After several hours of anxiety along the Washington and Oregon coasts after a huge earthquake in Alaska, tsunami alerts are being cancelled. The alerts went up from the Aleutians to California after an earthquake was recorded in the Gulf of Alaska, about 175 miles southeast of the town of Kodiak. Initial reports put the quake at magnitude 8.2, but that has been revised downward to magnitude 7.9. That initial quake has been followed by a number of aftershocks, including a magnitude 5.6 event. The epicenter is located about five miles underneath the ocean floor. Alerts went up all along the Washington and Oregon coasts, predicting that any tsunami waves would start arriving around 4:50 am at Neah Bay, and around 5:15 am around Brookings, Oregon. Shortly after 3 am, the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska cancelled all of the tsunami warnings along the western coastline, going from the Washington-B. C. border to the California-Mexico border. They now say that there is NO tsunami threat along the U. S. and Canadian Pacific coasts.
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Stephen Nickolas Olason, 39, of Lake Stevens is in the Cowlitz County Jail, after he was reportedly caught driving a brand-new BMW M3 sedan that had been stolen from a dealership up in Seattle. Seattle Police contacted Longview Police at about 2:20 yesterday afternoon, saying that they were using the “BMW Assist Tracking” feature in the car. At the time of the call, the car was driving along Tennant Way, heading into town. LPD spotted the car driving along 15th Avenue, eventually heading into the parking lot of the 15th Avenue Subway shop. Officers surrounded the car at that time, and Olason was arrested at gunpoint. He’s now being held on charges of possession of a stolen car, possession of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, and driving while suspended. The Seattle dealership has recovered their car, while Olason is being held without bail.
Longview Police are investigating a burglary reported yesterday afternoon at the Daily News on 11th Avenue. Workers at the newspaper called LPD at about 1:20 pm, reporting that someone had come in and broken into several vending machines. In their initial report, Longview Police say that there were no signs of forced entry, so it’s speculated that the suspect had an entry card for the building, or they found a door that hadn’t been secured. The suspects got inside, then used tools that they found inside the building to drill out locks on three vending machines, along with a change machine. The damage to the machines and the loss of coins from the machines is estimated to be in the area of a thousand dollars. Police have no suspects at this time, but they did dust for fingerprints. Police also plan to check with the janitorial service, to see when workers were inside.
The Coast Guard is now saying that it could take several weeks before the source of an oil sheen in Astoria is remediated. The oil slick was first spotted last Thursday near the Cannery Pier restaurant on the Astoria waterfront, and was eventually traced to a 20-foot-long tank that’s located underneath the old pier. It’s estimated that the tank could contain up to 4,200 gallons of oil, but they don’t know how much has already leaked out of the tank. The Coast Guard says that additional containment booms are being set up, while contract divers are working to decontaminate vessels that are in the area. They say that work will help to keep the oil in the containment area, so that vessels can safely leave the area without additional impact to the Columbia River. The Coast Guard is now working with Global Diving and Salvage, Oregon’s DEQ and others to develop a safe and effective plan for removal of the tank. Some demolition of the pier is expected for access to the tank, and several large cranes will be needed. Wildlife assessments are also being done at Fort Stevens State Park, Desdemona Sands, Hammond and other areas downstream.
Troy James Queen, 48, of Scappoose is under arrest after he allegedly kidnapped and threatened a woman that he had met through an online dating service. On the 8th of this month, a woman called the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, claiming that Queen had held her against her will, and used a gun to threaten her. The woman says that she had been corresponding with Queen for about a month, after meeting through an online dating service. They had gone out several times, and she also agreed to go out to Garibaldi on the 7th. On the return trip, the woman claims that Queen pulled a gun, and then fired a shot before he threatened her and hit her in the face. Detectives were able to obtain evidence that supported the woman’s claims, so they went to Scappoose and arrested Queen, also seizing his car. After getting a search warrant, Deputies claim to have found a pistol, a cell phone and meth. Queen is now being charged with first-degree kidnapping, coercion, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon, fourth-degree assault, interfering with making a report and illegal possession of meth. Current bail is just over $206,000.
Another defendant is taking a plea deal in connection with the murder of Apache Rose Hightower, whose body was found in the woods near St. Helens in September of 2016. It’s now being reported that Stephanie Jeanne Toney, 21, of St. Helens is pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide in connection with Hightower’s death. She was sentenced to 48 months, with credit for time served since her arrest in October of 2016. In October of last year, Jesse Allen Lane, 28, of Medford pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder, and was sentenced to life without parole on the murder count; he still faces sentencing on the kidnapping count. Charles William Vernon, 29, of St. Helens is still awaiting trial in the case, charged with aggravated murder, murder, kidnapping, felon in possession of a gun, hindering prosecution and strangulation. His trial is currently expected to begin next year.
New Kelso City Council member Lisa Knight Alexander is working on a peaceful protest for this evening, expressing opposition to a methadone clinic that being proposed for Kelso. The current plans are for the clinic to go into the old Worksource building in downtown Kelso, right next to the Kelso City Hall. Alexander says that she’s against having the clinic in downtown, claiming that Kelso has been “gifted” with too many of these type of facilities. She claims that the clinic will be hosting as many as 300 clients from five counties, and she says that “Kelso has had enough.” Alexander says that if the county needs this clinic, then they can find another place for it. The “No! No! Methadone” protest starts at 5:30 this afternoon at the Longview Public Library. Anyone interested is invited to attend.
There’s still some heartburn from the operators and users of the Mint Valley Golf Course, but the path along the dike inside the golf course boundaries is now open to walkers and joggers. After much back and forth between the city, Longview Parks and golf course management, the gates to the dike opened yesterday, allowing the public to use the dike trail all the way from 30th Avenue to 48th Avenue, a distance of about 2.5 miles. Warning signs are posted, alerting walkers to be aware of flying golf balls; walkers are also urged to keep moving, and anyone who comes off the trail could be charged with trespassing. The path is now open from dawn to dusk each day.
A Longview woman who has been identified as the “real Rosie the Riveter” passed away this last weekend. A story came out in the New York Times, reporting that Naomi Parker Fraley died Saturday at the age of 96. After other women had been identified as the model for the iconic “”We Can Do It” Rosie the Riveter poster from World War Two, scholars dug in and eventually determined that Fraley was the inspiration for the legendary image. Fraley had been born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then went to work at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California after Pearl Harbor. Other details about Fraley’s death have not yet been released; family members say that arrangements for a memorial service are being made for March 10th.
Timothy Haag of Longview will be spending at least another two decades in prison, re-sentenced for the 1994 murder of a neighbor, 7 year-old Rachel Dillard. Haag was in Cowlitz County Superior Court last Friday morning, being re-sentenced under provisions of recent Supreme Court rulings, which declared that life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders was cruel and unusual punishment. Last Friday morning, Superior Court Judge Michael Evans issued a sentenced of 46 years to life, saying that even with his “adolescent brain,” Haag knew right from wrong. Evans says that, even with Haag’s model behavior in prison, he hasn’t been convinced that Haag has overcome his emotional and psychological issues. Under the new sentence, Haag will spend a minimum of 23 more years in prison, making the age of 63 the earliest that he could be released. Haag’s defense attorneys are indicating that they plan to file an appeal.