What’s news in the Northwest today:
BUTTE, Mont. — The last vehicle that was registered in Evel Knievel’s name will go up for auction on Jan. 22. Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., plans to sell the Butte motorcycle daredevil’s 2002 Ford F-150 crew cab truck during its broadcast on the Speed Network. The sale will take place between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Longtime friend and manager Bill Rundle tells The Montana Standard the red, white and blue-striped rig was the last one Evel owned. He says Knievel only put 18,000 miles on the truck, which has a leather and suede interior. Knievel died Nov. 29, 2007. He was 69.
Washington state workforce down 5 percent
OLYMPIA – The Great Recession has led to state budget cuts and a smaller state government work force. State government employment in Washington hit a peak in 2008 and has been shrinking since. Washington’s www.fiscal.wa.gov website shows that total budgeted jobs in all agencies and higher education institutions peaked in the 2007-09 spending cycle. The governor’s Office of Financial Management said actual full-time-equivalent positions totaled 116,104 in general government and higher education institutions in November 2008. That number fell to 110,214 in November 2010, a drop of 5,890 full-time positions, or more than 5 percent. Those figures compare with 101,136 in 1999-2001.
Prosecutor: Tax commish probe unfazed by his exit
BOISE — An Idaho prosecutor says the resignation of state Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow won’t affect the investigation into whether Chigbrow broke the law by divulging confidential tax information to a friend and political supporter. At stake is whether Chigbrow provided information to Benton “Skip” Hofferber, who is suing his former employer. Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower said today that Chigbrow’s resignation Friday “won’t affect our inquiry into the matter,” adding that he’s trying to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
3 men die while recreating in northwestern Montana
KALISPELL, Mont. — A spokesman at Whitefish Mountain Resort says a series of recent deaths on the ski hill is unprecedented. Scott Allen Meyer, 29, of Kalispell died in a snowboarding accident Saturday while a 68-year-old skier collapsed on an intermediate run and died of natural causes. Meyer fell into a tree well, the same type of accident that led to the Jan. 2 death of a 16-year-old German exchange student. Spokesman Donnie Clapp says it had been 10 years since anyone died at the ski hill. Also Saturday, 53-year-old Bruce Lee Jungnitsch of West Glacier died in an avalanche west of Hungry Horse Reservoir. Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says another snowmobiler was caught in that slide, but was rescued and at least two others were rescued from a separate snow slide.
Indians demonstrate outside Seattle inquest
SEATTLE — About a dozen Indians and other demonstrators pounded drums and sang outside the King County Courthouse today before the start the inquest into the police shooting of a Native American wood carver. The Seattle Times reports some wore headbands saying “4 seconds to death.” That’s a reference to the time between when Officer Ian Birk ordered John T. Williams to drop a knife and when Birk fired the fatal shots. Birk saw Williams carrying the knife Aug. 30 and said he fired because Williams didn’t respond to three commands to drop the knife. Witnesses say Williams did not appear to be a threat. The King County prosecutor will use the inquest findings to determine whether to charge the officer.
Judge: Lawsuit against Montana coal lease can go on
BILLINGS, Mont. — A court ruling released today gives environmentalists the green light to press forward with their challenge of Montana’s lease of 587 million tons of state-owned coal to a St. Louis company. District Judge Joe Hegel rejected an attempt by the state and Arch Coal Inc. to dismiss lawsuits brought last year by four environmental groups. Under a deal approved by the state Land Board last March, Arch bought the lease on the undeveloped Otter Creek coal reserves near Ashland for $86 million and future royalties. Four environmental groups later sued, claiming the sale should have been reviewed under the Montana Environmental Policy Act.
No sales for Bainbridge electric car dealership
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — Byron Holcomb hasn’t sold any of his battery-powered buggies since he opened his Go Green electric car dealership in October on Bainbridge Island. But the retired lawyer says he’s has plenty of interest at his Winslow business, and he expects customers will find the cars are ideal for island travel. The Kitsap Sun reports there’s a problem with the first models manufactured by Bad Boy, a Diaz, Ark., company that builds heavy-duty riding lawnmowers. They have no doors. But attachable doors should be available in coming months for better protection from Puget Sound weather. Holcomb says one advantage of the Go Green vehicle will be that golfers can play 18 holes and then drive to a store on the way home — in the same car.
