What’s news in the Northwest today:
OLYMPIA — About 17 percent of Washington’s class of 2010 earned college credit by passing Advanced Placement exams. The number of students both taking and passing the exams has been increasing steadily in Washington state. State officials say participation over the past five years has increased in every ethnic group and among low-income students. AP exams are offered in 36 subjects each May, but the most popular tests in Washington are in English, U.S. history, English literature and calculus. Washington ranks 17th in the nation for its AP exam passing rate.
Twin Falls officials reject zip line in canyon
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a plan to build a zip line in the Snake River Canyon. Commissioners voted 3-3 on Tuesday, with two commissioners recusing themselves. The Times-News reported that commissioners noted the company, Magic Valley Flight Simulation, didn’t bring a business plan and engineering documents to the meeting and didn’t have a wetlands impact assessment.
Washington bill ups regulation for signature gatherers
OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers are seeking to tighten regulations on paid signature gatherers who circulate petitions for ballot initiatives. The bill, proposed by Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, requires all signature-gathering businesses and paid signature gatherers to register with the Secretary of State. It also ups the fee for filing initiatives or referenda from $5 to $500. But $450 of that would be refunded if the initiative qualifies for the ballot. The bill’s sponsors say the measure will help guarantee the validity of signatures collected by paid signature-gatherers and ensure greater transparency in the ballot measure process. But opponents like initiative promoter Tim Eyman fear the bill will stifle citizens’ ability to get their issues on the ballot.
Trooper charged with misdemeanor poaching
SANDPOINT — An Idaho State Police trooper accused of shooting a moose in Bonner County before the start of last fall’s hunting season has been charged with misdemeanor poaching. Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson says he filed a misdemeanor charge because Cpl. Jeff Jayne has agreed to plead guilty. Jayne has said he incorrectly memorized the dates for the start of hunting season. A plea agreement calls for a $500 fine, six months of unsupervised probation and the revocation of Jayne’s hunting and fishing privileges for two years.
Pasco man accused of imprisoning girlfriend for month
PASCO – A Pasco man is being held on $100,000 bail for allegedly beating and holding his girlfriend against her will for a month. Larry Dean Buck, 39, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court to second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. His trial is set for March 23. Pasco police were called to the Shopping Spot Mini Mart on Jan. 27 for a report that a hysterical woman was asking for help from police. Officers found the woman, 45, later determined to be Buck’s girlfriend, shaking and crying and trying to catch her breath. She had bruising on her face and chest, a cut on the bridge of her nose and cuts on her left ankle, documents said. She said she was held against her will by Buck at the Sage N Sun Motel and inside a motor home at 2714 W. Hopkins St., documents said.
Oregon gold miner assault trial opens with testimony
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — An Oregon man who lost part of his arm in a violent encounter with a gold miner in the mountains near the California border was the first to testify against the miner in an assault trial. The Mail Tribune reports that 55-year-old Gregory Graybill described how an off-road excursion with friends turned into a confrontation with 63-year-old Ronald Spears, armed with a shotgun. Spears is on trial in Josephine County Circuit Court in Grants Pass, just north of the remote area where Spears has been working his mining claim in the Illinois River valley. Graybill testified Tuesday that Spears confronted him and some friends when they drove into an isolated campsite, screaming at them to get off his mining claim and firing shotgun rounds into the air.
Suspect in officer shooting jailed
JEROME, Idaho — The 29-year-old Jerome man suspected of shooting a police officer and leading officers on a chase has been released from the hospital and jailed. The Times-News reports Christopher M. Taylor was jailed Tuesday after being treated for a gunshot wound and injuries suffered in a crash that ended Monday’s chase near Jerome. Taylor was on probation after being convicted of possession of a controlled substance and theft by receiving stolen property. A probation officer issued an agent’s warrant, arguing that Monday’s events violate the terms of Taylor’s probation. Another probation officer issued an order on Feb. 3 alleging Taylor tested positive for methamphetamine twice in January and calling for him to serve 30 days in jail. Jerome Police Officer Dennis Clark is recovering from his injuries at a Boise hospital.
