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News brief: Clothes dryer ignites house fire

Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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Firefighters from four departments extinguish house fire today on Avery Road West. / Courtesy photo by Derrick Paul

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two people and a baby escaped injuries today when a small explosion caught their laundry room on fire in a house south of Napavine.

Firefighters were called just after 11 a.m. to the two-story home on the 400 block of Avery Road West and extinguished the fire, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

They were joined by personnel from Lewis County Fire Districts 15, 2 and 7, according to District 5’s Laura Hanson.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul said the brother, sister and her infant were home at the time but got out. He found a faulty gas clothes dryer caused the blaze.

There was extensive damage throughout the residence, according to Paul. Hanson described it as a total loss and noted an adjacent structure was damaged as well.

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Ex-government employee admits stealing thousands from account she managed

Friday, January 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm
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Centralia woman April Kelley is allowed to leave the courtroom free on her personal recognizance after pleading guilty to first-degree theft.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The now-former social services manager for Lewis County acknowledged today she stole more than $100,000 from a bank account she was responsible for as treasurer.

April K. Kelley, 35, was arrested and charged in September after an investigation conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Centralia woman has remained out of jail on $20,000 bail.

She went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, with more than a dozen supporters seated in the benches behind her.

Kelley pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree theft, committed over a less than four-year period ending in the spring of 2014. Six counts of forgery were dropped in a plea agreement struck with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Kelley worked at the Lewis County Department of Public Health & Social Services, and in that capacity, served as treasurer for the Association of County Human Services. The money was discovered missing when a new treasurer took over.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Andrew Toybnee asked Kelley if she understood the elements of the crime, the maximum penalty, if she had any questions and pointed out a box of kleenex as she sniffled.

“Do you understand what the prosecutor will be recommending?” Toynbee asked. “Yes,” Kelley responded.

Each of the counts carries aggravating factors with Kelley admitting to committing a major economic offense and using her position of trust and fiduciary responsibility to carry out the crimes.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he plans to ask for a 10 year sentence.

She was allowed to leave court today, on her personal recognizance and return on Feb. 8 for that hearing. Meyer said he will be asking that day she be taken directly into custody.

The prosecutor has tallied up a bit more than $196,000 in restitution that Kelley will be responsible for. About $28,000 of that is for an audit fee and $5,000 for expert accountant fees.

At one point the defendant realized the association didn’t have enough funds to cover amounts due and got money from a family member to prevent detection of the losses, according to Meyer. The approximately $49,000 she deposited will reduce the restitution amount, he said.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said he wasn’t prepared to speak about how much time he will recommend for his client, as he wants the judge to hear it from him first.

However, the standard sentencing range for the offense is 22 to 29 months in prison, he said. And under the law, an option for a first time offender is zero to 90 days in jail, he said.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Former treasurer set to plead guilty in theft case” from Thursday January 12, 2017, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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•••

ARSON AT COLLEGE

• Police were called to Centralia College about 6:20 p.m. yesterday following the discovery a small fire had been set to a paper flyer taped on a wall. It burned itself out before it was found, but left scorch marks, according to the Centralia Police Department. The incident is under investigation, according to police.

THEFT, THEFT, THEFT

• Centralia police were called to the 200 block of North Oak Street about 5:50 p.m. yesterday to take a report of the theft of a chainsaw, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 1:15 a.m. today to the 700 block of Northwest Ohio Avenue in Chehalis for a suspected vehicle prowl.

• Chehalis police were called about 9:20 a.m. yesterday to the 1500 block of North National Avenue following the discovery that during the night, someone had cut a padlock to a trailer. It was not immediately apparent if anything was missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• James A. Nix, 50 of Centralia, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer about 2:10 p.m. yesterday at the 500 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• Firefighters were called just before 7:30 a.m. today for a wreck in which a car landed off the road on its side with the driver trapped at the 600 block of Meier Road outside Winlock. They were able to help her out without using any of their tools and she was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with minor injuries, according to Lewis County Fire District 15.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, vehicle collision, suspicious circumstances … and more among 156 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Centralia wife’s murder trial postponed

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 7:03 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Attorneys told a judge today the trial for the Centralia woman charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband should be pushed off into the future.

