Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Threat of bomb clears Morton lumber mill

Monday, November 17th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Morton lumber mill was shut down this morning by a bomb threat.

“The caller said we had messed with the wrong person,” Alta Forest Products President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Pedersen said.

Alta is on the 300 block of state Route 7, at the north end of town.

Pedersen said the plant was evacuated and a bomb squad swept the premises.

He said he believed a suspect has been arrested, but didn’t have details.

Morton Police Department Chief Dan Mortensen said he didn’t have time to talk about the incident; he expected to be busy into this evening.

Pedersen said there would have been about 60 employees on the job, but he himself was out of town.

The phone call came at about 7:45 a.m., and the caller indicated a bomb would got off in 10 minutes, he said. They immediately evacuated everyone, he said.

He said he didn’t know the specifics.

“The big thing is, everybody is safe,” Pedersen said.

The afternoon shift is scheduled to begin as usual, he said.

The mill, formerly TMI Forest Products Inc. and before that the Tubafor Mill, manufactures Western Red Cedar fence boards.

News brief: Centralia neighborhood flooded by water main break

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Updated at 11:35 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A water main break last night caused a hole in the ground in a Centralia neighborhood estimated to be fifty feet long and seven feet deep.

Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Casey McCarthy said firefighters responded about 8 p.m. to the area where police had closed one block of East Main Street.

McCarthy described moderate flooding.

“I don’t know if it got into any residences, but it sure got into some yards,” McCarthy said this morning.

Workers from the city water department came out and shut off the water, McCarthy said.

The hole was estimated to be about 15 feet wide, according to McCarthy.

The Centralia Police Department blocked off the area between South Buckner and Berry streets, he said.

The one block remains closed, but the 10-inch water main has been repaired and the hole in the ground filled back in, Centralia city Water Operations Manager Tom Cleary said this morning.

A gasket on a collar on the transite water line that could be as much as 70 years old was leaking, he said.

Cleary said someone reported the leak last night and the on-duty person was out looking at it when the section of pipe blew out.

A number of people lost water pressure and those in the immediate area would have been without any incoming water at all, he said.

He said he’s not sure how soon they’ll get the street black-topped, because of the weather.

Everyone’s water service has been restored, according to Cleary.

Read about suspect released from jail just three days before boy’s death …

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports that Danny A. Wing, accused with his wife in the Oct. 5 death of a toddler they were caring for in Vader, was released from the Cowlitz County Jail just three days before the child’s death.


Jasper Henderling-Warner

News reporter Shira Moskowitz writes that he was locked up on Sept. 19, on charges of heroin possession and felony third-degree assault of a police officer at the Woodland Walmart, but posted $5,000 bail.

Wing, 26, and his wife Brenda A. Wing, 27, were arrested and charged Nov. 7 in Lewis County Superior Court as either the principal or accomplice with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says the couple had been caring for 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner for a period of time described as several months, the mother asking them to be his guardians on July 31 because she was homeless.

The coroner concluded from healing fractures, numerous bruises and an autopsy Jasper died of chronic battered child syndrome, meaning ongoing physical abuse.

Charging documents describe a timeline and the child’s injuries, but offer no information about how he got his injuries. The doctor who conducted the autopsy concluded the injuries were weeks, not months old.

Danny Wing and Brenda Wing are being held on $500,00 bail and $200,000 bail respectively.

Their opportunities to make their pleas in court are scheduled for Dec. 4.

Read more about it here


For background, read “Coroner: Ongoing physical abuse led to Vader toddler’s death” from Friday November 7, 2014 at 9:18 p.m., here


News brief: Vader fire investigation inconclusive

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Whatever it was that ignited a Sunday morning blaze in Vader that spread from a house to one, and nearly two, adjacent buildings will remain a mystery.

The cause will be listed as undetermined,” Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said.


822 A St., Vader

“There just were not enough pieces there for me to pinpoint it,” McCarty said today.

A friend who was staying there woke up to smoke, and rousted the father and son from bed, McCarty said.

Firefighters called about 8:50 a.m. arrived to find the single story home fully involved in flames and beginning to catch the Masonic Hall next to it on fire.

The father has used a garden hose for as long as he was able, to put water through a back bedroom window, while someone else ran to a neighbor’s to call 911, McCarty said.

The father ended up with cuts to his hand and arm, from breaking out the window, he said.

The house on the 800 block of A Street, built in 1935, is a complete loss.

Also beyond saving, was the former community center building to the north, a quonset hut style structure stuffed with what its owner said was a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of collectibles, according to McCarty. It was torn apart with an excavator to extinguish its burning contents.

Unfortunately, neither of the buildings were insured, McCarty said.

The resident did have space heaters throughout the house, but whether perhaps there were combustibles next to a heater in the unoccupied bedroom, there’s no way to know, McCarty said.

