Longview Police are checking into a report of a strong-arm robbery that came in last night from the 1600 block of Hudson Street. A woman called 911 at about 8:45 pm, claiming that a black male had grabbed her smartphone, jumped into a waiting car, and then drove off. The suspect is described as a black male, and was last seen in the passenger seat of the car that sped off. The getaway car is described as a two-tone turquoise Honda or Toyota. Officers checked the area, but never found the vehicle or the suspect.
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The Lewis County Jail Road Crew reportedly found more than litter along a road near Centralia, as one of the inmates reportedly found a pipe bomb as he was picking up trash yesterday afternoon. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says that the Road Crew was working in the 1100 block of Salzer Valley Road at about 12:20 pm, when one of the inmates found a device that looked like a pipe bomb. The State Patrol Bomb Squad was called in, and they detonated the device in place at about 3:20 pm. The Sheriff’s Office says that it’s unknown where the device came from, who left it on the side of the road, or how long it might have been there. No injuries were reported.
The process of finding the successor to Longview City Manager Bob Gregory continues, with the Longview City Council meeting in a special executive session to continue the process of evaluating the list of people who have applied for the position. The Council is reportedly trying to sift though a pile of at least 30 applications for the post. At last week’s regular meeting, the Council appointed Finance Director Curt Sacha to serve as interim City Manager, should the process extend past the end of this year. Today’s meeting is scheduled to start at 5 pm; as an executive session, this is closed to the public, but it is possible that some sort of public announcement could be issued after the meeting concludes.
They’re starting the process of finding a new General Manager for the Columbia River PUD, which is based near Deer Island. The Clatskanie Chief reports on the ouster of Kevin Owens, saying that his “negotiated separation agreement” was announced at Tuesday’s meeting of the PUD Commission. Owens is currently on administrative leave with the PUD, and will not return to the position. It’s reported that the PUD will pay Owens six months salary and six months of health insurance as a severance package. Current CRPUD Engineering and Operations Manager Steve Hursh will serve as the interim General Manager until a replacement is found. With two new Commissioners coming on board next month, the CRPUD Commission has several positions to fill, as the utility’s attorney is also resigning.
Fishery managers continue to be optimistic about salmon returns on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Washington Fish and Wildlife released its Spring Chinook predictions for the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis Rivers, saying that the 2015 run on the Cowlitz should be larger than last year’s good run. 7,800 fish were forecast for the Cowlitz last year, but the return actually came in at 10,500. They’re forecasting 11,200 Spring Chinook on the Cowlitz this year. They’re predicting 1,700 fish on the Kalama, which would be the largest run since 2007. The Lewis is expected to see about 1,100 Spring Chinook. For the main stem of the Columbia, they’re predicting a Spring Chinook run of 232,500 fish, slightly below last year’s run of 242,000 fish, but still one of the highest runs in the past four decades.
The Weather Service says that this weekend’s weather system could cause local rivers and streams to rise, with a potential for flooding in some spots. They say that a system with heavy rain is expected to slide through Saturday evening and Sunday morning, with the heaviest precipitation expected in the Coast Range, and in the South Washington and North Oregon Cascades. The exact track of the storm isn’t yet known; between 5 and 8 inches of rain is expected in the mountains out of this system, while the valleys could see 2 to 5 inches. It’s also noted that snow levels will be well above pass levels, so this will all fall as rain, heading straight into local streams. Forecasters continue to monitor the situation.
Traffic was shut down on the PH 10 Bridge over the Cowlitz River in Castle Rock yesterday afternoon, as authorities dealt with a distraught woman who was saying that she planned to jump into the river. The Sheriff’s Office brought a negotiator to the scene, while Cowlitz County Dive Rescue moved to activate a team with a boat. The woman eventually backed away from the bridge rail after about 20 minutes, and was taken in for mental evaluations and treatment. Other details are not being released at this time.
Longview Police continue to investigate an alleged assault that occurred over the weekend, where Mikayla Mae Smith, 18, of Longview allegedly ran over a male companion intentionally. Detectives say that the original incident took place shortly before 10 pm last Saturday, in the parking lot of a business in the 32 hundred block of Ocean Beach Highway. Smith’s boyfriend was in the passenger seat of the car, and claims that she started punching him in the face. At a red light, the boyfriend jumped out of the car, but he says that Smith looped through the parking lot and ran him over. The boyfriend was taken to St. John Medical Center, while Smith was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of vehicular assault, DWI and fourth-degree domestic violence assault. Smith is currently being held on bail of $10,000.
Authorities in Lewis County are on the lookout for Phillip Austin Pinotti, 22, of Chehalis, after he allegedly escaped from Centralia Municipal Court. Centralia Police say that Pinotti was in court yesterday morning for arraignment on a DUI charge, and another warrant for theft popped up from Chehalis. The judge ordered Pinotti’s arrest on the warrant, and as a security officer went to handcuff him, he took off on foot. Pinotti jumped into a SUV and sped off, heading toward the court officer that was trying to stop him. As Pinotti was bearing down on the officer, he drew his gun and fired one round, which hit the vehicle. Pinotti put it in reverse, spun the rig and then took off. It’s not known if Pinotti was hit; he remains at large. The court officer has been placed on administrative leave as the shooting investigation proceeds. Pinotti remains at large.
It’s now being reported that the fuel spill that was discovered Monday night in South Kelso is quite a bit smaller than first estimated, but it also covers a much larger area than first reported. The spill was first reported around 10 pm on Monday in the 3000 block of Talley Way, and it was reported that as much as 500 gallons had spilled. Additional investigation shows that the spill was caused when a fuel tank on the locomotive was overfilled during a refueling stop in Vancouver, and then spilled out of that tank on their way to Vancouver. An analysis of went into the locomotive and what was left shows that only about 200 gallons spilled, mostly on curves in the track between Kelso and Vancouver. Officials with BNSF say that plans are under way to clean up the spilled fuel in spots where larger amounts leaked out.