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Morning Star hires director

Wed., Feb. 6, 2008

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch has selected a new executive director. Joe Pickert, who spent 18 years working in money management in Los Angeles, will run the 50-year-old ranch south of Spokane.

He replaces the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, who retired in May 2006 amid allegations of sexual and physical abuse – charges the priest has strenuously denied. Assistant Director Dan Kuhlmann has been acting director since Weitensteiner retired.

Pickert moved to Spokane three years ago and has volunteered at Morning Star as development committee chairman for the ranch’s foundation and as director of the ranch’s football camp. Pickert played football at the University of California, Los Angeles. He signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys but was released two months later, according to a Cowboys spokesman.

Morning Star has served nearly 1,300 boys in its half-century history. Thirteen former residents have sued the ranch over abuse allegations.

The ranch’s new director said he wants to “build the most respected charity in the Northwest.”

Geiger inmate back in custody

Police on Tuesday morning captured a Geiger Corrections inmate who was mistakenly released Jan. 25.

Acting on a tip, Spokane police officers went to a home at 2115 W. Dalton Ave., where they found Darnell Riley and arrested him without incident, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

Riley originally was being held in the jail on two felony drug charges “when he was erroneously released,” Reagan said.

“Another inmate with a similar last name had posted bond and was called to the releasing office over the facility’s public address system. That inmate did not respond, but Darnell Riley did and was released instead.”

An internal investigation is under way.

City kicking off climate effort

Spokane leaders today are commencing their effort to deal with climate change.

The city is sponsoring an address by Daniel Lerch, program manager of the Post Carbon Institute’s cities program.

The public kickoff starts at 6 p.m. at the downtown library, 906 W. Main Ave.

Lerch has written a guide for cities to deal with climate change and growing concerns that oil supplies are falling.

Last year, former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which says the city will attempt to cut its global warming pollution to 7 percent below 1990 levels.

Mayor Mary Verner has hired a “sustainability coordinator” to help create a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the city’s dependence on oil.


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