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NW today: Bills highlight coffee, sandstone, English

Tue., Feb. 1, 2011, 8:38 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

OLYMPIA — Bills have been introduced in the Washington Legislature that would make coffee the official state beverage and Tenino sandstone the state rock. The Olympian reports the coffee bill was introduced by Rep. Barbara Bailey of Oak Harbor. The rock bill was introduced by Sen. Dan Swecker of Rochester. In other proposed legislation, Rep. Jim McCune of Graham has introduced a bill to make English the official language of the state. Sen. Val Stevens of Arlington has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. Sen. Margarita Prentice of Renton introduced the Senate version of a bill recently filed by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson of Seattle to allow marijuana to be sold in state liquor stores.

Derelict Columbia River barge costing millions

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Coast Guard has requested $3.5 million to clean up oil leaking from a derelict barge on the Columbia River near Camas in southwest Washington. The Columbian reports the money comes from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, created by a federal tax on petroleum products. The 431-foot Davy Crockett is a World War II Liberty ship that was converted to a barge and has been beached for years for scrapping. The Coast Guard took control of the vessel last week, after a sheen of oil was spotted in the river. Now more than 60 people from federal and Washington and Oregon state agencies are responding. About 14,500 gallons of oil have been recovered, but the barge could hold as much as 953,000 gallons.

Montana man now second-oldest in world

JACKSONVILLE, Texas - A woman believed to be the world’s oldest person has died. A funeral home in Jacksonville says Eunice G. Sanborn died Monday in her home at the age of 114. The Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group listed Sanborn as the world’s oldest person, based on data from the 1900 census. Group official Robert Young said the title now passes to Besse Cooper of Georgia, who is 114 years and five months old. Walter Breuning of Great Falls, Mont., is now the second-oldest person in the world. He is 26 days younger than Cooper.

Montana senators introduce bill to protect Flathead

HELENA — Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester have reintroduced a bill that would bar mining and new oil and gas development on the North Fork watershed of Montana’s Flathead River. Baucus said Monday in announcing the legislation that he hopes the bill will build on the success they’ve had in getting companies to retire oil and gas development leases in the area. Companies such as ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Exxon subsidiary XTO Energy have voluntarily relinquished more than 200,000 acres, or about 80 percent of the total leased acreage. The Montana Democrats introduced a similar bill last March, but the full Senate failed to take action on it. That bill followed an agreement by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia to protect the region.

Man killed by Portland police buried with honors

PORTLAND — A homeless Army veteran who was shot and killed Jan. 2 by Portland police was buried Monday at Willamette National Cemetery with full military honors. The 67-year-old Thomas Higginbotham served more than two years in the Army. Friends told The Oregonian he was injured in two tours in Vietnam. Higginbotham lived in an abandoned Portland car wash. Officers had gone to talk to him about trespassing at a nearby strip mall when they say he came at them with a knife. He was shot 10 times by two officers. A Multnomah County grand jury ruled the use of deadly force was justified.

N. Idaho man enters plea in child injury case

COEUR D’ALENE — A Hayden man has pleaded not guilty to allegations he used a 25-pound sack of dried drink mix to hold an infant face down on a storage room floor to help the child fall asleep. Zacharee J. Wright, 19, is charged with felony injury to a child and is being held on a $15,000 bond in the Kootenai County Jail. Prosecutors say Wright’s alleged actions could have suffocated the infant, who is his stepdaughter and was just 18 months old at the time of the incident. The child was found by a family member who heard “whimpering.” Wright’s father then removed the child and called police. A police report indicates Wright told investigators he left the child in the room for about 30 minutes and checked on her every 10 minutes.

Mother pleads guilty to neglecting twin daughters

COEUR D’ALENE — A 27-year-old Coeur d’Alene woman whose twin daughters were found living in squalor has pleaded guilty to felony injury to a child. Elisabeth Crossley entered her plea Monday in District Court in Kootenai County as part of a plea agreement that includes a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The 2-year-old girls are in state custody. Crossley’s daughters were found Dec. 5 living in filthy conditions. The girls were sealed in a bedroom with no clothes, bedding or furniture. Police say the girls, walls and floor were covered in fecal matter and the girls had bruises and open sores. Crossley’s mother, 55-year-old Ruth K. Cassidy, entered an Alford plea to felony injury to a child. Both are to be sentenced on April 13.

Yakima police say fatal shooting justified

YAKIMA — Yakima police say their initial review of an officer’s fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man show it was justified to save the life of a stabbing victim. Lt. Mike Merryman said Monday the officer shot the attacker, Yeuri Acevedo Cisneros, when he refused to stop stabbing a 21-year-old man Sunday morning in a duplex parking lot. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the victim, Julio Cesar Zamora-Cortes, was stabbed 159 times with a pocketknife. He is expected to recover, after heart surgery and treatment for wounds to his upper body and neck. Officer Joel Hansen fired two shots when Cisneros refused commands to stop. Yakima County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty will decide whether the shooting was justified.

