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In brief: More claims filed over fire damage

A new lawsuit has been filed seeking more money from Dr. Tracy Berg and a teenage boy who were blamed for starting the Valley View fire that destroyed 11 homes and caused several million dollars worth of damage.

The latest suit was filed last week by Seattle attorney Thomas A. Wolfe, who represents 11 individuals or couples for Safeco Insurance Company. Wolfe is seeking $2.8 million for damage caused in the July 10, 2008, blaze that burned more than 1,000 acres.

“We are just one of many lawsuits. There are tens of millions worth of claims” against Berg, Wolfe said. “We are just trying to assert our claim as well, to make sure we are counted for whatever is available.”

Wolfe said he understands that all similar suits will be joined and heard before one Superior Court judge. Berg’s Seattle attorney, Tammy L. Williams, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Thomas Clouse

Spokane man, son face drug charges

Police arrested a 20-year-old Spokane man and his father Thursday on suspicion of selling marijuana to high school students in northwest Spokane.

Kruz Hawkins was arrested after he rode his bike to the parking lot of Pizza Pipeline on Wellesley Avenue, where police believe he sells $3 marijuana-laced baked goods to Shadle Park High School students during their lunch break, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Detectives also searched a home at 2307 W. Crown Ave., where Hawkins lives with his father, Ricky Hawkins, 43. Police found a small marijuana growing operation.

The elder Hawkins was arrested for unlawful use of building – knowingly allowing drug sales to occur. Kruz Hawkins faces one count of delivery of a controlled substance.

Meghann M. Cuniff

Panel agrees to block cost-of-living boost

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers reversed course Thursday and voted to pass the same legislation blocking a cost-of-living increase for state retirees that they’d just killed a day earlier.

The vote on Wednesday to kill HCR 42 in the House State Affairs Committee was 13-5, but seven Republican committee members switched on Thursday to pass the bill, 12-4.

Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said an actuarial report e-mailed to him by a citizen suggested the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho fund is in trouble, but the report was for last year and PERSI officials said the fund is sound.

The measure now moves to the full House; it’s on a fast track, because it must pass both houses by next Wednesday to block the 1 percent COLA now scheduled to take effect in March. That affects 33,000 state and local government retirees in Idaho.

Betsy Z. Russell

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