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Julie McDonald Commentary: Author's Book Describes Crucial Role of Community Libraries

During the general election earlier this month, nearly 60 percent of Morton voters opted to leave the Timberland Regional Library District, reversing a decision a decade ago to pay taxes to support the five-county library system. Yet they never received a permanent library inside the city.

Neither has Toledo, but volunteers there created a community library thanks in large part to Bill and Pat Caldwell’s donation of their former pharmacy building to house it. Timberland has provided a kiosk inside the library there.

But libraries are so important to communities, which I already knew but learned more Nov. 4 at the 20th Annual Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation’s Authors & Illustrators Dinner and Auction featuring Susan Orlean, bestselling author of The Library Book and The Orchid Thief. 

I’ve often joined my sister Charline Wright, owner of Columbia River Realty in Washougal, at the annual fundraising event in Vancouver that aims to raise $100,000 for the library system and draws as many as 500 people. I’ve listened to presentations by well-known fiction and nonfiction authors: Craig Johnson, who wrote Hell and Back: The Longmire Mystery series; Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; thriller author Brad Meltzer of The Lightning Rod fame; and Maria Semple, who wrote Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

If I haven’t read their books when I attend the dinner, I do afterward, and I just finished reading The Library Book by Orlean, who spent years digging into a 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library that destroyed almost half a million books and damaged another 700,000.

Orlean shared her love for libraries developed as a child when she and her mother visited the Bertram Woods Branch Library outside of Cleveland several times a week. She recalled “beautiful librarians” stamping crooked due dates on cards inside books that took them on journeys into worlds near and far. 

Orlean shared stories from The Library Book during her presentation at the Vancouver Hilton, where she spoke of past jobs at Willamette Week in Portland and later for The New Yorker and her love of libraries.

“When I miss my mother these days, now that she is gone, I like to picture us in the car together, going for one more magnificent trip to Bertram Woods,” she wrote.

Later, she drifted away from libraries, preferring to purchase books. After moving from New York to Los Angeles in 2011, she discovered her first-grade son’s first school assignment was to interview a city worker. She suggested a garbage collector or police officer, but her son wanted to interview a librarian. As her mother had done decades earlier, she took her son to the local library. I loved her description of a library as “a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.”

She met Ken Brecher, head of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, who gave her a tour of the Central Library, a building she described as “very whimsical.” 

“It looks like the architect fell asleep with a book,” she said.

During the tour, Brecher stopped in the fiction section, pulled a book from a shelf, cracked it open, lifted it to his face, and breathed deeply.

“I had never seen someone smell a book quite like that before,” she wrote.

At the Vancouver dinner, she described questions running through her mind as a Los Angeles newcomer. “I thought, what’s the protocol? Do I have to take the book and smell it? And he said to me, ‘You know, you can still smell the smoke.’ And I said, ‘They used to let people smoke?’”

“No!” Brecher said. “Smoke from the fire!”

“The fire?”

“The fire.”

She learned about the fateful morning of April 29, 1986, the date of the largest library fire in American history, overshadowed in the news by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred three days earlier in the Ukrainian region of the Soviet Union. 

She suggested someone should write a book about the library’s fire … and she did.

“Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance,” Orlean wrote. “It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory.”

In Senegal, she said, “the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned.”

In her 336-page book, reprinted in October 2019 by Simon & Schuster, Orlean delves into the history of libraries throughout the world and the nation, zooming in on the Los Angeles library and the librarians who developed it through the decades. She also explores the cause of the fire that burned for seven hours and reached temperatures of 2500 degrees. She also wrote about the man investigators suspected of starting the blaze in the fiction section, Harry Peak, a 28-year-old part-time actor who was arrested but released three days later when the district attorney declined to file formal charges. After the fire, the Los Angeles Central Library remained closed for seven years, reopening in October1993, only months after Peak died April 13, 1993, in Palm Springs, Calif., from HIV/AIDS complications. The Library Book with 5,645 reviews ranks 4.3 out of five stars.

Orlean’s descriptive prose brings readers inside the burning library, where book “covers burst like popcorn” and “pages and book jackets and microfilm and magazines crumpled and vanished.” She wrote that “steel shelves brightened from gray to white, as if illuminated from within. Soon, glistening and nearly molten, they glowed cherry red. Then they twisted and slumped, pitching their books into the fire.” Fifty of the 350 firefighters suffered from burns and smoke inhalation but recovered. Volunteers later salvaged some of the books.

In her book, Orlean wrote, “People have been burning libraries for nearly as long as they’ve been building libraries.” She delves into why, noting that “war is the greatest slayer of libraries” and “World War II destroyed more books and libraries than any event in human history.” She described destroying a library as a kind of terrorism.

At the dinner, she elaborated on the destruction of cultures and shared memories. 

“People burn libraries for the same reason that we love libraries,” she said. “They mean something more than the simple sum of their parts. They’re not just warehouses filled with books. They represent something that feels like part of a community. And in that sense, they have unfortunately been the target over the course of history of people who are making a statement about destroying community.”

The book also delves into another issue Lewis County commissioners are grappling with — homelessness. Among people waiting each morning for the library doors to open are parents, students, business leaders, scholars, readers, and the homeless, she said, “who rushed straight to the bathrooms and then made a beeline to the computer center.”

