The Sheriff’s Office now says that it was a Navy helicopter out of Whidbey Island that assisted with yesterday’s successful rescue near Elk Rock; they originally stated that the Air Force had sent the chopper from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to help rescue Casey Wassell, 42, of Toutle and his 11 year-old son, Fisher. The pair got stuck Sunday night on a steep slope, as they were elk hunting across from the Elk Rock Viewpoint. Cold, wet and exhausted, the pair reported that they were in danger of “tipping over” off of the cliff face. After maintaining cell phone contact through the night, Deputy Ryan Cruser made voice contact with the pair at about 6 yesterday morning, and the chopper from Whidbey finally lifted them out at about 8 am. Father and son were taken to Centralia Providence Hospital to be treated for hypothermia and other “non-life-threatening” injuries.
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The annual Beacon Hill Extreme Team Garage Sale is planned for tomorrow at Beacon Hill Elementary School. The Extreme Team is a group of Beacon Hill students that performs on unicycles, juggling and double-dutch jump-roping at events all around the region, including parades and Blazer basketball games. Donations for the event are being accepted today form 4 to 7 pm at the school. You can either deliver the items, or call 749-7245 to arrange a pickup. All items should be clean and in working order. The Garage Sale itself will run from 8 am until 2 pm tomorrow in the school gym. They’ll also have a concession stand open. All proceeds from the sale will support the Beacon Hill Extreme Team.
The Tigers beat the Mariners 4-2 yesterday as Rick Porcello struck out 10 M’s in six innings. The teams play again today in the Motor City, KLOG 3:00 pm…..Seahawks tackle Russell Okung’s toe injury will keep him out of action Sunday against Jacksonville. Further tests could determine if he’ll miss an extended amount of time…..The R.A. Long volleyball team had an easy romp over Astoria 3-0. Tonight the Kelso Lassies visit Mark Morris…..The LCC volleyball team takes on Umpqua at 4 pm at Clark College in Vancouver…..Mt. View beat R.A. Long in girls soccer. Today, Kelso hosts Ridgefield at 4 pm and Battle Ground is at MM at 5:30 pm…..In golf, Tyler Messinger’s 35 led RAL over Battle Ground and Prairie beat Kelso. Today, Heritage is at Kelso and RAL at Ridgefield.
If the Cowlitz PUD Commission follows the recommendation of the Electrical Rates Advisory Committee, residential power rates will go up an average of five percent on September first, with additional five percent raises planned in the next two years, as well. The ERAC made its report to the PUD Commission yesterday morning, and Commission President Buz Ketcham says that it’s clear that the group took its role seriously…ratecommittee…The Electrical Rates Advisory Committee first met in May, including representatives from the community at large, low-income citizens, senior citizens, and several levels of commercial and industrial users. After several months of study, it was determined that residential rates are being subsidized by commercial and industrial ratepayers. In doing their Cost of Service Analysis, or COSA, a majority of the Rate Advisory Committee came to the conclusion that rates should be adjusted over three years, to bring all rate categories to more or less the same percentage. It’s being suggested that the equalization be phased over three years, with some of the blow softened by the utility’s Rate Stabilization Fund. The Commissioners accepted the report, while asking the industrial members of the committee if a reduction in electrical rates will translate into more jobs. Those in attendance say that there will be a definite impact on economic development. No formal action was taken at yesterday’s workshop, though the PUD Commission will need to act at one of their August meetings, to have the proposed rate schedule in place by September 1. The proposed rate hike will boost the average residential power bill by an average of $5, basically due to a hike in the monthly “basic charge”, rather than boosting the rate paid for each kilowatt-hour.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is now reporting that the two girls who told a story about an attempted kidnapping made everything up. On Monday, the girls told the Sheriff’s Office that a black van pulled up beside them in the 1600 block of North 2nd; the door opened and the man inside ordered them into the van, or he would kill them. They also said he had a gun on his hip. On Tuesday, the mother of one of the girls called the Sheriff’s Office to report that the story was not true. One of the girls says that the other girl had concocted the story, and then got her to go along. She says that the girl who made up the story got the idea after a blue van had driven by them; that van didn’t stop, and no one talked to them. The girl who made the story up is reportedly sticking to her claim, but the Sheriff’s Office says that they do not believe that the story is credible.
