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News brief: House catches fire in Doty

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 10:14 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Doty family was chased out of their home by a house fire last night.

Nobody was hurt and the cause is under investigation, according to Lewis County Fire District 16.

Firefighters called just before 10:30 p.m. to the one and a half story house on Front Street extinguished the blaze but it reignited about 5:30 this morning, Fire Chief Greg Feuchter said.

The fire damage was confined to the upstairs, he said.

The mother and two children are staying with relatives next door, according to Feuchter.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

SUSPICIOUS FIRE DAMAGES TWO HOMES

• A carport and two adjacent mobile homes caught fire yesterday evening in Centralia in an incident the police department is calling suspicious. Firefighters were called just after 5 p.m. to the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue where the carport was fully involved in flames, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The blaze spread and did minor damage to a vacant trailer on one side, but more severe damage to the other, according to  Fire Capt. Casey McCarthy. Nobody was home when it happened, McCarthy said. One firefighter was injured and taken to the hospital where she was treated and then released, he said. The cause is under investigation.

THEFT

• An orange and silver backhoe was reported stolen from the 200 block of Jerrells Road in Mossyrock, along with a cable and lock blocking the driveway, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning. It appeared somebody drove onto the Portland man’s property with a with a trailer and took the tractor sometime before Tuesday, according to the sheriff’s office. The amount of the loss is unknown, the sheriff’s office said.

• A $3,000 hand-held, gas operated compactor was reported stolen from the back of a trailer on the 1800  block of Van Wormer Street in Centralia sometime between Sunday and Monday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Wacker brand compactor is black and aluminum, the sheriff’s office said.

• A heavy-duty load tarp valued at $600 was stolen from where it was covering hay stacks on the 700 block of Independence Road in Rochester sometime between Friday and Tuesday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• Centralia police took a report from the 1000 block of Eckerson Road at 7:30 a.m. yesterday and told by a male that his female acquaintance stole his computer and cell phone when he left to get breakfast.

• A laptop computer was stolen from a vehicle around 4:30 a.m. today at the 300 block of West Summa Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

INTRUDER

• Police were called about 4:20 p.m. yesterday when workers went to a home being remodeled on the 1400 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia and found someone had been “squatting” there. The subject, who apparently had gotten inside through a window ran out the back door when workers arrived, according to the Centralia Police Department.

POWER POLE SNAPS

• Riverside Fire Authority reported they were called yesterday morning to the 1200 block of Alder Street where a power pole broke in half and fell when a transformer on it blew out. Nobody was hurt, Fire Capt. Scott Snyder said. Snyder said the pole was “eroded” and snapped. Firefighters isolated the area while city light workers made repairs, he said. Centralia police were called and concluded the pole had possibly been struck by an unknown vehicle. Electricity was knocked out to several area homes, according to police.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called about 4:45 p.m. to Southwest 11th Street where someone had smashed a window out of a vehicle.

WRECK

• A 21-year-old Centralia woman totaled her car when she lost control of it at the 400 block of River Heights Road outside Centralia yesterday, running into a ditch and a utility pole, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office. It happened just after 1 p.m. and was described as a “possible injury accident” by the sheriff’s office. The driver was taken by private vehicle to the hospital, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The driver was cited for traveling too fast, Brown said.

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Read about stranded man rescued from wooded area near Tenino …

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

KIROtv.com reports a man stranded for days in the woods outside Tenino was rescued late yesterday afternoon with ankle injury.

Read and see more, here

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Read about arrestees from Thurston County pot raids freed from jail …

Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports the 17 people arrested at five medical marijuana dispensaries were all released from jail on their personal recognizance yesterday afternoon.

Three Rochester residents were among those arrested Tuesday when drug detectives served search warrants at various Thurston County locations, including “Triple D’s” on the 21500 block of Old Highway 99 in Grand Mound. They were Rochelle L. Deloe, 36, Roberta E. Johnson, 50, and Donald E. Smith, 31.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes police and prosecutors say their release does not mean charges might not be filed later.

Read more here

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News brief: Burial fund established for family that lost three men

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Friends of the wife of one of the three men killed Saturday morning in the wreck on U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel have set up a memorial fund to help the families with the costs for funerals and burials.

Elvis Garcia-Ortiz, 44, of Centralia, died, along with two of his uncles when their small pickup slid on ice into a log truck just before 6:30 a.m. near Larmon Road.

Garcia-Lopez leaves behind a wife Victoria Garcia and five children, according to a friend, Jean Tennihill. His uncles, Javier Ortiz-Valdovinos, 49, and Rigoberto Ortiz, 46, both of Rochester, have children as well, she said.

Tennihill, who works with Victoria Garcia in Tumwater, said she doesn’t believe the mothers in the other two families work.

“The financial expense of it is just huge on them,” Tennihill said.

It’s a large family and her friend Victoria Garcia is overwhelmed, she said. She and her co-worker Desiree Rosenberg thought opening an account for possible donations made more sense than people sending flowers, given the needs right now.

Donations can be made at any branch of Washington State Employees Credit Union, by writing a check out to WSECU and noting “Elvis Garcia Memorial Fund” in the memo line, according to Tennihill.

Troopers were told the three men were headed out hunting before the wreck that totaled their truck and ended their lives. The log truck driver, James K. Chenoweth, 35, of Glenoma, was reportedly uninjured.

Tennihill can be reached at 360-259-4120.

