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NW today: Graphic testimony in Kennewick murder trial

Thu., Oct. 7, 2010, 8:46 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

KENNEWICK — A jury in Kennewick heard graphic testimony Wednesday in the murder trial of a woman accused of killing a pregnant woman and cutting the baby from her womb. The Tri-City Herald reports a forensic pathologist testified the victim, Araceli Camacho Gomez, suffered dozens of knife wounds and likely was unconscious from loss of blood when her baby was removed. The jury also heard a recorded statement from the 25-year-old defendant, Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong. She told police she “just snapped.” She is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. The baby survived the June 2008 attack at a Kennewick park and lives with its father.

Federal Way sand sculptures come down Sunday

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — An international sand sculpting contest brought some interesting creations to a Federal Way parking lot, but the event has been a money loser for the city. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports about 16,000 people have visited the Championship of Sand Sculpting — less than half of projections for the event that began Sept. 8. Organizer Rudy Alcott said Wednesday revenue is about 8 percent short of breaking even. Sculptors from 17 nations created 44 sand sculptures. They’ll be removed after Sunday.

Kittitas commissioners OK solar farm plan

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Kittitas County commissioners have approved construction and operation plans for a $350 million solar power farm near Cle Elum. The Daily Record of Ellensburg reports the decision Tuesday clears the way for detailed design and construction planning for the Teanaway Solar Reserve. It received a permit in August despite objections from environmentalists. Developers say the project could generate enough electricity to power about 45,000 homes.

Obama to campaign for Kitzhaber Oct. 20

EUGENE, Ore. — John Kitzhaber’s campaign says President Barack Obama will come to Oregon Oct. 20 and make an appearance to support the Democrat’s bid for governor. The Register-Guard says details of the visit are not yet available. It would be Obama’s first trip to Oregon since the 2008 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is holding rallies today in Eugene and Friday in Portland to promote GOP candidates.

Schweitzer Labs to expand in Lewiston, Pullman

MOSCOW, Idaho — Steady growth expected at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is leading it to — within a year — start manufacturing in Lewiston and add about 10 percent to its Pullman work force. The growth will include three projects: a $7 million Solutions Delivery Center in Pullman, a $12 million manufacturing center in Lewiston and an expanded manufacturing center in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, said SEL President Edmund Schweitzer. The company expects to add 150 more positions within a year to the 1,500 it already employs in Pullman, he said. The company manufactures protection, monitoring and automation devices for electric power systems in its 10 buildings on 130 acres in Pullman, and also in San Luis Potosi and Lake Zurich, Ill.

Board votes to adopt tougher mercury rules

BOISE — The Idaho Board of Environmental Quality unanimously backed new rules that would toughen state controls for mercury emissions. Wednesday’s 5-0 vote was hailed by environmentalists, who have been pushing the issue for more than a year. The ruling requires companies that emit mercury to install controls, if they exceed a certain limit. Groups including the Idaho Conservation League secured the support of Monsanto Corp., the state’s biggest industrial source of mercury. Idaho lakes from Canada to the Nevada border have mercury advisories.

Army officer recommends trial in Afghan killings

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — An investigating officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has recommended a court martial for one of the soldiers accused of killing three civilians in Afghanistan. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports the recommendation this week from Col. Thomas Molloy goes to the commander of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division for a final decision on a military trial. Twenty-two-year-old Spc. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, is one of five Lewis-McChord soldiers accused of killing civilians for sport in a recent Stryker brigade deployment. All have denied the accusations. They could face the death penalty if convicted. Morlock was the first to have a pretrial hearing Sept. 27 at the Army base near Tacoma.

Gov. Otter, feds holding wolf meeting today

LEWISTON — Idaho Gov. Butch Otter will meet with officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Boise today in an attempt to hammer out a new wolf management agreement. The meeting, which will be attended by representatives from the Department of Fish and Game and the Office of Species Conservation, comes on the last day of Otter’s self-imposed deadline to reach a new agreement with the federal agency. The state is seeking to retain its role as the lead entity in charge of the day-to-day wolf management duties, but is also seeking expanded authority that would allow a public hunting season while wolves remain listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Vancouver band assistant accused of student sex

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The band assistant at a Vancouver high school who is accused of having sex with two 16-year-old girls is a 23-year-old who once attended the school, Skyview High. The Columbian reports that Adrian B. Kelley returned to the school last year in a position funded by the band’s booster club. He was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of sexual misconduct and made his first appearance Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court where bail was set at $5,000. He’ll be arraigned Oct. 12.

DOE, Ecology settle on Hanford deadline

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Department of Energy and Washington State Department of Ecology have reached agreement on a consent decree that sets new court-enforced deadlines for emptying Hanford tanks of radioactive waste and treating the waste. They jointly filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court, which will become final when it is approved and entered by a federal judge. The decree gives DOE more time for important and difficult environmental cleanup work at Hanford but also requires DOE to answer directly to the court if it misses new deadlines. Penalties could range from a court-ordered fine to the court finding DOE in contempt, which could result in DOE officials being ordered to serve time, state officials have said.

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