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NW today: Tumbleweeds invade neighborhood

What’s news in the Northwest today:

KENNEWICK – Thousands of tumbleweeds have blown into the Panoramic Heights area of Kennewick this winter, and some residents have had enough of the roly-poly plants. “When we get the high winds, we get this problem. It’s been like this for 10 years,” Lara Grimes said after surveying the wasteland of dried weeds packed onto her front yard, driveway and porch. Recent construction projects have cleared land and made the problem worse. The city responded to complaints with just one truckload hauled away. Thousands of weeds remain wedged together in the residential landscaping, matted tight against retaining walls, trees and other obstacles.

Boise man sentenced for breaking infant’s legs

BOISE — A 21-year-old Boise man has been sentenced for breaking bones in both legs of his girlfriend’s 3-month-old son last fall. The Idaho Statesman reports Shayne R. West was sentenced Thursday to consecutive eight- and 10-year prison sentences for two counts of felony injury to a child. Fourth District Judge Timothy Hansen also placed West on a retained jurisdiction program, which means West could spend up to a year receiving treatment in an Idaho Department of Correction facility before Hansen decides if West should be sent to prison for up to 18 years or placed on probation. If West is sent to prison, he can ask for parole after serving two years. Court records say the infant suffered broken bones in both legs, broken ribs and bruising while in West’s care.

State signs deal with feds over nuke fuel research

BOISE — Idaho has agreed to allow the federal government to ship limited, research quantities of used nuclear fuel to the Idaho National Laboratory. Gov. Butch Otter announced the deal Thursday in a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Otter says the arrangement is designed to improve the lab’s nuclear research efforts, including studying how nuclear materials age over time. Any used fuel coming to the lab would be counted against the existing limits set in place in the state’s 1995 nuclear waste agreement with the federal government. Otter says the INL has unique testing capabilities that are important if America is serious about increasing the life and improving performance of its existing nuclear reactors. The agreement also gives the state authority to back out of the deal any time.

Man booked on murder charge in Ore. lawman’s death

RAINIER, Ore. — The man accused of killing the popular police chief of a small Oregon town was released from a hospital and booked on an aggravated murder charge on Thursday, authorities said. Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says 21-year-old Daniel Butts was jailed after being released from a Portland hospital, a bullet still in his back after a Wednesday shootout with police in Rainier. Butts was wounded the day before as officers swarmed a car audio shop in Rainier, where the town’s police chief, Ralph Painter, had been shot. The 55-year-old chief had gone to the shop to investigate a report of an attempted car theft.

Bottlenose dolphin spotted in Puget Sound

SEATTLE — Marine biologists have confirmed an unusual sighting of a bottlenose dolphin in Puget Sound. John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research tells KING-TV the dolphin doesn’t typically travel this far north. The animal was spotted in Budd Inlet near Olympia Thursday. Biologists say the dolphin seems healthy though very lost.

Strict water pollution standard proposed for Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon environmental regulators are proposing what may be the toughest water pollution standards in the nation. The Oregonian reports the state Department of Environmental Quality proposed a new standard Thursday that would dramatically tighten human health criteria for a host of pollutants, including mercury, flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, plasticizers and pesticides. Industry and cities worry about the costs of complying with the new rules and controlling pollution, likely to run in the millions. Environmental groups say the change is long overdue. But business groups and city governments say they worry it could cost millions of dollars in a down economy.

Washington county ordered to tighten stormwater control

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Washington state hearings board has ordered Clark County, Wash. to tighten its stormwater runoff standards. The Washington Pollution Control Board’s ruling Monday upends an agreement that the Washington state Department of Ecology had entered with the county. That allowed the county to compensate for stormwater pollution from new development using off-site projects rather than restricting development. The Oregonian reports the board ruled the county stormwater plan doesn’t protect water quality to federal or state standards. Groups in Washington and Oregon had appealed in February.

Twin Falls officials seeking kidnapping suspect

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Twin Falls County sheriff’s office is seeking the public’s help in finding a 31-year-old man suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Twin Falls woman. The Times-News reports an arrest warrant with a $200,000 bond has been issued for 31-year-old Jason A. Albertson on charges of kidnapping, battery with intent to commit a felony and several felony charges of sexual assault. A woman reported Albertson held her hostage in her home Wednesday night. Albertson is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 180 pounds. He has blue eyes and a shaved head. Officials warn he may be armed.

