Traffic on Highway 30 out of Astoria was shut down for about 90 minutes yesterday evening, after what was described as a “large natural gas leak.” The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the highway in the eastern part of Astoria late yesterday afternoon, with no local detours. The road re-opened around 7:30 pm. The cause of the gas leak has not yet been disclosed.
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It’s time to start thinking about what’s going to be gracing your living room during this upcoming holiday season, and the Forest Service is announcing that permits for cutting Christmas Trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are now available. Starting today, you can get the permits at numerous locations around the region. The permits cost $5 each, there’s a limit of five permits per household, and the permits are valid for one-time use. If there’s a fourth-grader in your household, you can get your permit for free, as part of the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Kids who have earned an online “Every Kid in a Park Pass” can show that pass at any national forest office to receive a permit. Go to everykidinapark.gov to learn how you can get your voucher. Permits are available at Forest Service offices and at vendor locations around the region. The closest in this area is at Kalama Spirits and Tobacco, located on North 1st in downtown Kalama. Get full details on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.
Friends, family and community members plan to gather this evening at R. A. Long High School, where a Candelight Vigil will be held to honor 2016 graduate Tatum Didier. She died last Friday when the car that she was riding in got hit by a loaded log truck east of Rainier. The vigil is set to start at 6:30 pm at the high school; there’s also a public viewing planned for today, going from 10 am until 5 pm at the Steele Funeral Chapel on Mount Solo Road in West Longview.
Learn about Advanced Directives at a workshop that’s being held today at Community Home Health and Hospice in Longview. Support Services Coordinator Erin Orren will be presenting “Your Life. Your Choice.” From 2:30 to 3:30 this afternoon in the James Avery Center for Grief Support, located at 1000 12th Avenue in Longview. It’s suggested that you RSVP; the first ten people to do that will receive a small gift. Call 360-414-5408 to get signed up, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Snacks and beverages will be served.
The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments is opening up a series of meetings on Economic Development District Formation, starting this evening in the Kelso City Council chambers. The COG is opening up discussions about the possible formation of a two-county economic development district, and they need input from a wide range of people on the economic development needs of the region. This evening’s meeting starts at 6 pm at the Kelso City Hall. Meetings are being planned in Longview, Castle Rock, Kalama, Woodland and Cathlamet, going through December 12th. Get more information at cwcog.org.
Alvin Jones and the Crystal Pool Revival will be playing at tonight’s “Turkey Trot” at the Longview Moose, helping to raise money for the Longview Senior Center. This show will run from 6 until 10 pm tonight at the lodge on Washington Way, with all proceeds helping to support the Senior Center. Head to the Senior Center today to get tickets in advance, and you’ll get a $5 break. The tickets will be $15 at the door.
A family of two adults and three children is getting help from the Red Cross after a large tree came down onto their double-wide mobile home. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue reports that the incident happened about 2 pm yesterday afternoon, at a home in the 100 block of Kitchen Drive, off of Pacific Avenue North, just past Rocky Point, near Holcomb Road. Cowlitz 2 says that the mother of the family and a child were in the house when the tree fell, but neither one was hurt. They say that the tree took out a 10 to 12-foot section of wall, also caving in the roof. Fire officials say that the family declined Red Cross assistance at first, but they accepted that help later in the afternoon. Two adults and three children were displaced by the “weather-related home disaster,” and are now getting basic things like housing, food, clothing, comfort kits and other assistance from the Red Cross. No injuries were reported; it was noted that this tree had been marked for possible removal after the last storm season.
It’s also reported that a falling tree took out a power line and also hit a car on Ocean Beach Highway near Stella, an incident that happened a few minutes before 3 pm. No injuries were reported, and the scene was cleared within a half-hour.
The Cowlitz PUD reports that the power is on for everybody this morning, but they were scrambling to deal with outages all over the county. More than 2,700 customers lost power at some point during yesterday’s storm, with outages reported in Kalama, along Sunset Way in Longview, the Ryderwood-Vader area, Castle Rock-Delameter, Silver Lake and Baker’s Corner. Outage were also reported in Wahkiakum County.
This is now being called a “moderate” storm by forecasters; we had a peak gust of 31 miles an hour at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso, also 31 miles an hour in Longview. Kalama’s peak gust was also 31 miles an hour, while they had a gust of 24 miles an hour in Castle Rock. Just over a half-inch of rain was recorded at the Airport, Longview had 31 hundredths, Castle Rock got nearly an inch, and Kalama had four-tenths of an inch of rain. Abernathy Mountain had a peak gust of 52 miles an hour, with nearly an inch-and-a-half of rain. Naselle Ridge recorded a peak gust of 89 miles an hour early yesterday afternoon. Another wet and windy system is expected to come ashore tonight, but the wind gusts should not be as strong.
