The other shoe dropped on Friday, as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Washington Department of Financial Institutions ordered the closure of Cowlitz Bank, and its subsequent sale to Heritage Bank of Olympia. The sale covers all nine branches of the bank, including the two Oregon branches and the three Bay Bank branches. Dozens of regulators descended on the bank’s main branch in Longview late Friday afternoon, posting notices of the closure and beginning the sale process. The FDIC says that Cowlitz Bank will re-open for normal banking on Saturday, but now under the Heritage Bank name. FDIC officials assure Cowlitz Bank customers that their deposits are automatically transferred to Heritage Bank, so there’s no need to change accounts. It’s also noted that funds deposited in Cowlitz Bank will still be accessible through checks and ATM’s over the weekend. The FDIC and Heritage Bank entered into what’s called a “loss-share transaction,” valued at $160.9 million. Heritage Bank agreed to pay a one percent premium on Cowlitz Bank deposits, and assumed around $329.5 million of Cowlitz Bank assets. The remainder of the assets, approximately $199.8 million, are being retained by the FDIC for future disposition. The acquisition cost the Deposit Insurance Fund approximately $68.9 million, but is also being called the FDIC’s “least costly” acquisition of the year. Cowlitz Bank is the 107th bank in the U. S. to fail this year, and the eighth in Washington State. All current employees are being retained at this time; Heritage Bank officials say that it will be “business as usual” on Monday morning. It’s unclear at this time what will happen with Cowlitz Bank’s current executives. If you have questions about the sale, the FDIC has a toll-free number available from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturday, noon to 6 on Sunday and 8 am to 8 pm after that. That number is 1-800-528-6215.
Archive | July, 2010
It’s being reported that the July 21 death of Emanuel “Wes” Wesley of Longview is a homicide, so it’s now possible that murder charges will be filed against the four people who were jailed in connection with his shooting back in February of last year. Saturday’s Daily News has the story on the report from the Clark County Coroner’s Office; Wesley died at a hospice in Vancouver, one of several institutions he’d been in following his shooting and subsequent stroke. The reports are now being sent to the Longview Police Department for review, and a report will then be presented to the Cowlitz County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. Four people were convicted in connection with the shooting, which was characterized as “revenge” for injuries that Wesley supposedly caused to a young boy. Ringo Jo Hubbard is currently serving an prison term for attempted murder in the case; Edward Scott Pelton pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary with a firearm, and Delayna Ann Stanley entered a guilty plea to rendering criminal assistance and second-degree assault in the case. The fourth person, Jennifer Sue Lowe, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, admitting that she’s the one who started the events that led to the shooting.
Woodland Fire crews responded to a near-drowning that happened Friday afternoon on the Lewis River. Rescue personnel were called out at about 2:15 pm on Friday, when it was reported that three men had been swept off their feet as they were trying to cross the river in the area of Goerig Street. Other fishermen in the area saw what happened and called 911. One of the men apparently was knocked unconscious, and was helped to a small island by his companions. A boat was launched, and the men were rescued, with two of the men taken to the hospital to get treatment for minor injuries. The names of those involved weren’t released, other than to say that they were from the Portland area.
Backups of 15 miles on each direction of I-5 were reported in Lewis and Thurston County on Friday, after six cars and six trucks were involved in a collision that completely shut down I-5 northbound. The State Patrol says this got started at about 1:43 pm on Friday, in heavy traffic on I-5, just north of Centralia at milepost 84. A car driven by Olii Mihail of Vancouver changed lanes, clipping a pickup driven by Benjamin Alsterberg, 24, of Centrailia. That set off a chain reaction and pinball collision, eventually involving six passenger cars and six big rigs. Only three people reported minor injuries, and paramedics also had to deal with a woman in the backup who’d gone into labor. The freeway finally reopened at around 4:30 pm, but the traffic impacts lasted for hours after that, with bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway and gridlock in the city of Centralia. Troopers blame the crash on driver inattention, following too closely and an unsafe lane change. So far, no charges have been reported, as the crash investigation continues.