Visiting judge to hear case of Yakima deputy

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Goldendale judge will oversee the trial of a Yakima County sheriff’s deputy accused of raping a woman in her Selah home. Judge Brian Altman was picked after eight Yakima County Superior Court judges declined to take case. He’s a judge with the Klickitat-Skamania County Superior Court. Sean Moore is accused of raping a woman in October, as well as assaulting her and threatening her male friend at gunpoint. The 37-year-old remains in the Kittitas County jail in Ellensburg on $500,000 bail. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports his trial is set for March.

Jefferson woman sentenced in animal sex case

SALEM, Ore. — A Jefferson woman has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and 60 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault of an animal and criminal mistreatment. The Statesman Journal reports that Rachel Petterson and her now ex-husband, Sam Petterson, were arrested in April after police found home video of them sexually assaulting dogs. Marion County Judge Mary James ordered Petterson on Thursday to undergo a sex offender evaluation. Deputies found video of the woman and dogs while investigating sex abuse and child pornography allegations against her husband. He was charged with child pornography and was sentenced last year to 43 years in prison.

Former cop faces sex crimes charges in Kennewick

KENNEWICK — A Benton County judge has reduced bail for a 35-year-old former Portland, Ore. police officer accused of approaching girls in a Kennewick park and offering them money to perform sex acts. Ryan Graichen, of Kennewick, however, sobbed Thursday when Judge Robert Swisher halved bail to $250,000 while denying his request for even lower bail. The Tri-City Herald reports Graichen has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of sexual abuse of a minor. His trial is set for Feb. 14. Prosecutors say he approached teens in Columbia Park last June and offered them money, alcohol and marijuana if they would go back to his house and be filmed while he performed a sex act.

Names released in suspected murder-suicide

POCATELLO, Idaho — Officials have identified the two people killed in a suspected murder-suicide. Pocatello police say 23-year-old Robert Isley and 24-year-old Amber Walters died Thursday morning at a residence on the east side of the city. Police say Walters called 911 at about 6:30 a.m. reporting a domestic dispute with Isley. When police arrived they found Walters inside the residence suffering from at least one gunshot wound. Isley was found outside the residence with a neck wound. Both were pronounced dead on arrival at Portneuf Medical Center. Bannock County Coroner Kim Quick says one death appeared to be a homicide and the other a suicide, but the case was still being investigated.

Wenatchee closer to owning Saddle Rock

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The city of Wenatchee is one step closer to owning Saddle Rock and its surrounding land. The Washington state Board of Natural Resources on Tuesday approved the selling the state-owned 325-acre parcel for $500,000. Parks and recreation director Dave Erickson says the land and 3.9 miles of trails will become Wenatchee’s largest natural area. He says the city first talked about acquiring the property over a century ago. The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust secured the money to buy it and is seeking donations to help maintain it. The Wenatchee World reports the land transfer is expected May 31.

Firefighter who started forest fire gets probation

HELENA, Mont. — A 26-year-old firefighter from Dillon who started a fire in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and later worked on the Forest Service crew that extinguished the blaze has been sentenced to two years probation and must pay $1,111 in restitution. The Independent Record in Helena reports that Christopher Clark was sentenced in federal court in Missoula on Thursday. He previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of damage to government property. Prosecutors say Clark and two other men were on Black Mountain on Oct. 17, 2009, and tried to start fires in trees killed by pine beetles. They were unsuccessful, but the next day Clark and one of the men returned to the forest and lit trees on fire in the Birch Creek area. The fire grew to about one-tenth of an acre, and Clark was later involved in the suppression effort.

Propane explosion at unoccupied Oregon frat house

McMINNVILLE, Ore. — The McMinnville, Ore., fire marshal says a propane explosion at a Linfield College fraternity house dislodged doors and windows and blew one corner of the house off its foundation. Eric McMullen says no occupants were in the Pi Kappa Alpha house at the time of Thursday’s blast. The building has now been declared unsafe to occupy. The fire marshal says a propane heater was being used in the basement of the building, which was being renovated. McMullen says propane leaked from loose connections on a hose and ignited.

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