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CHEHALIS – Fostering a growing economy, a new business locating here and existing business expanding, is Cynthia Mudge, the new Director of the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce. Mudge comes to the area following more than a dozen years supporting business in Astoria. She says Centralia, Chehalis and Lewis County and its communities are good for business, “Everybody seems to be supportive of each other, a driver when you have people actively involved in making this place a great place to live.” Mudge said the county’s location is good for business, saying, “Being between Portland and Seattle is a sweet spot whether you’re industry or tourism, retail or service.” The new Chamber Director plans to get to know local business owners, and there interests to grow the local economy in support of workers and others. Mudge succeeds Alicia Fox, who was Chamber Director for over 10 years. Photo courtesy: The Chronicle


CENTRALIA – Local business owners and employees gathered Friday night for the annual Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce banquet The robust business community employs thousands and provides a variety of services and products. A great example shown by the Chamber’s business of the year, as announced by Chamber President Lindy Waring,  who said, “This year’s winner has the second oldest business license in the state, opening shop in 1889 and it started serving the populations of Centralia-Chehalis in 1983.”  Waring shared, “Providence helped the community last year get back to work as a whole. They provided financial support to the Chamber so we could put on a couple of hiring events and get our community back to work. We appreciate your partnership year after year.” The largest employer in Lewis County with more than a dozen locations, Dr. Kevin Caserta, Chief Medical Officer at Providence received the award, saying “I’m so honored to be up here today, representing our care givers. We have a vision for a better world, we’re committed to providing excellent compassionate care but the reality is we’ll never meet that vision without all of you.” Caserta added, “What you do as a Chamber is so much more than economics, you make differences in people’s lives, so thank you for that.”


CENTRALIA – Up to $35 million in US Department of Transportation grants will reportedly be made available to local cities and drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians may benefit. It’s the focus of a new road safety plan being developed by the City of Centralia. City engineer Patty Page says, “The city has never done a road safety plan, but has included a transportation plan as part of comprehensive land use, and now the state and federal governments are putting money behind it to get people (cities) to start doing this.” Page adds that the city has already determined what is of most concern, using traffic data, “The top 4 safety objectives including reducing collisions at un-signaled intersections, and then bike-pedestrian collisions, ‘run of the road occurrences’, where people just go off road, into oncoming lanes or pull out in front of traffic, and ‘minimizing roadside departures’ where drivers go off the road and hit something.” The city council unanimously endorsed the new road safety plan.


CHEHALIS – What is one of the first things you do each day? If it’s checking your phone or turning on your computer, then the advice is to be watchful for cyber attacks. An increase in illicit phishing attempts on Lewis County government computers and a ransomware attempt at Centralia College was recently reported. “People need to be hyper vigilante right now about communications over email, phone and potentially even in person. We need to question everything especially when it comes to money”, said Lewis County Manager Erik Martin earlier this month after someone allegedly obtained county computer access. No county or employee information was obtained, but computer safety expert J.T. Mundi with Kodenum, Inc. shared with local business owners  at a forum hosted by the Economic Alliance of Lewis County on Wednesday that it’s best to update passwords and use the latest firewalls and computer hardware. Mundi said, “91% of the (cyber) attacks start from emails, so we really need to lock them down and make sure we have good practices around our emails. Always, always, think before you click.”  He says once a hacker gets personal information from you opening an illicit email, they often use larger computers to initiate multiple attempts to get into your system. Mundi also suggests also using what’s called “multi-factor authentication” so that it takes more than just knowing your password for a hacker to get into your accounts to obtain personal information. Mundi offers consultations through the Economic Alliance of Lewis County, or you can check with your local financial institution on how best to protect your investments.