A temporary restraining order has been issued to stop the inaugural shipment of trash from Honolulu to Washington state. A federal judge questioned whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture had adequately assessed the environmental impacts of the planned shipments. Robert Harris is with the Sierra Club in Hawaii, and his group says that there hasn’t been an adequate review to make sure pests aren’t being brought along with the trash. Several groups are involved in the suit against the USDA and the agreement for Hawaiian Waste Systems of Seattle, including the Yakama Indian Nation. The first shipment was scheduled to leave Hawaii today, but this latest legal setback could spell the end of the effort to ship waste from Hawaii to Washington. It will be at least a month before a hearing is held on the temporary restraining order, and Hawaiian Waste is already in a tough position, facing a fine of more than a million dollars if they haven’t shipped 100,000 tons of trash by September of this year. It’s clear that threshold will not be met. It was planned that the trash would be transferred from water transport to ground transport at the Port of Longview. Obviously, those plans are in limbo until the hearing on the restraining order, which is currently set for August 30th in Yakima.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office now says that the body found yesterday in Riffe Lake may be that of a many who was wanted in Colorado on a murder charge. Commander Steve Aust says that a recreational boater found the badly-decomposed body at about 6 pm yesterday. A further examination of the area turned up a backpack next to the body, containing the ID of a 49 year-old man from Denver. Further checking shows that the man’s car was found at the Blue Lake Campground near Randle back on April 26th, but the man was never found. The car was impounded. Authorities in Denver say that the man was wanted in connection with the murder of his girlfriend in March of this year. Lewis County authorities are still working to confirm the man’s identity.
After a number of quarterly reports written in red ink, Weyerhaeuser reported a profit in the second quarter of 2010, reporting that sales were up in all segments of the company. Second-quarter net income is reported at $14 million, compared to a loss of $106 million in the same period last year. Excluding debt repayment charges, a gain from a unit sale and several other one-time items, Weyco posted a profit of 20 cents per share. Analysts had predicted 14 cents a share. Revenue was up by 30 percent, to $1.81 billion. The street had been predicting $1.68 billion. CEO Dan Fulton says that the company has returned to profitability, and all businesses were “cash-positive” from operations. He says that the conversion to a Real Estate Investment Trust will help to benefit the bottom line, and they also expect break-even results in the home-building segment in the third quarter.
Longview Police and fire crews responded to the Cowlitz River, across from the Three Rivers Golf Course in Kelso, after it was reported that a group of swimmers might be in trouble. A resident of one of the condos across from the golf course called 911 at about 4:40 yesterday afternoon, reporting that a group of three teens was trying to swim across the river, and at least one was having trouble in the water. The caller reported that one seemed to be stranded in the middle of the river, but by the time police and firefighters arrived, all three teens were on the Longview side of the river, along with a dog. It was confirmed that all three weren’t hurt or in distress, then Longview Police helped get the trio and their dog back to the Kelso side of the river.
A statewide tour of business and property interests is making stops in Longview and Woodland today. The event is being billed as a “Pep Talk,” sharing what they say is “good news” about issues and candidates that are on the ballot this fall. Groups involved in the “Pep Talk” include Americans for Prosperity, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Washington Farm Bureau, the Washington Retail Association and the Building Industry Association. The “Pep Talk” events are scheduled for noon in the old Fabricland store at 840 Ocean Beach Highway in Longview, and at 3 pm at the Oak Tree Restaurant in Woodland.
Primary election ballots go out in the mail today from Cowlitz County Elections, and should be in your mailbox over the next few days. Voters will be selecting finalists for the general election in November, with the “top two” votegetters in each race moving on from the primary to the general election. There are a number of hotly-contested races on the ballot, including the race for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Patty Murray, and the crowded race for the Third District U. S. House seat that Brian Baird is vacating. There’s also a full field for the 18th District State House seat that Jaime Herrera is leaving, as she makes a run for that Congressional position. A number of other races will appear on the ballot, but won’t actually be decided until the general election in November. The Castle Rock Library Bond is on this ballot, along with a Vancouver Regional Library measure in the Woodland area. Ballots must be returned by 8 pm on Tuesday, August 17th to be counted. They can be mailed until Monday, August 16th, or drop-off sites are being set up in Kelso, Longview, Woodland, Castle Rock and Kalama. If you have questions, or if your ballot doesn’t arrive, contact Cowlitz County Elections at 577-3005, or check their website.