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Bank Robbery

Melvin Monroe DeSpain, 54, of Longview is in custody, after he allegedly tried to rob the Key Bank near the Civic Circle this past Friday afternoon. Longview Police say that this got started around 3 pm on Friday, when DeSpain allegedly handed a “demand note” to a teller. After getting an undisclosed about of cash, DeSpain took off on foot, but he didn’t get far. Longview Police stopped DeSpain a few blocks away, near the 15th Avenue Safeway store. Bank employees identified DeSpain as the suspect, so he was arrested and booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree theft and making false statements to police. He’s currently being held without bail, pending his first appearance in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

Meth Bust

A multi-year investigation into meth sales in the Centralia area was wrapped up last week, with the arrest of Miguel Perez-Espinoza, 28, and the seizure of five pounds of meth. Centralia Police say that this investigation goes back to 2010, when the Centralia Anti-Crime Unit and the DEA seized 12 pounds of meth from a home on Elma Drive in Centralia. Perez-Espinoza was identified as the suspect in that crime, but it was thought that he had taken off to Mexico. Toward the end of last year, Detectives learned that Perez-Espinoza was back in the Centralia area, and had resumed his drug trade. In August, a search warrant was served at a home on Ives Road in Centralia, resulting in the arrest of three alleged co-conspirators. Perez-Espinoza was arrested after last week’s raid, and is now being held in the Lewis County Jail, with bail currently set at a half-million dollars.

Friday Collision

Lloyd Allen, 24, of Castle Rock is being charged with following too closely, after he allegedly rear-ended another car Friday afternoon on West Side Highway near Lexington. State Troopers say that this crash took place at about 4:30 Friday afternoon, about 3-1/2 miles north of Kelso. Kathleen Grimm, 53, of Castle Rock and Austin Sedy, 20, of Castle Rock had each stopped for other traffic; Troopers say that Grimm’s car was hit from behind by Allen, and then was pushed into Sedy’s pickup. Grimm and Sedy complained of back pain after the crash; both were taken to St. John Medical Center, where they were treated and released. Allen was cited and released.

Red Cross Director

The Southwest Washington chapter of the American Red Cross has a new Executive Director, as Dennis Rugg of Vancouver is named to that position. Rugg has a history of involvement with the Red Cross, serving on the Board of Directors for the past nine years. He was also honored at the Southwest Washington region Volunteer of the Year in 2012. It’s reported that Rugg has been highly involved in many aspects of the Red Cross mission, involving disaster response, volunteer support, sponsor cultivation and donor stewardship. Rugg says that he looks forward to promoting the understanding and community participation with the Red Cross, also saying that it’s an honor to work for an organization that touches so many lives each and every day.

Workforce Help

The Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council says that they’re getting financial assistance that will allow them to train up to a thousand local people for new jobs in manufacturing and information technology, after receiving an $8.5 million grant from the U. S. Department of Labor. The SWWDC says that this grant will cover three years, and will help to train 850 long-term unemployed individuals, along with 150 veterans. Workforce Development Council CEO Jeannie Bennett says that this three-year grant will help to provide needs and skills assessment, job placement services, coaching, work-based training and short-term intensive skills training. If you or someone you know is looking for a job, they should contact Worksource in Kelso at 577-2250 to learn more about the no-cost assistance that is available to help those people gain the skills needed to be competitive in today’s job market.

Stand Down 2014

A 40-foot-by-40-foot tent has been set up, pallets full of supplies have been unloaded, and the volunteers are set up for the 2014 Cowlitz County Veterans Stand Down, which will take place today at the Washington National Guard Armory on Vandercook Way in Longview. Opening ceremonies for this event will be held at 9 am, open to all veterans in the area and their families. Veterans will be able to access hot meals and snacks, clothing and supplies, showers and haircuts, along with other services. Participants will also be able to register for claims with the Veterans Administration, get health screenings, learn about housing assistance, and connect with employment services. River City Transit will also be providing free transportation for veterans going to and from today’s Stand Down. Get more information on the Cowlitz County Veterans Stand Down Facebook page.

Kalama Vandalism

Kalama Police are investigating a multitude of vandalism incidents that apparently took place Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with nearly 30 commercial and residential victims reported. The calls on this started coming in shortly before 5 yesterday morning, when some illegal dumping was reported in the 300 block of Military Road. Reports continued through the morning, with damage to mailboxes, dumping of political and real estate signs and one incident involving a pumpkin being smashed on top of a car. There was also a report from Kalama Hardware Warehouse, where the vandals got up onto the roof, ripped new roofing off of the building, and then they rolled three pallets of roofing insulation off of the building and into a neighboring parking lot. At this time, no suspects have been identified, but Kalama Police are following up on some leads. If you have information on this incident, call Kalama Police at 673-2165, or leave an anonymous tip on the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 577-1206.

Hash Oil Bust

Two people are under arrest and possible charges are being reviewed against a third person after a Wednesday bust by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. They served a search warrant on a warehouse in Winlock on Wednesday, wrapping up an investigation into alleged drug sales. Chief Criminal Deputy Stacy Brown says that undercover operatives made several controlled buys of prescription drugs and marijuana from Brett Watkins, 37, and Gabriela Watkins, 40, of Winlock, helping to set the stage for Wednesday’s search warrant. Deputies went to some property in the 200 block of West Walnut Street, and claim to have found materials for making hash oil in a shed on that property. They also claim to have found ten pounds of marijuana, prescription drugs and guns. The Watkins are being charged with possession, manufacture and delivery of narcotics, and possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana. Information on the third possible suspect is being sent to the Lewis County Prosecutor for a charging decision.

Scappoose Chief

The embattled Scappoose Police Department has a new Chief, as City Manager Larry Lehman stays in-house in promoting Norman Miller to the top spot. Miller had been serving as a Lieutenant in the department prior to being named as the Acting Police Chief in August of 2013. This came after Doug Greisen was suspended, and eventually terminated in a cloud of controversy. Miller has been with the Scappoose Police Department since 1999; he moved up through the ranks, with promotions in 2001, 2004 and 2006. Miller was chosen out of 12 applicants for the position. Miller is a life-long native of Scappoose, graduating from Scappoose High School in 1985. Miller says that it’s his goal to continue the smooth operation of the department, to keep moving forward, to be involved with the community and to have the community be involved with the Police Department.

KLOG Friday Sports

Woodland defeated R.,A. Long 35-14 in prep football last night. The rest of the action is tonight including Kelso at Black Hills (101.5 FM The Wave) and Hudson’s Bay at Mark Morris (105.5 FM KUKN)…..Utah outlasted Oregon State 29-23 in 2 OT’s last night in college football. Tomorrow, the Huskies visit the Ducks, KLOG 4:00 pm…..The Seahawks are in St. Louis Sunday morning…..In prep volleyball, Centralia beat Kelso 3-2, Mark Morris over Hockinson 3-1 and Kalama took care of Castle Rock 3-0…..In girls soccer, Kelso blasted Centralia 10-0, Woodland blanked RAL 2-0 and Hockinson shutout MM 3-0…..RAL edged MM 172-174 in Civil War golf yesterday…..The Blazers host Israel’s Maccabi Haifa tonight, KLOG 6:00 pm.