Sheriff Brian Burnett reports a 66-year-old Mukilteo, WA resident – Richard Thurmer – was killed in a climbing accident on Dragontail Peak approximately 15 miles southwest of Leavenworth.
On March 28, 2022 RIVERCOM Dispatch Center received a 911 call from Thurmer’s wife (Alma), she advised that her husband was solo climbing in the Enchantments and she was concerned because she hadn’t heard from him for 24 hours. Alma advised that he was not due back until Tuesday but he normally contacts her everyday via his InReach device. She said that her husband was well equipped, in good health and a very experienced climber.
A deputy located Thurmer’s vehicle parked near the Bridge Creek Campground and a note was left to call the Sheriff’s Office when he returns.
On Tuesday evening Alma called RIVERCOM and advised that her husband had not returned home as planned and she still hadn’t heard from him. Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue coordinators were notified and a search was planned for the morning.
On Wednesday morning a Chelan County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and a two-person ground team from Chelan County Mountain Rescue (CCMR) responded to the Dragontail Peak area. At approximately 11:15am, the helicopter crew observed a motionless person laying in the snow at the base of the “Triple Couloir” on the north aspect of Dragontail Peak. The helicopter was unable to land due to very high winds in the area and was forced to return to Wenatchee.
The CCMR ground team arrived at the location at approximately 2:30pm and confirmed the victim was Thurmer. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Responders reported that it appeared he had fallen several hundred feet. The high winds prevented the helicopter from returning to the scene on Wednesday.
This morning the Sheriff’s Office helicopter returned to the scene and with the assistance of CCMR was able to hoist the victim from the area and transport him to the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery.
Also assisting in the rescue were members of Chelan County Volunteer Search and Rescue.
The Douglas County Public Defender Selection Committee, in conjunction with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, is pleased to announce that Jesse Collins has been selected as the first Douglas County Office of Public Defense Administrator. The Office of Public Defense was established in February, 2022 and created an internal department to handle indigent defense for Douglas County Superior Court.
Mr. Collins obtained his Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University of Law and has been practicing indigent defense for over ten years. He has previously served at both the Skagit and Chelan County public defender’s offices, as well as at private practice and nonprofit organizations. His wealth of experience, including adult, juvenile, misdemeanor, and felony cases, coupled with his passion for indigent defense, will undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to Douglas County and the Wenatchee Valley.
In his capacity as the Douglas County Office of Public Defense Administrator, Mr. Collins will have responsibility for the oversight, management of staff, and budget of the office in addition to handling a small caseload. Two additional attorneys and two support staff, hired in the coming weeks under Mr. Collins’ direction, will complete the office.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners believe that both defendants and taxpayers will be served more effectively by providing these services directly as the County continues to experience growth. Douglas County takes seriously its duty to provide representation to every citizen, without regard to ability to pay, and believes that Mr. Collins is the best candidate to fulfil this important commitment.
At approximately 4:46 pm. on March 24th, 2022, RIVERCOM Dispatch reported receiving a call from male who advised he had left a package wrapped in a black trash bag, in a garbage can across from the Rhein Haus in the 700 Block of US Hwy 2 in Leavenworth, WA. The caller advised he had an “analog clock” attached to the package and was insinuating it was a bomb. The caller never said it was a bomb but insinuated it several times on the phone. The caller then made 2 other calls into businesses, Icicle River Brewery and The Wok About. The caller advised that he had placed a package in their businesses and for them to leave immediately.
Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of Chelan County Fire District 3, the Washington State Patrol, WASDOT and Chelan Roads quickly moved in and started evacuating the area. Road blocks were set up and traffic East and Westbound was diverted around Leavenworth. An incident command post was established.
The Washington State Patrol Bomb K-9 teams were called in, and two teams responded to the area from Marysville. Upon their arrival, they immediately searched the entire downtown area, sweeping all garbage cans and areas around them. They then moved in to clear Icicle River Brewery, the Wok About and the Rhein House. No suspicious packages were located. After an extensive search of the area, the decision was made to reopen the area.
At 2112 hrs. Hwy. 20 was reopened to traffic. The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this and will pursue charges when located.
Olympia – The approach of spring brings a new opportunity for the public to help grow and improve the state’s Highway System Plan. The Washington State Department of Transportation is hosting an online open house to gather public input on future highway system investments for the update to the plan.
The opinion poll linked in the online open house asks people to weigh-in on highway investment priorities, such as maintenance, operations, walking and bicycling.
WSDOT is also hosting seven regionally focused virtual public meetings in late March and April to discuss the Highway System Plan and answer questions.
The plan, last updated in 2007, creates a 20-year vision for preserving, maintaining, improving and operating state highways. This long-term outlook is shaped by the diversity of the people who live in Washington, which helps ensure the highway system meet the needs of people who use transit, vanpools and vehicles; people who walk, ride bikes and use wheelchairs, and people who transport goods and services around the state. The update will address major challenges, including aging infrastructure and climate change.
Highway System Plan online open house information
When: Open through Monday, May 2
Where: Online at engage.wsdot.wa.gov/highway-system-plan/
Locate a free drive-in Wi-Fi access using the Washington State Department of Commerce location finder.
Details: Participants will learn about the Highway System Plan and can use the opinion poll to share their preferences on future highway system investments. The poll is hosted by the University of Washington.
