Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

PARAMEDICS, AMBULANCE, DELIVER NEWBORN TO HOSPITAL

• Centralia firefighters called at 7:35 p.m. yesterday to a house on West Maple Street for a woman in labor delivered a baby girl there at 7:40 p.m. “We had absolutely no time to prepare or anything, we literally walked in and ‘caught it’,” Firefighter-paramedic Jennifer Ternan said this morning. It was pretty straightforward and uncomplicated for her and Firefighter-paramedic Steve Lamb, according to Ternan. The mom’s due date was yesterday, although she wasn’t planning an at-home birth. An AMR ambulance took the mother, baby and paramedics to the labor and delivery unit of Providence Centralia Hospital where “mom and baby are doing extremely well,” Ternan said.

DOG OWNER ARRESTED FOR ATTACKING CAR THAT RAN OVER HIS PET

• A 19-year-old upset when his dog was struck by a car in Centralia yesterday was arrested for misdemeanor assault after he reportedly kicked a dent into the side of the vehicle and broke out the driver’s side window. It happened around 2:50 p.m. on the 1000 block of Mellen Street, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police reported that the two occupants of the car were “showered” with glass. Aaron J. Alexander was cited and then released, according to police.

STOLEN COMPUTERS FOUND IN PORT ORCHARD

• Centralia police detectives arrested a suspect in Port Orchard yesterday they say broke into a business on the 1000 block of Johnson Road and stole computers. Finger prints at the scene led them to Marc J. Strickland, 42, of Port Orchard, where they recovered the property, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called about 8:25 a.m. yesterday to Southeast Adams Avenue where a window had been broken out of a vehicle sometime in the night.

Conflict: Who will bury the dead in Greenwood Cemetery?

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
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John Baker speaks outside his home on Johnson Road about the future of his cemetery.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – The temporary management of a 10-acre cemetery in Centralia by a longtime friend of its owner ends now, after a court commissioner this week declined to grant an order to permanently ban owner John Baker from the premises.

Jennifer Duncan, an Adna-area resident, agreed to operate Greenwood Cemetery while Baker went to prison last year and while he was incarcerated, the state Funeral and Cemetery Board assisted Duncan with putting the operator’s license in her name.

Baker had granted Duncan a power of attorney to handle his affairs.

Baker, 68, was released in October and returned to his home adjacent to the cemetery.

Since then, relations between the two have deteriorated into allegations that he threatened to kill her and that she illegally sold off part of his land.

Duncan told Lewis County Superior Court Commissioner Tracy Mitchell during a hearing on Tuesday if the temporary order keeping Baker away from her and the cemetery wasn’t extended, she would walk away from care-taking of the cemetery.

The dead won’t get buried, Duncan said. “The community will suffer a disservice if that happens,” she said.

While Baker owns the more than a century-old graveyard, he’s no longer licensed to sell plots and make burials; Duncan is.

New burials are few and far between, with about 10 made last year, according to Duncan.

The cemetery, which sits off Johnson Road, has an estimated 10,000 inhabitants.

What the future holds for Greenwood Cemetery is anybody’s guess.

Even a spokesperson for the licensing arm of the cemetery board won’t speculate.

“(W)e can’t answer the question about what happens to the cemetery,” spokesperson Christine Anthony wrote in response to inquires after the court decision. “Baker owns the land and a licensed corporation must run the cemetery. That’s all we know at this point.”

The arrangement between Baker and Duncan began amicably, according to both.

Baker was jailed after an incident in which police were told he held a propane torch to an employee’s sweatshirt, blasted the garment with a shotgun and then pointed the firearm at the woman and two others individuals. Centralia police found methamphetamine in a tackle box in Baker’s closet.

Baker said he made a so-called Alford plea, and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Duncan, a career Army officer who said she’s known Baker for years, stepped up to help.

“We’ve been friends for 20 years,” Duncan said. “Just because he’s a crazy dude, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a place in my heart.”

However, the 57-year-old said when she took on the responsibility of Greenwood Cemetery, she had no idea of what she was getting into.

Duncan said she found that Baker’s non-profit cemetery corporation wasn’t kept up to date and that his cemetery license had expired.

She needed $10,000 for Baker’s bail bondsman, and another $6,000 to $7,000 to pay his property taxes and other bills, and to make repairs to his cemetery lawn mower, she said.

She sold four acres of Baker’s vacant land to a local cemetery operator, Don Burbee, who agreed to help her, she said.

Duncan was guided through the process of reestablishing business’s affairs by the licensing office at the state. Even though she had the power of attorney for Baker, she said they told her she had to put it all in her name.

It’s not what she wanted, she said, but she has been a cemetery operator for almost two years now.

Baker, on the other hand, says he fully expected to take back his responsibilities as a cemetery owner and operator after returning home, but that Duncan ignored his revocation of the power of attorney.