Four Kelso Police Officers are being honored for their outstanding performance during an officer-involved shooting incident that took place on March 2nd in West Kelso. Officer Ralph Hines was presented with a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart, while Sergeant Khembar Yund, Officer Mark Berglund and Officer Bebe McFall were recognized for Exemplary Performance. Mayor David Futcher says that the awards simply reinforce the excellence of the Kelso Police Department…kpdawards…Jesse McMillan, 27, was killed in the shootout on March 2nd, hit by return fire put down by Hines and Deputy Danny O’Neill. One of the rounds fired by McMillan hit Hines in the leg, and he still carries a portion of that bullet. Police Chief Andy Hamilton says that Hines is only the second Kelso Police Officer wounded by gunfire in the history of the department. Back in March of 1948, Patrolman Patrick Konen was fatally wounded by a domestic violence suspect. Despite his wounds, Konen was able to hold the suspect until additional units arrived on the scene.
It’s being reported that PeaceHealth is facing its biggest-ever budget gap, and is now asking employees to identify ways to cut another $30 million from its overall budget. The Eugene Register-Guard claims to have obtained a copy of a presentation that PeaceHealth President and Chief Mission Officer Alan Yordy is making to employees during this week. It’s reported that $100 million in savings has already been identified, and they’re appealing to employees to identify another $30 million over the next two months. They say that part of the plan is to immediately suspend hiring for open positions, and will review those positions on a case-by-case basis. They’re also reviewing open spots, to see if they can be consolidated, eliminated, cut to part-time, or if there are other options. Currently, PeaceHealth employs about 16,000 people in three states, and has about 900 vacant slots at this time. Yordy says that they’d like to avoid layoffs; he also says that unpaid furloughs or early retirement options could be part of the mix. The R-G says that these moves are a continuation of cost-cutting efforts that started with the recession, but Yordy says this year’s challenges are “unprecedented.”
The Longview Police Street Crimes Unit reports making two arrests, as they were called in to investigate suspicious activity in the 1900 block of Dorothy Street in Longview. Local residents reported that a car was repeatedly parking behind a building in that area, and then the occupants would head over to what’s being characterized as a “well-known drug house.” The SCU responded and caught up with Mikel Scott McCulley, 50, and Marcus Anthony Cochran, 21, both of Longview. It turns out that both men had outstanding warrants; McCulley was booked for driving while suspended, while Cochran was arrested on a Department of Corrections hold. Both men are being held without bail as the investigation continues.
The annual Scappoose Pow Wow opens tonight and runs through Sunday. The opening ceremony is set for 7 pm at the Veterans Park Flag Pole, kicking off a full weekend of festivities. There’s a “Pancreatic Cancer Walk” at 8 pm tonight, and a “Live While You’re Young” bonfire at 9 pm. Things re-open at noon tomorrow, with activities for the kids, live music and dance, and the “Beer Zone.” Saturday has a fun run, a softball tournament, a parade, a Texas Hold’em tournament and other fun. On Sunday, the Chinook Canoe Family will hold a Canoe Ceremony, along with a Grand Entry of the tribes. The Chinook Canoe Family will also conduct a demonstration of an Indian Stick Game. Admission is free.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that the rescue of two St. Helens-area men from the Columbia River happened “just seconds” before both would have been lost. Around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, the Columbia County River Patrol and aid crews from Columbia River Fire and Rescue dashed to the north end of Sand Island, where Kawai Niau, 24, and Kyle Snider, 19, were struggling in the current of the river. Witnesses directed the rescuers to the two men, who had been swimming near a wing dam in that area. Niau called out that he could no longer tread water, while Snider was about 100 yards further downstream, and was losing consciousness. Deputies quickly pulled Niau onto their boat, then sped down and got to Snider. Dickerson says that Snider was unresponsive when they arrived, and was unable to grab a rescue rope. One of the firefighters jumped into the water, got hold of Snider, and then both men were pulled on board the boat. Snider was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in critical condition, but he’s listed in good condition this morning. Niau refused medical treatment on shore. Dickerson says that both men would have been beyond help in just a few more minutes, and the quick work of the Deputies and Firefighters made the difference in this event.