Virtual public meeting information
When: March 29 - April 14
Where: Zoom (virtual)
Details: The public can sign up for a virtual public meeting through the online open house to learn more about the highway plan. Each of the seven meetings focuses on a specific region of Washington, however anyone can participate in any meeting.
OLYMPIA – Drone usage is on the rise for both personal and commercial use. Beginning April 1, people or businesses using drones for commercial purposes will need to start registering their drone with the Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division.
In 2021, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill directing the WSDOT Aviation Division to create and manage a commercial drone registration program. Commercial drone operators must register unmanned aircraft every year beginning in April 2022.
The $15 drone registration fee will support WSDOT Aviation’s work to assess and collaboratively work on integration of emerging technologies.
Steps on how to register commercial drones can be found on the Aviation Division’s website.
For any questions regarding drone registration, contact State Unpiloted Systems Coordinator Eddy Hensley at
Plan ahead to avoid the rush and possible fines
OLYMPIA – The arrival of spring brings a reminder to drivers in Washington to remove studded tires before the end of the day Thursday, March 31. By planning ahead, drivers can beat the rush at tire service shops and avoid a potential fine of $136, starting Friday, April 1.
Studded tires are legal in Washington from Nov. 1 to March 31. The Washington State Department of Transportation encourages drivers to remove studded tires prior to the deadline, if possible. Studded tires damage pavement, so removing them promptly after winter has passed helps preserve state roadways.
State law gives WSDOT the authority to extend the deadline when circumstances call for it, most commonly when a forecast indicates widespread snow and ice. While late season storms are possible in the mountain passes, there are no forecasted statewide conditions that would call for an extension of the deadline. For mountain travel, WSDOT recommends drivers use approved traction tires and carry chains, if necessary.
Travelers are always advised to “know before you go” by checking road conditions before heading out and staying up-to-date on changes by using WSDOT’s social media and email alert tools or calling the 5-1-1 road conditions report.
Washington and Oregon share the same studded tire removal deadline. Other states may have different studded tire removal dates, but the Washington law applies to all drivers in the state, even visitors. No personal exemptions or waivers are issued.
More information about studded tire regulations in Washington is available online.
Chelan Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners have canceled the Special Meeting scheduled for Monday, March 21, 2022.
Commissioners meeting agenda for March 17, 2022
Rory Turner, Commissioner representing Port of Chelan County District #3 and Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority Board Member, is announcing his intention to resign effective April 30, 2022.
Commissioner Turner was elected in November 2015 and has served on the Chelan County Port Commission since January 2016. “When I filed for re-election last May, it was my hope to serve another term on the Board. However, as a partner in several businesses and the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, my full-time focus is needed to help transition these businesses into a new operating environment. Regretfully, I cannot dedicate the time necessary to continue serving on the Regional Port Board,” explained Commissioner Turner.
One of Commissioner Turner’s lasting impacts will be his support and leadership in the formation of the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority in 2019. Commissioner Turner supported a regional approach to economic development. The Regional Port is the first of its kind in the State of Washington when Port of Chelan County and Port of Douglas County, two county-wide port districts functionally consolidated into one operating entity. The Regional Port gained statewide attention, and the Washington Public Ports Association named the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority the “2021 Port of the Year” for its political leadership in forming a Regional Port.
Commissioner Turner’s tenure as a Port of Chelan County Commissioner, and now as a Regional Port Board Member, has resulted in both organizations being very active in regional economic development projects. The Port of Chelan County purchased the former Lineage Properties in downtown Wenatchee and will soon reveal an adaptive reuse plan for the properties that will focus on providing small businesses with access to reasonably priced production space. The Port also purchased industrially zoned property in Malaga and is working on a promising economic development lead that could result in a significant new private sector investment in Chelan County.
One of the many positive outcomes of the Regional Port is a renewed focus on critical infrastructure investments at Pangborn Memorial Airport. The Regional Port is investing in a new approach lighting system that will improve commercial air service reliability in the winter months. In addition, reconstruction projects for the terminal building aviation ramp and the main taxiway system are underway. In total, approximately thirty million dollars in projects will be completed within the next two years.
Regional Port President and Port of Chelan County Commissioner District #2, JC Baldwin said, “Commissioner Turner has been an excellent Board Member and his knowledge of real estate development will be missed. His positive outlook and business background allowed the Regional Port to make smart strategic investments.”
Commissioner Turner commented “While I have mixed emotions regarding my resignation, it is tempered with the knowledge that the Regional Port Board is strong and actively engaged in setting policy that benefits our communities. I would also like to recognize the Regional Port staff. It has been an honor to work alongside talented, hardworking individuals that believe the Regional Port can make a difference in enhancing the economic vitality of the region.” While stepping down from the Regional Port Board, Commissioner Turner plans on staying actively engaged in community affairs and remains optimistic about our region’s economic potential.
In closing Commissioner Turner commented, “I would like to express my humble appreciation to the Citizens of Chelan County for entrusting me to serve as a Port Commissioner and Regional Board Member. It has been an honor.”
The Regional Port will begin the process of appointing a new Port of Chelan County District #3 Commissioner. The position will be publicly advertised, and the Board will soon approve a timeline and process for appointing a new Commissioner. Port of Chelan County District #3 encompasses the communities of Chelan, Manson, Entiat and the North portion of the City of Wenatchee. The appointed person will serve until the November 2023 election.