Court documents and testimony in the courtroom on Tuesday, describe antagonism between the two that in June, resulted in a temporary protection order, keeping Baker at least 500 feet from Duncan, and from the cemetery.

Duncan wrote that Baker tried to poison her with orange juice, nearly took her head off with a scythe and sent her almost 450 text messages.

She asked the court to allow her new cemetery corporation sole use of a second house on the property (on Van Wormer Street) and make him hand over cemetery records.

“He chases cemetery patrons out with a shovel, screaming the most vile things at them, mostly four-letter words,” she wrote.

“Every time I loan him a piece of equipment, it breaks,” she wrote.

Four times times since July 1, Baker was arrested for violating the temporary protection order, for coming onto the cemetery grounds sometimes when Duncan was present and sometimes when she was not.

Baker disputes much of what his friend alleges, in particular that he tried to harm her with a scythe.

“I’d never hurt Jennifer,” Baker said. “You know if I were diabolical, I wouldn’t do it on a Sunday afternoon right in public.”

The alleged physical threats however weren’t even a topic of discussion when Commissioner Mitchell ruled on whether to extend the protection order.

Mitchell told the two on Tuesday she couldn’t find a legal basis to prevent Baker from going onto the cemetery property, which he owns.

Mitchell asked Duncan if she needed an anti-harassment order keeping Baker away from her personally, and Duncan said she didn’t if she isn’t operating the cemetery.

The commissioner extended the current order for 30 days, the time Duncan said she needs to wrap up obligations she’s made to cemetery clients.

“Really, it’s a relief for me, because I have my own work,” Duncan said when it was over.

She has a husband, children, a farm, and does contract work for the Department of Defense, she said.

Baker meanwhile says he’s had some “nibbles” regarding selling the cemetery. Also, he says there are other people who could be licensed to be the operator for him.

And he’s ready for a battle to get back the four acres he said are worth millions if used for cemetery plots.

Duncan says the writing is on the wall about how much longer Baker can run the cemetery.

During her time in charge, she had some patrons give her back the deeds to their grave sites and ask for their money back, she said.

A handful of caskets have been removed and buried elsewhere by families unhappy with Baker, she said.

Baker calls those personality conflicts, with patrons who don’t like his “flamboyant” style or his political views.

Whether the Funeral and Cemetery Board will issue him a license again is unknown.

Baker has owned and operated Greenwood since 1977, according to the board spokesperson.

His license expired in January of last year while he was locked up and a license was granted to Duncan the following June, according to spokesperson Anthony.

The license can’t simply be transferred back, according to Anthony, a new one would have to be applied for, with eligibility determined at that time.

Duncan contends in her court documents that the Funeral and Cemetery Board has investigated discrepancies of as much as $75,000 in Baker’s cemetery trust funds.

Anthony confirmed “an investigation” was conducted and is being reviewed by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Baker says he’s talked with the regulators about those issues and acknowledges a “lack of current bookkeeping”.

Would they give Baker back his license if he applied, the spokesperson was asked.

“I really can’t speculate on that,” Anthony wrote.

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Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

VEHICLE VERSUS BIKE

• A 53-year-old Chehalis man was hospitalized after his bicycle was struck from behind by a vehicle on Airport Road in Chehalis last night, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Aid and a deputy were called just after 9:30 p.m. and the bicyclist was found laying on the road next to the vehicle. He was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with scrapes as well as pain in his shoulder, knee and foot, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Neither the 25-year-old driver nor the bicyclist had working headlights, and both will be cited, according to detective Sgt. Dusty Breen.

CAR VERSUS DEER

• Firefighters called about 10:40 a.m. yesterday to a single-vehicle collision on Salzer Valley Road found a car in a ditch on its side and a dead deer but no driver. The driver was later located but aid wasn’t needed, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

DEPUTY VERSUS FLEEING DRIVER

• Law enforcement officers searched without success for a driver who bailed out of his vehicle after a pursuit yesterday morning in the area of Profitt and Salzer Roads, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Jerry L. Warfield, 39, has a warrant from the state Department of Corrections, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said this morning.

DRUGS

• A 53-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine early yesterday. Russell E. Charnell was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer on West Main Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

•••

Correction: One news items has been updated to reflect correctly which man was driving and which man was riding a bicycle when they collided Wednesday night on Airport Road. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office incorrectly reported to the news media the roles of the participants.

News brief: Centralia woman discovered unclothed, hypothermic along Interstate 5

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Updated at 4:25 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A young woman wearing only her underclothes was taken into the care of a truck driver who found her this morning when she crawled over a guard rail onto Interstate 5 where he was preparing to repair a flat tire, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The 23-year-old Centralia woman was hypothermic and taken to a hospital, according to Trooper Guy Gill. It’s not clear how she ended up alongside the freeway.

Gill said it happened near the Nisqually River Bridge at the Thurston-Pierce county line about 8:30 a.m.