Idaho girl knew man charged with kidnapping her
ROBERTS, Idaho — An eastern Idaho man says his 17-year-old daughter knew the man accused of kidnapping her and had accepted his offer for a ride home from work before. Todd Graves of Roberts tells KIFI-TV that his daughter, Katie, thought she could trust Jose Luis Torres, a regular customer at the cafe where she worked. However on Friday, Katie Graves told police Torres drove by her house and kept going into the desert north of town. She tried to convince him to take her home, and eventually found an opportunity to escape and call her mom on her cell phone. Torres is being held without bond on charges of kidnapping, battery and driving under the influence.
Teen accidentally shot in groin in Federal Way
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Police say an 18-year-old playing with a sawed-off shotgun accidentally shot a 16-year-old boy in the groin in Federal Way. Police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock says it happened about 1 a.m. today at an apartment. Officers found the victim on the floor. He’s been taken to a hospital. KOMO News reports the 18-year-old was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of assault.
Oregon’s Mac Court full for BCS watch party
EUGENE, Ore. — Mac Court on the University of Oregon campus will be full for a watch party for the football team’s national championship game. The Register-Guard reports entry is free, but the university capped attendance at 6,000 with reserved tickets. Students started making reservations Tuesday and the general public on Thursday. The limit was reached Sunday. Door open at 4 p.m. Fans can buy food and nonalcoholic beverages. The crowd will watch the game on four jumbo screens.
South Dakota eagle gets Northwest name - Celilo
EUGENE, Ore. — Nearly 600 new names were submitted to the Cascades Raptor Center for an eagle. The Register-Guard reports the winning name is Celilo (suh-LEYE’-loh), after the Indian fishing village on the Columbia River that was submerged by the construction of The Dalles Dam. The eagle arrived at the raptor center in Eugene after a rehabilitation center in South Dakota closed in November. The eagle was known there by a Lakota word pronounced (wo-whee-jah-kah), Wowicakes. But many people in Eugene were calling the bird “Wowie-cakes,” so it was given a more-dignified name.
Kitsap gun club plans to use noise suppression
BREMERTON, Wash. — Armed with a state attorney general’s opinion, the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club is moving forward with plans to use noise-suppression devices at its firing range. The Kitsap Sun reports the county sued the club in September, alleging land-use violations, including noise. The club wants to use a freestanding box to baffle the noise from high-powered rifles, but that could have violated a law against dangerous weapons. The state attorney general’s opinion said the law is not aimed at preventing general noise-reduction.
Lawmakers poised for start of 2011 Legislature
BOISE — Idaho lawmakers are getting ready to begin the first day of what could be one of the most challenging legislative sessions in recent history. The 2011 Legislature opens today featuring Gov. Butch Otter’s State of the State Address. Otter will lay out his budget and other priorities during his speech at noon Pacific time. Then it’s on to the tough decisions ahead. The state is facing a projected budget deficit of $340 million for next year, and the gap could mean more cuts in public education, Medicaid and other programs. Otter and lawmakers say they are encouraged by a slight increase in state revenue. So far this fiscal year, revenues are about $30 million ahead of targets.
Kitzhaber to begin unprecedented third term
SALEM, Ore. — After an eight-year hiatus from public life, John Kitzhaber is taking back the helm of a state reeling from joblessness, with a budget deficit that will soon bring steep cuts in services on which residents rely. He will take the oath of office today to begin an unprecedented third term as governor of Oregon. A former emergency room doctor who once called Oregon “ungovernable” as he finished what most people expected to be his final term in office nearly a decade ago, Kitzhaber has laid out lofty goals to transform the way government thinks and operates. Before he can get there, however, he’ll have to tackle a budget with a $3.5 billion shortfall. And he’ll have to do it while working with a Legislature that could be on course for gridlock.
Tied Oregon House adopts rules, scaling first hurdle
SALEM — The Oregon House has adopted rules for sharing power, scaling the first key hurdle for a legislative body evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The rules call for a co-speakers from each party. Committees will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats with a co-chair from each party. Lawmakers approved their rules on a 57-3 vote today. Oregon voters elected 30 members of each party, so neither has the 31 votes needed to control the chamber or pass legislation with support from the other party. Democrat Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay and Republican Bruce Hanna of Roseburg were elected as co-speakers.
Partial closures of 520 bridge start tonight
SEATTLE — Overnight partial closures are starting tonight on the Evergreen Point floating bridge across Lake Washington. Today through Thursday this week, the eastbound lanes of the State Route 520 bridge will close from midnight to 4 a.m. the next morning so crews can begin installing equipment for electronic tolling. The partial closures continue for the next five weeks, alternating between eastbound and westbound lanes. There also will be three weekends of partial closures on Fridays and Saturdays beginning Jan. 21-22. They will last from midnight to 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 7:30 a.m. on Sundays.