What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — The presidents of Washington’s three largest universities are painting a grim picture of proposed cutbacks to higher education in the state. The Seattle Times says the leaders are predicting fewer state students being admitted, more high-paying out-of-state students, hundreds of faculty and staff jobs cut, and longer times to get four-year degrees. The Legislature has asked college and university presidents to estimate the impact if the state has to cut higher education by $180 million more than the $600 million Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed for the next two years. Leaders of the University of Washington, Washington State and Western Washington University say the effect of such cuts would be felt for years.
Idaho Senate begins nullification hearing
BOISE — By midmorning today, all of those testifying on a plan to nullify the federal health insurance overhaul were supporting the bill. They invoked the names of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, but also Karl Marx and Lenin, in touting the bill. Sen. Monty Pearce, a sponsor, told the Senate State Affairs Committee that the Democratic-led reforms passed in Congress last year are a “giant step into socialism.” Idaho’s measure declares the reforms void — and requires Idaho to return federal money it’s received to start health insurance exchanges. The House passed the measure 49-20 last Wednesday, with seven Republican dissenters joining Democrats. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office says the measure violates the U.S. Constitution.
‘Victory Rally’ to celebrate Boeing tanker win
EVERETT, Wash. — Boeing employees and Washington state officials plan to gather today at the company’s Everett factory for a “victory rally” to celebrate winning the $35 billion Air Force contract for a new aerial tanker fleet. The Pentagon chose Boeing on Thursday for the contract, one of the biggest ever awarded by the military. Boeing’s offer to build nearly 200 airborne refueling tankers based on its 767 jetliner won out over a bid by European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. Boeing builds the 767 at the Everett plant. Among those planning to speak at the rally are Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Representatives Jay Inslee and Dave Reichert, labor leaders, Boeing employees and company officials.
Jucht named new Salem airport manager
SALEM, Ore. — A former deputy director at Spokane International Airport in Washington state has been named the new Salem airport manager in Oregon. The Statesman Journal reports the city of Salem’s Urban Development Department recently named Mark Jucht the new airport manager. Salem’s 751-acre airport serves general-aviation aircraft and the Oregon Army National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility. Jucht is responsible for coordinating and maintaining the development and growth of the Salem Municipal Airport as well as managing day-to-day operations.
SWAT officers arrest shooting suspect at home near crime scene
VANCOUVER, Wash. – SWAT officers on Thursday afternoon arrested a 15-year-old Vancouver boy for allegedly shooting a man and woman at 4213 N.E. 38th St. late Saturday night. The teen, whose name was not immediately available, was arrested about 4:40 p.m. Thursday and was taken to the juvenile detention center on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of attempted robbery and one count of first-degree burglary, according to a bulletin released late Thursday night by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Tips, generated Wednesday by media accounts of a $1,000 reward offered in the case, led to the arrest by detectives with the sheriff’s Major Crime and Tactical Detective units, the bulletin said. The shootings occurred about 11:40 p.m. Saturday.
Olympia man scales tallest summit on each continent, into historic club
OLYMPIA – With the summit of Mount Everest ahead, Steve Giesecke slowly walked across an ice bridge, stopping with each step to take long, deep breaths. Halfway across, Giesecke’s big, bulky boots slipped off, sending him tumbling headfirst. The rope he was attached to clipped to pulled taut, saving his life. “At 29,000 feet, it gets your attention,” he said. Giesecke continued his climb, reaching the summit in May 2007. It would be the hardest of his seven climbs of some of the world’s tallest peaks. A month ago, Giesecke climbed Antarctica’s 16,067-foot Mount Vinson, gaining him membership into a select club. He now has scaled the world’s “Seven Summits,” climbing the tallest peak on every continent. Only 86 Americans and fewer than 280 people worldwide have climbed all seven peaks.
Boise State president says funding not equitable
BOISE — Boise State University President Bob Kustra says state lawmakers need to either allocate more money to public higher education or do a better job of more fairly allocating what’s available. The State Board of Education says Boise State gets only 67 percent of the per-student funding as the University of Idaho, the Idaho Statesman Reports. Kustra told the Senate Education Committee Thursday that students at Boise State face bottlenecks in class schedules and a 26 percent increase in class sizes. University of Idaho President Duane Nellis says UI turns out more than half of the state’s degrees in science, engineering, mathematics and technology, and that course work costs more. But Boise State officials say Boise State also offers a doctoral degree in engineering.
Oil ‘megaloads’ will be downsized
PORTLAND, Ore. — A company trying to move huge pieces of oil refining equipment to Canada says it will downsize the “megaloads” so they can be trucked on interstate highways. Imperial Oil has been trying to truck the 30-foot-tall factory modules from Lewiston, Idaho, to Canada’s oil sands, a plan that’s run into permit delays and legal challenges. The Oregonian reports that the company now wants to reconfigure the 33 loads into 60 shipments that would be small enough for freeways. That would avoid travel on a more direct but winding route on highways through Idaho and Montana. The Korean-made modules arrive in the United States at the Port of Vancouver, Wash. Port officials say smaller loads are being trucked to Canada from Vancouver rather than being barged to Lewiston.
Idaho woman charged with prescription fraud
HAMILTON, Mont. — A 52-year-old Idaho woman is charged with using four doctors and three Montana pharmacies to obtain 780 hydrocodone tablets over a two-month period in 2009. The Ravalli Republic reports Stacey B. Williams of Salmon, Idaho appeared in Justice Court in Ravalli County Wednesday on a charge of fraudulently obtaining dangerous drugs. Justice of the Peace Jim Bailey set bail at $50,000. Prosecutors allege Williams duped doctors into prescribing her the opiate between Oct. 1 and Nov. 24, 2009. The Ravalli County sheriff’s office received a tip from an informant in December 2009. A detective found Williams received the drugs from three Montana pharmacies, including one in Hamilton. Prosecutors say she has a previous felony theft conviction in Missoula.
State legal bill in Lowe case tops $257,000
BOISE — The state’s price tag for defending in court the decision to fire Idaho Transportation Department chief Pam Lowe is more than $257,000 — and growing by the month. Lowe was fired in November 2009 and shortly after sued the state in federal court, alleging she was let go for political reasons and a victim of discrimination. The Idaho Attorney General’s Office, claiming it lacked the resources to handle the case, hired a private Boise law firm to litigate. A public records request by The Idaho Statesman shows the state has paid the law firm Holland & Hart more than $257,900 for services between March 2010 and December. That averages to about $25,000 a month. The legal tab will continue to grow in coming months as attorneys prepare for a trial scheduled for Aug. 8.
Storage locker cat: man accused of animal neglect
OREGON CITY, Ore. — A 55-year-old man has been ordered to appear in court to face charges of animal neglect in the case of a cat found locked in an Oregon City storage unit without food or water. Oregon Humane Society veterinarians estimate the male orange tabby had been without food for three to four weeks when he was found Feb. 9. A storage facility manager heard the cat crying. The Humane Society’s David Lytle says the cat that rescuers named “Milagro” — or “Miracle” in Spanish — is recovering although he remains blind. The Oregonian says Anthony Glenn Johnson has been ordered to appear March 21 in Clackamas County Circuit Court to face charges of first-degree animal neglect and second-degree animal neglect, both misdemeanors. Described as a transient, Johnson is free on his own recognizance.