According to Gill, she was soaking wet and covered from head to toe with cuts and scratches from sticker bushes. She emerged from a swampy area next to the freeway, according to Gill.

Gill said the truck driver’s actions may have saved her life.

Troopers later located an abandoned Jeep Cherokee at the end of a dirt road about 200 yards from the freeway, and believe she and a Centralia man had been in it, Gill said.

He thinks she could have been out in the elements at least eight hours.

The state patrol had gotten a report about 12:30 a.m. of a shirtless male walking on the freeway near that area, but never located him, even after using aircraft with a device that looks for heat signatures.

Troopers continue to look for the man, not because they think any crime was committed, Gill said. They suspect he was picked up by a passing motorist.

“More than anything, we’re checking on his well-being,” he said.

They don’t know if the vehicle broke down or maybe ran out of gas, and the female was not coherent enough to give much information, Gill said.

“She said the male left her at the vehicle, and the reason she was only in her underclothes is in the water, her clothes got heavy so she took them off,” he said.

The truck driver, John C. Davis of Portland, helped the girl into his truck, and drove to the state patrol “scale house” in Dupont, where he called the state patrol, according to Gill.

She was in very poor condition this morning, he said.

“She’s very lucky he came by ’cause she was not doing good,” Gill said. “This could have been much worse.”

In her condition, she could have easily walked right out onto the freeway, he said.

The woman was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood and the last Gill heard today, she was in good condition, he said.

Breaking news: Witnesses subpoenaed for Reynolds’ coroner’s inquest

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Updated at 6:47 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The preliminary witness list for the coroner’s inquest into the 1998 death of former Trooper Ronda Reynolds in Toledo was released today by Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

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Ronda Reynolds

Not on the list is former Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson, but McLeod said in a news release any potential witnesses who have not yet been subpoenaed are not listed.

He expects the list to be complete by Sept. 9.

The inquest is currently scheduled for the second week in October, to be held in Lewis County District Court in Chehalis. McLeod will be the presiding officer.

Reynolds, 33, was found with a bullet in her head and covered by a turned-on electric blanket on the floor of a closet in the home she shared with her husband of less than a year, Ron Reynolds, in December 1998.

Among those McLeod has subpoenaed to testify are Ron Reynolds and his three sons who were present when the first sheriff’s deputy arrived, the deputies and detectives who examined the scene, and two of their superiors from the sheriff’s office.

Others include an outside former homicide detective who reviewed the case for the sheriff’s office and concluded it was a homicide, and two outside investigators who reviewed it after that and concurred with then-Sheriff John McCroskey that the determination of suicide was appropriate.

The case was the subject of a judicial review in Lewis County in November 2009 after which a panel of citizens concluded then-Coroner Wilson’s determination that Reynolds died of suicide was arbitrary, capricious and incorrect. A judge ordered Wilson to change the manner of death, but Wilson appealed.

One of McLeod’s first acts after he took office in January was to change Reynolds’ death certificate from suicide to undetermined and announce he wanted to hold a coroner’s inquest.

McLeod has said an inquest is an investigation, not a trial.

The coroner’s jury will consist of five individuals plus two alternates. They will be encouraged to reach a unanimous decision about the cause and manner of death, but will be permitted to make a determination by majority vote, according to the rules McLeod has adopted.

If they determine it to be homicide, they will be asked to determine whether by a preponderance of evidence they can identity the person or person’s responsible for the death.

If someone is named as causing the death, Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has said he would have to decide what to do next. One of the RCWs states the coroner shall issue a warrant if the person committing the homicide is ascertained by the inquisition.

The inquest jury’s determinations are not binding, but McLeod has said he will abide by them.

The courtroom is expected to have seating for 60 persons, with as many as 20 allocated for the news media.

The witness names are as follows:

• Gary Holt – retired Lewis County sheriff’s deputy
• Robert Bishop – former Lewis County sheriff’s deputy
• Dave Neiser – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective
• Jerry Berry – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective
• Joe Doench – retired Lewis County sheriff’s chief criminal deputy
• Glade Austin – retired Lewis County sheriff’s detective’s sergeant
• Steve Aust – Lewis County Sheriff’s Office commander
• Carmen Brunton – former Lewis County coroner’s chief deputy
• Laurie Hull – friend
• David Bell – friend
• Ron Reynolds – husband of decedent
• Joshua Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• David Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• Jonathan Reynolds – son of Ron Reynolds
• Tom Lahmman – former Toledo School District superintendent
• Kathryn Hatulla (sp) – Ron Reynolds’ ex-wife
• Dr. Daniel Selove – forensic pathologist
• Barbara Thompson – decedent’s mother
• Marty Hayes – firearms examination
• Mark Liburdi – decedent’s ex-husband
• Richard Underwood – polygraph expert
• Terry Ball – polygraph expert
• Steve Birley – polygraph review
• Joe Upton – handwriting examiner
• Vernon Geberth – consulted
• Rod Englert – consulted
• Raymond Pierce – consulted
• George Fox – former Attorney General’s Office investigator
• Richard Steiner – former Attorney General’s Office investigator
• Gary Aschenbach – forensic statement analyst
• David Stritzke – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Matthew Noedel – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Kenneth McDermott – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Ronald Wojciechowski – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Raymond Kusumi – Washington State Patrol crime lab
• Jill Bartlett – Washington State Patrol fingerprint division