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Janet L. Anderson

Janet L. Anderson, 39, has been held in the Lewis County Jail since she was arrested last month. Forty-one-year-old Ty Anderson’s body was located in their bedroom wrapped in a tarp, with a bullet hole in the back of his neck and another in his lower back, prosecutors have said.

She was charged in Lewis County Superior Court on Dec. 19 and a trial date was set for the week of Feb. 13.

Centralia defense attorney Shane O’Rourke today requested and was granted the postponement, until the week of May 8.

O’Rourke said he could tell early on based on the complexities the real trial date would be further down the road. But it’s standard practice at arraignments to put it on the court schedule within the required amount of time, he said.

“I gauged this one at six to nine months in terms of total time frame,” he said today.

Janet Anderson turned herself in to police the morning of Dec. 17, said she and her husband had been arguing at their home off of West Oakview Avenue and he grabbed his gun and pointed it at her. Prosecutors have said the shooting could have occurred as long as 12 hours earlier.

She has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bail.
•••

For background, read “Centralia wife pleads not guilty to murder” from Friday December 23, 2016, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 10:34 am
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•••

Updated at 5:24 p.m.

MOM STOPPED FOR DUI, WHILE BABY SLEEPS AT HOME ALONE

• A 24-year-old Winlock woman was booked into jail last night after she was detained for driving under the influence while her 9-month-old baby was home alone in an unlocked house. Deputies were notified by the Washington State Patrol just before 11:35 p.m. they had Brandy N. Hunter in custody, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies arrived to the home on the 100 block of Highland Road, went inside and found the infant boy sleeping in a crib, Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said. Hunter said she had been drinking and went to help some friends, Breen said. She reportedly told the deputy she drove to Wal-Mart to meet a friend and give them money, then the friend asked for a ride to the casino; she was pulled over on Interstate 5 in north Centralia, according to Breen.  Hunter was arrested for second-degree abandonment of a dependent person and the child was released into his father’s custody, according to the sheriff’s office. Prosecutors chose not to file that charge today, pending further investigation.

DOMESTIC ASSAULT

• A 33-year-old Winlock man was arrested last night for allegedly tackling his significant other to the ground in their driveway and choking her. A deputy dispatched to the 400 block of Hawkins Road in Winlock at 10:30 p.m. found the victim had bruises on her neck and forearm as well as some lacerations, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. William D. Taylor III was arrested for second-degree assault and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. Prosecutors declined to file the felony charge today and moved the case to Lewis County District Court.

• A 41-year-old Packwood man was arrested for second-degree assault last night after deputies were called to a physical dispute at the 200 block of Crescent Beach Drive in Packwood. His significant other who was found with scrapes, bruises and a swollen lip said he began to beat her up and choke her after she confronted him about another female, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Evans I. Kanyingi had minor scratches on his face and would not provide any information about the incident, according to the sheriff’s office. He was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. Prosecutors declined to file the felony charge today and moved the case to Lewis County District Court.

DRUGS

• A 28-year-old man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after he was searched when detained for an outstanding warrant following a traffic stop at Southwest 13th Street and McFadden Avenue in Chehalis last night. Brian A. Williams, of Chehalis, was a passenger in the vehicle that was pulled over, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

FIRE

• Chehalis police were called just before 1:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Southwest 20th Street for alleged reckless burning. The case is being investigated, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, driving with no license, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence; responses for alarm, civil issue, third-degree theft, disorderly person, vehicle collision, suspicious circumstances … and more among 149 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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News brief: Missing woman located safe in Tumwater

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 8:58 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Thurston County authorities found the woman they were looking for yesterday, who had been missing since Tuesday.

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Carol Biehl

Carol A. Biehl, 69, was located at 9 o’clock last night in Tumwater, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Carla Carter said in a message this morning that Biehl is safe.

The sheriff’s office had asked for the public’s help as they looked for Biehl or her car as she has dementia and has heart conditions.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Woman missing from Thurston County” from Wednesday January 18, 2017, here

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Prosecutor: Mineral woman made up rape story

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An 18-year-old woman went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court accused of lying when she reported to a deputy that a 16-year-old boy tried to rape her.

Sierah L. Daniels is charged with malicious prosecution, a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Blye told the judge Daniels has no prior criminal history and recommended she be allowed release pending trial on a $5,000 unsecured bond. Judge Joely O’Rourke agreed.

