What’s news in the Northwest today:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are meeting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in Denver to talk about wolf management. Today’s meeting comes after the states have been denied permission to hunt gray wolves, by both a federal judge and Salazar’s agency. All three states are anxious to reduce wolf numbers to protect other wildlife and reduce livestock attacks. But environmental groups have blocked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from turning wolf management over to the states. A federal judge in Wyoming recently ruled that the federal wildlife agency was wrong to reject that state’s wolf management plan. Wyoming has proposed to classify wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state.
Seattle Somali community fears bomb plot backlash
SEATTLE — Seattle’s Somali community is afraid of a backlash after the holiday bomb threat was uncovered in Portland. Seattle residents with a Somali background told KOMO-TV they are concerned that people will think all Somali Muslims are potential terrorists. The director of the Somali Community Center in Seattle says she fears people will retaliate against the Somali community, one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in Seattle. Farah said some Somali Muslims were harassed after 9/11 and in September of last year, when a Somali-American suicide bomber from Seattle was accused of killing 21 peacekeepers in Mogadishu, Somalia. Last month, a woman was arrested after allegedly attacking two Muslim women from Somalia at a Tukwila gas station.
Triple fatality on I-82 near Kennewick
KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Washington State Patrol says a pickup truck driving the wrong way on Interstate 82 Sunday night caused a five-car accident near Kennewick that killed three people. Sgt. Jody Metz told the Tri-City Herald the driver of the pickup, which burned, was one of the dead. A man and woman from the Tri-Cities in another car died, but a 3-year-old in the back seat survived. She was taken to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland and later to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. KNDU reports the child is listed in satisfactory condition.
Police officers hospitalized after fire rescue
LEWISTON — A pair of police officers who suffered from smoke inhalation while responding to an apartment complex fire are in fair condition at a northern Idaho hospital. Officer Ian Walker and reserve officer Jason Ewing were admitted Sunday to the hospital, where a woman they helped rescue from the burning building was treated and released. A third officer, Dustin Hibbard, was also treated for smoke inhalation and released. Lewiston police says the officers were the first to respond to the fire at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. The officers say they could hear a woman screaming from an apartment engulfed in smoke. The Lewiston Tribune reports police found the unidentified woman in her bedroom and brought her to safety.
Homeless turned away from event to benefit them
COEUR D’ALENE — A North Idaho man who slept outside in the cold to raise awareness about homelessness says the very people he was trying to help weren’t allowed to join him. Steve Bell collected blankets, jackets and about 350 sleeping bags for the homeless during his overnight stint earlier this month at the Harding Center in Coeur d’Alene. The center agreed to let Bell use the property to deliver his message and sleep outside, against city ordinances, but dozens of homeless people were turned away when they tried to join him. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that members of the general public were allowed to camp with Bell outside the center, while the people who were in fact homeless were directed to a local shelter.
Sentencing in E. Oregon pot plantation case
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Roosevelt, Wash., man who was charged with helping operate a marijuana plantation in Oregon’s Grant County is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Portland. The Oregonian reports Sergio Hernandez-Escalera will probably be deported to Mexico after his prison term. He pleaded guilty to manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants. Two other men pleaded guilty in June and are awaiting sentencing. A drug team raided the plantation in northeast Oregon in August 2009 and seized about 23,000 plants.
Faulty smoke alarm forces Horizon flight return
PORTLAND — A faulty bathroom smoke alarm forced a Horizon Air flight to return to Portland International Airport shortly after takeoff today. The Oregonian reported a Horizon CRJ 700 jet which took off for San Francisco International Airport at 6:15 a.m. returned to Portland after the alarm sounded and landed shortly before 6:45 a.m. No one was injured. Passengers and luggage were transferred to another plane.
Police try to ID man in Eugene bicycle crash
EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene police are trying to identify a bicyclist who ran away from a collision with a car and took off his pants. KVAL reports the man in his 40s was hospitalized with a serious head injury after the Saturday night accident. Police say the bicycle rider crashed into a car and hit the windshield. While the driver stopped to help, the man fled. Police found the injured man about an hour later wearing only underwear and a sweat shirt.
USDA asked to approve GMO apple that won’t brown
CASHMERE, Wash. — A Canadian biotechnology company is seeking U.S. approval of a genetically modified apple that keeps its color when sliced or bitten into. Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, British Columbia, is seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to market what it calls an “Arctic” apple. The company thinks the modification that keeps the apple from browning could boost sales of sliced apples. Apple industry leaders say it’s too soon to know whether they’d be interested in the new apple. They say they need to know how much it would cost to plant and whether people would buy it. Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover says most people don’t like the idea of genetically modified food.
Police positive about new missing child alert
BOISE — Law enforcement officials in Idaho say a new system could help them locate missing children or adults by sending out thousands of notifications to area residents. Police tell the Idaho Statesman that the Child Is Missing system is intended to help find children, elderly people with dementia, and others who are missing. Police say it’s not a replacement for the Amber Alert system, which is used in cases of suspected child abduction. Police say the Child Is Missing system also uses satellite images to identify danger spots such as lakes or wooded areas where a person could be missing.
S. Idaho mayor calls purple smoke shop an affront
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The mayor of a south-central Idaho city says an eye-catching, purple-and-lime-green smoke shop on the main thoroughfare through town is an affront to the conservative values for which the community stands. Twin Falls Mayor Don Hall says the high-visibility Smokin’ Head smoke shop on Blue Lakes Boulevard sends a message that isn’t appropriate for the town that considers family paramount. Owner Allen Nagel tells The Times-News he needed to do something to make his business stand out, and that he’s received compliments on the color scheme. It’s unclear if the city council will take any action. Councilman David E. Johnson says he’s undecided because personal property rights are involved, and that the city already has other eyesores.
What’s in a name? Battle over who can use ’yogi’
EUGENE — Six years after the death of spiritual leader Yogi Bhajan, three legal battles are under way in Oregon and California over the use of the name “yogi” in food products and ingredients. In the late 1960s, the India-born man founded a Sikh community in the United States. The community created Golden Temple, a cereal and tea producer in Eugene that became an anchor of the local natural foods industry. Golden Temple officials told The Register-Guard their sole focus today is growing Yogi Tea. The natural tea business has 50 employees in Springfield and about 100 employees in Europe. But the outcomes of the trademark disputes could disrupt in those plans.
Prospective site for homeless camp is contaminated
SEATTLE — The prospective site for new Seattle homeless camp is on a state list for contamination. The Seattle Times reports the south Seattle site has petroleum byproducts and a toxic cleaning solvent in the groundwater. Mayor Mike McGinn chose the site of the old Sunny Jim peanut butter factory without knowing it was contaminated, even though a city consultant reported those findings more than a year ago. It’s not clear where the chemicals came from, but such contamination is not unusual on old industrial sites. Public health officials are trying to determine whether the site is safe for people. After learning about pollution at the site, the mayor hired an environmental consultant to look into health risks. A preliminary review has found no “major issues with the proposed use.”
Bellingham men charged in meth prison conspiracy
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Two Bellingham men have been charged with conspiracy to mail papers soaked in methamphetamine to inmates in state prisons. A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges that 31-year-old Joseph L. Garcia supplied ounces of meth to 47-year-old Kirk L. Rishor, who soaked the drugs into high-quality, cotton-fiber paper. The complaint says Rishor put the paper into manila envelopes filled with legal paperwork and mailed the package to the prison. Rishor and Garcia were arrested in Bellingham on Nov. 12. When investigators searched Garcia’s home with a warrant, they found $28,000 in cash and almost 40 ounces of meth. An inmate in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Victor Martinez, also has been charged.