What’s news in the Northwest today:
LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — Tourism promoters in Leavenworth say they have a hit with a sexy YouTube video showing dancing girls, a Nutcracker figure and scenes from the Bavarian-themed North Cascades town. The Wenatchee World reports the hip-hop spoof cost the Leavenworth Area Promotions board only $11,000. The “Gitcha Goomsba Up” music video was produced by Howell at the Moon Productions. Hip-thrusting Bavarian babes, in St. Pauli girl tops and extra-short dirndls, dance around a man-sized Woody Goomsba. Their bare midriffs undulate to a hip-hop beat: “He’s a nutcracker, so bring on the nuts.” Between dance sequences, the video cuts to scenes of river rafting, road cycling, fishing and family putt-putt. In two weeks, the three-minute music video has picked up nearly 80,000 hits on YouTube. Howell at the Moon producer Jeff Ostenson called the video a wildly successful experiment in social marketing. Mayor Rob Eaton says he has heard some complaints from people asking why the city is being portrayed like a spring break destination.
Boise board finally signs off on Simplot project
BOISE — Boise city officials are finally on board with a $70 million project designed to honor Idaho business icon J.R. Simplot. The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously signed off on plans for the Simplot family to build a complex with office space, art studios, meeting spaces and a public park on a collection of vacant lots in the city’s downtown. The complex is called JUMP — or Jack’s Urban Meeting Place. Construction will begin next year, create more than 700 construction jobs and take two years to complete. Project Spokesman David Cuoio says JUMP is designed to serve as a memorial to Simplot, founder of the Simplot Co. and longtime business leader in the state. JUMP will also feature an outdoor theater, parking spaces and a museum of agricultural relics from Simplot’s own collection.
Horse rescue leaves Snohomish County with big bill
EVERETT, Wash. — Snohomish County has spent $60,000 caring for 10 horses seized last year by animal control officers who thought they were being mistreated at a farm near Sultan. The Daily Herald of Everett reports the bill continues to grow, prompting county officials to question the costs. Three of the horses have been put down, one gave birth to a colt. All but one have been adopted. The owner is scheduled for trial in February on animal cruelty charges.
Great Falls man charged with stalking wife
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A 30-year-old Great Falls man faces a stalking charge after his wife received threatening communications during her deployment in Afghanistan. The Great Falls Tribune reports Andrew Fredrick Beckles made an initial appearance in District Court Monday on charges of stalking and violating a restraining order. Desiree Gathers obtained the restraining order in November after alleged domestic violence and subsequent threats. Gathers is in the Air Force and stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base. She was deployed to Afghanistan from April to November. Court records say she received threatening e-mails from Beckles and several phone calls from Beckles’ number while in Afghanistan. She recorded three of the calls and played them for police.
Tribes to protect, restore 6 miles of river
PABLO, Mont. — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have an agreement to protect a six-mile stretch of the Little Bitterroot River, upstream from its confluence with the Flathead River. CSKT Chairman “Bud” Moran said Tuesday the tribe has enrolled 343 acres of streamside land on the Flathead Indian Reservation in a U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation program for the next 15 years. The Missoulian reports the tribes will fence off at least a 180-foot buffer on each side of the river and restore vegetation. Areas along the river lack trees and shrubs, show signs of past heavy grazing and sloughing banks that deposit sediment into the river. The tribes will plant 5,000 native trees and shrubs along the river. Half of the cost of the restoration effort will be reimbursed.
Alcohol incident costs Banks teacher his license
PORTLAND, Ore. — A 30-year-old man who taught math at Banks High School has lost his Oregon teaching license because of an alcohol incident. The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission says Michael James Weaver provided alcohol to two students during the 2006-07 school year. A report released this month says he admitted it in May 2008 while school officials were investigating potentially inappropriate communications with a female student. The Oregonian reports Weaver was placed on paid leave and resigned at the end of that year. He has not held a teaching position in Oregon since leaving Banks.
Cleanup workers to dig big hole at Hanford
RICHLAND, Wash. — Two Richland contractors have won a $5 million contract to dig a hole at Hanford the size of 15 football fields and 85 feet deep. The Tri-City Herald reports the team of Sage Tech and Federal Engineers and Constructors won the Washington Closure Hanford contract. The soil near the C Reactor is contaminated with chromium and within a mile of the Columbia River. The 500,000 tons of soil will be taken to a lined landfill in central Hanford. Work should begin in February and take about a year. Another contract will be awarded to backfill the hole.
Oregon Treasury wants to pay $932,000 in bonuses
PORTLAND — The Oregon State Treasury wants to pay $932,000 in bonuses to 14 investment officers at a time other public employees around the state face the prospect of layoffs, furloughs and benefit cuts. The Oregonian reports Treasury officials are telling the Legislature’s Emergency Board the incentive pay is necessary to retain specialized staff who manage $60 billion in pension and common school fund assets. Their base salaries in 2009 averaged $163,000 with average bonuses of $45,000. A state lawmaker on a committee reviewing the requested bonuses, Sen. Doug Whitsett of Klamath Falls, says he’s concerned the pension fund has lost billions in the past three years but the state is paying bonuses based on five-year returns.
6 Tacoma students have whooping cough
TACOMA — The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department says it has confirmed whooping cough in six students a Washington-Hoyt Elementary School in Tacoma. The department says it suspects several more cases of the contagious disease at other Tacoma schools. Parents are advised to take children to a doctor if they have a cough for more than two weeks or severe coughing fits that cause shortness of breath or vomiting.
6 Idaho teachers earn national board certification
BOISE — Six more Idaho teachers achieved National Board certification in 2010. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards says three of the six educators certified this year teach in North Idaho’s Moscow School District. The newly certified teachers bring the total number of Idaho educators who have earned the ranking to 368. The certification program is voluntary and can take up to three years to complete. Students taught by educators certified by the National Board make bigger gains on standardized tests than students taught by other teachers, according a 2008 report from the National Research Council.