The Coast Guard says that they think that they have pinpointed the source of an oil sheen that was reported over the weekend in the Columbia River near Astoria. The oil was first spotted at about 2 pm last Thursday afternoon, near the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria. They say that “significant sheening” was seen between Piers 1 and 2 in Astoria, and the tides had spread the oil some five miles between the hotel and Hammond. Contract divers were brought in, and they found a 20-foot tank underneath the Cannery Pier. They say that the tank could contain as much as 4,200 gallons of material, but it’s unknown at this time how much oil still remains inside the tank. The Coast Guard says that they’re now working with the salvage company, along with Oregon’s DEQ and Washington’s Department of Ecology to develop a plan for accessing and removing the tank. Containment booms have been set up, to try and control any other material that might leak out.
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They’re staying in-house in replacing Kelso School Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich, as Mary Beth Tack is chosen as his successor. Tack took the 2017-2018 school year off to deal with family issues, but she has been working in the Kelso School District for 25 years prior to that; she started as a math teacher at Kelso High School back in 1991, and then was promoted to be an Assistant Principal in 1998. In 2007, she became the Director of Secondary Education for the district, and then was made the Director of Teaching and Learning in 2011. School Board President Bob Lucas says hiring Tack is “comparable to striking gold in our own back yard.” He says that Tack has talent and vision, while also caring about people. He also says that Tack has a unique ability to build consensus, and they’re thrilled to have her becoming Superintendent on July 1st. District officials say that they hope to be able to finalize and take action on Tack’s new contract at the regular School Board meeting on February 5th.
The Kelso School Board meets today, starting with a 4:30 executive session to do a mid-year evaluation of current School Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich. The regular meeting starts at 6 pm, where a proclamation on School Board Month will be read, and students from Rose Valley Elementary School will be recognized. Another executive session is planned after the regular meeting, where the board will consider the qualifications for an applicant for public office. The executive sessions are not open to the public.
Two Longview middle schools continue to be recognized for getting kids ready to pursue educational opportunities after high school. In back-to-back years, Cascade and Monticello Middle Schools are being recognized as top performers in getting students ready for post-K-12 education. The latest numbers show that 78 percent of eligible students at Monticello are signing up for Washington’s College Bound Scholarship program, while 81 percent of students at Cascade are getting signed up. Eligible students have until June 30th of their eighth grade year to sign up for the state-funded program, which helps to cover tuition at public and private colleges all across the state, including trade schools. Statewide, the enrollment rate is 71 percent.
More than 200 people braved the weather to gather on Saturday for the 2018 Women’s March, protesting the current administration in Washington, D. C., along with highlighting other issues. Several people were demonstrating on behalf of “Dreamers,” as DACA is debated in the nation’s capitol; others rallied in support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Democratic Congressional candidate David McDevitt joined the marchers in Longview, saying that he’s an “ally for women.” Organizers say that they were trying to mark the “year of horror” that has passed in Washington, while also trying to inspire people to take action.
Jeremiah Daniel Crothers, 34, of Clatskanie is in the Columbia County Jail, accused of using hot oil to assault his wife, and of trying to smother his seven month-old child. Columbia County Deputies were called to a home in the 19000 block of Swedetown Road near Clatskanie on Tuesday night, responding to a report from a domestic violence advocate. When Deputies arrived at the house, they found an injured woman and an injured baby. They say that the woman had injuries to her hands that were consistent with having been forced into hot cooking oil, while the baby boy showed signs of being strangled. The effort to find and arrest Crothers ended Wednesday morning, when Crothers was arrested at his jobsite, on Old Portland Road in Saint Helens. Crothers was taken to Columbia County Circuit Court, where he was arraigned on charged of attempted murder, strangulation, counts of second, third and fourth-degree assault, coercion and attempted fourth-degree assault. Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that current bail is set at nearly $218,000.
A Kelso man is in the Columbia County Jail, charged with child rape and sexual abuse. Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that Erick W. Itza-Briceno, 35, groomed and then sexually assaulted three victims, incidents that happened over the course of several years. The victims were between 9 and 14 years of age when the alleged assaults took place; one victim is now 23 years of age, claiming that Itza-Briceno abused her at least three times a month when she was between the ages of 11 and 14. Those alleged crimes happened in Scappoose. Two younger victims are from St. Helens, with the most recent crimes occurring as recently as two-and-a-half years ago. Dickerson says that all of the victims know each other, and they have known the suspect for several years. Itza-Briceno is now being held on eight counts of 1st-degree rape and two counts of 1st-degree sexual abuse; bail is currently set at $76,000.
Randy Allen Goforth, 51, of Longview is pleading guilty to multiple counts of child rape and child molestation, admitting that he sexually assaulted multiple children in the local area over a number of years. Today’s Daily News reports on the guilty plea from Goforth, who now admits that he raped four victims over more than two decades. This case first started in late May of last year, when an 11 year-old girl and a 15 year-old girl came forward with sexual assault claims. In June, two more victims came forward, claiming that Goforth had assaulted them years ago. One says that he had sexually abused her between the ages of 9 and 17, and she says that Goforth threatened to kill her mother if she said anything. Goforth is now pleading guilty to nine counts of child rape and four counts of child molestation, and he scheduled for sentencing on March 7th.
Third District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is being joined by Representative Dave Reichert of Seattle in opposing the current Federal proposal to allow oil and gas drilling off of the Washington coast. Beutler and Reichert are sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, expressing their deep concern about the proposal, and urging the administration to remove the coast of Washington from their plans. Beutler says that she does not support offshore oil and gas drilling in states that don’t want it, and she says that Washington residents have never indicated any desire to allow oil and gas drilling off of their coast. She says that Zinke plans to respond to individual states and communities as the plan is finalized, and she says that this letter will let Zinke know that Washington should not be included in the final proposal.
It appears that the Longview City Council and Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington are burying the hatchet, with both organizations now pledging to work together for the betterment of the city and its housing needs. After it was reported in November that Mayor Don Jensen was thinking about ousting the entire HOSWWA Board of Directors, Jensen says that a lot of good information was shared last night, and he sees both groups moving ahead together. Citizens packed the Training Room at the Longview City Hall for last night’s workshop, which did have some testy moments; however, the general tone of the meeting and the conversation was conciliatory and cooperative. Members of the Council and the HOSWWA Board both say that they want to do what’s best for Longview in regard to providing safe, sanitary and affordable housing for community members. Both panels agreed that there had been a lack of communication and understanding, and they both pledged to work on improving that. Council member Scott Vydra will now serve as a liaison between HOSWWA and the Council, and the two groups plan to meet on at least a semi-annual basis. The Council plans to write a letter in support of HOSWWA, and they also plan to revisit the housing component of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, to make sure that it aligns with the goals of HOSWWA to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city.