Fire claims Malo home

MALO – A Malo man lost his home Wednesday evening when a chimney fire spread to the building’s roof before firefighters arrived.
Ferry/Okanogan Fire Protection District #14 volunteers were dispatched to the home of Peter Tanis at 160 St. Peters Creek Road at 6:11 p.m., according to Curlew Fire Chief John Foster Fanning.
When they arrived, they found the blaze had spread from the chimney throughout the interior of the roof structure with flames coming out the eves on all sides of the residence.
Firefighters made entry into the burning structure in an attempt to extinguish the fire but were forced out when a portion of the burning ceiling collapsed around them.
Soon afterwards an ammunition cache caught fire and the incident commander temporarily pulled all fire staff back as shell casings discharged.
Tanis and his dog made it out of the building safely.
Although the primary residence was lost, a garage, woodshed and utility building were saved.
One fire engine from the nearby Malo fire station participated in the incident, along with three engines from Curlew one from the Toroda station, Foster Fanning said.
Additionally the district sent two ambulance units with EMTs. A total of eleven volunteer fire and EMS staff were dispatched along with a Ferry County sheriff’s deputy and the Ferry County P.U.D.
“Firefighters were on scene until near midnight,” Foster Fanning said. “Temperatures dropped to three degrees and problems developed when engines having discharged all their water had pumps freezing.”
Firefighters patrolled the remains of this incident on Thursday.
Fire officials remind readers that when a chimney fire occurs to immediately shut down all dampers and vents to the stove and call 911.
Additionally, be sure to have working smoke alarms and do routine fire drills, teaching children to get out fast and go to a predetermined safe place.

Fireman loses home while out on medical call

DANVILLE – A New Year’s fire destroyed the home of a senior Curlew Fire District volunteer on State Highway 21 Monday evening.
EMT/Firefighter Mario D’Lerma was returning home from an emergency medical call around 7:30 p.m. when he realized something was wrong, according to volunteer Fire Chief John Foster Fanning with Ferry/Okanogan Fire Protection District 14.
The firefighter called the fire in to the Ferry County 911 Center and dashed to the Danville fire station to gear up and get the fire engine, Foster Fanning said.
Unfortunately, the fire was beyond the capability of a single engine by the time he arrived back at the residence, Foster Fanning said.
The fire district dispatched four engines, a 2,000-gallon tender, an ambulance, 10 firefighters and three EMTs, but before any of the reinforcing units arrived on scene the home was fully engulfed. A Ferry County sheriff’s deputy was on scene to assist with traffic control and public safety, Foster Fanning said.
There were no human injuries, but a family dog was lost in the blaze.
Some firefighters started leaving around 10:30 p.m. while others were on scene until midnight. A patrol Tuesday morning made sure all outbuildings and other property remained safe, Foster Fanning said.
A donation page has been set up at to help the family rebuild.
The page said nothing was retrieved from the home; the house and its contents were a total loss.


REPUBLIC – A fight, a theft and two cases of illegal burning were among 118 calls handled by the Ferry County 911 Center during the one-week period that ended at midnight Saturday, July 23.
Other calls included a fireworks offense, an ATV nuisance report and another nuisance problem.
There was a non-injury traffic crash, two criminal traffic citations, a DUI, two disabled vehicles, a junk vehicle request and one traffic hazard reported.
Emergency medical personnel responded to two falls, a breathing problem, four unknown medical problems and made one patient transport.
Firefighters were called out to two reports of forest fires and there was one unknown type fire reported.
There was one fish and game offense, plus three animal noise problems and a livestock problem reported.

Northeast Washington transit planner available online

COLVILLE – The Tri County Economic Development District is making public transportation routes and schedules available on the Google Trip Planner.
Residents of northeast Washington can now use an online trip planner to find public bus services in the region. Using the trip planner, which can be found at, travelers simply enter starting and ending locations for their trips. If public bus services are available, the trip planner will display schedule times and route information.
Daily bus runs via the “Gold Line” from Kettle Falls to Spokane and numerous Rural Resources schedule trips are shown.
TEDD also coordinates other transportation services across the region for those who need a lift. Options include dial-a-ride, transportation for veterans, and volunteer driver networks. Don’t see what you need on the online trip planner? Call TEDD’s Regional Mobility Coordinator at (800) 776-7318.

