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NW today: Seattle mayor says it’s time to build tunnel

Wed., Aug. 17, 2011, 11:06 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has conceded defeat in a battle over a planned tunnel to replace the city’s Alaskan Way Viaduct along the waterfront. After looking at results of Tuesday’s election, McGinn said, “The public said move ahead with the tunnel, and that’s what we’re going to do.” The vote on an issue seen as a tunnel referendum was nearly 60 percent in favor of the tunnel. The state Transportation Department is prepared to bore a $2 billion tunnel under downtown Seattle to replace the elevated section of Highway 99.

Crews finally yank toilet paper rolls from river

LEWISTON — State officials say cleanup crews are finally done removing massive rolls of unprocessed toilet paper that spilled off a truck and were lodged for weeks in the upper Lochsa River. Idaho Department of Environmental official John Cardwell says teams yanked out the final remnants of the rolls last weekend when lower river flows made the work more manageable. The Lewiston Tribune reports crews wrapped the rolls with a reinforced mesh before they were pulled out by a tow truck. Earlier attempts to pull out the paper was called off when the paper started disintegrating, creating an even bigger mess in the stream. The landed in the water after a truck hauling the load along U.S. Highway 12 slid into the river. The driver was cited for inattentive driving.

Report: Idaho kids suffer setbacks amid recession

BOISE — A new report shows the well-being of Idaho’s children has improved overall in the past decade, but the percentage of kids living in poverty and teens who have dropped out and don’t have jobs has increased amid the recession. Idaho ranked 22nd overall on state-by-state rankings today in the annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The well-being of Idaho children has improved overall since 2000, when the state was ranked 25th. But the study found Idaho’s youngest residents suffered setbacks amid the financial downturn. The report shows the percentage of children living in poverty increased from 16 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2009. Also, the percentage of teen dropouts without jobs increased from 8 percent to 9 percent.

Moses Lake theft suspect caught after chase

EPHRATA, Wash. — The Grant County sheriff’s office says a man suspected of stealing tires from a Moses Lake car dealership was captured early today after a police chase that ended when an officer used a spike strip to stop the getaway car. Deputies and police responded to a call around 3:30 a.m. that people were stealing tires off of vehicles at a Toyota dealership. When officers arrived, the suspects sped off. After their tires were flattened, one 51-year-old suspect was arrested and a second suspect fled on foot.

Hayden Lake particles identified as plankton eggs

HAYDEN LAKE, Idaho — State environmental officials say they have figured out what the mysterious black particles are that have clouded the waters of Hayden Lake all summer. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that the particles have clung to swimmers and washed up on beaches. Longtime homeowners say they can’t remember it covering the lake and beaches in the past. Department of Environmental Quality watershed coordinator Kajsa Stromber says tests have identified the particles as daphnia eggs, a zooplankton that can be a good source of food for fish. Stromber says the particles are not dangerous. She says the plankton should be able to hatch later if the environmental conditions remain right. Stromber says daphnia in the adult stage are almost invisible to humans, though fish have no problem seeing them.

Man accused of exposing himself to SeaTac barista

SEATTLE — A man with two previous convictions for indecent exposure has been accused of exposing himself to a bikini barista at a coffee stand in SeaTac. The reports the 25-year-old Seattle man who is charged with indecent exposure for the Aug. 9 incident is a registered sex offender because of similar offenses in 2007 and 2009. He is under supervision of the state Department of Corrections. He has not yet entered a plea to the latest charge.

New high-capacity grain elevator planned for Mont.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A joint venture between U.S., Japanese and Korean companies plans to build a third high-speed shuttle-loader grain elevator in Montana. The high-capacity grain elevators are capable of loading a 110-car train in less than 10 hours. The company, EGT, plans to complete the new elevator east of Carter by next summer. The Great Falls Tribune reports that EGT is already completing two other grain elevators in Chester and near Nashua. The company also is finishing a $200 million export facility in Longview, Wash. BNSF Railway Co. charges lower rates for grain shipped from high-speed elevators. The EGT facility in Carter will be the 17th shuttle loader in Montana. EGT is a joint venture between St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu and Korean shipper STX Pan Ocean.

