Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson announced that his father, former Sheriff Les Nelson, passed away on Saturday at the age of 88. He says Les Nelson passed away at 10:15 Saturday morning at the Hospice Care Center, with his wife of 59 years, Wanda at his side, along with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mark Nelson says that the family sang hymns and spoke words of love and encouragement during those final hours. Les Nelson started with the Sheriff’s Office in 1950, eventually retiring in 1986 after being elected as Sheriff for three terms. He’s known for helping to save the lives of several prisoners in a jailhouse fire in the early 1960’s, and also gets credit for saving many lives in the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens, by understanding that the mountain was going to erupt, and ordering people out of the area. Mark Nelson says that his father was “as fine a man as there ever was,” and that his heart for the community went far beyond public service. He says that his father will be sorely missed. Memorial services are pending.
Archive | February, 2010
An investigation that started in September of last year continues to result in arrests by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force. Back on September 21st of last year, two search warrants at a home in Kelso, finding a meth lab and making two arrests. On the 10th of last month, another man who is supposedly connected to the case was located at Gee Cee’s Truck Stop near Toledo. Anthony Reisbeck, 43, was arrested at that time on charges of meth delivery and a Department of Corrections warrant. That arrest also led authorities to a home on Conifer Lane near Toledo, where 29 year-old Andrea Bundy was arrested on a Corrections warrant. After that agents went to another cabin on the Toledo Cut-Off Road, which was allegedly being used by the drug network. Richard Norris, 56, was arrested at that location. On February 11th, search warrants were served on two cars allegedly used by the group, seizing cash, drugs, ledgers and other evidence. On the 25th, Lewis County Deputies stopped and arrested Erica Lewis, 34, in connection with this investigation, allegedly finding more money, drugs, ledgers and other evidence related to the network. The Task Force says that more than 1 ½ pounds of crystal meth, lab components, nearly a pound of marijuana, more than $10,000 cash, two guns and a large amount of other evidence related to the network has been seized so far. They say that this group has also been operating in Clatsop, Columbia and Clark Counties, with numerous individuals involved. Other arrests are expected.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says two more men are under arrest in connection with an alleged crime spree involving Devin Wilmoth, 26, of Clatskanie, and he says other arrests are still possible. Wilmoth was arrested was arrested February 11th, two days after he’d allegedly pulled a gun and stole a pickup truck from a Longview man, firing several shots as he drove away. Wilmoth was found hiding out in a barn near Gaston, and is being charged with robbery, attempted murder and illegal possession of a gun. Dickerson says that as they investigated Wilmoth’s crime, Deputies learned that he was involved with several other people, involved in a number of violent crimes. On Friday, Dickerson announced the arrest of Ezra St. Helen, 23, of Rainier and Darren Cornwell, 36, of Fairview, claiming that they were involved in a January 27 burglary, robbery and attempted kidnapping at a home in rural Columbia County. St. Helen and Cornwell were arrested on charges of burglary, robbery, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and theft. Dickerson says that the investigation is continuing, and he says that it’s possible that other arrests are possible.
The renovation of the hub intersection at 15th and Tennant Way now has a green light, as the Longview City Council re-examines the proposal. Mayor Kurt Anagostou says that they think this could work without the full-length raised median barrier that had first been suggested……A number of Council members say that they’re concerned about cutting off access to the AM-PM store to southbound traffic on 15th Avenue; store owner Sam Amhaz says that the loss of that traffic would have a serious impact, possibly putting him out of business. It was suggested that a partial median could be installed from the intersection to just short of the entry to Amhaz’ store, still allowing the access from 15th. Signs would also be posted at the store, noting that a “right turn only” would be allowed when leaving the store, eliminating unsafe left turns onto 15th coming out of the facility. There was also a suggestion that “turtles” or similar types of lane markers could be put in. With the approval, city staff says that they’re hoping to go forward with this project in the next few months, with a current project estimate of $485,000. They also disclosed that the 14th and Tennant Way renovation will be going to bid in the next few weeks; that project is estimated at about $385,000, and will include a signal upgrade with video detection, new signage and striping, and new ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps.
About 50 people met last night with the consultants working on the West Main Realignment Project, as they get ready to go the Kelso City Council for selection of an alignment route that would move ahead into the design phase. Project Manager Al King says that this has gone about as far as it can go so far……Last month, the City Council directed the consultants to focus in on “Alternative 3A,” crossing over from Allen Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues, widening Catlin Street to the south. The estimated cost of this project would be in the neighborhood of about $15 million. King says that funding is a major issue at this point, and he says that under the current state and federal budget situations, it’s clear that the city will have to be responsible for a major portion of that funding. King says that why it will be key to complete the design and to develop a project with phases that will stand on their own when completed, so they won’t have to be taken down and reconstructed as the project moves ahead over a number of years. King says that the Kelso City Council will consider selecting an alternative alignment to move ahead into design at their meeting next Tuesday night.
