Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Chehalis fire chief search winding down

Monday, April 6th, 2015

2015.0406.chehalisfirechiefs_2-001By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Chehalis City Manager Merlin MacReynold said the five finalists for fire chief interviewed today have a lot of experience, from different places, with different strengths.

They come from a much stronger pool of candidates than he saw last fall, he said.

“It’s going to make my decision a little bit harder,” he said. “But that’s a good thing.”

The city last had a full time fire chief two years ago, when Kelvin Johnson retired. Last spring, half-time Fire Chief Jim Walkowski moved to Spokane County to take a new job and an attempt in September to hire a new chief ended with no one chosen.

Today, the five men were interviewed by representatives of city management, the fire department, neighboring fire agencies and members of the community. MacReynold did a “debriefing” with the interviewers this afternoon, before a reception in the basement at Chehalis City Hall.

The city manager said he expects it could be two to three weeks until he makes an announcement.

These are the choices:

• Ken Cardinale, has lived in Kelso the past year and a half, moving to be closer to family after 29 years with the city of Palo Alto, California. Cardinale served in numerous positions including battalion chief, acting EMS chief and acting deputy chief.

• Jim McGarva is assistant chief at the Tumwater Fire Department, a position he’s held for seven years. He has worked there for 23 years and has 30 years in the fire service.

• Joseph Clow lives in Enumclaw and last summer left his longtime position as chief at King County Fire District 28. During his 35 year career, he has served as chief in three other states.

• Brad Paulson became a firefighter in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1986, and served 18 years as deputy fire chief there, before moving into his current position five years ago. He is the emergency services administrator for the entire borough, and also a volunteer battalion chief.

• John Banning retired after almost 25 years at the Austin Fire Department in Texas, and has spent much of career in command level positions. He is into his third year as chief of the Blue Ridge Fire Department in northern Arizona.


For background, read : “Meet potential new fire chiefs for Chehalis on Monday” from Wednesday April 1, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, April 6th, 2015


• Centralia police took a report about 9 o’clock yesterday morning after the discovery several guns had been stolen from a vehicle the night before at the 100 block of South Railroad Avenue. The case is currently under investigation and officers are attempting to identify the suspect, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called on Friday regarding an overnight vehicle prowl on Southeast Adams Avenue.


• Someone broke all the windows and lights out of a vehicle at the 1000 block of H Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday. Police have possible suspect information, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 48-year-old driver, wanted on a warrant for driving with a suspended license, and allegedly carrying methamphetamine in his jacket pocket, was pulled over for speeding on Saturday evening, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Anthony L. Nutter, from LaCenter, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, after the traffic stop on the 400 block of state Route 506 near Toledo, the sheriff’s office reported this morning.


• Two Centralia residents were arrested for criminal trespassing in an abandoned house last night at the 2200 block of ninth Street in Centralia. Cited and then released were Rose A. Blanchett, 33, and Shawn E. Adams 43, according to the Centralia Police Department. Blanchett subsequently was booked into the Lewis County Jail for violation of a protection order, according to police.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, drug possession, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, shoplifting, vandalism, harassment, runaway child, jail inmate breaks sprinkler head, suspected heroin left behind by a customer, barking dogs … and more.

News brief: Male victimized during motel room tryst

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Updated at 1:24 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Police arrested three women yesterday after an individual who thought he was getting sex in exchange for money found roughly $1,100 was taken from his wallet at a Centralia motel.

Officers called about 6:40 a.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Eckerson Road concluded three females conspired to the theft, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Police say one or two of the females agreed to sleep with the victim  for money, and perhaps also his friend, and while the man was distracted a third female stole the money; then the women fled the motel.

Police Sgt. Stacy Denham said there was a language barrier, as well as the participants giving somewhat different versions of what specifically transpired. The victim is a local man in his in his 30s, who speaks Spanish, according to Denham.

When the suspects were subsequently located and arrested, almost all the cash was recovered, police report.

Arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft were Lucinda J. Fields, 43, and Jamie R. Wilson, 33, both of Centralia, according to police. Yolanda Ramirez, 26, also from Centralia, was arrested and released, Denham said.

News brief: Arson investigation follows dumpster fire

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are investigating after an apparent intentionally set fire behind a downtown Centralia bank last night.

