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In brief: Vehicle crash kills newsman Oxley

BOISE – Chuck Oxley, a longtime Idaho newsman and former media director for the state’s Democratic Party, was killed Saturday in a one-vehicle crash near Blackfoot, Idaho State Police said.

The pickup 46-year-old Oxley was driving left the roadway and rolled over, killing him and leaving a juvenile female passenger with minor injuries, police said in a release.

The release said he first swerved off the road and then overcorrected, causing the accident, which occurred about 4 p.m. on U.S. Highway 26, 21 miles west of Blackfoot.

The passenger, who wasn’t identified, was treated at Bingham Memorial Hospital and released.

Police said both occupants were wearing seat belts and alcohol was not a factor in the crash. An investigation was under way.

Oxley was managing editor of the Blackfoot Morning News, a former reporter for the Associated Press and a former editor at the Idaho Statesman.

The Idaho Democratic Party expressed condolences and noted that Oxley played a key role in directing media for the 2008 Idaho Democratic presidential caucuses, including the Ada County caucuses that drew more than 8,000 voters to Qwest Arena.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Chuck’s family, friends and colleagues,” said Julie Fanselow, the party’s communications director.

“He had been learning to fly and enjoying his new job, and his death is certainly a shock to all of us who knew him.”

Luna says more cuts will hurt kids

LEWISTON – The official who holds Idaho’s top elected education post says public schools will not be able to absorb any more budget cuts without hurting student achievement.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna discussed his proposed budget for the next fiscal year while making stops earlier this week at education events in Lewiston.

Gov. Butch Otter has ordered state agencies to hold back spending in the current fiscal year to help offset a $151 million shortfall in revenue.

The governor is asking the Legislature to pull $49.3 million from a rainy day account to avoid any immediate cuts to public schools.

The Lewiston Tribune reported that Luna’s budget proposal for the 2011 fiscal year seeks the same amount of funding as the current fiscal year’s budget – plus an additional $20 million to $25 million to pay for enrollment growth.

Cheese plant lays off 50 workers

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho – A cheese plant that opened in January 2007 in Mountain Home in southern Idaho is laying off more than 50 of its employees, citing an industry slump amid the flagging U.S. economy.

That cuts the work force to fewer than 300.

Marathon Cheese Corp., based in Marathon, Wis., called the move a “short-term development” and hopes to rehire employees as soon as the market for cheese improves.

Youth coach sentenced for porn

SEATTLE – A youth coach has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for possession of more than 600 images of child pornography.

Richard Lindsay Minifie, 44, of Woodinville, Wash., was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Friday. He was arrested in June after federal agents found logs of online chats between Minifie and a Virginia man who had been arrested on investigation of child pornography.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Minifie had a laptop and two desktop computers containing more than 600 images. More than 100 children were pictured in the photos.

Relatives sue copter maker, suppliers

TACOMA – Relatives of a man who died in a helicopter crash three years ago have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the manufacturer and some of its suppliers.

The surviving children of Russell Lee Tom claim the helicopter he was piloting – a Robinson Helicopter Co. R44 – was poorly designed, “defective and unsafe.”

Their suit was filed in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Lee’s helicopter crashed into Lake Tapps on Oct. 8, 2006. He died and his lone passenger was seriously injured. Witnesses on the ground reported hearing popping or clanking sounds coming from the helicopter before it went down.

Judge accused of violating law

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – The state Public Disclosure Commission says Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan violated state election laws when his city computer was used to criticize his opponent.

The charges filed by the commission don’t say Morgan made Internet posts himself, but conclude he used or authorized the use of city equipment for political gain. He is running for a second term to the bench in the Nov. 3 election.

Morgan continues to deny the charges, which claim his city computer was used to post Internet comments critical of two opponents in the August primary.



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