•••

See the rules governing the procedures for McLeod’s coroner’s inquest, here

•••

For some background and to see the roles some of the above individuals may have played, read “Jury finds coroner erred in ruling former trooper’s death a suicide”, here

Centralia man realizes piece of “junk” in garage is pipe bomb

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A small object at a Centralia residence that its owner thought looked like a pipe bomb, was a pipe bomb.

Police were called about 9:40 a.m. today to a house on the 1300 block of Crescent Avenue in the north end of town, and summoned a bomb squad from the Washington State Patrol.

Law enforcement was there for two to three hours, eventually taking the item into his backyard and detonating it, home owner Robert Knutz said.

Nobody was hurt and nobody was in too much danger, according to Centralia police.

It was a working pipe bomb, Officer John Panco said.

It’s a mystery who built it or who it belonged to; and, according to Panco, not one that’s likely to be solved.

It was amongst a box of junk given to Knutz by a friend who cleaned out a house at the Greenwood Cemetery along Van Wormer Street in Centralia, Knutz said.

The rental house is owned by cemetery owner John Baker, but has been in the possession of the woman he assigned to take care of the properties while he was in prison.

Knutz said he put it in his garage weeks ago, and didn’t look closely at it until last night.

That’s when he noticed a fuse, he said.

Panco described it as about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and about two and a half inches long.

Panco this afternoon said he was told by the investigating officer there have been so many people in an out of the Van Wormer house, they didn’t expect to be able to pin down the pipe bomb’s owner.

Police would like to know why someone had a bomb, he said, but at this point they don’t know.

News brief: Locals travel to Eastern Wash. to battle wild land fires

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Local firefighters have gone to assist in fighting wildfires in Eastern Washington.

Two members of Lewis County Fire District 5 were asked early Monday morning to take their brush truck and join a strike team in the southeast corner of the state where lightening started a large fire on Sunday evening.

They are Raymond Smerek and Kevin Van Egdom, according to District 5.

As of last night, the fire near Pomeroy in Garfield County had spread over almost 6,000 acres but is expected to be contained by the end of today, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

On Monday evening, District 5′s Brad Bozarth was assigned to a water tender as part of a team headed to Wishram in Klickitat County, according to Megan Van Egdom of District 5.

That fire as of yesterday evening had consumed more than 1,000 acres of grass and sage and firefighters there are expected to be in “mop up” mode today, according to the Coordination Center.

Firefighters from the Rochester area’s West Thurston Regional Fire Authority left on Monday as well to assist. Four members of the Toledo area fire department have also gone.

The center reports about 300 firefighters are working the two wild land fires.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

THEFT

• A computer, a radio and pain medication were reported taken in a burglary at a residence on the 2400 block of North Pearl Street, according to Centralia police. The break-in was reported about 1:50 p.m. yesterday.

• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday for theft and trafficking in stolen property for allegedly stealing an unassembled metal shed from his father’s shed and selling it a recycler, according to Centralia police. The discovery of the missing item from the 400 block of Hemlock Street was reported to police yesterday morning. The loss is estimated at $300, Officer John Panco said. Wesley W. Mitchem was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A car sitting in a driveway on the 700 block of West Reynolds Avenue in Centralia yesterday and checked by a police officer there on another matter turned out to be stolen, according to the Centralia Police Department. It was an El Camino previously reported to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as stolen, according to police. The resident told the officer someone had left it there, Officer John Panco said.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning deputies have learned the names of local youngsters suspected in a break-in to a Mossyrock area concession stand, that was hit twice in the same week. Sometime on Aug. 14 or 15, someone went inside the stand on the 200 block of Ajlune Road and stole candy and Monster energy drinks, according to the sheriff’s office. A window was replaced and then on Aug 19, it happened again, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. This time money and firewood were missing, as well as snacks, according to Brown. The investigation continues, Brown said.

BRUSH IGNITES ALONG INTERSTATE 5

• Firefighters from three departments extinguished several brush fires that broke out on the northbound shoulder of Interstate 5 south of Winlock yesterday afternoon. One of the fires had grown to about 60 feet long, according to Lewis County Fire District 2. Chief Grant Wiltbank said he believed they were probably caused accidentally, likely by something such as a vehicle dragging a chain and throwing sparks.

