Pacific County Deputies assist commercial gillnet vessel with engine failure

South Bend, WA. – On August 25th at approximately 6:10 PM, the Sheriff’s Office received a request for assistance from the operator of a commercial gillnetting vessel that had experienced engine failure. The vessel was forced to anchor in Willapa Bay near Bay Center. Deputies responded from the South Bend area in the Sheriff’s Office patrol and search and rescue vessel to assist.


Deputies successfully provided safe passage and tow for the vessel and the operator back to the South Bend boat launch. Sheriff Scott Johnson stated, “I am very pleased with the quick response that our office was able to provide in this situation. We have been working very hard to increase our services to the public. Our marine services division is one example of a service that didn’t exist in years past. We recognize that our public’s safety is equally important on or within our waterways.”


Sheriff Johnson also added, “We are grateful for the positive support that we have received from the Board of County Commissioners, helping to aid us with jumpstarting the marine program”.

National Night Out party lists for Aberdeen and Hoquiam

National Night Out locations 
August 5th from 6 – 10 PM

National Night Out provides an opportunity for all community members to get to know one another and build strong networks of communication throughout neighborhoods. Last year, neighborhoods throughout the state hosted block parties, some of which included BBQ’s, games and fun for the kids and adults alike. Public Officials, Police Officers, CRIME WATCH volunteers and Firefighters from local municipalities dropped in and visited with neighbors and talked about important crime prevention.
Continue reading National Night Out party lists for Aberdeen and Hoquiam

New phone scam claiming to be Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Deputy

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department is warning of a new phone scam where a man is calling senior citizens in the county claiming to be Lt. Johnson with their department.

Undersheriff David Pimentel tells us he is claiming that they have outstanding warrants and fines, and wants them to meet withhim in Montesano with cash to cover the warrants and fines. The calls are coming from 360 214-1541 or 360 214-1525.
This is a scam that preys on the elderly and the person identifying himself as Lt Johnson is in no way associated with the GHSO.
Pimentel said if you should receive a call like this do not respond and call the 911 center. If you have any information on who may be making these calls please contact Detective Darrin Wallace at the sheriff’s office.

Smaller taxing authorities could feel strain, or benefit, from new Public Hospital District

About 40 attended the first of two meetings to discuss the protection of the Central Park Park Fire District’s ability to levee at the fire station last night. With a new hospital district potentially pushing smaller fire districts throughout the county closer to their taxing authority maximum, District 2 Chief Leonard Johnson said “We may have a tax impact next year that may result in us increasing property taxes in the fire district from a process that we’re allowed to under law, but it doesn’t require us to go to [ask] the taxpayers.” Johnson described the complicated levee payout process that could put the smaller districts at risk of cap, but also caps out the larger districts taxing authority district-wide. This can incentivize what’s called a buyback, where a larger district pays a smaller not to use their levy, in order to tax at a higher rate across it’s entire district – all legal under RCW. Asked if both districts were interested, Johnson said yes.
With the proposed formation of a Public Hospital District #2 in Western Grays Harbor, and the possible expansion of District #1 in East county, portions of Fire District 2 have become the knot in the middle of a game of tug-o-war.
Fire District #2 Chief Leonard Johnson
Many questions last night asked if Grays Harbor Community Hospital was putting it’s debt on the public dime, CEO Tom Jensen explained “We’re not trying to become a public hospital district to “tax” we’re trying to become a public hospital to get access to a higher reimbursement rate from a bill that was put together and lobbied for two years. If we can get the bill, it means bringing into this community another 3 million dollars. And it says right in the bill that if you want access to this you have to become a Public Hospital District and you have to own and operate it. Now that doesn’t mean Tom Jensen, that means you as the community will own and operate that facility, and I will tell you that with an extra 3 million in the bank, that organization will make money.
Grays Harbor Community Hospital and Summit Pacific Medical Center administratorsCentral Park resident Frank Scherer asked Jensen “What are the current debt of the hospital, and liabilities outstanding, and why do the taxpayers have to make that up to make this hospital solvent?” Jensen replied “Long term debt bonds are about 36-million dollars, technically the bill doesn’t state that it has to be taxed, to that will be up to the commissioners. It won’t even be up to me, So the commissioners will make the decision on what that tax rate  will be, we’re just communicating what it could be. And more than likely the most that we could get if we became a Public Hospital District is 42 cents.”
Along with whether to form the district, your August Ballot will ask you to select a District Commissioner, and 2 at-large Commissioners, for a total of 7 that will make up the public board if the district is approved. If it isn’t approved, you might just see a proposition on the November ballot to add a few cities into the current Hospital District #1 in East County.
Seeing that some of the new district’s potential commissioners are former and current employees of the non-profit hospital, one woman asked why? I asked Police Chief Bob Torgerson if he was planning on stuffing his pockets from the public coffers “The reason to run for any public office is to serve the community, the other reason is that I’m not part of the group that is currently running the hospital. I’ve had 40 years of public experience being in the public eye, doing public service, but the whole purpose is to make it better for everybody.” Torgerson is running against the hospital’s former CFO Tim Howden for the 1st At Large position
The question and answer session lasted about an hour last night, you’ll have more chances to ask questions at one of two meetings next week.
Hospital Administrators will be at the Log Pavillion in Aberdeen Wednesday evening, July 23rd for a debate hosted by the League of Woman Voters beginning at 6, then a second meeting hosted by Fire District #2 is being held in Brady that night at 7.
Listen to Johnson with Doug McDowell on CoffeeTalk earlier this week.

