As the dry weather continues, private forest land owners are shutting down public access. Over the weekend, Weyerhaeuser closed all of its Oregon tree farms, limiting public access to about 1.1 million acres of timberland. The closure covers the Northwest Oregon Tree Farm, along with other properties throughout the state. It’s also being reported that 300,000 acres of forest lands along the Columbia River Gorge are also being closed, with nine forest land owners announcing public access closures. These closures will remain in place until further notice.
120 firefighters and a helicopter are battling a wildfire that’s burning near Mt. Adams. The Horseshoe Fire got started on Friday afternoon, and has grown to 250 acres. The fire is located at the 5,300-foot elevation, burning near the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire. Specialized firefighting crews are expected to arrive on the scene today. Because of the location of this fire, officials are saying that they expect this to be a “long-duration fire”; the remote location, lack of access and escape routes make the effort extremely difficult. Fire officials say that they’re looking at the possibility of using fire lines that were cut back in 2012, as they dealt with the Cascade Creek blaze. Several hiking trails near Mt. Adams are now closed because of this fire. You should check with the Forest Service before heading into that area.
The Red Cross is providing temporary lodging, stuffed animals, comfort kits and recovery information to five kids, four adults and a dog that were displaced by a 4th of July fire that did about 20 thousand dollars damage to a home on North 18th Avenue in Kelso. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue says that it looks like the fire started in a bedroom; a votive candle that had been left next to a bed shattered, with the contents spilling onto a bed. That bed caught fire, but the damage to the home was confined to that bedroom. No injuries were reported.
On Friday, Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie issued a press release, talking about the arrest of Sam Valdez of Rosburg. Howie reports that Valdez had been under investigation by the Narcotics Task Force, suspected of manufacturing Hash Oil. During this investigation, it was also learned that Valdez had hired someone to kill his ex-wife, and he supposedly had a “hit list” that included two local judges. Authorities recently served a search warrant at Valdez’ home, where they claim to have seized 176 pounds of THC extract, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This material has an estimated street value of $140,000. Detectives also seized a half-pound of unprocessed marijuana, 30 “seal bombs,” eight guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Valdez is now being held on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver; the investigation is continuing.
Jason Elton Miller, 19, of Longview is being charged with felony eluding and driving while suspended after a short car chase that took place yesterday morning in West Longview. Walmart employees called Longview Police at about 12:45 yesterday morning, reporting that a suspicious pickup was cruising through the parking lot off of 38th and Ocean Beach Highway. As Longview Police and Sheriff’s Deputies arrived, the pickup driver reportedly took off, heading west on Ocean Beach. Miller was hemmed in and arrested near 40th Avenue, and is now being held without bail on charges of felony eluding and driving while suspended.
Jacob Aaron Elliott, 22, is under arrest after a short high-speed chase that took place last Friday morning. Kelso Police say that this got started around 6:45 last Friday morning, when it was reported that a pickup had been stolen from a home in the 2500 block of Sunrise Street. Officers spotted the truck almost immediately, chasing the suspect south on the freeway and then onto Tennant Way. They say that Elliott continued at 100 miles an hour, crossing into oncoming traffic at times. The chase ended near 3rd Avenue, where Elliott lost control of the truck, and then law enforcement was able to hem him in. Elliott is now being held on charges of felony eluding, car theft, first-degree burglary, felony drug possession, theft of a gun and possession of a stolen gun. He’s currently being held without bail, pending his first court appearance.
The City of Longview begins its annual Chip Seal and Pavement Repair program this week, running through the end of August. City crews will spend the next few weeks working off of a prioritized list, based on the condition, functional class of street and by citizen request. Chip-sealing involves the use of asphalt and gravel, which are applied over the existing road. That surface repairs small cracks, and helps to extend the life of the road surface. Repairs include cutting or grinding-down of existing surfaces, improving the base where needed, and then they will replace the pavement. Work zones will be posted; get more information on the City of Longview web page.
County overlay projects involving Lakeside Industries are being put on hiatus until a project at Coal Creek Road and Hackett Road is completed. County officials also say that paint striping work is being put on hold until the 13th of this month. Work is continuing on the Hazel Dell Road Reconstruction Project, with delays of up to 20 minutes at a time between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays, going into October. Construction zones will be posted, and you’re asked to exercise extra care in those work areas.
The awards in this year’s Go 4th Parade are being announced:
Service Masters by JTS won the Commercial Float Award, and Love, Inc. received the Religious Float award. The Greater Chinook District of the Boy Scouts got the Youth Group Float award, the Equine Ambassadors were presented with the Equestrian award, and the Strutters Baton group got the Costumed Group award. Old Hickory Sheds got the Commercial Motorized award, and the Columbia River Shrine group had the best Decorated Car. The R. A. Long Varsity Rally won the Youth Walking award, and Cowlitz Ukulele won the Adult Walking award. The Grand Prize went to Cowlitz County Public Works. Prize plaques can be picked up at Longview Sewing on Vandercook Way, starting tomorrow afternoon.
The annual Go 4th Festival gets under way today, with the food vendors and the Lake Sacajawea Flea Market opening at 10 am. The Longview Firefighters Floating Hole-in-One is open all day; at 3 pm, the live music starts at Martin’s Dock, and today’s highlight, the Longview Cardboard Boat Regatta, starts at 5:30 pm.
The Kids’ Festival runs from noon until 6 tomorrow, along with the “Log Truck Wrapper Race” at Louisiana and Kessler; that goes from noon until 5 pm. Live entertainment goes from 3 pm until 10 pm tomorrow at Martin’s Dock, the Longview Pioneer Lions “Spirits of Longview” Beer Garden starts at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon at the Expo Center, and the Firecracker 5K Fun Run starts at 6 pm tomorrow at Hemlock Plaza.
On Saturday, The Lions Club Pancake Breakfast starts at 8 am, the Timber Carnival preliminaries starts at 9, and the Wrapper Race resumes from 9 am until noon. The Parade from downtown Longview to the lake starts at 10 am on Friday, and the Lions Club Kids Races on the lawn at R. A. Long High School start at noon on Saturday. The Timber Carnival begins at 1 pm on Saturday, and the fireworks finale over Lake Sacajawea starts around 10 pm Saturday night.
The 23rd annual Bow Tie Bash Car Show will also take place in downtown Longview on Saturday, with more than 200 classic and custom vehicles expected to be on display. Buttons to help support Go 4th and the 4th of July fireworks display are still available for purchase all over town, at the price of just one dollar apiece. The Longview Public Library is also closed on Friday and Saturday.
Longview Police will be directing traffic around the lake after the fireworks shows. Traffic trying to get onto Kessler or Nichols between Washington Way and Louisiana will be directed toward Ocean Beach Highway, Tennant Way and 15th, or the Civic Center. Officers will be posted at major intersections to assist pedestrians leaving the lake. The Hemlock Footbridge will be one-way toward Nichols after the fireworks show; that bridge will also be closed to foot traffic during the show. You’ll also need to take the Washington Way Bridge construction into your Go 4th travel plans.
You may also want to get out of town for the 4th, and there are a number of other local events that can help you celebrate Independence Day. Heritage Days runs through Saturday down in Clatskanie, with events planned both Friday and Saturday, including a fireworks display Saturday night.
They’re having fireworks on Friday night out at the Port of Ilwaco, and festivities are also planned on Saturday in Ocean Park, Long Beach, Saint Helens, Warrenton, Astoria, Seaside, Vader and Vernonia. With the extreme fire danger all around the area, fire officials once again ask that you hold off on your own fireworks displays, and advise that you and your family take in one of these community events instead.