What’s news in the Northwest today:
BILLINGS, Mont. — Ed Chlapowski, the man who notified the world that Pearl Harbor was being bombed by the Japanese, has died at 88. The former Navy radio man died Sunday at his home in Billings a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. In 2009, Chlapowski recounted the Dec. 7, 1941 attack that propelled the United States into World War II. He said he had worked an early watch at the submarine base, had breakfast and had just sat down on his bunk in the barracks when he looked out the window and saw a hangar roof blown away. Then he saw the Japanese planes. Chlapowski says he ran to the radio room, where he knew the crew was short on Sundays. A supervisor handed him a message, and in Morse code, he sent out word that Pearl Harbor was under attack. Chlapowski is survived by Betty, his wife of 68 years, seven children and 10 grandchildren.
Lawmakers weigh business tax cut
OLYMPIA – While at least 30 states have emptied their unemployment insurance funds, Washington’s is healthy. As a result, legislators are talking about how to use some of the $2.5 billion the fund contains – according to numbers updated last week by ProPublica – and then obtain federal money as well to help unemployed workers and businesses weather the recession. Organized labor came out in force Monday, some bringing their children, to a Senate committee to say the help has to touch more families living on the brink. The room was overflowing as the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee considered the changes. Business interests also were well represented.
Luna: Reforms carry $68 million price tag in first year
BOISE — A list of proposed reforms to overhaul public education in Idaho would carry a $68 million price tag next year and be paid for mostly by increasing class sizes. That’s according to a proposed budget Idaho public schools chief Tom Luna presented to lawmakers today for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, along with a list of education reforms. The changes include boosting technology in the classroom and tying some teacher pay to merit. Public schools, which make up one of the biggest areas of the state budget, were cut by more than $128 million in total funding during the current fiscal year.
Oregon high court to decide handgun-marijuana issue
MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters is headed for a showdown at the Oregon Supreme Court with a medical marijuana patient who was denied a concealed handgun permit. Winters denied Cynthia Willis a gun permit in 2008, arguing that granting it would violate federal laws prohibiting drug users from legally possessing guns. But Willis has won every legal battle against Winters so far, with the Jackson County Circuit Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals siding with her last year. And the Mail Tribune reports she has some allies in her fight for the permit, including Attorney General John Kroger and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. The Oregon Supreme Court is set to hear the case on March 3.
Governor to change Washington community college plans
TACOMA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to shake up construction plans at community colleges in Washington. She wants to fund some “shovel projects” ahead of ones still in the planning stage. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports that would disrupt the system the state’s 34 colleges use to seek construction money and could pit the colleges against each other in lobbying the Legislature. Under the system proposed by the governor, Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma will have to wait longer for another building needed for its nursing classes. One of the key lawmakers on the capital budget, Rep. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish, says he’s open to Gregoire’s new philosophy but he’s “getting a lot of yowling” from community college folks.
Fraud program recovers $137 million for Washington’s L&I
TUMWATER, Wash. — Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries says its fraud prevention and compliance program brought in $137.4 million last year. In a report to the Legislature, the agency says the money includes payments from employers for delinquent or falsely reported premiums. It also counts recovered payments to workers or health care providers for fraudulent claims. In 2010, L&I completed a record number of claim investigations and employer audits — about 5,800 for each.
Sex abuse victim of former Oregon governor dies
PORTLAND, Ore. — The woman who was sexually abused at age 14 by Neil Goldschmidt when he was Portland mayor in the 1970s has died at a Portland hospice. The Oregonian reported the 49-year-old woman died Sunday after being seriously ill for at least 18 months. Her mother declined to identify the cause of death but said her daughter had been in the hospice for about five weeks. Goldschmidt is a former Oregon governor and also served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation for former President Jimmy Carter. Goldschmidt acknowledged in 2004 that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in 1975 when he was the 35-year-old mayor and a rapidly rising political star. The statute of limitations at the time barred prosecution more than three years after the commission of a crime.