“Libraries have become a de facto community center for the homeless across the globe,” she wrote, noting that media attention to terrible conditions in psychiatric hospitals, development of antipsychotic drugs, and President Ronald Reagan’s cutbacks in funding for mental health led to the discharge of many patients who had no homes of their own. The Great Recession and foreclosures added to the ranks of the homeless, she said. “By 2009, more than 1.5 million people in the United States met the federal definition of homeless.”

In 2017, she said, LA had nearly 60,000 homeless people, second only to New York. 

And, in many cities, especially during times of trouble, she said, libraries provide sanctuaries.

“Often, at the library, society’s problems are magnified,” she wrote. “Homelessness and drug use and mental illness are problems you see in every public place in Los Angeles. One difference is that if you see a mentally ill person on the street, you can cross to the other side. In a library, you share a smaller and more intimate space.”

But their roles as community centers provide opportunities, too, as places to direct people to resources they may need. 

Orlean noted that “public libraries in the United States outnumber McDonald’s” restaurants, with 17,078 public libraries and bookmobiles visited by nearly 300 million Americans each year. She also addressed the growth in Little Free Libraries — where people can borrow and leave books for neighbors to read — such as those in Toledo’s Steamboat Alley and outside Gorham Printing in Centralia. Worldwide, 320,000 libraries serve hundreds of millions of people. She even discussed OverDrive, which was founded in 1986 and provides ebooks loaned through libraries.

I’m sorry to see Morton voters exit the Timberland Regional Library System, but I understand completely as they wanted a library that never materialized. As Orlean’s book illustrates, a library is central to a community.

•••

Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.

From Competing Internationally to Coaching Roller Hockey in His Hometown: Devon Taylor's Journey on Roller Skates

Having recently returned from competing in the World Roller Games at the World Skate Games 2022 in Argentina just a few weeks ago for Team USA’s roller hockey team, Centralian Devon Taylor is now coaching kids in his hometown in the same sport he loves to play. 

The Chronicle sat down with Taylor, 19, and his mother, Jennifer Locy, to talk about their experiences traveling abroad, the surprising popularity of roller hockey internationally and the roller hockey club Taylor now helps coach at the Centralia Rollerdrome. 

 

When a Sport Takes You Places

Argentina is not the first county Taylor has visited to represent Team USA and compete against other international teams or train. Since roller hockey isn’t wildly popular in the U.S., it makes it difficult to train as international professionals don’t visit often.  

“In March I went and I trained in Spain for two months to learn from some of the best players in the world and get as much practice as we could,” Taylor said. “Here we’ll practice as a team probably twice a week and I’ll practice individually maybe four times (a week), but over there they’ll have maybe four or five days a week where they practice as a team. They have multiple divisions, so it’s 10, 20, 30 kids your age, all practicing together. So it’s huge in helping me grow.”

Locy said the training camp was about an hour north from Barcelona.

“Like he said, they learned from some of the best. Little skills that aren’t necessarily taught here, even like which way to point your stick when on defense,” Locy said. 

They added that it had been surprising to see just how much bigger roller hockey is internationally compared to its popularity in the U.S. This is most evident in where the sport is played. In America, athletes have to find a roller skating rink  that remains open and that will be it — no bleachers for fans or an official scoreboard. 

Overseas, athletes play in arenas. 

“Everywhere else I’ve been for hockey they have hockey arenas. We obviously play here and it’s just a skating rink, but it’s not like that there. They don’t just do skating for fun, they just do hockey,” Taylor said. 

The practice was needed to help compete internationally as Team USA doesn’t afford the same amount of funding to its roller hockey team as other countries do, meaning the team itself can’t practice together as often as other teams. 

“A lot of these other national teams, they’re either from smaller countries where the whole team pretty much lives in one city or they have better funding. I know like Colombia and Chile, I’m pretty sure they usually fly to the location of the tournament like a month prior, whether it’s the men’s or the women’s or the juniors, and they train together,” Taylor said. 

The next roller hockey tournament Team USA plans on competing will be in Italy in 2024, and Taylor added there are plans to try to have the team meet up in Colorado before for full team practices. 

“If we go through with that I think we could do a lot better,” Taylor said. 

At the most recent tournament in Argentina, Team USA dominated its division, though it was a lower division. The team defeated other international teams from Egypt, Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand. Aside from winning the Challengers Cup, the team earned the opportunity to move up to a higher division at the next tournament. 

“It was crazy to win the whole division. We got a lot of popularity from that and just being able to hold the trophy up as a team and celebrate was an amazing  feeling,” Taylor said. 

Despite being far from local, Taylor and his teammates were adored by the locals who loved the sport, with fans even cheering for them in the streets. 

“They would walk down the streets and people would just start yelling ‘USA USA’, just going out and getting dinner. USA is big there even though they were in the lower division, they love USA players,” Locy said. 

Strangers would walk up to them at restaurants to ask to take pictures with them. 

“San Juan is the biggest place for roller hockey in the world. Going there and being part of a national team you feel like a celebrity,” Taylor said. 

For Locy, it was also a point of pride to see her son compete for Team USA. 

“Seeing your son in USA gear and hearing the national anthem, you get emotional,” Locy said. 

She added that even just being with the team in Argentina people would ask for her autograph too, though she would just sign it as “team mom.” 

