What’s news in the Northwest today:
VANCOUVER, Wash. – The first shipload of large oil equipment for the development of the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, is scheduled to arrive today at the Port of Vancouver. Nine oil modules will arrive in the first of 15 shiploads of an estimated 200 pieces of oil sands refinery equipment. The import operation will last from now to June 2011. As the port hauls in the refinery equipment, the cargo will be barged up the Columbia and Snake rivers to the Port of Lewiston in Idaho. ExxonMobil Canada and several subsidiaries plan to run truckloads of the refinery equipment along Idaho and Montana highways until they reach their Canadian destination. Those plans have met with strong opposition from residents along the proposed trucking routes and other groups concerned about the oil project. Importing the equipment will bring in roughly $1 million to Vancouver port coffers.
Montana governor considering clemency request
CALGARY, Alberta — The Canadian government’s request for clemency may not be enough to save the life of the only Canadian on death row in the United States. Ronald Smith was convicted in 1983 for the shooting deaths of two young Montana men while he was high on drugs and alcohol. The native of Red Deer, Alberta, originally requested the death penalty, but later changed his mind and has been fighting ever since to keep from being executed. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether to hear his final appeal. If the court declines, it will likely be left to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to decide whether Smith lives or dies. In an interview with The Canadian Press this past week, Schweitzer suggested he is still undecided on what he will do.
Gibson makes guitars to honor John Lennon
BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Gibson guitar factory in Bozeman is wrapping up a project to honor what would have been the 70th birthday of Beatles singer and guitarist John Lennon. Gibson Acoustic’s director of sales and marketing, Robi Johns, tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Yoko Ono asked the company to release a limited number of J-160Es — the model of guitar Lennon played. Johns says the company is releasing three models with suggested retail prices of between $4,700 and $15,000. The company made 70 of the all-white “Imagine” model, and 70 replicas of Lennon’s J-160E as it was when he was murdered 20 years ago.
Teams search Portland-area island for missing boy
PORTLAND — Searchers were back on outer northwest Portland island searching for clues to the whereabouts of a missing 8-year-old boy. Multnomah County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Lt. Mary Lindstrand says searchers don’t have new clues but are being thorough in their search for Kyron Horman. About 160 searches participated in Saturday and Sunday’s efforts. Sauvie Island has been a focal point in the past in the search for Kyron, who disappeared four months ago. Kyron has been missing since June 4, when he vanished after a science fair at his elementary school.
Meridian considering ban on texting while driving
MERIDIAN, Idaho — The Meridian City Council is considering an ordinance that would ban texting and driving. The proposed ordinance would make it illegal for drivers to write, send or read texts while operating a moving motor vehicle. The council is expected to vote Tuesday. If approved, the ban could take effect as soon as Nov. 1. Under the proposal, a first and second violation would be an infraction punishable by a $75 fine while a third or subsequent violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300 or up to 90 days in jail, or both.
Oregon farmers growing biomass crops for energy
ONTARIO, Ore. — Farmers in eastern Oregon are getting ready to harvest crops for biomass that will be used to generate electricity. Agri Energy Producers Association members plan to start harvesting the high biomass sorghum crops in 20 to 30 days. Some of the sorghum crop already stands 14 feet tall. The so-called “energy crops” being grown during this startup year total 1,500 acres, with 900 in Malheur County and neighboring Idaho. There are 600 acres in the Hermiston-Boardman area. The crop will be harvested, stored as ensilage, processed and used to produce electricity.
3 arrested after Battle Ground bottle bomb explosion
BATTLE GROUND, Wash. — Police say three teenagers have admitted tossing a homemade bottle bomb into a woman’s yard. Officers say the three told them it was a prank and the house wasn’t specifically targeted. Police said today they have referred the case to the Clark County prosecutor’s office for possible charges.
The woman, 49-year-old woman, Teri Heroux, told The Columbian she and her husband were in their backyard Friday evening when they saw someone toss the plastic bottle and run off. She picked it up and was taking it to a garbage can when it grew hot, exploded and knocked her down. Police say they don’t know what was in the bottle.
Three dozen displaced by Monroe apartment fire
MONROE , Wash. — Nearly three dozen people were left homeless by a fire that destroyed a 16-unit apartment building in Monroe in Western Washington. No one was injured early Sunday in the fire that caused an estimated $450,000 in damage. The Red Cross put up about 15 people Sunday night at a temporary shelter.
Coast Guard rescues 2 after fishing boat capsizes
TILLAMOOK, Ore. — The Coast Guard says it rescued two people after their 56-foot fishing boat capsized crossing the Tillamook entrance bar. The vessel contacted the Coast Guard via radio Sunday evening to tell them of the planned crossing, and the Coast Guard sent two motor lifeboats to the area as a precaution. The Guard says that when the boat did capsize and its two occupants were forced into the water, one of the rescue boats was able to locate them. No injuries were reported but the two were undergoing medical evaluations.
Searches on for Hells Canyon hiker, woman missing in Skagit County
In Idaho, authorities are searching for a 39-year-old Riggins man who went missing while hiking last week in the Hells Canyon area. Todd Hofflander and a friend were hiking in the Windy Saddle area Sept. 27 when the pair split up. They planned to meet at an area cabin that afternoon. Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service employees have joined the search for Hofflander. Helicopters, dog teams, horseback riders, ATV riders and thermal imaging equipment have also been used.
In Washington, searchers are concerned about cold overnight temperatures on Sauk Mountain where a 65-year-old Skagit County woman has been missing since Saturday. Sheriff’s Deputy Will Reichardt says Patricia Kreiger disappeared after she became separated from a five-member group that had gone up the mountain to scatter the ashes of a friend’s deceased parent.