Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

Read about ‘For mayors eyes only’ memo regarding new South Lewis County police agency …

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Longview) Daily News reports the mayors of Winlock, Toledo, Vader and Napavine are in secret talks to create a police agency to handle law enforcement in their towns.

News reporter Natalie St. John writes the proposal is a response to the difficulties encountered in policing their communities with limited staff.

Read more here

News brief: Centralia used car business owners deny theft scheme

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Keith A. and Lorrine D. Birdwell pleaded not guilty today to what prosecutors call major economic offenses that victimized a Centralia-based bank in connection with the Toledo couple’s used car business.


Keith and Lorrine Birdwell

The Birdwells operated  Birdwell Brothers Auto Sales with sites in Centralia and in Lacey.

They were charged last month with one count of first-degree theft and five counts of felony unlawful issuance of a bank check.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg contends in charging documents that Security State Bank’s unrecovered losses are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He alleges the couple used various deceptions to avoid paying back the bank on loans for the vehicles.

Keith, 47, and Lorrine, 44, went before Judge James Lawler in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon. They were accompanied by Vancouver, Wash.-based attorney Chad Schaff.

They pleaded not guilty to all charges. A trial date was set for the week of April 22.

For background, read “Centralia used car lot owners appear in court on criminal charges” from Wednesday January 23, 2013, here

News brief: Tenino Fire Department loses leader to illness

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Tenino area fire department lost its longtime operations chief last week.


Janet Lee Duncan
1953 – 2013

Janet Lee Duncan, 59, continued to work even as she dealt with cancer, but died on Jan. 29, according to Tina Vanderhoof, office administrator for Thurston County Fire District 12.

“It’s been three years, the battling,” Vanderhoof said. “We miss her terribly.”

Duncan was with the fire department more than two decades and lived in the Skookumchuck Valley even longer, with her husband, Robin Duncan who is the department’s chief.

She leaves behind also three sons, six grandchildren and other family.

A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 16 at the Tenino High School gymnasium.

Centralia police offering money, asking for help with emerging gang graffiti

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

On North Tower Avenue. / Courtesy Centralia Police Department

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police are paying cash money to try to nip a budding gang tagging issue around town.

Officers are seeing an increase in graffiti being attributed to the presence of an emerging gang, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Police Chief Bob Berg describes the problem this way:

Graffiti posted by one gang is a challenge to rival gangs, who will then cross out each other’s graffiti as a sign of disrespect. This leads to retaliation, which often leads to violence between gangs as they struggle for dominance and control of a given area.

The violence can result in everything from additional vandalism, to fights and even drive by shootings, Berg says.

Berg says the new gang, calling itself the Tiny Dukes, is attempting to expand its influence in the area and also recruiting young people.

He wants to stop it before it grows and becomes a significant problem.

Police are asking for the public’s help by reporting any tagging as soon as its spotted, especially good is to call 911 while a tagger is still in the act. The chief wants folks to report any suspicious activity, even if seems insignificant, especially if it involves young people fighting, and even partying, he says.

The police department is willing to pay up to $250 for information leading to the arrest for any individual posting graffiti on public or private property.

The amount paid out will vary in part based on its timeliness, and quality of evidence offered, according to Berg.

“We’re hoping to get some takers on it,” he said.

News brief: Former Onalaskan incarcerated for 2010 slayings back for attack on his conviction

Friday, February 1st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – John Allen Booth Jr. is back.

The convicted triple-murderer who once called Onalaska home was sent to prison for life in December 2011, but was booked into the Lewis County Jail this morning.


John Allen Booth Jr.

Booth, now 33, filed a post-trial motion which will be heard by a Lewis County Superior Court judge.

Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said it isn’t related to the evidence that turned up in the coroner’s office several weeks after the conviction.

Meagher called it a “collateral attack”.

Booth was convicted in the shooting deaths of David West Sr., 52,  David “D.J.” West Jr., 16, and 50-year-old Tony Williams of Randle. The three, along with Denise Salts who survived a gunshot, were found in the home Salts and the Wests shared on Wings Way in the Onalaska-Salkum area on August 21, 2010.

Last year about this time, Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said finger nail clippings and hair trimmings from all three victims were found in a sealed bag in the work locker of a former deputy coroner. The materials had no “chain of custody” documentation, nor did they get into the hands of law enforcement or attorneys in the case.

