Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886


Health department closes shellfish areas

Several areas in Mason County have been closed for shellfish harvesting due to high levels of biotoxins that cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, according to the state Health Department.

Pickering Passage, Peale Passage and Squaxin Passage are closed for all harvesting.

Beaches closed for all harvesting are West Dougall Point, Jarrell Cove State Park and Jarrell Cove State Park East, Hope Island State Park and DNR areas 33 and 34 on Harstine Island.

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the health department’s website. Cooking shellfish does not destroy the poison.

State officials recommend checking the state shellfish safety map at for beach closures and advisories on the day you plan to harvest shellfish.

Central Mason Fire sets yearly call record

Central Mason Fire & EMS has answered a record 10,000 calls so far this year, a record for Mason County Fire.

“Never has a fire department in Mason County ran 10,000 calls in a calendar year,” CMFE said in a news release.

Crews surpassed the mark Dec. 17 and continue to add to the record.

Mason County Fire District 11 became part of CMFE June 1, but Deputy Chief Greg Yates told the Journal that wasn’t the main reason for increased calls.

Central Mason had been co-responding on calls with Fire District 11 for some time, according to Yates.

“There are a multitude of reasons,” he said.

Mason County has an aging population and calls to 911 have increased over the past 10 years. Sometimes people call 911 rather than wait in long lines at the emergency room, Yates said.

“It’s not really one thing. It’s a change in the times and not particular to Mason County,” Yates said about the jump in calls.

Fire departments get snowplows

West Mason Fire, Hoodsport Fire and North Mason RFA are getting snowplows as part of a pilot program this winter.

The vehicles will allow ambulance and fire response on roads that haven’t been plowed and can be used to plow out the fire stations and get to personnel, according to a news release by West Mason Fire.

The program is not a replacement for regular snowplow drivers.

The snowplows are owned by Mason County and mounted on fire district brush trucks.

West Mason Fire said its vehicle was donated by the state DNR after their crews were finished using it.

“If you see a snowplow with red lights instead of yellow lights, don’t be shocked. It’s just a reminder of several local officials working hard to make sure you can get the help you need using tax dollars in the most responsible and resourceful way possible,” West Mason Fire Chief Matthew Welander said.

Port of Shelton aces state audit

The Port of Shelton announced it received a “clean audit opinion” from the state, Auditor’s Office, according to a news release.

“The port takes pride in our commitment to the community in being financially responsible and transparent in all port operations. This report is the result of the hard work and commitment from all staff and port auditor,” Executive Director Wendy Smith said.

The audit covered 2021 and 2022 financial statements and examined cash receipting, account payable, payroll, procurement, compliance with public works projects, open public meetings and financial condition, the port said.

Navy, county rescue Mount Ellinor hiker

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s search and rescue team, along with Mason County Search and Rescue, rescued a hiker who had fallen more than 1,200 feet down an avalanche chute on Mount Ellinor in the Olympic National Forest on Dec. 16.

The 30-year-old man fell down the ravine close to the summit and his hiking partner couldn’t find him, according to the NAS news release.

The Navy SAR crew sent a helicopter out shortly after 6:20 p.m. and made contact with the Mason SAR incident commander in the area.

“After finding no trace of the hiker near the top of the mountain, the SAR crew began a search at the bottom of a large avalanche runout some 1,000 feet down slope from the top of the mountain. During that search they saw a flashing light near a boulder field slightly below the avalanche runout, and more than 1,200 feet below where he initially fell,” according to the release.

Crewmembers lowered a rescuer from the helicopter and quickly hoisted up the injured hiker, who had a broken arm, symptoms of hypothermia and significant abrasions, the Navy said.

The crew flew the injured man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

County offers free Christmas tree recycling

Mason County will provide free Christmas tree recycling through Jan. 9. Curbside garbage and recycling customers can cut up their trees and put them in their carts or trees can be dropped off at the Shelton transfer station at 501 West Eells Hills Road or Belfair solid waste drop off at 2001 NE Sand Hill Road in Belfair.

Trees must not have decorations, tinsel or flocking.

Wreaths and garland will not be accepted for free recycling because they have wire and can’t be recycled, according to the county.


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