Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Centralia man still not located in lake

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Update: Police indicated at 12:19 p.m. the body has been recovered.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Search operations resumed this morning at Plummer Lake in Centralia where a man got separated from his flat-bottomed boat and disappeared under the water yesterday.

He is a 65-year-old Centralia resident, according to the Centralia Police Department.


Plummer Lake

A witness had seen the man fishing, and then saw him swimming toward a a life jacket while the boat moved away powered by a small electric trolling motor just before noon according to police.

Detective Patty Finch said authorities have contacted at least one of the man’s family members.

Police, firefighters and a dive team worked until dark last night and did not find him.

The lake is adjacent to Interstate 5 and is very deep, according to responders.

Nobody saw what happened that caused him to get separated from his boat, Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said yesterday.

For background, read “Searchers comb Centralia lake for fisherman” from Monday October 5, 2015, here

News brief: Toledo resident dies after motorcycle crash in Oregon

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 70-year-old Toledo man is dead following a motorcycle accident in southern Oregon after he lost control in a curve and struck four orange construction barrels and then a concrete barrier.

Oregon State Police reported yesterday it happened about 2 p.m. on Sunday on Interstate 5 near Siskiyou Summit.

William R. Larson was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center by ambulance, but pronounced deceased upon his arrival at the hospital, according to Oregon State Police.

Preliminary information indicates a 2004 Yamaha motorcycle was traveling northbound on Interstate 5 negotiating a right hand curve when the rider lost control, according to police.

One lane of northbound was closed for two hours while the investigation was conducted. It is believed speed is a contributing factor. The investigation is ongoing, according to police.

News brief: Sheriff Snaza returns from training, announces new crime team

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Lewis County Sheriff’s Enforcement Team poses for photo – left to right, Deputy Tim English, Deputy Jeff Godbey, Sgt. Dan Riordan, Deputy Rick Van Wyck , K9 Axel – with Sheriff Rob Snaza and Undersheriff Wes Rethwill. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza has completed a five-day executive development program with the National Sheriff’s Institute in Aurora, Colorado.

Snaza, a Napavine area Republican, was elected in November following about two decades with the sheriff’s office.

He was among 27 sheriff’s from across the country to participate early this month in training on the challenges facing American sheriff’s today, according to a news release from the National Sheriffs’ Association.

2015.0500.Sheriff RobertSnaza.portrait

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza

“In light of those challenges, the sheriffs explored the role of the local sheriff in providing effective leadership for the public good in such areas as public safety, criminal justice system policy, community relations, and organization effectiveness and efficiency,” Hilary Burgess, NSA manager of training, stated.

The National Sheriffs’ Association is a professional association representing the nearly 3,100 elected sheriffs across the country. The program was also co-sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons.

Snaza has said among his priorities are rooting out career criminals, continuing to run a no-frills jail and partnering with schools.

In mid-September, he announced the formation of a team to assess and work on problem areas and issues within the county.

The Sheriff’s Enforcement Team, or SET team, consists of a sergeant, three deputies and a K-9.

“If we have a rash of vehicle prowls in a particular neighborhood or identify a burglary trend in one area of the county, SET will be called in,” Snaza stated. “The team will also work DUI emphasis, warrant sweeps, drug investigations, or anything else that we feel helps us better meet our mission.”

News brief: Man’s death in Winlock remains under investigation

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The investigation into the death of a 44-year-old man found dead in a Winlock yard last week continues, but it will be awhile before the coroner knows the cause of death.

Deputies began investigating last Thursday afternoon at the 1700 block of Ferrier Road. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Dusty Breen said the individual had been visiting people on the property.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod yesterday released the name, saying James M. Lewis was a Winlock resident.

McLeod indicated he is waiting for test results.

News brief: Pickup plows through front door of auto parts store

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Truck comes to rest just inside front door of O’Reilly Auto Parts. / Courtesy photo by Chehalis Police Department

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 19-year-old driver of a shiny red Ford Ranger that crashed through the glass front doors of a business in the Twin City Town Center yesterday told police her accelerator stuck.

Officers responding about 12:30 p.m. to the 1400 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue found the pickup came to rest completely inside O’Reilly Auto Parts, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Nobody was injured but one witness said he was returning a shopping cart when the truck came over the curb and nearly hit him, police said.

The Centralia teenager told the officer the gas pedal had stuck previously as well, police said.

No dollar estimate of the damage was available. A report was taken for informational purposes, but it didn’t appear the 19-year-old would be ticketed, according to a police department spokesperson.