Police and firefighters were called about 9:20 p.m. to the corner of West Main and Pearl streets by an individual who found fire in a recycling dumpster behind Washington Federal. The 911 caller had pulled the container away from the building and the flames were quickly extinguished, according to responders.

A covered walkway sustained heat and smoke damage, as did the masonry exterior of the bank, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

It appears someone set the fire, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The incident is under investigation.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, April 5th, 2015


• Centralia police were called to the 1000 block of Eckerson Road about 6:40 a.m. today on a report of several females working together to steal an individual’s wallet. The case is being investigated, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• An unknown suspect accessed another person’s credit card online in two cases reported to Centralia police on Friday morning. One was related to the 1400 block of View Avenue and the other to the 1000 block of North Schueber Road, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• An individual report to police late Friday night that someone got into his unlocked vehicle and stole his iPhone at the 200 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia.


• Centralia police responded about 3:30 a.m. today to the 1000 block of Eckerson Road after a report a woman got a taxi ride and failed to pay the fare. Janie S. Weibling, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree theft, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called yesterday to the 300 block of East Main Street in Centralia to take a report of tires getting slashed on a vehicle overnight.


• Fire broke out in a laundry room in a home on Gails Avenue in Chehalis on Friday evening causing an estimated $20,000 damage, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Firefighters called about 6 p.m. learned the resident, home with his kids, had smelled smoke and heard the alarms. Arriving crews had to tear into a wall and the floor to extinguish the flames, Firefighter Derrick Paul said. It started in the dryer’s lint tube, Paul said. “The only thing good I can say is it happened during the day when they were home and every smoke detector in the home was working,” he said.


• A Toutle woman found a huge pile of dead and rotting reptiles while on a walk in the woods near her home, some skinned, some missing their heads and others with their guts hanging out, according to The (Longview) Daily News. Reporter Lauren Kronebusch writes that Shaylee Antila and her husband discovered snakes, lizards and even what they described as the carcasses of four-foot long crocodiles; and the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office thinks they were put there within the last week.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, possession of marijuana; responses for vandalism, misdemeanor theft, collisions on city streets … and more.

Friends, family puzzle over death on the train tracks

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Lester S. Thomsen, in an undated photo, on the porch of the house on Kearney Street where he lived a few years back.


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – The B Street area is in mourning.

Mourning for a man said to have been born 65 years ago in the Centralia Hospital.

An early riser, who’d given up on driving, but rarely stayed home.

Duane Thornton said it was about a year and a half ago that Lester Thomsen asked if he could rent a room at his house on Crescent Avenue. Thomsen had been living around the corner with the neighbors on Kearney Street, but they got tired of his drinking, he said.

Thomsen had a bicycle, and he rode the bus.

He did a lot of visiting, Thornton said.

“He would go hang out at the depot, at Wal-Mart, he’d go to the senior citizen’s place, the Salvation Army; he did all that stuff,” Thornton said. “And he was a big man. His hands were twice the size of mine.”

Thornton yesterday was trying to figure out where Thomsen was headed, or what he was doing walking on the railroad tracks just a few blocks south of home.

“We don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.

Police say it was just before 11:30 a.m. on Thursday when a southbound passenger train coming into the station was trying to slow, hitting the horn for the man walking with his back to the train.

The engineer said the man looked over his shoulder and began to leave the track at an angle, instead of just jumping off it directly sideways, according to police.

“This morning was the first morning I didn’t hear Les stumbling around the house making coffee,” Thornton said. “And he always wanted a coffee royal, just a splash of whiskey.”

He was one smart man, with a heart of gold, he said.

The two of them were 10 years apart, but both used to be loggers, so they were really tight, he said.

Thornton assumed his older roommate had ridden his bike to the train depot, to catch the city bus to Wal-Mart, he said. But he didn’t keep tabs on him on his daily outings.

“He’d say, ‘I’m going to go check out the lay of the land’,” Thornton said. “Or, ‘I’m going to go whoring around’. He loved to say that.”

On Kearney Street, James and Corrie Aker offered comfort to Thomsen’s grown son.

James Aker said Thomsen in his last years had lived in three  different houses in the neighborhood he called the B Street area, just west of the railroad tracks at the north end of town.

Back in the day, James Aker said, Thomsen had a nice house with property on a hill in town.

“He went into the Army, because he got caught moonshining,” Corrie Aker said. “He told me that story 100,000 times.”

