What’s news in the Northwest today:
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Kurk Kirby, 27, says he’s relieved he was given no jail time and just a small fine, after being accused of openly carrying a gun in a way that witnesses said warranted alarm. The Vancouver man Wednesday received a one-year diversion agreement from a judge. If he doesn’t break the law, pays a $485 fine and takes a one-time gun safety course in the next year, the charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon will be dismissed. Witnesses told police that Kirby was “giving everyone the eyeball with his hand on the gun” while inside a supermarket on March 19, according to police reports. Several witnesses claimed he looked like “Wyatt Earp, ready to draw,” police said. It’s legal to openly carry a firearm in Washington, but it’s against the law to display a weapon in a way that “warrants alarm” or “manifests an intent to intimidate.”
Fast-charging stations going on I-5 corridor
PORTLAND, Ore. — Some BP and Arco stations in Portland, Eugene, Salem and Corvallis will have fast-charging stations installed for electric vehicles. Project managers said Wednesday about two-dozen fast chargers would be installed by July to ease the anxiety of drivers nearing the end of their range on the I-5 corridor. Fast chargers can recharge a car in 15 to 30 minutes. The Oregonian reports the majority of 1,100 charging stations being installed in the state, will be “level two” chargers that take from 45 minutes to three hours.
INL cleanup contractor plans to cut 1,000 jobs
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Cleanup contractors at the Idaho National Laboratory in the eastern Idaho desert plan to terminate between 700 and 1,000 jobs over the next two years. Richard Provencher, who manages the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho operations, said CH2M-WG Idaho is due to finish much of its project between now and 2012. Provencher says, “They are looking at releasing 700 to 1,000 people.” Federal employment around Idaho Falls linked to the laboratory — and cleanup of decades of waste at the site — has helped bolster the local economy, so far.
Skull found on Joint Base Lewis-McChord a mystery
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Army investigators are looking for more human bones or other evidence at a Joint Base Lewis-McChord site where a skull was discovered. A civilian worker found the skull Wednesday along Highway 507 on the east side of the base near Roy. The scene was guarded overnight until the investigation could resume Thursday. Base spokesman Joe Piek says it’s being treated as a crime scene.
Montana man gets deferred sentence for power theft
HAMILTON, Mont. — A man who stole power from Ravalli County Electric Cooperative years has paid $14,000 in restitution and has a chance to have the conviction removed from his record. Michael J. McBride of Stevensville, Mont., was charged with felony theft and criminal mischief in December for allegedly running a second power line around the meter when he built his house in 1985. The Ravalli Republic reports McBride acknowledged stealing electricity since 1998. McBride’s former girlfriend notified Ravalli Electric officials about the theft in August and the cooperative installed a meter between the transformer and McBride’s residential meter.
Cougar kills goats in central Oregon
BEND, Ore. — The Deschutes County sheriff’s office says a cougar killed two goats Wednesday at an address in the La Pine area. Deputies were unable to find the cougar. The sheriff’s office is reminding people in the community to supervise children and pets outside and to keep a light on livestock overnight.
Apple growers marketing tasty new varieties
YAKIMA— Here’s a quiz. What are SweeTango, Pinata, Jazz, Aurora, Honeycrisp and Opal? No they are not exotic dancers. They are new varieties of apples. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports growers have been developing new varieties to appeal to consumer tastes. They also bring higher prices than the old standards such as Red Delicious. For example a 40-pound box of Honeycrisp sells for more than $47 while Red Delicious goes for $18 a box.
Monroe man accused of voyeurism for sex videos
EVERETT, Wash. — A Monroe man accused of secretly recording women when he was having sex with them was jailed for investigation of voyeurism. Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover told The Daily Herald there are several victims and there could be more. The man told detectives he didn’t think it was a problem because he used the recordings for his own enjoyment and never shared them or uploaded them to the Internet. He was released from jail Tuesday in Everett on $40,000 bail.
Committee recommending new Tri-Cities bridge site
PASCO — A committee considering possible sites for a new bridge over the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities is meeting Thursday to make a recommendation to the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments. KNDU-TV reports that a number of people at a public meeting Wednesday said they don’t want a bridge because it would lower property values. Columbia Crossing Steering Committee Chairman Bill Clark said planning is necessary to avoid traffic problems like Seattle’s, which he called a mess.
Former teacher pleads guilty over obscene cartoons
BOISE — A former teacher at a Meridian middle school has pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing obscene cartoons depicting child sexual abuse. Thirty-three-year-old Steven Kutzner pleaded guilty in Boise’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday to possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office say investigators found 70 cartoon images of youthful animated characters — including characters from the TV show, “The Simpsons” — engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Kutzner, who was a teacher at Lake Hazel Middle School in Meridian, resigned in 2009 after agents served a search warrant at his home. He faces up to 10 years in a federal prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 5.