It’s being reported that new charges are being filed against a registered sex offender from Toledo, accusing him of child molestation. The Centralia Chronicle reports that Michael S. Oulette was arrested on Thursday, accused of molesting a 15 year-old girl over a “prolonged” period of time. Last Friday, the Lewis County Prosecutor filed charges of first-degree child molestation and other sexual assault crimes; Oulette is currently free after posting bail.
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A 13 year-old girl that was reported as missing from her home in Hillsboro was located late last week in Woodland, and her uncle is now under arrest on kidnapping charges. Ivette Gutierrez was reported as missing early last week; detectives with the Hillsboro Police Department developed information that led them to a motel in Woodland. With assistance from the FBI, Hillsboro Police and the Sheriff’s Office, Woodland Police went to that motel shortly before 1 pm on Thursday, where they located Gutierrez and arrested Jose Rigoberto Gomez-Sosa, 44, on a charge of second-degree kidnapping. He’s now being held on bail of $250,000. These are Washington state charges; the case is now in the hands of the Washington County District Attorney, who will make a charging decision in the near future.
If you’re heading into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, be aware of some bridge-repair activity that might slow you down a bit. Today and tomorrow, there’s a single-lane closure on the Swift Creek Bridge, located on Forest Road 90, about seven miles east of Cougar. Starting on Wednesday, the 17th, overnight closures of the bridge are planned, so that damaged bridge joints can be repaired. The nighttime closures will go from 8 pm to 6 am through Wednesday, the 24th.
Starting today, the Layout Creek Bridge on Forest Road 43 will be closed as a culvert is replaced to try and improve fish passage. This closure is scheduled to be in place until Tuesday, October 7th. A detour is being set up, using Forest Roads 4306, 42, 4206 and 41. Contact the Forest Service for more information on both of these closures, or go to a Ranger Station or Forest Office.
Workforce Development Councils around the state are having to deal with smaller allocations from the Employment Security Department, including the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council, which covers Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Clark Counties. Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke says that this year’s overall federal allocation is about $3.7 million less than last year, so the money going out to individual councils is also less. The Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council is receiving $4 million, which is about $100,000 less than last year. The SWWDC uses these dollars to provide counseling, skills assessments, job-search assistance and training to laid-off workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged young people in this area.
The Cowlitz PUD reports no outages from yesterday’s gusty east winds, but there were a number of trees knocked down around the county, including one that landed on a house up in the 27 hundred block of the Kalama River Road. This incident was reported at about 12:15 yesterday afternoon, and they 911 caller also reported that there could be a 100 year-old woman trapped inside the house. Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the scene, along with Cowlitz Fire District 5 out of Kalama. They confirmed that the woman was not injured in the incident; there’s no dollar estimate yet on the damage done to the house.
The U. S. Forest Service is reporting that there’s a fire burning in a remote and inaccessible area of the Goat Rocks Wilderness near Mount Saint Helens. They say that the cause of the “Goat Fire” is undetermined at this time, but it was also noted that this area received numerous lightning strikes in the middle of last month. The fire was first reported on the 7th, and is estimated to be about six acres in size. District Ranger Gar Abbas says that there are no known threats to the public, and they will continue to monitor the situation. They’re actively scouting the area to see where containment or contingency lines might be built, if they are needed. It’s also noted that smoke from this fire may be visible from Highway 12 in the Packwood area.
A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for much of Western Washington and Oregon until 9 pm tonight, with gusty east winds, low humidity and critically dry fuels. East winds of 15 to 25 miles an hour are expected, with gusts of up to 45 miles an hour near the Columbia River Gorge and on exposed ridgetops. Humidity is in the high teens, and materials in the woods are extremely dry. This combination will make for an increasingly unstable environment, with a rapid fire spread if a fire does get started. Extreme care needs to be taken with any kind of heat sources when you’re out in the woods.
Two of the three 2015 utility rate schedules that were on last night’s Longview City Council agenda are heading back to staff for more review and study at a future council workshop. The Council declined to adopt the proposed water and stormwater rates for next year, saying that more work was needed. Mayor Don Jensen says that they think that some costs can be shaved, saving ratepayers some money. Staff had proposed a hike of 6.5 percent in water rates, along with a 12 percent rise in stormwater rates. Concerns were raised about revenue numbers in the water utility, and questions were also raised about the need to hire a new engineer to do stormwater inspections in the coming year. The Council did approve a 5 percent rise in sewer rates. The current plan is to conduct this rate review as part of the day-long budget workshop that the Council has scheduled for Saturday, September 27th.
No major injuries were reported, but the logistics of removing a wrecked motor home snarled traffic on Ocean Beach Highway west of Longview for several hours yesterday afternoon. Sheriff’s Deputies say that the crash occurred around 12:40 pm, near the intersection of Ocean Beach Highway and Bunker Hill Road. Two women were in the RV at the time of the crash; a 21 year-old female reportedly had some scrapes, but she declined medical attention. A 59 year-old woman who was also in the RV was unhurt. It took almost three hours to get the RV removed, and to deal with fuel that spilled after the motor home rolled. No citations were reported.
If you’re planning to hit the road this weekend or next weekend, the Department of Transportation says that it’s probably going to be a good idea to avoid the Olympia area on I-5. This weekend and next weekend, crews will be working to repair a worn expansion joint that crosses all of the lanes of the freeway near Capitol Lake. A lane shift was put into effect last night, moving all three northbound lanes to the left, and reducing the southbound off-ramp to Highway 101 to one lane. The Deschutes Way on-ramp to the northbound freeway is also closed until Monday at 5 am. Starting at 10 pm tonight and working until 5 am on Monday, contractors will shift and reduce lanes in both directions of the freeway. During daylight hours, traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction, and then at night, traffic will be funneled into one lane in each direction. Ramps in the work area will also close and will remain closed until Monday morning. Some projections say that backups of up to 14 miles are possible in each direction of the work zone. You’re advised to use alternate routes or alternate modes of transportation to avoid this area, or budget plenty of extra time and patience if you have no other options.
Getting ready for a major food drive that’s coming up one week from Saturday in Wahkiakum County, food drop sites are being set up this weekend at the Cathlamet Market and at Gragg’s General Store. Sue Garn with the WSU Extension works with several community groups in Wahkiakum County, including the Hunger Relief Task Force, saying that this is a tough time of the year for local food banks. The “Food for Friends Food Drive” is planned for Saturday, the 20th, with volunteers going door-to-door to try and collect donations for food banks in Wahkiakum County. A food drop is also set up through this month at the Cathlamet Post Office, and monetary donations are being accepted through the month at the Bank of the Pacific. Call Sue Garn at 747-1772 if you need more information.
There’s a day-long CPR/First Aid Class being offered tomorrow by the YMCA of Southwest Washington, going from 9 am until 3 pm at their facility on 15th Avenue in Longview. The class will include adult, child and infant CPR, along with instruction on use of an adult AED and First Aid, plus information on dealing with bloodborne pathogens. Participants will be certified in CPR and First Aid at the completion of the class. There is a fee to attend, and there’s also a maximum of 12 students. This class is open to the public; you do not need to be a Y member to enroll. Call the YMCA at 423-4770 if you need more information.