It looks like someone was channeling Carrie Underwood and her “cheating” song, as a pickup truck was vandalized yesterday at a home in the Kelso area. At about 1:20 yesterday morning, a person called the Sheriff’s Office from their home on Boardwalk Way, saying that two women had spray-painted his truck. The man says that his son left for Marine Corps boot camp on Monday, and his son had been driving the truck. A neighbor says that he saw two women do the vandalism, parking down the street and then walking up to the scene. It’s claimed that they used spray paint to write on the truck, accusing the son of “cheating.” Vulgar phrases were also included. Descriptions of the women and the car they were driving were provided to Deputies, but no suspects have been identified.
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An ordinance that would allow Kelso Police and Code Enforcement to ticket and eventually impound vehicles that are parked on city streets for extended periods of time is coming through the Kelso City Council. The ordinance was passed on first reading at last night’s Kelso City Council meeting; City Attorney Jeanene Parker says that they would also take action against “curbside rebuilders.” At the suggestion of Council Member David Futcher, the original 72-hour limit is being extended to seven days. The proposed ordinance would give police and code enforcement officers the ability to ticket vehicles that are parked in the same location for extended periods of time, along with the ability to impound those vehicles. That would happen if two tickets are ignored, or if the vehicle is tagged by police. A second reading will be held before the ordinance is formally adopted.
The financial picture for the City of Kelso is pretty rosy, with revenues once again exceeding expenditures. City Finance Director Brian Butterfield says that 2017 was a good year. Butterfield says that revenues are up in all of the city’s accounts. He says that they had budgeted for a $297,000 deficit when this budget was formulated, but they actually have a surplus of $212,000. Revenues for 2017 are now put at $9.1 million, while expenses came in at $8.9 million. Sales taxes are up more than $600,000, B&O taxes are up $184,000, and utility taxes have increased $130,000. Butterfield also says that the utility funds are in the black, so utility rates should be fairly stable.
In other action last night, the City Council allocated HOME Funds for the year, unanimously voting to send the entire allocation of $68,028 to the Kelso Housing Authority, which will use the money to build rental units that will help provide affordable housing for local low-income seniors. Council members say that requests from CAP and Habitat for Humanity were good projects, but they thought that the KHA project had the best benefit for the citizens of Kelso. The Council also approved the updated Interlocal Agreement covering operation of the Southwest Washington Regional Airport. The sale of the old Finance building at 109 Allen Street was also approved, accepting a purchase price of $190,000 from Appliance Technical Services.
The summer climbing season on Mount St. Helens officially opens today, as the Mount St. Helens Institute reports that the road to the Climber’s Bivouac will open today. They say that the Monitor Ridge route out of the Climber’s Bivouac is the preferred route up the mountain at this time of year; Institute officials say that the snow has melted up to the 7,000-foot level, but they also say that routes could still be icy above that elevation. They’re also warning of a snow cornice at the summit that could be hazardous. Get more information by going to the Mount St. Helens Institute web page.
The Longview Go 4th Association is out with several announcements about this year’s event, starting with the addition of carnival rides. The Association announced yesterday on Facebook that Funtasic Traveling Shows will be set up in front of R. A. Long High School, providing rides for kids of all ages.
They’re also announcing the “Firecracker Fun Run,” a 5K that will take place on the evening of Tuesday, July 3rd, saying that they will have a “brand new race feature” at this event. Register by 5 pm this Friday, June 22nd, to be guaranteed a T-shirt for the run. The registration desk will be set up along the Lake Sacajawea path near Matrin’s Dock and Kessler Boulevard.
Registration also ends today for the annual 4th of July Parade, which will get under way at 10 am on Independence Day. This year’s theme is “Longview’s 95th American Tradition,” as the city is now marking its 95th year of existence. There are some new rules you need to be aware of; nothing can be thrown to parade-watchers, and handouts are permitted by walking participants only. Equestrian units must provide cleanup units, and children will not be allowed to ride on floats to get back to the lineup area. Learn more by going to gofourthfestival.org.
The Lower Columbia School Gardens Produce Sale opens today at Northlake Elementary School in Longview. Starting today and going through August 15th, the School Garden Produce Sale will happen each Wednesday from 10 am until 1 pm. Along with the fresh-picked veggies, fruit and flowers, you can also meet the garden rabbits, and you can find out more about why “kids are crazy about growing their own food.” The Northlake School Garden is located at 2210 Olympia Way in Longview.
The Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization is bringing Freight Stakeholders together this afternoon, hosting a regional meeting to discuss freight transportation for this region. The meeting will run from 3 to 5 pm today at Spiffy’s Restaurant, just off of exit 68 on I-5 near Chehalis.
Get up and get moving at the Belly Dancing class that Longview Parks and Recreation is starting up, running each Wednesday evening through August 1st. The classes are open to anyone age 16 and over; beginning classes will go from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, followed by Intermediate classes from 6:45 to 7:45 pm at the Longview Women’s Club, located at 835 21st Avenue. Get more information on the Longview Parks and Rec web page.
Kelso Police say that they had to use a Taser during a theft arrest yesterday morning. Early yesterday morning, Cowlitz County Deputies relayed information on a car theft call, looking for a stolen Jeep. Around 6:30 am, Kelso Police spotted the stolen car at the Lexington Chevron station; they say that the Jeep was occupied by John Jacob Pfister, 36, a local transient. Officers approached the Jeep after they confirmed that it was stolen; it’s claimed that Pfister refused to get out, gripping the steering wheel while declining to comply with orders. After several warnings, one of the officers applied a Taser to Pfister’s shoulder; Pfister was stunned, and that allowed the officers to pull him out of the Jeep. He was cuffed, and then was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of possession of stolen property and resisting arrest. He’s currently being held without bail, awaiting his first appearance in Cowlitz County Superior Court.
Longview Police report that someone was passing counterfeit money in the local area yesterday. Employees of a restaurant in the 800 block of Washington Way report that some people came through the drive-through at about 2:30 pm, buying food for two separate transactions. The people in the car paid with two $20 bills, which were then found to be bogus. The employees were able to provide some information on the people in the car, saying that it was driven by a white female in her 30’s with blond hair. It’s also thought that the people could be from Oregon, as they were commenting about having to pay sales tax. The counterfeit bills were turned over to Longview Police; the suspects have not been identified.
The retail shop at Swanson Bark and Wood Products will be open today, as it’s reported that the chip pile fire that shut down Tennant Way for several hours on Sunday is mostly out, and the situation is under control. The fire was first reported at about 5 pm on Sunday, as a passerby saw smoke coming from one of the large piles. The fire built in size, sending up a large plume of smoke; rail traffic was delayed for a while, as the fire spread into a grassy area next to the tracks. Fire officials turned the scene back over to Swanson employees yesterday morning, who will continue to monitor the pile for additional hotspots. It’s believed that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion, the result of heat buildup from decay processes inside the chip pile. The company plans to use its sprinkler system and targeted extinguishers to keep any additional hotspots in check; they’re also considering the re-distribution of the chip piles, to try and reduce the possibility of additional fires.