Brian Mittge Commentary: Scalawag Steals Stihl Scout Saws in Centralia


I received a call this week from Shannon Pancake, who is one of the good guys. 

He is a husband, dad, volunteer soccer coach and Boy Scout Leader. He’s the kind of guy who donates his time to spend the day supervising a car wash down at Love’s as a fundraiser for his team. He buys chain saws to cut firewood to sell and raise money for his scouts.

He also is a crime victim, along with the boys in Scout Troop 9300. 

About a week ago (between Thursday night, Oct. 27, and Saturday night, Oct. 29, someone kicked in the door at a garage in a church in Centralia where they were storing his three Stihl chain saws. He estimates the loss at $1,400 to $1,700. 

“The saws were right by the door. They grabbed them and left,” Pancake told me. “I just want my saws back.”

Those are his personal saws that he used to benefit the scouts. He cuts firewood to sell as fundraisers for camps and other outtings. The boys come to help, earning hours of service and money for their activities or materials to use for their merit badges. 

He started the firewood project 10 years ago when his oldest child was 11. They sell from 40 to 65 cords of wood a year. 

It’s not the first time they’ve been burglarized. 

A few years ago they built a shed to keep their firewood covered in the wintertime. One day their wood was gone. They found surveillance footage from the church that showed people walking off with the wood. Police made a few inquiries and the wood was back within a few days.

The police are involved this time and the right people have the serial numbers of the saws, but chain saws might not be as easy to recover as a few cords of stolen firewood.

Perhaps you can help.

If you have any leads, contact me at my email below and I’ll put you in touch with Shannon Pancake.

Crime is always infuriating, but when you’re stealing from a guy who’s giving to others, it’s even worse. Let’s work together to help the good guys win.

Centralia Sesquicentennial

It was in 1872 that Centralia founder George Washington first began laying out his town. That makes this the 150th birthday of Centralia (or Centerville, as the founder first called it), if you count by the date that Washington himself considered the town to be founded.

Telling his life story two decades later, Washington wrote, “In 1872 I laid out the present site of Centralia, on the Northern Pacific.”

Word began spreading about this new town. 

The Washington Standard newspaper wrote in March 1873, “a new town, called Centerville, has been laid out on George Washington’s farm, on the Skookum Chuck, about ten miles from Tenino. Several buildings are already under construction.”

If you’re in the mood to party, don’t worry. You still have a few years to realy get your Centerville celebration going. George Washington and his wife, Mary Jane, didn’t formally submit the plat to county officials until Jan. 8, 1875. 

This means you can sequicentenniate for three more years. Let the party begin. 

(Shameless promotion: local historian Kerry Serl and I are working on a revision to our 2018 biography of George Washington. If we can get the revisions together in the next few days, we have a decent shot of getting the second edition out in local bookstores by the Christmas shopping season. Stay tuned and say a prayer if you’re so inclined. There are miles to go before we publish.)

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Brian Mittge can be reached at