District Court

REPUBLIC – A Curlew man was sentenced to jail in four separate cases last week in Ferry County District Court.
John Jackson, 33, Curlew, was found guilty Wednesday, July 20, of violation of a domestic violence no-contact order and second-degree criminal trespass. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail and a 349-day suspended jail sentence during a two-year probation period on the first count. He was also given a 15-day sentence on the criminal trespass charge with 75 days suspended during the probation period. Both sentences are to run concurrently with sentences in other cases. He will also be responsible for repaying a $143 legal financial obligation.
In another case, Jackson pleaded guilty to violating a domestic violence no-contact order and was sentenced to 15 days in jail with a 349-day suspended sentence. The jail time will run concurrently with other cases. A $250 fine was also suspended during a two-year probationary period and he will be responsible for repaying a $143 legal financial obligation.
In a third case, Jackson was found guilty of fourth-degree assault, domestic violence. He was given a 15-day jail sentence with 349 days suspended for five years and a $500 suspended fine. He will be responsible for a $543 legal financial obligation. The jail sentence it to run concurrently with three other cases.
In yet another case, Jackson was found guilty of second-degree criminal trespass and given 15 days in jail with 75 days and a $75 fine suspended for two years. He will be responsible for paying $43. Fourth-degree assault and an obstructing charge were dismissed in the case.

Jackson was given credit for 15 days already served in jail.

Superior Court

REPUBLIC – A Republic man was sentenced in a child molestation case and an attorney argued for a new trial in an unrelated case Friday in Ferry County Superior Court.
Lawrence M. Fairover Jr. was sentenced to 16 months in prison and given credit for 526 days served, a time greater than his sentence.
The prosecutor asked for an 18-month sentence and wanted him to repay the airfare the county paid to bring witnesses to Republic for an earlier trial that ended with a hung jury.
There was a debate between the prosecutor and defense attorneys about whether Fairover would need to be transported to Shelton for check-in with the Department of Corrections, and a decision on the amount of time he would receive for good behavior during the time he had been incarcerated.
However, Judge Allen Nielson avoided the good-time issue by sentencing Fairover to 16 months. He also ruled that paying for the witnesses’ airfare would be against Fairover’s constitutional right to a trial with witnesses appearing at no expense to him.
“This is a very complex case in many ways, maybe the most complex case I’ve had as a judge,” Nielson said.
Fairover, who pleaded guilty to second-degree child molestation earlier as part of a plea agreement, said he will live with his sister near Republic.
In another case, attorney Andrew Chase argued for a new trial in an assault case against Michael Levasseur, 30, Republic, who is currently serving a jail sentence as a result of a January trial.
Chase argued that Levasseur had ineffective representation in the first trial, because his court-appointed defense counsel Jim Irwin failed to explore psychological records in the case.
Chase said that because of injuries Levasseur suffered during his service in the U.S. Army, Levasseur was medically discharged due to psychological issues related to a traumatic brain injury he suffered during combat operations in Iraq.
He said that when he asked Levasseur about his military discharge he learned the nature of it and because of the red flag that registered in his mind, he requested military and Veterans Administration records.
Although Irwin represented Levasseur for nearly 10 month prior to the trial, he never considered the combat-related issues, Chase said, adding that it took him about 90 days to obtain the records.
These records make it clear that because of his client’s history, various psychologists and psychiatrists say that the disability led to mental health issues. Because of this doctors have repeatedly reported that he will unintentionally continue to assault people, Chase said.
“There is very little to support that his assigned public defender could not have gotten these records,” Chase said, arguing that the information should have led to a diminished capacity defense or to a mental health examination to see if he was competent to stand trial.
Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn Burke argued that Chase has the advantage of hindsight and that Irwin had a legitimate trial strategy in the case.
Chase argued that in order to develop an adequate strategy, a minimal level of research is needed.
Nielson said he will rule on the motion this week.
In a case against Jeb D. Olton, bail was set at $10,000. Olton is currently set for trial in the case on Sept. 6, and his conditions of release after arraignment in April stated that he was to submit to random urinalysis.
Burke told the court that since he was released he has submitted to one urinalysis, and that was positive for drugs.

A case against Tammy Pike was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could later be refiled. Pike is currently in prison. A warrant in the case was quashed.

