Kelso Police are working with Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue on the investigation into a number of suspicious fires that have taken place in the past week or so. A Sunday evening fire in an abandoned house on South River Road was the third structure fire in South Kelso on Sunday, and the fifth structure fire in Kelso that occurred over the weekend. Captain Darr Kirk tells the Daily News that Sunday night’s fire is “suspicious,” as the house was abandoned, and no one was around when the fire was reported. Arson has not been excluded as a cause, and police are actively seeking leads. If you have information about any of these fires, call Kelso Police at 423-1270.
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Scott Wayne Johnson, 39, of Longview is under arrest after he was reportedly caught burglarizing a home on View Ridge Circle in Longview. Shortly after noon yesterday, the resident of the home called 911, saying that they had just interrupted a burglary, with the suspect dropping several items before running out the front door of the house. Longview Police converged on the area, heading toward City View, which is where the suspect was seen running. Officers stopped and arrested Johnson near a home on MacAtee Drive; another resident of the area called LPD to say that they had seen a man matching Johnson’s description in the area on Monday, saying that he was “scary” and “scruffy-looking.” Johnson is now being held on as single count of residential burglary, along with warrants for civil contempt and failure to appear in court.
Longview Police report that another driver used their car as a barrier to prevent a driver from running away from the scene of a car crash. The collision was reported at about 3:50 yesterday afternoon, in the area of 36th and Nebraska in Longview. It was reported that a driver had hit a parked car, and then tried to take off. Another driver blocked the first driver in, preventing the car and driver from leaving before police could arrive. Officers did meet with a teen that was identified as the driver that hit the parked car; that person was cited for reckless driving, no insurance and a learner’s permit violation.
Bernie Altman, 92, of Kelso remains in critical condition at PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center, continuing his recovery from a beating and stabbing that took place at his home last Thursday. The long-time Kelso teachers and local mental health care advocate was found in his home, bound and bleeding. Altman was taken by LifeFlight to Vancouver, where he’s being treated for broken bones, and for bleeding in his brain. David Jack Altman, 52, Bernie Altman’s son, continues to be held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder, third-degree assault and resisting arrest, following yesterday’s arraignment.
Four more local school districts start the 2016-2017 school year today, with classes starting this morning in Toutle Lake and Woodland, along with the St. Rose and Three Rivers Christian private schools. Drivers in these areas will need to be aware of kids that are heading to and from school, and you’ll need to observe the school zone speed limits.
Responding to an emergency appeal from the Athletic Department at Lower Columbia College, the LCC Board of Trustees is approving a loan of $475,000, with that money being directed to needed repairs and upgrades at Story Field. In recent weeks, stories have come out about the condition of Story Field, particularly the infield, to the point where it poses a safety hazard to players. After hearing first-hand from Athletic Director Kirc Roland about the issues and possible safety problems, the Board decided to make a loan from an “excess enrollment fund,” with that money to be paid back over time, through fundraisers, grants and other activities. The money will pay for replacement of the field’s drainage system, along with the conversion of the infield to artificial turf, including the base paths, pitcher’s mound and home plate. Roland says that they hope to get the work done before LCC starts playing ball in the spring; because of the field issues, LCC will play its fall ball schedule on the field at Mark Morris High School.
There’s a special hearing set for 10 am today in front of the Columbia County Commissioners, where citizens who are concerned about a possible indoor marijuana growing operation going in near Rainier High School.. Back on July 11th, the Columbia County Planning Commission recommended approval of the permit for the operation, which would go into the old Genesis Indoor Soccer building, not far from Rainier High School and Hudson Park Elementary School. This morning’s hearing is set to begin at 10 am in the Columbia County Commissioners’ Office in St. Helens.
The Lower Columbia School Gardens Produce Sales continue today at Northlake Elementary School, with fresh veggies and flowers grown in school gardens around the area being offered to the community. The sale runs each Wednesday through September, going from 10 am to 1 pm. Northlake is located at 2210 Olympia Way in Longview. Call 431-6725 for more information.
Wednesday Night Summer Fun for local families wraps up this evening at the Kelso United Presbyterian Church. This evening, they’ll be focused on “The Wonderful Hobby of Stamp Collecting,” with an all-family program being offered. You’re invited to bring the family over for dinner at 5:30, and then the program will start at 6. The program is free and open to all families in the area; call 423-7480 to register.
The United States Navy Band “Country Current” performs tonight at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, presenting a country-bluegrass show at 7 pm. This seven-member ensemble is nationally-known for its versatility, along with “eye-popping musicianship.” The concert is free, but you will need to get a ticket to attend. Get your tickets by calling the Columbia Theatre box office at 577-8499, or stop by the box office on Vandercook Way between 11:30 am and 5:30 pm today.
Longview Police are going to Facebook, looking for the public’s help in finding a woman who hasn’t been seen in nine years. Lorie V. Haley would now be 63 years of age, and was last seen in the Longview-Kelso area in July of 2007. Longview Police say that Haley and a friend came to this area from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and were known to stay in local motels. She was reported to be in the company of David A. Clark, who is now 48 years of age. Photos of Haley and Clark are now posted on the Longview Police Facebook page; Haley was last described as being 5’2” and 112 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Clark is said to be 5’7” and 200 pounds, with a bald head and blue eyes. If you have seen Lorie Haley, or you have information on where she might be, you’re asked to call Longview Police at 442-5800, and ask for Detective Michael Maini; if he’s not available, you’re asked to leave a voicemail.