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Police asked to investigate finances of Lewis County Historical Museum

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Chehalis police have been asked to get involved in reviewing the financial records of the Lewis County Historical Museum, following revelations its endowment fund of more than $400,000 was spent.

The four officers on the 13-member museum board were replaced last night by four new individuals, in a change that came after a general membership meeting of the museum last week when members learned there was no money left in the endowment fund, according to new board president, John Panesko.

It’s a fund meant to be left untouched, so it could generate interest which could be used, according to Panesko.

Panesko said the money should not have been spent without the knowledge of the board or museum members and now they are looking for answers.

“Was it done for the right reasons, or the wrong reasons,” Panesko said. “That’s why we’re looking through the records to see where the money went and who spent it.”

Dennis Dawes, a continuing board member, asked the police department to look at the finances of the museum, Chehalis detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said today.

Dawes, accountant Tom Bradley and McNamara met yesterday to discuss four years worth of records, according to police.

“It’s something we’re looking at right now,” McNamara said. “I don’t know what’s going to transpire, if anything.”

Police Chief Glenn Schaffer and McNamara said the department won’t be doing anything further with the financial records until after the accountant goes through them and puts them in a format that can be evaluated.

“What they’re doing is getting our office involved, early on, at the beginning,” Schaffer said. “(In case) if it does go that route.”

Dawes, a non-elected board member who represents the city of Chehalis, had been asked by the board to secure the records and have them reviewed by a certified public accountant, according to Panesko. Dawes is a Chehalis City Council member and a former deputy police chief.

Bradley volunteered to go over the books, Panesko said. Bradley will reconcile them, and another accountant will audit them afterward, he said.

The museum, which resides in a former rail station on Northwest Front Way, is in the red by about $14,000, according to Pansko. The books haven’t been in balance since 2008, he said.

Panesko said the board’s bylaws aren’t clear as to what authority the officers have in spending, without the approval of the rest of the board. He suggested the radical changes may not have taken place if the answers the membership were given were not evasive and incomplete.

The former officers are president Kathy Gavin, vice president Walt King, treasurer Aileen Carlson and secretary Pam Elder.

The museum has been shut down temporarily, and it’s bank accounts have been closed, Panesko said.

“We’ve locked down everything to have impartial people look at it,” he said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

DEPUTY WAKES UP MAN IN BURNING HOUSE

• A Bucoda home was destroyed by fire yesterday morning and a resident sleeping in a virtually sound proof room escaped injury when an early-arriving deputy woke him up. The Bucoda Fire Department was joined by three other departments to answer the approximately 9 a.m. call at the 200 block of Market Street, according to Fire Chief Jim Fowler. The resident had sound proofed a bedroom in the backside of the house to keep the noise of trains out and a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy broke a window to wake him up, Fowler said. The front half of the single-story wood home was burning, Fowler said. The house was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived, Fowler said. The cause is under investigation.

ASSAULT

• A man reportedly picking fights with other patrons at a downtown Centralia drinking establishment was arrested after he allegedly rammed an arriving police officer with his shoulder yesterday evening in Centralia. Jimmy H. Mayfield, 56, was arrested for third-degree assault after his contact with an officer at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. The Centralia resident was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A Chehalis man was given a citation yesterday for “prohibited acts by dogs” after a woman walking along the 2300 block of Jackson Highway was bitten in the hip by a Boxer dog and then an arriving deputy was charged by the Boxer and a Mini Pinscher, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy then witnessed the canines run after another woman walking by, the sheriff’s office reported.

THEFT

• A pistol was among more than $3,000 of valuables stolen in a burglary at a home on the 700 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Napavine sometime between Nov. 7 and Monday, according to Lewis County Sheriff’s office. Taken was a .357 Colt Python with custom grips, an air conditioning unit, an area light and binoculars, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said yesterday.

• A 1997 Honda Accord, with its keys in the ignition, went missing from the 2500 block of North Pearl Street sometime between Friday and Monday, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported yesterday. It has a license plate reading 521 UBX and belongs to a Marysville woman, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Police are investigating the theft of prescription methadone from a room at Providence Centralia Hospital yesterday morning. An officer called to the facility on the 900 block of South Schueber Road was told the victim was visiting his wife and left the medication in her room while the couple left briefly. When he returned, the methadone was gone, according to police.

• Centralia police took a report of a a prowl on the 900 block of North Tower Avenue on Monday night. Two propane tanks were reported taken.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday to Southwest Cascade Avenue where they were told someone had shot out the window on a canopy of a pickup truck. Further details were not readily available.

• A deputy was called yesterday to the 1800 block of little Hanaford Road in Centralia where a man reported someone shot out two windows of his house with what appeared to have been a BB gun.

DUI MISHAPS

• Chehalis police were called about 1:40 a.m. yesterday by a motorist and told a vehicle was stopped in the intersection of National and Chamber of Commerce Way and the driver was “passed out.” The driver was woken up and drove away, but was found nearby where his vehicle had driven off the road into the brush along the 1600 block of National Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Brent A. Laughlin, 34, of Centralia, was arrested and booked for driving under the influence, according to Chehalis police.

• A 63-year-old Doty resident was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital yesterday with shoulder and neck pain after a single-vehicle wreck on state Route 6 just east of Pe Ell. A trooper called just after 10 a.m. reported John L. Case had been traveling west when his pickup truck left the road to the right, struck an embankment and came to rest in a ditch, according to the Washington State Patrol. The Ford Ranger pickup was totaled, according to the state patrol. Case was to be cited for driving under the influence, according to the investigating trooper.

