A jury of seven women and five men says that Bryan Dearden of Castle Rock is not guilty of assault, acquitted yesterday in connection with a huge brawl that took place in June of last year outside of a home near Silver Lake. The Daily News has the story on the verdict, where Dearden was acquitted of three felonies connected to the incident. The 45 year-old was found not-guilty on charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and first-degree burglary. He was part of a brawl that included as many as nine people, and left Josh Waddington with a serious head wound. They did find Dearden guilty of an alternate charge of second-degree burglary, which apparently was the incident that led to the brawl. Dearden’s standard sentencing range is 22 to 29 months in prison. He’s scheduled for sentencing at 8:30 next Monday morning.
Archive | October, 2011
The main part of the second-degree murder trial Jason Jacob-Michael Mack, 30, is expected to begin today in Cowlitz County Superior Court. Mack is accused of stabbing Brian Garner to death back on August 21st, 2009, during a fight outside of a bar on Oregon Way in Longview. Today’s Daily News reports that jury selection started Monday and continued through yesterday afternoon. It’s alleged that Mack stabbed Garner and also used a bottle to hit another man in the head during the fight, then ran off. He’s charged with second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and second-degree assault. The trial is expected to take about ten days, with Judge Michael Evans presiding.
Local electricity rates will be rising by an average of 17.5 percent on November first, after the Cowlitz PUD Commission took formal action at yesterday’s regular meeting. The average residential electric bill will rise by about $16 per month. PUD officials note that a number of factors are behind the severe jump, including a drop in market prices, a loss of availability to the California power market, impacts from the voter-approved I-937 “green power” measure, an increase in BPA wholesale power costs, and the loss of low-cost power from Grant County hydro projects. The PUD is also being required to pay for energy conservation programs out of their own funds, and they’re also dealing with a long-term plan to rebuild and maintain the electrical infrastructure in Cowlitz County. Board President mark mcCrady says that this is a much higher increase than they had expected when the 2011 budget was developed, and the lost revenue is one of the main drivers. The Commission is pledging to aggressively pursue $9 million that’s owed to the PUD by the state of California, dollars that could have helped to offset some of this rate increase. It’s also noted that the rate increase is delayed until April first of next year for PUD customers that are enrolled in the discount programs for low-income seniors and disabled persons. You can find out more on those programs by contacting the Cowlitz PUD.
County Treasurer Kathy Hanks is out with a reminder that second-half property taxes are due by Monday, the 31st. Hanks says that her office will be open from 8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday to process payments in person. Tax payments must be postmarked by October 31st to be on-time, mailed to the County Treasurer’s Office at 207 North 4th Avenue in Kelso. Payments can be mailed in with a check, in-person at the Treasurer’s Office, or on-line by going to www.officialpayments.com. You can also call 1-800-2PAYTAX to make a credit card payment over the phone. Get more details by going to the Treasurer’s website,or by calling 577-3060 during business hours.
Cowlitz County is joining the federal “E-Verify” citizenship verification program, opting into that federal program after several months of review and discussion. The issue had first been brought up in April, and the Commissioners held off at that time. Commission Chair George Raiter says that he’s changed his mind, after hearing from local contractors. At yesterday morning’s meeting, the Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution, saying that Cowlitz County has a responsibility to ensure that public funds are being spent appropriately, and that contracts funded by county tax dollars adhere to federal regulations. With the resolution’s adoption, Cowlitz County shall ensure that county contracts awarded through competitive bids are awarded to companies that are in compliance with federal employment laws. All contractors and sub-contractors must certify that they’re using the E-Verify program. Cowlitz County now joins Lewis and Clark Counties as using E-Verify, along with the City of Woodland.
