Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

News brief: This is a test

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Tacoma Power and the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management will conduct a coordinated test of their emergency notification systems at 11 a.m. today.

Tacoma Power’s emergency sirens at Ike Kinswa State Park, Mayfield Lake Park and the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery will sound and include an announcement of the test.

Mossyrock Dam

The sirens and loudspeaker are part of a system that would be used to alert the public in the event of any imminent catastrophic-type failure of either of the two dams which could cause uncontrolled release of water downstream, such as an earthquake, according to Tacoma Power’s Jason Lellie, the emergency action plan coordinator at the utility’s power generation division.

Tacoma Power owns and operates Mossyrock Dam and Mayfield Dam on the Cowlitz River.

Both organizations conduct annual system tests, but this year marks the first time they have synchronized their efforts.

“Public safety is our number one priority,” Tacoma Power Chief Dam Safety Engineer Toby Brewer stated. “While we have a robust emergency action plan in place, the success of these systems in helping to keep people safe depends on all of us working together.”

Lewis County DEM will send two test messages using its new alert notification system. The first will alert users that the siren test is about to begin; the second will announce that the siren test is over.

The test should last approximately 90 seconds.

Lewis County’s notification system has replaced the former Code Red system. Users must register to receive the alerts and may choose to be notified by cell phone, landline, text message and/or email.

“We encourage Lewis County residents and visitors to register as soon as possible so they can receive future notifications,” said Lewis County DEM Coordinator Jim Rich.

People can register by:
• Visiting then clicking the “Lewis County Alert” icon at the bottom of the page.
• Calling (360) 740-1157 to speak with a member of the Lewis County DEM staff.

Prosecutors: Lack of consent leads to rape charge for Centralia man

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Bail was set at $25,000 for a 32-year-old Centralia man charged yesterday with third-degree rape in connection with an encounter with a 16-year-old girl late last month.

Stephen M. Douglas Jr. was arrested on Friday after he was questioned by detectives at his home.

The incident was reported to the Chehalis Police Department after the teen’s father took her to the hospital for an exam, following her disclosure what had happened, according to court documents.

The girl takes busses between Centralia and Chehalis for school and instead of going to school that day, she got off the bus with a guy she’d met prior, near a pot store where he made a purchase and then they took a walk up the road behind a gate, according to charging documents.

The 16-year-old said he put his coat on the ground and told her to  perform oral sex, then took off both their pants and had sex with her.

Under questioning, the girl said she may have said no, but didn’t remember. However, she described drawing her forearms together in front of her with her elbows out and also trying to close her legs during the incident, according to charging documents.

“…  (She) decided to close her eyes because she was afraid and didn’t want to look at him anymore,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm wrote.

By her description, the Chehalis police detective concluded the bus stop was near The Vintage along North National Avenue in Chehalis.

The detective tracked down Douglas by finding surveillance photos from Wal-Mart. He reportedly went there to get the girl new pants and dry socks because hers had gotten muddy.

When asked why she decided to stay with him instead of going to school, the teenager said he seemed like a nice person and she trusted him, Bohm wrote.

On Friday when detectives interviewed Douglas, he said after work that morning he went to Wal-Mart to cash his check, bought little bottles of vodka to drink at the bus stop, walked to the pot shop to buy some product and then took a bus home, according to Bohm.

Third-degree rape is a class C felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Its elements include the victim not consenting to sexual intercourse, and where the lack of consent was clearly expressed by words or conduct.

Deputy Prosecutor Bohm yesterday afternoon asked Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler to hold Douglas on $25,000 bail. The judge agreed.

Douglas’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017


Updated at 6:36 p.m.


• A 22-year-old motorist, with a defective headlight and an outstanding warrant, finally pulled over and gave up after a police pursuit that reached 115 mph in East Lewis County last night, according to authorities. The dark-colored sedan was first spotted just after 11 p.m. on state Route 7 by a trooper and then followed by a Morton police officer, according to court papers. The vehicle turned east onto U.S. Highway 12 at which time both officers activated their lights and sirens, prosecutors stated. At one point during an 11-mile span, the car reportedly crossed into the oncoming lane to pass a semi truck. Charging documents in the case indicate the driver pulled over east of Randle. Curtis L. Goree, from Lynnwood, was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today with attempting to elude. His passenger said she tried to get him to stop but he wouldn’t listen to her, Lewis County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher wrote in court documents. Goree’s bail was set at $15,000 this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.