SEC: Execs used company as ‘personal piggy bank’

BOISE — Securities regulators say court-ordered discovery into a small would-be Idaho nuclear plant developer’s activities strengthen their claims that its executives treated the company “as their own personal piggy bank.” Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers filed documents about Alternate Energy Holdings on Friday in U.S. District Court, seeking to keep executives’ assets frozen. SEC lawyers wrote that Chief Executive Officer Don Gillispie and Vice President Jennifer Ransom schemed to mislead investors and spent $19 million of $26 million “raised from investors, without any explanation of where that money has gone.” In a Jan. 10 deposition, Gillispie also discussed his marketing efforts for the company in Asia. Gillispie described how he traveled there with Ransom because people he met with “like a pretty blonde face to look at, so it doesn’t hurt.”

Inmate suing state over lack of kosher foods

BILLINGS — A Montana Women’s Prison inmate has filed a lawsuit claiming state corrections officials are violating her right to religious freedom by not providing her with kosher foods. The Billings Gazette reports Shelley Tischler filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Billings against the Department of Corrections, the Montana Women’s Prison, Warden Jo Acton, two deputy wardens and others. Tischler is serving a 20-year prison term for a fatal drunken driving crash in Ravalli County. Tischler has been held both at the prison in Billings and at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. The lawsuit says Tischler has been able to buy her own kosher foods at the women’s prison, but administrators at the state hospital denied her the ability to have or order kosher food.

Endangered gray wolf starts Oregon migration

PENDLETON, Ore. — Increased sightings of the endangered Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf in northeastern Oregon suggest to wildlife biologists that the animals have begun a migration from Idaho that could spread to Washington by the summer. But state wildlife biologist Mark Kirsch isn’t prepared to call the wolves a pack yet, the East Oregonian reports. Kirsch says it’s unclear what kind of “social formation” the wolves are in. While single wolves have entered Oregon and left, Kirsch says this group of wolves apparently will stay. Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves have federal and state endangered species protection. There have been no efforts to reintroduce wolves in Oregon after people killed the animal off about 80 years ago. Kirsch says the migration from Idaho is natural and not a result of habitat loss.

Deputies say DUI suspect didn’t give up easily

LEWISTON – An Asotin County man was jailed early Sunday morning after he allegedly attacked three Asotin County deputies while they tried to arrest him for DUI. Luke C. Fogleman, 22, was booked on charges of DUI, resisting arrest and three counts of third-degree assault. His bond was set at $100,000. According to sheriff’s reports, deputies attempted to arrest Fogleman after he struck a parked vehicle with his Jeep in Clarkston. Fogleman refused to take standard field sobriety tests, then allegedly resisted arrest and tried to flee. He was finally subdued with a deputy’s Taser. Three deputies were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.

First megaload rolls tonight in North Idaho

LEWISTON – An eleventh-hour news conference against megaloads Monday failed to convince the Idaho Transportation Department to revoke a permit for the first oversized load to leave today. Nine people gathered outside ITD’s Lewiston office and asked the agency one more time to stop a 650,000-pound megaload from starting its journey at 10 p.m. tonight from Lewiston to Billings. The group cited concerns that the megaloads might hurt a bustling tourist trade and damage the fragile ecosystem adjacent to U.S. Highway 12, the road the cargo is using. ITD didn’t budge. “Given the amount of research, the amount of planning and the amount of preparations, we’re confident the loads can move safely,” said Adam Rush, a spokesman for ITD. About one mile away, crews were conducting final preparations to ready the first megaload at a vacant lot near the Port of Lewiston office. A convoy that might extend 5 miles long will carry half a Japanese-made drum needed for the rehabilitation of a ConocoPhillips refinery. It’s scheduled to leave at 10 p.m. today, barring bad weather. It will travel into Wednesday morning to reach the Nez Perce/Clearwater county line.

‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ hospital seeks takers for remains

SALEM, Ore. — Don Whetsell buried his grandfather last year, finally laying him to rest 60 years after his death. The final resting place next to his wife was far better than the previous one: on a shelf with the neglected remains of 3,500 others in a storage area dubbed the “room of forgotten souls.” Whetsell is one of 120 people to claim the remains of loved ones who had been left behind at Oregon’s state mental hospital, some of them in corroding copper canisters that had fused together. Hospital officials are hoping a new online list will help them reunite living relatives with the forgotten patients and prison inmates who died at Oregon State Hospital between 1914 and the 1970s. Whetsell’s grandfather, Nathan McComber, died in the early 1940s after he was deemed insane and committed with symptoms that would, in modern times, probably be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, said Whetsell, 79. The decrepit, 128-year-old Oregon State Hospital was the setting for the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” starring Jack Nicholson, which drew national attention to the treatment of patients in some psychiatric hospitals.

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