The World Series resumes today in St. Louis, weather permitting. The Rangers can wrap up the title with a win in game six, KLOG 4:00 pm…..Mark Morris stayed unbeaten in GSHL 2A volleyball last bight with a 3-0 win over Washougal. Woodland edged R.A. Long 3-2 and Kelso swept past Hudson’s Bay 3-0. The LCC volleyball team is at Green River tonight at 7 pm…..In girls soccer, Kelso gave league champ Camas a good battle before falling 2-1. Mark Morris shutout Washougal 2-0 and Woodland beat RAL 5-2. The LCC soccer team plays Olympic in Bremerton this afternoon…..The 3A and 2A sub-district girls swimming meets are this afternoon at Propstra Pool in Vancouver…..Valley Catholic has forfeited Saturday’s football matchup with Rainier.
The good news is that Cowlitz County’s jobless rate for September dropped by seven-tenths of a point, going down to 11.1 percent; the bad news is–well–pretty much everything else. The Employment Security reports that the local jobless rate went from 11.8 percent in August to 11.1 percent in September. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the drop is due entirely to a rise in discouraged workers dropping out of the labor market, rather than any increase in local jobs. The number of employed residents has dropped by nearly 1,600 over the past year, a loss of four percent. 200 non-farm jobs were added in September, but 300 jobs were lost, all in the private sector. Year-to-year, another 300 jobs were lost, 200 in K-12 education, and 100 in state government. He says that about one thousand initial claims for unemployment were filed in the past month, and while that’s well below the peak of the recession, it’s still 50 percent above pre-recession levels. He notes that sales taxes in the local areas have been flat for the past two years, while restaurant, hotel and motel revenues continue to decline.
The kickoff meeting for the “Fire and Ice Scenic Loop” is set for today at the Cowlitz Regional Conference Center. The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments was recently awarded a grant of just over $199,000 by the Federal Highway Administration, to develop a corridor management plan for a proposed scenic loop between the Columbia River Gorge and the White Pass Scenic Byways. This is now being referred to as the “Fire and Ice Scenic Loop.” This management plan is seen to help promote tourism and economic development in the four-county region, and will start with a study to catalogue assets and attractions, develop a list of projects to enhance tourism, along with coordination of marketing and way-finding activities. The kick-off meeting of this group is set to run from 10 am until noon today at the Regional Conference Center.
Texas beat St. Louis 4-2 to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series. The teams move back to St. Louis for game six tomorrow, KLOG 4:00 pm…..The Lower Columbia College volleyball team rallied from down 0-2 to beat Pierce 3-2 last night. The win keeps the Devils playoff hopes alive…..In prep volleyball tonight, Kelso is at Hudson’s Bay, Mark Morris at Washougal and Woodland at R.A. Long…..In girls soccer, Kelso is at Camas, MM at Washougal and Woodland at RAL, all at 7 pm…..Seahawks cornerback and former Duck Walter Thurmond is out for the season after suffering a broken fibula…..Current Oregon Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris is suspended from the team after being pulled over for suspicion of driving while suspended.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reports that “Jagger,” the English Bulldog stolen from Jennifer Thomas of Woodland and supposedly held for ransom, may have been found dead on the railroad tracks in Kelso. Yesterday morning, Deputies received a call from a local resident, saying that he’d seen the body of a dog next to the railroad tracks in the 2400 block of Talley Way. Based on descriptions that had been provided, he thought it might be that of “Jagger.” Deputies responded and found the dog’s body, and say that it matches his description. They say it looks like he was hit by a train. The dog was turned over to the Humane Society, who’s planning a post-mortem examination today, to try and confirm the dog’s identity. An initial examination show that the dog had died between 48 and 72 hours before being found. “Jagger” has been missing since the 5th of this month; soon after his disappearance, Thomas says she started getting text messages, demanding $1,000 cash and prescription drugs. Thomas reports that she hasn’t had any contact from the dognappers since the 8th. Sheriff Mark Nelson says that he’s disappointed that “Jagger” may have been found in this manner, and he says that the investigation is continuing. PETA is offering a cash reward of $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. If you know anything about this incident, call the Sheriff’s office at 577-3092, or you can leave a tip on the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 577-1206.