News brief: Bucoda man captured after shooting at vehicle occupied by wife, toddler

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 31-year-old man was arrested in north Centralia last night after he allegedly shot at a truck occupied by his wife and young son in Bucoda during an argument.

Deputies called to the Bucoda home were told that Michael J. Thorson then grabbed two hand guns and fled, saying he knew the cops were coming and he planned to get in a shootout with them and die, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy caught up with Thorson’s vehicle when it pulled into a convenience store parking lot at North Pearl Street and Zenkner Valley Road, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said this morning. The deputy, who was alone, asserted himself “pretty strongly,” Elwin said.

“The bad guy just essentially gives up right there,” Elwin said.

Thorson said he was upset because his wife was taking his child and he was afraid he would never see him again, according to Elwin. He said he knew he screwed up and he was sorry, Elwin said.

It began with a call to 911 about 7:50 p.m. to the couple’s home on the 100 block of Perkins Street in Bucoda.

The wife said her husband pointed a shotgun at her, Elwin said.

She told a deputy she had put their toddler in a truck and was leaving, when Thorson allegedly fired the shotgun at two of its tires. Thorson then left, and the first arriving deputy went after him, Elwin said.

Two loaded handguns were recovered from Thorson’s vehicle, according to Elwin. He said he decided at the last second not to draw his weapons, Elwin said.

Thorson was booked into the Thurston County Jail for second-degree assault, domestic violence, and for unlawful possession of a firearm. He is prohibited from having guns because of his criminal history, according to the sheriff’s office.

News brief: Head-on collision near Oakville sends two to hospital

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Four people, including two small children, escaped serious injury after a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 12 near Oakville last night.

Troopers called about 7:45 p.m. to the scene two miles north of town found both vehicles totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol.

A 2-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy in a Dodge Caravan were reportedly uninjured.

According to the state patrol, Joseph H. Bannwarth, 59, of Rochester, was traveling westbound near milepost 34 when his car ran into the guard rail, then struck a part of the bridge on the opposite side of the highway before colliding with the eastbound van.

Bannwarth was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia where this morning he is listed in good condition.

The driver of the van, Davette R. Lahaie, 46, of Elma, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. She was treated and has been released.

Bannwarth’s 2006 Chrysler Sebring was impounded.

The cause of the wreck remains under investigation.

•••

Correction: This news story has been updated to reflect the correct time troopers were called to the collision. The Washington State Patrol incorrectly reported to the news media it was 11:15 p.m., but it was actually 7:46 p.m.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, August 29th, 2011

STAND OFF IN TOLEDO ENDS WITH ARREST

• Deputies called to a dispute in Toledo on Friday evening finally entered a home and arrested  21-year-old man who had allegedly threatened to shoot deputies if they didn’t leave, saying he had a rifle and knew how to use it, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. Law was called about 5:15 p.m. to the 400 block of Collins Road by a man who said his son was drunk and out of control, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown. Darrell R. Jackson refused to come out of the house, also saying he would die protecting his house, Brown said. Jackson was arrested without further incident and booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree malicious mischief, domestic violence, according to Brown. A large picture window was broken during the incident, she said.

THREAT GETS MAN JAILED

• A 24-year-old man was arrested for harassment on Sunday after he allegedly threatened to kill a woman and her daughter. Seth T. Lloyd, who lives at various times in both Centralia and Chehalis according to police, was booked into the Lewis County Jail. The woman was an acquaintance who had let Lloyd stay at her home in Chehalis, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

LOGGING EQUIPMENT CUT UP, SOLD FOR SCRAP

• A 41-year-old man from Oakville was arrested for first-degree theft after he allegedly took a cutting torch into the woods near Garrard Creek Road and took apart a piece of logging equipment, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning. The item, called a “log bunker” is valued at about $8,000, and the scrap value of its metal estimated at $500, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The theft occurred between July 18 and 19, and on Friday, deputies arrested Mark Schweitzer, according to Brown. He reportedly sold the material belonging to Weyerhaeuser to a scrap yard in Thurston County. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

ROLEX WATCHES TAKEN IN BURGLARY

• Police were called about 10:25 p.m. yesterday about a burglary on the 2300 block of Schueber Ridge Court in Centralia. Missing from sometime during the previous three days were two Rolex watches and a gold cross, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWLS

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging people to lock their car doors when they park, especially at the Rails to Trails parking area off Highway 603 as they’ve had numerous reports of thefts there. Sometime between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, a Centralia man found someone had gotten inside his vehicle and taken his wallet and other items; it was not locked, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning.

• Somebody stole two tires, with their rims, and several items from inside a car – among them a CD player and approximately 1,100 CDs and DVDs – at the 500 block of the Toledo-Vader Road, according to a report made to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. It happened sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office.

• Medication was stolen in a car prowl on the 600 block of Temple Avenue in Morton, according to a report made to police on Wednesday.

