Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Pair mugged overnight in Centralia

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two 20-year-old men reported they were robbed by masked and gun-wielding subjects as they were walking in north Centralia overnight, according to police.

Officers called just before 2 a.m. to an area along the railroad tracks beneath the Sixth Street viaduct were told a pair of males in their late teens to early 20s approached them on foot from behind, police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.

Both subjects were wearing blue bandanas over their faces, covering everything but their eyes, police were told. One had a gun.

He fired it one to four times into the brush, Reichert said.

A wallet, money, a knife and other personal items were stolen, Reichert said.

The victims are from Chehalis and Toledo, according to Reichert. He didn’t know for sure why they walking near the train tracks.

A search with a police dog failed to locate any suspects, he said.

News brief: Top cops for road safety named

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County DUI Enforcement Officer of the Year awards were announced this weekend, with Trooper Ray Sills and Deputy Kevin Anderson taking top honors.

Anderson made 21 arrests for driving under the influence last year, more than any sheriff’s deputy or city police officer in the county, according to organizer Melody Nelson.

Sills was the state trooper who took the most impaired drivers off the road, arresting 38 individuals, she said.

The awards were bestowed on Friday night, during an annual banquet coordinated by the DUI Traffic Safety Task Force. It was held at Bethel Church in Napavine.

The Traffic Safety Officer of the Year in the category of city police agencies and the sheriff’s office went to Centralia Police Department Officer Neil Hoium.

Trooper Doug Pardue won the award in the state patrol category.

The awards were presented by Sheriff Steve Mansfield.

News brief: Cause of rural Chehalis house fire under investigation

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The cause of the Friday afternoon blaze that gutted a rural Chehalis house isn’t yet known.

Fire Investigator Adam Myer said he’s taken samples from the scene for analysis and the sheriff’s office is conducting interviews.

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Larkspur Road home

“It was a large fire, with complete destruction of the residence in the middle of the day,” Myer said. “And rapidly growing.”

Firefighters were called about 3:30 p.m. for a possible brush fire seen from the area of Pleasant Valley and Brown Road East, southwest of Chehalis. When they arrived, the roof had already collapsed and crews from Lewis County Fire Districts 6, 5 and 15 battled the blaze from the exterior only.

Nobody was home at the time, but the couple who lives there lost a cat, a dog, and everything inside, Myer said. Some items in the attached garage were spared.

The single-story house sat at the end of long, sparsely populated private drive, Larkspur Road.

Between the two of them, they have three school-age children who lived there as well, according to Myer.

He gathered samples of items such as wood and dirt to be examined more closely for possible accelerants, Myer said.

He said it could take as long as three weeks to get the results back from the Washington State Crime Lab.

News brief: Port Orchard pair hurt in motorcycle crash south of Winlock

Monday, May 21st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two people were injured yesterday when a motorcycle wrecked on Interstate 5 near Vader.

Aid and troopers called about 4:50 p.m. to the scene just north of the Gee Cee’s interchange found the passenger tossed up against the center barrier and the driver in the middle of the northbound lanes.

Traffic in both directions was shut down while a helicopter landed on the freeway to transport 40-year-old Jodi L. Miracle of Port Orchard to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, according to responders. She sustained head and neck injuries, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The driver, Donald M. Marshall, 47, also from Port Orchard, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. He was treated for lung and shoulder injuries and transferred to an unspecified hospital.

The state patrol said weather conditions caused the driver to lose control of the motorcycle.

His 2007 Yamaha XVS13 came to rest under the barrier on the right shoulder, according to the investigating trooper.

News brief: Emergency dispatchers to put spotlight on missing children

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County 911 Communications is inviting the public to join them tomorrow as they focus on improving what they and parents can do in cases of missing kids.

The county department plans to become certified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, with dispatchers undergoing training to promote swift and decisive responses in the critical early stages of incidents, according to an announcement.

A spokesperson for the local 911 center Laura Hanson says personnel will have educational materials available tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. when the Board of Lewis County Commissioners proclaims May 25 National Missing Children’s Day in Lewis County. That takes place on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse in Main Street in Chehalis.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a private organization created in 1984 in part to help police provide a nationwide resource center and clearinghouse with information about missing children.

