Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

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

News brief: Chehalis lawyer given lifetime service award from state peers

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Washington State Bar Association has posthumously honored Chehalis attorney James A. Vander Stoep with its 2014 Lifetime Service Award, in recognition of his 53-year career of service to the legal community.

Vander Stoep’s highest priorities were reflected by his ongoing dedicated service to family, his profession and his community, WSBA Governor Brian J. Kelly said in a prepared statement shared with the news media yesterday.

“Jim’s accomplishments to our profession were made as a small-town lawyer.” Kelly stated. “His time was a valued commodity, but he unselfishly shared it with us. Jim exemplified service above self through his life.”

The award was presented to his wife Suzi Vander Stoep at the group’s annual awards dinner on Thursday night at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.

Vander Stoep began practicing law in Chehalis in 1950, when only one judge worked in the county courthouse on Main Street in Chehalis, and fewer than 20 lawyers practiced in the Twin Cities. He retired in 2003 from the firm Vander Stoep, Remund, Kelly & Blinks.

During a career that spanned five decades, he also chaired the committee to bring a public swimming pool to Chehalis and co- founded the Chehalis Little League.

According to the WSBA, Vander Stoep was a former WSBA president and Board of Governors member, a former Lewis County Bar Association president, a life member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and a member and former state chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

His longtime law partner Rene Remund offered formal praise as well.

“Jim was a person who was fierce in the courtroom and courteous outside it,” Remund stated. “His practice of law was based on competence civility, and honesty. He was a credit to his profession and a contributor to his community.”

The WSBA is authorized by the Washington Supreme Court to license the state’s lawyers and other legal professionals, regulating them under the court and acting as a professional association for its members.

Read about former Montesano police chief in trouble again, allegedly dealing drugs …

Thursday, September 18th, 2014


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A one-time finalist for the position of chief of police in Chehalis was charged yesterday in Pierce County after a search of his apartment turned up heroin and meth, drugs he allegedly admitted he’s been selling for the past two months.

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports Ray Sowers however, denied using drugs.

News reporter Jake Schild writes Sowers was also charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm, in connection with a handgun discovered under his bed and a January felony charge for stealing more than $1,500 worth of liquor from a Safeway store.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reports Sowers is a drug court participant in Pierce County, and now has a hearing Oct. 14 to determine whether he’s kicked out of the program.

Sowers resigned as police chief from Montesano in 2010 after an investigation found he spent thousands of dollars of public money on personal purchases, ending his 26-year law enforcement career, according to Schild.

He interviewed for the top cop job in the Lewis County seat in late 2006.

Read more about it here

Read more about pounds and pounds of illegal marijuana …

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the generally well-liked-by-his-neighbors 62-year-old accused by Centralia police of illegally supplying large amounts of marijuana in the region is being held on $200,000 bail.

George Szerency, 62, of Kelso, had not been charged yet by yesterday afternoon, news reporter Shari Phiel writes.

A two-month investigation by the Centralia Police Department’s special Anti-Crime Team led to Szerency’s home on Monday, and the seizure of 21 pounds of marijuana buds, guns, cars, more than $50,000 cash and nine-foot tall marijuana plants growing in his backyard. The operation was using the cover that they were supplying medical marijuana distributors, according to police.

Phiel reports police believe Szerency bought marijuana in 40- to 100-pound increments in southern Oregon and resold it one pound at a time to buyers in Kelso, Olympic and Tacoma.

Read more here

News brief: Mayfield drowning victim identified

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 51-year-old man who presumably drowned in Lake Mayfield two weeks ago has been positively identified as Terrence E. Murphy of Winlock.

His body was recovered on Monday by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team in the area where he had jumped from a bluff at Ike Kinswa State Park.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod indicates an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has said there was no sign of foul play.

The team used a submersible camera device, and located Murphy 65 feet below the surface between a cliff wall and a log.


For background, read “Man who jumped into Lake Mayfield yesterday presumed drowned” from Wednesday Sept. 3, 2014, here