• A car stereo and gasoline were taken from a vehicle stored at the 800 block of Adams Avenue in Morton, according to a report made to police on Wednesday.

• Police called to the 600 block of Adams Avenue in Morton were told someone took a purse from the front seat of a vehicle there, the Morton Police Department reported today. It was reported last Monday.

VANDALISM

• A 28-year-old Centralia resident was arrested about 3:40 a.m. on Sunday after he allegedly broke a window out of a vacant house on the 900 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia while intoxicated. Aaron S. VanTuyl was cited for third-degree malicious and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called Saturday afternoon to the 300 block of Southwest Ninth Street in Chehalis where someone had slashed all four tires on a vehicle and scratched the word “hore” in the paint.

GUN, MARIJUANA LEAD TO JAIL

• A 19-year-old Centralia man was arrested for “dangerous weapon” after a pistol was discovered on his person early Sunday morning in Centralia, according to police. Tanner Z. R. Russell was booked into the Lewis County Jail also for possession of marijuana and burglary tools after contact with an officer about 2 a.m. at the 700 block of Harrison Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE VERSUS BUILDING IN CENTRALIA

• Police were called about 4:40 p.m. yesterday to McDonalds on the 1200 block of Lum Road in Centralia after a driver ran into the side of the building. The driver thought the vehicle was in reverse but it was not, according to police. There were only minor injuries and minimal damage, according to authorities.

WRECK

• A woman said her floor mat lodged against the accelerator as she was traveling down a hill on the 100 block of Nikula Road in Winlock on Saturday night causing her to run into a power pole and a guard rail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called about 10:30 p.m. reported the 44-year-old driver was uninjured, according to the sheriff’s office

Child arrested for setting fire during church in Pe Ell

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Updated 1:13 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Pe Ell church was evacuated during Sunday morning services yesterday when a fire broke out in a classroom area used for storage.

Nobody was injured but the blaze did an estimated $10,000 damage at the New Harvest Assembly of God Church on the 100 block of Mauermann Road, according to authorities.

An 11-year-old boy believed to have started the fire was arrested.

Three members of the fire department were at church when it happened about 10:30 a.m., according to Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk.

One left and got the ambulance, another retrieved the fire engine and Assistant Chief Michael Davis used a fire extinguisher and then a garden hose through a window to knock down the flames, Krafczyk said.

The chief estimated 150 individuals were inside when it occurred. The pastor is a firefighter from a nearby district as well, he said.

“Everybody stayed real calm, got everybody out in an orderly fashion,” Krafczyk said. “Nobody got hurt, that was the important thing.”

The room that burned was across from the nursery, Krafczyk said.

A plastic tree caught fire, light fixtures melted and flames spread up the wall, according to Fire Investigator Jay Birley. The person who discovered it saw smoke all the way down to about three feet above the floor level, he said.

Firefighters got out their big hose, but didn’t need to use it, according to the chief. They borrowed a thermal imaging camera from District 16 and tore out some of the ceiling to make sure nothing more was smoldering, he said.

The storage room will likely need new sheetrock, and some of the rest of the building will probably need repainting because of smoke damage, according to Krafczyk.

A sheriff’s deputy was called as it was suspected to have been intentionally set and the deputy interviewed the 11-year-old boy, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning.

The child admitted he started the fire with matches he found in one of the rooms, according to Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown.

He was arrested for second-degree arson and booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, Brown said.

Brown said the boy did not say why he did it, but he has had some problems with starting fires at home previously.

Lewis County public works director sued for gender, age discrimination

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A former Lewis County employee has filed a lawsuit against the county’s director of public works alleging discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation.

Cyndi Ticknor names Lewis County, its Department of Public Works and its director, Tim Elsea, in the suit filed earlier this month in Lewis County Superior Court.

Ticknor, according to court documents, is the former Lewis County Maintenance and Operations Superintendent, a job from which Elsea demoted her in June of last year.

Her attorney writes she was the first woman to hold the position, and the alleged unprofessional behavior that led to her demotion was similar to conduct condoned by or ignored by superiors when engaged in by male co-workers.

When he disciplined her, Elsea was “well aware many male employees had exhibited similar if not more egregious behavior and not been subject to discipline,” her attorney alleges.

Ticknor, 48, is asking for damages in an amount to be proven at trial.

She didn’t respond to attempts to contact her for comment. Elsea said last week he isn’t in a position to speak about the lawsuit.

Lewis County commissioners have approved a resolution providing Elsea legal representation by a Seattle law firm.

Ticknor’s Olympia attorney Christopher Coker writes in the complaint that prior to the demotion, during her 15-year tenure, Ticknor’s personnel record was impeccable.

According to Coker, Ticknor worked as a senior transportation dispatcher for the county, and through her “hard work and determination” was promoted several times.