PEDESTRIAN STRUCK BY VEHICLE

• Police were called about 8:15 p.m. on Monday after a pedestrian was hit at the southbound onramp to Interstate 5 at Harrison Avenue in Centralia. The individual walked away, telling the driver he was not hurt, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officers contacted him a few blocks away and he declined aid, police reported. Police concluded he had stepped into the path of the vehicle and it struck his leg.

DRUGS

• Two people were arrested Monday night for possession of drugs from the 1100 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia. Just after 9 p.m., officers contacted Tracy A. McGee, 44, about a felony warrant and when she was booked into the jail, suspected methamphetamine was discovered hidden in her bra, according to the Centralia Police Department. A 16-year-old boy was arrested for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and taken to the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, according to police. It’s not clear if they were at the same address.

• Three Rochester residents were among those arrested yesterday when drug detectives served search warrants at store fronts operating as marijuana dispensaries in Grand Mound and four other locations in Thurston County. Rochelle L. Deloe, 36, Roberta E. Johnson, 50, and Donald E. Smith, 31, were arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, according to the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. According to a news release, law enforcement officers from four agencies, working with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, served warrants at “illegal dispensaries” after a five-month local investigation that included numerous purchases of marijuana from the various places. They included “Triple D’s” on the 21500 block of Old Highway 99 in Grand Mound. Spokesperson Lt. Greg Elwin said. Elwin today said he didn’t know how much marijuana was seized at Triple D’s, because although law enforcement officers arrived there around 11 a.m., they hadn’t finished “processing” the store front by the time he went home yesterday. Elwin said that while the state’s medical marijuana law allows patients to grow their own or have a caregiver grow it for them, the law “clearly prohibits the sale of marijuana by anybody, to anybody.” Read about the other locations searched in today’s Olympian, here. Read about federal involvement in coordinated raids in Thurston, Pierce and King counties, here

•••

CORRECTION: The name of one of the three individuals arrested in Grand Mound has been updated to reflect her correct first name. (An “a” was inadvertently left off the end of Roberta E. Johnson’s name)

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Breaking news: Missing elk hunter found dead

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Updated at 5:11 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The search for David Sherwood of Onalaska has ended with searchers locating his body about 11:30 a.m. today.

The elk hunter missing since Friday south of Randle was located by a private helicopter on the side of a steep ravine, according to the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office.

A second helicopter with the sheriff’s office recovered his body in an hour-long operation, Undersheriff Dave Cox said in a news release just after 1:30 p.m.

Sherwood was 56 years old.

“These past few days have been difficult for those involved in the search effort including the family and friends of Mr. Sherwood,” Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown stated. “Our efforts were challenged by both the terrain and the weather.

We are grateful for all the assistance provided by the community of Onalaska the family of Mr. Sherwood and the volunteer search and rescue teams from the region.”

Today’s search effort included nearly 70 family and friends, according to the sheriff’s office.

Cox did not know how far from his truck Sherwood was found.

“I know it was quite a ways down the ravine from where his vehicle was,” he said this afternoon.

How and when Sherwood died aren’t questions Cox has the answers to today, he said.

The search base was located at the Ryan Lake Trailhead, at the junction of Forest Service Roads 26 and 2612, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
•••

Read previous story on the search, here

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Hunter search: Hoping for a break in the weather

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

Updated at 11:42 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Bad weather still had aircraft grounded at mid-morning today in the effort to find an Onalaska man who went for a one-day elk hunting outing on Friday near Mount St. Helens and hasn’t been seen since.

David Sherwood, 56, is believed to have gone to an area about 15 miles south of Randle, according to the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office. He was hunting alone, Undersheriff Dave Cox said.

After his truck was located, search and rescue resources were requested from the state Department of Emergency Management.  A search base is located at the Ryan Lake Trailhead, at the junction of Forest Service Roads 26 and 2612; the vehicle was found near the end of a spur road.

“I believe it was a family member that found the vehicle, at mid-day Saturday,” Cox said.

Some 80 friends, family and members of search and rescue teams combed the area on Sunday and again yesterday, Cox said. It’s inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Their efforts were hampered yesterday by ongoing snow showers and low cloud cover, according to Cox. The area is described as heavily-timbered steep terrain with as much as 20 inches of snow on the ground in places.

Cox said Sherwood has a medical condition which he wouldn’t elaborate upon, as well.

“Between the medical issue and the environment he’s in right now, and the time he’s been exposed to the weather out there, it’s a big concern,” he said.

The area is quite remote from the sheriff’s office in the Skamania County seat, Stevenson, along the Columbia River, according to Cox.

The search resumed this morning, but the undersheriff doesn’t have a cell phone connection with his people, who are at the search base, so he said he did not know which particular search and rescue groups are on the ground today. Skamania County’s group, Wind River Search and Rescue is comprised of about 30 volunteers, he said.

They’ve requested aircraft support, but its use is weather dependent, according to Cox.

“We are hopeful the break in the weather will allow us to utilize aircraft to assist with the ground search efforts today” Cox said in a news release early this morning.

The sheriff’s office this morning had a helicopter on standby, waiting to deploy two deputies and someone from emergency management.

“I know there was a helicopter the family hired that tried to get up there, but could not land,” he said.