Thomsen was proud of his past as a diesel mechanic and a logger, she said.

Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Simpson sat in the Aker’s living room, petting his black lab and absorbing the loss of his father.

“Walking on the tracks,” Simpson exclaimed. “Why would you walk on the tracks, especially if you can’t hear?”

Simpson was angry, mad at the coroner who wouldn’t let him see his dad, he said.

Corrie Aker dug out a photo she’d taken one summer when Thomsen had recently moved in with them, he and her husband sitting on their front porch playing cribbage.

She said she’d known Thomsen probably four years, and his son should try to remember him him the way he looked in the photo.

He had a lot of friends everywhere, Corrie Aker said.

“And he could ride his bike straight as an arrow on rum,” she said.

Yeah, someone repeated, he could ride his bike straight as an arrow on rum.

CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to correct the spelling of Lester Stephen Thomsen’s last name.

For background, read “Man fatally struck by train in Centralia” from Thursday April 2, 2015, here

Chehalis schools on edge as more threatening phone calls received

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Fourth and fifth graders head home after school today at Olympic Elementary School in Chehalis.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Just three days after a threatening anonymous phone call to a Chehalis school, it happened again.

Twice yesterday.

Chehalis police were contacted shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon because a call came in at the high school which said only that the caller had automatic weapons, and another was made to Olympic Elementary School which claimed an attacker was in a second grade classroom.

Olympic doesn’t have second graders, only fourth and fifth graders.

Still, this afternoon, a police officer parked outside the entrance to the elementary school on the Southwest Salsbury Avenue at dismissal time.

Children boarded their busses as parents parked waiting at the curb to pick up others.

Tylar Sickel said he and his wife kept their two grade schoolers home on Tuesday, because it was an option they were given. There wasn’t a lot of information to judge the situation, he said.

But last night after learning it happened again, and reading the superintendent’s message, the couple was not too worried, he said.

“We figured if it was that big of a concern, the school district would have made it apparent the kids should stay home,” Sickel said.

When it occurred on Monday at Olympic, it was the end of the school day. Police came and searched the building found nothing suspicious. The school district used their automated system to inform parents that afternoon of what happened.

Chehalis police described it as a vague threat, with something about an attack, and not specific as to the date, time and location.

Police increased their presence at the schools in the Chehalis District this week, as well as at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Chehalis School District Superintendent Ed Rothlin today described the calls as using technology to disguise the voice and also hiding the incoming phone number.

Chehalis Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said there’s some kind of electronics involved and indications the call is probably a recorded message, not a real person. When the person who answers the phone speaks, it seems to activate the message, and if they speak again, the same message is repeated, he said.

Rothlin issued a lengthy memo yesterday for students, parents and staff that states Chehalis doesn’t seem to be alone in this. Two schools in Thurston County and two in Spokane have received similar recorded anonymous calls this week, according to Rothlin.

The superintendent said they take the calls seriously, but his memo also went on to offer parents a resource for evaluating for themselves what to do, and it ends with his hope they continue to send their children to school.

Attendance was about 60 percent of normal today, according to Rothlin.

Rothlin this morning was on the phone with school officials in Spokane. Their police department is involved as well, he said.

Kaut said at mid-day today, he didn’t know if Chehalis’s calls were related to the others. Detectives are still investigating.

“We’re following up on some leads locally,” Kaut said.

Rothlin described today the changing feelings through the week about the disruption.

“The first call we got, earlier this week, it was very scary, we just don’t get those,” Rothlin said. “Yesterday, well, it still makes us nervous, but we’re really angry, because of the disruption.”

“It’s just not a good thing,” he said.

Chehalis School District students will be out of school all next week for spring break.

For background, read,:

• “Anonymous threat to Chehalis grade school increases police presence” from Tuesday March 31, 2015, here

• Chehalis School District’s memo from yesterday, here

• The report Rothlin referred parents to from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Education: “Threat Assessment in Schools”, here

Onalaska illegal marijuana enterprise case headed toward plea deal instead of trial

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Onalaska couple arrested in February for an overgrown personal medicinal marijuana operation are working on a plea deal, the details of which will be revealed when they return to court in two weeks.


James and Laveta Arnold

James L. Arnold and Laveta L. Arnold have been free on bail, but were charged with money laundering, manufacture of marijuana and possession with intent to to deliver.

