Archive for December, 2014

Transitions at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 38th sheriff of Lewis County was sworn in yesterday, although his term won’t begin until after the clock strikes midnight tonight.

Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza was among eight elected county officials who took part in the ceremony in the Historic Courthouse in Chehalis, administered by Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey.

2014.0110.rob.snaza.campaign copy

Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza

His twin brother, Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza was among those observing from the filled benches.

Also attending was the new undersheriff, Capt. Wes Rethwill, who retires from the Washington State Patrol today.

The sheriff-elect has known him some 20 years. Thurston Sheriff Snaza said he used to work for Rethwill, when Rethwill headed up a countywide drug task force.

Sheriff-elect Snaza has also said he’s chosen Deputy Bruce Kimsey, to serve as his chief criminal deputy. Current Chief Criminal Deputy Gene Seiber will be doing something else in the office, Snaza has said.

Snaza, a Napavine area Republican, has said among his priorities are rooting out career criminals, continuing to run a no-frills jail and partnering with schools.

During some 20 years with the sheriff’s office, the now 49-year-old longtime sergeant has been SWAT leader and also supervisor of the  Lewis County Regional Crime Task Force.


Sheriff Steve Mansfield

He announced his candidacy in the spring of last year, and not long afterward, was made spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, for a few months. Less than a month after he swept the August primary election, he was promoted to undersheriff.

Outgoing Sheriff Steve Mansfield was in the audience as well, and said he’d already cleaned out his office. He indicated he felt his successor was well-prepared to fill the new role.

Mansfield said he figured “they’d” probably come and get his car today, or maybe he’d drive it in, he said.

After two-plus terms as sheriff, the Winlock resident will soon step into a familiar role.

The three-member board of county commissioners yesterday selected Mansfield to manage the Department of Emergency Management.

The responsibility for the function has been with the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, and now is being handed back over to the commissioners.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


• Chehalis police are looking for the person who stole a set of headphones right off a teenage boy’s head while he was out walking yesterday evening. An officer called about 7:40 p.m. learned it happened in the 200 block of Southwest 15th Street, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The 15-year-old boy was unhurt, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.


• A deputy was called yesterday afternoon to the 8100 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Glenoma where a man said someone had taken his motorcycle from his front yard sometime since Sunday. Missing is a red 1982 Honda CT1108 valued at $750,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday from the 1500 block of South Gold Street from a woman regarding the theft of a half bottle of morphine pills.


• A purse was stolen from an employee locker area at Providence Centralia Hospital, according to a report made to police yesterday. It appeared the locker was opened with some sort of device or even a key, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• An individual who left his backpack with his bicycle outside a convenience store on the 500 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia called police when the pack was stolen yesterday. An officer called about 7 p.m. was told that among the items it contained were a wallet and food, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor domestic assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, collision on city street,  … and more.

Couple displaced by fire in Boistfort Valley

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Flames light up the night sky on the 1100 block of Boistfort Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 13

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The cause of a house fire in the Boistfort Valley yesterday evening is being investigated today.

Nobody was home and no one was injured.

Firefighters were called just before 6 p.m. to the 1100 block of Boistfort Road, a mile or so south of the BawFaw Grange, according to Lewis County Fire District 13.

“I was one of the first units on the scene, and by the time we arrived, the structure was fully involved,” Fire Chief Kyle DePriest said.

Flames were already rising through the roof, he said.

Crews fought the blaze from the outside only, joined by members of Fire Districts 6 and 11, DePriest said.

He described the residence as a double-wide mobile or modular home, with wood siding.

The couple who live there were out to dinner in Chehalis, and returned while firefighters were still there. They had no ideas what could have ignited it, he said.

The structure is still standing, with heavy fire damage in its center, he said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 1 a.m. An investigator will be heading out there today, he said.

L&I: Safety violations led to fatal explosion in Maytown

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The state has fined a Maytown fireworks company $1,200 for safety violations that contributed to this summer’s deadly workplace accident

One employee was killed and two others injured after an explosion at Entertainment Fireworks Inc. on Reeder Road on the morning of June 18.

