What’s news in the Northwest today:
HELENA, Mont. — A 21-year-old East Helena man is accused of charging police with a 23-inch steel rod from a vehicle. Helena Police Chief Troy McGee says Thomas L. Laverdure charged officers with the rod Wednesday morning. Laverdure was shot with a stun gun before he was taken into custody. He is being held on $50,000 bail. McGee says police responded to a call that an agitated man was yelling outside at about 1:30 a.m. The police chief says a witness reported hearing possible gun shots, which were later determined to be Laverdure striking his vehicle with the rod.
Idaho burglars target meat locker with elk, moose
POST FALLS — The owner of a North Idaho business says thieves stole a skinned moose and three skinned elk worth thousands of dollars. Don Kirk of Prairie Custom Meats tells the Coeur d’Alene Press the meat was taken last week. He says someone broke the hinges off a side door to get into the building. Kirk says some pieces of meat were found in a field about 70 yards from the business where it looked like the meat was loaded into vehicles. Police are investigating.
Woman pleads guilty to taking deputy’s car
BILLINGS, Mont. — A 20-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to driving off in a Yellowstone County deputy’s patrol car with the deputy’s drug dog in the back seat. Kayla Roundstone pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft for the April 5, 2009 incident. Prosecutors say the deputy had responded to a call of an injured man in a ditch on the Crow Indian Reservation. While the deputy tended to the man, Roundstone drove off in the patrol car. She was arrested about 30 miles away.
Missing mushroom picker found OK near Mount Adams
STEVENSON, Wash. — Searchers have found a 93-year-old mushroom picker who had been missing since Tuesday near Mount Adams in southwest Washington. The Skamania County sheriff’s office says searchers found the Newberg, Ore., woman, Sonn Souve, early today about one-third of a mile from the search base in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The sheriff’s office says she suffered some minor injuries and has been taken to Skyline Hospital in White Salmon. She had covered herself with brush and bark to keep warm as temperatures dropped into the 30s. She was in thick underbrush and timber.
State offers concessions on Seattle tunnel project
SEATTLE — Washington state is offering the two teams bidding on the Highway 99 tunnel project $230 million in concessions. The Seattle Times reports that the changes reflect higher estimates of the tunnel’s construction costs than the state made several months ago. Officials say the money can be shifted out of risk and contingency funds, so the overall tunnel budget will stay at just under $2 billion. The tunnel will replace the Alaskan Way viaduct along the downtown Seattle waterfront. The two construction teams are expected to file their proposals by the end of the month.
Iraq contractor seeks appeal from Oregon veterans
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Texas-based military contractor is seeking an appeal before trial begins in a lawsuit filed by Oregon veterans who claim they were exposed to a toxic chemical in Iraq. Attorneys for Kellogg, Brown and Root claim that suing a military contractor raises “unprecedented” legal questions that first should be decided by a higher court. Other federal judges have ruled in KBR’s favor in lawsuits in Indiana and West Virginia, saying their courts lack jurisdiction. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak in Portland told attorneys Wednesday to prepare for trial while he considers the KBR request to have the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals review his rulings. Oregon Army National Guard veterans sued KBR last year, claiming the company downplayed or disregarded their exposure to hexavalent chromium in Iraq.
Cleanup continues on Highway 12 fuel spill
LEWISTON — Cleanup crews are still busy removing soil contaminated by diesel fuel that leaked when a tanker crashed along U.S. Highway 12 three weeks ago. Idaho Transportation Department Spokesman Mel Coulter tells KLEW-TV that more than 7,500 gallons of fuel spilled into a ditch on the side of the highway on Sept. 29. So far, crews have excavated nearly 1,000 cubic yards of material, in some cases digging down 12 feet to remove tainted soil. State officials say only small amounts of fuel leached into the nearby Lochsa River, a federally protected waterway. Just to be safe, crews installed about 1,000 feet of boom along the river banks to contain any fuel that makes it to the river.
Roundup man accused of plotting to kill mother
BILLINGS — An 18-year-old Roundup man is accused of offering an undercover FBI agent $10,000 to murder his mother and another man. Matthew Russell Campbell appeared in federal court Wednesday after FBI agents arrested him the previous day at the Billings Prerelease Center, where he was being held on a probation violation for an unrelated offense. A criminal complaint says he had cell phone conversations with the agent about a murder-for-hire plot targeting Dana Campbell, also of Roundup, and an unidentified 18-year-old man from Arizona. FBI agent Eric Barnhart declined to discuss the investigation.
Obama rallies voters in Seattle for Murray
SEATTLE — President Barack Obama is in Seattle today on his four-day, five-state swing to support Democrats. The main event is a get-out-the vote rally for Sen. Patty Murray at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington. Murray is in a close race with Republican challenger Dino Rossi. Obama also scheduled a stop at a northeast Seattle home to hold a conversation on women and the economy.
Motorcyclist injured when traffic slows for Obama
PORTLAND — Police say a motorcyclist was critically injured Wednesday evening when he hit a vehicle after traffic slowed on Interstate 84 to watch President Obama’s motorcade. Firefighters say the motorcycle was burning when they arrived. Other motorists on the freeway told authorities that the rider also had been on fire and they helped put out the flames and get him away from the bike. Police say the rider apparently did not realize that traffic had slowed, lost control of his bike and then slid underneath the vehicle in front of him. He was taken to Emanuel Hospital.