Daniels had been summonsed to appear, after the charge was filed at the end of December.

Charging documents describe a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy being dispatched on Dec. 2 for an attempted rape in Mineral and meeting Daniels at the Morton Police Department.

She reportedly told the deputy the boy, now 17, attempted to have sex with her when he showed up to her trailer in Mineral, first asking her and when she said no, forcing her down on the bed.

She said he began to force her knees apart when her husband’s mother walked in, Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Schaap wrote in the affidavit regarding probable cause.

However, the deputy then interviewed the boy who said they’d made a plan to meet at her trailer at 6 o’clock before school, according to Schaap, and after he arrived they hugged and her answer to his question was, “I don’t know.”

He reportedly said he was rubbing her thigh when the mother-in-law walked in and he would take a polygraph to prove he did nothing wrong, according to Schaap.

Schaap wrote that when the sheriff’s deputy re-contacted Daniels, she admitted she lied and made up the story to avoid a rift in her marriage.

Daniels was accompanied to court this afternoon by her husband. She was given a court-appointed lawyer and told to return for her arraignment on Jan. 26.

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Winlock man denies molestation charge

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 50-year-old Winlock man accused by a 6-year-old relative of touching her beneath her underwear was allowed to remain free pending trial on a $10,000 unsecured bond when he appeared in court today.

John M. Stafford was charged in Lewis County Superior Court at the end of December with one count of first-degree child molestation. He was summonsed to appear before a judge this afternoon and did so, accompanied by his parents and his daughter.

Judge Joely O’Rourke set his bail as requested and ordered him not to have any contact with minor children or go anywhere they might congregate.

Court documents state that a Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputy spoke with the girl’s mother on June 6 and an appointment was arranged with a child forensic interviewer.

The kindergartner allegedly said Stafford sticks his hand down her pants and rubs her panties, he had touched her 33 times and the last time it happened was a the park, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote in charging documents.

The girl’s mom said the last time the child was around Stafford was around Easter.

When the deputy interviewed Stafford, he denied the allegations, according to Bohm.

Outside the court room, Stafford said the accusations were false and in retaliation for an incident he had with the girl’s father in the past, who vowed he would get back at him.

Stafford’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 26. First-degree child molestation carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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News brief: Woman missing from Thurston County

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Thurston County authorities are asking the public to call 911 if they see a missing 69-year-old woman or her car.

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Carol Biehl

Carol A. Biehl was last seen at noon yesterday in the Olympia area driving a white 1996 Honda Accord, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Biehl suffers from dementia and has heart conditions, according to Sgt. Carla Carter.

She is 5-feet 4-inches tall, weighs about 235 pounds and has blue eyes with gray hair dyed light brown, according to Carter.

The car has a license plate reading 911 SLJ.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 11:57 am
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•••

Updated at 12:12 p.m.

WILD CHILD

• Chehalis police were called at 6:23 a.m. today when a motorist spotted an approximately 3-year-old girl wearing a dress running along Northwest Airport Road toward Northwest Louisiana Avenue. A Twin Transit bus driver picked the child up, called 911 and met a police officer at the stop near Westside Park, according to the Chehalis Police Department. It turns out, she had put on her boots, but not a coat, and left home “off on an adventure” by herself, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. “Dad however, when he discovered she was missing, was frantically looking for her,” Bailey said. The father called 911 at 6:39 a.m. to report he woke up and found his daughter was gone. The two were reunited at the police department, Bailey said. Bailey said she didn’t have all the details yet, but it didn’t appear the little girl had traveled very far from her home before she was picked up.

GARDEN TOOL TAKEN

• Police were called to the 200 block of Tilley Avenue just after 9 o’clock yesterday morning where someone had stolen a weed eater from the garage during the night.

BANK CARD FRAUD

• Centralia police were called about 11:10 a.m. yesterday to take a report that a credit card had been stolen and was used at a local business, in a case associated with the 2000 block of Borst Avenue. The investigation is ongoing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

OOPS

• Chehalis police were called to the 10 block of Southwest Scott Place about 1:15 p.m. yesterday after a resident discovered a repo man had wrongly hooked up their vehicle to tow it away and caused some damage in the process. A neighbor had observed the tow truck and driver behind the home and remarked that the owner always paid their bills, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The driver checked the paperwork, realized the mistake and unhooked the vehicle, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. “We’re going to try to figure out who the repo person was,” Bailey said. She didn’t have a description of the damage.