This was the first time Taylor had played on the adult team, as he recently became too old to play for the juniors team. 

Seeing the popularity the sport already has abroad, Taylor is now aiming to grow its popularity in the United States.

 

The Centralia Sharks

In October, Taylor helped bring back the Centralia Sharks, a local roller hockey club that meets every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 at the Centralia Rollerdrome for practice sessions. The club was forced to stop holding practices during COVID-19 but Taylor, along with Team USA teammate and Centralian Corbin Gross and Team USA coach Brian Stallman, restarted it. 

They hope to help foster the sport’s popularity locally and get more kids playing it at a younger age. 

Locy explained that she had Taylor in skates by the time he was 1 year old, but he didn’t start actually playing roller hockey until he was around 11 years old. 

“I started at around 10 or 11 years old, which in terms of all the other countries that’s pretty late. They’ll start kids out playing hockey at around 3 years old,” Taylor said. 

As a child, he excelled at speed skating and won seven gold medals in tournaments by the  time he was 5 years old. His speed is what helped him catch up with other hockey players despite not having actually played the sport as long as they had. 

“I’m known as one of the faster players,” Taylor said. 

Taylor wanted to help kids interested in the sport here learn the fundamentals faster. 

At this past Saturday’s practice, 10 kids participated and were split up into two groups based on skill level. The two-hour practice session featured drills on passing, dribbling and shooting and ended with a four-on-four scrimmage game. 

“If we install the good habits we have learned playing out of the country and get rid of all of the bad ones, they should be able to compete with the rest of the world in the next 10 years hopefully,” Taylor said. 

He added that a lot of the kids hope to be able to play internationally like he has and ask him what it’s like overseas. 

The Centralia Sharks club is for children ages 6 to 16 and the club fee is $40 a month. For more information, email centraliasharks@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Lewis County Fire Commissioners Gather at Quarterly Meeting; Group Works to Support Local Services, Remind Public That 'Fire and EMS is 24/7'

At the quarterly meeting for the Lewis County Fire Commissioners Association, which includes representatives from every fire district in the county, the casual, wholesome feel of the night is reflected well by agenda line item E: “Thank the hosts for dinner.”

The meetings shift between various stations in Lewis County throughout the year, but the round of applause for the station’s cooks or caterers is sure to be remembered.  The most recent meeting was held Monday, Nov. 21.

After a leisurely dinner of brisket, prime rib, potatoes and other sides last week in Mossyrock’s fire station thanks to a catering business owned by Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse and the owners of the Adna Grocery Store, the room full of elected officials, volunteers, career firefighters and their guests sounded off.

As the county has 17 different fire districts, the meeting gives guests a chance to report on issues they’re facing and community service opportunities while breaking bread with the responders they typically only see on the scenes of fires or accidents.

Typically, according to Lewis County Fire District 3 Commissioner Marty Majors, the meeting includes Lewis County’s fire marshal, county manager and representatives from the sheriff’s office, who were all absent Monday. But representatives from the Board of County Commissioners, various fire districts and the Lewis County Fire Chief’s Association were present. 

The meetings are a roundtable review of projects that affect the entire county, such as updates on the county’s 911 call center, for which improvement funding has been set aside.

Majors described responding to calls along every 250 feet of U.S. Highway 12 that spans his fire district during his decades of service, recalling occasions where he “literally had to run up the hill” away from scenes to use his radio to call in help.

While the call center didn’t make the cut for focus topic of the night, it fell in the same category. Commissioners and fire chiefs, especially Riverside Fire Authority’s Chief Mike Kytta spoke to the worry that there isn’t enough money to support fire and emergency services necessary in fast-growing Lewis County. The problem regionally was evidenced by several station closures announced by West Thurston Fire Authority last week after levy failures.

Kytta said Riverside Fire Authority, which is the county’s leading emergency response entity, often encounters people with the misunderstanding that when property taxes go up, the department’s budget automatically rises too. But no fire stations can collect more money without levies.

“When we did the budget, we came in somewhere under $60,000 of revenue,” Kytta said. “That doesn’t even keep up with any of the basic elements of inflation that are going to occur, but I feel the average citizen is going to look at that (recent assessment of property values) and think somehow that we just got rich.”

An upcoming edition of The Chronicle this week will include a more detailed story on levies and property taxes after a conversation with Kytta and a representative from the Fire Chief's Association.

Another topic of discussion during last week’s meeting was a brainstorming session on programs that would benefit the community. Riverside Fire Commissioner and former chief Richard Mack said the best kind of fire service is preventative, not reactive. Promoting timely updates on smoke detectors, he said, would be valuable. He suggested that with some association funding, firetrucks throughout Lewis County could be stocked with smoke detectors so that responding firefighters could install them in homes where detectors are missing or batteries are dead.

“What are the two things that rural districts struggle with? Early CPR and early fire prevention,” said association President Jim Martin, who serves as a commissioner for Lewis County Fire District 6. 

Martin added that in his opinion, Mack’s idea on smoke detectors aligned perfectly with the goals of the association and its efforts to support local services.

The next Lewis County Fire Chiefs Association meeting will be held on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis County Fire District 1 station in Onalaska.

When it was noted that the meeting would be taking place on Presidents Day, one attendee noted “Fire and EMS is 24/7,” which was met with many nods, and calls of “that’s right.”