They were outside preparing shells, inserting what the fire department called electronic matches.

The state Department of Labor and Industries report concluded the workers were not following the safety requirements for connecting the igniters, also known as “squibbing”.

“The employer did not establish, supervise and enforce their accident prevention program in a manner that is effective in practice,” the L&I inspector wrote of the serious violation.

Exactly what they did or did not do is not specified, but the rules refer to limiting the amount of pyro materials present during the process and specify how the personnel should all work on one side of the table facing the same direction.

A witness estimated he heard and saw about 15 commercial fireworks explode at about roof level of the buildings.

Bill Hill, 75, died at the scene.

At the time, a spokesperson for L&I said the business had not had any safety complaints, incidents or inspections for a number of years.

Two other violations were found as well. The company could not provide documentation it held safety meetings for employees nor did they have training records for their two forklift operators.

For background, read “Feds, state investigating fatal explosion at Maytown fireworks facility” from Thursday June 19, 2014, here

News brief: Snowshoer perishes on Mount Rainier

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Search crews looking for a missing snowshoer on Mount Rainer located his body yesterday next to Edith Creek in the Paradise area.

The 37-year-old man from Puyallup disappeared during Saturday evening’s winter storm that dropped 20 inches of snow in 48 hours.

Mount Rainier National Park spokesperson Patti Wold reported in a news release the Pierce County medical examiner would make the formal identification; the Associated Press reports today he is Louis Landry of Puyallup.

According to Wold, Landry was forced to descend because of severe conditions and was taken into a shelter by another party, but the shelter was destroyed and they became separated as they headed to Paradise.

For background, read “News brief: Puyallup man missing in Paradise backcountry” from Monday December 29, 2014, here

News brief: Oakville motorist injured on U.S. Highway 12

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

U.S. Highway 12 near Oakville is blocked as troopers investigate collision.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 63-year-old Oakville man was injured when his PT Cruiser was struck by a big rig on U.S. Highway 12 near Oakville today.

Troopers called just before 1:30 p.m. report that Clifford W. Harris was approaching the highway from Blockhouse Road and failed to stop at the stop sign. An eastbound Kenworth tractor with two flatbed trailers struck his car’s driver’s side front, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Harris was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, according to the state patrol.

The road was blocked for an hour and 45 minutes.

The truck driver, Dale R. Long, 45, from Kelso, was unhurt, according to the investigating trooper.

Harris is to be issued a citation for failure to yield. His car was totaled.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014


• Chehalis police say a resident on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue reported he was in his room yesterday morning when he heard a noise and then his door opened and a male he did not recognize was standing there. An officer called about 11:45 a.m. found the front door open and broken from its frame, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The resident said the intruder left quickly and it wasn’t clear if anything was missing from the home, according to police. The intruder is described as a white male who appeared to be in his early to mid 20s, with a short, full-faced beard and wearing a black beanie cap,  department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.


• A 24-year-old Centralia man was arrested for fourth-degree assault yesterday after he allegedly kicked a 51-year-old homeless man who was sleeping behind a church on the 400 block of North Tower Avenue. Officers responding about 4 p.m. learned the suspect then rode off on his bicycle, but he, Lucas D. Bryan, was subsequently located, issued his citation and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called yesterday to the 1500 block of South Gold Street by a 43-year-old man who had been trying to sell roof trusses on Craigslist and lost some $2,000 in the process. He received a check from a supposed purchaser for more than his asking price and returned the difference to the supposed buyer, according to the Centralia Police Department. The original check was bad, according to police. The “buyer” didn’t pick up the trusses, so the victim didn’t lose those, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.


• Centralia police took a report from an individual at the 300 block of North Tower Avenue yesterday regarding unauthorized expenditures that appeared on their account following the loss of a debit card.