For background, read “Two-plus buildings affected by Vader fire; cause unknown” from Tuesday November 11, 2014, here

News brief: If and when the snow falls, be ready

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The city of Centralia wants residents to know it will make every effort to keep streets passable when the snow comes, but its first priorities are not the residential neighborhoods.

2014.1113.snowflakeCentralia, with over 82 miles of roads, has devised a priority plan for the removal of ice and snow from its streets, according to street official Kim Ashmore.

Priority is given to the viaducts, bridges, roadways leading to the hospital, major hillside roads and signaled intersections, according to Ashmore. Sanding and snow plowing in other parts of the city will be conducted as needed as conditions warrant, and depending upon the availability of manpower and equipment, Ashmore states in a news release.

He suggests residents can do their part to help when it snows by avoiding driving unless they have to and by driving slowly when they go out.

Ashmore also cautions motorists to give snow plows and sanders plenty of room to operate.

The Washington State Patrol offers the following advice for safely navigating the roadways with the onset of freezing temperatures and the possibility of snow:

• Please remember to clear off all your windows of frost or snow before you drive.

• A good set of wipers, properly inflated winter tires and patience is needed to safely operate a vehicle during hazardous winter driving conditions.

• Remember to slow down, increase your following distance and give yourself additional time to get to your destination.

• Be prepared for potential long delays if you travel mountain passes by packing in your car a scraper, shovel, jumper cables or jump pack, tow chain/rope, and traction devices. It’s also important to have proper boots and clothing for the cold conditions.

• Consider checking out the road and weather conditions at WSDOT’s website or by calling 1-800-695-ROAD before you travel.

News brief: Wind, trees continue to cause issues with electrical service, roads

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Lewis County PUD is still getting calls this morning of power outages around the county.

Spokesperson Corenne Moses said customers have been losing power since 9 a.m. yesterday when the high winds began.

At one point last night they lost a main feeder that cut off electricity to residents from Silver Creek to Glenoma, but that has been restored, Moses said.

High winds have knocked trees onto roadways through the night, causing closures including on U.S. Highway 12 and state Route 508, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The utility is posting information on the homepage of its website about where electricity has been cut off. Check here at Lewis County PUD

News brief: Chehalis man hit by car

Thursday, November 6th, 2014


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 73-year-old pedestrian was hit by a vehicle as he crossed Southwest Interstate Avenue in Chehalis early this morning.

Police and firefighters were called to the area across from Subway just south of the Interstate 5 interchange at 13th Street.

“I know we were called at 6 a.m. to Interstate Avenue where a gentleman was crossing the road and was hit by a car,” Chehalis Police Department detective Sgt. Gary WIlson said.

Officers are still investigating, he said.

Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Casey Beck said their patient was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with what appeared to be injuries to his head and neck as well as a broken leg.

“They were talking about shipping him to Harborview,” Beck said.

Wilson described the Chevrolet HHR as a sport utility-type vehicle, Beck said the car’s windshield was completely spider-webbed.

The 73-year-old resides in the area, according to Wilson.

News brief: Onalaska teen injured in wreck with semi

Friday, October 31st, 2014

U.S. Highway 12 at Ethel is closed for hours as troopers investigate two-vehicle crash. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol.

Updated at 1:04 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 16-year-old Onalaska boy was injured and airlifted to a Seattle hospital after a collision with an oncoming semi truck on U.S. Highway 12 west of Ethel yesterday.

Troopers called at 4:15 p.m. to the scene near milepost 70 described both vehicles as totaled.

The driver of the 2012 Volvo semi with a tent trailer was reportedly unhurt.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the teen was traveling westbound and moved into the opposite lane as he attempted a pass in a no-passing zone. He lost control of his 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe, spun around and was struck by the semi in the eastbound lane, according to the state patrol.

A dozen members of Lewis County Fire Districts 5 and 8 responded to the area near Joy Lane, at the top of what some people call Ethel Hill.

Ines D. Lopez, 37, from Granger, was wearing his seatbelt, as was the un-named 16-year-old, the investigating trooper reports.

“We transported him for potential internal injuries,” District 5 Firefighter Brad Bozarth said of the teen. “He was in and out of consciousness.”

The boy was taken by ambulance to the Chehalis-Centralia Airport and  flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The wreck remains under investigation.

The roadway was closed and a detour put into place until about 10 p.m.


Prosecutor: Scary ER incident with man grabbing at baby not a candidate for felony charge

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 36-year-old Chehalis man who allegedly tried to take someone else’s baby at the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital last week won’t be charged with attempted kidnapping but may face a lesser charge for the incident.

William M. Eaton was out-of-his-mind high and didn’t demonstrate any intent to actually abduct the six-month old girl so although police detained him for attempted kidnapping, prosecutors declined to file that charge, Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said.

Meagher said he sent the case to Centralia Municipal Court, where a prosecutor there might consider fourth-degree assault, an offense that includes unpermitted touching.