• Chehalis police were called about 10 a.m. yesterday to the 1400 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue on a report that a truck filled its gas tank and left without paying. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Centralia police were called about 1:30 p.m. yesterday about an overnight vehicle prowl at the 3000 block of Galvin Road. Among the missing items were debit cards, clothing and work equipment, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Several items were stolen from a vehicle at the 1700 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia including a speaker and amplifier, according to a report made to police just after 10 a.m. yesterday.


• A 22-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested yesterday for possession of methamphetamine and heroin based on items found when law enforcement searched a trailer she said she’d been living in for about a week. Members of the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team and the state Department of Corrections had information unauthorized people had been staying on the owner’s property without permission, according to court papers. Jeran R. Applefield was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today in Lewis County Superior Court. Judge Andrew Toynbee inquired of the deputy prosecutor this afternoon if she had the police report, as the affidavit of probable cause filed made no mention of the location where the alleged offenses took place. She didn’t. Toynbee said for the purpose of today’s hearing, he would make a finding based on indirect evidence that it happened in Lewis County. Bail was set at $5,000.


• Morton police reported yesterday an officer was called to the 100 block of Division Avenue to a report of a snake found on a kitchen counter at about 11:45 a.m. last Wednesday. “They” were determined to be garter snakes, a neighbor got them out of the house and the officer resumed patrol, according to the Morton Police Department.


• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor domestic malicious mischief; responses for alarm, dispute, civil issue, hit and run, vehicle collision, suicidal person, suspicious circumstances; complaint about garbage and rats in an alley … and more among 183 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 24-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

Tenino-area murder suspects captured in Cowlitz County

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Deputies at the scene of homicide investigation off state Route 507 yesterday. / Courtesy photo by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 23-year-old man and his 18-year-old girlfriend are in custody in connection with the death of his mother, found yesterday at her Tenino-area home.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office began looking for Roan Littlemoon and Sabrina Young Anderson after an approximately 4 p.m. call yesterday alerting them to a potential homicide at a rural residence on the 2800 block of 184th Avenue Southeast.

Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Rudloff said detectives got a call about 9 o’clock this morning informing them the pair were just then detained in Longview. The couple’s car had been located about 2 a.m. in the parking lot of a tavern in downtown Longview, he said.

The sheriff’s office reported last night they had probable cause to arrest Littlemoon and Anderson for second-degree murder.

When deputies went to the home south of Tenino yesterday afternoon, they found the victim 60-year-old Robin L. Tingle inside her residence, according to Rudloff. Her son Littlemoon lived there with her, he stated.

The house sits on a multi-acre ranch or tree farm-type property, just off state Route 507, south of Tenino and north of Bucoda, according to the sheriff’s office.

Last night’s press release indicated the information the sheriff’s office got yesterday suggested the homicide occurred sometime before noon.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t yet offered any information about the nature of Tingle’s death. Rudloff said they’re not putting that out yet.

Detectives were headed down to Longview to pick up the two suspect and bring them back to Thurston County, he said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, April 3rd, 2017


Updated at 7:41 p.m.


• A 41-year-old Chehalis man was arrested after he allegedly went into a home uninvited, occupied by a woman who had a no-contact order against him on Friday morning. Police called just before 9 a.m. to the 300 block of Southwest Third Street found George S. Gonzalez hiding in a bedroom and he reportedly resisted arrest and reached for an officer’s weapon as he was being detained, according to the Chehalis Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for residential burglary, third-degree assault and other potential charges were referred to prosecutors, according to police.

• A 39-year-old Winlock man who allegedly banged on the back door of a neighbor’s house on Northwest Kerron Street, breaking a window, in the middle of the night prompting the resident and his teenage son to run out the front door and drive to a nearby police officer’s house was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail early Friday morning. Police were told Richard L. Oxford made a statement similar to, “I am going to kill you,” according to court documents.  Oxford was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with attempted residential burglary and felony harassment. Temporary defense attorney noted to the judge when discussing bail the victim was a good friend of Oxford’s and there was mention he was intoxicated. His bail was set at $10,000.