Sherwood left Friday morning and was to return home after 5 p.m., according to Cox. His son called both Lewis County and Skamania County authorities around midnight to report him overdue, according to Cox.

“Because of the weather, we couldn’t get there from this side,” he said.

A Lewis County sheriff’s deputy went and looked around the Ryan Lake area, and then a Skamania County sheriff’s deputy went up to where Sherwood’s vehicle had been found, he said. The vegetation was so thick, he had to walk in, he said.

Once further resources came in on Saturday evening, they were put out, he said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

ASSAULT

• A 69-year-old Curtis resident was jailed after he reportedly mistook a neighbor’s grown daughter for a poacher and ordered her to the ground at gun point last night. Gary O. Watson was arrested for first-degree assault after the incident near her parent’s home on the 1000 block of Wildwood Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies arrived about 9:40 p.m. and were told by the 27-year-old woman she was on the roadway when Watson pointed his gun at her, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning. Watson said he had fired a warning shot but after he realized who she was, he let her go, according to Brown. Watson said he was told earlier there was a suspicious vehicle and then saw a gray car pull into a driveway across the road and thought it was poachers, Brown said. It was her parent’s driveway she had pulled into, and then quickly backed out after she heard a gunshot, Brown said. Her parents hurried out to help her, Brown said. The case was also referred for a possible charge of reckless endangerment for pointing a loaded pistol at a person, according to Brown.

• Police are investigating after a man in his early 40s was stabbed early Saturday in north Centralia. Officers were called to Providence Centralia Hospital about 7 a.m. where the man was being treated for a non-life threatening wound on his forearm, according to the Centralia Police Department. They were told it involved a relative and happened at an apartment on the 1800 block of North Pearl Street but when officers went there, the suspect was gone, according to police.

• A 23-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for third-degree assault after he allegedly spit on a police officer early Sunday morning. Officers were called about 1 a.m. to the area at Northwest Chehalis and Pacific avenues about someone trying to fight and contacted Pablo A. Ortega, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Ortega reportedly tried to spit on a second officer as well, and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said.

THEFT

• A 29-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly tried to steal car keys from someone inside a home on the 800 block of South Silver Street in Centralia early this morning. Antone G. Reynolds, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called Friday afternoon to a report of a stolen headstone from the cemetery on the 1800 block of Van Wormer Street in Centralia. The grave stone was last seen by the reporting family member in July, according to police. A description of the missing memorial was not available.

• Two people were arrested for second-degree burglary on Friday morning at the 500 block of Hunt Street in Centralia. Alejandro S. Escamilla, 39, and Mindi L. Morgan, both described as transient, were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police took a report of carved ivory pieces stolen from a business on the 100 block of North Tower Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

• A 31-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested for misdemeanor theft on Wednesday after allegedly stealing $500 from her employer on the 500 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Molly Romero was arrested and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that more than $7,000 of valuables, including jewelry, a camera and currency, were stolen from a residence on the 400 block of Hemenway Road in Winlock last week. The victim told a deputy she arrived home after being in the hospital and discovered someone had gone into her home sometime between last Monday and Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A checkbook was stolen from a home on the 200 block of Macomber Road in Chehalis after someone got inside through an unlocked window, according to a report made to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. Also missing were a weed eater and a chainsaw from the garage, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A vehicle reported stolen from its garage late Sunday afternoon on Southwest First Street in Chehalis was found soon after down the block, undamaged, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 6 o’clock this morning about a car prowl on Southwest McFadden Avenue in Chehalis. They were told someone got inside the trunk and stole some waders, according to police.

• A bag containing financial papers was reported stolen from a vehicle on the 1300 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia on Thursday morning. A window had been smashed out, according to police.

DRUGS

• A 20-year-old Centralia woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after an officer recognized her riding her bicycle on early Sunday morning in Southwest William Avenue in Chehalis and contacted her because she had outstanding warrants. Darcie N. Negrete was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Chehalis police.

• Thirty-four-year-old Benjamin G. Cypher was arrested for possession of methamphetamine on Friday by Morton police.

WRECKS

• Police and aid were called about 11:20 a.m. yesterday to the 800 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia where a pickup truck drove into a creek. The driver had left before they arrived, according to police.

• Police were called about 11:40 p.m. on Friday to a hit and run collision on the 600 block of North Pearl Street where the suspect’s vehicle became inoperable and he fled the scene on foot.

• A 25-year-old man was hospitalized after his car hit some ice, then an embankment and rolled onto its roof early Saturday morning near the 2800 block of Centralia-Alpha Road in Onalaska, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Pontiac Grand Am was totaled after the approximately 3:45 a.m. wreck, according to the sheriff’s office.

POACHING

• Fish and Wildlife Officer James Symspon is “real hopeful” he’ll come across the subject who with a single rifle shot took down a too-young elk in town in Packwood last Monday. It happened in a no shooting zone, Officer Sympson said. He was called about 1:30 p.m. and the animal he called a two-by-two was dead in the yard of a home whose residents were away, he said this weekend. A witness saw him do and said, “Hey you can’t do that,” Sympson said. And the shooter told him, “If you help me get it outa here, I’ll split the elk with ya,” he said. The witness told him no way and said he was calling the cops, Sympson said. The elk, dropped just off U.S. Highway 12 on Snyder Road, was estimated to be about three years old and some 400 pounds, he said. The bull was given to charity. Elk season – but not inside Packwood – opened Nov. 5 and ends tomorrow, according to the officer.