VANDALISM

• An officer was called to the 500 block of Hamilton Avenue in Centralia just before 8 a.m. yesterday following the discovery that power wires going in to a house had been damaged.

ON THE ROAD

• The overwhelming odor of marijuana emitted by a motorist contacted following a traffic stop on Interstate 5 south of Chehalis yesterday morning led to an arrest for driving under the influence. A deputy headed northbound near milepost 73 observed the driver cutting off another vehicle, causing the other vehicle to swerve out of its lane, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Christopher A. White, 46, of Tacoma, was pulled over about 10 a.m. and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, hit and run; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, harassment, vehicle collision, suspicious circumstances … and more among 129 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm
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•••

Updated at 3:16 p.m.

BREAK-IN TOLEDO

• A deputy was called for a residential burglary on Saturday at the 100 block of Templeton Road outside of Toledo in which a safe, three cell phones and two security cameras were stolen. The break-in occurred between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. that day, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The safe was found down the road on Sunday morning, Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said.

BREAK-IN WINLOCK

• Someone got into a Winlock woman’s barn at the 600 block of Meier Road and stole a Chicago meat saw valued at $350 sometime in the weeks previous to Sunday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

MESSING WITH THE MAIL

• A deputy was called on Sunday to the 200 block of Blakeley Lane in Toledo where a woman reported two $400 rent checks had been stolen from her mailbox sometime during the previous two weeks, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 6:40 a.m. today to take a report of a black 2000 Honda Civic stolen from the 200 block of South Tower Avenue. The car has a license plate reading BAE 8186, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• An officer was called to the 300 block of Southwest 16th Street in Chehalis just before 2 p.m. on Sunday following the discovery of a vehicle prowl that occurred sometime since Friday. The driver’s side back window was broken out, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A window was broken on a friend’s vehicle parked there as well, according to police.

• Chehalis police were called just after 3 p.m. on Saturday to the Lewis County Mall where a woman found someone had broken out her passenger side window. Nothing seemed to be missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 2:30 p.m. on Friday to the 1000 block of South Market Boulevard to take a report of a stolen rear license plate from a vehicle.

WALLET LIFTED

• Chehalis police were called on Friday afternoon by a woman who had left her purse in a cart at the 2100 block of North National Avenue the Monday before and while someone turned it in to the store, her checkbook-style wallet was missing from inside.

MACGYVER MOVE

• A deputy was called to the Lewis County Jail on Saturday following the discovery an inmate allegedly took apart a mop bucket, removed a metal rod and attempted to sharpen it. Jeremy L. Boggess, 45, of Centralia, reportedly said he wasn’t going to hurt anyone with it but planned to use it to destroy a camera, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Boggess was re-booked for possession of weapon by a prisoner, according to the sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 45-year-old man picked up on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant was also arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver following a search incident to his arrest on Friday evening at the 500 block of South Oak Street in Centralia. Harold J. Bland, from Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Chehalis police were called to Green Hill School about 1:45 p.m. on Friday where a 16-year-old student-inmate had allegedly been found with suspicious green vegetable material.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• Chehalis police were called just after 8:30 a.m. on Saturday after a vehicle slid on some ice in the parking lot at the 600 block of West Main Street and hit the building. The damage was minimal, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Two Olympia men were injured when their car crossed the centerline on U.S. Highway 12 about 15 miles east of Packwood just before 9:20 yesterday morning and collided with a fifth-wheel trailer being towed by a pickup truck. The 1997 Audi was totaled as was the fifth-wheel, according to the Washington State Patrol. The driver, Haroun W. Bryant, 27, and his passenger Jordan A. Frost, 25, declined to be taken to the hospital, according to the state patrol. They had been wearing their seat belts and headed westbound, the investigating trooper reports. The 55-year-old driver of the pickup truck, from Puyallup, was reportedly unhurt.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, assault, driving with suspended license, driving without a license, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, unfounded report, suspicious circumstances, a hypothermic male laying on the road asking passerby for a ride … and more among 116 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Self defense course draws moms, daughters

Monday, January 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm
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Chehalis resident Lisa Isom, center, is coached by self defense instructor Rob Gebhart on a move she’s trying with Katie Gift.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One of them is a registered nurse who sees potentially out-of-control patients, three are teenage girls who want to feel safer on college campus’s and two are mothers of those girls.