• A 37-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for felony harassment after police were called to a drinking establishment on the 500 block of Northwest Pacific Avenue about 8:20 a.m. on Saturday and were told he had slapped one patron and threatened another, according to the Chehalis Police Department. When he was searched, the officer found he had a double-sided dagger type knife, according to police. Terry L. Bryan was  booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called about 1 p.m. on Friday by a person who reported an incident involving the alleged assault of a child the week before. The case is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 32-year-old Centralia man was booked into the Lewis County Jail on Friday morning for second-degree rape in connection with a case Chehalis police began investigating on March 24. Stephen M. Douglas Jr. is expected to be brought before a judge this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.


• Centralia police were called at about 6:30 a.m. today regarding a silver 2003 Volkswagen Jetta stolen as it was warming up at the 200 block of Latona Street.

• An 18-year-old stopped for allegedly traveling 95 mph in a 70 mph  zone yesterday was pulled over on Interstate 5 in south Lewis County and found to be driving a 2014 Toyota Camry which had been reported stolen. Said M. Salah reportedly admitted taking the vehicle without the owners permission and was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to court documents. The Oregon CIty resident was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with possession of a stolen vehicle.

• A stolen vehicle was recovered just after 1 p.m. Friday at the 700 block of G Street in Centralia.


• Chehalis police are investigating after an individual reported he used his credit card to place an order at a business on Saturday evening at the 100 block of North Market Boulevard and shortly afterward discovered several fraudulent charges were made, even though he still had his card, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The amount is about $1,300, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called at 8 a.m. on Saturday to the 1500 block of Northwest State Avenue where a set of tires and 20-inch chrome wheels installed the day before on a truck were missing. The vehicle was on jack stands and its license plate was missing as well, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The loss is $1,692.44, according to police.

• Centralia police took a report about 9:50 p.m. on Saturday of a wallet stolen from a locker at the 2000 block of Borst Avenue.

• Centralia police were called to the 800 block of Harrison Avenue about 8:40 p.m. on Friday to take a report of the theft of a debit card.

• Centralia police took a report just before 11 a.m. on Friday of multiple flower pots stolen from a residence on the 500 block of South Gold Street.


• A 30-year-old Yelm man was arrested for possession of heroin after a deputy responded to a report just before 10:20 a.m. on Saturday about a person possibly doing drugs in a parking lot at a store on the 100 block of Highway 603 outside Chehalis. The deputy contacted Kevin L. Pittman in the driver’s seat of a vehicle and observed a hypodermic needle between his legs and a baggie containing a brown substance in his hands, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Pittman was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey.


• An 80-year-old Centralia woman was injured when the pickup truck in which she was a passenger was struck by a car making an improper U-turn on U.S. Highway 12 just west of Morton at about 11 a.m. on Saturday. Joy L. Ward was transported to Morton General Hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol. Both vehicles were drivable after the collision, according to the state patrol. The driver of the Hyundai Elantra, Jean M. Odegard, 59, of Morton, was cited for no insurance and improper U-turn, according to the state patrol.


• And, as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, obstructing, misdemeanor assault, protection order violation, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, road rage, civil issue, disorderly person, hit and run, vehicle collision, third-degree theft, suicidal person, suspicious circumstances … and more among 381 calls for local law enforcement and / or fire-emergency medical services in the 72-hour period ending about 7 a.m. today.

News brief: DUI suspected in two-vehicle U.S. Highway 12 wreck

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Five people were injured when a car crossed crossed the centerline on U.S. Highway 12 in Grand Mound and hit an oncoming truck last night.

Troopers called just after 9:40 p.m. to the scene near Elderberry Street Southwest report a Mitsubishi Mirage was traveling eastbound when it collided with a Toyota Tacoma, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The Mirage was driven by 41-year-old Jeremy L. Brown, of Cathlamet, who was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle as was one of his three passengers, 47-year-old Tori C. Clark of Enumclaw, according to the state patrol.

Both vehicles were totaled and impounded, the investigating trooper reports.

The driver of the 2006 Toyota Tacoma, Todd R. Phelps, 51, of Rochester, was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital.

The Mirage’s other passengers were reportedly also transported to local hospitals: Teresa L. Meyer, 45, of Vancouver, to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and Daniel I. Garr, 28, Cathlamet, to Providence Centralia Hospital.

The state patrol indicates it suspects drugs or alcohol were involved and charges are pending.

News brief: Onalaska resident named as victim in Thursday crash

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The driver who died in a rollover wreck along state Route 508 on Thursday night has been identified by the state patrol as Michael L. Wells, 53, of Onalaska.