The Castle Rock School District is asking for some relief from a huge water bill after last month’s leak that led to the destruction of the high school gym floor. Today’s Daily News reports on the situation that the district is facing; in a normal month, the district uses about 93,000 gallons of water, with a bill of about $2,000. After the line break, the amount of water totalled 807,000, and the January water and sewer bill came in at nearly $13,600. Under the city’s current policy, the city could forgive about $5,600 of the bill, based on previous usage. Superintendent Susan Barker says that they’re asking for more help this time around, because the bill is so much larger. She says that they’re asking for the city to remove the $7,700 sewer portion of the bill, leaving the water portion to the district. It’s suggested that the City Council may consider the request at its meeting on March 8th. The district also reports that they hope to being replacement of the warped gym floor in the next couple of weeks, a process that’s expected to take about two months. the cost of that project is now put at $165,000, with most of that cost covered by insurance.
This is the last Saturday for smelt dipping on the Cowlitz, and it looks like the prospects for any success by dippers is going to be the same as the other Saturday through the month, and that prospect is zero. For yet another week, commercial dippers report that no smelt were harvested in the main stem of the Columbia, and there are no signs of smelt available anywhere in the system. There is an opportunity to get outside this weekend, however, as all five Washington razor clam beaches are open for digging on the evening tides. Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks are open for digging today, tomorrow and Sunday; Kalaloch will also also open for digging tomorrow and Sunday. In addition, Long Beach and Twin Harbors will be open for digging on Monday’s evening tide. Would-be diggers will need to have a current shellfish harvest license.
You’ll have a chance to get an up-close look at the $11.6 million renovation of the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts tomorrow, as a dedication ceremony is held, along with an open house and guided tours. At 10 am tomorrow, there will actually be a joint dedication ceremony, also marking the completion of the LifeWorks building on New York Avenue, the facility joining Residential Resources and ARC of Cowlitz County. The dedication ceremony is set to run from 10 to 11 am at the Columbia Theatre. That will be followed by a dessert reception and tour of the LifeWorks building from 11 am to 12:30 pm. From noon to 6 pm, there will be an open house at the Columbia Theatre, with guided and self-guided tours, and live performances through the day. All of the events are free and are open to all.
It looks like we can call the ninth annual Longview Stageworks Soup-Off a success, as organizers announced yesterday that the event is sold out. 13 local restaurants and caterers are taking part in this year’s competition, also helping to raise money to support Longview Stageworks, the area’s only professional acting company. After a hiatus during the renovation of the Columbia Theatre, the group is in the midst re-starting its artistic offerings in the local area. The Soup-Off will run from 6 to 9 pm tomorrow night at the Canterbury Park in Longview. Call 636-4488 for more information.
LCC’s Center Stage production of “Eurydice” opens this weekend, and runs through March 13th at the Rose Center for the Arts. Curtain is at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday night.
The Mainstage Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” this weekend and next weekend on the Dana Brown stage in the R. A. Long High School Auditorium. Curtain is 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday night.
The Kelso High School drama program presents a murder mystery called “The Woman in White,” with curtain set for 7 pm Friday and Saturday night. Proceeds from the box office will be going to the American Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund.
There a Flea Market on Friday and Saturday at the Kalama Community Building, a benefit for the Kalama Community Fair. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm Friday and 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday. Along with the “treasures” that will be for sale, they’ll have a Swedish pancake breakfast, an Italian soup lunch and a bake sale, as well.
Longview Parks and Rec is teaming up with the Longview Kiwanis to host the Heart and Sole 5K-10K Run and Walk at Lake Sacajawea. The event will start at the Elks Building on Kessler Boulevard, with registration at 8 am, and the start at 9 am on Saturday.
The Longview Public Library is holding a Family “Swap Meet” on Saturday; families are invited to bring books, movies or CD’s to sell, swap or trade. There’s also a family story time at 2 pm.
Longview Parks and Recreation holds its annual Father-Daughter Ball on Saturday and Sunday at the McClelland Arts Center, with sessions set for the afternoon and evening on both days. This is a sold-out event; call Longview Parks and Rec at 442-5400 for more details.
The ninth annual Longview Stageworks Soup-Off runs from 6 to 9 pm Saturday night at the Canterbury Park on 3rd Avenue. 13 local restaurants and caterers will compete for honors and awards in this fundraiser for the local professional acting troupe. This is also a sold-out event; call 636-4488 for more information.
The Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce and Cowlitz County United Way are holding “A Night at the Speakeasy” from 5:30 to 11:00 pm at the Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center in Kelso. The annual distribution of funds to member agencies will also be announced. Call 703-1172 for ticket information
Altrusa’s 2010 Celebration of Literacy gets under way on Sunday, and runs through next week. Things kick off on Sunday at 2 pm at the LCC Student Center, with the theme based on Dr. Suess’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” They’ll have crafts and activities from 2 to 4 pm, along with a performance of “Jugglemania” by juggler Rhys Thomas. Admission is free.