 

 

 

Community Calendar: Santa Parade in Chehalis; Christmas on Magnolia; White Christmas at Evergreen Playhouse

To add upcoming events to the Community Calendar, email reporter Matthew Zylstra at matthew@chronline.com.

 

Newaukum Golf Course Weekly Bingo

Nov. 29 at the Newaukum Golf Course, 153 Newaukum Golf Drive, Chehalis; 5:30 to 7 p.m.

This is a free event at the Newaukum Golf Course.

 

Centralia College Jazz Ensemble

Nov. 30 at the Corbet Theatre, 600 Centralia College Blvd., Centralia; 7 p.m.

This is a free event.

 

The Shed Christmas Market

Dec. 1, 2 and 3 at The Shed, 516 Spooner Road, Chehalis

The Christmas market will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. To reach The Shed, take Exit 77 on Interstate 5 and head west on state Route 6 for about 7 miles before turning right on Spooner Road and follow the signs to The Shed. 

 

Craft Bazaar

Dec. 2 and 3 at Moonstang Creations, 569 Twin Oaks Road, Chehalis; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is no fee for this event. 

 

2022 Mossyrock Garden Club Look-A-Rama

Dec. 2 and 3 at Mossyrock Grange Hall, 152 Isbell Road, Mossyrock

The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. The event will feature toys, crafts, poinsettias, candy and baked goods, custom wreaths, swags and arrangements, a silent auction and a raffle. A luncheon will be served on both days. Free cake and coffee will be available. Proceeds go to benefit the Mossyrock High School Scholarship Program. 

 

Merry Christmas Bazaar

Dec. 2 and 3 at the Onalaska Fire Hall, 1733 state Route 508, Onalaska

The bazaar will be held on Dec. 2 from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 with Santa making an appearance from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Santa appearing from noon to 3 p.m. Food vendors, handmade soap and candles, baked goods and more will be available. A soup and sandwich lunch will be available as well. 

 

Acoustic Music Jam

Dec. 2 at the Faith Baptist Church, 436 Coal Creek Road, Chehalis; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

This event is sponsored by the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association and is open to acoustic musicians of all ages and abilities. The event features all kinds of old time, bluegrass, Celtic, Scandinavian, Cajun and other music genres. The jam is free and open to the public and one does not need to be a member to attend. 

 

Best Life Massage Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting

Dec. 2 at Best Life Massage, N. National Ave., Suite #11, Chehalis; 11 a.m.

The Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce is holding a grand opening ribbon cutting for Life Massage. As part of the event, there will be refreshments and a raffle drawing for two massages.

 

Beers For Deer

Dec. 2 at Dick’s Brewery, 3516 Galvin Road, Centralia; 5:30 p.m.

The Mule Deer Foundation’s Chehalis Valley Blacktail Chapter is hosting this event. 

 

Dueling Pianos

Dec. 2 at The Loft, 547 NW Pacific Ave., Chehalis; 6 p.m.

The Adaline Coffman Guild for Seattle Children’s Hospital will present the event to benefit uncompensated care. Individual tickets are $100, while tickets for a table of eight are $1,000. Sponsorship packets are available starting at $500.

 

Christmas on Magnolia

Dec. 2 and 3 at the Lewis and Clark Event Center, 117 W. Magnolia St., Centralia

This event will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. Centralia’s Christmas Market will include artisans offering hand-thrown pottery, woodwork, jewelry, textiles, organic goods, live music and more. 

 

White Christmas

Dec. 2, 3, 9, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4,10, 11 and 18 at 2 p.m.; at The Evergreen Playhouse, 226 W. Center St., Centralia; 7:30 p.m.

The Evergreen Playhouse presents White Christmas. Adult tickets are $18 while tickets for students and seniors are $15. 

 

Boistfort Lions Club Walk N’ Knock

Dec. 3 at the Boistfort; 10 a.m.

Volunteers will go to houses on routes and pick up food and donations and take them to the food bank. For more information on how to volunteer, call 360-269-2079.

 

Breakfast With Santa

Dec. 3 at the Moose Family Center, 1400 Grand Ave., Centralia; 8 to 11 a.m.

Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, apple sauce, juice, coffee and hot chocolate will be served at this fundraiser for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Santa will arrive at 8:30 a.m. Suggested donation for adults is $7, children ages 4 through 12, $4. Free for kids under 3-years-old. Wreaths for sale by Lewis County Work Opportunities. Bring your own camera. 

 

Friends of the Chehalis Library Annual Book Sale

Dec. 3 at the Vernetta Smith Timberland Library, 400 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Friends of the Chehalis Library is hosting its annual book sale after the Santa Parade. Books of all genres and for all ages will be available. All proceeds from this sale are given to the library and fund programs throughout the year. Specially designed high quality cloth book bags will also be available for purchase. 

 

Holiday Charity Bazaar

Dec. 3 at the Centralia Community Church of God, 3320 Borst Ave., Centralia; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please use the east entrance near the gym. Proceeds support Health and Hope Medical Clinic.

