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Guilty Plea

Jeremy Alan Hochstetler, 29, of Longview is pleading guilty to abusing his twin infants. The Daily News reports on the case involving Hochstetler, who was arrested in November of last year. Police were called in after one of the seven month-old babies was sent to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where they found that the baby boy had fractured ribs, along with injuries to his liver and pancreas. They say that Hochstetler’s wife also had cell phone photos of injuries to the boy. An examination of the boy’s twin sister also showed bruises and rib fractures. TDN reports that Hochstetler is pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree domestic violence assault of a child, and they say that both sides are requesting a jail sentence of six months when he is sentenced on June 5th. Hochstetler remains free on his personal recognizance until then.

36th Avenue Open House

City of Longview officials will be asking for citizen input on the possible future of the area around 36th and Ocean Beach Highway at an Open House that’s being held today. The city is in the midst of updating its Comprehensive Plan, and they say that an “emphasis area” in this update is the 36th and Ocean Beach area, just south of Walmart. Currently, the area is classed as Regional Commercial, a classification that typically contains a mix of high-intensity uses, including regional shopping like big box stores, offices, professional services, entertainment facilities and hotels. This conversion was made ten years ago, and there has been no development. The city is now wondering if this is the proper designation for this area, and they need to hear from citizens on what the future designation should be. They’re inviting local residents, tenants and property owners to come in and provide input at this evening’s Open House, which will run from 6 to 7:30 pm in the library at Mint Valley Elementary School. Anyone interested can attend.

Kick Butts Day

Students at Mount Solo Middle School in Longview and the Cowlitz County Prevention Squad are joining in the nationwide observance of “Kick Butts Day,” a national event intended to help prevent kids from smoking. More than 1,000 events are being staged across the country, a day of “youth activism” against tobacco use. On Kick Butts Day, students will be encouraging their peers to be tobacco-free, to reject the devious marketing campaigns of the tobacco companies, and to urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free. At 10:30 this morning, students at Mount Solo will be trying to educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco use by drawing chalk body outlines, which will also contain tobacco facts and statistics.

Today’s Events

Bouncing off of the success of the “100 Women Who Care” event that was held a while back, the initial meeting of the Lower Columbia chapter of “100 Men Who Care” is planned for this evening at the Regent Restaurant on Washington Way in Longview. The goal is to have at least 100 men attend, with each of those men donating $100 to a cause that will be chosen at this evening’s meeting. At the initial meeting of 100 Women Who Care in January, more than $11,000 was raised, going directly to Janus Youth Program-Cowlitz County Street Outreach, a program working with homeless youth in the local area. It’s hoped that this men’s group can have a similar impact. This evening’s program is being held this evening at the Regent; go to 100mwclowercolumbia.com to register, or for more information on these groups.

There’s a Seed Exchange planned for today down in Cathlamet. From 11 am to 1 pm today, the WSU Master Gardeners, the Cathlamet Community Center, the Skamakowa Grange and the Wahkiakum Community Garden will putting on this seed exchange. You’re invited to bring your seeds to trade with other members of the community, including vegetables, herbs or flowers of any type. Seeds should be from 2015 or newer. The Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer gardening questions, and there will also be a short program on seed starting, presented at noon. The Cathlamet Community Center is located at 101 Main Street.

Alvin Jones and the Crystal Pool Revival will be playing at tonight’s St. Patty’s Day Dance at the Longview Moose, a benefit for the Longview Senior Center. This will run from 6 to 10 pm; along with the live band, they’ll have food, and will also have prize giveaways. Save five dollars on your entry ticket by getting it in advance at the Longview Senior Center, located at 1111 Commerce Avenue in Longview.

KLOG Tuesday Sports

The Trail Blazers are in New Orleans to play the Pelicans today, KLOG 4:05 pm…..The Lower Columbia Area Senior All-Star basketball games are tonight at LCC. The girls game begins at 6:00 pm and the boys game at 7:30 pm……In boys soccer last night, Kelso rallied with four goals in the second half to beat Mark Morris 4-2. Vicente Soto had two goals and an assists for Kelso. Also, Hudson’s Bay beat R.A. Long 6-3…..The Kelso track and field teams are at home today against Evergreen and Toutle Lake. The meet starts at 3:45 pm at Joe Stewart Track…..Multiple reports say the Seahawks have agreed to terms with free agent running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy comes to Seattle from Green Bay…..The Mariners play the White Sox today after losing to Milwaukee 24-3 yesterday.

