What’s news in the Northwest today:
PORTLAND, Ore. — Keepers at the Oregon Zoo have pulled off a California condor chick trick. An inexperienced pair of the endangered condors got rough with a freshly hatched chick last weekend, and keeper Kelli Walker rushed to the rescue, grabbed the chick out of the nest and brought it to a veterinary clinic. Walker tells The Oregonian she never usually would have done something so dramatic, but every chick counts with the condors, which were nearly lost to extinction in the 1980s. The zoo’s captive breeding program had an older pair of condors incubating a dummy egg as insurance. So the next day, Walker replaced the dummy egg with the newly hatched condor and its real, broken egg. The foster parents warmly welcomed their new chick.
Police to question relatives of slain Washington family
TACOMA — Investigators in Washington are preparing to question relatives of a slain Spanaway family but say they might never know who suffocated a 5-year-old boy or what prompted his father to kill his wife and himself. Army Sgt. David Stewart apparently shot his wife Tuesday during a chase on Interstate 5 near Olympia, then turned the gun on himself. Police later found their son, Jordan Stewart, dead at their home with a plastic bag over his head. A sheriff’s spokesman tells The News Tribune of Tacoma that relatives want the bag tested for fingerprints but doing so would not likely reveal who killed the boy, since either parent could have touched it. Detectives say it could be months before they know whether they’ll be able to determine what happened.
Audit: $305K stolen from DSHS autism center
BREMERTON, Wash. — Auditors say nearly $305,000 was stolen from personal and state accounts at a Bremerton long-term care facility for people with developmental disabilities. The Frances Haddon Morgan Center houses 54 people with autism or other disabilities. The Department of Social and Health Services says $212,000 was taken from the personal accounts of those residents, and about $93,000 was taken from state accounts. The Kitsap Sun reports that the audit blamed poor accounting practices. DSHS has already fired a financial analyst at the center, but because of an ongoing criminal investigation the department declined to identify the worker. DSHS auditors say someone altered documents, including checks and purchase requests, to obtain disbursements from the accounts. The center would be closed next year under budget proposals by the state House Democratic caucus and Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Oregon woman faces charges in home circumcision
PORTLAND — An Oregon woman who told a Portland police detective she decided to circumcise her baby at home after reading the Bible is facing assault and criminal mistreatment charges. The Oregonian reports that 29-year-old Keemonta Peterson told police she watched some YouTube videos about circumcisions before using a box cutter as a scalpel and a pair of pliers as a tourniquet. After two hours of uncontrolled bleeding, she called 911 and the 3-month-old boy was rushed to a hospital where he was initially listed in critical condition. The boy appears to have recovered with no permanent injury.
A trial is tentatively scheduled for June.
Bankrupt Mont. rancher buys back 60 to 70 horses
BILLINGS, Mont. — A bankrupt Montana rancher whose starving horses were fed donated hay over the winter bought back dozens of the animals at an auction. The sale was held last weekend after the horses were rounded up for trespassing on Crow tribal lands. The Billings Gazette reports that Jim Leachman’s son bought 60 to 70 quarter horses during the Bureau of Indian Affairs auction and that Leachman paid the BIA with a cashier’s check on Wednesday. The BIA Crow superintendent says she did not know how much he paid. In January, a veterinarian said hundreds of horses left on the ranch that Leachman lost at a federal foreclosure sale were starving. He is charged with seven counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Deputy gets probation for DUI
LEWISTON — A Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to probation and community service for drunken driving and may be able to have the conviction removed from his record. The Lewiston Tribune reports 36-year-old Gaylord Jay Colvin was sentenced Thursday to 24 hours of community service, fined $500 and his driver’s license was suspended for 120 days from March 10, when he pleaded guilty. He will be allowed to apply for a work-related driver’s license next week. Magistrate Jeff P. Payne withheld judgment, meaning the charge could be dismissed from Colvin’s record if he completes probation. Colvin was arrested by Lewiston police in January after he was pulled over for driving without headlights at 3 a.m. He refused to submit to a breath test or complete a roadside sobriety test.
