Joel Kaech, 25, of Salkum is pleading “not guilty” to charges connected to an alleged kidnapping and rape that took place last weekend. The Centralia Chronicle reports on yesterday’s arraignment in Lewis County Superior Court, where Kaech entered “not guilty” pleas to counts of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and felony harassment. Kaech was arrested last Sunday, after a 32 year-old Longview woman reported that he had “taken her hostage” after he gave her a ride from Longview to Lewis County. Prosecutors asked that Kaech be ordered to surrender a DNA sample, but he objected to that. The judge eventually granted the motion to collect the sample. Kaech was also sentenced to ten days in jail on a contempt of court charge, after he swore at the judge in his first court appearance on Monday. Kaech continues to be held in the Lewis County Jail on bail of $500,000.
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The City of Longview is going out for bids on Phase 1 of the R. A. Long Park renovations in the Longview Civic Circle. The “Call for Bids” was published earlier this week, asking qualified companies to bid on a project that will include construction of a concrete plaza, steps, sidewalks, a fountain, lights, electrical controls and other items. Bid documents are due at the Longview City Manager’s office by 2:30 pm on Tuesday, the 23rd. Bid documents can be reviewed at the City of Longview Engineering office, or by going to the Builder’s Exchange web page at bxwa.com.
They’re moving the headquarters for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to a new location in Vancouver, a move that they hope will increase the reach and visibility of the forest. Starting on March 1st, the current forest headquarters will close, and then will re-open with the National Park Service at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Visitors Center. Forest Supervisor Gina Owens says that this is a great opportunity to provide a joint presence with the NPS, and they look forward to working with the Park Service at this revamped Visitor Center. The Fort Vancouver Visitor Center is located at 1501 East Evergreen Boulevard in Vancouver. More information will be available on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest web page.
Project leads for Washington Fish and Wildlife say that there are “clear signs” that smelt-dippers will have some success when the Cowlitz River opens for a one-day season. The Cowlitz will open for recreational smelt dipping from 7 am until 1 pm tomorrow, and WDFW says that the indicators are pointing to the positive. They say that the progression of predator movement shows that the main part of the run is approaching the Cowlitz; on Monday, several hundred seals and sea lions were spotted at the mouth of the Cowlitz, along with several dozen bald eagles. They also say that commercial dippers had some success earlier in the week. There is a bag limit of ten pounds of smelt per person; that equals about a quarter-full five-gallon bucket. No license is required, but you need to be aware that game wardens will be out, making sure that dippers are observing the catch regulations.
Sgt. Doug Lane will be at the Kelso Senior Center at 1 pm on Friday, presenting a program on Fraud and ID Theft Prevention. The program is free and is open to all. The Kelso Senior Center is located in the old Catlin Hall at 108 NW 8th Avenue in West Kelso.
Friday and Saturday night at Kelso High School, it’s “Play On!,” a “play-in-a-play” comedy by Rick Abbot. This show is about a theatre group that’s putting on a play, with additional comedy ensuing. “Play On!” will be presented in the KHS Auditorium at 7 pm Friday and Saturday, tickets will be available at the door.
Down in Woodland, the Love Street Playhouse is presenting Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” running at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have matinees at 2 pm on Sunday. Check out Oscar and Felix each weekend through the 28th. Go to lovestreetplayhouse.com for ticket information.
From 4 to 8 pm on Friday, you can help out the Thunderfoot FC girls soccer team in Kelso when you go to Burgerville for dinner. A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds will go to the soccer team, along with 100% of cash donations that are offered. Burgerville is located at 6th and West Main in West Kelso.
The third annual Civil War Food Drive kicks off Saturday and runs through the 19th of this month. Students from Mark Morris and R. A. Long High Schools will be striving to see which school can collect the most food and cash donations for the Help Food Warehouse. Last year’s event collected around 17,000 pounds of food and about $1,500 for the Help Food Warehouse. This year, they have a goal of collecting 20,000 pounds, and $5,000 cash. Things get started tomorrow morning with Walk-n-Knock Food Drive; get your donations out on your front porch for students to pick up. Donations will also be accepted at the Fred Meyer store, at either high school, and at the CAP offices on Commerce Avenue. Businesses can also schedule pickups by calling 430-4187 for Mark Morris donations or 751-9578 for R. A. Long donations.
You’re invited to the Longview Eagles on Saturday, where you can take part in a Relay for Life Bingo event. Kids age 8 and up can also come into the 1 pm session, which will then be followed by a “speed session.” They’ll also have “food, fun and prizes.” All proceeds will go to the Crusaders Relay for Life Team.