Among those on Washington state’s missing children list are Kayla Croft-Payne, who was 18 and living outside Chehalis when she was reported missing on May 5, 2010 and Lindsey Baum, 10, who was last seen June 26, 2009, when she left a friend’s house in McCleary to walk home and never arrived.

News brief: Lewis County museum theft trial postponed

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial for the former museum director accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the organization’s accounts is expected to last as long as five days, but won’t start next week as planned.

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Deborah Sue Knapp

Debbie Knapp, 52, remains free on an unsecured bond, following her arrest in December.

She has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of theft in connection with an investigation that the Lewis County Historical Museum’s endowment fund of more than $460,000 was drained.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said attorneys are still examining years of financial records.

“There’s so much stuff, everybody needs more time,” Halstead said yesterday.

Knapp’s defense is listed as “general denial” on court documents.

She is represented by Chehalis attorney Ken Johnson.

Prosecutors allege Knapp routinely issued herself extra pay through payroll draws and used the museum debit card for personal expenses.

Prosecutors have said they expect further charges when an audit of the financial records is completed.

This week in Lewis County Superior Court, attorneys and a judge rescheduled Knapp’s trial for the week of October 15.

In November, when museum members learned the non-profit organization was in the red and the endowment fund was empty, four officers on the 13-member board were replaced, the accounts were closed and the museum was shut down temporarily. It has since reopened.
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For background, see “Prosecutor: Former museum director gave herself thousands of dollars in fraudulent payroll draws” from Friday December 30, 2011, here

Two named employee of the year at Centralia Police Department

Friday, May 18th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Two individuals were named employee of the year at the Centralia Police Department as honors were announced in recognition of courage, service and sacrifice.

Named as employee of the year for 2011 were Officer John Panco and records technician Taresa Robertson.

The announcements came during last week’s city council meeting, in advance of National Police Week.

The same night, certificates of commendation were presented to Officer Neil Hoium and Officer Patty Finch.

Panco and Officer Ruben Ramirez, were recipients of life-saving ribbons, for conducting CPR on an unresponsive elderly man.

Police Cmdrs. Jim Rich and Dave Ross joined Chief Bob Berg in presenting the awards.

Five members of the police department were recognized for five year of service, and records technician Gayle Mulligan was recognized for 45 years of service with the police agency.

Breaking news: Searchers looking for teenage boy in Chehalis River near Rochester

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Updated at 8:55 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A dive rescue team has been dispatched to the Chehalis River southwest of Rochester to search for a 16-year-old boy.

Aid and deputies responded to the approximately 5 p.m. call to an area near the Independence Road Bridge, at Michigan Hill Road, according to the Thurston County Sheriffs Office.

“He was with a group of people and tried to swim across,” sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said. “He went below the surface and did not come back up.

Responders are operating in rescue mode and hoping to find him, Elwin said just after 6 p.m.

Even though some time has passed, the cold temperature of the water gives them hope he can be revived if he is found submerged, according to Elwin.

Just before 9 p.m. tonight, Elwin said there was no change.

“It’s getting dark here pretty soon, we’ll suspend our efforts,” Elwin said.

Searchers don’t yet have a morning plan, he said.

News brief: Land clearing ignites brush fire in Ethel

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters from four departments responded to a brush fire in Ethel yesterday that spread to as much as three acres on former timberland being cleared for new housing.

Lewis County Fire District 8 was called about 3:30 p.m. to the 200 block of Volcano Drive where the day before someone had been burning stumps and brush to clear some property, according to Fire Chief Duran McDaniel.

Flames spread to replanted fir trees as tall as 12 feet and to the under brush, according to McDaniel.

No structures were threatened, he said.

Personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources arrived about 4:30 p.m. and then brought in a 10-person prison inmate crew to finish up, according to McDaniel.

News brief: Student shot during gun class at Onalaska firing range

Monday, May 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A woman shot herself during a firearms class in Onalaska yesterday as she was practicing safely drawing a gun from a concealed holster.

Deputies and aid called about 10:45 a.m. to the Firearms Academy of Seattle learned the 59-year-old Onalaska resident was re-holstering a 9 mm gun when it discharged, striking her in the upper leg, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said she was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

The gun range at the 3300 block of Centralia-Alpha Road is run by Marty Hayes and his wife. Hayes is a former police officer and known locally as the individual who assisted the mother of former trooper Ronda Reynolds in attempts to disprove her death was a suicide.

