All three lanes of I-5 southbound were closed for several hours this morning, after a semi rolled over just before 7 am. The State Patrol reports that the semi rolled at 6:55 am, at milepost 42 southbound. All three lanes of the freeway were closed; traffic was shuffled onto the shoulder for a short time, then two lanes re-opened around 7:30 am. No injuries were reported; other details on the cause of the crash are not available as of yet.
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The overall crime rate in Longview dropped substantially in 2017, down nearly 20 percent from the year before. Chief Jim Duscha presented the annual Longview Police Department report at last night’s City Council meeting, and he says that a number of recently-adopted procedures are paying huge benefits. Duscha says that the effort to battle illegal drugs is having a big impact; he says that more than 15 pounds of illegal drugs were seized by the Street Crimes Unit in 2017; heroin seizures are up 253 percent. Duscha says that the drug interdiction and the arrests connected to those efforts has had a ripple effect, also helping to prevent other property crimes. Longview’s overall property crime rate is down 26 percent from 2016. Duscha says that they’re still working hard to get Longview’s crime rate at or below the state crime rate, but he also notes that the drop in the crime rate is much higher than the state overall. He also points with pride to the crime clearance rate, completing cases and getting them off of the books. Longview’s clearance rate is 52 percent, compared to a rate of 26 percent statewide.
Momentum seems to be gathering for the development of a regional athletic and sports complex in the city of Longview, officially backed now by the City Council as they direct Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Wills to start looking at options for such a facility. Council member Steve Moon says that this is a golden opportunity for the city. Last night’s discussion and direction comes after several softball and recreation groups came to the Council and to the Parks Board, touting the recreational and economic benefits of developing a large diamond sport complex in the city. Those who spoke at last night’s meeting were extremely passionate about the possible benefits, not only as opportunities for children and adults to participate, but also for the economic influx that tournaments and other events would bring to the city. It was also noted that development of such a facility has been a long-time goal of several groups over the years. On a unanimous vote, the Council is directing Wills to begin a public process for soliciting proposals regarding the possible development of a regional athletic and sports complex, with a report due to the City Council by September 13th of this year.
With a forecast of freezing temperatures over the weekend, Longview City Manager Kurt Sacha is declaring a Severe Weather Event, a move that allows emergency shelters to open and operate. City officials say that this declaration covers Saturday night only, as temperatures are expected to rise again on Sunday. Currently, only the Love Overwhelming shelter at 618 14th Avenue is permitted to operate as an Emergency Shelter, but others could be allowed to open if they pass inspection. Call Longview Community Development at 360-442-5087 for more information.
The Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office is now reporting that attempted murder charges are being filed against Lee Wages, 54, after he allegedly fired several shotgun rounds in the direction of Deputies that had come to his house to do a welfare check. At 1:30 Wednesday afternoon, Deputies went to Wages’ home on East Birnie Slough Road, and as they were on the porch, they could hear the sound of a shotgun being cycled. The Deputies retreated to cover, as Wages allegedly fired six rounds through a window of the house. Lower Columbia SWAT was called in, and Wages gave himself up peacefully at about 5 pm. Wages is currently being held in the Wahkiakum County Jail, and he’s due in court for an arraignment on Monday, April 2nd.
Steven Stover, 52, of Castle Rock is being cited after a crash yesterday afternoon on I-5 near La Center. State Troopers say that Stover was driving northbound on the freeway, following a dump truck and a trailer with a dump truck and trailer of his own. Douglas Clough, 38, of Vader had the truck and trailer that was ahead of Stover, and he braked for slow traffic from another collision in the vicinity of milepost 18 on the freeway. Both men suffered injuries in the crash, and were taken to local hospitals as a precaution. Their injuries are reported to be not serious. Stover is being cited for driving too fast for the conditions.
Be aware that you’ll need to ease up on the gas pedal as you head through Cathlamet in the near future, as plans are being announced to reduce the speed limit on Ocean Beach Highway. The Wahkiakum County Eagle reports that the Cathlamet Town Council and the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners are asking the Washington Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on State Route 4 to 35 miles an hour inside the city limits. They say that this is part of a long-range effort to increase safety on the highway through Cathlamet; they also say that other safety measures are needed, including additional crosswalks and left turn lanes. WashDOT met with city and county officials earlier this week, where several issues were discussed. It’s reported that the speed limit will be reduced this spring, to study travelers’ reactions.
Joining with events all across the country, a Longview “March For Our Lives” event is planned for tomorrow. The Longview March For Our Lives is planned for noon tomorrow, rallying in the Civic Circle on the plaza across from the Monticello Hotel. This is a rally against gun violence in the schools and across the country; organizers say that people who sign up for the event are pledging to participate non-violently and in accordance with the law. They say that confrontations will be de-escalated, and participants are agreeing to follow the orders of event marshals and local law enforcement.
The Cowlitz County Republicans are out with a statement regarding the March For Our Lives, critical of the event and its organizers. In the single-page statement, the local GOP re-affirms support for the 2nd Amendment, along with support for local children. They say that there has been an “assault” on freedoms, and they’re critical of Democrats for gun legislation that came up during this year’s legislative session. They say that no “counter march” is planned, but they urge people to become engaged, and to address “root causes of violence,” rather than imposing laws that restrict freedoms. The Cowlitz County Republicans say that it’s time to put “Solutions over Slogans,” and to promote policies that benefit, rather than restrict local communities.
There’s a Bloodworks Northwest Blood Drive going on at the Ocean Beach Highway Safeway store on Friday, going from 10 am to 4 pm; call 1-800-398-7888 to set up an appointment, but walkups will also be taken.
