Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

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

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