A couple from Micronesia who’d been living in Longview for the past four years is now under Federal indictment, charged with forcing a woman to work for them and provide sexual favors. The U. S. Attorney’s Office in Tacoma reports that Edk Kenit, 29, and Choimina Lukas, 31, are now being held in the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, held on charges of forced labor and attempted forced labor. It’s alleged that the couple forced another 19 year-old Micronesian woman to work in their home, doing domestic work and other manual labor. There are also allegations that Kenit forced the woman to perform sexual favors, as well. Federal officials say that the abuse took place over an 11-month period, with Kenit and Lukas confiscating the woman’s identification documents as a way to compel her further service. Kenit and Lucas appeared in Federal court last week, and were ordered to be held pending trial. Leigh Winchell with Homeland Security says that no one should be forced to live in a world of isolation and servitude, especially in this country, where pride is taken in individual and collective freedoms. Winchell says this indictment will send a strong message to those who falsely believe they can hold others against their will.
Archive | March, 2011
Burlington Northern-Santa Fe is investigating yet another fatality involving a train. Last night, a woman was hit and killed in east Olympia, hit by an empty grain train, heading from Kalama to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Thurston County officials say that the victim was a 34 year-old woman from the Olympia area; her name hasn’t yet been released. Gus Melonas with BNSF says that four other trains were delayed while the death was investigated. It’s the second incident in a week involving BNSF freight trains; Kelso Police continue to investigate last Wednesday’s fatal collision in South Kelso, where a van driver and two BNSF employees were killed when a crew shuttle crossing the main tracks was hit by a northbound freight train.
A forensic pathologist is now examining a partial human skull found this past weekend near Mineral. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports that a hiker found the remains on Saturday. Since then, Detectives returned to the area with Lewis County Search and Rescue, trying to find additional evidence. So far, there are no clues on the identity of the person involved.
The Cowlitz County Health Department says that the report is “better” than last year, but Cowlitz County still ranks near the bottom of the list in health rankings for Washington state. The second annual report of the Robert Wood Johnson and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings were released yesterday, showing that Cowlitz County ranks 32nd overall out of Washington’s 39 counties. That’s up from 34th last year. Cowlitz County ranks 33rd in Mortality and 31st in Morbidity. After ranking 38th in “Health Behaviors” last year, this year, Cowlitz County is dead last in that category, looking at things like tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use and high-risk sexual behaviors. After having a number 2 ranking in Clinical Care in 2010, Cowlitz County slips to number 9 this year. The county went up from 37 to 32 in Social and Economic Factors, but dropped form 16 to 25 in Physical and Environment. Monica Monteon with the County Health Department says that the report emphasizes that where you live, work and play matters to your health. She says that by working to create a community where people can choose to, and have the means to make healthy lifestyle decisions, then we will see healthier and happier people. Full details on the report are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
Work is now under way on the 20-foot sinkhole that’s opened up on Ross Avenue, in the area between Redpath and Division Streets. The sinkhole was discovered last month, and has been traced to a sewer line that’s failing. Public Works Director David Sypher says that they have to get a repair done in short order, or sewer service to homes in that area could be lost. The Kelso City Council has approved emergency repairs on the pipe; Rotschy, Inc. of Vancouver is now digging holes to begin a “pipe-bursting” process, then K&R Plumbing Construction of Clackamas will begin pulling a new pipe through the old pipe. The old “burst” pipe will be left in place, as a shell around the new pipe. Sypher says that they expect to replace 610 feet of sewer line, along with 18 lateral lines. It’s estimated that the emergency repairs will cost between $300,000 and $400,000.
The Kelso School Board will begin making site visits in the districts of the three finalists for the Superintendent’s post, visiting with staff who are working for the finalists for the Kelso position. Today, the board will be in Spanaway to tour the Bethel School District, where Ann Varkados works as an assistant superintendent. On Wednesday, April 6th, they’ll go to the Hillsboro School District, the home of Gus Balderas, and on April 7th, they’ll visit the Hoquiam School District, where Mike Parker currently serves as superintendent. The three finalists will be in Kelso on the 12th, 13th and 14th for interviews and community forums, then the Kelso School Board will meet on 15th, with hopes of choosing a successor for Glenys Hill. She’s retiring at the end of July, after 13 years as Kelso’s Superintendent of Schools.
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Mobile Office stops in Kelso again today, setting up shop in the Cowlitz County Administration Building in Kelso. The hours in meeting room B will be from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and from 3 to 5 pm. You’re invited to stop by to seek assistance and ask questions about federal issues.
LCC’s Fighting Smelt forensics and debate team once again swam away from the competition, coming home with a dip net full of hardware from the Pi Kappa Delta National Convention and Tournament in Portland. Jeremy Schoenberg placed first in International Public Debate in the Novice division, while Christopher Mahon came in third, and Kristina Espinoza place ninth. All three also received “superior” awards. Josh Wright also placed 22nd in the division, with an “excellent” rating. Jared McIntire, Colten Sullivant, and Beau Woodward also received high ratings in a variety of categories. In the Debate Sweepstakes, LCC was rated as “excellent,” placing 13th out of the 85 colleges competing. In the Combined Sweepstakes, the Fighting Smelt ranked 4th among the 18 community colleges, and 19th overall. Coach Mike Dugaw was presented with the E. R. Nichols Award for “outstanding contributions to the furtherance of the forensics discipline;” this award is also recognized as the Pi Kappa Delta Outstanding Teaching Award. In the tournament’s closing ceremony, Dugaw was also presented with the Pi Kappa Delta Order of Attainment, which was created in 2007 to honor the societal contributions of Pi Kappa Delta. Dugaw is retiring from his teaching position at LCC at the end of this school year, but still intends to coach the Fighting Smelt.
The New Orleans Hornets jumped past the Blazers into the sixth spot in the Western Conference after a 95-91 win over Portland last night. The Blazers host the Thunder tomorrow night…..Oregon beat Creighton 71-58 to force a deciding final game in the CBI tournament tomorrow night in Eugene…..The MLB season gets underway with six games today. The Mariners open the season tomorrow night in Oakland. Last night the Dodgers beat the M’s 8-1 in the final exhibition of the spring…..The Lower Columbia College baseball team has added a home game to the schedule tonight. The Devils hope to host the George Fox JV’s at 6:30 pm tonight…..R.A. Long is hoping to host Heritage in baseball today at 4 pm…..QB Jake Locker completed 38 of 40 passes at yesterday’s “Pro Day” at UW.
Jake Koski, 38, of Longview is in the Columbia County Jail, after he allegedly fired several shots at a car parked near Clatskanie. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home on Beaver Falls Road at about 3:15 yesterday afternoon, where they reported that several rounds had been fired into a vehicle. The suspect was seen leaving in a black pickup truck, which was stopped near the intersection of Beaver Falls Road and Delena-Mayger Road. Koski was arrested at that time, and four guns were taken from the truck, including a .380 semi-automatic pistol. Deputies say that’s the gun Koski used to fire two rounds into one of the tires on the parked car. Koski is now being held on charges of first-degree criminal mischief, criminal trespass with a gun, reckless endangerment, menacing, and four counts of felon in possession of a gun. A woman who’d been in the pickup with Koski was questioned and released.