What’s news in the Northwest today:
BOISE — Gov. Butch Otter’s plan to cut millions of dollars from the Department of Health and Welfare budget raises one key question: Which programs serving the poor and elderly will be cut? The 2012 budget Otter unveiled Monday calls for a $25 million cut in general fund money for the agency. Some cuts could come in adult Medicaid services, the Idaho Statesman reports. But programs designed for low-income clients and children may also be targeted. Otter says government has been asked to fill too many roles once held by families, communities and churches. And he called on Idahoans to take on more personal responsibility as social programs face rollbacks. Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong says service reductions are a reality as the agency deals with the funding cuts.
Fatal shooting reported in Kennewick in burglary
KENNEWICK, Wash. — One person was shot dead early today at a Kennewick house. The Tri-City Herald reports that early indications are that the person was a burglar. Police were responding to a 911 call about a burglar in the home about 1 a.m. Officers received another call about gunshots being fired, and when they arrived they found a person dead. Investigators with the Washington State Patrol crime lab are helping process the scene.
Suspect sought in Everett nightclub shooting
EVERETT, Wash. — Police are looking for the person who shot three people outside the Club Broadway nightclub in Everett. Police say officers responding to a report of a fight before 2 a.m. today heard gunshots and found the victims — two men and a woman, all in their 20s, wounded in their legs and feet. Two men who were stopped in a car in the area were questioned and released. A man who yelled profanities at officers at the scene and refused to leave was arrested for carrying a handgun with an expired concealed weapons permit.
Bill would count existing dams as renewable energy
HELENA, Mont. — Montana lawmakers are considering a proposal that would make it easier for utilities to meet the minimum requirements for renewable energy production. The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Debby Barrett of Dillon would allow electricity produced by large hydroelectric facilities to count toward renewable resource requirements. Montana utilities are required to procure 10 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources. That jumps to 15 percent in 2015. Conservationists say Barrett’s proposal would make the state’s renewable energy standard meaningless.
Idaho man died of exposure in Oregon
BOISE — Officials in Ontario, Ore., say a Fruitland, Idaho man whose body was found in the parking lot of an Oregon truck dealership died of exposure. The Idaho Statesman reports an autopsy performed on 27-year-old Israel Zuniga Jr. determined that Zuniga died of exposure and no foul play was involved. Ontario police released the results of their investigation today. Zuniga’s body was found under a semi truck on Jan. 3. He was last seen leaving a New Year’s Eve Party at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 1. Police say Zuniga was not wearing adequate clothing for the cold temperatures. They are still awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Bill to protect fetuses draws on abortion debate
HELENA, Mont. — The sponsor of a bill making it illegal to kill an unborn child says the proposal has nothing to do with abortion — even though abortion foes and supporters lined up to take different positions on the measure. The bill sparked familiar arguments over abortion between old foes at a legislative hearing today. It is expected to clear the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee. The panel’s chairman said a vote could come later this week. Groups opposed to abortion said Kalispell Rep. Keith Regier’s bill is needed to prosecute those who kill an unborn baby, perhaps during a crime against the expectant mother. They said House Bill 167 excludes legal abortions.
Ammonia leaked stopped at Kent warehouse
KENT, Wash. — An ammonia leak at a cold storage warehouse in Kent came from a valve. KOMO Radio reports firefighters in hazmat gear found the problem at Washington Cold Storage and stopped the coolant from escaping. They are airing out the building so employees can go to work. Fire department spokesman Kyle Ohashi said the leak was reported at 6:45 a.m. toay by a cab driver. A gas plume was visible in the air. No one was hurt.
Man charged with raping elderly woman
CLARKSTON, Wash. — A male caregiver has been charged with raping a 70-year-old woman in Clarkston. Michael S. Jackson, 49, has pleaded innocent to two counts of second-degree rape and indecent liberties. His next court date is Jan. 31. The crimes allegedly occurred last November at the Clarkston Care Center. According to court documents, the woman told a caseworker she had consensual sex with Jackson while he was her caregiver. The caseworker reported the issue to law enforcement officers, who found the woman has mental issues that affect her decision-making skills. Clarkston Care Center said Jackson is no longer an employee.