 

Salkum Community Quilters Holiday Bazaar

Dec. 3 at the Salkum Fire Hall, 2495 Highway 12, Salkum; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $7.50 and will include either razor clam chowder or potato soup as well as garlic bread, dessert and coffee or juice. Baked goods, holiday items, home crafted items, fabrics, collectibles, quilted items, specialty gift items, sewing machines and viking embroidery machines will be available. This event is sponsored by the Salkum Community Quilters. For more information, call Pat Conley at 360-985-0813.

 

Black Lake Bible Camp Christmas Extravaganza

Dec. 3 at the Black Lake Bible Camp, 6521 Fairview Road, Olympia; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Holiday bazaar and childrens’ carnival.

 

72nd Annual Santa Parade

Dec. 3 in Downtown Chehalis; 11 a.m.

The theme of the parade will be “The Night Before Christmas.” The Grand Marshal will be Riverside Fire Authority Chief Michael Kytta. 

 

Christmas Movie Classics

Dec. 3 at McFiler’s Chehalis Theater, 558 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis; 12 p.m.

“Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” will be shown at McFiler’s Chehalis Theater during this free movie event. Free popcorn will be served and attendees can wear Christmas pajamas. Lunch specials for kids, soft drinks, food and beverages will be available for purchase. 

 

Elf on the Shelf: Downtown Chehalis

Dec. 3 in Downtown Chehalis; 2 to 4 p.m.

After the Santa Parade people can get get pictures with a living elf at participating shops in Downtown Chehalis. The elf will be at Book ‘n Brush at 2 p.m., Bartel’s at 2:30 p.m., Totally Pawsome at 3 p.m. and Brusnwig’s at 3:30 p.m.

 

Pulled Pork and Bingo Night

Dec. 3 at Trinity Rebekah Lodge, 111 W. Washington St., Napavine; 4 to 6 p.m.

This event is sponsored by the Rebekahs and features drawings, prizes, raffles and snacks. Dinner is $15 and bingo is $10. Each additional playing pack is $5. 

 

Westminster Bells Christmas Celebration

Dec. 3 and 4 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 349 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis and Harrison Square Presbyterian Church, 1227 Harrison Ave., Centralia. 

The Westminster Bells will be performing a concert. This is the 34th season the Westminster Bells has performed concerts, and its first since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The concerts will be on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Chehalis and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at Harrison Square Presbyterian Church in Centralia. 

 

Twin City Senior Center Tai Ji Quan

Dec. 5 at Twin City Senior Center, 2545 N. National Ave., Chehalis; 10 to 11 a.m.

This is a free introductory class for Tai Ji Quan. The class will focus on eight forms from the Tai Ji Quan program that will help build core muscles to promote balance. The program helps individuals stand up more easily from a chair, shift balance from foot to foot and step backwards with ease. 

 

Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra

Dec. 5 at the Corbet Theatre, 600 Centralia College Blvd., Centralia; 7 p.m.

This is a free event. The concert will feature themes from movies such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Polar Express” and “Jurassic Park.” There will also be traditional Christmas music. The Westminster Bells will also perform. 

 

Newaukum Golf Course Weekly Bingo

Dec. 6 at the Newaukum Golf Course, 153 Newaukum Golf Drive, Chehalis; 5:30 to 7 p.m.

This is a free event at the Newaukum Golf Course.

 

Southwest Washington Mycological Society Membership Meeting

Dec. 6 at the WSU Extension Office, 17 SW Cascade St., Chehalis; 6 p.m.

The Mushroom Club is holding a membership meeting at the WSU Extension office. This is a great opportunity to pay dues for the next year. Attendees are encouraged to bring mushrooms ground around their home to be identified. 

 

Twin City Senior Center Tai Ji Quan

Dec. 7 at Twin City Senior Center, 2545 N. National Ave., Chehalis; 10 to 11 a.m.

This is a free introductory class for Tai Ji Quan. 

Voetberg Family Christmas

Dec. 8, 9 and 10 at the Historic Liberty Theater, 413 N. Tower Ave., Centralia

The Voetberg family is hosting a Voetberg Family Christmas on Dec. 8, 9 and 10 with special guest Hanneke Cassel. The event will be held at the Historic Liberty Theater at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 9 and at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the event will be at  2 p.m. Tickets are $10. Lap sitters are free. Tickets are sold at Fiddlers Coffee and at brownpapertickets.com.

 

Adna Grange’s Annual Breakfast with Santa

Dec. 10 at the Adna Grange, 123 Dieckman Road, Adna; 9 to 11:30 a.m.

The breakfast will have scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, fruit cups, juice and coffee. The entrance fee is $6 for all ages. Kids meals include a bag of goodies, a visit with Santa and a make-and-take craft. 

 

Holiday Market

Dec. 10 at Jester Auto Museum, 321 Hamilton Road, Chehalis; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Santa will be available for families to come take free photos with him from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Over 50 vendors will be present. 

 

Holiday Market

Dec. 10 at the Nature Nurture Farmacy, 176 NE School St., Chehalis; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Artists, crafters, bakers and makers of all kinds will be present selling unique gifts for the holidays.

 

Make the Yuletide Gay Community Celebration

Dec. 11 at McFilers Chehalis Theater, 558 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hosted by Sophia Zha Ji Sinclair, the event will include live performances. Holiday sweaters are encouraged. There will be free bingo with community prizes. $20 for endless brunch with the first drink included. 