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Hunter still missing south of Randle

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Updated at 9:30 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A search for a missing Lewis County hunter that began yesterday has been called off tonight and will resume at daybreak tomorrow, according to authorities.

David Sherwood, 56, of Onalaska, was reported overdue from elk hunting south of Randle late Friday evening, according to the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office.

His truck was found yesterday off the Forest Service Road 2612,  Skamania County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Dave Cox said today.

Search efforts were coordinated throughout the night and this morning, almost 80 friends, family and members of search and rescue teams searched that area, Cox said in a news release tonight.

Cox said the search base is located at the Ryan Lake Trailhead, on Forest Service Road 2612, which he estimated is about 15 miles south of Randle. It’s in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Cox was not at the scene.

Heavy snow at times and limited visibility has affected their efforts, according to Cox. The area is heavily timbered and in steep terrain, he said.

According to Cox, Sherwood’s son reported him overdue from and elk hunt trip in the Ryan Lake area, northeast of Spirit Lake, which is north of Mount St. Helens. He made the report to both Lewis County and Skamania County authorities, he said. Cox did not say if it was a day trip, or longer.

Weather is expected to continue to hamper the search as more snow is forecast to fall; already there is eight to 12 inches in the area, Cox said.

“I have been advised by our Search and Rescue Coordinator that we have requested an additional 20 ground searchers for first light in the morning,” Cox stated. “Additional resource requests for aircraft support have also been made, although their use will be heavily weather dependent.”

Temperatures in Randle are forecast at 39 degrees tonight.

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News brief: Three men who died in Ethel wreck were all related

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The three men killed yesterday morning when their small pickup was broadsided by a log truck on U.S. Highway 12 were all part of the same family.

The driver Javier Ortiz-Valdovinos, 49, and Rigoberto Ortiz, 46, both of Rochester were brothers, according to the Lewis County coroner. Elvis Garcia-Ortiz, 44, of Centralia, was their nephew, Coroner Warren McLeod said today.

“The entire family has lost sons, fathers, brothers and husband, a week before Thanksgiving,” McLeod said. “It’s sad. It’s always sad, but …”

No charges are expected as the eastbound 1992 Toyota hit some ice, and crossed into the oncoming lane when it collided with the unloaded log truck, according to the Washington State Patrol.

It happened just before 6:30 a.m. in Ethel near Larmon Road.

The log truck driver, James K. Chenoweth, 35, of Glenoma, was reportedly uninjured.

Unexpected icy conditions contributed to numerous other minor collisions in that area around Highway 12 and Interstate 5, yesterday morning, according to responders.
•••

Read yesterday’s story by scrolling down or clicking, here

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Updated breaking news: Three die in Highway 12 wreck with log truck

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

Updated at 1:10 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three men from Rochester and Centralia were killed this morning when a log truck and a Toyota pickup collided on U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel.

Aid and troopers were called just before 6:30 a.m. to the scene near Larmon Road, according to responders.

The log truck was not loaded, but it caught fire, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

The men, whose names have not been released, are ages 49, 44, and 46, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The 1992 Toyota was traveling east on U.S. Highway 12 when the driver lost control on some ice and crossed the centerline, according to the state patrol. It was broadsided by the westbound Kenworth, according to the patrol.

The Toyota came to rest on the south side of the highway; the log truck on the north, according to the patrol.

The men died at the scene, according to the investigating trooper.

The log truck driver, James K. Chenoweth, 35, of Glenoma, was reportedly uninjured.

The identities of the victims won’t be released until their next-of-kin have been notified.

Icy roads contributed to numerous other minor collisions this morning in that area around Highway 12 and Interstate 5, according to Trooper Ryan Tanner. Fire Lt. Laura Hanson said crews noted about 20 accidents in the area.

Larmon Road is about three miles east of Interstate 5, Tanner said.

The Toyota was described as totaled. The Kenworth sustained an estimated $10,000 damage.

•••
Correction: This has been updated to reflect the three men were all in the Toyota as the fire department reported; not two in the Toyota and one of the victims in the log truck as the state patrol mistakenly reported.

Correction: The amount of damage to the log truck has been corrected, as it was erroneously noted as much lower.

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Ron Reynolds, sons, answer questions about 1998 death in Toledo

Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm
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Attorney Rick Cordes, standing, introduces the Reynolds' family, starting left and moving clockwise, Si, David, Joshua, Jonathan, Linda and Ron.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. and 9:26 p.m., and Friday Nov. 11, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

OLYMPIA – The oldest son of Ron Reynolds told a throng of news reporters today the sheriff’s office investigation into his dad’s wife’s death included mistakes that left legitimate questions, but the inquiry turned into a crusade and witch hunt based on hearsay, rumors and lies.

“It’s gone so far as these two men, Jon and Dad, were publicly declared murder suspects, and basically ruined their lives,” Si Reynolds said.

Si Reynolds, who was 24 years old, married and living in Snohomish County when former trooper Ronda Reynolds was found dead in the Toledo home she shared with Ron Reynolds and his three youngest sons, defended his father and then-17-year-old brother.

“Dad lost his job, Jonathan has this reputation now that he can’t live down,” Si Reynolds said. “All based on lies.”

Ronda Reynolds, 33, was preparing to leave her husband of less than a year when she was found with a bullet in her head, covered up by a turned-on electric blanket on the floor of a closet almost 13 years ago.

