What’s news in the Northwest today:
AMMON, Idaho — A T.G.I Friday’s in southwestern Idaho has a beef with whoever took its giant hamburger trophy. The restaurant in Ammon received the trophy from Idaho Falls Magazine for having the best hamburger in the area. General Manager Tim Coleman tells KIFI-TV that the trophy went missing two days after they received the award. This is the third consecutive year the restaurant has received the award, and it’s not the first time the trophy was pilfered. Two years ago the trophy disappeared for six weeks, but someone left it outside the restaurant. T.G.I. Friday’s said they just want the trophy back, and they are even willing to fork over a reward. Coleman says if someone brings it in they can have one of those trophy-winning hamburgers — on the house.
Transgender defendant in Portland murder trial
PORTLAND, Ore. — A transgender defendant has created some unusual language in a Portland murder trial. The Oregonian reports prosecutors refer to the defendant as “he,” but defense lawyers refer to the defendant as “she.” The defendant’s legal name is David Wayne French, and his legal gender is male although he identifies with a female orientation. In opening remarks Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court prosecutors said he used a pickax to kill roommate Frank Johnson in 2007 at their Portland apartment. Defense lawyers who call French “Z” say she acted in self-defense.
New trial denied for convicted teen killer
KETCHUM, Idaho — A woman convicted of killing her parents when she was a teenager and sentenced to two life terms in prison has been denied a new trial. Fifth District Court Judge G. Richard Bevan on Monday ruled that 24-year-old Sarah Johnson did not have ineffective legal counsel at her 2005 trial. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that Bevan also ruled that new fingerprint evidence brought forward after her conviction wasn’t sufficient to order a new trial. Authorities say that in 2003, the then 16-year-old Johnson shot and killed her mother and father at their Bellevue home following a dispute she had with them over her boyfriend. Johnson’s attorney, Christopher Simms, says he will appeal.
First ‘megaload’ arrives at Montana refinery
BILLINGS, Mont. — The first of what could be hundreds of “megaloads” of oil industry equipment traveling the rural highways of the Northwest has arrived at a Billings refinery. It took more than two months for the twin 300-ton loads to travel from a port in Lewiston, Idaho, and reach the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings early today. Crews hauling the massive coker drums were hampered by weather delays, mechanical malfunctions and legal challenges that delayed their initial departure for months. Opponents view the shipments as a threat to public highways — with the potential to exacerbate environmental damage from the continued use of fossil fuels. Emmert International spokesman Mark Hefty says the hauling company’s crews will return to Idaho after a brief rest and begin moving two more loads to Billings within the next few weeks.
Albertson Foundation donates to whitewater park
BOISE — The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has donated $950,000 to help complete a proposed whitewater park in Boise. The monetary gift announced Tuesday brings the foundation’s total donation to the city’s recreational park on the Boise River to $1.7 million. Crews will use the donation to remove the river’s Thurman Mill diversion dam this fall and replace it with a state-of-the-art computerized dam. Construction is estimated to be complete by next spring. The foundation’s donation allows construction this fall and winter when water levels are lower rather than having to wait until next year. Boating enthusiasts and The Friends of Parks also raised almost $1 million in donations for the river recreation park. The city of Boise has also fronted $850,000 for the project.
Northwest states, Amtrak vying for high-speed train money
Washington and Oregon are among 24 states vying for $2.4 billion in federal aid that became available when Florida’s governor canceled a high-speed rail project in his state, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today. The District of Columbia and Amtrak also are competing for the funding. The deadline for applications for the funds was Monday. The Transportation Department is reviewing 90 applications seeking a total of $10 billion, LaHood said. Three Republican governors elected in November have canceled high-speed train projects in their states. Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled a project that would have connected Tampa and Orlando with high-speed trains.
Landowner to pay $275,000 for wetlands damage
MISSOULA, Mont. — The U.S. Environmental Protection agency says a western Montana landowner has agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty for violating the federal Clean Water Act by building ponds on his property without a permit and damaging wetlands. The EPA says Al Barone and the Bar One Ranch also agreed to completely restore about 14 acres of wetlands and stream channel near Ninemile Creek. Ninemile Creek is an important tributary for spawning rainbow and brown trout from the Clark Fork River. The work started in October 2003. Ken Champagne with the EPA in Denver tells the Missoulian the federal agency got involved when Barone failed to comply with a February 2006 court order to stop the construction work. Barone told the Missoulian in 2005 that the work would benefit wildlife.
Former Oregon officer claims firing was setup
MEDFORD, Ore. — A former Medford police officer on trial for perjury claims he was targeted for firing after complaining his superior officer made sexual advances toward his future wife. The Mail Tribune reports the attorney for Joshua Danrich said in opening arguments that Danrich is on trial because he complained about his supervisor, Lt. Greg Lemhouse — who is also an Ashland city councilman. Lemhouse told the newspaper the allegations are false but he can’t comment during the trial. Prosecutors allege that Danrich was fired in January 2010 after almost 12 years on the job because he repeatedly lied under oath about receiving a distracting phone call from his then-girlfriend that caused him to turn down the wrong street while responding to a routine nuisance call in August 2009.
Gravity was the downfall of assault suspect
BUTTE, Mont. — Gravity was the downfall of a man suspected of assaulting a woman in Butte. The Montana Standard reports the 19-year-old was apparently hiding on the roof of a duplex as officers investigated a woman’s report that a man came to her door and threw a garbage can at her face, causing a swollen eye and a chipped tooth. The woman said the suspect ran upstairs to another apartment, but police couldn’t get anyone to answer the door. A police report says when officers returned downstairs to further question the victim they heard a crashing sound outside. Police found the suspect on the ground at about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday. He was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury. Officers did not release his name because no charges have been filed.
Dozens of farm animals killed in Stevens County
TUM TUM, Wash. — Dozens of chickens, rabbits and sheep were killed at a farm near Tum Tum in Stevens County in northeast Washington, apparently by a pack of dogs. KREM reports Tuesday’s attack was the second in the area in recent days and sheriff’s deputies are on patrol, watching for the dogs. Friends of the owner of the animals attacked Friday, Sabrina Crooks and Stephen Hendricks, are nursing injured animals and staying up all night on guard.
Posse has plan to revitalize horse arena
MOSCOW – A dilemma has faced the Latah County Horse Arena at the fairgrounds for the last several years: Maintenance on the facility has dwindled, driving down patronage and making upkeep an even lower priority. Now, the Latah County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse and eight other interested groups have drafted a plan to rebuild and resume use of the county-owned arena for events and individual use. The plan, with short- and long-term goals, was submitted to the Latah County Fair Board on Monday night. The plan outlines a series of short term and long term goals that would be overseen by the sheriff’s posse and carried out by the posse and members of other interested parties, including the Latah County Horse 4-H Program and 4-H Clubs, the University of Idaho Rodeo and Polo clubs, the Palouse Hills Pony Club and others.
New US quarter to feature Glacier National Park
HELENA, Mont. — Glacier National Park will be featured on one of the U.S. Mint’s new “America the Beautiful” quarters this year. The National Park Service says it’s one of five new coins in the series honoring national parks. The quarter features a mountain goat with Reynolds Mountain in the background. It’s a view familiar to visitors who drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road. A ceremony unveiling the quarter will take place April 13 at the Columbia Falls High School gymnasium. People will be able to buy $10 rolls of the new quarters.