Timothy Allen Cochran, 46, of Winlock is under arrest after a high-speed chase that took place early yesterday morning in the hills above Longview. At about 2:45 yesterday morning, Deputies seeing a speeding vehicle in the area of Glenwood Drive and Pacific Way. The suspect continued up to Columbia Heights, where he was reported to be doing 80 miles an hour. Spike strips were set up at the base of the hill, and the driver reportedly hit those as he came into West Kelso. The car stopped in the area of West Castleman, and the driver reportedly tried to run. The driver initially evaded Deputies, but Cochran was tracked down and arrested later in the day. Cochran is now being charged with felony eluding and felony drug possession, along with two new contempt of court counts. He also faces a slate of misdemeanor counts. A female passenger was questioned and released
The Longview School Board meets at 7 pm tonight, with plans to adopt the 2016-2017 operating budget at this evening’s meeting. The district is looking at an overall budget of nearly $82 million in the coming school year, a budget that includes new middle school counselors, elementary climate and culture specialists, and additional teachers, to qualify for reduced class size dollars. There’s a 1.8 percent COLA for all employees, along with increases to cover TRI days and other costs connected to employee contracts. $958,000 is budgeted for new math texts in grades 6 through 12, and there’s a plan to buy four new school buses. The district also plans to refinance bond debt, a move that they say will save $1 million in debt service over the next five years. Tonight’s meeting is being held on the Longview School Board meeting room, and is open to the public.
Starting today, you’ll be able to contact Columbia County 911 via text message. Columbia County is one of eight locations in Oregon that will now have the ability to accept text messages to 911, a system that has been in development for about a year. The system is supported by the deaf and hearing impaired, saying that this gives them much improved access to emergency services. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular customers will be able to access the Text-to-911 system, with the costs covered by a 75-cent monthly charge that almost all cell phone customers pay. Contact Columbia County for more information.
City of Longview utility crews will be out on the far west end of town this week, flushing out pipes on that end of the city’s water delivery system. City crews will be flushing water mains west of State Route 432 in the Willow Grove area, with work starting at 8 this morning, and will continue until 4 pm. Work will proceed each day through Thursday. Refrain from using water while the flushing is going on, and be sure to flush your own plumbing after the work is done.
Local teens are invited to come to this afternoon’s “Mad Hatter Tea Party,” running from 3 to 5 pm today on the lawn next to the Longview Public Library. The Alice in Wonderland-themed event will include croquet and other lawn games, iced tea and much more. Be sure to dress up, as prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. This event is open to all area middle and high schoolers, being hosted by the Rainbow Community Diversity Youth Group, celebrating diversity in a bully-free environment. Call 442-5323 if you need help.
The Milwaukee Brewers scored four runs in the top of the 9th inning to shock the Mariners 7-6 yesterday. The M’s gave young closer Edwin Diaz the day off and Tom Wilhelmsen couldn’t close it. The Mariners also had defensive lapses that contributed to the loss. Seattle hosts the New York Yankees tonight, KLOG 6:00 pm…..Clint Dempsey scored two goals to lead the Seattle Sounders to a 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers. Seattle is within two points of the Timbers in the chase for the playoffs. The teams will play again next Sunday in Portland…..The Washington Huskies are ranked #14 in the AP Pre-Season College Football Poll. Oregon is ranked #24. Alabama is ranked #1 going into the season.
The Cowlitz PUD is opening up the John Searing Auditorium as a Cooling Center today, as the heat wave continues across western Washington and Oregon. An Excessive Heat Advisory continues through tomorrow night in the local area, warning of temperatures near or over the century mark today. Kelso had a high of 96 yesterday, Longview had a high of 95, as did Castle Rock and Kalama. Today’s high is expected to be near 100 degrees, while tomorrow is predicted to be just a couple of degrees cooler. Things are expected to cool off substantially on Sunday, with a high of about 80 degrees. The John Searing Auditorium will be open from 8 am to 5 pm today for anyone who needs to get inside and cool down, and they will also be streaming the Olympics.
The PUD is also asking that you “use power wisely” during this heat wave, with high demand as people crank up the fans and the AC. PUD officials say that the distribution system is being closely monitored, so that any heat-related issued and concerns are dealt with quickly. Field crews are prepared to respond to any problems that arise. You’re still advised to shut down air conditioning in empty houses while you’re away or at work, or put a timer on your air conditioner. Take precautions to make sure pets, the elderly and the very young have a way to escape the heat, be sure to stay hydrated, and try to stay out of the direct sun.
A Red Flag Warning also continues in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and throughout most of western Washington and Oregon, talking about extremely dry conditions in the woods, along with gusty winds. In conjunction with this warning, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is announcing a total ban on campfires in all state parks, and on ocean beaches in the Seashore Conservation Area. They say that this ban is part of a statewide effort to prevent human-caused wildfires, and also complies with the ban that was issued by the Department of Natural Resources earlier this week. All state parks are now under Level 4-Extreme Fire Danger. Fires are restricted to self-contained gas and propane stoves; gas-powered fire rings and pits with on-off switches will also be allowed. Check with local jurisdictions about fire restrictions in city and county parks.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is releasing a photo of the “wooden staff” that was being used as a weapon by the 27 year-old man who was shot and killed Wednesday morning at the Flying K convenience store in West Kelso. Undersheriff Marc Gilchrist describes the staff as four feet in length, one-and-one-half inches in diameter, and weighing two pounds. He also says that the staff was broken in the attack, as the man allegedly used it like a club when he attacked a clerk, a customer and Officer John Johnston inside the store. Gilchrist also says that detectives are now evaluating evidence that was recovered at the scene, while also reviewing the in-store video of the event. Additional interviews of witnesses and law enforcement personnel are also being conducted. An autopsy of the man is being set up, probably to be conducted today. Authorities are still working to locate and notify next of kin before they release the man’s name. Gilchrist says that the next update will be issued when the video and the police audio is ready for release. The owner of the Flying K says that the store will re-open in the near future.
The family of Cheryl Hart, 35, of St. Helens is starting a GoFundMe campaign, looking to raise money so that they can hire a Longview-based K-9 search team to look for the missing woman. Hart hasn’t been heard from since August 4th, when she was seen at a home in Eugene, while with her boyfriend, Jeremy Milutin, 36, of St. Helens; Eugene Police say that they are “gravely concerned” for Hart’s welfare. Hart’s grandmother has a goal of raising $10,000, so that they can hire International K-9 Search and Rescue Services for Missing People and Pets; as of last night, more than $2,800 had been raised. Cheryl Hart was last seen with Milutin on the 4th, and then he was seen alone on the 5th. He was arrested later on that day, and is being held in the Lane County Jail on charges unrelated to Hart’s disappearance.