Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Child porn charge dismissed for former Salkum resident

Friday, October 17th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former Salkum man arrested last month for allegedly possessing child porn was released from the jail yesterday, his charges dropped.

Joshua Q. Keele, 38, was arrested in early September near his home in Port Hadlock following a local investigation that began in April, with a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective collected computers and electronic devices and discovered at least one image that led to a charge of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said the charge was dismissed yesterday, because there are reports from other agencies he has not yet received.

However, it was dismissed with prejudice, meaning he may file the charge again later, he said.

“We talked with the sheriff’s office and the FBI and we all agreed this was the best thing to do,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he expects later next week to get together with others to decide their next steps and when he would refile the charges.

For background, read “FBI child porn investigation leads to Lewis County” from Friday Sept. 5, 2014, here

News brief: House outside of Centralia catches fire

Friday, October 17th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An unoccupied house west of Centralia burned overnight, drawing firefighters from four area departments.

Nobody was hurt.

Firefighters were called at 3:40 a.m. by an individual on the 300 block of Manners Road who said the house next door had flames reaching 30 feet into the air from all doors and windows, and trees were catching on fire, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Arriving crews found the one and half story wood frame home fully involved in fire, according to authorities.

Fire Chief Mike Kytta said they quickly contained it to the building of origin and declared it under control at 4:30 a.m.

The owners live about a half mile down the road, and the house was being renovated or remodeled, Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said.

“It appears at this point, it’s going to be an electrical cause,” McCarty said. He still has more to do in his investigation however, he said.

Kytta described the damage as heavy. McCarty described the home as gutted.

News brief: Hash oil making operation suspected at Winlock property

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Deputies found evidence hash oil was being manufactured when they searched a shed and home in Winlock yesterday, following an ongoing drug investigation.

Two people were arrested.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office had obtained a search warrant for the property on the 200 block of West Walnut Street following undercover purchases of marijuana and prescription medications, according to the sheriff’s office.

The house was under surveillance and at about 5 a.m. after a detective saw the residents leave, they were detained during a traffic stop at the intersection of state Route 505 and Interstate 5, according to a department spokesperson.

During their search, deputies and detectives turned up what was described as a large amount of prescription narcotics, a stolen firearm and 10 pounds of marijuana, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

In the shed, they discovered equipment and materials to make hash/honey oil, she said.

Arrested for multiple violations of the uniform controlled substances act and booked into the Lewis County Jail were Brett T. Watkins, age 37, and Gabriela Watkins, age 40, according to Brown.

A VUCSA case against a 21-year-old Winlock woman is being referred to prosecutors for evaluation of possible charges, she said.

News brief: Join in earthquake drill this morning

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to drop, cover and hold at 10:16 a.m. today, in a drill to help prepare for ways to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield, director of Lewis County Department of Emergency Management, reminds the public that practice makes perfect.

“Practicing is what helps ensure you will quickly move to your safe place instead of responding to the instinctive urge to run,” Mansfield states in a news release.

Today is the “Great Washington Shakeout” earthquake drill.

Here’s what to do:

• Choose a safe place to go, in each room of your home or office.
• Practice quickly moving to that safe place.
• After the drill, come together with others and discuss where each of you went and why it was or was not the safest place to go.


For those looking for more information about safety during earthquakes, check the Washington Emergency Management Division’s website

Read about county won’t allow marijuana facility access to water supply …

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the Lewis County-operated water utility in Vader has gone to court to block a Seattle-area developer from connecting water to his 30-acre industrial property, land where he has talked about putting a large marijuana growing facility.

Brandon Milton tells the newspaper he’s currently trying to get his German auto parts and wrecking yard business up and running, but that it’s typical to build enough capacity to service all businesses that eventually could occupy a parcel of land.

Read more about it here

News brief: Eight fire departments battle Adna area blaze

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Flames rise near Spooner Road. / Courtesy photo by Cyndi Lang

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters called this evening to a garage fire near Adna found heavy fire extension into a 100-year-old two story house.

Lt. Laura Hanson of Lewis County Fire District 5 reports in a news release the structure is considered a complete loss, but nobody was injured.

Lewis County Fire District 6 was called just before 5:30 p.m. to the 300 block of Spooner Road and joined by members of seven other fire departments, according to Hanson.

Crews were still actively fighting the blaze as of about 7 p.m., she stated.

The cause is under investigation.