The scene at the Twin City Town Center in Chehalis at mid-day on Monday. / Courtesy photo by Chehalis Police Department

News brief: Campfires are cool again

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The city of Chehalis lifted its ban on recreational campfires yesterday following similar actions earlier in the week in the city of Centralia and in unincorporated areas of Lewis County.

But Chehalis Fire Chief Ken Cardinale wants the public to continue to be careful.

“I strongly encourage all city residents and property owners to still take proactive fire prevention measures,” Cardinale said in a news release yesterday afternoon.



Lee Napier, the Lewis County community development director, acting as the county fire marshal, on Monday indicated she made a careful review of the current and extended weather forecast and determined conditions within Lewis County have improved.

Recreational campfires are once again allowed in designated campgrounds and on private lands if built in the following manner, according to Napier:

• The campfire shall be no greater than three feet in diameter and constructed of a ring of metal, stone or brick 8-inches above surface with a two foot wide area clears down to exposed soil surrounding the outside of the pit.
• The campfire shall have an area at least 10 feet around it cleared of all flammable material and at least 20 feet of clearance from overhead flammable materials or fuels.
• The campfire must be attended at all time by a responsible person at least 16 years old with the ability to extinguish the fire with a shovel and a five-gallon bucket of water or with a connected and charged water hose.
• Completely extinguish campfires by pouring water or moist soil in them and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.

The use of self-contained camp stoves is encouraged as an alternative, Napier stated.

The city of Centralia announced the rules there are the same as those imposed by the county.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced just before Labor Day weekend it would allow campfires in established fire rings in official campgrounds on western Washington lands protected by DNR.

Right after Labor Day weekend, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest lifted its ban on campfires outside of developed recreation sites.

The forest service advised common sense measures such as building a campfire away from overhanging vegetation, removing all flammable materials from around the pit; and recommended using existing pits keeping fires small.

Fire Chief Cardinale offers additional information on how the public can protect their property from wildfires on the department’s web site.

Other outdoor burning in Lewis County remains prohibited until the restrictions imposed in mid-June are lifted by the Board of County Commissioners.

Anyone with questions can call their fire department. For further information on outdoor burning, Napier can be reached at 360-740-1146. The fire marshal’s office is in the Lewis County Public Services building, located at 2025 NE Kresky Avenue in Chehalis.

News brief: Identity released of fisherman who drowned

Friday, September 18th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The fisherman who was rescued from the current of the Cowlitz River but subsequently died has been identified as John S. Babbit, a 63-year-old resident of Gig Harbor.

Babbit was fly fishing about 500 yards downstream from the Blue Creek Boat Launch south of Ethel on Tuesday morning when witnesses saw him wade out into the water and he apparently slipped, according to authorities.

Another fisherman jumped in and pulled him to shore and a boater helped them across to the other side to meet an aid unit.

He was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital where he died that afternoon, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said.

Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock confirmed Babbit’s death was accidental and the result of drowning.

News brief: Death in Winlock under investigation

Friday, September 18th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies are investigating a death at the 1700 block of Ferrier Road in Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The 44-year-old Winlock man was visiting people on the property, Cmdr. Dusty Breen said this morning.

Deputies were called about 4:50 p.m. when he was found deceased in the yard, according to Breen.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, he said, and detectives will be waiting for further information from the coroner’s office.

News brief: Large family displaced from Toledo house fire

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Nobody was hurt but a house was severely damaged and it’s occupants have been displaced following a fire yesterday in Toledo.

Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said he believed they are a mother and three children, plus three grandchildren who resided at the home on the 800 block of Jackson Highway South.

Firefighters called about 1:30 p.m. yesterday learned it started in a pump house, spread to the adjacent garage and then to the house itself, according to McCarty and Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Dave Germain.

The Red Cross is assisting them with housing, McCarty said.

McCarty said he didn’t think he was going to be able to pinpoint the exact cause, as the pump house was too far gone.

The flames got into the eves and then the attic and partially collapsed the roof, he said. The kitchen and laundry room were gutted, with other parts of the residence sustaining smoke and water damage.

The family lost a lot of their belongings, he said.

McCarty took the opportunity to remind the public that renters insurance isn’t all that expensive, as unfortunately the residents didn’t have it.

He estimated the repairs could be in the neighborhood of $40,000.

News brief: Little boy escapes stranger who tries to pull him off his bicycle

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Police say they don’t know if an encounter in a Centralia neighborhood yesterday was an attempted theft of a bicycle or attempted kidnapping of the child riding it.