Centralia Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the pair late last year and in mid-February searched their property on the 200 block of Griel Road and seized 40 pounds of marijuana and 614 plants from an indoor garden, along with  cars, trucks, firearms and a den full of mounted animal heads, according to authorities.

The couple ages 55 and 52, have no previous criminal history, according to their court files.

The Arnolds appeared in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday afternoon where lawyers asked for a hearing at 10 a.m. on April 15 in front of Judge James Lawler.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said he and their attorney have a tentative agreement.

“We have a working idea in place, I can’t really get into it,” Masiello said.

Police said the illicit business was generating approximately $136,000 per year, and that James Arnold admitted to  purchasing all or part of several vehicles with proceeds, as well as financing numerous hunting safari trips to Africa to hunt large trophy animals.

Whether the couple can expect to get back any property that was confiscated is a different issue, Masiello said.

Masiello said that is a civil forfeiture case, and he understands they are working on that with Centralia police.

For background, read “News brief: Griel Road residents plead not guilty in marijuana case” from Thursday February 19, 2015, here

Chehalis man gets five-plus years in overdose death case

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Robert T. Lusk sits in between attorneys Thomas Keehan, on his right, and Erik Kupka, not pictured, in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – His lawyer assured the judge his client has taken full responsibility for his actions, for providing the heroin to 23-year-old Tyson J. Anderson who died of an overdose.

“Mr. Lusk learned something very important,” Defense attorney Erik Kupka said. “He lost a friend; he lost a companion.”

Anderson died April 22, 2013 at a Centralia apartment where he was staying with his girlfriend. She called 911 when she awoke after the two shared drugs, and found him unconscious, according to court papers. Arriving medics could not save him.

Robert T. Lusk, now 37, was arrested and charged last summer with controlled substance homicide. The Chehalis man pleaded guilty two weeks ago.

Even though attorneys on the two sides agreed about how much time he should spend in prison, they went into detail to Judge James Lawler about their recommendation yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Kupka told the judge he’d learned some about the heroin drug culture.

“People help each other in this culture, they help each other with their addictions,” he said.

When asked if he’d like to speak on his own behalf, Lusk stood and addressed the judge.

Nobody was supposed to get hurt, he said.

“It’s hard to explain how bad I hate heroin now,” Lusk said. “It’s tragic.”

The offense doesn’t include any elements of maliciousness or intent for a person to die. Only that one delivered the heroin to a person, that the person used the heroin and the person died from the heroin.

While the maximum penalty is 10 years, Lusk faced a standard sentencing range, given his criminal history, of 68 to 100 months of incarceration.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead indicated to the judge the lawyers believed the low end of the range was appropriate, because the same range also applied to individuals with more significant criminal backgrounds.

Lawler, when he prepared to decide the sentence, explained what that meant to persons in the audience. Present were Lusk’s parents, but not Anderson’s parents.

The judge said he knew the attorneys worked to make a deal for both sides.

“I will respect that process and follow the agreed recommendation,” Lawler said.

Lusk was given the five years and eight months, with credit for the more than nine months he has been held in the Lewis County Jail since his arrest.

For the deal, a charge of delivery of heroin related to the same incident was dropped, a charge Halstead said would have been “folded in” anyhow.

He was also given 364 days, with 70 of them suspended, for first-degree driving with a suspended license, to be served concurrently.

For background, read “Heroin overdose for one leads to prison for another” from Thursday March 19, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015


• An off-duty officer spotted a male stealing a generator from a garage on the 2400 block of North Pearl Street about 3:20 p.m. yesterday, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police have a license plate number and are looking for the suspect vehicle, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.


• Chehalis police were called to a break-in at the 600 block of Northwest State Avenue just after 9 a.m. yesterday morning.


• An officer was called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday about a weed eater stolen from the 200 block of West Second Street in Centralia.


• Centralia police were called at noon yesterday regarding a car prowl at the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for dispute, hit and run, protection order violation, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, kids seen pulling up flowers at a park and throwing them at each other … and more.

Man fatally struck by train in Centralia

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
2015.0402.train.mankilled.7337 copy

An Amtrak passenger train idles as detectives investigate the the death of a pedestrian a few blocks north of the depot.

Updated at 4:27 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A passenger train hit and killed a man walking on the tracks this morning in Centralia.

