What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — Empty your own trash can. That’s what the University of Washington is telling its employees, to save money. Building services director Gene Woodard told KIRO-FM that 50 custodians have been cut from the staff in Seattle in the past two years, and the remaining workers are busy with more-important cleaning, like disinfecting. Woodard says some UW employees were hesitant when the university started the dump-your-own-trash practice two years ago, but now it’s accepted campus-wide.
North Idaho College considers smoking ban
COEUR D’ALENE — Student government leaders at North Idaho College say a smoking ban will likely be proposed for the community college campus. Shelby Gonzales is a senator for the Associated Students of North Idaho College. Gonzales tells the Coeur d’Alene Press that a smoking policy committee has been set up with the goal of making the campus a better environment for all students. Gonzales says students and faculty have complained about second-hand smoke. Elsewhere in the state, the College of Southern Idaho and Boise State University already have smoking bans in place.
Walla Walla purple octopus fine up to $2,000
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — The fine for a Walla Walla toy store with a purple octopus mural now totals about $2,000. The city says the painting at the Inland Octopus toy store is an illegal sign, running up a fine of $100 a day. Store owner Bob Catsiff says the mural is art. He’s taking the city to court on Nov. 18. KNDU-TV reports 1,300 people have signed a petition supporting the store owner.
Temporary tax collectors bring in $5.5M for Idaho
LEWISTON — Sixteen temporary workers hired to collect unpaid taxes brought in more than $5.5 million over a three-month span at a cost of just $157,092, an Idaho tax official says. Randy Tilley, administrator of the Audit and Collections Division at the Idaho State Tax Commission, said the nonvoluntary taxes were collected between July 1 and Sept. 30. He said the goal for the temporary workers was to collect $1.266 million, which was far exceeded. Counting permanent staff, the commission brought in $50.2 million in owed taxes at a cost of about $3.72 million, Tilley said.
Fish and Game releases sturgeon in Snake River
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released 402 sturgeon in the Snake River near Idaho Falls for sport anglers, including two fish more than 6 feet long. The agency says the fish released Monday in eastern Idaho are for catch and release because conditions in the river do not allow the fish to reproduce. Gregg Losinski of Fish and Game tells KIFI-TV that the fish can live up to 100 years and grow to between 12 and 20 feet. He recommends anglers attempting to catch a sturgeon first go with someone who has fished for them before because the fish possess great strength.
Layoffs for 200 Columbia River barge workers
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Tidewater Barge Lines is laying off up to 200 employees for three months while three navigation locks on the Columbia and Snake Rivers are being replaced. The Vancouver company says the layoffs will start Dec. 10 and last through March 19 when the work should be complete. The Oregonian reports the Corps of Engineers is replacing locks at The Dalles and John Day dams on the Columbia River and at the Lower Monumental dam on the lower Snake River.
Portland water turns fall color
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Water Bureau is telling customers not to worry about the “fall color” showing up in the drinking water. The bureau says the change in color this time of year is normal from the first flush of organic material into streams and the reservoir for the Bull Run water supply system. The water utility said Monday it’s getting calls about the color, but the water quality meets state and federal standards.
Elma plant turns old wood, plastic into new boards
ELMA, Wash. — A manufacturing plant at the Satsop Development Park in Elma will mix recycled wood and recycled plastic to make boards that can be used to make fruit bins, pallets and crates. The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reports NewWood Manufacturing purchased the plant from Boise Cascade, which developed the plant. It has been idle since 2006. NewWood will employ 150 people making building materials. With the help of the Washington State University Composite Materials Engineering Center, NewWood plans to expand production into siding, fencing and other products.
Judge halts medical marijuana consulting business
MISSOULA, Mont. — A Missoula judge has issued a restraining order preventing three former employees of the Montana Caregivers Network from operating a medical marijuana consulting business as their lawsuit against the network proceeds. District Judge Dusty Deschamps on Friday granted the restraining order, but refused Jason Christ’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Tiffany Klang, John Phillips and Nicole Harrington sued Christ in August alleging he falsified some applications for medical marijuana cards, used company funds for personal expenses and drove a company van while smoking marijuana. The three then started 406 Alternative Care Consultants.
Spokane man with knife rants about Halloween
SPOKANE — A Spokane man alarmed neighbors on Halloween by waving a butcher knife outside his home and accusing trick-or-treaters of devil worshipping. KXLY-TV reports police arrived, ordered the man to drop the knife and tackled him. The man, John Gouveia, made his first court appearance Monday and was held on jail with bail set at $7,500.
Transgender driver suing Portland over police stop
PORTLAND — A transgender driver who claims a Portland police officer grabbed her breasts and genitalia during a search is suing the city for more than $200,000. The lawsuit filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court says the 27-year-old, Chlole Lucero, appears male outwardly but her license identifies her as female. She was stopped for erratic driving in November 2008, searched and ticketed for traffic violations. A police spokeswoman, Lt. Kelli Sheffer, told The Oregonian that officers of both genders routinely pat down suspects to determine if they have weapons, regardless of gender.