Toledo's Reserve Sergeant Randy Pennington stands next to a Dodge Charger police vehicle in this undated photo provided by the Toledo Police Department.
Toledo Rejects End to Police Contract
By the Lewis County Tribune staff
TOLEDO — The city of Toledo formally rejected Winlock's claims of a material breach of the interlocal police contract between the two cities in a March 20 letter signed by Toledo Mayor Steve Dobosh, and said the agreement remains valid and binding.
"Winlock is searching for any justification to support its desire to terminate the interlocal agreement now, rather than allow the agreement to expire on its terms on Dec. 31, 2018," the letter from Toledo said. "This claim of material breach by Winlock is disingenuous and is rejected."
In a letter sent to Toledo on Feb. 27, Winlock City Attorney Samuel Satterfield stated numerous sections of the agreement signed in Dec. 2016 were violated, specifically a Dodge Charger patrol vehicle belonging to the city of Winlock that was not returned to the city after its engine was damaged.
Toledo responded that the engine in the Dodge Charger patrol car provided by Winlock failed in early June of 2016, was no longer operational and was then towed by Payneless Automotive of Winlock.
"In July 2016, and at Winlock's direction, the Dodge Charger was towed to Winlock's bullpen," Toledo's letter states. "Toledo has no contractual obligation to repair or replace the engine in the Dodge Charger and Toledo will not do so. Winlock is in possession of its Dodge Charger."
The letter from Dobosh said Toledo has not materially breached the interlocal agreement and therefore Toledo has nothing to cure and Winlock remains liable for payment.
"So long as Toledo is providing law enforcement services to Winlock, Winlock will be obligated to pay Toledo all consideration under the agreement," the Toledo letter said. "Toledo is willing to discuss early termination of the agreement. Provided, Winlock must first withdraw all of Winlock's claims of Toledo being in material breach of the agreement. Toledo conducts its affairs professionally and in good faith, and Toledo will not succumb to bully tactics."
Toledo began providing police services to Winlock in August 2015 after Winlock's police chief retired and the city's only other officer left. Winlock Mayor Don Bradshaw recently won a write-in campaign and immediately sought to terminate the agreement signed by his predecessor, former mayor Lonnie Dowell. Bradshaw was a former Winlock police commissioner and had twice served as mayor of Winlock, but he lost another bid for mayor to Dowell in 2013.
The letter said Toledo contacted Mayor Dowell in December about that month's delinquent payment and Dowell said he thought the payment had already been made. Winlock's payment to Toledo is due on the tenth of each month.
"Mayor Dowell contacted the Winlock city clerk and was informed the delinquent payment had in fact not been paid by Winlock," the letter from Dobosh said. "Toledo had been informed that incoming Mayor Bradshaw had contacted the Winlock city clerk and instructed the clerk to not pay Toledo prior to his tenure as mayor beginning on January 1, 2018. That actually is a 'material breach' of the agreement, as Winlock's primary duty under the agreement is to pay Toledo for law enforcement services."
Toledo said for 32 months in a row, Winlock has never paid on time. "Toledo will take necessary steps to protect its interests," the letter said. "Toledo hereby provides notice to Winlock that Toledo will no longer waive Winlock's failure to pay on time."
The February letter from Winlock also requested that Toledo Patrol Sergeant Samuel Patrick be reassigned out of the jurisdictional boundaries of Winlock, "for the reasonable cause that Officer Patrick is suspected of entering into restricted areas of the Winlock City Hall and accessing court files without permission." The letter said Winlock City Hall has had to be rearranged and locks changed for this liability issue.
Toledo responded that this is a very serious allegation and it has inquired with the Lewis County Sheriff's Office about conducting an independent investigation.
"Winlock is alleging a law enforcement officer has committed the felony crime of burglary," the Toledo letter said. This allegation could cause "severe damage to Officer Patrick personally and professionally," including defamation of character. Patrick also served as a Winlock city councilman in 2014 and the letter from Toledo suspects the request to reassign him was made out of personal animosity.
