier, 45, of Longview is going to prison for 18 months, after he was convicted of threatening to kill two female Department of Corrections officers. The Daily News reports that Berrier has a previous conviction for making threats to kill Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and was arrested last month after making the threats against the officers, whom he called by name. Berrier pleaded guilty to charges of felony harassment on the 8th of this month; along with the prison term, he is also being ordered to pay $1,775 in restitution.

PUD Fees Spiked

April 23rd, 2014

The Cowlitz PUD Board of Commissioners is unified in its feelings that the utility should not be charging the public for access to records. In a 3-0 vote at yesterday’s meeting, the Commissioners rejected a request from PUD Attorney Paul Brachvogel, who suggested that they start charging an hourly rate for copying fees, a rate he had put at $43.40. In today’s Daily News, Brachvogel is quoted as saying that the $43.40 rate would cover the wages, benefits and add-on costs for the staff person who handles the public records requests. He also noted that most of that time is taken up by examining those records for exemptions to the Public Records Act. Commissioner Ned Piper says that there are legitimate concerns about certain individuals who might make unreasonable requests, but he also says that “transparency” is extremely important, and the imposition of this fee would stifle that transparency. A representative of the Daily News spoke to the Commission, saying that this would have a “chilling effect” on public access to records. Brachvogel claims that the fee would have only covered a “minor amount” of the requests, and isn’t intended to deter public access. Brachvogel says other changes are also needed in regard to the public records policy, and he plans to bring another resolution to the Commission in the near future.

Rural Development Allocations

April 23rd, 2014

The Cowlitz County Commissioners made the 2014 Rural Economic Development allocations yesterday, awarding a total of nine grants with a value of $635,000. Along with those allocations, the Commissioners are “setting aside” near $1 million, money that will eventually be used as a local match for the next big project on the Columbia River waterfront. Allocations made yesterday include $170,000 to Castle Rock, for construction of a Visitors Center at the I-5/SR 504 Park and Ride lot. The Cowlitz PUD is receiving $100,000, which will be used to upgrade broadband internet service along the SR 504 power line recently acquired from the Forest Service. The Port of Longview is actually returning $300,000 that they received in 2011, since they didn’t build the bulk storage facility that had been proposed. Kelso is getting $120,000 for streetscape improvements along West Main, while Longview is getting $120,000 for Theatre District streetscape improvements. Other awards include $60,000 to Woodland for a Ranney Well generator, $30,000 for staff support at the CEDC, $19,000 for parking lot improvements at the Kelso-Longview Chamber Visitors Center, $8,000 for a Port of Woodland economic development student, and $8,000 for a Council of Governments study on a “targeted supply chain and investment attraction.” The dollars for these grants come from a state-collected sales tax, and can only be used for job-creating infrastructure and EDC support.

Jobless Stats

April 23rd, 2014

The March unemployment rate in Cowlitz County improved somewhat, but the Employment Security Department says that there is still little improvement in the local labor market. The jobless rate dropped from 10.2 percent in February to 9.4 percent in March, but Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that 400 local jobs were lost during the month, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Year-to-year, Cowlitz County has picked up a net of 900 jobs, which is 2.5 percent higher than the same time last year. Bailey says that this drop was “fairly typical,” and that both initial and continuing unemployment claims continue to be stable. Statewide, the jobless rate is at 6.9 percent in March, down from 7.3 percent in February.

Superintendent Interviews

April 23rd, 2014

The Longview School Board continues the process of interviewing possible candidates for the Superintendent’s position. A special meeting of the School Board is scheduled to start at 5:30 this afternoon, where they plan to move into a closed executive session to continue the interview process. The board will reconvene after those interviews are concluded, to hold some general discussion and to take possible action in regard to the Superintendent search process. Under the current schedule, site visits to the districts where the candidates currently work are planned for next week, final interviews are scheduled for May 5th, 6th and 7th, and then a decision on a new Superintendent will be made in an open session on May 12th. At this point, no names of any of the candidates have been released.

Cabaret Kickoff

April 23rd, 2014

About 100 people showed up last night for the “Meet the Director” event connected to Cabaret 2014, the community musical and variety revue that’s planned for May 15th, 16th and 17th at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. Director Jamie Donegan says that it was a tremendous turnout, especially since he wasn’t sure that there would be another Cabaret after the last one…cabaret…Donegan says that he’s planning to “shake things up” with this year’s show, which is dubbed “Shaken with a Twist of Sublime.” Donegan says that this year’s Cabaret will be pretty wild, with earthquakes and space aliens along with your friends and neighbors strutting their stuff in song, dance and comedy sketches. Auditions are planned for today and tomorrow, with rehearsals to start directly afterward. There’s also a fundraiser in support of Cabaret 2014 planned for this Saturday at the Kelso Burgerville, with cast members and friends of the production “passing the tip jar” from 4 to 8 pm. This year’s Cabaret is a benefit for the Longview Pioneer Lions and the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Branch Down

April 22nd, 2014

Tape was set up around a large limb that reportedly fell last night next to Lake Sacajawea, blocking one lane of travel in the area of Washington Way and Kessler Boulevard. This was reported to Longview Police at about 11 pm last night; no injuries or property damage was reported, but one travel lane was blocked. Crime scene tape was set up to alert people going through the area. Longview Parks and Public Works personnel worked to remove the limb this morning.

USCG Theft

April 22nd, 2014

Kalama Police are checking into a theft and vandalism incident reported yesterday afternoon in the Kalama Marina. This was reported at about 1:30 pm yesterday; an 11-foot dinghy with a 25-horsepower Yamaha motor was stolen off of the stern of a vessel in one of the marina slips, along with a survival suit and a dry suit that both belong to the Coast Guard Auxiliary. It was also reported that three other boats had been untied, but they didn’t go adrift, because the y were still held in place by electrical connections to the dock. No suspects have been identified.

Seaquest Theft

April 22nd, 2014

Workers at Seaquest State Park near Silver Lake report that someone stole gas from several of the park’s vehicles. State Parks workers called the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at about 8:30 yesterday morning, reporting that a total of about 20 gallons of gasoline had been taken out of several state-owned vehicles. It’s reported that the gas cap of one of those vehicles had been damaged in the theft, which took place some time after 11 pm last Saturday. The parks workers also say that this is the third or fourth time that this has taken place in recent weeks, but they have no suspect information.