Their instructor is a friendly-looking man who’s been studying and teaching martial arts for about 40 years.

On a recent cold weekend in Chehalis, they came together to learn what he calls common sense self defense, for women.

“We won’t be doing a bunch of wristy-twisty, trying to hold someone down type stuff,” Rob Gebhart said.

The focus is how to protect yourself and then get away, he said.

“My goal is to make you harder to kill,” he said.

Gebhart is a fourth-degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. He operates Ohana Martial Arts in Chehalis.

The two-day class was held in the upstairs of the Chehalis Fire Department, where Gebhart is a captain.

The lecture and hands on training is drawn from various disciplines and only one-third of it involves the physical aspects of a fight. As important, according to Gebhart, are the emotional and psychological components of a confrontation.

And preparation.

For example, Gebhart tells the group to get comfortable with violence, in terms of, instead of looking away from it, to do some research to reduce the fear of it. Like someone might do if they’re afraid of snakes, he said.

He talked to the women about paying attention to their intuition, that feeling one might get in the pit of their stomach when something is not quite right in their environment.

The introductory physical responses to a surprise attack were straightforward and simple.

“We take what the body wants to do naturally and show how that can be used in self defense or combat,” Gebhart wrote as he described the course in an invitation to observe.

The class ran from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on a Saturday and was scheduled for the same hours the following day.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, January 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm
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•••

BUSINESS BURGLARY

• Somebody broke into a business at the 300 block of West Main Street in Centralia and stole clothing and costume jewelry, according to a report made to police about 10:30 a.m. yesterday.

PORTABLE GENERATOR STOLEN

• Centralia police were called just before noon yesterday to the 1000 block of North Scheuber Road where an individual reported that sometime during the night unknown persons unlocked his storage shed and stole a portable gas generator, according to the Centralia Police Department.

YARD PROWL

• An officer was called to the 1500 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday to take a report that during the night, someone stole a bicycle and air compressor from beside a residence.

CAR PROWL

• Police took a report from the 2300 block of Rosewood Lane in Centralia on Saturday morning that sometime during the night, someone broke the window of a vehicle parked there and stole a backpack.

VANDALISM

• Police were called to the 900 block of H Street in Centralia yesterday just after 11 a.m. where someone had thrown a rock through the back window of someone else’s vehicle.

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• A 60-year-old motorist was arrested for driving under the influence after he lost control of his vehicle which flipped onto its top striking a parked vehicle along the 1000 block of South Gold Street in Centralia on Saturday night. Officers called just after 8 p.m. found his two passengers sustained minor injuries, according to the Centralia Police Department. Robert E. Morrison, 60, of Centralia, was also arrested for reckless endangerment and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 72-year-old man was injured and two passenger vehicles were totaled when he attempted to cross U.S. Highway 12 in Salkum on Friday evening and his 2012 Ford F150 pickup struck an eastbound 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup. Charles E. Dunham, from Salkum, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol. Dunham was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the state patrol. The other driver, a 29-year-old man from Vancouver, was reportedly unhurt. Dunham had been traveling on Salkum Road and headed to Fuller Road, according to the state patrol. He was to be cited for failure to yield the right of way.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing, resisting arrest, driving with suspended license, driving under the influence, protection order violation, misdemeanor domestic assault; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, hit and run, vehicle collision, third-degree theft, suspicious circumstances … and more among 368 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 72-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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Warning: Drastic weather pattern change expected

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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Current and forecasted level of Chehalis River at Centralia as of 4:18 p.m. today. / Image from NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Warmer weather, rising snow levels and a threat of heavy rain mean its time for those whose areas are prone to flooding to start monitoring the latests forecasts.

The National Weather Service says river flooding is possible this week across portions of Western Washington.

High temperatures could reach into the low 50s over the lowlands and snow levels would rise to above 6,000 feet by Tuesday, according to the weather service. Precipitation may begin late Monday and persist through at least Wednesday.

Windy conditions are possible in some areas beginning Monday night.