Both Booth’s attorney and  Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said it was a potential appeal issue for Booth.

Booth is scheduled to go before Judge Richard Brosey at 2:30 p.m. on Monday to set a date for the motion hearing.

For background, read “Report: Triple murderer surprisingly charming and well-mannered” from Monday December 19, 2011, here

News brief: Judge denies request to withdraw guilty plea in child sexual abuse, death case

Friday, February 1st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – James Reeder changed his mind.

The 26-year-old Centralia resident has been awaiting sentencing for the May death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter after pleading guilty last month.

The so-called Alford plea, in which he did not admit guilt, was part of deal which could get him a minimum of about three decades in prison and possibly remain there for life.

From the Lewis County Jail, Reeder penciled a two-page letter to Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler asking to please be allowed to withdraw his plea, saying he has been telling his lawyer all along he wanted to take it to a trial.

Judge Lawler denied his request today.

Reeder pleaded guilty on Jan. 9 to homicide by abuse, second-degree assault, two counts of first-degree rape of a child and possession of methamphetamine. The victim, Koralynn Fister, died May 24 in Centralia.

Reeder’s sentencing remains scheduled for March 6.

Attorneys are still waiting for a pre-sentencing investigation report from the state Department of Corrections.

For background, read “Defendant in Koralynn Fister death pleads guilty” from Wednesday January 9, 2013, here

News brief: Firefighters rescue Centralian after boat flips in river

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crews responding this morning to a call about an upside down pontoon boat and an oar spotted in the Skookumchuck River in north Centralia found a man who was out of the water but prevented by thick brush from getting up the bank.

Two men from Centralia in two boats had apparently launched from the park off B Street and one of them overturned near there, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

The swift water carried his companion’s craft probably another three quarters of a mile downstream before he was able to get off the river, Assistant Chief Mike Kytta said.

The man, in his 50s, had gone into the water and was carried by the river underneath some branches and trees but got himself to the water’s edge, according to Kytta.

Firefighters had to clear a path through the berry vines and brush, Kytta said.

“He was tired and cold and they had to assist him up the bank,” Kytta said.

He was loaded into an ambulance by 11:10 a.m. and taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be evaluated, according to the chief.

Read about Thurston courthouse campus locked down following phone threat …

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports deputies will be posted outside the courthouse for security throughout the day following a morning phone call to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office that put the campus on a brief lockdown.

The newspaper’s staff report states the caller was upset about a case and mentioned he had guns and was close by just before 10 a.m. today.

Read more here

News brief: Randle residents injured when tree falls onto SUV

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

A tree was removed from atop a Randle couple’s Ford Explorer. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol

Updated at 9:30 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Randle couple was hospitalized after a tree fell onto their vehicle on U.S. Highway 12 east of Morton last night.

Raymond J. Pollman, 58, was driving a Ford Explorer and stopped near Davis Lake Road waiting for a snow plow clearing the roadway, according to the Washington State Patrol.

It happened about 7:30 p.m.

“The folks were sitting at the intersection waiting for the truck to pass and unfortunately, a tree fell on their vehicle,” Trooper Will Finn  said.

A power line dropped as well he said, leaving a live wire on the roadway which responders had to deal with, he said.

Pollman was taken to Morton General Hospital, according to Finn. His passenger, Dalene J. Pollman, 57, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where she is listed this morning in satisfactory condition.

Raymond Pollman was treated and has already been released, according to a Morton hospital spokesperson.

Finn said a transformer, or possibly two, blew at the same time knocking out power to an unknown number of residents in the area.

The roadway there is clear this morning, although numerous trees which must have fallen in the area are cut up on the side of the highway, according to Morton Fire Department secretary Holly Cantrell.

Finn said it was continuing to snow this morning near the pass to the east, with compact snow and ice on the highway.


News brief: Litter of pups perish in West Lewis County fire

Friday, January 25th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A heat lamp warming some puppies may have been what ignited a barn fire in Dryad earlier today.

About nine firefighters from Doty and Pe Ell responded to the approximately 11 a.m. call to the 200 block of Kobe Road.

Lewis County Fire District 16 Chief Greg Feuchter said the roughly 30-foot by 40-foot metal sided structure was a total loss.

“I think the female and either five or eight puppies, they’re gone,” Feuchter said.

The building was used for storage, and the dogs, he said. The family lost a tractor as well, he said.