It happened just before 11:30 a.m. a few blocks north of the Centralia Train Depot.

The southbound Amtrak was heading into the station, and presumably slowing to make its stop, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Firefighters responded but he was declared dead at the scene.

Police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said he understood the man was on foot heading south, with his back to the engine.

“They saw the guy, they were trying to slow, hitting the horn,” Reichert said. “He didn’t get out of the way, for whatever reason.”

Detectives were on the scene, taking measurements and gathering evidence. Both sets of tracks were shut down.

Such investigations usually take two to three hours, Reichert said.

Centralia police cars were gathered just beyond the north end of Railroad Avenue off East Hanson Street, at the edge of the BNSF rail switching yard. The Amtrak was idled there.

It was not a railroad employee, Reichert said.

He described the victim as a middle-aged man, in his 40s or 50s.

“He appears to be someone we know,” he said.

Reichert said the point of impact was in between the Sixth Street viaduct and where the patrol cars were parked.

There are no public crossings of the tracks in that area, Reichert said, although there is a private crossing for BNSF just below the viaduct.

On average, 50 trains pass through the area each day, according to a BNSF spokesperson. Rail traffic was restored about 1 p.m.

This is the seventh death this year in Washington of a trespasser on BNSF rail lines, spokesperson Gus Melonas said.


Convicted thief held in break-in, fire at real estate office

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The man arrested for breaking into a real estate business, stealing a computer tower and setting a fire before leaving just got out of jail two months ago.

Darren G. Waggoner, 33, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with second-degree arson and second-degree burglary for the Sunday night incident that damaged the interior of the RE/Max office on Johnson Road near Caveness Drive.

Waggoner lives just up the road in the trailer court off Harrison Avenue.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said they don’t know why the computer component was taken or why the fire was set.

“It was a crime of opportunity, as far as we could tell,” Fitzgerald said.

Firefighters called about 11 p.m. on Sunday to the building extinguished the flames quickly, and concluded the fire was started in some paper in a corner, and spread from there, according to authorities.

An arriving police officer spoke with Waggoner, who was standing across the street watching the fire, charging documents state. Police Sgt. Stacy Denham noted Waggoner smelled of intoxicants.

When detectives subsequently looked over security video, they saw a person wearing clothing similar to what Waggoner had been wearing that night, walk past Les Schwab carrying a computer tower, according to charging documents.

The computer tower – the case that houses the hard drive of a desktop computer – was found in some bushes about halfway between RE/Max and Waggoner’s residence, Fitzgerald said. A cell phone was found near it, but they don’t know yet who that belongs to, he said.

The fire department says damage at the one-story wood framed building is estimated at $10,000.

Waggoner went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.  The judge granted prosecutors request he be held on $100,000 bail.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher noted Waggoner’s previous criminal convictions; second-degree burglary and trafficking in stolen property in 2001, forgery in 2002, second-degree theft and taking a motor vehicle without permission in 2007, and then felony shoplifting near the end of last year.

Waggoner was sentenced to 90 days in the Lewis County Jail after an incident at nearby Rite Aid in November, where he headed out the back emergency exit with merchandise including two notebook computers, according to authorities.

His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow. He is represented by Centralia lawyer David Arcuri.

For background, read “News brief: Local resident arrested for RE/Max office arson fire,” from Tuesday March 31, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015


• An 18-year-old inmate who said he was encouraged by others in his unit to engage in a certain custom for new arrivals at the Lewis County Jail, found himself in further trouble last night. Deputies responding about 8:40 p.m. to a fire alarm activation found the sprinkler head broken and water on the floor of Austin C. Courtright’s cell, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Courtright said he’d popped the sprinkler head by hitting it with his sandal, according to the sheriff’s office. He said he understood it was a tradition, and thought he’d only lose his recreational time, not get charged criminally, Chief Stacy Brown said. He was wrong, Brown said. He as arrested for third-degree malicious mischief.


• A 23-year-old Toledo resident who was told by a family member to stay away is wanted for residential burglary after he allegedly returned to the home on the 600 block of Mandy Road last night, walked in uninvited and head-butted an 18-year-old there. They fought, a 39-year-old resident woke up and made him leave, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies are looking for Kameron D. Williams, Chief Stacy Brown said.


• Someone stole a drum set from the 100 block of West Pear Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.


• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning of the theft of a credit card and its use locally.


• Chehalis police responding yesterday to an approximately 3:30 p.m. call about a 20-year-old man having mental issues ended up calling firefighters to help them shine lights into a storm drain when the young man fled. He apparently got into a culvert where the opening was as much as five feet in diameter but narrowed farther along, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Crews were on the scene in the area of the 100 block of Southwest Interstate Avenue until about 6 p.m., Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said. Curfman  wasn’t sure where exactly the subject finally came out, but he had traveled underground probably hundreds of feet, he said. He was taken care of by medics.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for dispute, misdemeanor theft, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, strong smell of marijuana coming from next door … and more.

Meet potential new fire chiefs for Chehalis on Monday

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 copy 2

The finalists are: left to right, John Banning, Ken Cardinale, Joseph Clow, Jim McGarva and Brad Paulson.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Once again the city of Chehalis has a group of fire chief candidates to interview and introduce to the public.

This time there are five finalists. Last autumn there were three and – following a nationwide search and extensive interviews – none were hired.

The five men being eyed to lead the Chehalis Fire Department are from as close as Tumwater and as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska. In the brief descriptions of their backgrounds shared in a news release from the city this morning, one of them is not associated with any city.

On Monday, the candidates will undergo a series of interviews with representatives of city management, the fire department, neighboring fire agencies and members of the community.

A reception open to the public is scheduled for that afternoon, where attendees can meet them and hear brief overviews of their backgrounds and experience, according to the news release.

It will be held from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the meeting room in the basement of Chehalis City Hall at 350 N. Market Blvd.

City Manager Merlin MacReynold selected the finalists.

At the end of the previous attempt to replace half-time Fire Chief Jim Walkowski, MacReynold said he was disappointed they didn’t find the right person.

Chehalis Police Department Chief Glenn Schaffer has been overseeing the operations of both departments. The Chehalis Fire Department last had a full time chief in April of 2013, when Kelvin Johnson retired.

The finalists are:

• John Banning
• Ken Cardinale
• Joseph Clow
• Jim McGarva
• Brad Paulson

Court grants officer anti-harassment order against 20-year-old

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
2015.0330.lowrey.orourke.rupert.mercer.7324 copy

Bo Rupert, standing, addresses Court Commissioner Wendy Tripp and witness Officer Josh Mercer while Officer Mike Lowrey, left, and his attorney Shane O’Rourke are seated in Lewis County District Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One might say it was a slam dunk.

A Centralia police officer seeking an anti-harassment order against a 20-year-old local man faced off in court yesterday, and near the end of the half-day hearing, Bo D. Rupert summed up his opposition.

Rupert urged Lewis County District Court Commissioner Wendy Tripp not to grant the order. But said if she did, she may as well put in a restriction that prohibits him from coming within 1,000 feet of Officer Mike Lowrey.

“Because I might be forced to make a decision I might not want to make,” Rupert said, in the Chehalis courtroom, to the commissioner.

Lowrey petitioned for the order on Feb. 13, after the discovery Rupert had re-posted photos of him and his family on a social media site, and had also posted his opinion Lowrey and two other officers should be executed for treason.

The officer, represented by Centralia attorney Shane O’Rourke, made the request as a private citizen. But he asked that Rupert be prevented from harassing his wife, his four children and himself, both on and off duty.

Tripp heard from Lowrey, from Centralia Police Department Sgt. Stacy Denham, from Centralia Police Officer Josh Mercer, from last year’s losing candidate for Lewis County Sheriff Brian Green, and from O’Rourke and Rupert. The 20-year-old represented himself.

“Your own witness said you were abrasive,” Tripp said. “You’re somewhat of a volatile personality. That comes across.”

Tripp noted the two sides described interactions that took place on certain days at certain places, but had little else in common.

It’s possible the situation that started Rupert’s upset with Lowrey, at Starbucks with Rupert’s nephew, was based on a mistaken notion, she said.

Rupert contended Lowrey got his nephew banned from the business, simply because he was related to him. Lowrey’s said he wasn’t working the day of the incident.

“You said you became extremely angry, because he involved your family,” Tripp said. “But you don’t seem to have insight, you involved his family.”

“You’re crossing a line, there’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.

Tripp decided Rupert could have no contact with Lowrey’s family, or with Lowrey when he is off duty.

