NW today: Missing snowshoe hiker found dead

MONDAY, DEC. 6, 2010, 9:11 A.M.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

VERLOT, Wash. — A snowshoe hiker who had been missing since Saturday in eastern Snohomish County has been found dead. Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Brand says searchers found the body of 54-year-old Jack LaMont of Marysville today at about the 3,100-foot level of Morning Star Peak. His dog, a blue heeler named “Shotgun,” was found alive by body. Brand says searchers found the body after following tracks in the snow through rugged terrain. He says there were snow and rock slides in the area. An autopsy would determine the cause of death. LaMont went for a day hike Saturday and was reported overdue Sunday by his wife. Searchers located his car at a trail head off the Mountain Loop Highway about 27 miles east of Granite Falls.

Republican says hoax fliers cost him election

MOSCOW, Idaho — A Republican who lost his bid for the Idaho Senate says religious mailers that were sent to Latah County voters and appeared to carry his endorsement may have cost him the election. Gresham Bouma is offering a $1,000 reward for information on who sent the fliers, which featured his picture and urged voters to become true believers or be “struck down.” Bouma beat nine-term GOP senator Gary Schroeder in the Idaho primary to face Democrat Dan Schmidt in the November general election. Bouma lost to Schmidt by 810 votes. Latah County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brannon Jordan says about 150 of the postcards have been collected and sent to a forensics lab as part of an investigation into where the mailers originated. Jordan says authorities “don’t want to let this go.”

Coeur d’Alene residents recycling more

COEUR D’ALENE — Participation in Coeur d’Alene’s recycling program has doubled since new bins that take more types of items and make the process easier went into use, officials say. About 54 percent of residents recycle, up from 27 percent when the city used smaller, less inclusive bins. Waste Management spokesman Keith Lund said the convenience of not having to sort recyclables with the new bins is the main reason for the increased participation. He said the tonnage of recycled materials has tripled to 120,000 pounds in the first month of collection with the larger bins.

Closing arguments expected in Oregon bank bomb trial

SALEM, Ore. — Closing arguments are expected in the aggravated murder trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, the father and son accused of planting a deadly bomb outside a bank in Woodburn two years ago. The trial that began in September is expected to begin wrapping up today in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem. Prosecutors have argued the Turnidges planted the bomb as part of a failed robbery plot that killed an Oregon State Police bomb technician and a Woodburn police captain. The father and son have accused each other of responsibility. The bomb exploded as the state trooper was trying to dismantle what he believed to be a hoax device.

Montana soldier receives Purple Heart

BUTTE, Mont. — A 23-year-old Montana soldier who lost both legs and his right arm when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan has been awarded the Purple Heart. The Montana Standard reported Army Sgt. J.D. Williams of Harrison, Mont., received the medal on Nov. 6 from a hospital bed at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Purple Heart is awarded to military personnel wounded or killed in action. Williams was wounded on Oct. 9, was treated in Germany and returned to the United States on Oct. 15. His family says he could begin outpatient therapy this week.

USDA to provide $30 million for sage grouse protection

CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is boosting funding to protect sage grouse and sage grouse habitat in 11 Western states. This will be the second year of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Sage Grouse Initiative. Up to $30 million will go to the states where sage grouse are found, an increase from $18.5 million in 2010. Sage grouse are a mottled brown, football-sized bird found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, California, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, North Dakota and Canada. Sage grouse numbers have declined by 99 percent over the past century. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined earlier this year to protect the bird as endangered.

Montana woman charged with helping son rob safe

HAMILTON, Mont. — A 46-year-old Hamilton woman is accused of helping her son steal cash, gold and silver from a safe at her estranged husband’s house. The Ravalli Republic reports Donna Severson pleaded not guilty last week in District Court to accountability to burglary and accountability to theft. Severson’s son is charged with stealing cash and coins from his uncle’s safe and with stealing cash, coins and gold from his father’s safe in 2008. He was a juvenile at the time of the thefts. The son’s girlfriend told investigators that she and her boyfriend took about $18,000 in cash while Severson received about $10,000.

