Jonathan Scott Lee, 38, of Kelso is heading to federal prison for 25 years, sentenced after his convictions for production of child pornography, possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. Lee was arrested in fall of 2012, after he had sent child porn images to an undercover officer working in New Zealand. Investigators traced the images to Lee and his home in Kelso, and in September of last year, he pleaded guilty to taking explicit images of an 11 year-old girl. At Lee’s sentencing, Judge Ronald Leighton said that production of child pornography is a despicable activity, and that “exploiting children is the lowest form of cruelty that I can imagine.” Lee is now required to register as a sex offender, and will be on supervised release for the rest of his life, after he serves his prison term.
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After just one term as Cowlitz County Clerk, Bev Little is announcing that she will not be seeking re-election in the fall. The 68 year-old says that she wants to spend more time with her family, and also says that the next clerk will need to be much more “tech-savvy” than she is. Little announced her plans in a press release issued last Friday, also pointing to some of the improvements made in the office during her term. She notes that the statewide court system is switching to a new program, which will change how the Clerk’s office is managed on a day-to-day basis. Little says that a lot was accomplished during her tenure, but a lot more remains to be done.
On the final day of recreational smelt-dipping in the local area, the elusive little fish did their best to put on a good show. Huge numbers of smelt were in on the Cowlitz River on Saturday, making for easy dipping for the huge throngs of people lining the river banks. Many people were able to get their ten-pound limits in just one or two dips, making for a quick effort. This is the first time in four years that recreational dippers have been able to have much success. The Department of Fish and Wildlife allowed for a limited recreational season on the Cowlitz, in an effort to gather additional information on the strength of the run.
Saying that they had time to reflect and confer with citizens on the issue, the Longview City Council reversed course and voted to approve the ordinance that sets zoning rules for marijuana-related businesses in the city, passing those rules on a unanimous 7-0 vote. Mayor Don Jensen says that most of the concerns dealt with local control. He says that decisions should be made here, not in Olympia…lvpotzones…Council member Mike Wallin offered an amendment to the ordinance, asking to require special use permits for marijuana producers, processors and retail outlets, saying that such a requirement would install another layer of protection for the city and its citizens. That amendment failed; Council member Tom Hutchinson says that it was a thinly-veiled attempt to put additional roadblocks up in front of legitimate businesses that would be coming into town. With the passage of the ordinance, the moratorium on marijuana-related businesses in the city of Longview is lifted.
There was quite a show last night at the EconoLodge Motel on North Pacific Avenue in Kelso, as Kelso Police worked to arrest a possibly-armed man in one of the units at the motel. Just before 6 pm, KPD got a tip that Jeremy Lewellyn LeBeau, 31, of Longview was in one of the units. The caller reported that LeBeau was wanted on a felony warrant, and may have been armed. The caller didn’t know exactly which room LeBeau was in, saying that it was in between rooms 114 and 120. Officers cordoned off the area, and worked to evacuate the rooms around that area, including rooms on the second floor. They also made public address calls to try and get LeBeau to surrender on his own. Traffic on North 1st, Crawford and Columbia was shut down, and Lower Columbia SWAT was alerted. Shortly after 7 pm, detectives learned that LeBeau was in room 116, and attempted to call the room. A second attempt was made as SWAT was preparing to activate; LeBeau gave himself up around 7:30 pm. He’s now being held on a Department of Corrections warrant, along with DUI and driving while suspended charges. It’s not known if he was armed.
In a pair of 5-4 rulings, the Washington Supreme Court is throwing out a pair of convictions from Cowlitz County Superior Court, ruling that private text messages that detectives used to set up arrests were private conversations, and that police should not have been reading them. The cases date back to 2009, when Daniel Lee was arrested for heroin possession. Detectives also seized Lee’s phone, which was still receiving text messages. Detectives responded to those messages, setting up meetings that led to the arrests of Jonathan Roden and Shawn Daniel Hinton. Both men were eventually convicted of attempted heroin possession. Writing the majority opinion for both cases, Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez says that the men had an expectation of privacy in those text messages, the same as if they had sent a sealed letter through the mail. He says that those messages shouldn’t be read by police, unless they have a warrant. It’s unclear how these rulings will affect other convictions through similar means; local prosecutors say that those will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Arguments in a similar case will be heard by the U. S. Supreme Court in April.
Formal charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault are being filed against Nichole D. McCaslin, 32, of Portland, the woman who’s accused of causing a fatal multi-car crash last Friday night. Today’s Daily News also reports that prosecutors plan to seek an exceptional sentence against McCaslin, also claiming that she was intoxicated at the time of the crash. It’s alleged that McCaslin was driving the wrong way on Tennant Way, eventually crashing into several cars. Brett Dawdy, 47, of Longview died in the mayhem, while his wife and daughter also suffered significant injuries. If convicted, the maximum penalty would be life in prison, but the actual sentence will be based on a complex formula. McCaslin is currently free on bail, and is due back in Cowlitz County Superior Court on Tuesday, where she will be formally arraigned on these charges.
It was a packed house at the annual meeting of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, with upwards of 250 people coming in to hear from Vee Godley and Rick Desimone of Northwest Innovation Works, as they talked about the methanol production and export facilities being proposed for Kalama and Clatskanie. Godley says that people need to know that this is an “and” situation, not “either-or.” He says that the Chinese want all of the methanol that these plants would produce, plus more…nwinnovations…Godley says that they’re still in the site review and permitting stages for both facilities, but they still have a plan to break ground next year. The goal is to have the first phases at each facility completed and in production by 2018; as soon as production begins, construction on the second phases at each site would begin. The methanol produced at these plants would be taken by ship to an existing customer in China, where it would be converted to “olefins,” which are used in a wide ranges of manufactured products.
Tomorrow morning is the last chance for local smelt dippers to get out there, and if there indicators can be believed, they may have some success. Fish and Wildlife officials say that the prospects are “fair to good” for tomorrow morning, with large amounts of smelt just downstream of the Cowlitz River mouth. Seabird activity is picking up on the river, indicating that some of those fish are moving upstream. Dipping will be allowed from 6 am until noon on Saturday, with a ten-pound limit per person. No license is required.
Some water line work may cause some traffic issues on Pennsylvania Street in Longview. The City of Longview will be starting water service replacement work in the three thousand and 31 hundred blocks of Pennsylvania, starting at 8 this morning. Pennsylvania will be open to local traffic only between 30th and 32nd Avenues until this work is complete, which is expected by 4 pm on Tuesday, March 4th. Use alternate routes to avoid delays.