"Winlock's request to reassign is denied at this time," the Toledo letter said, noting that nothing in the interlocal agreement obligates Toledo to grant a request for reassignment of personnel made by Winlock.
The 11-page letter from Toledo also contained 57 pages of attachments, including monthly police activity reports from August 2015 to February 2018, vehicle maintenance records, an FBI document on the proper use of uniform crime reporting statistics, a list of police department inventory and unpaid invoices sent to Winlock for court services including transport to and from jail since 2015 totaling $4,950.
"These invoices must be paid in full by the next due date of April 10, 2018, or interest at the rate of 12 percent shall accrue," the Toledo letter said.
Winlock Seeks to End Police Contract
By Marlea Hanson, staff writer
TOLEDO — Winlock's new leadership is seeking to terminate the interlocal police contract with the city of Toledo, claiming a material breach of the agreement in a letter dated February 27, 2018.
The letter was made public at the March 5 Toledo city council meeting following an executive session. Winlock said numerous sections of the agreement signed in December 2016 were violated, specifically a Dodge Charger patrol vehicle belonging to the city of Winlock that was not returned to the city after its engine was damaged, a failure of Toledo to provide all monthly report requirements and a failure to render police services in the same manner as Toledo receives.
"Since the city of Toledo has taken over police duties for the city of Winlock, crime rates seem to have risen and care and coverage of the city of Winlock have not met the same standard that the city of Toledo receives," said the letter signed by Winlock City Attorney Samuel Satterfield.
The letter stated Toledo has 30 days to cure the material breach or the interlocal agreement is terminated and Winlock will no longer remain liable for payment to the city of Toledo. The agreement is set to expire at the end of December 2018. The letter proposes a mutual agreement to terminate early, including a reasonable transition plan that details Winlock's plan to install a new police chief, inventory all original and current equipment, and its intention to cease making payments to the city of Toledo by July 2018.
Toledo began providing police services to Winlock in August 2015 after Winlock's police chief retired and the city's only other officer left. The Dodge Charger patrol vehicle provided by Winlock in 2015 broke down in the summer of 2016 and a new replacement vehicle was purchased using Toledo's capital fund. The police equipment was transferred from the old vehicle to the new one in 2017.
Winlock Mayor Don Bradshaw recently won a write-in campaign and immediately sought to terminate the agreement signed by his predecessor, former mayor Lonnie Dowell.
The letter from Satterfield also requested that Toledo Patrol Sergeant Samuel Patrick be reassigned out of the jurisdictional boundaries of Winlock, "for the reasonable cause that Officer Patrick is suspected of entering into restricted areas of the Winlock City Hall and accessing court files without permission." The letter said Winlock City Hall has had to be rearranged and locks changed for this liability issue.
Senior board president Jim Henderson speaks at a meeting with the Lewis County Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 8.
Photo by Marlea Hanson / Lewis County Tribune
Senior Group Accepts Amended Funding
By Marlea Hanson, staff writer
CHEHALIS — After a contentious budget meeting with the Lewis County Commissioners that spanned several days, the Lewis County Senior Board agreed Nov. 9 to a reduction in funding that should help the five senior centers pay for costs such as utilities and insurance in 2018.
Last year the county spent $375,000 to operate the senior centers, including nutrition programs, enrichment and exercise classes. Near the end of 2016, the county informed the senior centers they would have to fund themselves beginning in 2017. That deadline was extended to 2018 after a public outcry from seniors and other county residents.
The five senior centers formed a non-profit board to operate as one entity and to ensure that "no center is left behind." That board has been working all year to make the senior centers independent of the county beginning in 2018, but start-up costs like insurance and utilities pose a substantial budget challenge.
When the seniors board and the county commissioners failed to reach an agreement on Nov. 8, senior board member and former Toledo mayor Jerry Pratt stepped down, saying he was unable to continue serving if a decision could not be reached. A meeting was scheduled for the following afternoon to continue negotiations.
Senior board president Jim Henderson opened the Nov. 9 meeting by saying “if we don’t get what we’re asking, the senior centers will fail.”
