Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Bulletin Column


August 2, 2018 | View PDF

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.


A fire early Tuesday morning gutted a house in the 300 block of S. Crosby in Tekoa. Firefighters responded to the fire at approximately 5:30 a.m. and were on the scene for about four hours.

Tekoa Chief Donavon Chase said the house was destroyed. The woman who resided at the residence smelled smoke and was able to get out of the house unhurt.

Chase said 11 volunteers responded to the scene. The department consumed 24 air bottles during the battle, and Colfax volunteer Jim Krouse was dispatched at 7:30 a.m. to shuttle air bottles from Colfax to the Tekoa crew to use on their breathing equipment.

Heat from the fire damaged vinyl siding on the house on one side of the fire and roofing on the house on the other side, Chief Chase said.


County Auditor Eunice Coker reported Monday a supplementary ballot will be sent to residents in the town of Rosalia so they can cast votes on a Fire District 7 EMS levy proposal. The special ballot will be mailed after the auditor determined the EMS proposal should go to voters in the Town of Rosalia after voters approved a merger of the town fire department and rural fire district in the 2016 election.

Coker said the decision was made after a Rosalia resident called and asked why the EMS levy proposal was not on the primary ballot he received in town. She explained after voters in the fire district and the town approved the measure in the 2016 election, the auditor's office received no followup instruction to merge the two entities.

The auditor reported she checked with the county assessor’s office which had been notified of the 2016 merger approval and subsequently combined the district and town for tax levy statements.

The levy proposal asks voters' approval to continue the levy of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for six years beginning in 2019.

Coker said the supplementary ballots which will go to Rosalia will be marked so they can be separated and hand counted after they are returned.


Cody Rohrich, 26, and Deeanna Koker, 35, both of Colfax, were arrested late Friday in Pullman and booked into the jail here on probable drug possession charges. They were allowed release on their own recognizance in a first appearance in court Monday.

According to the arrest report, Deputy Michael Jordan observed Cara Zimmerman, also of Colfax, leaving the Pullman McDonald's on S. Grand at 9 p.m. Friday night. Zimmerman climbed into the back of a white Chevrolet Suburban allegedly driven by Koker. Jordan reported he stopped the Suburban because he suspected Koker was driving with a suspended license and Zimmerman was sought on an arrest warrant.

During the stop, Rohrich, who was sitting in front on the passenger's side of the Suburban appeared to be digging at the floorboard of the van. Koker allowed a search of the vehicle and the report alleges a small plastic case was found with a pipe and two small, red pouches which contained methamphetamine.

Zimmerman, who was not arrested, was convicted of identity theft July 13 and sentenced to four months in jail. She was scheduled to begin her sentence Aug. 22. A warrant which had been issued for her arrest was dropped prior to resolution of the charge against her.


Friday's midnight swim at the Colfax pool brought out 165 swimmers. The swim was sponsored by Nielsen Insurance and Umpqua Bank, which paid the $400 rental fee for the pool and costs of lifeguard staffing. Admission was free.

Staff members from Nielsen and Umpqua were present Friday to participate. Colfax deejay Shawn Burt played music for the event.

Parks Director Steve Larkin reported Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op has agreed to sponsor a midnight swim Aug. 10. Larkin said he is also attempting to book sponsors for Aug. 17 and 24.

The pool can't be used this Friday because Colfax will host the big Knights of Columbus Jerry Cluckey Memorial meet Saturday, with four other league teams attending.

Colfax midnight swims have normally been been conducted as fundraising events that involved an admission charge.


Whitman County Commissioners have scheduled a hearing for Aug. 20 to receive comments for proposed amendments to a portion of county code on outdoor amusements and assemblies. Revision of the code was launched following the controversy related to the Weedstock gathering on property along Union Flat Creek April 21-23.

Weedstock, which reportedly had more than 800 people sign in, generated complaints from residents in the area and included arrests by deputies who patrolled Upper Union Flat Creek Road which was the route to the gathering.

Included in the aftermath was a Facebook posting by Dax Taylor, chief organizer of the event, threatening to sue because of what he said were losses sustained when sheriff's patrols were conducted outside of the event.

Taylor's posting noted "from day one, multiple groups in Whitman County treated us like uneducated potheads."

County Commissioner Art Swannack has been the primary person behind the rewrite of the ordinance. Swannack reported he started working on a rewrite in 2013, and it was later sidelined, but Weedstock brought back an urgency to get the job done.

"We discovered the county code didn't properly address public health and safety issues," Swannack reported. He added the aim is to write a better ordinance for the future without creating unnecessary regulations and red tape.

One change will be to require any gathering for a concert or amusement to obtain a permit to meet code requirements for safety and environmental health. The rewrite exempts family gatherings of 300 people or less.

The county's present code applies only to gatherings which require admission. That led to problems with Weedstock, which did not require admission. Participants in Weedstock were only required to “like” the 420 Union Facebook page to attend the event. The revision would require a permit regardless of whether or not admission is charged, according to Alan Thomson, county planner.

Time for the Aug. 20 hearing in the commissioners' chambers is 10:45 a.m.


Return of ballots for the Aug. 7 primary election totaled 1,973 as of Friday with more arriving this week at the elections office. The returns amount to just under nine percent of the 22,109 ballots that were mailed out at the end of last week.


Shane E. Floyd, 37, Spokane, was booked into the jail here early Monday morning on probable charges of theft, trafficking in stolen property and driving with a suspended license. Floyd was arrested after boxes of items and other products which were believed to be stolen from Walmart were found in the car he was driving.

The arrest report by Deputy Tim Cox said he first spotted a Volkswagen Jetta parked along Highway 195 near mile marker 51 north of Steptoe and found Floyd sleeping inside the car.

Cox left the scene after obtaining Floyd's name but later learned from dispatch that Floyd had a suspended license. Cox encountered the northbound Jetta again in the Rosalia area, stopped the car and arrested Floyd for driving with a suspended license. He noted several boxes of what was believed to be store items, and obtained a warrant to search the Jetta. Some of the boxed items appeared to have been shipped to Walmart.

The deputies contacted Walmart in Pullman and an inventory check noted items listed as being in stock were not in the store.

A check of surveillance videos showed a man wheeling items out of the store in a cart. Photos of the man were sent to Cox, and the man with the cart was allegedly identified as Floyd.

McGregor Co.

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