CENTRALIA – The Centralia Station project gets a $1.7 million boost from the state legislature. The funds will assist with completion of infrastructure at the proposed site south of Mellen Street The money comes as one part of the $17 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation budget passed on Thursday. Port of Centralia Commission President Kyle Markstrom said, “The port would like to thank the 20th district delegation for their support of the port’s job creation efforts.” Port of Centralia Executive Director Kyle Heaton says the port expects to bid the Yew Street extension very shortly with construction of a new interchange ramp to immediately follow.  Heaton added that improvements will allow for the port to move forward with an anchor tenant and begin the long-awaited site development process. The port has reported that WinCo will be the anchor store on the site. The 12 year old concept, Centralia Station will include retail, commercial and light industrial businesses just south of Mellen Street. The Port says Centralia Station is projected to create over 500 permanent jobs, produce over $118 million in annual sales and generate over $7 million annually in state and local taxes. Gaining the funds to begin the necessary construction of infrastructure…services such as water, sewer and more has also assisted the cities of Morton and Packwood. The cities will receive state funding for water and sewer system improvements, respectively. State Rep. Peter Abbarno of Centralia says the state needs greater investment in aging and rural communities. Photo courtesy: The Chronicle.


OLYMPIA – A $1.5 billion bipartisan supplemental capital budget approved Tuesday in the state House of Representatives includes more than $9.3 million for projects throughout the 20th Legislative District, Rep. Peter Abbarno announced Wednesday.

Abbarno, who serves as assistant ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, said this year’s supplemental capital budget reflects many of the priorities of the citizens he represents.

“This is a jobs budget that strengthens the bones of our communities. We invest millions in K-12 school construction, mental and behavioral health, housing, broadband and other infrastructure,” said Abbarno (R-Centralia). “I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort that returns taxpayer money home to our district for important local projects that help create jobs, economic opportunities, and improve the quality of life for Washingtonians.”

Some statewide highlights include:

  • $100 million for seismic safety retrofits to school buildings at high risk of severe earthquake damage;
  • $60 million for grants to expand and add capacity for crisis triage and crisis stabilization facilities for adults, including $12 million for at least two residential crisis stabilization facilities for youth;
  • $120 million for the Public Works Board to issue grants and loans to local governments for infrastructure projects;
  • $100 million for broadband infrastructure grants;
  • $40 million for the Community Economic Revitalization Board to assist local governments in financing economic development infrastructure improvements;
  • $300 million for rapid capital housing acquisition for the quick conversion into shelters, permanent supportive housing, or transitional housing, including $60 million for the rapid, permanent supportive housing programs;
  • $114.5 million for the Housing Trust Fund, including $25 million for projects benefitting first-time home buyers, and $16.4 million for specified projects;
  • $9 million for grants to local governments and public utility districts to assist in the cost of utility connections for affordable housing projects; and
  • $236 million for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Program to construct or improve water pollution control facilities and nonpoint source activities.

Local 20th District projects funded in the 2021-23 supplemental capital budget include:

  • $6 million for a water system improvement project in Morton;
  • $2 million for upgrades to the Lewis County Fire District #5 station and construction in Napavine;
  • $875,000 for the Lewis County Regional Tennis and Wrestling facility in Chehalis;
  • $750,000 for the Oakview Elementary School in the Centralia School District;
  • $515,000 for a playground in Tenino;
  • $515,000 for the Woodland Community Library Building project; and
  • $155,000 for the North Trailhead restroom and covered shelter in Castle Rock.

“This construction budget will improve our communities, create economic opportunities, and puts people to work. It’s a great budget for our state and the 20th District,” said Abbarno.

Rep. Jim Walsh and Rep. Joel McEntire voted in favor of a strong, bipartisan supplemental capital budget spending plan that includes more than $4.1 million for the 19th District.

The $1.5 billion capital spending plan makes significant investments in K-12 school construction, mental health facilities, broadband, school seismic safety, public works, housing, and other long-term investments.

“Once again, our district has done well in Olympia’s capital budget process. The capital budget concentrates taxpayer money on infrastructure projects that you can see and touch. And some of the best of these projects are local, serving communities right here at home,” said Walsh, (R-Aberdeen). “It’s a pleasure working with Rep. Joel McEntire and Sen. Jeff Wilson, to make sure that the Nineteenth District gets as many of these good projects we can.”

McEntire, who serves as assistant ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, helped negotiate the capital spending plan.

“In a short session, it is rare to get several projects funded in any district,” said McEntire, (R-Cathlamet). “With our state having substantial revenues, we sought to see that as much of that revenue come back to the hard working tax payers of the Nineteenth District, and that is what we have done.”

