Third-degree theft charges are being filed against Jerry Lee Ward, 50, of Longview, after he allegedly stole the American flag from the Kelso Post Office, and then used it in a personal demonstration before he was arrested. It’s claimed that Ward took the flag, went over to the County Administration building, where he waved it around before he jammed it into the door handle of the building. When questioned by Kelso Police, Ward supposedly said that the government still owed him for a broken leg that he had suffered some 20 years ago. Ward is currently being held without bail in the Cowlitz County Jail.
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Chad R. Fredericks, 29, of Kelso is being charged with second-degree negligent driving after a one-car crash that took place around 6:25 yesterday morning on I-5 near Chehalis. State Troopers say that Fredericks was southbound near milepost 72 at Rush Road when he attempted to move into the right lane of the freeway. Fredericks’ car went off the road to the right, crossed the Rush Road off-ramp, and ended up in a field. Fredericks was injured in the collision, and was taken to Centralia Providence Hospital for treatment. His condition hasn’t been updated this morning. Troopers blame the crash on “driver inattention.”
A flood warning is in effect for the upper Cowlitz River near Randle, also on the Nisqually River near Mineral. The National Weather Service says that the Cowlitz crested last night at about 19.2 feet, a little over a foot above the “minor flood stage” in that area. Some flooding is expected along Highway 131, Skinner Road, Peters Road and other low-lying areas. There was a projection that some water may get up to Highway 12, but this crest is about two feet below original projections. Low-lying areas along the Nisqually may also see some minor flooding. Authorities continue to monitor the situation.
The City of Longview and the Beacon Hill Sewer District are now looking for people to serve on a Citizens Advisory Committee that will consider options and will eventually make recommendations for improvements on the city’s drinking water. Applications for the Committee will be accepted through December 10th. Applicants must be customers of the Longview or Beacon Hill water systems, and they have to be able to attend seven monthly meetings between January and June of next year. It’s planned that the Committee will have 10 to 12 members, and will have a cross-section of homeowners, business owners, commercial customers, health care providers and other sectors of the community. More information and downloadable applications are available at. You can also go to the Longview City Hall or the Beacon Hill Sewer District office on West Side Highway for an application.
The Port of Longview Commissioners adopted the 2015 operating budget, once again predicting that the recent string of profitable years will continue. Port Commission President Darold Dietz says that 2015 could be as good or even better than 2014. The Port of Longview is projecting revenues of $36.3 million and expenses of $32.4 million in 2015, compared to revenue of $35.8 million dollars and expenses of $30.6 million this year. The Port has a capital budget of nearly $6.9 million, and includes some significant projects. The biggest is renovation of Berth 4, with a total estimated cost of $2.4 million. This budget also includes provisions for capital improvements at Willow Grove Park. The Port’s property tax levy rate is actually going down slightly, due to an increase in assessed valuations inside the district boundary, and while that rate is going down, tax collections are expected to increase by about $120,000.
Even though accounting adjustments led to an upward revision of the local unemployment rate, the Washington Employment Security Department now says that Cowlitz County is “essentially” back to the same number of jobs that were in the area when the economic downturn of 2007 caused those numbers to plummet. October’s jobless rate in Cowlitz County is put at 8.5 percent, a full 1.5 percent above September. That’s still six-tenths of a point below last October’s rate of 9.1 percent; Regional Economist Scott Bailey also says that local payrolls have expanded by 1,300 jobs, a growth rate of 3.5 percent. Unemployment claims in the local area are also continuing to drop.
The new Woodland Action Thrift Shop is now open for business. This community thrift store will support the Woodland Action Center, the local food bank and community service center for Woodland and surrounding areas. Their grand opening will run through Saturday, but their regular operating hours will be 11 am to 6 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Woodland Action Center Thrift Shop is located on the second floor of their building at 736 Davidson in downtown Woodland. Get more information on their website at www.WoodlandAction.org, or call 360-225-9998.
You many need to bring your rain gear, but you’ll still be able to work up an appetite for tomorrow’s big meal at the annual Turkey Trot Fun Run and Walk, set for tomorrow morning at Lake Sacajawea Park in Longview. This is an annual tradition, put on by Longview Parks and Recreation. You can pre-register on-line through the City of Longview website, or the registration table at the Lions Shelter at the lake will open at 7:30 tomorrow morning. The first wave of runners will leave at 8:30 am. Prizes and awards will be presented in a variety of categories.
Once again, neighbors looking out for neighbors helped in the arrest of local burglary suspects. Yesterday morning around 7:30 am, Susan Niemi called her brother-in-law, John McDowell, after she saw a suspicious vehicle backed into his barn on Hazel Dell Road. McDowell immediately called 911, saying that no one was supposed to be out there. Deputies responded and arrested Christopher Lee LaBaum, 34, Barry Cecil Brehm, 44, and Linda Marie Carpenter, 55, all of Longview. Deputies say that they recovered lumber, a door and other metal items that had been stolen from the barn. All three are now being charged with second-degree burglary and third-degree theft. LaBaum is also being served with a Department of Corrections warrant. On the 19th of this month, a similar incident took place on Raven Ridge Road near Kelso, also resulting in the arrest of a suspect.
Repairs are under way at 2509 Northlake Avenue in Longview, after a Sunday night chimney fire did about $150,000 damage to the home. The owner of the home called 911 at about 11:30 Sunday night, reporting that the house was filling with smoke, but they couldn’t see any fire. Firefighters eventually had to use a “piercing nozzle,” pulled down ceilings and cut openings in the roof, where they found that a chimney fire had spread into the attic. They also say that it took some time to find and extinguish hot spots in the attic. No injuries were reported; ServePro has also been called in to help with cleanup and restoration in the home.