February 28, 2011 in Region

NW today: School ‘fight club’ revealed on video

Compiled from wire reports
 

What’s news in the Northwest today:

TACOMA – Some Tacoma parents discovered a fight club at their children’s school after seeing a cell phone video. One student said fights take place afterschool inside the boy’s bathroom at Steward Middle School. He had recorded at least 15 of them on his phone’s camera. “Some of them looked like they were getting hurt, bloody noses,” said one woman whose nephew is involved in the fights. “I could see some were kicked in the ribs, sometimes punched.”

Shepherd man wants poaching charge dropped

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Shepherd man is asking that a felony poaching charge be dropped after the state lost bull elk antlers that were evidence in the case. The Billings Gazette reports 61-year-old Jimmie Roberts is charged with killing a cow and bull elk on a Musselshell County ranch. Roberts’ attorney, Jeff Michael, recently filed a motion to have the felony poaching charge with regard to the bull elk dismissed. During a hearing Friday, Michael says his client is unable to independently confirm that the antlers were those of a trophy animal and merit a felony charge. County Attorney Kent Sipe argued that a photograph and measurement of the antlers by a certified expert establish the antlers meet the criteria of a trophy animal. District Judge Randall Spaulding said he would rule later.

Idaho pursues ‘Madison Amendment’ to rein in DC

BOISE — After the failure of nullification last Friday in the Senate, Idaho is pushing for a new way to take on the federal government. Lawmakers want a so-called “Madison Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. It would allow two-thirds of states to call a constitutional convention where Congress would take up a specific amendment. Right now, states can already call for a convention, but not a specific amendment. They’ve never actually done this, for fear it would create a chaotic, runaway process where Congress could consider broadly overhauling the Republic’s founding document. Sen. Curt McKenzie of Nampa thinks states like Idaho would gain another tool in keeping Washington, D.C. in check. Today, McKenzie’s non-binding resolution cleared the Senate State Affairs Committee and now will get a vote in the full Senate.

Wenatchee aluminum smelter restarting 3rd potline

WENATCHEE, Wash. — Alcoa plans to fire up the third potline at the Wenatchee Works smelter on Tuesday. About 80 new employees have been working since last month to restart the line that was shut down in 2001. Plant manager Nik Winjum told The Wenatchee World it will take about three weeks to get the line fully energized and running. The new line will boost annual production from 100,000 metric tons to 148,000 metric tons. At its peak in the 1960s the plant produced 210,000 tons of aluminum a year.

College of Idaho enters public stage of fundraiser

CALDWELL, Idaho — Officials at the College of Idaho say they are hoping to raise $10 million each of the next six years to meet their overall goal to raise money for future scholarships and other campus projects. Leaders of the Caldwell-based liberal arts school said the fundraising campaign they launched in 2007 is now entering the public phase. So far, the college has received $110 million in pledges and gifts as part of its Advance the Legacy campaign. Money raised will help fund scholarships, endowments for chairs and professorships, student activities and campus renovation projects. The private college was founded in 1891 and from 1991 to 2007 was known as Albertson College of Idaho.

Man dies trying to rescue mother from Orting fire

ORTING, Wash. — Firefighters say a man died trying to rescue his mother from a burning home in Orting. Orting Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Webb told The News Tribune it appears the 47-year-old man left the house to alert neighbors Sunday morning to the fire and then went back inside for his mother. Webb says the house was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived. Neighbors and passers-by had rescued the woman who appeared to be in her 70s or 80s. She was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. Firefighters found the man dead inside the home.

8 injured in 5-vehicle crash near Everett

EVERETT, Wash. — The state patrol says a driver lost control and careened into the oncoming lane, setting off a five-car crash that left eight people injured. The accident occurred about 1 p.m. Sunday on State Road 2 near Skykomish. The patrol says the driver was eastbound when his Mazda crossed the center line and hit two cars coming in the opposite direction. The Mazda then spun around and struck two more oncoming cars before stopping on the side of the road. The patrol says the driver of the eastbound car, a woman and two children in his vehicle as well as two people in other vehicles were hospitalized at Valley General. Their conditions weren’t released. Two others were injured but treated at the scene. The patrol blamed the crash on traveling too fast for conditions.

Oregon congressman explains mental health issues

PORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. Rep. David Wu, who is facing calls for his resignation over reports of erratic behavior, says he was once knocked for a loop by the reaction to common mental health drugs and had to be hospitalized. The Oregon congressman told The Associated Press, however, that it does not explain the behavior documented in reports over the last month, which included sending his staff photos of himself wearing a tiger costume. Wu said the drugs left him dizzy and confused on Election Day 2008, when his staff and family reportedly were unable to locate him. “It came up that afternoon, and it knocked me off my can,” Wu said, referring to the symptoms. Wu said he was hospitalized for symptoms that were later diagnosed as a reaction to the drugs. A spokesman, Erik Dorey, identified them as the sleep-aid drug Ambien and a generic form of Valium, which he said Wu used for anxiety and stress. Six staff members quit after Wu’s 2010 re-election campaign during which the congressman gave angry speeches and talked his way inside the secure portion of Portland International Airport. The congressman said last year’s episodes were the culmination of a period of mental health challenges that began in 2008 as marital issues led toward his separation from his wife.

Idaho House to take up education reforms Tuesday

BOISE — Lawmakers in the Idaho House plan to take up legislation this week that would eliminate tenure for new teachers, restrict collective bargaining and introduce merit pay. The legislation is part of a plan by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to reform K-12 education in Idaho. The bills will go before the House Education Committee on Tuesday, with lawmakers expected to vote by Thursday even as the biggest piece of the proposed overhaul remains in the Senate. The main bill would boost technology in the classroom and require online courses, while also bumping up the minimum teacher pay. Idaho would increase class sizes to help pay for the reforms and cut 770 teaching jobs under the plan, which is being reworked in the Senate amid lawmaker concerns over class sizes.

Students protest proposed education reform

BOISE — Students at several Idaho high schools walked out of class this morning to protest the state’s education reform plan. About 100 students walked out of classes at Meridian High School while more than 150 walked out at Nampa High School. Students were also reported to have walked out of classes in Boise, Borah, Caldwell and Pocatello. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has proposed several changes including boosting technology in the classroom, requiring students to take online classes, increasing class sizes, cutting 770 teaching jobs and increasing the minimum pay for teachers. Students reportedly heard about the walk-out via social media networks and text messages.

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