February 25, 2010 in City

In brief: Dog meatball had strychnine poison

From Staff And Wire Reports

Washington State University veterinarians say a meatball found on a Spokane woman’s property contained strychnine – the same poison thought to have killed dogs in North Idaho last spring.

The Spokane woman’s dog died near Regal Street and the Palouse Highway last week after eating another meatball. Two other dogs died after eating similar meatballs found in the Moran Prairie neighborhood on Spokane’s South Hill.

On Monday, a homeowner near 36th Avenue and Grand Boulevard found meatballs similar to those found Friday.

Test results for those meatballs are expected this week, said Nancy Hill, director of the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

Similar poisonings reported in North Idaho last March were never solved. Lisa Kauffman, Idaho state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said officials believe the incident may have stemmed from a family incident.

Cost-of-living hike survives Senate

BOISE – Idaho Senate leaders on Tuesday canceled a planned hearing on a House-passed bill to block a cost-of-living increase for state retirees, and said they’ll allow the 1 percent increase to take effect as scheduled next month.

The bill, HCR 42, was rushed through the House at the urging of House GOP leaders; it would override the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho board’s recommendation on a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees for the first time ever. Backers said they worried about the health of the PERSI fund, though last week the Pew Center on the States named it one of the nation’s top-performing state retirement funds.

Judge sentences doctor’s aide

An assistant to a physician serving time in federal prison for overprescribing drugs will be on probation for the next three years.

Steven M. Featherkile, of Deer Park, pleaded guilty to three counts of making fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicaid in an agreement that dropped the original charges of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy.

Those charges were filed in 2007 after a lengthy investigation into Deer Park physician Keith Hindman, Featherkile’s boss.

Hindman was sentenced to nine months in prison in April. Federal prosecutors connected him to the death of at least one patient.

But Featherkile had nothing to do with Hindman’s actions, his lawyer, J.J. Sandlin, said Wednesday after Featherkile was sentenced in U.S. District Court.

Along with probation, U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley ordered Featherkile to perform 200 hours of community service each year for three years and pay a $2,000 fine.

Forest Service hires Colville supervisor

Laura Jo West is the Colville National Forest’s new supervisor.

West is a 20-year veteran of the Forest Service. She most recently worked as a district ranger on the Prescott National Forest in Arizona.

West said she’ll continue the spirit of public communication and collaboration begun by former supervisor Rick Brazell.

“What I like to do is make sure people are talking to each other,” she said in a prepared statement. “While the Forest Service mission can sometimes cause conflicts, I feel strongly that we can weave the mission into the goals of local communities.”

West has a graduate degree from Utah State University in political science. She enjoys hiking, skiing, fishing and breeding horses.

Fewer inmates make parole

BOISE – A state audit has found that fewer Idaho inmates are being paroled on their initial release date compared to six years ago.

The Office of Performance Evaluations audit, presented to lawmakers Wednesday, recommends better communication with the Department of Corrections, more staff training and better use of technology to streamline the parole process, among other things.

In 2004, nearly 40 percent of inmates were released on their tentative parole date, compared to just 17 percent in 2008.

The audit urges Gov. Butch Otter to make sure commission director Olivia Craven drafts a formal grievance policy to improve the work environment.

Assault suspects plead not guilty

SEATTLE – Three men charged with robbery in connection with the Seattle bus tunnel beating captured on video pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Wednesday in King County Superior Court.

In other developments, the King County sheriff’s office says a sixth person – a 16-year-old girl – has been arrested in the case and booked for investigation of second-degree assault.

The three men who entered pleas would face a maximum four years in prison if they are convicted of taking the purse and other belongings from a 15-year-old girl who was knocked unconscious in a Jan. 28 fight with another 15-year-old girl.

The three remain in jail. Bail is set at $100,000 for 20-year-old Latroy Hayman and 18-year-old Domanique Whitaker and $25,000 for 18-year-old Tyrone Watson.

The 15-year-old girl accused of the beating and robbery pleaded not guilty Feb. 11 in juvenile court. A 17-year-old boy accused of assault pleaded not guilty Tuesday in juvenile court.

Thong-clad barista faces misdemeanor

TACOMA – Pierce County prosecutors filed a charge of unlawful public exposure against a 19-year-old barista accused of wearing only a thong bottom and X-shaped pasties on her nipples.

Prosecutors filed the misdemeanor charge Tuesday against the woman who worked at the Bikini Bottoms espresso stand in Puyallup.

A passer-by had complained last October about seeing the woman topless.

When a sheriff’s deputy went to investigate the woman went to the back of the stand, took off the pasties and put on a bikini top.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reports the deputy confiscated the pasties as evidence.

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