As of this afternoon, confidence is low as to the specific timing, magnitude and locations of the heavier rains, winds and potential flooding.

Rainfall totals of five to eight inches are possible in the Olympic Mountains during that 48-hour period, with four to seven inches possible in the Cascades, according to the NWS.

“Western Washington rivers are running low currently, but the rain will cause them to rise quickly and flooding could possibly begin Tuesday or Wednesday,” the NWS states.

People who reside in areas which traditionally flood ought to pay attention to the weather forecasts and keep an eye out for flood watches or flood warnings.

Flood watches have already been put into place in Cowlitz and Pacific counties.

Check the National Weather Service information for our area by checking the link called “Weather alerts, forecasts” on the righthand sidebar, always here on LewisCountySirens.com

Tip, for those who want to get a sense of how quickly the river level forecasts can change: Check your river level chart today and then check it again tomorrow, and the next day. “River levels” from NWS, also always on the righthand sidebar of this page.

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News brief: Nighttime auto arson destroys Maserati

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 8:35 am
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2012 Maserati Quattroporte found parked off Big Hanaford Road. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities believe someone torched a Maserati discovered burning alongside a remote rural Lewis County road during the night.

Firefighters responding to a 2:30 a.m. call of a vehicle fire on the 900 block of Big Hanaford Road east of Centralia arrived to find the passenger car well-involved in fire, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

“The fire was quickly brought under controlled and extinguished without damage to other property,” Fire Capt. Scott Weinert wrote in a brief summary of the incident.

The location is near the TransAlta power plant.

The 2012 Maserati Quattroporte is registered to a Seattle resident, according to Weinert.

The Italian luxury car was parked off the roadway and is a total loss. The cause is presumed to be arson, Weinert wrote.

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Packwood house burned undetected for hours, man died of smoke inhalation

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The cause of the fatal house fire in Packwood just before Christmas is going to be undetermined.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul said he has some suspicions and theories that fit, but without proof he can’t say for sure.

Michael J. Pierson, 56, lived alone there according to his family, Lewis County Fire District 10 Chief Lonnie Goble said.

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Dec. 20, 2016

While the coroner has not yet confirmed the identity of the victim, the family has placed an obituary for the Packwood man.

Born in Morton Pierson was injured in a logging accident in his early 20s and unable to work again, according to the notice published by Cattermole Funeral Home. He leaves behind his mother, a brother, a sister, two children and two grandchildren, the obituary states.

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office has established he died from smoke inhalation.

The fire at the modular home behind the Chevron gas station along U.S. Highway 12 was reported about 5:20 a.m. on Dec. 20.

Chief Goble said when they arrived, only half the house was engulfed in flames as the fire had already moved from the other side. The roof had already collapsed, he said.

It turns out it had been burning as early as 3:15 a.m., based on footage from the gas station’s security system, Goble said. Around 4:15 a.m., a large explosion could be seen, which may have been a window blowing out, he said.

“How the neighbors didn’t hear that, I don’t know,” he said. “The fire could have started at 12 o’clock that night, no one really knows.”

Once the fire was extinguished, the man presumed to be Pierson was found dead inside.

Goble said Pierson walked with a cane whenever he’d see him in town, and had very poor vision. The family told Goble and Paul that Pierson sometimes smoked in bed and had mishaps with lit cigarettes.

“He’d put cigarettes out and it would be on the night stand instead of the ashtray,” Goble said.

An errant cigarette is one of the investigator’s theories as to the cause of the fire. Paul said the bed was in the front room and the fire started around the bed.

Paul was also fairly certain there was not a working smoke detector in the house. Some of the rooms were still intact and he didn’t find a smoke detector, he said.

“Whether it would have saved his life, we don’t know,” Paul said.  “But I have never had a fire fatality with a working smoke detector in 20 years.”

Paul said once the coroner verifies the victim’s identity, he can finalize his fire report. And the official cause will be undetermined.
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For background, read “One dead in Packwood house fire” from Tuesday December 20, 2016, here

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News brief: Charity auction will help firefighters help others

Friday, January 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm

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By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A group of firefighters from rural Chehalis are once again going to tackle the 69 flights of stairs at the Columbia Tower in Seattle in March, outfitted in their full gear to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Their fundraising effort includes an auction in downtown Chehalis  next Friday night, Jan. 20.