A series of free classes called “The Good, The Bad and The Internet” opens at 1 pm on Saturday at the Longview Public Library. This is a class on the basics of going on the Internet, with guidance on how to “find the good things and avoid the bad things” when you’re online. This class will be offered on the first Saturday of each month through June. You can go to any or all of the classes. Space is limited, so you should call 442-5300 if you need more help.
The annual Father-Daughter Ball is planned for Saturday night at Toutle Lake High School, starting at 7 pm. This year, they’re having a Masquerade Ball theme, and each daughter attending will receive a mask. Ray Bartley from Cookin’ Country will DJ the event; tickets will be available at the door.
They’re hosting a “Valentine for Vets” dinner and auction at Buccini Hall in St. Helens on Saturday, sponsored by the St. Helens Elks. Proceeds from this gala event at St. Frederic Catholic Church will benefit the Elks Veterans Bunker, a local resource center for local veterans and their families. Things get started at 5 pm on Saturday; tickets can be purchased at the door.
Scott Wright used to teach music in the Longview Schools between 1987 and 1997, now he’s returning to Longview to perform on clarinet in the Winter Concert of the Southwest Washington Symphony. Wright will perform a piece called “Collateral Damage: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra” this Sunday afternoon. To avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl, the concert is being moved up to 1 pm on Sunday in the Wollenberg Auditoruim at the Rose Center for the Arts. The box office opens one hour prior to the show.
The Bonneville Power Administration is announcing that a “major milestone” has been reached in the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project, a plan to install a new 500-kilovolt electricity transmission line between Castle Rock and Troutdale, Oregon. BPA officials say that this latest document includes a thorough environmental analysis, and also identifies a preferred route for the line. The agency says that they are sticking with the “Central Alternative-Central Option 1” as the preferred route alternative, but they also say that all route alternatives will remain under consideration until the BPA Administrator makes a decision on whether or not to build the project. BPA Administrator Elliott Mainzer says that he anticipates making that decision late this year. The final EIS is now available for inspection and public comment. You can view the 6,500-page document on-line, or in person at the libraries in Longview and Castle Rock. Additional information is available on the BPA web page.
The White House is officially declaring a disaster in Washington state, covering the damage done by floods, winds, landslides, mudslides and a tornado that took place between December 1st and 14th of last year. The declaration from President Obama makes federal assistance available to state, tribal and eligible local governments, making funds available on a cost-sharing basis. Along with certain private non-profit organizations, the governments in Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Lewis, Clark, Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, Grays Harbor and Skamania counties are eligible to apply for help that will have the federal government paying not less than 75 percent of the cost of repairing public facilities. The declaration also makes money available for hazard mitigation projects. This does NOT cover the wind and flood damage done later in the month; that damage is still be assessed, and it’s possible that additional declarations could be made.
For citizens and local businesses that were affected by the storms and slides between the 1st and the 14th of this month, the Small Business Administration will be set up at the Kelso City Hall through Thursday of next week, accepting applications for low-interest, long-term loans that can be used to pay for storm damage repairs. The Disaster Loan Outreach Center is open in the Council Conference Room at the Kelso City Hall from 9 am to 5 pm today and tomorrow; also open during the same hours Monday through Thursday of next week. Go to the SBA web page or call 1-800-659-2955 for more information.
The Port of Kalama is reporting that cleanup and repairs are under way at Haydu Park, which suffered significant damage during last month’s storms and flooding. Tapani, Inc. of Battle Ground is being contracted to do the work, with a “not-to-exceed” amount of $350,000 set aside for the work. Port maintenance crews started cleaning up roads, sidewalks and buildings as soon as the water started receding; crews from Tapani will be focused on restoring play fields, fencing repair and fixing of the storm water and irrigation systems. Port of Kalama Executive Director Mark Wilson says that some of this work will be weather-dependent, also contingent on the sogginess of the ground in that area. Other activity at the Port of Kalama will be unaffected by this project.
Authorities in Columbia County are asking other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for a possible assault suspect. Around 12:20 yesterday afternoon, Longview Police took a call from Columbia County, saying that they have probable cause to charge this suspect with first-degree assault. They think that the suspect may actually be on his way to the Portland area, but they wanted Longview Police to be aware of this situation. They’re asking LPD to be looking for a light blue Dodge Dakota pickup with an extended cab, driven by a black male, possibly with the name of “Lane Lewis.” So far, other details on the crime have not been disclosed.
The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a pickup crash reported yesterday evening near the intersection of Steelhead Drive and Old Pacific Highway North out of Castle Rock. Around 5:50 pm, it was reported that a pickup was in the ditch, and that the driver was intoxicated. The 911 caller also reported that the driver was bleeding from his head and ear, and was eventually taken to St. John Medical Center. As Deputies were doing the license check on the driver, they also learned that he was driving while suspended after a previous DUI, and he was supposed to have an ignition interlock device on his car. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment; Deputies also say that he was cited and released.