The audience rises to its feet as Sheriff Snaza speaks of detective Tom Callas’s career and retirement during an awards presentation at Bethel Church.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
NAPAVINE – Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza honored two officers with an award for portraying the guardian spirit.
Corrections Officer Bill Wood was recognized for his heroic actions when he pursued and apprehended a just-convicted defendant who fled a courtroom last October.
“Basically he got into a fight,” Snaza said, of the chase that began on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center, continued down a back stairwell and out onto the street in Chehalis.
Snaza spoke of Wood’s tenacious attitude when he presented him on Thursday with the Guardian Award.
“He wasn’t gonna let that guy go,” he said.
The high praise was offered during a gathering of members of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at Bethel Church in Napavine. The annual meeting is held to recognize outstanding work by employees.
A second Guardian Award was given to detective Gene Seiber, a person Snaza said had gone unrecognized for too long.
Seiber was part of the command staff under former Sheriff Steve Mansfield. After Snaza was elected sheriff, he moved Seiber into a newly created position, a detective focusing on the east end of the county.
Snaza spoke of Seiber’s consistent dedication and outstanding performance in the daily execution of his duties.
“Exceptional service with an excellent attitude,” he said.
Numerous honors and awards were presented, including a Distinguished Service Medal for detective Tom Callas whose retirement began that afternoon. Callas started at the sheriff’s office in 1988.
Snaza, with Undersheriff Wes Rethwill assisting in the ceremony, called three civilians to the stage as well.
Cameron Church, accompanied by his girlfriend Skyler Grimes, was given a Citizen Service Medal.
On Nov. 14, when a senior citizen drove her car onto a flooded Forest Service Road 25 south of Randle, Church put aside his own personal safety and rushed in to pull her from her water-filled car.
“They then kept her warm while waiting for aid to arrive,” he said.
Snaza then gave a certificate of bravery and courage to Aiden Readman, a young man who called 911 when his mother was being assaulted, and helped protect his mother and sister.
The sheriff spent some time during the meeting sharing the office’s priorities and goals during his first year in office and also for the coming year.
His list for 2016 contains 47 items.
“When I thought of running for sheriff, I want to make sure you guys are taken care of,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion.
In closing, the sheriff told the employees, there’s no “I” in their organization.
“I cannot be successful without you,” he said. “We can be successful together.”
Among the awards presented were also, Employee of the Year, which went to:
• Field Operations Bureau – Deputy Justin Rodgers
• Corrections Bureau – Corrections Sgt. Joyce McCoy
• Corrections Bureau Support Technician – Ramona Romine
• Services Bureau – Support Technician Debra Hensley