She took her own life, and left behind a lot of sadness, Si Reynolds said. But the speculation it was anything but suicide has turned their family upside down, he said.

“It just needs to end,” he said.

Ron Reynolds – the Toledo Elementary School principal who has been put on administrative leave – and three of his other sons took turns addressing the news media this morning in a press conference their attorney hopes could make some headway into clearing their names.

Rick Cordes organized the gathering at his Olympia law office. Ron Reynolds present wife Linda Reynolds joined the family but did not speak.

What prompted them to finally go public is last month a coroner’s inquest jury declared the death a homicide and named Ron and Jonathan Reynolds as responsible. The Lewis County prosecutor has declined to file any criminal charges, saying there’s no evidence remaining.

Cordes told news reporters the Reynolds family has had to live with groundless accusations of homicide and wrongdoing.

“They’ve come to the point now where they don’t feel they have an alternative but to come forward to put an end to these irresponsible allegations,” Cordes said.

The three boys, now men ages 23, 27 and 30, stood at a podium and articulated a fondness for their step-mother which wasn’t apparent from any of the information heard during the eight-day inquest.

None of them attended those proceedings, having invoked their fifth amendment right against providing testimony that might incriminate themselves.

“I’m Josh, I was 10, when Ronda died,” Joshua Reynolds said.

He encouraged those present not to believe everything they hear.

“It’s been a tragedy,” he said. “Losing Ronda was really hard.”

David Reynolds, then 14, said it took a long time to understand his step-mother taking her own life. He said he’s even tried to understand her mother, Barb Thompson’s position.

“It was pretty hard to deal with,” he said. “I don’t think people understand, we were close.”

He told of he and his brothers that night watching television and doing homework. There was no party at the house like some have suggested, he said.

“I was there, I would have know if something else happened,” David Reynolds said. “I would have said something.”

Jonathan Reynolds, now 30, didn’t offer any prepared remarks to the news media, but he answered their questions.

His recall of that night was it was uneventful, he said.

He remembered Dave Bell showing up at their house, and also hanging out with his younger brothers, he said.

“We played video games, did our homework, went to bed, that’s about it,” he said. “Then we woke up and our step-mom was dead.”

He was only a kid, he said. The first time he was interviewed was months later, he said.

“Until after that day, you didn’t even know you were supposed to remember what time you went to the bathroom,” he said.

On his relationship with Ronda Reynolds, he said after a blow-up with her, he moved out to his mother’s but then returned and he and Ronda Reynolds made up, he said.

Jonathan Reynolds said he does construction work, although he’s in between jobs. He said he has a family of his own, and a child.

It’s wrecking his life, not knowing if people are staring at him in the grocery store; he’s upgraded his security system at home, he told news reporters.

“I think it’s the fear of the unknown,” he said.

Jonathan Reynolds said he would like people to know they are telling the truth; and tired of being hurt.

“Really, we just want Ronda to be able to rest,” he said.

Ron Reynolds, now 60, began with telling reporters finding his wife dead was the most horrifying thing he’d ever experienced.

“I can remember going into a state of shock and confusion right away,” he said.

He described the reason their marriage was ending; she was running up credit he didn’t know about and wasn’t being honest when he asked about it, he said.

Ron Reynolds spoke of living in a small town where some believe the stories they’ve heard and others know he could never have killed his wife.

“At the time I was asking her to leave, I still loved her and wouldn’t have wanted anything to happen to her,” he said.

When asked, Ron Reynolds walked reporters through the hours before her death.

The day before, he had gone to his cardiologist in Olympia, he said. As he drove toward Toledo, he had a long cell phone conversation with his wife and she was depressed, he said.

He was worried about her, because she had talked about suicide before.

“I was trying to encourage her and tell her things would get better,” he said.

Ron Reynolds said he was going to stop at home to see her, but then she said she was okay, so he picked up a sandwich and went to the elementary school Christmas program, their biggest event of the year.

Afterward, he arrived home and David Bell was there helping her get things together, he said.

He and his wife were together that night and he tried to encourage her that things would get better, he said.

“I don’t know what time I fell asleep, it was sometime kind of late,” he said. “I was exhausted, I had put in a very long day.”

“When I went to sleep, she was beside me,” he said. “At one point, I remember thinking she was still beside me, but I didn’t turn over and look.”

He said he remembered looking at the alarm clock in the early morning hours.

When the alarm clock woke him, she wasn’t in bed, he said. He got up and looked for her in the living room.

“I go in the bathroom, I notice the door to the walk-in closet is mostly shut, all except for a crack,” he said.

He saw the cord for the electric blanket.

“Then I was worried,” he said.

“The door was blocked, so I somehow had to reach around and move her feet and legs so I could get the door open,” he said.

“That’s when I saw what I saw,” he said.

He said he was sick to his stomach when he called 911. The dispatcher sent him back to check for a pulse, which he did, he said.

“Ronda felt cold at that time,” he said.

The dispatcher asked if there were any children in the house, and suggested he send them somewhere else,’ he said.

“This thing has just been so unfair to my family,” Ron Reynolds said. “I’ve been hoping for years justice would happen, but it hasn’t yet.”

Q and A with Ron Reynolds

Did you kill your wife?

“Absolutely not.”

Why didn’t you hear a gunshot?

“There’s been a lot of discussion about that,” he said.

The door to the bathroom was closed, the walk-in closet was actually at the far end some 20 feet away, he said, with two walls in between. And the closet was stuffed with clothes, he said.

