What’s news in the Northwest today:
PASCO, Wash. – Before last week, retirement still seemed a ways off for Deborah Harden. Not so much now. On Tuesday, she and her husband James walked into the lottery’s regional office in Yakima and claimed last week’s $9.6 million Lotto prize. The jackpot, the third-largest jackpot in Washington Lottery history, definitely changes the Pasco couple’s plans. A buyer at Griggs Department Store in Pasco, Deborah said she plans to retire within a few months, while her husband, a mental health therapist in private practice in Richland, plans to continue to work but probably on a part-time basis. Among the items on their shopping list is a trip to Disneyland next year with their three grandkids.
BPA proposes suspending excess wind power
SEATTLE — The Bonneville Power Administration wants to shut down Northwest wind farms this spring when hydroelectric dams are generating plenty of electricity as a huge mountain snowpack melts. The wind-power producers are fighting the proposal that could cost them millions in lost revenue. The Seattle Times reports the Portland-based BPA says a wind power shutdown would be a last resort, but it has to be ready to balance the flow of energy it markets in the Northwest as well as meeting commitments to ratepayers, helping salmon and selling power outside the region. Wind farms have been sprouting in Washington and Oregon thanks to tax credits and requirements that utilities use more renewable energy. The industry says if there are shut downs it should be compensated for lost revenue.
Logjam prevents training for river running guides
BOISE — River running outfitters training workers for the approaching season on the popular Salmon River in central Idaho have asked the state for permission to practice on other rivers due to a massive logjam. Grant Simonds of the Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association tells the Idaho Business Review that outfitters made the request so they can get ready for the season that starts at the end of May. Officials say a blowout near the Black Creek drainage formed a logjam that created a new rapid. About 9,000 visitors and workers float the river every summer. U.S. Forest Service officials predict spring high water will remove the logjam. The Forest Service used explosives to remove a logjam from the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in 2006.
Murder charge upgraded in Wenatchee teen slaying
WENATCHEE, Wash. — The charge against a Wenatchee man accused of killing a 17-year-old girl has been upgraded to first-degree murder. Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen amended the charge Tuesday against Christopher Scott Wilson. He has been held since October on a second-degree murder charge. The Wenatchee World reports the prosecutor believes there’s enough evidence to prove the February 2010 killing of Mackenzie Cowell was premeditated. The Wenatchee High School student was beaten, strangled and stabbed. If convicted of the new charge, the 30-year-old Wilson would face a longer sentence of 20-to-26 years in prison.
Washington 2010 apple crop could set a record
YAKIMA, Wash. — Continuing sales of the 2010 Washington apple crop could make it the largest ever. Jon DeVaney with the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association says warehouses in the Yakima and Wenatchee districts are expected to ship another 38 million boxes, bringing the total to nearly 109 million boxes. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that would edge out the record of 108 million boxes set in 2008.
Life-threatening child abuse reports up in Idaho
BOISE — A new report by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare shows a 9 percent increase in the number of cases of life-threatening injury suffered by children reported last year. The data released Tuesday shows the biggest leap in severe child abuse cases coming from southwest Idaho. The report tracks a 15 percent increase in the Nampa/Caldwell area and a 13 percent spike in Boise compared to 2009. State officials did not identify specific reasons for the increase in those serious cases. But they suspect the stress of increased poverty and unemployment may be a factor. The agency tallied more than 7,500 total reports of child abuse or neglect in Idaho last year, a total on par with 2009. Of those, 1,730 cases involved children in imminent danger, up from 1,594 reported in 2009.
Nampa man pleads guilty to shooting at hunters
BOISE — A Nampa man has pleaded guilty to shooting at quail hunters outside his house and to growing marijuana found in his house as Canyon County deputies investigated the shooting. The Idaho Statesman reports Kelly David Brace pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor assault and felony manufacture of a controlled substance. Sentencing is set for June 1. Ada and Canyon county sheriff’s deputies were sent to Brace’s house on Sept. 29 to investigate a report of someone shooting at quail hunters. Court records say Brace told deputies he shot in the direction of the hunters because he felt they shot recklessly toward his house weeks before and he wanted to scare them. No one was injured. Deputies searching Brace’s house for the gun he was suspected of using found three marijuana plants.
Billings rancher seeks public defender in animal cruelty case
BILLINGS, Mont. — A bankrupt Billings rancher who faces seven misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty asked for a public defender just days after he paid $35,000 to buy 66 of his horses that had been seized for trespassing on Crow tribal lands. James Leachman is charged with not providing adequate food, water and veterinary care for the horses. His first request for a public defender was rejected, but he reapplied on Friday, saying all of his property is burdened with mortgages and liens. Justice of the Peace Pedro Hernandez ordered a public defender assigned to the case. David Duke, who manages the public defender’s office, says he understands Hernandez plans to review that decision. Last month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs rounded up 804 of Leachman’s horses. They were sold at auction April 2-3.
Feds sue Idaho gun club over 2009 wildfire
BOISE — The federal government has filed a lawsuit contending a western Idaho gun club should pay more than $420,000 in costs related to a wildfire that occurred almost two years ago. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise filed the claim last week against the Gem County Rod and Gun Club seeking costs for suppressing the fire as well as property damages. The Sand Hollow Fire started in August of 2009 when four individuals shooting metal targets at the Emmett shooting range sparked the blaze that burned 864 acres of federal lands. Prosecutors said the gun club didn’t have signs posted to notify shooters of the danger of fires or what kinds of ammunition to use. Gun Club Director Tom Neth was not aware of the lawsuit on Tuesday.
32 guns recovered from Mason County burglary
SHELTON, Wash. — Mason County sheriff’s deputies are looking for a 45-year-old Grapeview man suspected of taking 76 guns, plus knives, swords, coins, stamps, ivory and other valuables worth $200,000 from a home near Lake Limerick. KIRO-TV and KBKW report a 32-year-old Grapeview woman, Orlena Rae Drath, was arrested this week in connection with the case. She’s held for investigation of possessing stolen firearms and trafficking in stolen property. The sheriff’s office says burglars used a cutting torch to open into safes during the April 2 break-in. The Kitsap Sun reports investigators have recovered 32 of the guns.
New Washington ferry due in service in July
PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The second new 64-car class Washington state ferry is expected to go into service in July on the route between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island. State ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey told Port Townsend officials on Monday that the Salish should start sea trials in May, which will determine exactly when it will be ready to go into service. The Peninsula Daily News reports the Salish would return two-boat service to the Admiralty Inlet run for the first time since 2007 when Steel Electric class ferries were taking out of service because of corrosion. The first of three new ferries, the Chetzemoka, went to work in November. The third being built by Todd Shipyards in Seattle, the Kennewick, is expected to begin service next winter on the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route.
Eastern Idaho burglar who rang doorbell arrested
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Just because no one answers the doorbell, doesn’t mean there’s nobody home. An Idaho man is jailed after Jefferson County officials say he rang the doorbell before breaking into a house, but was confronted by the homeowner. The sheriff’s office tells KIFI-TV that 50-year-old Curtis Stanley rang the doorbell of a house east of Rigby on Sunday morning. When no one answered, officials say Stanley went in and started looking through the medicine cabinet. However, the homeowner was home. He had heard the doorbell and then heard the door close. He confronted the intruder in the bathroom and the intruder left. Stanley was later arrested and charged with two counts of burglary.