 

Newaukum Golf Course Weekly Bingo

Dec. 13 at the Newaukum Golf Course, 153 Newaukum Golf Dr., Chehalis; 5:30 to 7 p.m.

This is a free event at the Newaukum Golf Course.

 

Cascade Community Healthcare Legislative and Governmental Forum

Dec. 14; 3 to 5:30 p.m.

Local social service agencies serving Lewis County in mental health, substance use and housing will have the opportunity to address a panel consisting of legislators from the 19th and 20th legislative districts and local government officials. Agencies will have time to inform the panelists about their work and the need for their continued support. The forum is open to the public. The event will be in-person and will stream on multiple platforms. 

 

Free Lacrosse Clinic

Dec. 15 at NW Sports Hub, 701 Allen Ave., Centralia; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Free lacrosse clinic for children in first through eighth grade. 

 

Southwest Washington Dance 25th Anniversary Nutcracker 

Dec. 15, 16, 17 and 18 at the Corbet Theatre, 600 Centralia College Blvd., Centralia

The Nutcracker will be performed at Centralia College’s Corbet Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1 and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $24 for adults and $16 for children, seniors and military members. Tickets are available online at www.swwdance.org. After Dec. 11 tickets are also available at the Corbet Theatre Box Office from 2 to 7 p.m. The Thursday, Dec. 15 showing is a “pay what you can” showing with tickets being sold at the box office beginning at 6 p.m.

In Focus: 'Santa's Grinchy Train' Launches at the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum Depot

The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum’s (CCRM) stationary holiday train event, “Santa’s Grinchy Train,” opened at the depot on Saturday. There will be shows at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 18. 

Passengers are invited to sing holiday songs and enjoy candy canes, cocoa and cookies while kids write letters to give to Santa, who will be strolling through the decorated 1920s passenger coach. 

Those with a watchful eye could see the Grinch lingering nearby “to try and steal your fun away,” according to the news release. 

Santa and the Grinch will be available for photos at the depot, located at 1101 Southwest Sylvenus St. in Chehalis, next to the Veterans Memorial Museum off of Interstate 5 at Exit 77. 

Tickets, available online at https://steamtrainride.com/santa-train-ride/, are $16 each, with kids 2-years-old and under riding free. Attendees are asked to arrive half an hour prior to the start time. Free parking is available.

The event is a fundraiser for CCRM as it works to finish repairing the mile of track that sustained flood damage in January and reapplies for the full insurance coverage needed to resume passenger rail excursions. 

Lewis and Thurston County Roundup: A Look at Public Disclosure Commission Complaints Filed This Election Cycle

While county officials prepare to certify election results Tuesday, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) continues to investigate complaints it received throughout the election cycle and is still receiving. 

Statewide, hundreds of complaints have been received over the past year, and six of them still under investigation revolve around candidates here in Lewis and Thurston Counties. 

Here’s a roundup of potential violations still unresolved as of Monday: 

 

PUD Commissioner Candidate Mike Hadaller

Lewis County PUD District #3 Commissioner candidate Mike Hadaller, who appears to have defeated opponent Kevin Emerson, had a complaint filed against him on Oct. 24.

The allegations claim Hadaller exceeded mini reporting campaign finance limitations, failed to update and register his campaign for full reporting on campaign finances and failed to timely and accurately report campaign contributions and expenditures. The complaint also included receipts from local agencies, including The Chronicle, showing just how much Hadaller had been spending.  

If a candidate chooses mini reporting they are not to exceed a $5,000 limit for campaign expenditures. Should a candidate choose mini reporting, they are also not required by state law to submit C3 or C4 campaign finance reports to the PDC. 

C3 reports are for tracking bank deposits and are to be completed weekly while C4s are snapshots of the campaign’s total finances at the given time. C4 reports need to be submitted on the 10th of each month and seven days before the election in which the campaign is in takes place and the 10th of the first month after the election, according to the PDC’s website, https://www.pdc.wa.gov/registration-reporting/forms-reports-directory.

The complaint alleges he has spent more than double that amount on campaign advertising and hasn’t been filing C3 or C4 forms. The PDC’s deadline for changing from mini to full reporting was Aug. 3, according to the PDC website. 

Hadaller told The Chronicle he has been in contact with the PDC and is in the process of properly reporting his campaign’s finances with an accountant and as of Oct. 28 was in the process of submitting campaign financial reports. 

“I’m getting it all reported. I’m about two minutes away from the accountant’s office right now with the last of the paperwork and it will all be reported today,” Hadaller said last month. 

His campaign sent an official response to the PDC’s complaint in which it stated Hadaller thought that mini reporting would have been sufficient.

“This is our first experience doing this and (we) were unaware of how involved it is in relation to the cost expenditures that were incurred. Mike was quite sure that the $5,000 would be more than sufficient in the beginning,” read an excerpt from the Oct. 26 email.

The complaint, along with Hadaller’s response, can be viewed online at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/113464.

Hadaller’s campaign finance reporting data can be found at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/political-disclosure-reporting-data/browse-search-data/candidates/634606

As far as the election results go, Hadaller is currently leading his opponent, Kevin Emerson, in the vote count with 53.06% of the vote to Emerson’s 46.35% as of the morning of Nov. 28. 

 

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza

While two complaints filed against incumbent Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza concerning his campaign’s finances have been closed with written warnings, one complaint remains that was filed on Oct. 20.

