Two men from Tacoma are safe and sound after spending a night lost in the woods near Packwood. Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Stacy Brown says that the two men, ages 60 and 66, were reported as overdue by fellow mushroom pickers yesterday morning, about 15 miles east of Packwood. Ground searchers went out around 7:30 yesterday morning, and caught up with the pair about 45 minutes later. They were about a quarter-mile from their rig. The two men say that they got “turned around” while they were picking, and decided to follow a stream downhill. Both men have experience in the woods; they had gear for the cold and wet weather, and were also able to start a fire to stay warm. Brown says that they were cold, wet and hungry, but were uninjured, and were in “good spirits.” Brown says that this positive result shows how being prepared can pay off when things go bad.
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Former PUD Commissioner Mark McCrady and former PUD General Manager Brian Skeahan will be in Olympia this morning, appearing before the Public Disclosure Commission to answer charges connected to an investigation into alleged election law violations. This hearing comes after a 21-month investigation into alleged violations made by McCrady during his campaign against Kurt Anagnostou. Current Commissioner Buz Ketcham had sent a list of eight alleged violations involving McCrady and Skeahan, claiming that McCrady was illegally using PUD resources in his campaign. Six of the allegations have been dismissed, but the two men are being called in to answer charges that McCrady took campaign photos with PUD employees on PUD property on PUD time, and also had PUD staff prepare a “campaign briefing document.” If they’re found guilty, each man could get a penalty of up to $10,000 on each charge. This morning’s hearing is set to start at 9:35 am in Room 206 at 711 Capitol Way in Olympia. The PDC will also be putting up a live stream of the hearing on the internet through the PDC web page.
The Community Conversations lectures continue today, with Language and Literature instructor Nicole DiGerlardo presenting “Victim or Willing Participant: Vampires and Our Desires for the Sexual Other.” The free lecture starts at noon in the Wollenberg Auditorium at the Rose Center for the Arts.
The folks with the Lower Columbia School Gardens continue to celebrate the fall bounty, heading over to CVG Elementary School in Longview today for a day-long Harvest Festival. Every class will be involved in today’s event, taking part in cider pressing, seed harvesting, corn shucking, an obstacle course and other fun, as well as eating some of the garden-fresh veggies that the students themselves have grown. Get more on today’s Harvest Festival and the Lower Columbia School Gardens by going to their website at www.lowercolumbiaschoolgardens.org.
Tune in tonight on Oregon Public Broadcasting for a special trip into a hidden place on Mt. St. Helens, as Oregon Field Guide presents “Discovery on Mt. St. Helens,” which will feature a tour of glacier caves inside the crater of the volcano. This past June, OFG videographers were able to go with ten specialized mountaineers on this exclusive trek into the caves under the glacier that now wraps around the lava dome inside the mountain’s crater. Over the course of five days, they mapped two caves that are about a quarter-mile apart, and it’s thought to be the first time that these caves have been explored. The program is scheduled to air at 8:30 this evening on Channel 10 out of Portland, with a repeat showing scheduled for 6:30 pm on Sunday.
Cowlitz PUD line crews and county road crews have been busy overnight, as gusty winds continue to rake the region. The rain hasn’t been extremely heavy, but the winds have picked up overnight, knocking down trees and blowing debris into local roadways. PUD dispatchers report multiple outages through the night, and they say that crews are out, working to clear those lines and restore power. There are no totals yet on the number of outages, or the number of customers affected. The winds really started picking up around 11 pm, and are expected to continue through mid-morning. Sustained winds of 20 to 25 miles an hour have been blowing through the Kelso-Longview area through the night, with a peak gust of 38 miles an hour recorded at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport at 12:15 am. There have been multiple gusts above 30 miles an hour since that time. Longview had a peak gust of 35 miles an hour, a gust of 53 miles an hour was recorded on Abernathy Mountain, and a gust of 63 miles an hour was recorded on Naselle Ridge at 4:20 this morning. A High Wind Warning on the South Washington Coast,calls for gusts of up to 70 miles an hour until this frontal system moves through. Rain is expected to follow this wind system, with one to two inches possible by tomorrow afternoon. Some minor urban flooding is possible, mostly due to storm drains being clogged by leaves and other debris.
Kelso Police say that the victim in yesterday morning’s train-versus-pedestrian collision has been identified as Kassarina Rochelle Kohler, 22, of Longview. The crew of a northbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train contacted Kelso Police at about 4:10 yesterday morning, reporting that they had hit someone in between the Allen Street Bridge and Cowlitz Way. The train was stopped and a search for the body was begun, with a Kelso Officer discovering the body just north of the Allen Street Bridge. The County Coroner has taken possession of the body, as the investigation into the death is continuing. It’s noted that authorities had contacted Kohler earlier in the night, but the nature of that contact hasn’t yet been disclosed. This incident happened within a few dozen feet from where 55 year-old Chantal Ann Zimmerman of Kelso was hit and killed on the morning of Thursday, the 9th. So far this year, at least ten people have been hit and killed by trains in the state of Washington.
An alert is going out from the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, who is reporting that 40 collectible Morgan Silver Dollars from the early 1900’s were stolen in a home burglary that was reported yesterday morning in Longview. Sergeant Joe Reiss says that the burglary took place in the 400 block of Pacific Way, discovered yesterday morning by the homeowner. The residents of the home had left Sunday afternoon, and when they returned home yesterday afternoon, they found that a door had been forced open and the house had been ransacked. Along with the silver dollars, a Sony digital camera, numerous pieces of jewelry, electronic notebooks and a Wi-Fi router were stolen. Reiss says that it looks like the loot was carried out in a green or purple pillowcase. If you have information on this case, call Sgt. Reiss at 577-3092, or contact the on-duty supervisor at the Sheriff’s Office. You can also leave an anonymous tip on the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 577-1206.
A Kelso woman is telling the Sheriff’s Office that she is the victim of internet theft, reporting that someone got into her credit union account, and wired $40,000 from her savings to a bank in Maine. The woman contacted the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office yesterday afternoon, saying that the theft took place some time on the 10th of this month. She says that the suspect correctly answered several security questions to gain access to her account, and that neither she nor anyone in her family was involved in the transaction. Deputies plan to follow up with the woman and with the credit union as the investigation continues.
Cowlitz County’s unemployment rate continues to improve, dropping to an even 7 percent in September. The Washington Employment Security Department says that’s slightly less than August, and nearly two full points lower than the 8.8 percent that was recorded at the same time last year. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the county’s labor force has increased slightly over the past year, and the number of employed residents is “up substantially.” Bailey also says that there’s been an offsetting drop in the number of unemployed residents, which are all positive signs for the local employment picture. The number of continuing unemployment claims is continuing to drop, and the number of initial claims is at “very low levels.” The number of Cowlitz County non-farm jobs grew by 900 in September; construction grew by 400 jobs, along with another 300 jobs in public education. Over the past 12 months, local payrolls have grown by an extremely healthy 2.4 percent.