Officers were called just after 5:30 p.m. and spoke to the 7-year-old victim who said he was riding in the area near his home in the 1500 block of Delaware Avenue when a male approached him, according to the Centralia Police Department.

He said the male suddenly grabbed him and tried to pull him off his bike, Officer John Panco said. The male was unsuccessful and the little boy was able to ride away, Panco said.

Officers checked the area, but didn’t locate a suspect, according to police.

The child’s description was vague, Panco said. The subject was described as a white male, with black clothing and black shoes, he said.

The boy said he’d never seen the person before and wasn’t sure if he would recognize him if he saw him again, according to Panco.

The responding officer indicated in the report it’s not known if he was trying to take the bicycle or the victim, Panco said.

News brief: Fisherman hospitalized after near drowning on Cowlitz River

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Updated at 11:24 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Update: The sheriff’s office reports he passed away just before 5 p.m. yesterday.

Previously: A fly fisherman who slipped into the Cowlitz River but was pulled to safety by another person fishing yesterday was transferred to the intensive care unit of Providence St. Peter Hospital, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The man was unconscious but the rescuer performed CPR.

It happened about 500 yards downstream from the Blue Creek Boat Launch south of Ethel.

The sheriff’s office identifies the victim as a 63-year-old resident of Gig Harbor.

According to the sheriff’s office, witnesses saw him wading out in to the water, going farther in when he apparently slipped and went under into a current. The other fishermen saw the incident and jumped in and dragged the man to shore.

Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said she is waiting this morning to learn more about his condition.

News brief: Possible drowning on Cowlitz River

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fisherman in his 50s who was pulled underwater in the Cowlitz River today was dragged to shore by another fisherman who performed CPR on the unconscious man.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and aid responded about 11:50 a.m. to the area south of Ethel. It’s not yet clear if he was resuscitated or not.

Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said the man was fly fishing about 500 yards downstream from the Blue Creek Boat Launch.

Witnesses saw him wading out into the water and going farther in when he apparently slipped, according to Brown.

A boat that was nearby took the man to the other side, Green Water Drive, and waited for aid to arrive, Brown said.

He was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, Brown said.

News brief: What’s JNET?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis Police Department has contributed a detective to a regional drug task force that has been taking shape since earlier this year in Lewis County.

A detective from the sheriff’s office has been working with the team at the Centralia Police Department which is led by a sergeant there, with two Centralia detectives.

It’s been named the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team and year to date has already made 100 arrests and served 35 search warrants, according to Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer.

Its sole task is to go after drug dealers at every level, Schaffer told the Chehalis City Council this evening.

The police chief said regional teams for both drugs and SWAT in Lewis County are visions incoming Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza had when he took office in January.

Last month, Chehalis assigned a detective to the drug group, he said.

The police chief said that during his tenure, he’s seen cooperative efforts to varying degrees, with combined teams and with individual teams among police agencies in the county.

“At no time have I seen the three working together in such an organized fashion as I do now,” he said.

In just the one month Chehalis has been a part of JNET, the team has made 16 felony arrests and served eight search warrants, he said.

The Lewis County Regional SWAT team has 15 members, and is headed up by Lewis County Undersheriff Wes Rethwill.

Read about Tenino selects interim police chief …

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports an interim police chief has been hired for Tenino, as the city reviews applicants for the permanent job.

News reporter Andy Hobbs writes Russ Ellis – who once served briefly as the chief in the town of Ruston in Pierce County – reached out to the mayor and started work on Thursday.

The South Thurston County city’s police department has been without a chief since Mayor Bret Brodersen terminated Chief John Hutchings last March.

Read about it here

Read about Randle resident pleads guilty to poaching maple in National Forest …

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

KUOW radio reports a Randle man has pleaded guilty to poaching big leaf maple trees from U.S. Forest Service land.


Courtesy photo by U.S. Attorney’s Office

Ryan Justice, 28, was one of four Lewis County men indicted on theft and other federal crimes in a case involving illegal harvest and selling of the specialty wood.

News reporter Chris Lehman writes that on Thursday Justice admitted he cut maple trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and sold the wood to J & L Tonewoods a Winlock mill that specialized in “figured” maple for musical instruments.

The mill owner and two other alleged poachers were also charged in the case and have pleaded not guilty, according to Lehman.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.

For background, read “Feds: Tree thieves and mill owner indicted for trafficking specialty maple from Gifford Pinchot” from Friday August 7, 2015, here