Feuchter said he wasn’t sure of the dogs’ breed, although there were some Border Collies elsewhere on the property.

Crews were on the scene until almost 2 p.m., he said.

News brief: Investigation leads to employee in $1,000-plus theft from Centralia business

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It was not a safe cracker, but an inside job when more than $1,000 went missing from the Visiting Nurses Thrift Shop the other day, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Police were called early Tuesday morning to the business on the 200 block of South Pearl Street about a burglary. Money was missing from a safe.

It quickly became apparent to detectives it was staged to look like a break-in, police Sgt. Stacy Denham said.

“The evidence didn’t line up that someone came in from the outside,” Denham said.

Investigating detectives came to conclude a 27-year-old employee who had worked for the business about three years was involved, according to police. When interviewed, he acknowledged what he did, Denham said.

Denham said an examination of the safe showed it was opened using the keypad and then the keypad was damaged after the safe was opened.

The money was not recovered, it had already been spent. The suspect said he needed the money, for bills, Denham said.

The 27-year-old Centralia man has not been arrested, but police are recommending to prosecutors that he be charged with burglary.

Read about Centralia resident gets two-month sentence for trying to outrun deputy …

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a 27-year-old Centralia man was sentenced today to 60 days in jail for leading a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy on a chase that reached 100 mph while his two daughters were in the car.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes that the Sept. 10 pursuit ended when Cymon Fultz-Valenta lost control of his vehicle and skidded into a dry retention pond on Old Highway 99 in Thurston County.

Read more here

News brief: Citizens hand over 26 unwanted guns in Thurston County

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza says he’s happy to help properly dispose of the guns folks considered hazardous items. / Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office says 26 guns were turned in during their weekend event giving citizens the opportunity to dispose of firearms.

Sheriff John Snaza said in a news release that often times unwanted guns are not secured properly and can end up in the hands of those who don’t know how to use them or shouldn’t have them at all.

Last year, 174 firearms were stolen in burglaries around unincorporated Thurston County, according to Snaza. Those are weapons on the streets and unaccounted for, Snaza pointed out.

On Saturday, the sheriff’s office collected 10 handguns, 16 long guns and three five-gallon buckets of ammunition folks dropped off at the McLane Fire Department, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gun givers were able to choose if their donated weapon was sent to be destroyed or traded to a licensed dealer for ammunition for deputies to use in training.

The sheriff’s office plans to conduct another event this fall, but meanwhile, anyone who wants to get rid of firearms or ammunition can call 360-786-5500, according to Lt. Greg Elwin.

News brief: Two Winlock residents seriously injured in morning wreck

Friday, January 18th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 49-year-old father and his 16-year-old son were airlifted after a single-vehicle accident south of Winlock this morning.

A deputy was called about 11:20 a.m. to the 1100 block of Winlock-Vader Road found the driver of a truck somehow lost control, hit the ditch, rolled over and landed on its top, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The Winlock residents were both wearing seat belts but sustained serious head injuries, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

They were flown by helicopter to Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Brown said. Their names were not released.

The 1996 Toyota 4by4 was totaled, she said.

Missing elderly Centralia man back home, safe

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An 80-year-old man with early stages of dementia who went missing early yesterday from his Centralia home ended up at a hospital in Everett, although police aren’t sure why.

“We think a little confusion on his part,” Centralia Police Department Sgt. Stacy Denham said this morning. “Everyone in his family lives south; no one knows why he went north.”

Raymond E. Wolford is okay and back home with his family, according to police.

Police were called to his home near Providence Centralia Hospital about 1:20 a.m. yesterday when his wife realized he and his car were gone. Wolford has late-stage cancer and requires medication daily, according to police.

Officer Mike Lowrey said last night around 8:30 p.m., officers were notified by the family Wolford was located in Everett, about 100 miles away.

Denham said he apparently drove himself there.

Read about questions raised following Thurston judge’s refusal to perform gay weddings …

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Seattle Times writes the while the state’s newly amended marriage law exempts clergy from performing same-sex weddings, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor’s opting out from conducting gay ceremonies raises questions.

Read abut it here

Read about apparent firearm abandoned at Wal-Mart turns out to be replica …

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter writes that a customer-snapped photo of what appeared to be a firearm left within reach behind a sales counter at the Chehalis Wal-Mart on Tuesday turned out to be an Airsoft gun; only a replica of a real gun.

Read about it here