New Oregon governor says he’ll live in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — When he takes office as Oregon governor next month, John Kitzhaber says he expects to spend most of his time in Portland, except when the Legislature is in session in Salem. Kitzhaber says he’s keeping his home in Portland, where his 13-year-old son goes to school. A spokeswoman, Amy Wojcicki, told The Oregonian Kitzhaber has no plans to rent an office or have a permanent staff in Portland. When necessary, he’ll use conference rooms in state offices at the World Trade Center. Gov. Ted Kulongoski and his wife plan to move out of the governor’s mansion Dec. 10. They have bought a house in their old Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland.

Three Oregon men face charges for alleged fake $20 bills

BEND, Ore. — Three Oregon men are facing various charges after they allegedly used counterfeit $20 bills within minutes of each other at a Bend convenience store over the weekend. KTVZ-TV reports a store clerk called police Saturday night and provided a description of a car leading to the arrests of 18-year-old Tyler Jo Shinkle along with Brett Allan Hudspeth and James L. Dhaenens, both 21, all from Bend. Bend police said a search turned up other counterfeit bills. All three men were charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and theft. Hudspeth was also charged with six counts of forgery, Dhaenens was charged with six counts of conspiracy to commit forgery, and Shinkle was charged with one count of forgery.

Judge dismisses North Idaho man’s lawsuit over arrest

COEUR d’ALENE — A federal judge has dismissed the case of a northern Idaho man who sued police, saying his civil rights were violated during a Fourth of July arrest three years ago. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge also rejected claims by Larry J. Wilson that he was falsely imprisoned following his arrest on July 4, 2007 for suspicion of drunken driving. Charges of driving under the influence were initially filed against Wilson but later dropped. Police say Wilson was arrested after leaving a Coeur d’Alene bar and making an illegal left turn without using his signal. Police said Wilson, who was 66, had blood shot eyes and initially failed sobriety tests. Later tests found Wilson was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Nine districts approved for early graduation program

BOISE — The state Department of Education says nine school districts have been approved for a program that rewards students who graduate high school early with scholarship money. Another four school districts have been tentatively approved and do not qualify under current rules for the program, which limits participation to two districts per region. The education department plans to work with Idaho lawmakers to allow the four additional school districts to participate in the six-year pilot program. The program was signed into law this year and allows students to earn scholarships to an Idaho college or university for each year they graduate high school early.

Idaho teen chasing dog hit by car

BOISE — An Idaho teen chasing a dog near state highway 52 was struck by a car and hospitalized. Police say 14-year-old Maria Grenier, of Emmett, was running after the dog at about 3 p.m. on Saturday when she was hit by 87-year-old James McFadden’s car at an intersection. An ambulance moved the teen to Walter Knox Hospital in Emmett, where she was treated for non life-threatening injuries. McFadden was not injured. Idaho State Police are investigating the collision.

Rain shadow leaves NE Olympic Peninsula drier

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — A Dungeness man is helping study the Olympic rain shadow. That’s the climate phenomenon on the northeast side of the Olympic Peninsula caused by prevailing winds from the south and west. Storms hit the Olympic mountains, dropping as much as 200 inches of rain a year. But the leeward side of the mountains is drier and sunnier than most of the Puget Sound area. The Peninsula Daily News reports David Britton has put a weather station on top of his home and shares findings on the Internet for a better understanding of the rain shadow.

57 more Hanford buildings to be demolished

RICHLAND, Wash. — Work could start this winter on the next round of building demolition at the Hanford nuclear reservation. The Energy Department is studying the removal of 57 contaminated buildings. The Tri-City Herald reports that 271 of 970 central Hanford buildings have been demolished so far. The 57 buildings include a laboratory and support buildings that worked with plutonium and uranium produced for nuclear weapons.

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