It alleged that Snaza authorized the misuse of a public agency by starting an internal agency investigation against the candidate running against him for Thurston County sheriff, Derek Sanders. 

Sanders currently serves under John Snaza in the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO). In an Oct. 24 letter to the PDC, he addressed the allegations directly. 

“In July 2022, an allegation of a policy violation was brought forth by members of the TCSO against Deputy Derek Sanders. Deputy Sanders is an employee of TCSO and is subject to the policies of TCSO that are a condition of his employment. This allegation was brought forth by members of his own bargaining unit and was not brought forth by the administration. This internal investigation was handled in complete accordance with TCSO policy and procedures. At no time did I have influence or involvement in this investigation, and this was not done for political gain. The investigation was handled by Sgt. Casebolt of our Office of Professional Standards who reports directly to Undersheriff Brady. The allegations brought forth by Ms. Genson in this PDC complaint are not accurate or factual and no TCSO resources were used for my political campaign,” said John Snaza. 

The complaint, along with John Snaza’s response, can be viewed online at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/113372.

John Snaza’s campaign was contacted by The Chronicle for additional comments but no response was given. 

Currently, he is trailing his challenger, Sanders, in the vote count with 44.21% of the vote to Sanders’ 55.28% as of the morning of Nov. 28. 

 

Lewis County Assessor Candidate Tom Crowson

Back in Lewis County, another candidate who has a complaint filed against them is Tom Crowson, who ran for Lewis County assessor.

Filed on Sept. 27, the complaint alleges Crowson committed campaigning violations by using a public office and agency facilities to both assist his own campaign and promote a ballot proposition. 

Crowson reached out to The Chronicle to address the allegations. 

The first incident occurred when Crowson approached Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope at the Lewis County Courthouse asking him for a campaign endorsement, according to the PDC complaint. Crowson claimed that never happened on county property, but instead at Bethel Church. 

“I would say ‘hello’ to him in the county administration building but I’m well aware of what you’re supposed to do and not supposed to do. I did ask for his endorsement, but it was not in the county admin building” Crowson said. 

The other allegation revolved around an incident following the end of a Board of Equalization meeting where Crowson allegedly advocated for gathering signatures in support of a ballot initiative affecting property taxes. The Board of Equalization hears appeals on property assessments and Crowson was on it.

“I was the chairman of the Board of Equalization and a lot of times when we would rule against the assessor’s office they would take it personally and 99% of the time send the case to state and state has a backup of almost three years so we would see the same appellant for one, two, maybe even three years in a row,” said Crowson.

One such appellant was at a board meeting where Crowson’s opponent, Ross Nielson, was also present. According to Crowson, the appellant, an elderly woman, stayed after the meeting to talk to the board members as she was worried about not being able to pay property taxes if they kept increasing. She did not qualify for the senior exemption. 

Crowson claimed all he did was inform the woman of the initiative’s existence. 

“I mentioned to her asking if she knew about the initiative. I think I told her it was I-509 but it’s actually I-1509. I didn’t ask her to sign anything. I had a copy of the initiative in my briefcase and I didn’t take it out and say ‘you need to sign this because it will be helpful and good for you.’ I just made her aware of it,” Crowson said. 

“At the same time the assessor’s office was there and they were remarking on it too,” he added. 

I-1509 is an act that if passed would exempt a portion of the valuation of real property from property taxation. It can be read online at https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/initiatives/finaltext_2690.pdf.

Crowson added he believed both allegations in the complaint were only made to damage his campaign, as Nielson was also present at the Board of Equalization meeting. 

The complaint, along with an additional written response from Crowson, can be viewed online here, https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/112611.

Crowson is currently trailing his opponent, Nielson, in the vote count with 45.74% of the vote to Nielson’s 52.72% as of the morning of Nov. 28. 

 

Tracy Murphy, Harry Bagwandin and Mike Hadaller complaints

Just over a week after the election on Nov. 16, three complaints were filed based on Lewis County News coverage of sheriff candidate Tracy Murphy, county commissioner candidate Harry O. Bhagwandin and PUD District #3 commissioner candidate Mike Hadaller.

Elizabeth Rohr, a Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Advisory Board member, believed that both articles and letters to the editor published in Lewis County News showed bias toward certain candidates in the three races covered by the complaints. In Rohr’s letter to the PDC, she called for transparency in the paper’s funding. 

“Articles and letters to the editor show a pattern of promoting selected candidates for public office, Mike Hadaller, Tracy Murphy and Harry Bhagwandin, without disclosure of who paid for the articles and advertisements, and through mass communication promotes people to vote only for these candidates. Opposing candidates and their events are not published,” said Rohr. “Public trust in journalism is violated because we don't know what political committees or sponsors are paying or asking for these articles and ads.” 

So far, Lewis County News has yet to respond to the PDC complaints. Murphy’s complaint can be found at, https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/114226, Hadaller’s at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/114224 and Bhagwandin’s at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases/114223.

Hadaller is ahead of his opponent in the vote count, but both Murphy and Bhagwandin currently trail with Murphy losing to incumbent Sheriff Rob Snaza with 45.87% of the vote to Rob Snaza’s 53.39%. Bhagwandin trails his opponent, Scott Brummer, 40.32% to 58.66%. 