Idaho tax revenue is $60M ahead of projections
BOISE — Idaho through March has collected $60.2 million more in taxes than forecasts from just a few months ago, money that could benefit public schools if the collection trend holds through the final three months of the fiscal year. The state brought in $3.9 million more in March than anticipated, as corporate income tax and sales tax collections exceeded January projections. Wayne Hammon, the governor’s budget chief, cautioned Idaho still must make it through April, the largest collection month, by far. He says, “It may go up, it may go down.” Still, Hammon says that if the state ends the year on June 30 with the existing surplus, an additional $50.5 million would go to education: $4.5 million to professional-technical programs and community colleges, and another $46 million to public schools.
Southern Oregon police officer faces sex abuse charge
MEDFORD, Ore. — A Medford police officer is facing a misdemeanor sex abuse charge involving a 17-year-old girl. The Mail Tribune reports that Officer Tyler Chase was also charged with contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. According to the Medford Police Department’s weekly newsletter, the 23-year-old Chase was hired by the department in 2009. He previously was a community service officer and was assigned to North Medford High School as the school resource officer.
Old cabin cruiser may be doomed
VANCOUVER – A vacant vessel that dragged its anchor and impaled itself last month on a set of pilings off the eastern tip of Tomahawk Island has been freed, in a manner of speaking. The Columbia River appears to have taken matters into its own hands. Multnomah County Sheriff’s Lt. Brett Elliott, with the river patrol, said a good Samaritan used a tugboat to shove the boat up against the island’s sandy shore in the past week. But high water has covered the vessel and is threatening to bash it to smithereens. “It will take significant work to remove it, and probably professional salvage folks,” Elliott said Wednesday. By Thursday, the vessel wasn’t visible, and members of the nearby Portland Yacht Club reported that the vessel flipped upside down and may have disintegrated.
Memorial fund will go toward composting restroom
MOSCOW – The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute is raising money to construct a composting toilet facility in honor of late Moscow teacher Jim LaFortune. LaFortune, a science teacher at Moscow Junior High School, died in November after a 14-month struggle with brain cancer. His wife, Kathie, and children, Emerald and Jasper, decided to set up a memorial fund at PCEI, where they have been longtime members. At the LaFortunes’ suggestion, PCEI will use the memorial fund to construct the restroom at its Nature Center in Moscow. PCEI hopes to raise $35,000 so the facility can be built by the end of October. As of the end of February, the fund stood at nearly $6,000 from 63 separate donations. All donations to the fund received between March 1-April 15, up to a total of $10,000, will be matched by an anonymous donor. To make a donation, to the Jim LaFortune Memorial fund or to obtain more information, call (208) 882-1444, visit the Nature Center from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 1040 Rodeo Drive or visit www.pcei.org/lafortune—groover.htm.
Woman killed at Renton recycling plant
RENTON, Wash. — Police say a woman has been killed in an accident at a Renton recycling plant. KOMO-TV reports that the woman, in her 20s, was caught in a machine at the Smurfit Stone Recycling Co. plant late Thursday night. Her coworkers heard her screaming and rushed to help, but there was nothing they could do. The plant was shut down and workers sent home. Officials with the state Department of Labor and Industries will investigate.
Prosecutors: Recording failed in bomb plot case
PORTLAND — Prosecutors in the case against a man accused of trying to bomb at a Portland, Ore., holiday tree-lighting ceremony say that the FBI’s attempt to record the suspect’s first words about a plot failed because the recorder ran out of juice. The Oregonian reports that prosecutors wrote in court filings Thursday that even though the recording failed, other agents still overheard the July 30 conversation between Mohamed Mohamud and an undercover operative. Mohamud’s lawyers appear to be mounting defense that argues their client was illegally entrapped. Legal scholars have said the botched recording raises questions because first utterances of criminal intentions are pivotal in such cases. The 20-year-old Somali-American has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to ignite a weapon of mass destruction.
Few gun rights measures still alive in Legislature
HELENA, Mont. — The number of gun rights bills likely to clear the Montana Legislature appears to have declined significantly as the session enters its final days. Lawmakers have shown support for House Bill 271 to allow people to carry a concealed weapon without applying for a permit. But other gun rights proposals, many also carried by HB 271 sponsor Rep. Krayton Kerns, go too far for many legislators. Bills allowing hunters to use silencers, permitting concealed weapons in bars and banks and measures to prohibit federal firearm law enforcement have all stalled. Another measure to allow guns in the Capitol has been stripped down from its original intent of allowing lawmakers to have weapons. The bill would now allow only security personnel to carry weapons.