What’s news in the Northwest today:
BOISE — A new study ranks Idaho as the nation’s fifth highest state in the number of households relying only on cellular telephones. A report by the Centers for Disease Control issued today shows 31.7 percent of Idaho households are wireless only, compared to a 27.5 percent national average. The survey shows the wireless-only trend is growing, up 10 percent compared from 2007 when nearly 20 percent of Idaho homes lacked a land line. Idaho trails Arizona, with 35 percent of homes with wireless phones only, followed by Mississippi, Texas and North Dakota. The survey relied on data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted by the CDC and the American Community Survey. The study also found that more than 37 percent of Idaho children live in wireless-only households, ranking Idaho fifth nationally.
Dogs to help haze troublesome Oregon geese
BEND, Ore. — The city of Bend is going to send some dogs on a wild goose chase. The Bend Park & Recreation District is hoping to move troublesome geese away from city parks and toward wild habitat by bringing in volunteers with trained dogs who will have special permission to chase and haze the birds. Paul Stell is the natural resources manager for the park district. He told The Bulletin newspaper that federal wildlife workers and a contractor have also worked with dogs, but this year the effort will include more human and canine volunteers. Like all district volunteers, the human half of the team must undergo a background check. Meanwhile, the canine partner has to demonstrate some goose-hazing potential. So far, about 40 dog owners have volunteered.
Washington residents encouraged to join quake drill this morning
OLYMPIA, Wash. — With Japan still dealing with the effects of its devastating earthquake and tsunami, Washington emergency management officials are inviting residents to participate in a statewide earthquake drill at 9:45 a.m. today. It’s part of Disaster Preparedness Month in the state, as outlined in a proclamation from Gov. Chris Gregoire. State officials offer separate fliers outlining how schools, businesses and residents at home can participate. The basics: “drop” under a desk or table, “cover” your head or neck with one hand and “hold” onto a desk leg with the other hand for two minutes. Businesses and families are encouraged to develop emergency plans ahead of time and have emergency kits prepared. Next month: Volcano Awareness.
Mexican drug cartel suspect grew up in Tieton, Wash.
YAKIMA, Wash. — A man accused of leading a violent drug cartel in Mexico grew up in central Washington and committed crimes in the town of Tieton before he was deported. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports 34-year-old Martin Omar Estrada Luna is remembered by Tieton Police Chief Jeff Ketchum from the 1990s. Ketchum says Estrada admitted being a gang member. Court records say his nickname was “El Kilo.” Estrada’s Yakima County convictions include burglary and brandishing a knife. When he was sentenced in 2006 for an immigration violation, federal prosecutors said he had 16 felony and misdemeanor convictions. He was last deported in 2009. He was arrested Saturday and presented Sunday in Mexico City as a leader of the Zetas drug cartel responsible for more than 200 killings since August.
Idaho National Laboratory to lay off armor makers
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Idaho National Laboratory officials say about 50 of the lab’s armor-making workers will be laid off by September 2010 because the U.S. Army doesn’t need as much tank armor. INL’s human resources director Mark Holubar told the Post Register that the laboratory will continue making armor for the Abrams tanks, but the Army isn’t ordering as much of it. Deputy Laboratory Director for Management Juan Alvarez says more layoffs across the laboratory may come. Alvarez says the current fiscal mood among lawmakers means the lab will have to do more with less, and that means personnel cuts may be necessary.
Tacoma man accused of assault in bondage room
SEATTLE — Seattle police say a Tacoma man who picked up a prostitute for sexual role playing tied her up for hours in a bondage room at his home where she was tortured and raped. Police say the woman’s life may have been saved April 2 because she had sent a text message to a friend with the man’s license number. When she told him about the message and he saw the cell phone, he paid her extra money and let her go. Seattle and Tacoma police arrested the 66-year-old man Saturday and recovered torture devices and evidence from his bondage room. He’s facing kidnapping, rape and assault charges. KING-TV reports the man’s mobile home had sound-insulated walls. The devices included whips, belts, syringes and devices for electric shock.
2 men caught with $700K in heroin in car
BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman says a car speeding through a construction zone near Billings led to a traffic stop and “probably the biggest ever” heroin bust in Montana. The Billings Gazette reports two Mexican citizens who are in the country illegally are charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin after 6.7 pounds of the drug was found in the engine compartment of their car on April 14. The DEA says the street value is between $600,000 and $700,000. U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby ruled Tuesday that there was probable cause to proceed with charges against 35-year-old Javier Gonzalez—Martinez and 20-year-old Julio Cesar Zurita-Villanueva. DEA Special Agent Diane Jenkins testified that the drugs were headed to Seattle from New York.
Woman sues Portland police for no-underwear arrest
PORTLAND, Ore. — In a trial under way in Portland, a woman is suing police who arrested her when she was not wearing underwear. Sherri Sandau says two officers took her into custody at her home without letting her dress, and she says they wouldn’t bring her clothes or a blanket. The 47-year-old was wearing only a long tank top. She’s seeking nearly $750,000 for post-traumatic stress in the federal court lawsuit. Lawyers for the officers say they didn’t initially know she was not wearing underwear because her top went to mid-thigh. They also say she was secure and out of sight in the patrol car. Sandau was arrested in 2005 after confronting officers who responded to a complaint from a neighbor about a barking dog and other noise from Sandau’s home.
Boise enforcement campaign nets 1,800 tickets
BOISE — A statewide campaign against unsafe drivers has resulted in 1,800 traffic citations by Boise police during a 12-day span. Boise police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower says the campaign counted almost double the average amount of citations issued by the department on any given 12 days. The campaign focused on motorists between April 7-18 and was designed to crack down on aggressive driving by coupling education with enforcement. The Boise Police Department partnered with the Idaho Transportation Department, which included a $30,000 grant for overtime and safety equipment. More than 70 percent of citations issued during the campaign were for speeding. Other high-ranking offenses include seat belt violations and driving without insurance or with a suspended license.
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