News brief: Vespa rider struck by oncoming van on U.S. Highway 12

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The 1982 Dodge Ram wagon and what remains of a Vespa on U.S. Highway 12 near Morton. / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Packwood man was seriously injured after his scooter-type motorcycle was involved in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 12 near Morton today.

Troopers called just before 1 p.m. to the area near Priest Road about two miles east of town say charges are pending.

Michael W. Dearborn, 59, from Packwood, was heading west when an eastbound van turned into him in the westbound lane, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Dearborn was transported to Morton General Hospital and then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the state patrol.

Dearborn was riding a 2007 Vespa GTS250, and was wearing a helmet, according to the investigating trooper.

Ronald G. Goble, 83, of Mossyrock, was driving a 1982 Dodge Ram wagon which was impounded. He was injured as well and taken to the Morton hospital, the trooper reports.

The roadway wasn’t cleared until after 3 p.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

The collision is blamed on failure to yield the right of way.

Update on Wednesday Oct. 8, 2014, at 4:30 p.m.: Haborview spokesperson reports Dearborn is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

News brief: Chehalis fire chief search ends with nobody chosen

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – None of the finalists for Chehalis fire chief made the cut.

Chehalis City Manager Merlin MacReynold announced yesterday he appointed the city’s police chief as interim fire chief. Chief Glenn Schaffer will oversee the operations of both departments for the time being.

The city had identified three men as finalists for the position after a nationwide search and conducted extensive interviews early last month.

MacReynold said in a news release yesterday the process has concluded without him selecting a replacement.

“I am disappointed that we were not able to find the right candidate, but with a new city manager coming on board in a couple months it makes sense for them to determine how to proceed,” MacReynold stated.

The retiring city manager did not give a reason.

Recruiting efforts for a new chief came after the resignation about six months ago of half-time Fire Chief Jim Walkowski. Walkowski was also leading neighboring Riverside Fire Authority in Centralia, but moved to Spokane County to take a new job amid drastic budget cuts in Centralia.

The Chehalis Fire Department had a full time chief until April of last year.

MacReynold had said he believed it would take him a week or two to make a decision after Sept. 8 when the three finalists met with numerous panels and the city council. Two weeks later he said he was still waiting to hear from a couple of references.

The candidates were Gary Woodson, former fire chief for Pendleton, Ore. Fire and Ambulance Department who had been in the fire service since 1974; Joseph Sands, an engineer-paramedic in Billings, Montana, with experience as both assistant and interim chief; and Jeff Larson, who for 13 of the past 30 years of fire service was suppression battalion chief with the city of Lodi, California.

MacReynold had said finding the right fit for the community was his primary goal.

Schaffer’s new dual role begins Thursday, according to MacReynold.

Capt. Rob Gebhart who has been serving as interim chief since May will return to his captain duties.

For background, read : “News brief: Meet Chehalis fire chief candidates” from Sunday Sept. 7, 2014, here

News brief: Mossyrock firefighters save downtown building when fire breaks out

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire at a downtown Mossyrock business last night did several thousand dollars worth of damage but it seems as though the building can be saved, according to Lewis County Fire District 3.

Firefighters were called just after 9 p.m. to the truck repair business on the 300 block of East State Street.

“It was all locked up, we had to force our way in,” Chief Doug Fosburg said. “We got it knocked down fairly quickly, within 45 minutes to an hour; I finally left at about 1:50 a.m.”

The building is large, probably 80 feet by 50 feet, he said, and the fire was contained to an enclosed office area inside and storage loft above it.

None of their equipment or several vehicles parked inside the building were damaged, he said.

Mossyrock firefighters were joined by members of Lewis County Fire District 8, according to Fosburg. Nobody was hurt.

He estimated $80,000 to $90,000 worth of damage and the need for the roof to be replaced.

The cause is under investigation.

News brief: Cinebar resident injured in wreck on state Route 508

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Updated at 2:44 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 48-year-old woman from Cinebar was airlifted to a Vancouver hospital after a single vehicle wreck last night on state Route 508.

Troopers called about 8:25 p.m. to the scene, about 10 miles west of Morton, found the 2010 Dodge Journey in a ditch.

Allison D. Crume had been traveling westbound near milepost 21 when her vehicle left the roadway, struck the guardrail and rolled onto its top, according to the Washington State Patrol.

She was flown to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, according to the state patrol. Crume is listed in serious condition this morning in the intensive care unit, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The investigating trooper reports Crume had been driving too fast.

News brief: Police: Put the phone down and drive

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police have extra eyes on the streets this week watching for motorists talking or texting on their cell phones.