The little one was with her parents and still strapped in her car seat, when Eaton came into the ER about 8 p.m. last Wednesday and tried to take her out of the carseat, according to authorities. He got her blanket off, Meagher said. Hospital security personnel and a police officer who happened to be there for a different reason intervened.

Police said Eaton believed it was his child when he was questioned. Meagher suggested perhaps he was thinking, in his altered state, he ought to take her home or something.

He was not arrested and remained at the hospital being treated for unspecified reasons.

The alleged facts outlined in the police reports didn’t amount to a felony, but possibly a misdemeanor, according to Meagher.

Eaton is a Lewis County Drug Court participant, and has mental deficiencies, Meagher said. Drug use compounds that, he said.

Sheriff: Don’t be an unprepared flood victim

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

As the rainfall intensifies and a flood warning is issued for the Skokomish River in Mason County, Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield suggests folks here prepare for the season now, ahead of any local events.

Historically, the flood season in Lewis County stretches from November until March, according to Mansfield.

2014.1022.flood.clip.revisedWhile Lewis County is not in the anticipated impact area today, it’s a good time to review safety information, he says.

The sheriff urges members of the public to sign up now for the  Lewis County Emergency Notification system, CodeRED. Once registered, you would receive any emergency action notifications directly to your cell phone or home telephone, according to Mansfield.

He advises people who live near a flood plain to purchase flood insurance.

Because most deaths from floods come from driving or walking through floodwaters, the sheriff reminds drivers that just one foot of water can float most vehicles.

Mansfield is the director of the Lewis County Division of Emergency Management. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown is the interim deputy director.

Mansfield says: If you live in an area where floods occur, you should know the following:

• Prepare your home, family, pets and livestock with at least a three to five day emergency supply kit, including medications and some cash. Information on what to include can be obtained from Lewis County Emergency Management at (360) 740-1151 or on the sheriff’s website at
• Provide at least one plug-in-the wall telephone for emergency calls if the power is out.
• Plan for evacuation including what route you will take and when you should leave.
• Learn how to purify water. If you have a well, learn how to decontaminate it.
• Keep your car full of gas.
• Listen to your radio or television for reports of flood danger. Current Lewis County “River Readings” and “Road Closures” are posted on the county’s website at:
• Keep all insurance policies and a list of valuable items in a safe place.

• Stay away from moving water. Do not walk or drive through flooded areas. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contract with floodwater.
• Stay away from downed power lines
• Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.
• Continue to listen to your radio or television for reports of flood danger.
• Call 9-1-1 only in life threatening emergencies. Limit personal calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.

• Wear gloves and boots when cleaning up.
• Open all doors and windows. Use fans if possible to air out the building.
• Wash all clothes and linens in hot water.
• Discard mattresses and stuffed furniture; they can’t be adequately cleaned.
• Disinfect by wiping surfaces with a solution of one cup bleach per gallon of water. Wash dirt and mud from walls, counters and hard surface floors with soap and water.
• Discard all food that has come into contract with floodwater. Canned food is alright, but thoroughly wash the can before opening.

Lewis County has two valuable links, always available on the right hand side bar, with the latest official information for your area from the National Weather Service.

“Weather alerts, forecasts”: where you can check your particular location, and watch the coming weather, as well as see any weather-related alerts issued for your area

“River levels”: where you can monitor a river in your area, and see how high it is rising and is expected to rise during rain events.

News brief: Lost mushroom hunters burned backpack to keep warm

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Searchers set out about 7:30 a.m. today to find two Tacoma men who failed to meet up with their companions when it got dark last night following a mushroom picking outing in the woods about ten miles east of Packwood.

The experienced mushroom hunters, ages 60 and 66, were located a little more than an hour later, cold and wet but in good spirits, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

“The men told deputies they used their backpack to start a fire to stay warm overnight,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said in a news release. “They had cold weather clothing and rain gear.”

The men said they said they got turned around and decided to follow the stream downhill, according to the sheriff’s office. They had picked in the same area numerous times, but the terrain is rugged, steep, and has a lot of streams, according to the sheriff’s office.

They were off Forest Service Road 4510 yesterday with three others but didn’t show up back at their vehicle as planned when it got dark, Brown stated. Their companions got worried and called 911 last night, Brown said.

It was about 8:45 a.m. today when they were discovered walking downstream, just a quarter mile from their vehicle, according to Brown.

Members of the sheriff’s office, Lewis County Search and Rescue and Lewis County ATV conducted this morning’s search.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield took the opportunity to remind the public how easy it can be for even experienced outdoorsmen to become disoriented and lost.

It is so important that anyone heading outdoors be prepared for an emergency, Mansfield stated.

“These men had matches, appropriate clothing, and were well prepared to deal with the elements,” Mansfield said. “Proper preparation can often determine whether an outcome is positive or tragic.”

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