State Troopers are working to find the suspect vehicle in a hit-and-run crash that took place last night on I-5 southbound in Kalama. Just before 9 pm, Barbara Stonewall, 50, of Vancouver was southbound in the right lane at milepost 30 and lost control of her car. She hit a concrete barrier, and then came to rest blocking the middle and left lanes of the freeway. A second car hit Stonewall’s car in the passenger side, and then drove away from the scene. Stonewall was injured in the collision; she was treated and released at St. John Medical Center. The cause of the crash remains under investigation; no charges have been reported at this time.
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It’s now being confirmed that Chief Dave LaFave of Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue is dealing with a serious medical condition, and continues his recovery at a hospital in Portland. In a press release issued yesterday, the fire agency announced that LaFave is dealing with a condition called “sarcoidiosis,” an inflammatory disease that can affect pretty much any organ in the body. Sarcoidiosis of the heart is an extremely rare condition, and its impacts are life-threatening. Last weekend, LaFave was rushed to Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital in Portland, where doctors implanted an internal defibrillator as a precaution. At this time, LaFave is stable, alert and “has a positive attitude.” He is in a cardiac care unit, and because of that, can receive only limited visitors. Cowlitz 2 is asking that you keep LaFave and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he continues his recovery; they also say that there have been numerous offers of assistance of various forms coming from all over the area, which are greatly appreciated. Cowlitz 2 personnel are also maintaining a 24-7 watch to support LaFave and his family, but they’re unsure of how long he will be in the hospital, or how long his recovery might take. Updated information will be issued as it becomes available; Deputy Chief Greg Kelly will assume interim leadership of the agency during LaFave’s absence.
While Australia-based Ambre Energy continues it efforts to get permission to build major coal export facilities in Longview and in eastern Oregon, it’s being reported that a tussle over financial control of the company is brewing. In this morning’s Oregonian, they report that a Denver-based private equity firm called Resource Capital Funds is working to gain control of Ambre Energy. Opponents of the project have been focused on Ambre’s finances, claiming that the company is hanging on by a fingernail financially. The Oregonian reports that Ambre already owes Resource Capital $110 million, and that Ambre shareholders are now being asked to approve a deal that would convert some of that debt into ownership. If approved, Resource Capital could own as much as 55 percent of Ambre Energy. It’s unclear how such an arrangement might affect the planned projects, but a spokesperson says that the shift doesn’t have any impact. Liz Fuller says “If anything, it signifies a deepening investment in the projects.” Fuller also says that they’re confident that the projects in Longview and Boardman are still viable. Ambre has missed a deadline in July of this year, which required them to have state and federal permits in hand. The new deadline is December of 2015.
The permit for operation of the Headquarters Landfill as a municipal waste facility has been issued, and is now available for review at the Cowlitz County Health Department Environmental Health Unit. The Health Department announced the issuance of the permit yesterday, conditional to the actual transfer of the facility to ownership of Cowlitz County. Negotiations to complete that purchase are still ongoing; county officials say that they’re still hopeful that the deal can be finalized by the end of the year. They also say that there’s still enough room to continue using the Tennant Way Landfill into January of next year. If the sale isn’t completed by that time, then the county would have to start long-hauling the county’s trash to eastern Washington, at a cost of $170,000 per month.
Lower Columbia College is out with several significant announcements. This evening, the first-ever graduation ceremony for adults involved in a low-cost program to earn high school diplomas will be held. The HS21+ program is a comprehensive, competency-based program that is tailored to adult learning styles, offered through day and evening classes. Participants earn educational credits through classroom studies and by demonstrating knowledge gained through life experience, in the workplace and through military service. Previous high school and college studies also count. Qualified students in the program pay a Basic Skills tuition of $25 per quarter. Over the summer, 32 students earned credits through the program, and 12 have earned diplomas. Students involved in the Career Education Options high school completion program, with a total of 61 students completing their high school credentials through the summer and fall quarters at LCC. Tonight’s program starts at 7 pm in the Wollenberg Auditorium at the Rose Center.
The formal announcement of George Raiter’s appointment to the LCC Board of Trustees was announced yesterday. Recently retired from the Cowlitz County Commission, Raiter also has extensive experience as an manager with Weyerhaeuser and Reynolds, along with his service on the Longview City Council and in Olympia as a local representative. He also has extensive involvement with numerous community groups. Raiter succeeds John Philbrook on the five-member panel.
