Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue got an early wake-up call today, as a structure fire was reported at a home on Mt. Brynion Road. This call came in shortly after 5 am, reported at a home in the 4200 block of Mt. Brynion. It’s reported that smoke was coming from a wall of the home when fire crews first rolled up. They haven’t said yet if anyone was hurt, or what started the fire. There’s some speculation that a heater may have been the cause. There’s no estimate on damage at this time.
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Longview Police and the State Patrol continue to investigate a fatal car crash that took place early Saturday morning in the 3100 block of Pacific Way. It’s being reported that there was one male victim, age 23, and that his car lost control before crossing the center line of the road. The Honda Civic collided head-on with a van coming in the opposite direction. They say that the 53 year-old van driver suffered minor injuries. Names of those involved have not yet been released.
Three young men from the Puget Sound area are in the Cowlitz County Jail, held in connection with a murder in Gresham, and arrested after a high-speed car chase from the crime scene to Kalama. Around 2:30 Friday afternoon, Gresham Police responded to a fatal shooting in the area of Southeast Stark and 174th Avenue. A short time later, Portland Police spotted the suspect vehicle traveling north on I-205. The pursuit hit 110 miles an hour on the northbound freeway, eventually coming up to exit 32, where a Cowlitz County Deputy was able to deploy spike strips. Rony Alexander Celis, 23, of Renton, Charles Benjamin Moimoi, 20, of Seatac and Clayton Eldredge Harrell III, 18 of Des Moines were all taken into custody and are being held on fugitive warrants connected to the shooting. Local charges of felony eluding and unlawful possession of a gun are also pending.
Woodland Police are checking into an assault that took place on Saturday, where a man suffered serious eye injuries in an apparent assault. A woman contacted Woodland Police at about 7 Saturday morning, saying that the victim had brought her to Woodland from Long Beach, so that she could meet with her new boyfriend at Horseshoe Lake Park. As the couple was walking near the swings, a “man” showed up and started beating on the victim. The victim went to the ground and tried to curl up, but the suspect kicked the victim repeatedly. The male victim was eventually transferred to a hospital in Portland to be treated for his injuries, while Woodland Police continue to try and identify the suspect.
The Longview Police Street Crimes Unit reports making another arrest over the weekend, after a search warrant was served at an apartment in the 1300 block of South 10th Avenue. Detectives say that they seized more than six ounces of meth and nearly four ounces of heroin in this bust, along with drug scales, a gun and drug paraphernalia. David Merrill Cook, 35, was arrested and is now being held for possession of meth with intent to deliver and possession of heroin with intent to deliver, along with unlawful possession of a gun. The drug charges also include a school zone enhancement.
A joint investigation involving the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force and Woodland Police resulted in the arrest of Jeffrey Reinke, 58, of Woodland. He was arrested and booked on two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, and is now free after posting bail. Authorities say that more arrests are expected, as the joint effort between the Task Force and Woodland Police continues.
Local 153 of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers lost a round in court over the weekend, after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that KapStone Paper and Packaging “acted in good faith” when the company declared an impasse in its negotiations with the union back in August of last year. The Daily News also reports that the 12-day strike by the AWPPW was an “economic strike,” not an “unfair labor practice strike,” as the union was claiming. As might be expected, union officials are not pleased with the ruling, saying that it will only prolong the ongoing dispute. KapStone implemented its final contract offer after the strike, declaring that an impasse had been reached. Union officials have been challenging those claims, still claiming that the company is engaged in unfair labor practices. At this time, it’s unclear how this ruling might affect contract negotiations. The last contract between KapStone and Local 153 expired in May of 2014.
Washington’s Governor says that he’s impressed with what he’s seeing at Lower Columbia College, wondering out loud if successful programs at this college can be replicated in other parts of the state. Last Friday afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee toured buildings and met with students at the college; he says that he’s seeing some good stuff, and he would like to see that for others across the state…Inslee…Inslee toured the University Center and the new Health and Science building at LCC, Inslee called the students he met and their classmates “the smartest generation,” noting the access to information and programs that didn’t exist when he was in school. Inslee says that successful programs like Running Start need to be replicated all across Washington, and he says that at least one of the templates to be used is here at LCC. Inslee says that he plans to push for legislation to help spread programs like Running Start statewide.
A day-long protest is planned for today at the Cowlitz PUD building in Longview, with disgruntled ratepayers coming by to express their displeasure with recent spikes in power bills. Today’s event is being organized through a Facebook movement, started after people began seeing extremely high electric bills in recent weeks. The protest is scheduled to go form 6 am until 6 pm today, and organizers are offering advice on steps to take to insure that this is a peaceful and orderly event. In a printed statement, the PUD says that it recognizes the concerns of its customers; they say that a combination of increased demand coupled with a rate increase to cause the bill spikes. People involved in today’s event aren’t buying that answer. Get more information by going to Facebook and search for “Civil Protest at Cowlitz PUD.”
There are some math issues related to one-time “special items” that skew the numbers somewhat, but Weyerhaeuser is reporting that 2015 was a great year, with net earnings of $533 million. That compares with net earnings of $700 million in 2014, but that year also included after-tax earnings of $998 million that was connected to the sale of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. Weyco President and CEO Doyle Simons says that 2015 was “a milestone year,” as the company announced a “transformational” merger with Plum Creek Timber. Simons says that this merger will create the world’s premier timber, land and forest company. He says that they’re continuing on the path of improving performance and operational excellence, while also delivering cash to shareholders. He says that should continue in 2016, with the completion of the Plum Creek merger, a “strategic review” of their cellulose fibers business, and a continued focus on operational excellence.