Slide Issues

Landslides are affecting travel in the local area, starting with the shutdown of Amtrak travel between Kelso and Vancouver. The rails were shut down at about 9 last night, and there’s now a 48-hour moratorium in place before passenger service will resume. Amtrak is making alternate arrangements to move passengers on the Coast Starlight and Amtrak Cascades trains; I-5 is not affected by this slide. Normal rail operations continue north and south of the slide area. Service is not expected to resume before tomorrow at the earliest.

State Route 503 is closed in both directions near Speelyai Bay, about three miles past the Yale Bridge Road. The Washington Department of Transportation reports that a slide of mud, trees and other debris covered both lanes of the highway late yesterday morning, and the road remains blocked this morning. The slide was still moving and unstable yesterday afternoon, and they have been monitoring the situation all night long. At this time, there’s no estimate as to when the highway might re-open, but detours into the area are available.

With more rain on the way, forecasters say that more slides are possible, as local soils become more saturated. More heavy rain is expected through today and will go into tomorrow. The amount of rain that’s expected will put more pressure on unstable soils, increasing the possibility of additional slides. Tomorrow and Thursday are expected to be “the times of greatest threat.”

Another issue coming with this heavy rain is the potential for flooding. With the ground in the local area being completely saturated, the only place for this rain to go is into local rivers and streams. Snowmelt will also contribute to the rising rivers. High runoff from the interior of Washington, Oregon and Idaho will contribute to a rise in the main stem of the Columbia, pushing the big river to near flood stage in the Vancouver area on Thursday. The river is expected to crest at or near flood stage late on Thursday, and then should slowly recede through the weekend. They say there’s some potential for flooding on the Lower Cowlitz, along with other Columbia River tributaries.

Coal Creek Crash

The investigation is continuing into yesterday afternoon’s head-on crash that closed Coal Creek Road for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. The head-on collision took place at about 10 minutes to 3 yesterday afternoon, in the 900 block of Coal Creek. Few details are being released as of yet, but we do know that one car went into the ditch, and one car remained in the road. At least one person was hurt, taken to Saint John Medical Center as a “modified trauma.” A juvenile that was driving one of the vehicles was detained after the crash; the collision also delayed two Longview School buses that were trying to get kids home after school. The Sheriff’s Office will release additional information on the collision as it becomes available.

Motorcycle Chase

A teen from Tualatin is in the Lewis County Jail, after he allegedly took law enforcement on a pursuit that hit 150 miles an hour. The Centralia Chronicle says that the chase happened Sunday morning, and reportedly started near Castle Rock. The State Patrol reports that they started getting calls about an erratic motorcycle at about 9:45 Sunday morning, heading north from milepost 48. By 10 am, more reports came in, saying that the rider was “splitting lanes” and was traveling more than 100 mph near Chehalis. A Trooper first spotted the bike near milepost 79, estimating the rider’s speed at 103 mph. The chase started near milepost 89, where the motorcycle was now up to 116 mph. The chase headed north to exit 95, reaching speeds of between 130 and 150 miles an hour. The rider got off there; troopers were looking for the bike, and were tipped that the rider was hiding behind a support beam on the overpass. Troopers walked up and arrested German V. Chumak, 19, of Tualatin without further incident; Chumak tells the troopers that he ran out of gas. Chumak is now being held in the Lewis County Jail on bail of $20,000, charged with felony eluding.

Chinook Woman Update

They still haven’t identified the woman, but the Pacific County Coroner now reports that the woman whose body was found last Tuesday in Chinook died from accidental drowning. The body was found by someone that was walking along the Columbia River shore, washed up on the rocks. Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson says that they do have some potential leads on where the body may have come from, after confirming that the body was not one of the local missing person cases. Johnson says that it’s possible that the body came from some distance away, saying that it’s possible for bodies to float 100 miles or more. Johnson says that they should have more information in the next few days.

Bond Package Delay

The Longview School Board is still working to identify the full package of projects that they want to put in front of voters in November, looking for resources to rebuild or renovate the district’s facilities. School Board President C. J. Nickerson says that things are taking longer than first planned, but he also says that this something that they can’t afford to mess us. Several members of the board are expressing concerns after learning that most scenarios under consideration will NOT eliminate portables from the district. Nickerson and Barb Westrick say that the elimination of portables was one of the main drivers behind this whole process, and now Superintendent Dan Zorn says that won’t happen unless the largest bond package is passed, with all of the identified projects completed. Zorn says that the complete elimination of portables would be very expensive; he also points out that the package that most board members seem to support would eliminate “most” of the district’s portables. Nickerson says that, even after two years of work by the Facilities Advisory Committee, he would like a “fresh look,” to see if there are alternatives to complete reconstruction of some buildings. No decisions were made last night, and another special meeting of the Longview School Board is planned for next Monday at 5:30 pm, where this discussion will resume.