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Charter Review

It appears that Kelso citizens will be voting on several proposed changes to the City Charter, following up on the report from the City Charter Review Committee. That committee presented its recommendations to the City Council last night, led by former Kelso Mayor Keith Lawrence, who reminds the Council about why the Charter was enacted back in 1993…charterreview…The Charter Review Committee recommends keeping the Charter, but they do have some proposed changes. The biggest one is the recommendation to drop the “ward system” for City Council representation, along with the requirement that the City Manager live within the city limits. Current Mayor David Futcher says that these provisions are unnecessary, and prevent Kelso from getting good people into these positions. They recommend adjustments to the attendance rules, along with some other minor housekeeping items. City Attorney Janene Parker is being directed to draft resolutions that will be considered at next Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting. These resolutions and ballot measures have to be submitted to the County Auditor by the end of next month, to make it on the November General Election ballot.

Ariel Suicide

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and the County Coroner are responding to an apparent suicide that took place early this morning near Ariel. Deputies were called to the residence early today, where they found a lone male, dead from a single gunshot wound. They also say that evidence at the scene shows that this was a self-inflicted wound, but they didn’t have word on the reasons why. The Coroner now has possession of the body, making arrangements for an autopsy. The victim’s name has not been released.

Lovingfoss Trial

Monticello Hotel owner Phil Lovingfoss is now on trial in Cowlitz County District Court, accused of Intimidating a Public Official, when he allegedly made threats against District Court Judge Ed Putka. Today’s Daily News reports on the opening of the trial, where defense attorney James Morgan told the court that Lovingfoss “fell off of a cliff” with his mental state, due to a mix of alcohol and mental health drugs. The 51 year-old Lovingfoss is accused of making threats to harm Putka on July 11th of last year. It’s claimed that Lovingfoss was intoxicated when he asked Longview Police to come to his office, and then he made several statements about harming Putka. The judge had presided over a DUI case involving Lovingfoss. It’s reported that Lovingfoss does not deny making the statements, but he claims that the mixture of alcohol and anti-psychotic drugs combined to cause a state of “diminished mental capacity,” and didn’t understand the gravity of his statements. The Longview Police Officers who heard the statements are expected to take the stand today; the trial is expected to run through Friday.

Kessler Hit

Longview Police are working to capture still photos from security videos at Kessler Elementary School, working to see if they can identify the kids who were involved in vandalism incidents. Yesterday morning, school staff called LPD about graffiti that had been painted “all over the school.” They characterize the graffiti as “juvenile,” but also with a “gang tone.” Pictures also included male anatomy and other obscene material. It’s reported that clear photos of the suspects are being obtained, and Longview Police plan to follow up on those photos to make arrests.

Forest Road Work

Some of us have an eye on that long holiday weekend that’s ahead, and may be making plans to head into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest for rest and recreation. The Forest Service has an update on road work that’s going on, particularly focused on Forest Roads 23 and 25, two of the main routes through the Gifford Pinchot. They say that the Cispus Road Improvement Project is now under way on Forest Road 23 out of Randle, with a projected completion date of September 19th. Construction will be shut down over the holiday weekend, but you do need to know that Forest Road 23 is completely closed between milepost 12 and 24, due to washouts.

Forest Road 25 has been severely damaged by a large slide near Elk Pass, closing the road between the Muddy River and the intersection with Forest Road 99. Those repairs are nearing completion, and they hope to have this road re-opened by the weekend. Get the latest on road conditions in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest by checking the forest web page.

State of the County

The Cowlitz County Commissioners will be reporting to the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce today, presenting “The State of Cowlitz County” in today’s quarterly meeting of the Chamber. County Commissioners Mike Karnofski, Dennis Weber and Joe Gardner will talk about the county budget, staffing and new development at today’s luncheon meeting, which is being held in a new location. Today’s meeting is being held at the Kelso-Longview Elks Lodge, located near the Three Rivers Mall, just off of Grade Street. The Elks recently joined the Chamber. The State of Cowlitz County runs from 11:45 am to 1:30 pm today; get more information on the Chamber web page, or you can give them a call at 423-8400.

Longview Luminaries

The Longview School District is announcing the launch of its “Longview Luminaries” project, highlighting the accomplishments and impacts that graduates of the Longview School system have had. The first of the “Longview Luminaries” was posted last Friday on the Longview Schools web page, highlighting world-renowned archaeologist Kent Weeks. He graduated from R. A. Long High School in 1959, and is now recognized as one of the world’s top Egyptologists. Weeks is credited with the discovery of KV5, the previously unknown tomb of an Egyptian prince, along with other major items in Egypt’s “Valley of the Kings.” Weeks tells the Longview School District that his love of Egypt started in grade school, and he says that Longview teachers encouraged his interest, “pushing” books about Egypt on him. The district plans to continue the series, and you can also make nominations; there’s a link available on the Longview Schools web page.

Lake Hero Found

Elizabeth Brassfield has finally been able to thank the young man who leapt to his feet and raced into the mud at the edge of Lake Sacajawea to save Brassfield’s five year-old son this past weekend. TDN reports that Facebook brought Brassfield and Spencer Findlay, 20, together; he tells the paper that he was in town from Seattle, visiting his girlfriend. They were sitting on the lake bank when Findlay saw a stroller rolling downhill, and then heard a little girl scream. Findlay says that he dropped his phone and ran to where the stroller was rolling, getting there just after it went into the water. He pulled five year-old Eli Brassfield out of the lake unscathed and then went back into the muck to find Brassfield’s phone and keys. Findlay says that he’s glad that he was “in the right place at the right time.”

KLOG Wednesday Sports

Nelson Cruz hit his 20th homer and Hisashi Iwakuma got the win as the Mariners beat the Pirates 5-2 last night. The teams close out the two game set tonight, KLOG 6:00 pm…..The Cowlitz Black Bears shutout the Portland Lobos 5-0 in a non-league game last night. Jordan Jones got the win with five innings of two-hit, shutout ball. The Bears host another non-league team, the Portland Stars tonight at 6:35 pm…..Montesano scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to edge Nipp’s Burgers 6-5 last night in Junior Legion. Nipp’s hosts Tenino in 5:30 pm action at Mark Morris HS today…..Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin has agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $46 million, $24 million guaranteed. Baldwin is now locked up through the 2020 season.

Fireworks for Sale

As the fireworks stands open up around the area, local law enforcement and fire agencies are also out with reminders about the legalities connected to the purchase and use of fireworks. Under state law, it’s illegal to purchase or set any fireworks off until noon today. Today’s hours go from noon to 11 pm; tomorrow through Sunday, the 3rd, the hours are 9 am to 11 pm. On July 4th, sales are open from 9 am until 11 pm, and the “discharge period” goes from 9 am until midnight. Tuesday, July 5th, the stands will be open from 9 am to 9 pm, and it’s legal to light fireworks from 9 am to 11 pm. Longview Police say that it’s a misdemeanor to violate these date and time rules, and a violation could get you into District Court, with bail of 500 dollars. Remember that things like firecrackers, bottle rockets and “chasers” are legal only on tribal lands; M-80’s, tennis ball bombs, cherry bombs and the like are illegal and could expose you to even more severe prosecution. Be sure to protect your pets as fireworks are being set off, and also take the proper precautions to prevent fires. Finally, be respectful of your neighborhood and clean up your debris afterward. Contact your local police or fire agency if you have other questions or concerns.