Cowlitz County’s April jobless rate ticked up just slightly from March, and held steady when compared to the same time last year. Washington Employment Security reports that the April unemployment rate came in at 7.5 percent, up from the March number of 7.4 percent. Federal officials report that non-farm employment increased by 300 jobs in April, and only 100 of those jobs was attributed to seasonal hiring patterns. The number of new and continuing unemployment claims continues at “very low levels.”
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Salmon anglers will have more opportunities to catch Spring Chinook on the Columbia River, as fishery managers re-open the river for the Memorial Day weekend, and then again in June. Under this latest agreement, the main stem of the Columbia below Bonneville Dam will open for Chinook salmon from Friday through Monday, then the river will close for three days. The river will re-open on June 3rd, and then will be open for Chinook Salmon through June 15th, or until the catch quota is reached. The summer fishing season on the Columbia will then open on the 16th. Be sure to have your current license and catch record card.
There’s a campaign under way on IndieGoGo connected to the legacy of DB Cooper, where local residents are trying to raise money to save the Ariel General Store and Tavern. The campaign is trying to raise $35,000, looking to re-open the store that closed in 2015, following the death of Dona Elliot. The building has been in place since 1929, serving as a gathering place for people living in Ariel, Amboy and the surrounding area; in 1972, the U. S. Army had its D. B. Cooper search headquarters set up in the back of the store. The Ariel General Store and Tavern also hosted the “D. B. Cooper Days” festival for 25 years, though that event had recently fallen by the wayside. Get more information and get enrolled for special prizes by making a contribution on Indiegogo.com.
At least three schools in Southwest Washington were victims of an apparent world-wide scam robocall yesterday, where a bomb threat was called in, causing evacuations and lockdowns all over the place. Kessler Elementary School in Longview got one of these calls, coming in a few minutes after noon; school officials say that the person calling said things like “There’s not a lot of time,” and “It’s going to explode.” The school was evacuated as a precaution, while Longview Police and fire crews responded to the school. Students were taken to Longview Community Church to rendezvous with their parents, while a search of the school was set up. As that process was getting under way, the scope of the scam started becoming apparent, with schools all across the country and around the world also reporting that they got exactly the same call. Long Beach Elementary and York Elementary in Vancouver are two other area schools that got hit. A search of Kessler was done as a precaution, with nothing found. School will proceed as normal today.
The Kelso School District is also out with a scam alert, reporting that someone is sending fake e-mails through the Skyward student progress tracking program, apparently trying to mine personal information through those e-mails. Yesterday, morning, KSD posted on Flashnews that fake e-mails are going out on Skyward, claiming that there has been a security breach on Skyward; the e-mail requests personal information, including a Social Security number. School officials say that legitimate requests from Skyward NEVER ask for a Social Security number. At this point, it does not appear that anyone was victimized, but the district is sending out this information as a precaution for everyone else.
Two men are back on dry land this morning, after surviving a boat capsizing that took place yesterday on the Columbia River Slough, just west of Longview. Deputies were called to the area around 1 pm yesterday, when it was reported that two men were hanging onto a log in the water after their boat had flipped over. A sergeant found the men and communicated verbally that a boat was going into the water. They say that both the men were wearing life jackets; one of the men said that he can’t swim. It took about 50 minutes for the Sheriff’s Office to get their boat in the water and then rescue the two men. They also hooked up to the overturned boat and towed it to the Coal Creek boat launch, so it can be recovered. Names are not being released; Deputies do say that the safe recovery of these two men shows the value of wearing a life jacket when boating.
The 623-foot bulk carrier that ran aground near Puget Island on March 21st is finally on its way to Japan, taking a piece of the Pacific Northwest with her. Back in March, the “Sparna” went out of the shipping lane and hit submerged rocks, with a large boulder actually going inside the hold of the ship. The Sparna was towed to the Port of Kalama for inspection and repairs; those temporary repairs are now complete, and the Sparna is now bound for Japan and a foreign shipyard, where permanent repairs will be made.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is working to find the person or persons who cut loops off of a net pen at Mayfield Lake, releasing about 100,000 young Chinook salmon prematurely. They say that the incident took place some time over the weekend, between 4:30 pm on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The investigation shows that the loops holding the net pen in place were cut, releasing the small fish. Tacoma Public Utilities says that the young fish could overwhelm fish traps that are in place at Mayfield Dam. Investigators are trying to find security footage that could help identify the suspects. Call 360-748-9286 if you have information on this incident.
The group that oversees police officer certification in Oregon is apparently recommending that former Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover lose that certification. Recently, Hoover re-retired from the position, after two officers on the department came forward with allegations of racist behavior. The Clatskanie Chief reports that the Police Policy Committee of the Board on Public Safety Standards recommended that Hoover have his certification suspended for seven years for misconduct, 10 years for gross misconduct, and 15 years for “disregard for the lives of others.” The three terms would run at the same time. Hoover can request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge; the next hearing of this committee happens in July.
A former Kelso School District administrator is being named as the interim Superintendent of one of Oregon’s larger school districts. It’s being reported that Paula Radich is now the interim Superintendent of the Beaverton School District, replacing a person who is heading to take over a school district in Georgia. Radich was a principal and also held other administrative positions in the Kelso School District before she headed to Oregon. Radich was the Newberg Superintendent of Schools from 1999 to 2012, and was named as Oregon’s Superintendent of the Year in 2010.