On the table was Lewis County’s original offer of $100,000 for start-up costs like utilities and insurance, $65,000 worth of reduced leases on five buildings amounting to one dollar per building annually for five years beginning in 2018, and an additional $135,000 was requested to cover expenses until planned fundraisers were implemented, for a total contribution of $300,000.
The seniors voted to accept the amended figures at their regularly scheduled board meeting Thursday evening and authorized chairman Don Bradshaw to sign the agreement Nov. 13.
HDR engineering manager Keith Moen explains schematics to engineers and supervisors at the proposed dam site on Sept. 29.
Photos by Jake Morgan / Lewis County Tribune
Dam Could Mitigate Chehalis Floods
By Jake Morgan, staff writer
PE ELL — Regional planners are making progress to mitigate periodic flooding in the Chehalis River Basin with a new proposal to construct a flood retention dam south of the town of Pe Ell in western Lewis County.
Engineers and supervisors with the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District met Sept. 29 to tour the proposed site of a flood retention facility on Weyerhaeuser land in a narrow valley surrounded by steep rock walls.
Currently there are three similar retention dam options being considered for the location, all three of which would have the same flood reduction benefit of withholding 65,000 acre-feet of flood water.
Keith Moen, engineering manager at HDR, said dam and water retention technology has improved a lot in the past 30 or 40 years. Moen said the proposed designs are similar in function to the Mud Mountain Dam on the lower White River and Puyallup River valleys and the Howard Hansen Dam on the Green River, both in Washington state.
The primary function of the retention dam would be to hold back flood waters during storms like the flood that inundated the city of Chehalis and shut down Interstate 5 in late 2007.
“This won’t prevent the Chehalis area from flooding in the future but it will help,” Moen said.
The first proposal for the Chehalis River dam project would contain drop-down gates that only retain water during a flood and allow the river to naturally flow beneath the dam the rest of the time. The second proposal would retain water throughout the year and have the capacity to hold additional water during a flood. The third proposal is similar to the first proposal in that it would only retain water during a flood, but it is designed to be expanded in the future to provide increased storage capacity for flood waters, should the need arise.
Flood district supervisor and Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund said she was most interested in the expandable retention option.
All three proposals are designed with a spillover safety feature at the top should the retention dam ever reach capacity. All three proposals include provisions for fish passage and none of the current proposals include plans for hydroelectric power generation. Each of the proposals are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars with materials sourced from local rock quarries.
For more information on the Chehalis Basin Strategy, visit http://chehalisbasinstrategy.com/
Winlock Plans Community Building Update
By Jake Morgan, staff writer
WINLOCK – Don Bradshaw has wasted no time approaching a wide range of projects and city improvements during the first month of his new term as mayor.
Bradshaw announced that Winlock has started work on repairs to S.E. First Street, is planning a major overhaul to the city's wastewater treatment plant and is currently soliciting bids for bonded electrical, plumbing and carpentry services to overhaul the outdated systems in the Community Building.
In stark contrast to previous city council meetings from 2016 and 2017 that often featured lengthly public debates and little action, Bradshaw addressed the near-capacity audience that filled the council chambers on Jan. 22 for nearly an hour with little input or comment from the public, city staff or other council members.
The 76-year-old mayor said he hates hearing rumors and invited anyone with questions to stop by his office during the week, citing his open-door policy. Bradshaw said he spends 40 to 50 hours a week working as mayor.
The city council will be interviewing five candidates to fill two vacant positions on the council at its next meeting on Feb. 12. There are enough council members to establish a quorum but Bradshaw said he would prefer to have a fully stocked council before proceeding with major policy initiatives. The council voted to have council member Dennis Korpi serve as mayor pro-tem for the year.
Toledo Police Chief John Brockmueller reported that operations are normal and added that the city of Toledo has decided not to respond to Bradshaw's letter from early January regarding dissolving the police service contract between Winlock and Toledo.
County Seeks Funding for Mandates
By Jake Morgan, staff writer
CHEHALIS — State and federal requirements to provide health care to inmates at the Lewis County Jail and legal defense costs for the poor or indigent don’t include state or federal funding and the costs for these services are crippling the county budget. Unfunded mandates for Lewis County to provide indigent defense and medical costs to jail inmates is approaching $1.5 million a year and continues to rise.
