November 15, 2010 in Region

NW today: 4 officers hurt in Walla Walla prison fight

Compiled from wire reports

What’s news in the Northwest today:

WALLA WALLA — Authorities say four correctional officers have been treated for minor injuries after trying to break up an inmate fight at the Washington State Penitentiary. KONA Radio reports two units in the prison at Walla Walla are still locked down this morning following an inmate fight on Sunday. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Shari Hall says the units were locked after a fight broke out and eventually involved about 40 inmates. The fight occurred in the entry area of one of the units as inmates were returning from an outdoor recreation period. A nearby unit was also locked down as a precaution. She says the lock down will continue until corrections officials complete their investigation.

Oregon man files claim over arrest on old Spokane warrant

ALBANY, Ore. — A North Albany man has filed a claim against the city of Albany, saying he was mistakenly arrested more than a year ago. Lawrence Lee Jones Jr. said he remains shaken by the experience of spending a night in jail and he’s had to wait a year before he could start to get his arrest expunged. Jones, who works in Linn County’s Information Technology Department, said he summoned police to his home on a family matter on Oct. 17, 2009, and officers asked him to come to their station, where they arrested him on a warrant issued in Spokane, Wash., in 1988. He said the warrant named a man with a different middle name who was wanted for stealing checks, forging the owner’s signature and cashing nine of them for a total of $1,300. Jones protested that the police had the wrong man but he was taken to the Linn County Jail in handcuffs, searched, fingerprinted and placed in a cell. In the morning, jail staff confirmed the mistake and let Jones go. Albany police insist that its officers made no mistake.

Seattle homeless encampment moves north

SEATTLE — The Seattle homeless encampment named for a former mayor is moving from the university district to a site in north Seattle. It will be the 17th move since a band of squatters and their advocates set up an unauthorized tent city named Nickelsville because they felt the former mayor was ignoring their cause. Current Mayor Mike McGinn said last week he wants to clear a south Seattle site where the former Sunny Jim factory was located as a long-term location for homeless people. McGinn says the new site could be ready by March.

More Idahoans may be eligible for food stamps

BOISE — The state Department of Health and Welfare plans to ask Idaho lawmakers to increase the asset limit for people seeking food stamps. Idaho last year waived the requirement that people have assets less than $2,000 to be eligible, not wanting to force the newly unemployed to unload assets at pennies on the dollar just to qualify. And lawmakers in the 2010 session approved a proposal to temporarily keep the waiver. Idaho Health and Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan said his agency will ask the Legislature to increase the limit to $5,000. The $2,000 limit was established in 1986.

Libraries: More kids in summer reading programs

BOISE — The Idaho Commission for Libraries says more than 69,000 children participated in summer reading programs statewide this year. The commission says that’s a 9 percent increase compared to last year. State Librarian Ann Joslin says the commission supports summer library programs because they help kids build or maintain literacy levels when school is out. The commission says more than 131 libraries participated in the summer reading program and of those, nearly 60 percent reported an increase in participation. More than 65 percent of the libraries reported that they had targeted underserved children.

Oregon school district problems include Elvis video

YONCALLA, Ore. — A controversial Elvis performance by the school superintendent has highlighted some problems in the Yoncalla School District near Eugene. Posted on YouTube, the video shows Yoncalla Superintendent Marc Thielman decked out in a tight white Elvis jumpsuit and wig. It’s one reason Yoncalla resident Sheila Cox led a recall effort against school board members Cathey Grimes, Scott Sublette and Jill Cunningham, who all lost their jobs on Election Day. The five-member school board will cease to exist temporarily after election results are certified on Nov. 22, and there will be no quorum until a Douglas County board appoints replacements. Meanwhile, Thielman has fired the school district’s business manager and secretary after learning its finances have been managed so poorly the state is now demanding that an outside auditor investigate.

Police: Nearly 50 cited in break up of house party

MISSOULA — Police say nearly 50 citations and three arrest warrants were issued while authorities were breaking up a house party in a western Montana neighborhood. Missoula police say they were called to the home just before 2 a.m. on Sunday and found a front lawn covered in empty beer bottles. Inside the rental house, police cited at least 30 minors for alcohol possession, 15 for obstructing an officer and four for disorderly conduct. Police also issued three arrest warrants.

Gates grant worries some Snohomish agencies

EVERETT, Wash. — A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plan to give as much as $7 million in grants to help homeless families in Snohomish County over the next six years has some social service agencies worried. Like most foundation grants, the Investing in Families money comes with some strings attached. For every $1 provided by the foundation, another $2.50 has to be raised from government and other sources. The Herald newspaper reports the intent of local nonprofits is not to take money away from single homeless people to get the money to help homeless families. For the first two years of the program, up to $1.3 million will be available from the Gates Foundation. The necessary $3.2 million in matching funds, though, have not been found.

Man gets 13 years for severely beating woman

BOISE — A 29-year-old Caldwell man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for severely beating and trying to strangle his former girlfriend, causing her permanent vision impairment. The Idaho Statesman reports Gabriel Flores was sentenced Friday by 3rd District Judge Thomas Ryan. Flores will be eligible for parole after serving 7½ years. The former Golden Gloves fighter entered an Alford plea to aggravated battery and attempted strangulation for a September 2009 attack that left his former girlfriend with a shattered eye socket, broken nose and displaced teeth. The woman says Flores tried to drown her in a bathtub. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is enough evidence for a jury to find him guilty.

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