Serving Whitman County since 1877

Bulletin column

These reports are from the previous four issues of the Daily Bulletin in Colfax. They are reprinted here for the benefit of Gazette readers who reside outside of Colfax. Some accounts have been updated.



Colfax fire crews Saturday responded to a report of a vehicle fire at the William Skelton residence at 312 E. Thorn Street. When crews arrived on the scene the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

The burning vehicle was parked next to the residence, and fire crews were able to keep the blaze from spreading to the house. The vehicle, identified as a 2007 Jeep, was destroyed.


A 28-year-old resident of Galena, Ill., was stopped early Friday morning on Fairview Street after he was observed driving in an erratic manner. Officer Matt Malakowski reported the driver was unresponsive to preliminary questions after the stop.

The driver of the car, a 2002 Volkswagen, was asked to continue up Fairview hill to the hospital where he was admitted to the emergency room. A mental health examiner was called in from Pullman to examine the driver and determined he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The driver agreed to voluntary commitment to a state mental health treatment.

City Police are now attempting to determine ownership of the Volkswagen which had a covered vehicle identification number and spray painting over much of the body and the wheels.


Community Action Center received a permit April 23 for remodeling an apartment on 1007 S. Mill Street into a residential apartment. The house has been known as the Grady House.

The house for several years has been divided into apartments for CAC residential living, and occupants have been relocated during the construction period.

Marshall Magnum of Clarkston is the contractor on the project.


A 2012 Ford F 250 pickup truck driven by David Martin of Pullman was struck by a set of box springs Saturday afternoon on Highway 195 about eight and one-half miles south of Colfax. According to the Washington State Patrol report, Martin was driving northbound at 4:20 p.m. when the box spring, which was being hauled southbound by Levi J. Sullivan of Lewiston in a Dodge 1500 pickup, came loose and hit the front of the Ford truck in the northbound lane.

—Ronnie D. Thomas, DeMoines, was injured Friday night in a one-car accident along Highway 26 west of Dusty. According to the Washington State Patrol report, Thomas was driving a 2014 Nissan Altima eastbound at 11:20 p.m. when the car drifted to the right, went onto the gravel shoulder and up an embankment into a field. The accident site was at mile 109.5.

—Scott D. Neal, Lewiston, was unhurt Sunday night when the 2000 Chrysler van he was driving collided with a deer on Highway 195 near mile marker 59. According to the state patrol report, Neal was driving southbound at 8:30 p.m. when a deer ran onto the highway and collided with the van.


A July 20 trial date has been set for Michael Severns, 51, Potlatch, after he pleaded not guilty to four child pornography charges Friday in Whitman County Superior Court. Severns has been summoned to court after he was charged with one count of dealing in child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography on a computer which was assigned to him as an employee at Washington State University.

The investigation report alleges a detective who was able to monitor an on-line pornography sharing site traced the internet registration number to a computer assigned to Streit Hall food service.



Tara Walters, 32, St. John, was sentenced to five days in jail Friday in superior court after she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of harassment. Walters was credited with two days spent in jail after her arrest and ordered to go directly from the courtroom to serve the other three days.

The conviction evolved from a report of a Valentine’s day incident in which Walters and Michael Rose followed a vehicle out of St. John to a rural residence in the early hours of Feb. 14.

According to the arrest report, the people who were followed to their residence left to avoid a confrontation, but returned when they believed Walters and Rose were no longer there. Walters and Rose returned to the scene and a confrontation followed.

Walters was charged with threatening the alleged victims with a gun. Friday, she told the court the alleged victims discharged three blasts from a shotgun during the confrontation. She denied the contention that she threatened to return with a gun.

She was ordered to pay $700 in fines and fees plus $288 in restitution for damage sustained when Rose kicked a vehicle at the residence.


Drivers in a two-car accident Friday at the corner of Main and Upton were unhurt. According to the Colfax police report, Lisa Laughter, Moscow, stopped a Subaru Forester in the northbound lane at the Upton Street crosswalk. Kayla Err, Seattle, was driving a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta in the northbound lane behind the Subaru and was unable to stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision.


Opal Eunis Kennedy Garcia, 90, a native of Almota who was an elementary teacher at Sunnyside for several years, died April 20, 2015, in Bend, Ore., where she recently made her home. Her funeral was Friday in Sunnyside with burial at Lower Valley Memorial Gardens.

She was born Dec. 1, 1924, in Almota, to Pearl and Hazel (Cram) Kennedy. She attended Colfax schools and earned a bachelor’s degree in York, Neb., where she married Maximinio Garcia Aug. 27, 1951.

She was a member of the Sunnyside United Methodist Church, Kiwanis and the National Education Association.

