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NW today: Gift from Mexico causes tension in Yakima

What’s news in the Northwest today:

YAKIMA, Wash. — A gift from a sister city in Mexico is causing some tension in Yakima among those opposed to illegal immigration. It’s a bust of Jose Maria Morelos, a revolutionary leader for whom the city of Morelia is named. It has been Yakima’s sister city for 12 years. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the city council had no problem accepting the stature, but squabbled over placing it in the median of a downtown street where it will be unveiled Saturday. Supporters say it will recognize Yakima’s diversity and global ties. One opponent, Bob West of the Grassroots of Yakima Valley group, said it should have been placed indoors somewhere “where people who care about Mexican generals can take care of it.”

National Education Association pays for signature gatherers

BOISE — The National Education Association is supporting an effort by Idaho teachers seeking to overturn three education bills passed by state lawmakers. Teachers want voters to decide if Idaho should phase out teacher tenure, restrict collective bargaining and introduce merit pay. Idaho Education Association spokeswoman Julie Fanselow told the Idaho Statesman for a story Thursday that the IEA received $75,000 from the NEA to pay for printing costs and signature gatherers. The teacher group needs the signatures of almost 48,000 registered voters by June 6 to put the issue on the 2012 ballot. Mike Lanza, chairman of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, says the organization expects volunteers to collect 60,000 signatures. He says the paid signature gatherers are insurance.

Intel hiring grads from Portland Community College

PORTLAND, Ore. — Intel has hired nearly all 15 graduates from this June’s class in a microelectronics program at Portland Community College, and it’s looking for more. The Oregonian reports Intel is already the largest private employer in the state with 15,000 workers. It plans to add more than 4,000 this year nationwide. And, Intel is building a $3 billion research factory at Hillsboro that will employ 1,000 people when it opens in 2013. One Intel technician who teaches at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus, Paul Wohr, says there aren’t enough student to meet the need. Students need a background in math, chemistry and physics to enter the two-year program. They can start out earning $40,000 to $45,000 a year with the prospect of advancing to a six-figure salary.

Montana victims of priest abuse being interviewed

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Native Americans who reported sexual abuse at Jesuit-run schools are telling their stories to court-appointed reviewers as part of an effort to determine how to distribute a $166.1 million settlement reached last month with an order of Jesuit priests. The Great Falls Tribune reports some interviews are taking place in Great Falls this week. Other interviews have taken place in Missoula and Polson. Attorney Andrew Chasan of Boise, Idaho, says the settlement will be distributed among more than 450 claimants based on the severity of the abuse they suffered. Chasan says about 140 of the victims are from Montana. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus was accused of using its schools in remote villages and on Indian reservations in five states as dumping grounds for problem priests.

Suspects in Chubbuck beating seek separate trials

POCATELLO, Idaho — Four people charged with attempted first-degree murder after a victim was beaten in Chubbuck and dumped in a field on the Fort Hall Reservation are seeking separate trials. KIFI-TV reports the defense attorneys argued Wednesday that there are different levels of guilt in the case, and they do not want evidence or statements that apply to one client to be held against all of them. Cody Childers, Stephanie Christensen, Jamie Nappo and Karissa Salaz appeared in court via video as their attorneys made several requests. The attorneys will be back in court on May 4 to find out if the cases will be separated. Judge Rick Carnaroli seemed wary of splitting up the cases, saying he wants to protect the victim of the April 13 attack from potentially having to testify four times.

Man in fatal Washington fire accused of assaulting wife

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A Vancouver man suspected of starting a fire that killed five of his children and himself had been arrested last month after a fight with his wife. Tuan Dao was arrested March 30 over allegations he threw an iron at his wife. It missed her but the cord hit a child. The next day a Clark County judge ordered the 37-year-old not to come within 500 feet of Lori Dao and to have a third party with him when he wanted to see the children. Police say Tuan Dao is the only suspect in Sunday’s fire that killed five of his children, ages 12 and under. A 13-year-old daughter and the mother had moved to another address. The couple filed for bankruptcy last fall.

Procession to Friday service for Eugene officer

EUGENE, Ore. — As many as 1,000 police and fire vehicles are expected to form a procession through the Eugene-Springfield area on the way to Friday’s memorial service for slain Eugene Officer Chris Kilcullen. The service is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the University of Oregon in Matthew Knight Arena, which has room for more than 12,000 people to attend. The Register Guard reports members of the public who wish to attend the service should take shuttle buses from the Lane Event Center’s parking area. Kilcullen is the first Eugene officer killed in the line of duty since 1934. A 57-year-old Springfield woman, Cheryl D. Kidd, is charged with aggravated murder.

SW Washington forest research crane shutting down

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Budget cuts are forcing the Forest Service and University of Washington to stop operating a crane that put researchers at the top of 200-foot tall trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington near Carson, Wash. The Wind River Canopy crane’s arm allowed them to maneuver within a 560-foot circle above the forest. The Columbian reports the old construction crane has been operated since 1995, with most of the funding coming from the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. Researchers have studied how forests grow and use water and carbon dioxide. They’ve also studied canopy-dwelling species like bats and flying squirrels.

North Idaho College creates ‘free speech zone’

COEUR D’ALENE — Trustees for North Idaho College have unanimously approved a policy that limits the time, place and manner in which picketing and other free speech activities may occur on campus. The five-member board passed the policy Wednesday, giving NIC’s administration the authority to control where and when picketing, leafleting, speech-making and other activities take place. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that college leaders began considering the need for such a policy when picketers from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptists Church visited NIC last fall to protest the play, “The Laramie Project.” NIC’s new policy prohibits free speech activities if they impede walking or driving on campus, disrupt classes and other regular school activities, are too loud or if they are too close to exits, entrances, stairs, parking lots or roads.

Man charged with murder of ex-fiancé in Boise

BOISE — A man suspected of stealing a car belonging to a woman who was found dead in Boise is now charged with second-degree murder and arson. Authorities filed the charges Wednesday against Lloyd Hardin McNeil, 31, in the death of his former fiancé, Natalie Davis, prosecutors said. McNeil is already being held in the Ada County Jail on a $1 million bond for felony grand theft charges. He is suspected of taking Davis’ car on the day she died. He’s also charged with stealing a ring and two dogs. Davis, 30, was found dead on a burned mattress in her home near Boise State University on March 5. The Ada County Coroner said earlier this month that despite an autopsy, the cause of Davis’ death was undetermined. Officials are conducting more tests. Authorities arrested McNeil in Seattle on March 18. He was returned to Idaho a week later.

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