Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Bulletin Column


August 30, 2018 | View PDF

River construction: A backhoe cleans out rocks from the center channel of the concrete river Tuesday morning in Colfax.

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 and Rescue conducted its quarterly road-side cleanup Tuesday beginning at 6:30 p.m. along two miles of Highway 195. The department's section of road begins at about the Albion junction. Signage and flags were out to alert motorists to the clean-up effort.

The department usually conducts one of its highway clean-up sessions before the first WSU football game. Their efforts will remove litter before the influx of visiting traffic for the university and Palouse Empire Fair.


Monday's rainstorm dropped about two-tenths of an inch of rain, the first recordable amount during the entire month of August. According to the NRCS rain gauge, which is read once a day, 0.19 of an inch was recorded Monday and 0.02 was added during Tuesday's reading.

The only other precipitation noted for the month was a trace amount logged Aug. 17.

This still leaves Whitman County with about one-third of the average total precipitation for August. Average amount is 0.65 of an inch.


The Colfax School District began its 2018-19 school year Monday with an official student count of 553. The district had estimated in the summer a total of 550 for its annual budget, kindergarten through 12th-grade.

Last year's estimate was 562 students, with a final, actual total of 570.

The new estimate projected for 30 incoming kindergartners in the fall and the loss of 61.6 students, the number of seniors enrolled, monthly average, in 2017-18. The estimate of 30 kindergartners represents a smaller class size this year, compared to recent classes of around 40.

Kindergarten classes begin Thursday.

Estimates are made each summer to be sent to the state for budget allocation. Subsequent adjustments are then made during the year when actual numbers are available.

An open house will be held in Colfax Sept. 4 at the junior/senior high school (grades 7-12) from 6 until 7:30 p.m.


Tickets are now available for After Dark tours of the Perkins House which are being conducted by the Whitman County Historical Society. There are 11 tours currently available, beginning Oct. 25 through Halloween night.

"It's kind of a creepy house," said WCHS Executive Director Valoree Gregory, whose office is located in the Perkins House.

The flashlight tours will include telling of the history of the building and stories of things that have happened there. Gregory noted many neighbors have seen people in the windows of the old home.

Since there is no proof of paranormal inhabitants, the tours are being billed as "after dark" instead of ghost hunts.

One or two tours will be conducted per day leading up to All Hallows Eve. Gregory is also teaming up with Best Western during its murder mystery to host the tours and ghost hunts in a downtown Colfax building.

Tickets can be purchased on-line through the WCHS website.


Dr. Doug Hiller will be the featured speaker for the Colfax Chamber of Commerce annual meeting next Tuesday, Sept. 4. The meeting is set for 12 p.m. in the upstairs meeting area of Main Street Coffee and Kitchen at 203 N. Main Street.

Dr. Hiller has worked in Ironman and Olympic events. He will report on what is happening at Whitman Hospital and Medical Center.

The event is open to the public and RSVP is not required. Those attending are welcome to purchase lunch and beverages through Main Street Coffee and Kitchen before the meeting commences.


Vehicle crossings at Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, located at Snake River Mile 41.6 near Kahlotus, closed Tuesday, Aug. 28, and will remain so through Thursday, Sept. 6, to accommodate spillway maintenance activities involving workers and heavy equipment using the top of the dam, according to operations officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Walla Walla District.

The nearest bridge across the Snake River is located about eight miles northwest of Starbuck, on state Highway 261, between Lyons Ferry Marina and Lyons Ferry State Park, or on U.S. Highway 12 near Burbank.

Travelers can call 1-888-DAM-INFO (1-888-326-4636) for the most current dam-crossing information at all three of Walla Walla District's dams that allow public traffic to cross the Snake River: Lower Monumental, near Kahlotus; Little Goose, near Starbuck, and Lower Granite, near Pomeroy.


Justin Jorgens, 36, Pullman, was sentenced to 30 days in jail Friday after he pleaded guilty to a charge of malicious mischief in Whitman County Superior Court. Jorgens was arrested after Pullman police used a stun gun to hit him in the leg with a rubber bullet.

Jorgens reportedly was carrying a stick when they responded to a report of a man breaking out a window in the Riverview area of Pullman.

Jorgens was also originally charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing justice, but those charges were dropped under a plea bargain agreement.

Jorgens Friday told the court he was an alcoholic and the Aug. 4 episode happened when he resumed drinking after being sober all summer. He said he already has attended an AA meeting and plans to remain sober.

He was also ordered to pay $600 in fines and fees and refrain from drinking.

Deputy Prosecutor Merritt Decker said he will schedule a restitution hearing when the damages to the trailer are known. He said it is expected to be in the range of $2,500.


The former Taco Time in Colfax, which closed in July, began to serve customers again last week as a new entity. The operation is in the process of a soft opening.

When contacted by the Bulletin, the owners wished to issue the following statement:

"We are excited to announce the opening of CornerStone, LLB. We are located at 638 N. Main in the building that used to house Taco Time. We are in the process of a soft opening, but will announce the date of our grand opening soon. We are open at 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. We will be closed Sundays. Please come in and experience CornerStone, LLB with us."

The statement was signed the Lyndsey, Lybbert and Bergey families.


The Washington State Patrol announced a road closure due to a pole fire and downed power lines on Highway 26 at Milepost 109 near Guske Road Monday morning at 5:38 a.m., 23 miles west of Colfax.

The incident occurred at 5:21 a.m., fully blocking the road. The roadway was re-opened at 7:21 a.m.

Representatives from the Washington Department of Transportation and a utility company crew responded to the scene.

According to David Vowels, communications manager for Avista, an electrical short circuit occurred due to dirt and grime buildup on insulators, causing the fire. Two customers' power went out during the incident.


Anyone who may have gone to the Department of Vehicle/Vessel Licensing in Colfax Monday morning found it closed due to staffing issues. Eunice Coker, Whitman County Auditor, issued a notice last Friday on the matter.


Tanner A. Gatlin was sentenced Aug. 24 in superior court to three months in jail, with conditions, for theft in the second degree $750-$5,000 (not firearm or motor vehicle.)

Conditions for the sentence include complete DNA testing, which calls for Gatlin to have a biological sample collected; and for him to fully cooperate with testing; he is not to own or posses a firearm, unless right restored; is subject to random searches, and is required to surrender a concealed pistol license.


The Pullman Chapter of The League of Women Voters has announced it will register voters on the Terrell Mall on the campus of WSU Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The session will take place during Cougfest, an annual event put on by the Student Entertainment board at the beginning of the school year.


Inmates booked into Whitman County Jail over the weekend include Randy Lee Williams, 59, for driving under the influence Aug. 24, and Sky Conley Watters, 29, for driving without a license and driving under the influence Aug. 26. Watters also had a warrant from Clarkston Municipal Court for failure to appear.

--Charles Michael Terry, 38, was booked on Aug. 27 into the jail on charges of assault and municipal mischief.

--Ian Lee Moseley, 28, was taken in Aug. 26 for alleged assault and malicious mischief.

--Mandeep Kaur, 54, was booked Aug. 26 on charges of assault and custodial interference.

--Edward Dewane, 49, entered the jail Aug. 26 for conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance.


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