Mike Goodwillie, of Lewis County Fire District 6 says the team’s honoree continues to be little Noah McDaniel.

Goodwillie said they have a lot of great stuff to auction off such as a chartered fishing trip and two-night stays in Leavenworth, Astoria and Long Beach.

Where: The Loft, 547 NW Pacific Ave.
When: Jan. 20, 2017, at 7 p.m.
What: Firefighter Auction for a Cure
Why: For the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Who: All members of the community are welcome

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, January 13, 2017 at 11:18 am
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THEFT, THEFT, THEFT

• Centralia police were called at 8:38 a.m. yesterday to the 1900 block of Harrison Avenue where someone had stolen hand tools and a toolbox from a carport, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called to a bank on the 700 block of West Main Street at 3:45 p.m. yesterday about a customer with an altered check. James M. Rada, 35, of Chehalis, allegedly tried to pass the check and was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for forgery, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 2:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue for a pair of suspected shoplifters. A 22-year-old Centralia woman detained in the parking lot handed over the merchandise and was arrested for third-degree theft and then released, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A 26-year-old Oakville woman was arrested for possession of heroin, according to police. Skylar R. Smith  booked into the Lewis County Jail for a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, according to police.

ALLEGED ABUSE

• Centralia police were called at 3:10 p.m. yesterday for a report of physical abuse of a child by a parent. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TRESPASSING

• Chehalis police called to the 200 block of Southeast Washington Avenue at 11:40 p.m. yesterday about a person sleeping in a carport ended up arresting Hunter W. Buck, 30 of Centralia, for an outstanding municipal warrant. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for drugs, warrants, shoplifting, driving without license, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, hit and run, vehicle collision, third-degree theft, misdemeanor assault, suspicious circumstances … and more among 142 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

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State supreme court questions Judge Hunt’s amenability to considering mitigating evidence in drive-by case

Friday, January 13, 2017 at 8:10 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Washington State Supreme Court issued an opinion yesterday disqualifying a local judge from presiding over a resentencing that has twice been ordered in a drive-by shooting committed by a former Centralia High School student at age 16.

Guadalupe Solis-Diaz Jr. is serving a nearly 93 year sentence imposed by Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt.

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Guadalupe Solis-Diaz Jr.

In 2012, the Washington State Court of Appeals ordered the local court to conduct a new hearing, referencing various matters that it believed should have been handled more thoroughly, given the defendant was a juvenile. In 2014, Judge Hunt held the hearing, criticizing the appeals court decision calling some of their conclusions insulting and ludicrous.

He sentenced Solis-Diaz for the second time to 1,111 months in prison.

The case grew out of an incident in the summer of 2007.

Solis-Diaz Jr. was arrested after gunfire was sprayed along the east side of South Tower Avenue in Centralia, missing six bar patrons. Witnesses testified it was gang-related. Solis-Diaz maintained he was innocent.

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Judge Nelson Hunt

He was tried as an adult and convicted of multiple offenses, including one count of first-degree assault committed with a firearm for each bullet that was fired.

The six assault counts were ordered to be served consecutively and each carried a mandatory extra five years because they were committed with a firearm.

Judge Hunt was asked to consider an exceptional sentence downward, but Hunt maintained several reasons why he should not do that.

This past spring, a different three-member panel of the appeals court stated the sentencing court must conduct a meaningful, individualized inquiry into whether Solis-Diaz’s youth should mitigate his sentence. That hearing has yet to be held.

However, they declined to disqualify the sentencing judge and Solis-Diaz went to the Supreme Court about that.

In its opinion issued yesterday the state Supreme Court stated the law requires more than an impartial judge, it requires the judge to also appear to be impartial.

Hunt would be asked to exercise discretion of the propriety of a sentence he has already imposed and, “the record reflects that he not only has strong opinions on sentencing generally and juvenile sentencing in particular, but also suggests he has already reached a firm conclusion about the propriety of a mitigated sentence in this case and may not be amenable to considering mitigating evidence with an open mind,” the court wrote.

Judge Hunt retired last Friday after 12 years on the bench.

The opinion was issued by the court as a whole without a named author.
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For background, read “Former Centralia high school student wins a second appeal of virtual life sentence” from Tuesday May 17, 2016, here

Read the Washington State Supreme Court decision here