“I understand she shot through the pillow,” he said. “Maybe the shot disturbed me, but didn’t wake me up,” he said.

How do you know someone else didn’t shoot her?

“The way that I know, they would have had to go past me to do that,” he said. “I’m sure I would have heard that.”

Someone would have had to walk within a foot of his bed to get to the closet, he said.

What about the bottle of Black Velvet?

There was a bottle of Black Velvet sitting on her night stand, and he assumed she might have had a drink, he said.

The lipstick writing on the mirror?

It was there when he got home from the music program, he said.

“I think she was planning to travel to Spokane and left me a note,” he said. “I thought she was being kind of dramatic, it was lipstick.”

Why not testify?

“I’ve gotten a lot of legal counsel and I was advised by legal counsel not to testify in that situation,” he said. “And I think the way it turned out, we can see why.”

Do you remember how Ronda was laying?

“There are parts of that that are blank in my mind,” he said.

“I don’t think I told anyone at first about moving her legs, I remembered that later,” he said.

He said he thinks the gun probably moved at that point, from her forehead, falling to “just sort of between her hands.”

The time you fell asleep and woke up?

He said he fell asleep later than normal. Normal would be 11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m.

“Some have said she was alive at 5 a.m.” he said. “Well I didn’t say that. I looked at the clock and thought she was there, but I didn’t look.”

Was there one thing that prompted you to speak out now?

“It’s kind of important when I’m looking at losing my profession,” he said, adding it is also for his family.

You reaction when you heard you were murder suspects?

It gave him a sick feeling he can’t describe, he said.

“My reaction was, we’re getting arrested for something we didn’t do,” he said.

Your demeanor others noted after her death?

“For one thing, you don’t know how you’re gonna act until you get in a situation like that,” he said. “When I found Ronda, nothing in my life had prepared me for that shock.”

He said he’s a low-key person who doesn’t show much public emotion.

What were the “issues” you mentioned Ronda had?

He said he didn’t know of her previous criminal charge for taking money out an account, and that she had been doing community service, he said.

She was having a lot of financial problems, and that was why she was doing things with his credit card, he said.

“I think she had it in her mind when her and Mr. Liburdi’s house sold, she would take care of debts, but that wasn’t panning out, because of the market or something,” he said.

“So I think she got despondent,” he said.

What message do you have for Barb Thompson?

None

What do you want for the rest of your life?

“I want to live with my family in peace,” he said.

Was your other son Micah at the house that night?

No, only Joshua, David and Jonathan, he said.
•••

Watch one hour of raw video from the press conference from KIROtv.com, here

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Jonathan Reynolds faces a crowd of news reporters

•••

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Toledo Elementary School Principal on administrative leave, Ron Reynolds, answers numerous questions about his former wife's death.

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News brief: Two teens struck by truck near Centralia High School

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Updated at 5:01 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two teenage boys were hospitalized after responders were called about a vehicle versus pedestrian accident near Centralia High School this afternoon.

Riverside Fire Authority was called shortly after school got out to Mount Vista Road along the fence line for the pheasant farm, according to Firefighter-paramedic Mark Holmberg.

The pair of teenage males were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Holmberg said.

They were struck by a small pickup truck, occupied by two 17-year-old boys, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

A half dozen students were already on hand comforting the young men when aid arrived, Holmberg said.

“Some kids from the school folded up their coats and put them under their heads,” he said.

According to the sheriff’s office, the 17-year-olds were traveling in a 1993 Ford Ranger and the 15- and 16-year-old boys were walking on the side of the road.

The boys in the truck were arguing about “which CD to play, so there was some distracted driving going on,” Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

All the boys are students at the high school, Brown said.

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Ron Reynolds to break silence about wife’s 1998 death

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An attorney speaking for Ron Reynolds and his now-grown son Jonathan Reynolds said a press conference with the two men might help them clear the cloud that’s been hanging over them for almost 13 years, especially after they were named last month by an inquest jury as responsible for the homicide of former trooper Ronda Reynolds in their Toledo home.

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Ron Reynolds

That will happen tomorrow in the Olympia office of Cordes Brandt, attorneys at law.

Ronda Reynolds, 33, was preparing to leave her husband of less than a year when she was found with a bullet in her head, covered up by a turned-on electric blanket on the floor of a closet in their Toledo house. It was Dec. 16, 1998.

Ron Reynolds, principal of Toledo Elementary School, told deputies his wife committed suicide. His three sons, Jonathan, then 17, David, 14, and Joshua, 10, were allowed to leave as the first deputy arrived.

Olympia lawyer Rick Cordes said Ron Reynolds will be joined by his present wife and four of his five sons tomorrow.

Cordes will make some comments and he expects Ron Reynolds to speak, to present the Reynolds’ family point of view in some fashion.

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Jonathan Reynolds

“I don’t know, I know he wants to say something – we’ve not rehearsed it – I don’t know that he knows exactly what he’s going to say,” Cordes said.

The attorney said he expects Jonathan Reynolds will answer questions, but won’t offer any prepared remarks.

“Not Jon, he’s the most vulnerable, and he’s just shy,” Cordes said. “He doesn’t want to get up in front of TV cameras.”

Nobody has been charged in the death, and the Lewis County prosecutor made it clear there is not enough admissible evidence to prosecute them criminally. The jury during last month’s coroner’s inquest was able to make its findings based only on a preponderance of evidence, a lesser standard than a criminal proceeding.