Sockeye fishery opens, salmon limits raised

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has opened sockeye salmon fishing and raised chinook salmon limits on two local rivers because runs have exceeded preseason forecasts. The daily limit of salmon is now six, with two being adult hatchery chinook; three may be sockeye. All coho and wild adult chinook need to be released.
The sockeye run was expected to be around 102,000 fish, and is now over 340,000 at the mouth of the Okanogan.
Those regulations are in effect on the Okanogan River until October 15 from the mouth to the Highway 97 bridge immediately upstream of the mouth. The same rules are in place until September 15 from the Highway 97 bridge immediately upstream of the mouth to the first Highway 97 bridge downstream of Zosel Dam.
On the Similkameen River, until Sept. 15, the regulations are from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Release all floy (spaghetti) tagged fish. All other permanent rules apply. Previously announced salmon limits and sockeye fisheries above Priest Rapids Dam remain open. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and must have a current Washington fishing license, as well as a Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement.

(Wood)works of art

Submitted by Gold Mountains Gallery
So, how do you get from a noisy, dust-filled shop and raw boards to functional, one-of-a-kind works of art? Well, ask David Wermuth.
Wermuth has been crafting wood furniture for over 35 years. His techniques combine old-fashioned hand working with high-tech woodworking-specific machinery, and a unique visual/creative sensitivity for both design and wood. The creative process begins before the physical process of creating and continues throughout the entire process, including the finishing work.
What is important to Wermuth is to be surrounded by nature: serenity, open spaces, beauty of the land, being able to be outside and see the mountains, a hawk, stars. This tie with nature is a part of his spiritual being. This “in-tuneness” with surroundings and inner life make up his unique, finely honed sensitivity and aesthetic abilities.
“In my late 20s I took an evening course at the local high school on furniture making,” Wermuth said. “I built a desk for my son. Although the class was not that inspiring, it did pique my interest in different kinds of furniture. I started buying older furniture and repairing and refinishing it. About this time, I visited a Shaker village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. The Shaker style combines simplicity of form and beauty of workmanship. This furniture is 100 years old and just as beautiful as the day it was built. The Shakers use mortise and tenon, hand dovetails, hand planing and chisels; everything is done without machinery. The design aspect and quality of workmanship are incredible. The designs are minimal, functional, with the beauty of the wood being equally as important as the design and the function.”
Then Wermuth took a three-year class in master woodworking and furniture design at Kirby Studio, Bennington, Vermont, taught by the top woodworkers of the day. The first year no machinery was allowed and every piece had to be built with hand tools. Another influence on Wermuth’s aesthetic sensitivity is the work and writings of George Nakashima. In the Japanese tradition of woodworking, the wood is “alive” and needs to be respected. Much of Nakashima’s furniture is made of enormous wood slabs. In his book, “The Soul of the Tree,” Nakashima says that the wood is the most important part in the concept of a piece of furniture—its figure, coloration, character and stability for example. Stains are not used as the natural coloration of the wood is respected and in time wood ages in color naturally. Cherry wood, for example, becomes darker and even more defined in figure as it ages.
Spending several years on the west coast of Washington, Wermuth met other outstanding furniture makers who influenced him, and started a cooperative woodworking gallery in Bellingham. Wermuth does like to use American woods, especially cherry, figured maple and walnut. Showing in five fine arts galleries in the Northwest, he also has works in private homes and businesses as varied as the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, Texas, and California. South Korea, Japan, Germany, England, Canada and Mexico are countries that have his creations as well.
Other interests Wermuth has include playing guitar, bicycling and gardening. He is currently learning Native American beadwork.

David Wermuth’s works will be featured at Gold Mountains Gallery during the month of August, with an opening reception Friday, August 5 from 2 until 8 p.m. You may also view his work at

