Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

Clatskanie Bust

October 29th, 2014

A multi-agency operation near Clatskanie has resulted in four arrests, along with the seizure of illegal drugs, guns, cash and other items related to the drug trade. After learning that Christopher R. Carter, 31, of Clatskanie was dealing heroin and meth in the Clatskanie-Westport area, law enforcement agencies began an investigation that concluded yesterday. Multiple agencies from Columbia and Clatsop counties were involved in serving a search warrant at a home on Colvin Road near Clatskanie. They claim to have found pounds of marijuana, more than two ounces of heroin, nearly 10 ounces of meth, four firearms with ammunition, and more than $5,600 in cash. Carter was taken into custody at that time, along with Michael Houle, 24, James Campbell, 24, and Sara Hilton, 22. All four are being held on felony drug charges, and they say that additional charges could be filed.

RPEC Meeting

October 29th, 2014

A public forum involving the 19th District legislators is planned for this afternoon in Longview, being put on by the Retired Public Employees Council of Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties. Senator Brian Hatfield is expected to be joined by Representatives Brian Blake and Dean Takko, taking part in a “Meet and Greet” event where RPEC Council members will discuss their priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Some of those include restoration of Cost of Living Allowances for Plan 1 retirees, opposing a new state retirement plan, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and maintenance of affordable health care for all retired public employees. Today’s RPEC Legislative Forum starts at 2 pm in the John Searing Auditorium at the Cowlitz PUD building; call 423-5817 if you have other questions.

Columbia City School Meeting

October 29th, 2014

As part of the preparation for the re-opening of Columbia City School, the St. Helens School District is holding pubic meetings to discuss the purpose for re-opening the school, along with options for its configuration. St. Helens School Superintendent Mark Davalos will be leading the meeting; he’ll talk about the reasons for re-opening the building, and will also line out the configuration options that might be considered. A survey on configuration options will also be distributed at the end of the meeting. Tonight’s public meeting on the re-opening of the Columbia City School will be held at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in St. Helens, starting at 7 pm. Additional information is also available on the St. Helens Schools website.

Haven Energy Update

October 29th, 2014

Port of Longview CEO Geir Kalhagen says that it appears the major differences with Houston-based Haven Energy have been settled, and they’re now very close to presenting a lease agreement for the company’s proposed propane export facility to the Port Commission late this year or early next year. Kalhagen says that tremendous progress has been made. Haven Energy is proposing to construct a facility that would off-load trains bringing propane and butane from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, and then would transfer those materials to ships that would take them to customers around the Pacific Rim. Several months ago, Kalhagen was reporting that there were some severe problems with the lease terms that Haven was proposing, but he now says that those differences have been worked out, and they’re hoping to present the 300-page lease agreement to the Commissioners around the end of this year. The Commissioners say that they would hold a workshop and would make the lease available for public review prior to taking action one way or the other.

Port 3rd Quarter

October 29th, 2014

It appears that the Port of Longview is getting ready to wrap up another banner year, as the third-quarter tonnage and financial reports come in well above original projections. Port Chief Executive Officer Geir Kalhagen says that this is a testament to a lot of hard work that’s being done. So far this year, the port has exported more than 4.9 million metric tons of material, just a half-million tons less than the 5.4 million tons that were moved in all of 2013. The financial numbers are even better, with year-to-date operating income of $2.5 million, compared to $21.6 million through the same time last year. Net income for the year is at $6.1 million, compared to $2.2 million through the first nine months of 2013. The port’s operations and financial managers say that things continue to operate at or above original projections, and they don’t see any downturn coming over the final quarter of the year.