Kaine Horman renews restraining order against wife

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Multnomah County judge has renewed the restraining order that Kaine Horman obtained against his wife, Terri Lynn Moulton Horman, after the disappearance of their son in Portland. The Oregonian reports the order was extended in June for another year. In court documents for the order, Kaine Horman says he believes Terri is responsible for the disappearance of Kyron Horman in June 2010 and she is not cooperating with law enforcement. Kaine Horman says he believes Terri Horman is a “substantial safety threat” and he obtained the restraining order to protect himself and his daughter.

New DOT resignation amid nepotism allegations

HELENA, Mont. — The state Department of Transportation’s chief human resources officer has resigned just days after the agency’s former director stepped down amid revelations that his daughter was given a DOT job. The department’s new director tells Lee Newspapers of Montana that Jennifer Jensen quit Monday afternoon. Jensen was the chief human resources officer when former director Jim Lynch’s daughter, Emily Rask, was hired in 2008 to work in the department’s human resources office. Lynch resigned Thursday. Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he only recently became aware of Rask’s hiring and told Lynch it was a violation of the state’s nepotism law. The new director, Tim Reardon, says Jensen and the agency came to an agreement that it would be best if she resigned. Jensen did not return phone messages for comment.

Eugene mom sentenced for leaving daughter in car

EUGENE, Ore. — A Eugene woman who left her 2-year-old daughter in a hot car was sentenced to a month in jail and three years’ probation. KVAL reports the sentence for 26-year-old Amanda Nichols was part of a plea deal with prosecutors. The girl was treated at a hospital and released to her father after she was found alone in the car while her mother was shopping.

Bison population drops by 200 in Yellowstone park

BILLINGS, Mont. — Yellowstone National Park’s wild bison population has dropped by an estimated 200 animals compared to last year. Park administrators reported Tuesday that about 3,700 of the burly animals now roam the park, which includes portions of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. That’s down from 3,900 bison last summer. Park spokesman Al Nash says an estimated 500 bison were killed over the winter by other animals, accidents and cold, snowy weather over the winter. More than 200 bison were taken by hunters after they migrated out of the park and into Montana. The overall population decline of 200 animals takes into account calves born this spring. A record 5,000 bison were tallied in Yellowstone in 2005.

Fire at Boise park causes $50,000 in damage

BOISE — Authorities say a fire that broke out in a Boise park was deliberately set and caused an estimated $50,000 in damages. Boise fire officials say Tuesday’s fire pretty much destroyed Nottingham Neighborhood Park. Det. Mike Hill, an arson investigator for the Boise Police Department, says the playground is a total loss. The Idaho Statesman reports that fire crews were called to the park early Tuesday by a person who spotted the flames. The fire was put out quickly but much of the playground equipment was destroyed. Investigators say they believe the cause is arson.

Boise man charged for giving teen illegal Spice

BOISE — Authorities in Meridian say they are recommending criminal charges for a Boise man accused of giving a teenage girl an illegal version of synthetic marijuana. Police arrested 31-year-old Cesar Antonio Sepulveda Monday and are accusing him of providing the teen with Spice — a mixture of herbs sprayed with a compound similar to the THC found in marijuana. Police are recommending he be charged with felony injury to a child. The Idaho Legislature added Spice and other drugs like it to the state’s illegal controlled substances list earlier this year. Investigators say the girl smoked the drug and then was taken to an emergency room after suffering seizures caused by brain swelling. Police say it’s unclear where the Spice was obtained since it’s now illegal across Idaho and other states.

Man gets 3 years for stealing tractor

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Washington man has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing a tractor at gunpoint. The Yakima Herald reports that 27-year-old Clifton Frank Peter of Wapato was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery and theft of a motor vehicle. Yakima County sheriff’s deputies said the May 24 incident began after Peter was involved in a domestic disturbance. They say he armed himself with an assault rifle. While walking through a nearby orchard, he reportedly pointed the weapon at a farmworker on a tractor and threatened him. The farmworker fled and Peter drove off with the tractor, dumping it and the 400-gallon sprayer it was towing not far away. The deputy who arrested him said Peter repeatedly apologized and said he wasn’t going to shoot anyone.

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