Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue was up early this morning, after a fire was reported at a home in South Kelso. The first 911 call came in at 2:38 am, with Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue making the initial response to 1419 S. 9th Avenue. Cowlitz 2 reports that the initial call came in as a chimney fire, but it had extended into the attic by the time fire crews rolled up. Longview Fire also sent an engine over to assist. Fire officials say that they got things knocked down in just a few minutes, but they also spent more than two hours on the scene, making sure that no hotspots remained. Two adults and two dogs safely escaped the fire, and they are now being assisted by the Red Cross. They say that damage to the house is pretty substantial, but it appears that the home could be salvaged. The initial damage estimate is put at between $40,000 and $50,000.
Archive | November, 2015
Longview Police are looking into a fraud case that was reported yesterday morning, where it appears that an elderly woman has lost more than $104,000 in the Publisher’s Clearing House scam. Officers say that employees at the Lower Columbia Longshoremen’s Federal Credit Union in Longview helped keep the loss from being even worse, stopping more than $63,000 in checks before they could be sent out and cashed. The victim says that she was first contacted in the middle of last month, by a guy going by the name of “David.” The woman says that this man called repeatedly, as many as five times a day after October 17th. “David” told the woman that she had won $2.5 million, but she needed to pay for “taxes and other fees” before she could collect. The victim says she wrote three personal checks, but most of the payments were made by cashier’s check. She also says that she sent the checks to various locations around the country. So far, police have not been able to identify the suspect.
Authorities in Columbia County are continuing to investigate a car-versus-pickup crash that happened yesterday afternoon on the Rainier Hill. It’s reported that one woman was pinned in one of the cars after the crash at about 5:20 pm, and they had to use extrication tools to get her out of the vehicle. The collision took place at the top of the hill, near the intersection of Wonderly and Heath Roads. LifeFlight was called in to transport the woman that was pinned, while a second person refused medical treatment on the scene. There are also reports that a third vehicle may have been damaged. Names and other details could be released later today.
Local 153 of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers is celebrating a recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board, which is coming down on the side of five union members who were fired by KapStone for “strike activity.” Local 153 President Kurt Gallow says that the NLRB ruled that the wrongful discharge complaints filed by the five workers “have merit,” and will now move to the next phase. That could include the issuing of a complaint against the company, along with a trial date. Gallow says that the company could re-hire the workers, or they could go to court. If KapStone goes to court and loses, Gallow says that the company would then be on the hook for back pay that would be owed to the workers, along with interest on that money. Gallow says that they haven’t yet heard from KapStone as to their next move.
Cowlitz County Elections is announcing that the results of the November 3rd election have now been certified. That settles what had been an extremely close race for a seat on the Beacon Hill Water and Sewer District Commission, with Keath Huff edging out incumbent Commissioner Dean Takko by just 34 votes, 997-to-963. Other results from the November 3rd tally have held steady. Lewis County is also certifying results from the General Election, showing that Ken Smith will be Vader’s Mayor, edging out Jan Charlton by just five votes. A Winlock City Council race was even closer, with Dennis Korpi beating out Holly Orbino by just one single vote, 89 to 88. They say that these results are now set in stone, and no recount will be conducted.
The 2016 budget for the Port of Longview is in place, approved at yesterday morning’s meeting of the Port Commission. That budget includes about $31 million in the operating budget, and $6.1 million on the capital side. Port officials say that the capital budget has been reduced by more than two-thirds over the initial presentation, which came in at more than $20 million. In yesterday morning’s presentation, staff says that they’re going to delay several projects, including maintenance of some warehouses, demolition of unused buildings, and the removal of a container crane. They do have $400,000 budgeted for the wastewater conveyance project for berths 6 and 7, $650,000 for expansion of the industrial rail corridor, and more than $200,000 for management of Willow Grove Park. The port’s tax levy will edge up slightly, going to 43 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Looking ahead at 2016, port staff is projecting a reduction in the amount of cargo to be handled through the end of this year, looking at a reduction of $1.7 million in the 2015 bottom line. 2016 is being projected as a good cargo-handling year, but increased expenses will eat away at overall profit. Net income for 2016 is expected to come in at $2.6 million dollars, a drop of nearly 40 percent from the 2015 numbers.
For the first time in many months, the unemployment rate in Cowlitz County dropped below seven percent. Employment Security announced yesterday that the October jobless rate came in at 6-point-9 percent, down from an even seven percent in September, and an even eight percent in October of last year. Employment Security is also revising the jobs number again, reporting now that Cowlitz County has 600 more jobs over the past year. This past summer, that number was revised downward, saying that 800 jobs had been lost over the previous year. Nonfarm employment is currently registered at 39,400, unchanged from September, but 600 jobs higher than the same time last year. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the number of initial unemployment claims spiked in September, but they went down again in October. The current numbers also show that there are about three thousand Cowlitz County residents that are jobless at this time.
The Salvation Army is still accepting donations for the Community Dinner that they’re planning to serve tomorrow. Donations for this dinner or for their upcoming Christmas Dinner can be dropped off at the back door of the Salvation Army Temple in Longview, located at 1639 10th Avenue in Longview. You can also call 423-3990 for more information.
This coming Black Friday, there’s also a chance for you to help out the less fortunate while you’re out looking for Christmas bargains. “Warm Coats-Warm Hearts” is holding a Coat Drive, going from 9 am to 1 pm this Friday in the old Korten’s building at Commerce and Broadway in downtown Longview. You can drop off new or gently used coats, hats, gloves or other cold-weather gear. The items collected will be distributed to those in need through the winter months.
As many of us are making last-minute preparations to head out for the Thanksgiving holiday, weather forecasters say that you may also need to keep an eye on road conditions. Snow levels are expected to drop down to 1,500 feet this morning; with showers coming through, some accumulation is possible, even at the pass levels. What could be more of a problem is black ice overnight tonight, which they say could be possible at ALL elevation levels. Two to five inches of snow is expected today in the Cascades, one to three inches in the foothills, and an inch or two out in the Coast Range. Snow is definitely expected in the Cascade and Coast Range passes, along with the possibility of black ice at ANY elevation overnight tonight. You can call 511 24 hours a day to check on road conditions.
Longview Police are preparing to post a number of photos on the department’s Facebook page, in an effort to see if the owners of some photo albums can be found. Around 12:40 yesterday afternoon, a man who had bene walking in the 200 block of 20th reported that he had come upon a grocery shopping cart that was filled with photo albums, and those albums were filled with photos. A Community Service Officer examined the albums, and wasn’t able to find any names, addresses or other identifying information. They’re now getting ready to try and post some of these photos on Facebook, to see if any of the subjects in the photos can be named. Those photos could be up later today.