October 20, 2010 in Region

NW today: Mormon skit draws complaint at school

Compiled from wire reports

What’s news in the Northwest today:

LEBANON, Ore. — Lebanon High School administrators say they’ll do a better job of screening pep assembly plans after a skit about the Mormon religion prompted a complaint. Principal Bo Yates said they should stay clear of religion and religious stereotypes. The student who came up with the skit, senior Kaylie Probert, says she didn’t intend any offense. She says it was a lighthearted look at her own religion — Mormonism — with friends of the same faith. The skit at the Friday homecoming assembly involved students pretending to be missionaries. The student who complained to the Albany Democrat-Herald said she was offended by what she perceived as religious bias.

Board looks for ways to prevent wolf depredation

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A state program that compensates ranchers for livestock killed by wolves has set aside some money to test ways to deter wolves from killing livestock. The Montana Livestock Loss Reduction and mitigation Board voted 7-0 Monday to set aside $4,750 to test the effectiveness of guard dogs, range riders and fencing in keeping livestock safe from wolves. Producers will propose measures and apply for money. The Great Falls Tribune reports Monday’s action was the first time the board approved funding to prevent conflicts. Defenders of Wildlife ran a similar compensation program. It has said prevention efforts are critical in breaking the cycle of livestock losses followed by the killing of wolves for the depredation.

Long Beach cranberry growers harvest cool crop

LONG BEACH, Wash. — Cranberry growers on the Long Beach Peninsula say this week’s sunshine helped with the harvest but it came too late to help the crop. Ocean Spray co-op grower Malcolm McPhail told The Daily News of Longview the cool summer probably reduced expected production by about 20 percent. Ocean Spray has 32 growers on the peninsula. There’s a processing plant at Long Beach. Washington State University horticulturist Kim Patten says new varieties of cranberries could offset unfavorable weather in coming seasons.

Former VFW post commander charged in theft of $66,000

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A former commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7824 has been charged with stealing about $66,000 from the post. William George Weglage Jr. of Vancouver was arrested last week on suspicion of first-degree theft, said Kim Kapp, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department. On Tuesday, officials with the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office filed seven counts of first-degree theft against Weglage in court, an official said. His arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 27.

FAA closing Seattle airspace for Obama visit

SEATTLE — The FAA is closing airspace over Seattle during Barack Obama’s visit and it hopes to avoid a repeat of what happened when the president was in Seattle in August. Fighter jets scrambled when a small float plane flew into Seattle and landed on Lake Washington at Kenmore. The jets caused a sonic boom that alarmed many people. Float plane pilot Lee Daily of Redmond didn’t know about the Aug. 17 Obama visit. But he knows about this week’s airspace closure. KING-TV reports he got a personal call from the FAA with the reminder. Air Force One arrives tonight, and Obama will campaign Thursday for Sen. Patty Murray.

Man arrested on suspicion of torching haystacks

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Bonneville County officials have arrested a 22-year-old man they believe is responsible for a string of six haystack fires. The fires were reported in Bonneville and Jefferson counties early Tuesday, including one near Lewisville that burned 1,500 tons of hay. Randy and Joliene Crystal estimate their damages could be as much as $100,000. Curtis A. Nixon was taken into custody after a deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle and person near a large haystack in Bonneville County.

Trust donates $100,000 to future University of Idaho law center

BOISE — A private charity has donated $100,000 to help the University of Idaho College of Law transform the historic Ada County Courthouse into a new law learning center. The donation by the Jeker Family Trust was announced by the university Tuesday. The Idaho Law Learning Center is the proposed future home of a law center involving the university’s law school, the Idaho State Law Library and the Idaho Supreme Court.

Tacoma airline runaway boy in trouble again

TACOMA — A Tacoma boy who made headlines as a 9-year-old runaway by talking his way onto a flight at Sea-Tac Airport is in trouble again. KIRO-FM reports 13-year-old Semaj Booker is accused of stealing a yo-yo from a store and giving a false name when questioned by police. He’s due in juvenile court Thursday in Tacoma.

Historians explore tunnels beneath Salem

SALEM, Ore. — After lying dormant for decades beneath the streets of downtown Salem, rooms and tunnels may one day be open to the public. The Statesman Journal says that for the past four months, Rebecca Maitland, the creative director at Reed Opera House, and retired Linfield College historian John Ritter have been searching for the long-abandoned underground network. Ritter says people could go from one building to the next without being seen. Often, he says, that was to indulge in vices such as gambling, illegal drinking or smoking opium. Ritter says he hopes his research will result in underground tours of the discoveries.

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