In 2002, she was made fleet manager, the first woman to hold the position, and in 2007, promoted to Lewis County maintenance and operations superintendent, also the first female to hold that job, according to Coker.

She worked in a male-dominated environment, often exposed to yelling, profanity and similar behaviors, he writes. She acted in a manner consistent to her male co-workers to fit in and earn their respect, he writes.

“She admits at times her language was strong, but no different than any of her male co-workers,” Coker writes.

Tim Elsea was hired June 1, 2010 as public works director and county engineer.

Elsea said last week Ticknor was on leave when he was hired, and he completed the investigation that led to her demotion.

The document outlines Ticknor’s responses to the demotion as her submission of written responses, which her attorney says resulted in escalating harassment, bullying and retaliation.

After she finally saw a copy of the investigation, she was disturbed by the “baseless and unfounded allegations” against her and last August, she submitted a rebuttal document to the county risk management department, Coker writes.

The lawyer writes that on Sept. 2, Elsea took her out a training session and into a meeting room at the fairgrounds where he “proceeded to intimidate, threaten and verbally abuse” her about her rebuttal. The same day, Elsea followed her to lunch and waited in parking lot, something she thought was meant to further intimidate her, Coker writes.

Ticknor applied for leave, and in October filed a formal complaint with the county alleging retaliation, harassment, age and gender discrimination.

On Nov. 24, 2010, she was terminated

Ticknor’s civil complaint alleges Elsea and the county failed to adequately investigate her allegations, but instead put her on leave and investigated her.

Her attorney claims she suffered damages – including prolonged stress and humiliation – and is asking for compensation for various damages, among them lost wages, benefits and attorney fees.

Elsea is required to file an answer in Lewis County Superior Court to her complaint by the end of the month.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

BIKE VERSUS TRUCK IN CENTRALIA

• A 71-year-old Centralia man was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with leg injuries and “road rash” after the bicycle he was riding yesterday collided with a delivery truck at the intersection of East Reynolds Avenue and North Pearl Street around 1:35 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department. The truck driver was not cited, police reported.

THEFT

• Police were called to a car prowl on the 300 block of Iron Street in Centralia yesterday. Someone rummaged through the vehicle and took some deposit slips, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called about 9:20 a.m. yesterday about a car prowl on the 1100 block of H Street in Centralia, according to police A stereo was taken.

HAY TRUCK FIRE IN NAPAVINE

• About 14 bales of hay and the wood decking on a trailer were destroyed in a vehicle fire in Napavine yesterday evening. Lewis County Fire District 5 called about 5:35 p.m. to the fire at Highway 603 and Meadow Lane were joined by members of Fire Districts 15 and 6, according to Fire Lt. Laura Hanson. Heavy equipment had to be used to break up the smoldering hay and both lanes were blocked for a period of time, according to Hanson. No injuries were reported.

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Bales of hay are removed from a truck and broken apart after a fire. / Courtesy photo by Maleah Heldreth

Cause of Toledo fire under investigation

Saturday, August 27th, 2011
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The building belonging to Volunteer Firefighter Nicholas Delin was pushed over after it was destroyed by fire early Thursday.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

TOLEDO – Police Chief John Brockmueller and Officer Sam Patrick planned to start digging today through the rubble that is left of the commercial structure that burned in downtown Toledo early Thursday morning.

What remained after the overnight fire had to be pushed down with heavy equipment on Thursday to make it safe to poke around in, Brockmueller said yesterday.

The cause is unknown, Brockmueller said.

“We’re gathering information, doing interviews and what-not, trying to figure it out,” the chief said.

The building belongs to Volunteer Firefighter Nicholas Delin, of Toledo, who recently shut down Toledo Hardware around the corner.

Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank said it was used as storage for liquidation sales.

Brockmueller said Delin had a similar building that was lost in a fire in Winlock about three years ago.

Firefighters from Districts 2, 5, 7 and 5 were called out just before 1 a.m. on Thursday to the corner of Augustus Street and Ramsey Way – formerly Second Street in downtown.

Neighbors reported hearing explosions; crews battled the blaze defensively, meaning they worked simply to keep adjacent structures from catching fire.

One District 2 firefighter suffering from dehydration was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital for observation, according to Wiltbank.

It’s the third building on the west side of the block to be destroyed by fire in recent months. Only Timberland Bank remains on the corner at Kellogg Way – also state Route 505.

A three-alarm fire on Christmas morning swept through the former Masonic building that held Cowlitz River Antiques and the adjacent Used Book Store.

Toledo Police Officer Patrick is a trained fire investigator; Brockmueller will be assisting him to find what caused the fire.