Northwest Timber Revival in Hoquiam to benefit Associates program at Grays Harbor College

Horses Cut Shop presents a Northwest Timber Revival on the grounds of the historic Polson Museum in Hoquiam, Washington on Saturday, August, 30th. This day-long, free to the public event features live music, a beer garden, vintage logging demonstrations and graphic t-shirts representing local, iconic timber industry brands.

Sponsored by Filson Outfitters, Stihl Timber Sports and Stanley, all profits from the Timber Revival event go to support the Natural Resources -Forestry Technician Program at nearby Grays Harbor College which serves the coastal communities of western Washington state. This two year applied associate degree program provides students with the skills needed to secure jobs in the modern-day timber industry.
“Horses Cut Shop Revival events seek to re-introduce audiences to their regional American roots by reviving the brands and stories which represent their personal geographies. By creating celebrations that both honor the legacy and support the future of local industry, Horses Cut Shop hopes to strengthen the ties we all have to our communities and those elements which make them unique. ” Gabe Johnson, – Horses Cut Shop

About: Horses Cut Shop is a vintage inspired apparel company that specializes in t-shirts that represent real, iconic, local businesses around the US. Each time a t-shirt is sold, the business that t-shirt represents receives a portion of the proceeds. From bait shops to bowling alleys, diners, tattoo shops and taverns, Horses Cut Shop travels the country in search of the small town stories and brands that represent the best of the American sprit. Horses Cut Shop apparel is sold through the Horses Cut Shop website and via an exclusive partnership with Nordstrom stores nationwide.


Woman’s throat slashed after party in Grays Harbor County

A 25 year old Aberdeen man remains in jail on two counts of Assault in the First Degree after allegedly slashing the throat of a Wishkah Road resident at the end of a party early Sunday morning.
Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate with the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department reports the man was passed out at the home in the 50 block of Johnson Road as the 51 year old woman was being taken to Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen by her husband. He was taken into custody without incident, a 22 year old neighbor who was at the home at the time of the attack told investigators that they had hosted a party earlier that night, and while most had left the suspect and two victims were the last three awake when he became violent and slashed at them with a knife.
The commotion woke her husband and while the three began to subdue him he passed out – and remained that way until officers woke him around 3 Sunday morning.
The husband immediately took his wife to the hospital. Shumate said upon arrival, deputies met the husband in the parking lot and the victim was rushed in.  The cut to her throat was significant however not life threatening.  It was also determined that the reporting party had sustained a number of cut wounds as well however did not require hospitalization.  The suspect was extremely intoxicated and had to be taken to the hospital to be cleared for incarceration.  It appears that the attack was unprovoked and without notice.  He is currently in the Grays Harbor County Jail on two counts of Assault 1st degree.

No charges for family of Hoquiam boy who fired handgun in city limits

No charges are being filed against the parents of the boy who fired their gun in Hoquiam earlier this month. City Attorney Steve Johnson said in a press release this morning that “after careful review of the evidence and discussions with investigating officers and the Chief of the Hoquiam Police Department, I have decided not to file charges against the parents of the five-year old boy who discharged a firearm towards an adult male in Hoquiam, on June 1, 2014. The basis of my decision is my belief that the City of Hoquiam could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parents committed a crime under existing Washington laws.