“We need help,” Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund told state representatives and state senators gathered for a legislative roundtable Oct. 6 at the county courthouse. The county is not being reimbursed for these costs and the budget is so tight that the county has no choice but to cut back programs like health and social services including disease prevention and senior care.
Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said 75 percent of the county’s annual budget is being absorbed by the legal system, with approximately $1 million going to pay the medical expenses of inmates. Snaza said medical expenses are consuming most of his department’s budget, forcing the sheriff’s office to operate at staffing levels below what they were in 1985.
Health-care costs continue to rise nationwide and premiums can be so expensive that many low-income people just can’t afford health insurance and they are forced to put off necessary medical and dental care. Even if they do qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid will not cover the health-care costs of inmates while they're in jail or prison and state and local governments must foot the bill.
“We’re strapped,” Snaza said. “Medicaid in our facility is killing us. Seventy-four percent of our inmate population receives Medicaid and we are paying for them.”
There are a lot of reasons for declining revenues in Lewis County such as a loss of income from the bygone timber and mining industries, but rising health-care costs are consuming by far the greatest share of the county budget.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, state prisons and county jails are constitutionally obligated to provide health care to inmates under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Medicaid doesn’t cover inmates while they're in jail, with one exception: health care delivered outside the institution, such as at a hospital or nursing home, when the person has been admitted for 24 hours or more.
According to the Washington State Health Care Authority, “prior to July 2017, Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) was closed when a person receiving coverage became incarcerated. Following the passage of SSB 6430 Medicaid Suspension, the Health Care Authority was directed to suspend, not terminate Medicaid coverage for individuals in a correctional setting.”
The Health Care Authority said “under current policy, an incarcerated individual can retain their Apple Health eligibility indefinitely, however, their scope of coverage will change. When an individual is incarcerated, the Health Care Authority suspends full scope coverage and limits it to inpatient hospitalization only. While incarcerated, the agency also suspends any payments to managed care organizations, behavioral health organizations, and any other Medicaid-related service authorizations.”
Many members of this at-risk population will require continued medical care and substance-abuse counseling after being released from jail, and their successful rehabilitation into society could depend on their continued Medicaid coverage outside jail, according to Pew.
District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard said the highest users of the court system are repeat offenders.
“Once a person is determined to be indigent, they are indigent throughout the entire process, even if they get a job later on,” Buzzard said.
The county is required to incur these legal costs without state reimbursement.
“It’s wrong for the state to balance its budget on the backs of the counties,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama. “We need to find a way of actually funding these mandates.”
Lewis County is also struggling to find affordable healthcare coverage for its own employees. Commissioner Bobby Jackson said the county is facing a 68 percent increase in insurance premiums due to the relatively high median age of county employees.
“Lewis County is the prime example of the national health-care crisis,” said county human resources director Archie Smith. “We are an aging employer and finding affordable health care is a growing problem. We desperately need to find a good insurance provider.”
Contact Jake Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs by Jake Morgan / Lewis County Tribune
State Parks Dedicate Restored Jackson House
By Jake Morgan, staff writer
Washington State Parks officials, area dignitaries and history buffs gathered at the Jackson House State Park Heritage Site north of Toledo on October 6 to celebrate the successful restoration of the historic log cabin, first built in 1850 by John R. Jackson and his wife Matilda.
The Jackson House was one of the first structures constructed in the Washington Territory and served at times as a post office, tavern and a U.S. District Court. Jackson served as sheriff, assessor, tax collector, territorial representative and justice of the peace, as well as on the Cowlitz and Monticello conventions.
After Jackson’s death the historic structure fell into disrepair but was restored in 1915 in the image of the 1850 cabin. The Jackson House was one of the first two properties accepted as a state park in 1915. Restoration was performed again in 1934 and the Jackson House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
This past summer, the Washington State Parks restored the cabin again and added interpretive panels, a re-graded parking lot, asphalt path to the fence line and an ADA-accessible paver path to the cabin porch.
See Lewis County’s Feb. 13 special election results at