In Thurston County, Travis Couture, candidate for 35th District representative, and incumbent Thurston County Assessor Steven Drew both have PDC complaints open against them that are still under investigation. 

All complaints mentioned in this story are still under PDC investigation. The full list of PDC complaints for candidates statewide this election can be viewed online at https://www.pdc.wa.gov/rules-enforcement/enforcement/enforcement-cases

It should be noted that this list includes both open investigations as well as closed cases dating all the way back to 2015. This article is only focused on the ones still in the assessment of facts phase. 

NYT Politics

White House Weighs How Forcefully to Support Protesters in China
Author: David E. Sanger
The demonstrations over Covid lockdowns present a challenge for President Biden, who has insisted he will call out abuses by authoritarian governments.
Was Election Denial Just a Passing Threat?
Author: Blake Hounshell
Or is it here to stay?

Columbian Newspaper

Camas City Council divided over taxes
Author: Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record

When it comes to collecting revenues that help fund the city’s basic services, the Camas City Council is a house divided.

Council members split their revenue-related votes on Nov. 21 — knocking down a 1 percent increase to the city’s property tax levy for the general fund, while approving a 1 percent increase on the city’s property tax levy that funds the city’s emergency medical services as well as a new, 2 percent tax on the city’s water, stormwater, sewer and solid waste utilities.

City staff have warned city officials for several months that, without increasing and diversifying its revenues, the city faces a structural deficit — when its baseline expenditures are greater than its revenues — within the next few years.

The 1 percent increase to the property tax levy that funds the city’s fire, police, parks, library, streets, cemetery, court and community development services, would have collected an additional $143,097 in 2023, and cost the owner of a $624,000 house an additional $14 a year, or around $1.17 a month.

The council voted 4-3 against the 1 percent property tax increase for the city’s general fund, with Councilmembers Don Chaney, Tim Hein, Leslie Lewallen and John Nohr voting against the increase.

City officials could “bank” the 1 percent increase and impose it at a later time, but city finance director Cathy Huber Nickerson has warned that forgoing the annual increase means the city will miss out on the “compounding” effect connected to the annual increase on the city’s tax levy amount.

“When you look at 10 years, that’s $700,000 to $800,000 that you’ve lost and can never recover,” Huber Nickerson told the Council on Nov. 7. “That’s one (full-time employee), or up to seven or eight (full-time employees) that you’ve lost, if you go out 10 years … I strongly encourage you to consider that lost opportunity.”

Though they knocked down the annual 1 percent increase to the city’s property levy for general fund services, council members voted 6-1, with Lewallen the sole “no” vote, in favor of a 1 percent increase on the city’s property tax levy to funds emergency medical services in Camas. This increase will collect an additional $24,635 in 2023, and cost the average Camas homeowner less than $3 a year.

The council also split its vote on a proposed 2 percent tax on the city’s water, sewer, solid waste and stormwater utilities that would add an additional $1,051,119 to the city’s general fund over the 2023-24 biennium and cost a typical Camas family with a bimonthly utility bill of $356 an additional $3.56 a month. The council approved the new 2 percent utility tax in a 4-3 vote — Chaney, Hein and Lewallen voted against the tax — and set conditions that rebates and exceptions be given to qualifying low-income residents, and that the new tax will “sunset” or end with the creation of a regional fire authority or by Dec. 31, 2024, whichever comes first.

The public hearings on the three tax increases drew a larger-than-normal crowd to the council’s regular meeting Nov. 21, with many in attendance urging the council to vote down the tax increases, saying the taxes — which, combined, would have cost the average Camas homeowner around $5 a month — would harm city residents.

Pence calls on Trump to apologize for dinner with antisemite
Author: JILL COLVIN, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said Donald Trump “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment” and called on him to apologize after the former president had dinner last week with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West days after launching his third campaign for the White House.

“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and Holocaust denier, a seat at the table and I think he should apologize for it. And he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification,” Pence said in an interview with NewsNation’s Leland Vittert airing Monday night.

Still, Pence, who is considering his own potential run against his former boss, said he does not believe Trump is antisemitic or racist and said he would not have served as Trump’s vice president if he was.

“But I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table and as I said, I think he should apologize for it,” he added. “He should denounce them without qualification.”

Trump had dinner last Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago club with West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist with a long history of antisemitic and white nationalist commentary.

Trump has said that he had “never met and knew nothing about” Fuentes, who had accompanied Ye, before the meeting. But he has so far refused to acknowledge or denounce the positions of ether Fuentes or Ye, who has made his own series of antisemitic comments in recent weeks, leading to his suspension from social media platforms and the end of his ties with major companies like Adidas.

The meeting has been criticized by Jewish groups like the Zionist Organization of America, which honored Trump just two days before his campaign launch, Trump’s former ambassador to Israel, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential Trump 2024 rival, who has become an outspoken Trump critic.

“This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024,” Christie told The New York Times.

On Saturday, Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another potential 2024 rival, denounced antisemitism as “a cancer,” without directly referencing the dinner or the president under whom he served.

But other top Republicans, including many considering challenging Trump for the GOP nomination, have so far remained silent, underscoring the hold Trump maintains over the party, even as he has been blamed for their worse-than-expected showing during the midterm elections.

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