“I’m not going to make an order that involves him as a police officer, I think that’s unenforceable,” she said.

Tripp alluded to the option of Lowrey dealing with any harassing behavior while Lowrey is in uniform in other ways.

The anti-harassment order would be effective for one year, she said.

What Tripp didn’t address directly when she spoke to the men at the end of the hearing, was Rupert’s videotaping of officers performing their jobs. The resident of both Chehalis and Centralia says he does it as a volunteer for a police accountability group called Peaceful Streets Lewis County.

Rupert indicated he planned to get an order against Lowrey. That he’s written a letter to the Attorney General, and that he’s going to go to the FBI.

Outside the courtroom, Lowrey said he is relieved.

“The whole thing is protecting my family,” he said.

In the same hallway on the third floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center, Rupert said he will appeal.

“I’m pissed as hell about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to show a lesson, you don’t involve people’s family and not expect someone to fight back as I did.”

Then he tore in half his copy of the order and left it, along with the dumped-out papers from his briefcase laying on the counter, and walked out the door.

For background, read “Centralia police officer asks judge to order citizen to stop harassing him” from Thursday March 19, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015


• Deputies were called last night by a 31-year-old Centralia woman who retreated to her bedroom with her 2-year-old son when her estranged husband reportedly showed up to her residence, came inside, cut the phone line and stole her cell phone. The suspect, Paul A. Adamson, was in violation of a domestic violence protection order when he went to the home, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were told she heard her sport utility vehicle drive away before she went to a neighbor’s to call 911, the sheriff’s office reports. Deputies located Adamson and conducted a traffic stop near East Summa and South Buckner streets and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for violation of the court order, Chief Stacy Brown said. The case is also being referred to prosecutors for charges of interfering with domestic violence reporting, driving with a suspended license and taking a motor vehicle without permission, Brown said.


• Centralia police were called about 9:30 a.m. yesterday about carpeting stolen from a business during a break-in at the 800 block of North Tower Avenue.


• Chehalis police responded to the 500 block of Northwest New York Avenue yesterday for a vehicle prowl over the weekend.


• Centralia police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Kresky Avenue about an ax through a sign.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, resisting arrest, underage drinking, open container in public, driving with suspended license, driving without a valid license, violation of no contact order; responses for alarm, vandalism, runaway child, suspicious circumstances, request for an officer to trespass an individual from a business planning to fire him, another fake $20 bill discovered to have been accepted by a business … and more.

Read about the real reasons Tenino police chief was fired …

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Tenino Mayor Bret Brodersen wanted to keep the change in police chiefs low key, out of respect for Chief John Hutchings’ professional reputation, he says, but given mounting criticism on social media for firing Hutchings last week, decided to share the background publicly.

In a lengthy news release issued yesterday, Brodersen lays out issues involving the city’s exposure to a significant financial penalty that could result in cuts to city services related to an audit from the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a conflict between the number of hours Hutchings reported working compared with the number of hours he was authorized to work.

Brodersen also describes recently learning the police chief added a paid reserve police officer, not approved, not budgeted for and in violation of city statute that prohibits payment. The un-named reserve officer collected more than $10,500 over the past few months, according to the mayor.

Hutchings was hired by Brodersen’s predecessor in the summer of 2012. He was terminated last Wednesday.

Brodersen said on Thursday it was a difference in philosophies; and that he planned to hire a new chief as quickly as possible.

The Olympian describes the firing as partly due to Hutchings generally overstepping his bounds and writes about Hutchings’ supporters plan to march on city hall and circulating a petition to reinstate Hutchings.

Read more about it here.

News brief: Local resident arrested for RE/Max office arson fire

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 33-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night in connection with the fire the night before at a real estate business on the 1000 block of Johnson Road.

Darren G. Waggoner was arrested at his home for first-degree arson and second-degree burglary and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Firefighters responding about 11 p.m. on Sunday to the RE/Max office on Johnson Road near Caveness found smoke rising from the roof and flames inside on the main floor. It was quickly extinguished.

Centralia police say security video from the nearby Les Schwab showed a person breaking a window, and was the same person a police officer spoke to at the scene of the fire. A computer and a cell phone were recovered and the investigation led to Waggoner, according to police.

For background, read “News brief: Centralia real estate office hit with arson” from Monday March 30, 2015, here