• Police were called to Valley View Medical Center on Northeast Kresky Avenue in Chehalis, where a patient was seen by an employee allegedly leaving with some dental instruments. He denied taking them, but a citation for third-degree theft will be issued to Stanley  A. J. Pesicka, 31, of Onalaska, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A Stihl chainsaw with an 18-inch bar is missing after a break-in to a business on the 2500 block of Sandra Avenue in Centralia. It happened sometime between Friday and yesterday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Chehalis police took a report about 5:30 p.m. from an individual at the 300 block of Southwest Third Street from an individual who said they returned home from going out to dinner and discovered medication including oxycodone missing from the unlocked apartment.


• Centralia police were called yesterday morning to the 2800 block of Russell Road where a resident reported the theft of packages from their front porch. Missing are a remote control car, airplane and a doll, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• No serious injuries resulted but firefighters and medics responded around 6 o’clock yesterday morning to a two-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 12 near Kiser Road and then to the area near Larmon Road where a responding trooper lost control of his car because of icy conditions. The trooper’s vehicle left the highway to the right, entered a ditch and struck a sign, according to the Washington State Patrol. Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said he was told by his crew it was so icy, it was even difficult to stand up on the pavement.

• Two people were injured in a six-vehicle collision yesterday on Interstate 5 just south of Woodland that included a 43-year-old Toledo man driving a Freightliner with two trailers carrying chickens, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called at 3:30 p.m. report a pickup truck lost control trying to avoid traffic in the left lane that was out with a loose dog and when the pickup truck came to rest, it was hit by a semi truck. Three vehicles that slowed were then struck by the Freightliner driven by Robert L. York, of Toledo, according to the state patrol. York was cited for following too closely and going too fast, the investigating trooper reports. The northbound lanes were partially blocked for several hours. The (Vancouver) Columbian reports 50 to 60 chickens got loose when some of the crates hauled by York broke open and had to be rounded up.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, obstructing; responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances … and more.

News brief: County leaders consider Steve Mansfield to head up emergency management

Monday, December 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

We know now what outgoing Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield plans to do, or hopes to do, after his retirement from law enforcement.

Mansfield is one of three candidates interviewed by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners to manage the Department of Emergency Management.

The Lewis County Division of Emergency Management has been run by the sheriff’s office since the year 2000, when Mansfield was the hands-on manager as a sheriff’s lieutenant. Once he became sheriff in 2005, he was its director, with a deputy director handling the day to day responsibilities.

The division, or department, is in charge of administering preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery strategy in regarding manmade or natural disasters.

County commissioners will soon oversee the division, instead of it being part of the sheriff’s office. Commissioner Lee Grose has said the change comes from the idea it needed a full time manager.

The salary range was advertised at between $4,672 and $6,283 per month.

The other finalists interviewed last week were Vivian Eason, with Thurston County Emergency Management, and Doug Wangen, who currently works for the county health department.

Commissioner Edna Fund said she expects the board to make a decision tomorrow.

Mansfield’s 30-year career in law enforcement comes to a close as former Sgt. Rob Snaza, recently promoted to undersheriff, takes over, after winning a contested election last month.

Snaza will be sworn in tomorrow.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 29th, 2014


• A patron at the Tower Tavern in downtown Centralia was arrested last night after she allegedly threw a beer bottle at a bartender after being asked to leave. An officer called about 6:20 p.m. to the 100 block of South Tower Avenue found 37-year-old Angela K. Schlueter of Rochester at the establishment next door, according to the Centralia Police Department. She was arrested for fourth-degree assault and then released, according to police. The bottle struck the employee in the arm, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.


• A pet ferret, a shotgun, a rifle and two televisions are among the items missing following a burglary discovered yesterday by residents in the Curtis area who returned from a trip. There was no sign of forced entry, so a deputy suspects someone could have gotten into the home on the 200 block of Lake Creek Road through an unsecured dining room window, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Also stolen is a laptop computer, a Kindle and jewelry, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said. It happened sometime since last Monday, according to Breen.


