What’s news in the Northwest today:
TACOMA — The Pierce County prosecutor has filed additional charges against the man accused of being the getaway driver when Maurice Clemmons killed four Lakewood police officers. Darcus Allen is already charged with aggravated murder in the November 2009 shootings at a Parkland coffee shop. Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Wednesday he filed second-degree murder charges to give a jury more options when the case goes to trial, scheduled for March 1. The News Tribune reports that if the 39-year-old is convicted of the second-degree murder charges he could receive a sentence of 122 years.
Wounded Marine returns to Ronan to hero’s welcome
MISSOULA — A Marine from Ronan wounded in Afghanistan has returned home to a hero’s welcome. The crowd gathered at Missoula International Airport Wednesday cheered and cried “Thank you!” as Lance Cpl. Thomas Parker arrived in the lobby in a wheelchair. The Missoulian reports Parker lost both legs and four fingers in Afghanistan. He spent seven weeks at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he underwent multiple surgeries. He is now at the Naval Medical Center at San Diego but has returned home for a week’s leave. After arriving at the airport, Parker was escorted up U.S. Highway 93 in a caravan that included a dozen fire departments from Missoula to Polson. Parker says he was overwhelmed by the greeting.
AG says budget cuts hurt state’s legal interests
BOISE — Idaho’s attorney general says budget cuts and staff furloughs have drastically cut the work his office can produce. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden tells lawmakers that his ability to protect the state’s legal interests have been compromised as a result. The Lewiston Tribune reports that Wasden spoke to a joint legislative budget committee on Wednesday. Wasden is making his case against further cuts, which budget writers have indicated could go as deep as 5 percent. Wasden says he’s lost more than 26 staff positions in the past three years and his staff will have to take another 12 furlough days next year just to meet the current budget. The committee is scheduled to set the attorney general’s budget on Feb. 24.
Port Orchard pastor accused of molesting girl
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — Kitsap County sheriff’s detectives are asking if there may be more victims of a Port Orchard pastor accused of child rape. Detectives arrested the 32-year-old man Wednesday at his home in Port Orchard. He’s accused of molesting a 12- or 13-year-old girl eight or nine years ago when he was a teacher and she was a student at the Manchester Christian Academy.
Newspaper carrier attacked in Bozeman
BOZEMAN — A newspaper carrier for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is recovering from a knife attack authorities say was prompted by an earlier refusal to give his assailant free newspapers. The Chronicle reports that a man slashed 51-year-old Mark Ward’s face early Wednesday after threatening Ward the previous morning when he was delivering papers at a housing complex. Ward’s wife Krystina said the man threatened to kill her husband Tuesday after he refused to hand over 20 newspapers. She said the man then attacked her husband the next morning while he was delivering the paper. Court documents say 47-year-old Mark Nichols White has been charged with assault with a weapon. Ward received stitches for his wounds. His wife said he will need surgery after sustaining a broken cheekbone in the attack.
Ex-Benton jail guard jailed for sex with inmate
KENNEWICK — Ex-Benton County jail guard Gregory Andre Brown was sentenced Wednesday to five days in jail for having sex with an inmate on a work crew. The Tri-City Herald reports the 38-year-old Kennewick man entered a guilty plea to a charge of official misconduct. Prosecutors say the sexual activity with the woman in January 2009 in a restroom might have appeared consensual, but the law says an inmate cannot consent to a sex act with a law enforcement officer. Brown was fired last summer after he was charged.
Obama to meet with Facebook, Apple founders
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is heading to friendly territory to push his plan to spend billions more on education, meeting with Apple’s ailing leader Steve Jobs and the chiefs of Facebook and Google in the San Francisco Bay area. He’ll also tour Intel Corp.’s semiconductor manufacturing facility in Oregon. Obama wants to spend more on education despite his call for a five-year freeze on other government spending. He says an educated work force will attract jobs and help the U.S. compete with the rest of the world. His visits today and Friday to politically friendly areas on the West Coast are partly designed to spotlight his focus on education and prod Republicans to support the higher spending. Obama is touring Intel Corp.’s semiconductor manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Ore., on Friday with CEO Paul Otellini. Intel has an education program that includes a curriculum, a competition and online resources to encourage studies in science, technology, engineering and math.
Idaho hospitals still in demand for specialty nurses
BOISE — Hospitals statewide are struggling to find enough nurses trained in specialties to fill staffing needs. While demand for registered nurses has tapered a little earlier than state labor officials projected, demand remains high for those with advanced degrees and licenses. For example, St. Luke’s Health System spokesman Ken Dey says there are vacancies for nurses specializing in coronary care, intensive care, neonatal, operating room and pediatric intensive care. Dey tells the Idaho Business Review the Boise-based hospital system is boosting hiring after a stagnant 2009 and looking to fill more than 100 positions. State Labor Department analysts say enrollment in nursing education remains steady. Last year, nearly 500 more adults than expected entered nursing training programs, boosting total enrollment to more than 2,800.
Oregon legislation to restrict student restraints
PORTLAND — Holding students face down with the use of handcuffs, duct tape and other mechanical or chemical restraints would be banned under a bill being considered in the Oregon state house. The Oregonian reports the bill also would force school districts to collect data on other use of restraints and seclusion and report to the state Department of Education, giving the state the ability to investigate complaints. Districts also would have to notify parents about incidents. The sponsor, Rep. Sara Gelser of Corvallis, says the bill is mostly directed at special education classes.