Hayes declined to comment on the incident, citing the privacy issues of his students.

He said he teaches about 1,000 people each year how to safely and competently use handguns for self defense.

Aust said there were several witness and the woman said as she was putting the gun away, either the trigger caught on something or her finger pulled the trigger.

Her name was not released.

News brief: Name of Centralia officer killed in 1910 finally to be added to memorial wall

Friday, May 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A week from Sunday, Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg will attend a candlelight vigil in Washington D.C. as the name of a Centralia officer is added to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial wall.

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Officer William Smith

Centralia Police Officer William Smith was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 23, 1910, but the nomination for inclusion on the wall was only recently accepted following the department’ discovery of details of Smith’s death in an old newspaper article, according to Berg.

Smith’s name will join that of Centralia Deputy Marshal James C.A. Parsons killed in the line of duty June 30, 1903 and inscribed on the marble wall eight years ago.

They are among the names of more than 19,000 officers killed in the line of duty and engraved on the two curving 300-plus feet blue-gray marble walls in a place called Judiciary Square, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund.

The ceremony comes two days before National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, established by the United States Congress as a day for recognition of those officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities, according to a news release from the Centralia Police Department.

In advance of the week, Centralia officers and department employees will be recognized on Tuesday night for their courage, service and sacrifice, according to Berg.

At the city council meeting, departmental awards will be presented, to include two lifesaving ribbons, two certificates of commendation and employees of the year.

Read about sex offender at 12, punished for life …

Friday, May 4th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

KIRO FM radio ran a piece yesterday about a 12-year-old boy caught with a 10-year-old friend experimenting sexually in the boy’s bathroom at school in Lewis County.

The boy, whose full name is not used, is now 18 and talks about the impact on his life of having his name, face and crime listed on Lewis County’s sex offender website.

Reporter Rachel Belle says that happened because he was designated a level two sex offender, although now he is labeled a level one, which means he is no longer on the website.

Read and hear Belle’s radio broadcast here

News brief: Grand Mound to be center of large scale emergency response exercise

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Some 200 plus individuals will descend on the Grand Mound-Rochester area next Thursday morning as public agencies from five counties test their capacity to respond to a natural disaster.

Members of fire districts, sheriff’s offices and medics will be practicing what they would do in the aftermath if a tsunami should hit Washington’s coast.

It’s not the most likely event, but its consequences would be widespread, according to Homeland Security Region Three Coordinator Jesi Chapin.

For example, traffic from coastal evacuees will become very congested and when those residents arrive, they will need sheltering and feeding, she said.

“When the day comes, when it actually hits, (those) people are not going to be able to go back,” she said. “We’ll be in a position here of housing people in the interior corridor.”

It begins at 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. with a simulated mass casualty response – a bus filled with evacuees crashes – on county property at 183rd Avenue and Sargent Road.

The exercise conducted by Homeland Security Region Three is titled Pacific Panda.

Joining the public agencies will be the American Red Cross, American Medical Response, Olympic Ambulance and 120 volunteers who will be role playing, according to Chapin.

Agencies will be testing communications, citizen sheltering, incident management and mass care, according to organizers.

Maple Lane School will be the site for practicing sheltering, as well as a debriefing afterward, Chapin said.

Area residents might also notice shuttle busses for participants from parking areas at Great Wolf Lodge and Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers.

The counties involved in the practice response include Lewis, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Mason.

News brief: Mandatory boating safety course offered by sheriff’s office

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Sheriff’s deputies will host a class on Saturday for those who want a boating safety card.

A card is required for anyone 40 years old or younger to operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower or larger engine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The session is free, although the state charges a $10 fee to obtain the card after passing the test given at the end of the day.

The class runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held in the training room on the first floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center at 345 West Main St. in Chehalis.

Boating safety education cards can also be obtained by taking a course online, according to the sheriff’s office. For more information, check with Washington State Parks.

Next January, the age requirement for a card will encompass all boaters 50 and younger, and the law is set up to change each year until 2016 when all operators over the age of 12 will be required to possess the card, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

To register for Saturday’s class, contact Lisa Arthur at 360-740-2713.