Parties discuss trail ordinance adjustments

REPUBLIC – County Commissioner Mike Blankenship suggested Monday that the Rail Trail ordinance needs to be amended and/or rewritten.
The comment led to passionate comments from rail trail representatives, motorized recreation representatives and the commissioners.
In the end, those participating agreed that much of the problems that pit them against each other involve bad communication or a lack of communication on trigger issues.
This communication problem leads to emotional reactions that seem to widen the gap between various factions.
One hot topic has been a plan for a WATV path to cross the rail trail near Curlew School. This could provide a route that would connect Republic and Curlew for motorized recreationists.
Because the commissioners designated $6,000 for the county’s contract engineer to study the options, rail trail organizers suspected the plan might infringe upon the non-motorized status of the rail trail.
They were suspicious because there was no drawing or map showing any plans for the ATV trail that would connect Lundimo Meadow Road to Boulder Creek Road and offer a route into Curlew.
Commissioner Brad Miller said the reason there wasn’t any map was because there is no concrete plan yet. However, he described the route he envisions as crossing the rail trail and then continuing along the school parking lot fence and then onto Boulder Creek Road. He said it would not be occupying the same space as the rail trail.
Miller drew a route on a small map, and for the most part rail trail volunteers seemed satisfied that the connector route would not conflict with the rail trail.
“I think there is a whole lot of misunderstanding here. The whole idea was to keep motorized people off the rail trail,” Miller said. “What happened here is a vacuum in communication.”
Another issue was horses on the rail trail. Members of the county’s Rail Corridor Committee said they had already invited local Backcountry Horsemen to their next meeting to discuss the issues. A major concern is that horses with shoes can potentially break down the surface on improved areas of the trail, but they were aware of the potential problem, and had already initiated a plan to discuss possible solutions with the horsemen.
Another trigger issue is ATVs using the rail trail, and private citizens confronting those people.
Commissioners said citizens should call the sheriff’s office when they see ATVs on the trail and not take matters into their own hands.
Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Rainer, who was at the meeting, said that in one case he had been called to investigate, a couple who had a disabled placard used their ATV on the trail, but failed to display the placard. He suggested that if the ordinance is rewritten, commissioners leave in the requirement for ATVs operated under the Americans with Disabilities Act to display a disabled placard on the vehicle.

All parties seemed to agree that it was time to revisit the Rail Trail Ordinance which still forbids anyone from using the trestle even though it has been improved and opened as a feature of the trail.

Op-ed: Profanity pack becoming chronic killers

Wolf pack on third year of cattle attacks

Editor’s note: this article was submitted before another calf was confirmed killed by a wolf Saturday (see story page 1).

The Profanity wolf pack, located in northeast Ferry County, has again started its killing spree, killing at least three calves this month. The pack that numbers at least seven adult wolves, a breeding pair and likely a new litter of pups is again taking advantage of the rugged territory near Sherman Pass to kill cattle that are out on summer range.
The three calves killed belong to the Diamond M Ranch that has had previous “confirmed” killings by the Profanity Pack in 2014. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the ranch lost a cow-calf pair and a calf to the Profanity wolves in 2014, however, the actual losses were much higher.
We lost 26 calves and four cows in 2014. Most of those losses are due to unconfirmed wolf kills. Our usual death loss for that area can be up to four calves.
The 2014 losses and the addition of at least three more killed calves this year is a significant loss to the ranch, with each loss calf costing at least $1,500 in potential revenue.
The persistent attacks from the Profanity Pack are making for a recurring nightmare for the Diamond M that saw this kind of behavior explode into a crisis situation in 2012. Wolf activity from the Wedge Pack in 2012 culminated in 17 wolf attacks and the ranch absorbing over $100,000 in losses due to Wedge Pack activity. Eventually, some of the Wedge pack was removed by WDFW, but as the losses were mounting in the summer of 2012, WDFW did nothing but mark down the body count.
A scenario like the Wedge pack is happening again. Last year we didn’t see as much killing from the Profanity Pack due to a lot of wildfire activity. But now that things have settled down, they are back at it.
While the Diamond M is trying to work with WDFW and local officials to address the situation, experience has shown that the only way to stop the carnage by a chronically depredating pack is to remove the offending wolves.
Yet, at the time when the ranch needs help, WDFW has tightened up restrictions on lethally removing wolves. A lethal removal plan passed by the Wolf Advisory Group in May requires the ranch to implement sanitation measures as well as using a “non-lethal deterrent” approved by WDFW. In addition, lethal removal protocols also require four confirmed kills in one calendar year by the pack; non-lethal deterrents have to fail and the public has to be notified that the wolves will be removed. With only one of the three calves killed by the Profanity Pack this year being “confirmed,” WDFW is working to avoid reaching the four killings needed to start lethal removal.
This situation needs to be addressed because if it isn’t, we are going to see as many losses as we did in 2012 from the Wedge Pack. That is rugged country and the wolves are going to just keep killing.

Justin Hedrick is a co-owner of the Diamond M Ranch in Laurier and president of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.