The 5 year old boy was watching his neighbors play with unloaded BB guns when he went into his house and found his parent’s loaded handgun to play along. Hoquiam Officer Cody Blodgett tells us the boy discharged the firearm in the 600 block of L street just after 3 June 1st in the direction of a 21 year old Aberdeen man who was walking by. No one was hit by the bullet, Blodgett said the gun was confiscated.

Johnson’s press release went on to cite Rule 3.8 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers provides that:

“The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

“(a) Refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.”

In reviewing the evidence in this case, I am not convinced that a charge of reckless endangerment would be supported by probable cause. Even if it were,, Rule 3.8 merely sets forth minimum standards of conduct for prosecutors. In my view, a prosecutor would be remiss in bringing a criminal charge against a suspect which is supported by probable cause, but which is not supported by sufficient evidence to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Had the legislature amended the reckless endangerment statute to include leaving a gun in a location where a person knows or should reasonably know that a child could gain access to it, as was proposed in the 1999 legislative session, there is no doubt that the outcome would be very different here.

Having said that, I would like to make it perfectly clear that my review of the evidence leads me to conclude that the parents were negligent in their handling of the firearm in question, and everyone involved is very fortunate that no one was killed or seriously injured, including their own children. Hopefully, this will serve as a learning experience.

Steve Johnson
Hoquiam City Attorney

Pacific County Sheriff’s Deputy placed on leave following criminal charges

South Bend, WA. – A Pacific County Sheriff’s deputy remains on administrative leave after eleven criminal charges were filed today against the deputy, including one count of first degree extortion, four counts of bribery, five counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of reckless driving. Johnson is also a former Cosmopolis police officer.

The deputy, identified as Vance O. Johnson age 44, is a 5 year veteran of the office. Deputy Johnson had been on administrative leave while an internal investigation that led to the criminal investigation related to these charges was conducted. The investigation was conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at the request of Sheriff Scott Johnson to ensure that it was conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

The investigation was started after information and witness statements were received on April 21st of this year relating to an incident that Deputy Johnson was involved in that occurred originally while he was off duty, and later events that occurred while he was on duty.

Sheriff Scott Johnson said, “Today is a very sad day for the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office, it’s news none of us ever wish to hear, however nothing is more important than maintaining public trust and confidence in our employees, all of whom I hold to the highest moral and ethical standards”.

Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Meyer is prosecuting this case in Pacific County Superior Court due to a conflict regarding one of the witnesses in this case working for the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office.  Sheriff Johnson & Deputy Johnson are not related.

Law enforcement administrators meet in Pacific County to discuss trending issues

The Pacific County Sheriff recently hosted a meeting of local law enforcement administrators to discuss several regional issues. The combined agency meeting was to further efforts by each of the agencies to share information and resources, and work together towards improving service to the public. A variety of issues were discussed including but not limited to the new ATV laws, private forest land closures, field intelligence information sharing, beach driving and inter-agency training. A special presentation was made by the Intellicheck/Mobilisa Company that introduced an app that would aid law enforcement in checking for crimes that people may be wanted for with a smart phone. 

Other agencies were also introduced to the Sheriff’s Office K-9 and handler, Deputy Justin Kangas. The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office hosts similar meeting like this on a semi-annual basis. Sheriff Johnson appreciates the participation in the meetings and noted that inter-agency cooperation allows for better and more effective law enforcement. The original meetings involved the Sheriff’s Office and local police departments and now have been expanded to include Washington State Parks, Department of Corrections, Washington State Patrol and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. 
From left to right in the photo: Washington State Parks Supervisor Evan Roberts, Raymond Police Chief Chuck Spoor, Washington State Department of Wildlife Sgt. Dan Chadwick, South Bend Police Chief Dave Eastham, Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson, Pacific County Undersheriff Todd Fosse, Washington State Department of Corrections Supervisor David Thompson, Washington State Patrol Captain Chris Old, Washington State Patrol Sgt. Brad Moon and Washington State Patrol Sgt. Larry Conley.

Present at the meeting but not pictured in the photo were Pacific County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Pat Matlock, Shoalwater Bay Tribal Police Chief Robin Souvenir and Raymond Police Sgt. James Samplawski.