Wells died at the scene of the approximately 9 p.m. incident near Tauscher Road, about three miles east of Interstate 5.

The Washington State Patrol said the pickup truck was eastbound when the driver lost control, the vehicle rolled and came to rest in a pasture.

The passenger, 45-year-old Stephanie R. Richards, of Onalaska, was injured and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital.

For background, read “News brief: Rollover crash claims life on SR 508” from Friday March 31, 2017, here

Tensions build between immigration enforcement, local law enforcement

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson shows how any ICE detainers the jail receives are placed loose in an inmate’s folder, so a phone call can be made when people are to be released.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Federal immigration authorities issued their first list last week to highlight jails that don’t cooperate with ICE detainers or requests for notification of release of aliens who are potentially removable from the country.

It’s possible it won’t be long before the Lewis County Jail lands on the list.

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza says this isn’t a “sanctuary county” but, his jail doesn’t and won’t hold inmates for immigration officers to come and pick up based on a detainer.

When it’s time to be released, whether because they’ve posted bail or their sentence is served, inmates get set free.

“We will not keep you, unless you have a warrant,” said Snaza, a Republican who was elected to his position in 2014 with 77 percent of the vote in a two-way race.

The jail used to routinely honor the detainers, until a federal court case in 2014 in Oregon after which they changed their policies. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said the court decision concluded the ICE detainer is not a warrant, it’s more like a letter.

“We don’t have the authority to hold anyone just on a detainer,” Meyer said.

Meyer didn’t know how many jurisdictions in Washington have taken the same position, but said he didn’t think the county’s interpretation was out of the norm.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

The report issued March 20 is required by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 25, according to DHS.

The agency stated it plans to publish a report weekly to inform the public of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdictions which choose not to cooperate, potentially endangering Americans.

Neither the press release or companion report acknowledge the legal position that Lewis and other counties have taken.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan stated. “Our goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners.”

The Lewis County Jail in Chehalis – the county seat – houses arrestees from sheriff’s deputies, from the Washington State Patrol and police from all the cities and towns within the county. It also holds those who are sentenced locally to less than one year.

On any given day, it’s population is roughly 200 inmates, give or take about 20.

Despite the sheriff’s stance, the jail isn’t entirely uncooperative.


Corrections Officer Dave Rodkey, booking

Deputies enforce state laws and county codes, and don’t ask people about their citizenship or immigration status, according to Snaza.

However, when anyone is booked into the jail, one question is asked of all of them.

Where were you born?

If the answer is anything but inside the United States, corrections officers will notify ICE.

Jail staff don’t attempt to figure out anyone’s citizenship or immigration status, they leave that up to the immigration authorities.

Lewis County Jail Corrections Sgt. Ron Anderson said they fax information on foreign born individuals probably three or four times each month to the ICE field office in Seattle. And about once a month, ICE will fax back a detainer on someone.

The piece of paper goes into the inmate’s file and when it’s time for that person to get out, a corrections officer will phone ICE and let them know what time the individual is going to be released.

Anderson said maybe only once so far this year, an immigration officer has actually shown up and taken someone into their custody.

“It’s a lot different than it used to be,” he said.

Anderson, who has worked at the facility for 30 years, recalls the process before the 2014 change.

“If the agency said they couldn’t get down here till the next day, we would hold the person,” he said.

ICE used to come down and conduct sweeps, Anderson said.

DHS’s first report – called the Declined Detainer Outcome Report – contains a section which names the 10 “non-cooperative” jurisdictions which had the highest number of detainers issued to them during the seven-day period that began Jan. 28.

Two Pacific Northwest entities appear; Snohomish County with 12 detainers issued and Washington County in Oregon with seven.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett issued a press release the same day, taking issue with the feds suggesting some choose not to cooperate.

“(It) does not accurately describe the difficulties or potential legal ramifications associated with honoring ICE detainer requests,” Garrett stated.

Sheriff Garrett went on to recount how in April 2014, a judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon found Clackamas County violated Maria Miranda-Olivares’ constitutional rights, by holding her on an ICE detainer, ultimately costing taxpayers more than $100,000.

The ruling that detainer requests are unconstitutional led every county in Oregon to immediately stop honoring them, according to Garrett.

Like Sheriff Snaza and Prosecutor Meyer, Garrett said his county will honor any warrant or court order to detain a person.


