Michael Wagar Commentary: Welcome Back McCroskey; Time for a Couple of Clowns to Grow Up


I was pleasantly surprised to pick up Thursday’s edition of The Chronicle and read that columnist John McCroskey has decided to take up writing opinion pieces once again.

Then I read his piece, and well, maybe it is one of those “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” I’m kidding, kind of.

It was years ago that I talked McCroskey into writing a column back when I was executive editor of The Chronicle. I think I finally reached him when I said if he writes a weekly column, we would pay him enough to buy a new motorcycle on monthly payments.

McCroskey is the perfect columnist for Lewis County. He’s a former county sheriff. At one point he was hands down the most popular elected official in the county. He knows the ins and outs of politics in Lewis County, as well as having a long local history as a lawman. He’s a staunch Catholic who has strong opinions. He carves wooden Santa Claus statues, for goodness sake.

I also consider John a good friend, and miss our monthly lunch gathering we did back when we both sat in seats of power. I just don’t agree with many of his opinions, and that’s where this column really starts.

McCroskey wrote on Thursday, and I am taking his words out of context, “COVID-19 is racist.” One has to appreciate that short sentence. He’s making a point, but under it all, McCroskey has dubious thoughts about the validity of the virus and how our leaders have acted this past year of pandemic pandering.

“If the experts really knew what they were doing, masks, social distancing and vaccines should have been solved, but they didn’t,” he wrote.

Contrarian to McCroskey’s opinion, I think our leaders have done the best they can dealing with an unknown, always moving virus. The hope is the United States is about to come out of the pandemic this early summer, and the economy will come roaring to life. We shall see.

Anyway, welcome back John, I look forward to your weekly column.

McCroskey I can put up with. He does make valid points that are well received in conservative Lewis County. The following two clowns, however, I just don’t have time for.

First there is the adventures of one Joseph Don Mount, the former chief operations officer for Steck Medical Group in Chehalis. He left his post this past April after being hired in August of 2020, according to an article about Mount’s exploits as published in the prestigious newspaper The Washington Post (likely distrusted as a news source by McCroskey, by the way).

Mount led a 150-person gathering to hike through Grand Canyon National Park last fall. People joined him via Facebook from across 12 different states. A park ranger got wind of the plans, and let Mount know that only groups of up to 11 people are allowed on the hike, and that they should get permits.

Mounts tried to sneak his way onto the hike, pretending there were lots of separate 11-person groups not affiliated with each other. For his folly, Mounts now faces five federal charges and is “accused of lying to park officials,” according to The Post. Mount, a former Eagle Scout, should have known better.

Our second yo-yo under discussion is none other than Winlock Mayor Brandon Svenson. Yesterday morning, the monthly gathering of mayors and other leaders from across the county was set to start. Svenson, who has an aversion to wearing an anti-virus mask at public events, once again refused to mask up, despite being asked to do so.

While Centralia Mayor Sue Luond prepared to discuss an issue important to her and the city (Centralia’s streetscape project), Svenson brought his own special talent to the gathering — reciting the state constitution.

County Commissioner Gary Stamper cancelled the meeting, meaning dozens of county leaders had wasted their morning due to Svenson’s sensibilities.

Svenson is quoted in The Chronicle as stating, “It’s going to take someone to stand up for our rights.” He also said he’s “not anti-mask, per-se.” I guess adding the words “per-se” allows him to either think to himself that it excuses him, or is just added on verbage to make him sound smart.

Svenson, who leads the county Republican Grand Old Party, even if he believes his unscientific reaction to masking up, should at the least either not show up to such a meeting or just mask up to be polite and not cause such disruption.

Same goes for Mount. Just follow the rules for a little while longer until this pandemic dissipates, which I believe will be soon.

Mount and Svenson, I hope you are reading this. It is time for both of you to grow up and get along. Wearing a mask is not difficult.

As far as McCroskey, I think it is high time we started having our monthly lunches so we can discuss items such as Comrade Inslee’s latest politburo decree. I’ll pay the first lunch date, as long as you mask up!


Michael Wagar is a former president, publisher and editor of The Chronicle.