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Tavern owner Jack Leduc snapped this photo with his phone early Thursday morning.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

KITCHEN BURNS IN NAPAVINE

• A Napavine family was put up by the Red Cross last night after a fire broke out in the kitchen of their mobile home yesterday evening. Lewis County Fire District 5 was called at 6:55 p.m. to the home on the 800 block of Fourth Avenue. When firefighters arrived, the occupants were outside and the home was filled with smoke, according to Firefighter Brad Bozarth. The mother had been cooking and stepped outside to check BBQ and when she returned saw flames, according to Bozarth. It started on the stove and extended into the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, he said. A small girl was checked out by responders because she had been inside when it started, but she was fine, he said.

ROCKS AND BROKEN WINDOWS

• Police were called about 2:20 a.m. today to the 2400 block of Seward Avenue in Centralia where a resident said he saw a neighbor throw a rock through a window of his house from inside the carport. Mitchell W. Sinclair, 43, had been at the property earlier in the day and because of an argument, told by police not to return, according to the Centralia Police Department. Sinclair this morning was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary, because he did return, Officer John Panco said.

• Centralia police were called about 6:30 this morning to the 1100 block of G Street where a rock was thrown through a truck window overnight.

• An officer was called to the 2400 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia about 6:30 p.m. yesterday where the side window of a vehicle was found broken out.

THEFT

• Police were called to a car prowl on the 1500 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia yesterday. Sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., someone got inside and took a GPS unit, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called yesterday to the 100 block of Southwest Ninth Street about a car prowl. A stereo and the remote to a garage door were missing, according to police.

GRASS FIRE ON RR TRACKS

• Lewis County Fire District 5 was called about 3:20 p.m. yesterday to a brush fire on the railroad tracks at Lindbeck Road near Napavine. Firefighter Brad Bozarth said the flames had spread to about 60 feet by 30 feet from the grass and were headed into the trees. It appeared to have begun from someone who had a burn pile going days earlier, he said.

WRECKS

• A 31-year-old Chehalis woman ran into a power pole so hard last night near Toledo it snapped the top off, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies called just after 11 p.m. to the 200 block of Collins Road were told by Dawn M. Barnett she was texting before she hit the pole, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. There was front end damage to her car and she was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with unknown injuries, Brown said.

• A 16-year-old Chehalis boy was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after he wrecked his motorcycle on the 200 block of Frogner Road west of Chehalis yesterday. A deputy called about 6 p.m. noted he was traveling southbound, rounded a corner and hit a ditch, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

News brief: Chehalis gunshot still death still under investigation

Friday, August 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 59-year-old woman found dead in her Chehalis apartment last Friday died from a gunshot wound through her mouth, according to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Chehalis police are continuing to investigate the death, but at this time aren’t looking for a suspect, detective Sgt. Rick McNamara said today. It appears preliminarily to be suicide, he said.

Police are sending the gun off for testing, according to McNamara. They are also still waiting for a report from the coroner following Monday’s autopsy.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said the cause is the gunshot and the determination of the manner of death is pending the results of the police investigation.

Police were called after the woman was found by her husband in the apartment on the 400 block in between Market Boulevard and Pacific Avenue. A handgun was found at the scene, according to McNamara.

News brief: 911 remembrance to be held at fairgrounds

Friday, August 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A remembrance ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 is set to be held at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.

The 1 p.m. program is being organized by the Lewis County Fallen Heroes Committee and United Way.

Expect a speaker who was present at “ground zero”, pipes and drums and a reading of first responder’s names.

Commemorative T-shirts will be sold to benefit the Fallen Heroes fund, a fund that assists the families of fallen heros in Lewis County and throughout the state, according to United Way Director Debbie Campbell. Donations will be accepted.

The event, and parking, is free.

Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and activities will continue after the program, to include live music.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

CENTRALIA HOME BURGLED WHILE WOMAN SLEEPS

• A woman woke up yesterday morning to find someone had come in her Centralia home overnight and stolen her purse, her car keys and then driven away with her SUV. Also missing from the residence on the 800 block of Park Way was a computer, football gear and other items, according  to the Centralia Police Department.  A door had been left unlocked, Officer John Panco said.The missing 2002 Nissan Xterra was spotted by an officer around 1 p.m. parked on the 400 block of North Buckner Street, Panco said. A man near the vehicle fled on foot as the officer was about to contact him, according to Panco. A 27-year-old man was tracked down and captured about an hour later by a police dog; he was hiding in bushes on the same block, Panco said. A search of a home on the 400 block of North Buckner Street turned up most of the stolen items, police reported. Christopher L. Wessels, listed as transient, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary and vehicle theft, according to police.

AUTO THEFT

• Police were called just before 11 a.m. yesterday about a stolen vehicle from the 900 block of South Pearl Street in Centralia. Missing is a silver 1992 Toyota Forerunner with a license plate of 644 WZQ, according  to the Centralia Police Department. The vehicle has a faded blue stripe running down the side.

DRUGS

• A 34-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine last night in Centralia. Christopher A. Snipes was booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer just before 9 p.m. at East First Street and North Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.