Get ready for “a hell of a good time” this Friday night at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, as “Highland Way” from San Diego comes in for a concert of “Celtic music with a Scottish flair.” Curtain is at 7:30 pm Friday night at the CTPA; call 360-575-TIXX for ticket information.
The NanoCon Mark 5 International Science Fiction Film Festival and Convention happens this Friday and Saturday at Lower Columbia College. This open Friday night with the Red Carpet rollout of the Film Festival at LCC’s Laufman Lecture Hall; the social hour starts at 5 pm, winning films will be shown from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, and a special VIP dinner starts at 8:30. There’s also a concert at 5 pm on Friday by “Stovokor,” which bills itself as “the planet’s only heavy-metal Klingon band.” The full convention will run from 10 am until 10 pm on Saturday in the Health and Science Building at LCC.
Chow down and help out Special Olympics at a Pancake Breakfast that’s being held this Saturday morning at the Faith Family Center in Longview. Breakfast at the church on 38th and Ocean Beach Highway will be served from 8 to 11 am on Saturday, with proceeds supporting Longview/Kelso Special Olympics. Call 360-749-4171 to learn more.
Safely dispose of personal records and other documents at Saturday morning’s Community Shred event, happening from 9 am until noon at the H&R Block office at the Triangle Shopping Center. You’re asked to limit your shredding to one box of documents; H&R Block is located next to the liquor store at the mall.
The Wahkiakum County Democrats are holding their Party Convention and District 19 Legislative Caucus on Saturday, starting at 10 am in the Multi-Purpose Room at J. A. Wendt Elementary School in Cathlamet. Find out more by calling 206-588-9234.
“Ashlee’s Day” happens this Saturday, an event being put on by the Stone Soup Foundation, which is working to help feed the homeless and the needy in the local community. Saturday’s event is intended to honor victims of addiction or mental illness, and to raise awareness of resources that are available. This will run from noon to 2:30 pm at the Cowlitz County Administration Building in Kelso, and you can even take part in a chili cookoff. All are invited to take part.
The Castle Rock Eagles are putting a Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday, raising money for “Team Angie” and her fight against lung cancer. Along with the pasta, salad and bread, they’ll have raffles and a silent auction. Dinner will be served from 3 to 6 pm this Saturday at 224 Huntington Ave. S. in Castle Rock. Call 360-270-5783 to learn more.
There’s a St. Patrick/Spring Dinner being served this Saturday at the VFW Post 1045 on Ocean Beach Highway in Longview, going from 4 to 6 pm. You can choose between corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew. Proceeds will help support programs run by Post 1045, which is located at 4311 Ocean Beach Highway.
The theme for Saturday’s annual meeting and banquet of the Kalama Chamber of Commerce is “Small Town, Big Aloha!,” and will happen at the Kalama Community Building. The event is “beach casual dress,” and will feature prime rib or a Hawaiian chicken dinner. The social hour starts at 5:30 pm, followed by dinner at 6:30. Tickets are available at the Kalama Shopping Center.
The 8th annual Dino-Doozer Great Gatsby Masquerade Ball happens this Saturday at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, going from 6 to 11 pm. Along with the buffet dinner, there will be live and silent auctions, wine tasting and live music. Proceeds will help the Dino-Doozer Foundation and its battle against childhood cancers.
There’s a Civil War matchup planned for this Saturday at Mark Morris High School, as the MM vs. RAL Buff Puff Volleyball Game takes place at 7 pm. Proceeds will go to funding the 2018 Safe and Sober Senior Party; tickets will be sold at the door.
The Longview-Kelso Community Concert Association continues the current season with “Two on Tap,” a tap-dancing show that will take place Saturday night in the Wollenberg Auditorium at LCC’s Rose Center for the Arts. Members of the local dance group “TAPestry” will also be taking part. Go to lkcca.org for ticket information.
Run out toward Clatskanie to the Quincy Grange on Sunday, where they will be cooking up the 43rd annual Quincy Grange Chicken Dinner. This will run from noon until 3 pm on Sunday, serving a traditional chicken dinner and dessert. Follow the signs to the Quincy Grange Hall, which is located on Rutters Road, northeast of Clatskanie.
LOCAR, the Lower Columbia Association of Realtors, is hosting an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, starting at 1 pm at Haydu Park, just east of I-5 off of the Kalama River Road exit. This is for kids from newborn to 16 years of age, and there is a fee to take part. The event is a fundraiser for the LOCAR Relay for Life team.
The Rainy Months Series of children’s shows continues on Sunday at the Columbia theatre for the Performing Arts, featuring the Robert Louis Stevenson classic “Treasure Island.” This starts at 2 pm on Sunday at the CTPA; go to columbiatheatre.com for ticket information, or call 360-575-TIXX for ticket information.
There’s a Children’s Tea planned for Sunday at the Kalama Community Building, transformed into an Enchanted Forest with mythical creatures. This will go from 2 to 3:30 on Sunday, a benefit for the Kalama Library. A limited number of tickets are available at Kalama Koffee, River Rock Kids and the Kalama Library.
You can take the kids out to Riverside Park at 2 pm on Sunday, as the Lexington Moms are putting on an Easter Egg Hunt.
The Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office reports that a standoff at a home on East Birnie Slough Road ended peacefully, with one man safely taken into custody. Sheriff Mark Howie says that they went to a home in the 100 block of East Birnie Slough Road, checking on a man who reportedly has some mental health issues. While on the porch of the house, Deputies say that they could hear the sound of a shotgun being racked. The Deputies retreated immediately, as the suspect began shooting in their direction. The Deputies safely backed out, as a call went out to Lower Columbia SWAT. Howie says that the man gave himself up peacefully at about 6 pm, and he was taken into custody. Howie hasn’t said yet if the man was taken to jail, or if he went in for mental health evaluation and treatment. The man’s name has not been released.