The Weather Service now has a High Wind Watch up on the South Washington and North Oregon coastal areas, reporting that another strong system is coming in tonight. The watch starts at 4 pm today, and goes through “late tonight.” South winds are expected to kick up to between 30 and 40 miles an hour at that time, with gusts up to 65 miles an hour on the beaches and headlands. Coastal communities could see gusts of 50 miles an hour, but only briefly. The strongest winds are expected between 10 pm and 4 am.
As this storm rolls through, Winter Weather Advisories are going up in the South Washington and North Oregon Cascades, with heavy snowfall expected above 3,500 feet tonight and tomorrow morning. The heaviest snow is expected between 3 and 6 am tomorrow morning, but they say that between 9 and 13 inches of snow could fall in the South Washington Cascades during this system. 6 inches to a foot is possible in Oregon. They say that you should be ready for “difficult conditions” if you plan to travel in the mountains.
A 14 year-old Longview boy is under arrest after a domestic violence incident that took place at a home on Arapaho Lane. Around 5:15 yesterday afternoon, the boy’s mother called from the home up on Columbia Heights, reporting that he had used the freezer door to hit her in the head. The woman also claims that there’s been some history of violence with the boy; she claims that he armed himself with scissors, and then chased her around the house in a previous incident. Yesterday’s incident happened on some property that the mother rents for her horses; Deputies went to the property, and reportedly caught the teen out in a field. He’s now being held in the Cowlitz County Juvenile Services Center.
The 13 year-old son of Brent Ward Luyster, 37, of Longview continues to refuse to testify at his father’s murder trial in Vancouver. The Columbian reports on yesterday’s proceedings in Clark County Superior Court, saying that Brent Luyster, Junior, leapt out of the chair on the witness stand, screaming and cursing at the judge before being escorted from the courtroom in tears. Authorities say that the boy was an eyewitness to the shootings that took place in July of last year, and they would like to hear his version of events. Prosecutors say that they don’t want to hold the boy in detention any longer, agreeing that it would not be good for his mental or physical health. Luyster Junior continues to be held in custody, serving time for an unrelated incident. Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis lifted the contempt of court order on Luyster Junior, and he instructed both sides in the case that the boy’s refusal to testify of lack of testimony cannot be used by either attorney. The prosecution rested its case late yesterday; defense testimony is expected to begin today.
With more than a little reluctance, the Kelso School Board accepted the resignation letter that was submitted by Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich, as he announces his plans to retire on June 30th of next year. Gelbrich says that it has truly been a privilege to serve the Kelso School District and its families; Gelbrich says that he made this announcement early, to give the School Board time to find the proper successor. Gelbrich says that he’s worked in six separate school districts during his 40-year career in education, and he says that each stop “has been a gift.” He says that Kelso is a “special place with a special identity,” and that he’s particularly impressed in the way that this community steps up to support its kids. With tongue planted in cheek, School Board member Howard Sharples asked if they “had to” accept the resignation. Board President Bob Lucas says that they will soon be sending letters out to the companies and agencies that work on placing school administrators, informing them that they may need their services.
In other action last night, the Kelso School Board accepted a $5,000 donation from community member Debra White, who is helping to support Barnes Elementary School Special Education Teacher Marissa Caveness. They say that this money will help to purchase iPads, software and apps, covers and keyboards for the Special Education class at Barnes. Former Major League pitcher Jason Schmidt is also giving back, donating two portable pitching mounds and two “L” screens for The Kage, a donation valued at about $4,000. Half of the donation is coming from Schmidt’s Donor Advised Fund, and the other half is coming from a grant supplied by the Major League Players Association.
The newest Sheriff’s Deputy to go on the line was introduced yesterday, ready to get all four feet on the ground and running. “Icarus” was introduced to the public yesterday, along with his handler, Deputy Brady Spaulding. Icarus is two-and-a-half years old, and he’s a German Shepherd that originally came from the Czech Republic. Supported by donations from the local community, the Sheriff’s Office purchased Icarus on June 8th of this year, from Adlerhorst International in Riverside, California. Deputy Spaulding and a master K-9 handler from Pierce County went to California and evaluated 15 different dogs before they chose Icarus. Since then, Deputy Spaulding and Icarus went through more than 400 hours of training, and both are now certified as a Patrol K-9 Team. Spaulding and Icarus are now available to assist police agencies throughout the region; Sheriff Mark Nelson says that they’re “thrilled” to have Icarus and Spaulding on board, ready to help the citizens of Cowlitz County. Nelson also has high praise for the Kelso-Longview Kiwanis and others who helped raise the funds to bring Icarus to this area.