December, 2011

28 Dec 2011, by

Rainier Christmas Light Winners Announced

THE RAINIER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE has announced the winners of its 2011 Christmas lighting contest. The Thomas family (above) on Old Rainier Road in the Alston’s Corner area won first place with a panoramic display, which wrapped around their home. Last year’s winners, the Kregers (below) on West C Street, took second place with their life sized Santa with sleigh and reindeer, nativity scene, and other Christmas characters. The Taylor family on East E Street took third place.

Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley


Daniel Butts’ Competency Hearing to Continue Jan. 3

by Adam J. Wehrley

Closing arguments in the competency hearing of alleged murderer, Daniel Armough Butts, have been set for Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 3 p.m. in Columbia County Circuit Court.

The first two days of testimony in the hearing took place on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 21 and 22. Based on this hearing, Circuit Court Judge Ted Groves will decide whether Butts will stand trial.

The topic of the hearing is whether Butts, who is charged with the Jan. 5, 2011 murder of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter, is mentally capable of standing trial and assisting in his own defense. The purpose of the hearing is not to determine Butts’ mental condition at the time of the shooting.

Chief Painter was killed after responding to reports of a disturbance at the Rainier Sound Authority in west Rainier. The suspect was reportedly trying to take a vehicle which did not belong to him. Following a violent struggle between Butts and Chief Painter, Painter was shot in the head at point-blank range.

Clatskanie and Longview police officers were the first to respond. Initially, Butts refused to surrender and allegedly fired upon the officers. The police returned fire. Butts was wounded and surrendered. He has been held in the Columbia County Jail.

A grand jury returned a 24-count indictment against Butts last January. The charges include nine counts of Aggravated Murder with a Firearm and four counts of Attempted Aggravated Murder with a Firearm for allegedly trying to kill Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover.

Butts also faces charges of Robbery in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, and Attempted Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

Defense psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Larsen maintains that Butts has a history of bizarre behavior which predates the shooting and that it would be nearly impossible for the defendant to feign mental illness for the past year.

Prosecution psychologist Dr. Brooke Howard describes Butts’ behavior as disruptive, not psychosis.

St. Helens police detective José Castilleja reported that Butts had been coherent and in a light and casual mood, after his arrest. Oregon State Police (OSP) Detective Patty Rhodes, who was present in the hospital during Butts’ second interview after the shooting, also testified that Butts was coherent and communicative after his arrest.

Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison stated this week that from the prosecution’s perspective, Butts’ behavior changed around the time of his grand jury arraignment several weeks after his arrest.

Westport Water Project Funds Approved

Clatsop County board of Commissioners approved $50,000 in payments to the Westport Water Association at the Dec, 14th meeting.

The funds will pay for improvements made to the water system over the past four years since it was severely damaged by a storm in December 2007.

The county’s contribution to the $500,000 project comes from tax reimbursement funds received from Georgia-Pacific’s Wauna Mill through the Lower Columbia Maritime Enterprise Zone. The county had earmarked the funds for improvements in east Clatsop County.

The Westport water project was completed earlier this year and included development of new water sources, the addition of a chlorinator, road repair and improved access to a pump house and the new water sources, plus increases to water line capacity.

The project involved a partnership with the Wauna Water District and was primarily funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery Start-up Date Changed

The start-up  of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery   ethanol plant has been pushed back to a January-February time-line, according to general manager Dan Luckett.

Luckett cited a downturn in the ethanol market as the reason for the delay.  A late December/early January start-up was previously announced.

The Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery, located at the Port Westward Industrial Park near Clatskanie, is owned by Cascade Kelly Holding LLC, a subsidiary of J.H. Kelly. The refinery is the largest ethanol plant on the West Coast.

The plant has expanded to 70 employees and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, once operations begin. 110-car unit trains of corn will supply the plant’s raw material. Beside ethanol, the plant will produce distillers grain, syrup and corn  oil.

Candlelight Vigil, Fundraiser Dinner in Memory of Chief Painter

A candlelight vigil in memory of the late Rainier Police chief Ralph Painter is being held Thursday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m., at Rainier Riverfront Park.

The community is invited to join the Rainier Police Department and members of Chief Painter’s family at the event which will mark the one-year anniversary of Rainier’s police chief Painter being killed in the line of duty.

During the vigil, “A” Street will be closed between Veterans Way and the Fox Creek Bridge from approximately 7 to 9 p.m. There will be traffic control personnel at the intersection of Highway 30 and Veterans Way to direct attendees to designated parking areas.

Police personnel who are planning to attend are asked to bring their patrol cars and park them in front of the ceremony, in the closed section of “A” Street.

Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser in remembrance of Chief Painter is being held at the Rainier Junior/Senior High School (RJSHS) prior to the Jan. 5th candlelight vigil. Dinner will be served from 5-8 p.m. in the RJSHS commons.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the school’s “back pack” program which provides food to needy children for the weekends. “Chief Painter was a big supporter of this program,” said event organizer Cindy Johnson.

A silent auction is planned. Funds from the auction will go toward the Ralph Painter  Memorial Highway signs which mark the section of Highway 30 between Rainier and St. Helens named after Chief Painter. Dinner is $5 and includes spaghetti, salad, dessert and a beverage.

Those who wish to donate desserts for the dinner may contact Johnson at 503 556-2227 to sign up. Desserts should be delivered to the RJSHS commons area  between 2 and 4 p.m. before the dinner.

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