Lewis County Jail

Another section of the March 20 report includes a table presenting information about 206 declined detainers around the country during the seven-day period, naming the facility, the county and state, along with the country of citizenship and examples of criminal activity – charges or convictions – associated with each case.

ICE sends detainers if it possesses probable cause to believe that the alien is removable from the United States. The report notes however, the agency does not document in a systematically reportable manner, the immigration status of each target.

Another table in the report shows more than 100 jurisdictions throughout the country, of which ICE has become aware, which have policies that limit cooperation with ICE. The majority of them indicate they will not hold individuals solely on an ICE detainer, with several suggesting with various phrasing they will honor a warrant or court order.

Lewis County Undersheriff Wes Rethwill put it this way:

“We do have open lines of communications with all agencies,” he said. “But the whole detainer thing is a civil piece in the federal system, and we don’t act on civil stuff.”

Earlier this month, after news headlines abounded about presidential executive orders dealing with immigration and immigration bans, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office command team sent a memo to employees to affirm they were making no changes in how they operate.

“We will not go after people because of their status,” Snaza said. “That’s not our job.”

Prosecutor Meyer says the sheriff’s office is only authorized to enforce state law – and county ordinances – but not federal law.

Sheriff Snaza related that their primary mission is to keep the community and it’s people safe.

“In order to best accomplish this, we must build confidence so victims and witnesses to crimes come forward to report such criminal activity and/or seek assistance, as needed, without fear of becoming vulnerable to immigration repercussions,” his memo stated.

The memo reiterates that the sheriff’s office serves all people within Lewis County regardless of their immigrations status as well as noting that all people they come in contact with are entitled to the rights and protections of the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

The command team memo asks employees to be mindful of how their actions, statements and questions they can answer impact the public’s level of fear and trust in law enforcement.

These are tense times, Snaza said.

“When I hear of kids at school afraid of losing their mom or dad, that concerns me,” Snaza said.


Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza

He said he was discouraged when he heard some ICE agents were hanging around courthouses to find people.

Snaza said he wishes everyone could work together to help “these folks” to ease their concerns and fears.

“I’m not going to go into a home and rip a family apart,” Snaza said. “It’s not my job and there’s no way I’ll do that.”

It’s a conversation that’s been had even around his own dinner table, Snaza said.

His father-in-law, a Marine who went to Vietnam, worked here for some 30 years on a green card before he decided to take steps to become a U.S. citizen, he said.

“Most people in the U.S. illegally want to make a better life for themselves,” Snaza said. “It’s a small percent that do the crime.”

ICE issued a press release yesterday announcing 84 foreign nationals were arrested during a recent three-day operation conducted in Washington, Alaska and Oregon.

They targeted at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.

Sixty of them have criminal histories including prior convictions for sex crimes, drug offenses and domestic violence but the most common was driving under the influence, according to ICE.

Seven of them were women. They came from 12 countries, with the largest number (64) from Mexico.

The enforcement actions took place in 20 communities, and King County accounted for the largest number of arrestees at 19.

Among them, two people were picked up in Thurston County, three in Cowlitz County and one in Mason County.

Rose M. Richeson, public affairs officer for ICE for the Pacific Northwest, said she didn’t have a label for someone who arrived to this country with a visa and never left when they were supposed to.

“They’re not considered a priority, I don’t have a term for those people,” she said.

However, if they are picked up, they are dealt with on a case by case basis, she said.

Prosecutor Meyer today said the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is working with ICE to see if there are ways local jurisdictions could honor a new form of detainer.

“I worry it may have a chilling effect on victims reporting crimes,” Meyer said. “Our laws have to mean something.”

Sheriff Snaza shared a memo he received today from the Washington State Sheriff’s Association taking exception to ICE’s label of some as uncooperative.

Every sheriff in the state complies with the federal court decision that precludes them from holding inmates on ICE detainer requests, Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, president of the WSSA wrote.

“Sheriffs need to uphold what is legal and what is right and not bend to political pressure or convenience,” Nelson stated. “The public expects us to enforce the law while obeying the law.”

Nelson’s letter notes that after the 2014 court decision within the Ninth Federal Circuit, sheriffs reached out to ICE in order to find a workable solution.

“ICE’s position has been less than cooperative,” Nelson wrote. “Their current approach has the potential to undermine long standing relationships between federal and local agencies.”


Lewis County Jail, Southwest Chehalis Avenue