The hope is to reduce accidents and raise awareness of the potential consequences of distracted driving, according to the Centralia Police Department.

“With school back in session, more people are on or near the roadway and cell phones are definite distractions while driving,” Officer Patty Finch stated in a news release.

The offense can bring a ticket of $124, according to Finch.

Since 2008, the law has prohibited drivers from texting while driving, and required those talking on cell phones to use hands free devices.

A thank you breakfast with firefighters

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia firefighters are showing their gratitude for the recent passage of their levy by cooking breakfast for the public on Saturday.

Pancakes, eggs and sausage will be on the house for members of their community, paid for by International Association of Firefighters Local 451 and the Riverside Firefighters Association.

Heading up the kitchen crew will be Lee Coumbs, board of commissioners member.

“The reason is just to say thank you,” Riverside Fire Authority Firefighter and union president Rick LeBoeuf said. “Thank you for voting for the levy, thank you for supporting us.”

The fire department that protects more than 180 square miles in and around Centralia last month asked citizens to consider a new maintenance and operations levy, to supplement a steeply declining budget. The department had already seen a nearly 30 percent loss in response forces this year, and the levy money was meant to stabilize personnel and services at the current level.

It passed with just over 65 percent of voters saying yes.

The open house and community appreciation breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. It will be held at Riverside’s headquarter’s station at 1818 Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

Tours of the station will include opportunities for children to board the fire trucks and ambulances, according to LeBoeuf.

They’ve combined the event with an opportunity to help those who are working to reopen the Pearl Street Veterans Memorial Pool.

Fire Chief Mike Kytta says being supporters of people having a safe place to swim, they’ve invited individuals from the pool to be on hand to answer questions and accept donations toward its restoration.

What: Open house and community appreciation breakfast
When: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
Time: 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Where: 1818 Harrison Avenue, Centralia
Cost: Free, but donations will be accepted on behalf of Save The Outdoor Pool

Read about wanted woman sought near Morton found in Lakewood …

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports the 31-year-old woman accused of trying to run down one Fife police officer and then shooting at another was ordered held yesterday on $5 million bail.


Yolanda Lund

Yolanda Lund, reportedly pregnant and shot by police during the incident, had been been sought by law enforcement since Aug. 11, a search that nine days later led to a home on the 800 block of Davis Lake Road in Morton. About a half dozen officers and deputies went to the residence that afternoon but did not find Lund or her suspected accomplice.

Q13 reported Lund was arrested Friday in Lakewood and hospitalized for treatment of a gunshot wound to her chest.

News Tribune reporter Adam Lynn writes Lund is charged with two counts of first-degree assault, drive-by shooting and attempting to elude police and that not guilty pleas were entered on her behalf.

Read more here

News brief: Ritchie Brothers hit by rogue demo derby

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The aftermath at Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It appears as though someone snuck onto the Winlock area property of the world’s largest auctioneer of heavy equipment and held an unsanctioned demolition derby with four large trucks over the weekend.

The break-in was reported yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, who estimate more than $15,000 in damage to three of four 2010 International Cargo trucks.

Unknown suspects entered into the fenced yard and drove the trucks around the gravel lot, leaving them with side impact damage, according to the sheriff’s office.

“These are big yellow Penske rental trucks have been turned over to Ritchie Brothers,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

A bucket truck on the premises also sustained broken windows, possibly from a rock, according to Brown.

Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers is on the west side of Interstate 5 on the 200 block of Ritchie Lane.

The incident is believed to have occurred sometime after 10:15 a.m. on Saturday and before 9 a.m. yesterday.

One injured in Grand Mound house fire

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The attached garage is consumed by flames, while the rest of the home is heavily damaged inside. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters called about a garage fire with an explosion in Grand Mound last night arrived to find a single-family home heavily involved in flames and a fallen power line arcing in the front yard.

“We just had to work around it, spraying water from a distance,” West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Chief Robert Scott said.

The one-story house is a total loss, Scott said.

Crews responding just after 9 p.m. to the scene at the 20900 block of Billie Mills Street Southwest, just east of Old 99, learned one male occupant with a burn injury had already gone or been taken to the hospital, according to Scott.

He was treated at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Scott said this morning, but no other details were yet available.

A total of 20 firefighters from five department battled the blaze defensively, according to Scott.

Numerous explosions from the garage area were found to be from propane tanks, cans of gasoline, large fireworks and small firearms, he said.

Nobody else was injured.