LCC President Chris Bailey is also announcing the appointment of Grace Leaf as the new Vice President of Instruction at the college. Leaf comes to Longview after 17 years at the Community Colleges of Spokane, bringing a wide range of experience and knowledge. Bailey says that Leaf describes herself as a “utility player,” pointing to her work as a faculty counselor, Acting Dean of Liberal Arts, Director of Retention and Student Success and her most recent position as Director of Training and Development. Bailey says that Leaf will help to contribute to LCC initiatives to increase campus diversity, along with building programs in music, theater and art at the Rose Center. He says that her vision matches the initiatives in place to build the campus and the community through innovation, diversity and building relationships. Leaf is scheduled to begin her work at LCC on January 6th.
The Cowlitz Family Health Center In-Person Assister Network is opening up a series of programs over the next couple of weeks, offering basic information on getting enrolled for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Two sessions are planned this week at the Longview Public Library, and then they will have two more sessions next week at the Kelso Public Library. The In-Person Assisters will have free information and enrollment assistance regarding the new Washington State Health Insurance Marketplace. Today’s workshop runs from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, followed by a similar program from 2 to 4 pm on Thursday, both at the Longview Library. The In-Person Assisters will be set up on the same days and the same times next week at the Kelso Library. If you need more information, call Amber Rosewood at the Family Health Center; her number is 636-3892, extension 2067.
St. John Medical Center is announcing the rollout of its new electronic health record program, a program called “Epic.” Dr. Lawrence Neville, Vice-President of the PeaceHealth Medical Group’s Columbia Network operations, says that timely information is critical to high-quality patient care, and that this new program will be a powerful tool in helping PeaceHealth to better manage patient care. Neville says that Epic, which is certified federal health care reform standards, will not only provide quick, easy and secure retrieval of personal medical records, but it’s also used by many health care facilities across the Northwest, making it easy for those facilities to exchange information. Epic also make is easier for you to see yoru own records, and to interact with your clinician. Patients who sign up for a free program called “PatientConnection” can take advantage of the Epic electronic health record program.
Few details regarding the situation have been released as of yet, but it’s confirmed that the Chief of Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue, Dave LaFave is in a Portland hospital, getting treatment for a serious medical condition. It’s reported that LaFave was taken in on an emergency basis last Friday, and while he remains in the hospital, it’s reported that he is in a recovery mode, conscious and alert. Additional information should be released later today.
The rain and wind is subsiding, but we now need to get ready for the cold. The Weather Service says that a cold front moved over the area last night, the leading edge of a push of arctic air from the north. Forecasters say that today’s high temperature actually was registered early this morning, and they say that the thermometer will continue to fall through the day. We’ll have some showers, but the snow level is only expected to drop to about 1,500 feet. Tonight’s low is expected to be in the mid-20’s, while tomorrow’s high is predicted at only 36 degrees. The Weather Service says that high temperatures through the rest of the week will struggle to get above freezing, with overnight lows down around 20, or even into the teens. This is a dry system, with little chance of snow expected, though they do say that there could be a slight chance late in the week.
Ski resorts in the region are rejoicing, however, as heavy snow is falling in the Cascades this morning. Mount Hood Meadows, along with other ski areas on Mount Hood. White Pass is yet to open, waiting for an adequate base to build up.
Longview Police continue to investigate last Thursday morning’s shooting off of 15th Avenue, now reporting that they think the incident was gang-related. Around 12:25 last Thursday morning, a 911 call came in from the Store-n-Deli, reporting that there was a gunshot victim on the floor. Officers arrived and found Corey Huedner, 16, bleeding from a wound to the abdomen. He was conscious and breathing, and was able to tell police that he had been attacked by three young men “wearing red.” Huedner was taken to St. John Medical Center; hospital officials report that he had been moved out of ICU on Friday afternoon, but his current condition and location is not being disclosed at this time. Investigators say that they’re looking into this as a possible gang-related incident. Three people who had been detained several hours after the shooting were eventually released, so no arrests have been reported as of yet. If you have information on this case, call Longview Police at 442-5800, or leave an anonymous tip on the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 577-1206.