Surviving are daughter, Lena Flores, Bend; one granddaughter; four-great-grandchildren; and a brother, Howard Kennedy (May), LaCrosse. She is preceded in death by her husband; a son, Max Lee; and a daughter, Lois Margaret.


A list of proposals for spending proceeds from a special motel and hotel tax was presented at the Colfax City Council session April 20. The tax funds derive from Best Western which is required to pay the tax because it has more than 30 rooms.

The two percent paid from Best Western proceeds is in addition to a two percent lodging tax which is paid by all lodging businesses in the state. City Administrator Mike Rizzitiello said the city now receives approximately $38,000 a year from the special tax and now has $120,000 in the fund.

The city administrator said the funds are required to be used to somehow enhance the visits to Colfax by the people who pay the tax as part of their motel bill.

The first suggestion was to use some of the city funds to help hire an executive director for arts and other Downtown Association projects. Rizzitiello noted the Chamber of Commerce and Avista have pledged to help fund staffing such a position.

One new proposal is to fund a parking and greenway development on the former railroad spur property which the city has acquired between Island and North streets.

The purchase of that property evolved from negotiations to acquire land still owned by the railroad along Railroad Ave. The purchase provided public title access to lots which have been developed by Scott Ackerman along the South Fork of the Palouse River.

Rizzitiello noted a greenway project could be part of a long range project to provide a pedestrian link from the Best Western to the downtown area of Colfax.

Among other suggested projects are improved signage, an art contest for painting walls of the river channel in a mode introduced last year by CHS ‘15 grad Kim Hinnenkamp, new holiday decorations, restoration of the Eells park fountain, grant funding for storefront improvements and special events like the farmers market, Concrete River Festival and the Christmas celebration.


County Treasurer Mark Clinton, who served more than 14 years as Colfax City Treasurer before he was elected unopposed to the county post last November, said he was never informed about a city request for state auditors to check out a fraud allegation while reviewing the city books for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mayor Todd Vanek April 20 , as part of a report on the audit process, told the city council the state audit team did not find any evidence of fraud in its review of the city books. The mayor said he had told members of the city’s finance committee earlier that the city had made the request which was based on reports submitted by Rizztiello and Candace Fisher, who was hired as finance director to replace Clinton.

Clinton said Tuesday he was never contacted by Rizzitiello, the mayor, finance director or any other staff member about any questions regarding the audit.

He has sent a request to the city seeking an explanation.


Ciaran Keogh, who was charged with delivery and possession of heroin in Pullman Jan. 3, 2013, officially graduated from drug court April 17 with an observance during the court’s law and motion day. Keogh, now 21, is now working as a fire department intern for the city of Olympia.

Among those attending Friday’s observance was Pullman Detective Scott Patrick who conducted the investigation three years ago when he received a report that Keogh, then a high school student, was selling heroin in Pullman. The investigation report in the case said Pullman police used an informant to make purchases of heroin from Keogh.

Keogh was admitted to drug court March 15, 2013. The program requires participants to undergo drug tests and participate in counseling and group sessions. As part of being allowed into the program, participants agree to admit the criminal charges and be convicted without a trial in the event they fail the drug court program.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dan LeBeau Friday rated Keogh as one of the top participants in the program. The former Pullman resident is among six participants to graduate from the program.

The three felony charges against Keogh were dismissed which means he emerges from the program without a criminal record.

The drug court to date has had 15 participants. Five have been terminated from the program and subsequently convicted. Most of the problems evolve from failure to refrain from using drugs.

Three others are still in the program and one of the participants is deceased.

Judge David Frazier said it was unusual for the arresting officer in a case to show up at a drug court graduation. He pointed out Keogh should have high regard for the investigation and arrest Patrick did three years ago.

“He probably saved your life,” the judge commented.

Windermere aids Family Promise

Windermere Real Estate/C-K Real Estate, with offices in Pullman and Moscow, has donated $1,500 to Family Promise of the Palouse through the Windermere Foundation. The Family Promise organization has affiliates in 41 states to provide support to children and their families in a homeless situation. Windermere Foundation has contributed over 28 million dollars towards improving lives for low-income and homeless families.

State Filing Week May 11-15

Campaign season in Washington soon will become official when candidates for public office file with election officials during the week of May 11-15.

Filing by mail opened April 27, but the more popular methods of filing for office, in-person or online, will take place during Filing Week. Depending on the office sought, candidates will file either with the Secretary of State’s Election Office or with their county auditor/elections department.

Filings will be handled during normal office hours during Candidate Filing Week. Online filings will be accepted from 9 a.m., May 11, through 4 p.m., May 15. Filings by mail will be accepted through May 15. Applicable filing fees must accompany candidate filing.


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