The capital budget proposal contains a wide range projects for the 19th District, including:

  • Veteran Housing and Resource Center (Raymond), $2.3 million;
  • Wahkiakum School District facility accessibility needs, $515,000;
  • Westport Marina gear yard (Westport), $412,000;
  • Pacific County Fair Three M Project (Raymond), $412,000;
  • Vandercook Park restroom (Longview), $309,000;
  • Longview Senior Center roof and energy upgrades (Longview), $273,000;
  • Community/Technical College system, minor works, $259,000;
  • CHOB electrical upgrade to emergency shelter (Longview), $258,000;
  • 5970 #1 Bridge Replacement, $250,000;
  • Veteran Housing at Stratford Apartments (Longview), $206,000;
  • 5973 Bridge Replacement, $200,000;
  • Beaver Creek Hatchery, renovation, $135,000; and
  • Rister Stadium elevator lift (Kelso), $33,000.

The budget measure, Senate Bill 5651, passed the House unanimously. It still must gain Senate concurrence before being sent to the governor.


LEWIS COUNTY – A flood watch has been issued for several rivers in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. The National Weather Service reports river gauge predictions are for the Cowlitz River at Randle to reach major flood stage of 22.09 feet at midday Tuesday. At the same time, the prediction is for the Newaukum River at Chehalis to crest at 203.1 feet. Check the latest river gauge data at


CENTRALIA – Rain that started over the weekend is leading into March which forecasters say will be coming in like a lion! Rain, gusty weather and some river flooding.
Lewis County Department of Emergency Management reports, “As you all are well aware … the rain has returned and as we move into this next week the National Weather Service (NWS) has predicted some rivers to potentially reach moderate flood stage. We will be keeping an eye on rivers and will post information as it becomes available. If you are close to rivers that tend to flood, keep a close eye on them as rivers may rise quickly. As always … if you see road closure signs, they are up for a reason … TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN!” Check out the river gauges near you:


CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Washington State Patrol, executed a search warrant Tuesday in the 3700 block of State Route 6, Chehalis, resulting in the arrest of three suspects for Manufacturing of Marijuana. Earlier in the day, Lewis County Code Enforcement personnel responded to a possible animal violation on the property. While speaking to one of the individuals in reference the violation, they smelled the odor of growing marijuana. After further investigation, and execution of the search warrant, a total of over 2900 marijuana plants were found in a sophisticated grow operation within a two story outbuilding. In addition to the marijuana plants, growing equipment and $7,500.00 in cash were seized. The three suspects arrested were discovered tending to the grow and have been identified as Shangchun Lin a 46-year-old male of Chehalis, Yanping Liang Lin a 41 year-old-female of Seattle and Huizhen Chen a 41 year-old-female of Renton. Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza stated, “This was a sophisticated, substantial grow operation, the likes of which I haven’t encountered before. This was another great example of our partnership with the Washington State Patrol Marijuana Enforcement Team in preventing the unlawful production of  marijuana in our community.” Anyone with information on this, or other unlawful marijuana manufacturing in Lewis County, are encouraged to call the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 748-9286.


CENTRALIA – Patient and caregiver safety continues the priority at Providence Centralia hospital. In the past several weeks, Providence Southwest Washington has seen a decrease in COVID-19 positive patients in regional hospitals. From a peak of more than 150 COVID-19 positive patients just a few weeks ago, Providence St. Peter and Centralia hospitals are now caring for about 50 COVID-19 positive patients as of Wednesday. Due to the decreased COVID-19 inpatient numbers and ample supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Providence Southwest has decided to update its visitation policy, effective Thursday  morning.  A visit with a loved one by up to two people is now permitted from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. daily. __________________________________________ The man who was killed by a police officer in Chehalis last Friday, after he stabbed a Centralia officer in the head and back has been identified as 32-year old Murdock Phillips of Chehalis. Phillips was wanted in a child rape case by Pierce County detectives, who contacted him at a local home. Phillips ran off and was later tracked by a Centralia K-9, when his handler, officer Stephen Summers was attacked. That’s when another officer fired a gunshot that killed Phillips. Officer Summers is recovering from his wounds. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the Friday incident.  

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