Newly elected Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said he held the inquest in an attempt to settle the controversial death.

Ron Reynolds’s then-attorney said his client lost his opportunity to clear his name when sheriff’s deputies neglected to perform gunpowder residue tests on him at the scene.

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Ronda Reynolds

Initially labeled by the sheriff’s office and then-Coroner Terry Wilson to be a suicide, the manner of death has been changed repeatedly over the years back and forth between undetermined and suicide as it was reinvestigated, moved through a civil suit brought by Ronda Reynolds’ mother, Barb Thompson, and finally last month was deemed by the coroner to be a homicide.

The television show 48 Hours, chronicled the events during the inquest, and expect to air their story next spring.

The case was the subject for true crime writer Ann Rule’s book last year, that put forth a theory that Jonathan Reynolds or some of his friends were responsible.
•••

Read the most recent story, “Breaking news: Ron, Jonathan Reynolds arrested, and released” from Friday October 28, 2011, here

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News brief: This is a test, only a test

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 11:00 am

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The first-ever nationwide test of the emergency alert system will take place at 11 o’clock this morning, meaning a short message will be broadcast over every radio and television station.

Sgt. Ross McDowell, deputy director of Lewis County Emergency Management, asks the public to be aware it’s only a test, and not to be alarmed.

“They don’t need to call 911 or anyone else, it’s just a test,” McDowell said.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 10:43 am

CAR PROWLER CAUGHT, ANOTHER NOT

• An Onalaska man who saw the dome light on in his vehicle in his driveway at about 4:45 a.m. yesterday went outside and chased a teenager who fled the vehicle, catching him a couple hundred feet away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The 53-year-old man went to a nearby house on the 500 block of Jorgenson Road and called 911, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning. The 17-year-old boy was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for vehicle prowl and misdemeanor theft, as he had taken a bottle of cologne, Brown said.

• Centralia police were called about 12:20 p.m. yesterday about a car prowl at the 1000 block of West Main Street in Centralia. Missing was a purse, according to the Centralia Police Department.

STEALING FROM ATM MACHINES

• A deputy took a report yesterday from a 61-year-old Chehalis woman who said someone has been taking money from her bank account by using several ATM machines around Lewis County. The victim still had her ATM card, but found that almost $900 had been withdrawn between October 25 and Monday, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation is underway, with hopes that surveillance cameras may have captured images of a suspect, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

DOOR KICKED IN

• Deputies were called just after 4 p.m. yesterday to the 200 block of Allison Road in Ethel where a 28-year-old man had reportedly kicked in a door where his girlfriend was, in violation of a protection order. Jonathan I. Shipp then fled in a vehicle but was apprehended on U.S. Highway 12 near Kennedy Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A rifle was seized from the vehicle and Shipp was booked into the Lewis County Jail for unlawful possession of a firearm, and referred for a possible charge of violation of a protection order, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

WEAPONS FOUND AT HIGH SCHOOL

• Police were called to W.F. West High School in Chehalis yesterday morning after three knives were found in the backpack of a student. The 17-year-old boy was taken home by a parent, and the case was referred for a possible charge of possessing a dangerous weapon at a school, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The offense is a gross misdemeanor, Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said.

DRUGS

• A 48-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer about 2 o’clock this morning at Elm and Marsh streets in Centralia. Randy J. Toups was booked also for an outstanding warrant, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called about 7:40 a.m. yesterday to the 700 block of F Street in Centralia where someone had broke the windshield of a parked car overnight.

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Auditors tell Centralia fire authority to tighten up monitoring of grant-funded equipment

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

State auditors criticized Riverside Fire Authority for inadequate controls to verify that more than a half million dollars in radio equipment was used in accordance with the requirements of the grant which helped pay for them, according to a report released yesterday.

The fire department that protects Centralia and its surrounding area was responsible for administering the money that purchased communications equipment which was distributed among all fire districts in Lewis County in 2009.

The Washington State Auditor’s Office separately also made a finding that Riverside missed a federal deadline for an audit.

The two findings are related, Riverside Fire Authority Jim Walkowski said today.

“In order to submit your SEFA (Schedule of Expenditures for Federal Awards) you have to have the feds close out the grant, and the challenge was, the feds didn’t close it out,” Walkowski said. “When we realized that was going to happen, we contacted the auditor.”

In terms of the monitoring of the so-called sub-recipients of the equipment, Walkowski said Riverside neglected to list every requirement to the various fire districts.

There is no allegation of misappropriation of funds or equipment, Walkowski said.

The issue stems from an initiative from the Lewis County Fire Chief’s Association which helped secure a grant of $601,317 from FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, according to the chief.

The new equipment to improve emergency communications between entities included about 300 portable radios, 90 mobile radios to go inside vehicles, 12 base stations and 39 mobile computers, Walkowski said, noting the particular numbers were not in front of him as he spoke.

Each fire district signed an agreement with Riverside about the responsibility for compliance with grant conditions, but upon being made aware of the deficiency, Riverside added further formal procedures to ensure compliance, according to the chief’s response to the auditor.

It was the first time Riverside had a federal grant which was passed through to sub-recipients.

More details and related issues can be found in the Washington State Auditor’s Office report.

Also released yesterday was a financial statements audit of Riverside for the year 2008 and a “close out” audit of Lewis County Fire District 12 for 2008.

District 12 and the Centralia Fire Department joined forces to create Riverside Fire Authority in early 2008.