Willow Grove Takeover

October 29th, 2014

After a year of study and review, the Port of Longview is resuming ownership of Willow Grove Park, taking that property back from Cowlitz County. Port Commission President Darold Dietz says that this actually wasn’t that tough of a decision, calling the park an essential community asset. The Commission eventually agreed to take ownership of the park on a unanimous vote, after hearing from County Commission Chair Mike Karnofski that they have ZERO dollars budgeted for Willow Grove in the coming year. Cowlitz County asked the Port to manage the park last year, due to a lack of funding. It’s noted that some substantial capital outlays are needed at the park, but the Commissioners plan to do some public outreach and financial study before deciding what steps will be taken. Port CEO Geir Kalhagen says that this is a “fantastic opportunity” to give back to Cowlitz County citizens, and that the port wants to make sure that local citizens have a safe and scenic place to boat, fish and play. This will be the first park in the Port of Longview’s 93-year history, but it’s noted that at least half of the port districts in Washington manage park properties.

Shot Fired

October 28th, 2014

Second-degree assault charges are being filed against Arturo Valencia, Jr., 27, of Longview, after a gun went off during a Sunday morning fight outside of a Longview restaurant. Longview Police say that the incident took place at about 2 am on Sunday, outside of the Muchas Gracias restaurant on Washington Way. They say that Valencia and another man started arguing inside the building, and then the confrontation moved outside. During the confrontation, a friend of Valencia’s was knocked to the ground, and that’s when he allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic pistol. It’s claimed that people started running, with Valencia chasing his antagonist to a fence, where they got into a struggle. Police say that the gun went off during that struggle, with the round hitting the hood of a parked car. They say that the other man eventually got control of the gun, and then pinned Valencia to the ground until police arrived. Several people were treated for injuries they got during the fight, and then Valencia was booked into the County Jail, at about 9 am yesterday morning. He appeared in Cowlitz County Superior Court, and is currently free after posting bail of $40,000.

Robbery Arrests

October 28th, 2014

Two people are now under arrest in connection with an assault and robbery that took place on September 25th in Kelso. It’s alleged that Rachel Marie Chance, 28, of Kelso and David Jordan Frownfelder, 26, went into the South Kelso home of Kayla Blower, 25, where they allegedly assaulted her. Blower claims that the suspects accused her of being a “snitch”; she claims that Chance hit her in the head with a bottle, while Frownfelder used his hand to hit her, as well. Deputies say that Blower received multiple cuts in the beating, along with bruising; Blower was taken to St. John Medical Center to be treated for her injuries. She claims that Chance and Frownfelder stole clothing and computer speakers from her. Yesterday, Deputies located the suspects at a motel in Kelso, also finding three guns in the motel room. They say that at least one of the guns was reported as stolen in a recent burglary in Kelso. Chance and Frownfelder are now being held on first-degree robbery charges, and could face additional counts for possessing the stolen guns. Frownfelder is also being held on a Department of Corrections hold.

Fraud Suspects

October 28th, 2014

Male_Fraud_14-2186[1]Female_Fraud_14-2186[1] Photos of a man, a woman and a small van are being released by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, saying that these people are suspected of committing fraud and identity theft in this area and in Oregon, while driving this vehicle. The male suspect is a Caucasian in his late 20’s, seen wearing a bandanna, sunglasses and with facial hair in the published photo. The female is also Caucasian, with brown hair tied into a bun, a gray T-shirt and blue jeans. The vehicle is a small crossover-type van, orange in color. The photos are posted on Flashnews.net, or on the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office website. Call Sheriff’s Detective Rob Stumph at 577-3092 if you have information on these people or this car.

Public Works Director

October 28th, 2014

After serving as the Cowlitz County Facilities Services Director for the past eight years, Ron Junker is being promoted to be the new Public Works Director for Cowlitz County. This comes after Mike Moss rescinded his acceptance of the job several weeks ago, to remain as the Manager of the Cowlitz County Events Center. Cowlitz County Commission Chair Mike Karnofski says that this move helps to maintain continuity, as they also continue to look for ways to consolidate departments and increase efficiency. Junker will be running Cowlitz County public works operations, including roads, bridges, water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste. He will also supervise the Facilities and Parks Departments. He officially assumes his new position on November 1st.