Oregon sentencing postponed in Ohio identity theft
PORTLAND — Sentencing has been postponed for a Bulgarian man who used a name stolen from a dead Ohio boy to work as an Oregon Liquor Control Commission investigator. Doitchin Krastev pleaded guilty in November to passport fraud and aggravated identity theft for using the name Jason Robert Evers, taken from a 3-year-old boy killed during a 1982 kidnapping in Cincinnati. The OLCC hired Krastev in 2002 under that name and he worked for the state until last year, when the stolen identity was discovered by U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agents. Krastev refused to reveal his past after his arrest, until a tip uncovered he came to the United States in high school but later vanished. Sentencing set for today in U.S. District Court in Portland was rescheduled for Jan. 27.
Oregon miners cited for making illegal road
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service has cited some miners for making an illegal road next to a botanical area in southern Oregon. The Daily Courier reports that about 800 feet of road was scraped out and is now mud next to Days Gulch Botanical area. Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest officials described the area along Josephine Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River, as “a delicate bog harboring a number of interesting species.” Virginia Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the national forest, said the names of the miners would not be released because of the federal Privacy Act. George Sexton of the environmental group Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center said he notified the Forest Service in November about the illegal road.
Oregon utility may shut down steam heat
EUGENE, Ore. — An antiquated steam heat system that serves about two dozen buildings in downtown Eugene may have to be shut down sooner than planned. The Register-Guard reports the Eugene Water & Electric Board had planned to shut down its steam heating plant in 2012. But after a series of steam pipe failures the utility said it may shut down some lines to customers sooner to avoid costly repairs. The remaining customers include City Hall and the Lane County courthouse.
Boise candle company hits growth spurt
BOISE — A growing wickless candle company is building a warehouse and remodeling other buildings in Meridian. The Idaho Statesman reports Scentsy is building a 105,000-square-foot warehouse and remodeling another building into office and manufacturing space. Another building will be used for wax storage and a rail spur is being added for shipments of liquid wax. Company officials expect work to be completed by March. Inc. Magazine ranked Scentsy 19th on its 2010 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company manufactures wickless candles that are heated in ceramic candle warmers. It was founded in Meridian in 2004 and company officials are estimating 2010 revenues at $380 million. Scentsy spokeswoman Alena Shea says the new campus will provide a single location for 629 employees.
Swollen rivers wash away Oregon houses, Washington cabin
PORTLAND — Three homes were destroyed by flooding on Mount Hood and about 75 families were evacuated after the Sandy River washed over its banks and swept away a section of mountain road. “Lolo Pass (Road) is the river now,” Myrna Hower, a resident of the area for more than 30 years, said to a neighbor by phone. “Your front yard is now water.” As Hower spoke, she watched her neighbor’s house fall apart and trees carried away. No injuries were reported and no one is missing in the area near the town of Welches on the western slopes of Mount Hood, said Tim Heider, public information officer for Clackamas County. But downed power lines left the area without electricity, and there was no cell phone service after a weekend combination of rain and melting snow that Heider called “a perfect storm of events” stranded about 150 to 250 people. “The difficulty is all the debris has sort of rearranged the road up there,” Heider told The Oregonian.
Sugar factory to take off top half of smoke stack
PAUL, Idaho — A 230-foot-tall smoke stack that has towered over Minidoka County for nearly a century is being shrunk to half its size. The Times-News reports the Amalgamated Sugar Co. plans to shorten the smoke stack, which is no longer in use at its factory in Paul. Amalgamated vice president of operations Joe Huff says the stack was part of the original structure built in 1917, but it has not been used since the mid-1960s. He says they plan to take half of it down. Amalgamated operates three factories: the Mini-Cassia plant, one in Twin Falls and another in Nampa. It is the second-largest refiner and processor of sugar from sugar beets in the U.S. and produces refined sugar sold under a number of labels.
School dropout age stays at 16
HELENA, Mont. — A bill to require students to stay in school until they are 18 or have graduated has failed in a Senate committee. Senate Bill 44 failed to move out of the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee after a 5-5 vote Monday. Montana’s legal dropout age is 16. Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau supported the bill to require students to stay in school until “age 18 or upon graduation.” She says her office supported the bill because they thought it was important to set an expectation that every student graduate from high school. She says she plans to bring the bill back during the next legislative session. Juneau says more than 2,000 Montana students in grades seven through 12 drop out of school every year.