• An elderly couple called Chehalis police on Friday to report that sometime overnight someone stole three handguns from their home on Southwest Lewis Street. There was no obvious means of entry, according to the Chehalis Police Department. One of the firearms, an officer found, was reported stolen in 1985 by the same victim, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said. Wilson said they would enter the information into a shared law enforcement databases and if they turn up, perhaps the case can be followed up on.


• A deputy was called about 8:40 .m. yesterday to the 2400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia after an employee of a telecommunications company discovered 50 feet of copper wire missing from an outbuilding. The theft took place sometime between midnight and 8 a.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for driving under the influence; responses for alarms, disputes, shoplifting, suspicious circumstances, barking dogs; concern about a clean cut female in her late teens who came to the door and offered to vacuum a man’s house … and more.

News brief: Puyallup man missing in Paradise backcountry

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Updated at 11:36 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A search is underway at Mount Rainier for a missing snowshoer from Puyallup who disappeared during Saturday evening’s winter storm.

A hasty search with the Nordic Patrol took place yesterday but this morning personnel are in the air and on the ground in the area above Paradise, according to a park official.

They are looking around Edith Creek to the upper Stevens Canyon drainage, according to Mount Rainier National Park spokesperson Patti Wold.

Current conditions are cold and windy, according to Wold, and avalanche conditions are considerable. The air search will focus on high avalanche areas.

The road to Paradise will remain closed during the search.

Wold said this morning in a news release: The missing individual intended to overnight at Camp Muir, but was forced to descend due to formidable winter storm conditions.

A second party took him into their shelter at Panorama Point, she stated, but when the shelter was destroyed by the extreme conditions they attempted to complete their descent to Paradise together.

But during the descent the individual separated from the party in the vicinity of Edith Creek, according to Wold.

Responders include members of Tacoma, Everett, Seattle, and Olympic Mountain Rescues, U.S. Army Reserve 214th Air Division out of Joint Base Lewis McChord and park climbing rangers.

Read about current Thurston jail insufficient, while $48 million facility remains vacant …

Monday, December 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a planned $24 million jail that cost twice that to build and was ready for use more than four years ago remains idled in Thurston County, even as the sheriff rents beds for some of his inmates in Lewis and Chelan counties.

News reporter Amelia Dickinson writes that it’s costing taxpayers $400,000 more each year to maintain the empty place called the Accountability and Restitution Center, ARC, even as some of its never-used technology may be becoming obsolete. And the current lock-up facility is still insufficient in several ways, she writes.

Read more about how millions of dollars are allocated to the corrections department, but Sheriff John Snaza and county commissioners – all elected officials – disagree about the amount needed to open the vacant ARC. Read it here

Angry motorist takes baseball bat to Centralia driver’s face, truck

Monday, December 29th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 22-year-old man is recovering after a road rage incident in which he and his vehicle were both attacked by a baseball bat-wielding motorist near Centralia.

It happened about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday along the 100 block of Joppish Road, northwest of town and deputies are looking for the assailant who was driving a green compact car, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect’s name may be Matt, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said this morning.

The victim said he was headed west on Galvin Road when he tried to pass the green car, which at first blocked him from passing, Breen said. The victim finally did go around the car, but then it followed him and finally the victim stopped to explain he only wanted to pass, Breen said.

“I’m assuming he probably didn’t want it to follow him to his girlfriend’s house,” Breen said.

The green car’s driver got out and approached the victim’s truck, and used the bat to break its rear window and then struck the 22-year-old Centralia man in the face with it, Breen said. The 22-year-old ended up with a broken eye socket, according to the sheriff’s office.

Breen said the only description deputies got of the attacker was a white male, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a flat-billed baseball hat.

However, the victim heard a female inside the green car yelling, “Matt, stop,” Breen said.

He thought there might be others in the car, but wasn’t sure, Breen said.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the incident or the identity of the suspect to call them, or call Crime Stoppers of Lewis County. “Matt” is wanted for second-degree assault.

The 22-year-old drove himself to his girlfriend’s home nearby and she took him to Providence Centralia Hospital, where he was treated and has been released, Breen said.