Oregon teen suspended over locker room cell phone
SALEM, Ore. — A teenage boy has been suspended from an Oregon middle school after a cell phone with a camera was found in a girls’ locker room in the town of St. Paul. The Statesman Journal reports there was no indication a recording on the phone had been distributed after it was discovered Friday during a girls’ basketball game. St. Paul School Superintendent and high school Principal Sid Hobgood said a student told him Friday during the game there was a camera in the team’s locker room. Hobgood said the 14-year-old boy who was suspended is an eighth-grader at St. Paul Middle School, which shares facilities with the high school. Marion County sheriff’s deputies are investigating.
Disabled woman dies in Pacific County fire
SOUTH BEND, Wash. — The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office says a disabled woman died in a fire as her adult daughter was overcome with smoke trying to rescue her from a burning mobile home. Investigators responding to the scene Tuesday near Raymond found the body believed to be Tiffanie Duncan, although positive identification will have to come from the Pacific County coroner’s office. The Sheriff’s Office said her daughter Valerie Boisen had tried to remove Duncan from the home but was overcome by smoke and driven back again when she tried to re-enter. Boisen was treated at Grays Harbor Community Hospital for smoke inhalation and minor burns. The fire apparently started in a laundry room.
Assisted suicide issue hits Legislature
HELENA — Lawmakers are being asked to either make rules for physician-assisted suicide in the wake of a high court ruling opening the door for the procedure, or to ban it altogether. Supporters of physician-assisted suicide told the Senate Judiciary Committee today that the government has no right to tell people that they can’t end their own lives when they are in the grips of a terminal disease. Opponents say doctors have no place helping someone end their life and argue the procedure could be misused. The Dec. 31, 2009, Supreme Court ruling in the case Baxter v. Montana effectively made Montana the third state to allow physician-assisted suicide, along with Oregon and Washington. But there are no rules, procedures or ability to track how often doctors are prescribing the death-inducing drugs.
Oregon man sentenced to 35 years for porn, sex abuse
BEND, Ore. — An Oregon man was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography and sex abuse charges involving three young girls. KTVZ-TV in Bend reports that 44-year-old David Anthony Windham was indicted last year on 94 counts before he pleaded guilty Monday to a dozen of those charges. Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said the investigation began when a woman Windham had been dating in the coastal town of Port Orford found some computer disks Windham left behind after they broke up. Three guilty pleas were charges out of Curry County – a felon in possession of a firearm, failure to register as a sex offender and encouraging child sex abuse. The other nine guilty pleas included sex abuse, rape and using a child in a sexual display.
Idaho boy dies in tractor accident
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A 3-year-old boy has been killed in a farming accident just east of the Twin Falls airport. Twin Falls County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Stewart told the Times-News that Thomas Coleman was riding on a tractor with his father at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday when the accident occurred. The tractor lurched forward and the boy fell under the wheels of the tractor. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Hundreds flock to Capitol for nullification bill
BOISE — Hundreds flocked to the Idaho Capitol for a hearing on a bill seeking to void President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri says the measure would forbid Idaho agencies from putting the law into effect — a declaration of state sovereignty over a federal power grab that he and others deem unconstitutional. Constitutional scholars counter that federal laws trump those of states, so attempts to nullify the law are unlikely to survive legal challenges. They say Idaho is better off pursuing the case in court, where a federal judge in Florida has already ruled against the overhaul. Barbieri conceded that if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually rules the health reforms are constitutional, Idaho would follow them.
Until then, however, the state should stand up for itself, he said.
Rescued horse to help recovering Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers
EVERETT — A horse that was rescued from a Sultan farm is starting a new life at a farm in Yelm, helping soldiers recover from post-traumatic stress disorder and head injuries. The Daily Herald of Everett reports the 18-year-old chestnut mare named Cisca is the last horse to be adopted out of 10 that Snohomish County animal control took in September 2009. The former owner is facing trial on animal cruelty charges. Meanwhile, Cisca has been moved to the Rainier Therapeutic Riding program. New owner Debbi Fisher said Cisca has the perfect disposition to help recovering soldiers.
‘Wheel of Fortune’ jackpot at heart of divorce battle
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Scott Dole thought he’d scored the jackpot — or at least $51,600 — when he won “Wheel of Fortune.” More than a year later, he hasn’t seen a dime. A messy divorce between the 40-year-old Vancouver man and his wife has placed the winnings in escrow until the courts can sort through who gets what. Turns out it’s been somewhat of a wheel of misfortune. His wife wants half of the money, though she filed for divorce well before he taped the show. He might have to pay taxes on the winnings without actually having seen the money. And his brush with fame has prolonged finalizing his divorce by more than a year.