Man pleads not guilty in Moscow bar fight case
MOSCOW, Idaho —A 25-year-old Moscow man has pleaded not guilty to a felony aggravated battery charge filed after a fight outside a Moscow bar left a man with severe brain injuries. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports Lammar Burney entered his plea before 2nd District Judge John Stegner in Latah County on Monday. His bail was cut in half to $25,000 and a trial set for March 1. Burney was charged after a fight with former University of Idaho basketball player Brandon Brown on Dec. 16. The Daily News reports Brown remains hospitalized at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.
Hurt Portland firefighter rehired 17 years later
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland firefighter who was trained as a chef after an injury 17 years ago has been rehired as a building inspector for the Fire Bureau. The Oregonian reports Tom Hurley reported to duty Dec. 23, earning an annual salary of $67,454. After injuring a knee and his back in 1993, Hurley received vocational rehabilitation training that included sending him to the French Culinary Institute in New York in 2000. He ran restaurants in Portland and Seattle but had been unemployed since March 2010. The Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund cut off his benefits in 2007. The Portland Fire Fighters Association won a grievance case and Hurley was rehired.
Umatilla County DA pleads not guilty to contempt
PENDLETON, Ore. — Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa has pleaded not guilty to 11 contempt of court charges alleging he violated an order not to have contact with employees in his office. The East Oregonian reports the Oregon Department of Justice claims Gushwa violated an order by Baker County Circuit Judge Gregory Baxter prohibiting Gushwa from contacting any employee in the district attorney’s office. The state claims Gushwa violated that order 11 times from Dec. 3-11 by contacting Jennifer Roe, an employee. In November, the Department of Justice charged Gushwa with five misdemeanor counts of official misconduct claiming he use his office to obtain sex and tried to cover it up. Gushwa has pleaded not guilty to those charges and has denied any wrongdoing.
Services set for slain Northwest police chief
RAINIER, Ore. — Hundreds of police officers and firefighters from across the country are expected to attend the memorial service Friday for Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter who was killed Wednesday in a shootout. The procession of official vehicles is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday at the Port of Longview, Wash., to take Painter’s body to the 1 p.m. service at the University of Portland Chiles Center in Portland. In addition, a public visitation is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday at Rainier City Hall. A celebration of life service is scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday at Rainier High School. The man accused of shooting Painter, 21-year-old Daniel Armaugh Butts of Kalama, Wash., is jailed for investigation of murder.
Study: E. coli levels in Ore. creek blamed on dogs
ASHLAND, Ore. — A new study claims dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets may be to blame for high E. coli bacteria levels in Ashland Creek. KDRV-TV reports the study was conducted jointly by Rogue Riverkeeper, a program of the Ashland conservation group Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Southern Oregon University, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Bear Creek Watershed Council. The study says E. coli is an issue in Ashland Creek and 34 waterways throughout the Rogue River Basin, including the Rogue, Illinois and Applegate rivers. Researchers collected water samples three times a week from June to October last year. Results of the study will be presented Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Ashland Public Library.
Oregon woman trains wild mustangs
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A Klamath Falls woman who works as a hairdresser has a tougher job on the side — taming wild mustangs. The Herald and News reports that 44-year-old Vanessa Hansen is able to take a mustang accustomed to running wild and free and transform it into a reliable riding horse in three months. Hansen trains horses when she’s not working as a hairdresser at the Crimson Iron, her beauty salon in the town of Dairy near Klamath Falls. Last year, she trained a 3-year-old mustang she named Tuff Enuff and entered the horse in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition. Her showing was good enough to qualify her for the Mustang Magic competition at the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth, Texas, later this month.