Scott said he wasn’t sure about how many people lived at the home, as he didn’t speak with them, an investigator did. The cause is not yet known, he said.

News brief: County to end outdoor burning restrictions

Monday, September 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Beginning at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, the outdoor burning restrictions for areas in unincorporated Lewis County will be lifted.

The Lewis County Board of Commissioners put a burn ban in place on July 12 out of concern about wildfire danger with hot and dry conditions, allowing only for recreational fires in approved receptacles or campfire sites.

The board has authority over areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands.

“After careful review, of the current and extended weather forecast, the Lewis County community development director, acting as the fire marshal, has determined that current weather conditions within Lewis County no longer pose a substantial fire threat,” Director Lee Napier’s office stated in a news release this morning.

The state Department of Natural Resources last week rescinded its statewide burn ban on all on DNR-protected forestlands.

For further information concerning outdoor burning, Napier can be contacted at (360) 740-1146.

Chehalis defense lawyer will work to keep state marijuana regulators out of hot water

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Criminal defendants will find a new advocate by their side next week when they first appear before a judge.

Chehalis attorney Bob Schroeter has for the past six and half years worked for Lewis County as public defender for the day, representing individuals charged in Lewis County Superior Court and Lewis County District Court at their first hearing.

Last week, he informed county commissioners he’s taken a new job in Olympia, and recommended a replacement.

“You’ve got Bob and Jonathan Meyer both giving you glowing endorsements,” Lewis County Commissioner Bill Schulte told Joely O’Rourke when she was introduced to the board of commissioners.

O’Rourke, a deputy prosecutor for the county for a little over five years handling sex cases, worked in law enforcement for five years before that as a special agent for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS.

As a civilian, she worked counter-terrorism and also sex crimes she said.

She resigned her position on Sept. 19, planning to continue as a lawyer, but as a sole practitioner.

“I had probably got worn out with the sex cases,” O’Rourke said of much of the reason behind her move.

Schroeter’s contract with the county called for 60 days notice. O’Rourke will fill in for him until mid-November. She said she plans to apply for the position.

The job, which included public defender oversight, paid $8,000 per month. Schroeter’s last day is Tuesday.

He has taken a position with the Washington State Liquor Control Board as manger of public disclosure and risk management. He’ll be responsible to look at ways of doing business to avoid liability, he said.

It will be particularly interesting, in light of the agency’s new role of oversight of marijuana businesses, Schroeter said.

Read about Rochester woman pleads guilty to shooting husband in back …

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a Rochester woman pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree assault in connection with a March incident at her home in which she fired a gun through a garage door, shooting her husband in the lower back.

Cynthia L. Fetterly, 57, faces up to three and a half years in prison when she is sentenced on Monday, news reporter Andy Hobbs writes.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at the time said the couple had been arguing since before they left the Lucky Eagle Casino to go home and the wife appeared to have been drinking. Fetterly indicated to deputies she didn’t mean to shoot her husband, only to scare him.

Read more here

News brief: Firefighting efforts in forest outside Pe Ell winding down

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities reported yesterday morning the timberland fire southwest of Pe Ell is entirely contained.

More than 200 firefighters battled the blaze about five miles outside of town that began Sept. 11 in an active logging area, on property owned by Rayonier.

A dozen individuals expect to be out there a few more days continuing to mop up, according to Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Jay Guthrie.

Guthrie said there is no fire activity within 200 feet of the edge. One hundred twenty-six acres of so-called slash, recently harvested timber and standing timber burned.

Some logging is expected to clear areas so crews can access remaining hot spots, according to Guthrie. It is unlikely after this point that any smoke will be visible from Pe Ell and surrounding communities, he said.

The property is in Pacific County, at the Lewis County line. The command center was set up at the Falls Creek Retreat Center about 10 miles west of Pe Ell.

The cause is under investigation.

Read about Tenino couple finds strength in hometown after child’s death …

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter reports Tenino parents Brynn and Cody Johnson shared their gratitude for the outpouring of support after the tragedy on Tuesday morning that took the life of their 17-month-old daughter Rowyn.


Rowyn Johnson

The little girl died when she was run over in their driveway by a friend coming to pickup her older sibling for daycare.

An online donation account set up seeking assistance with unexpected expenses for the family brought in $28,000 worth of donations in a matter of days, according to KING5 writer Natalie Swaby.

“The Johnson family knows their town is feeling their heartbreak, and they say thank you for the support,” Swaby writes.

Read about it here and here