June 2, 2011 in Region

NW today: Jobless man is Ramen Rater online

Compiled from wire reports

What’s news in the Northwest today:

EVERETT, Wash. — An unemployed Edmonds man has carved out a niche on the Internet as a food reviewer specializing in cheap packaged Asian noodles. The 36-year-old Hans Lienesch is known as Ramen Rater. The Daily Herald reports he’s reviewed 407 varieties. He developed a taste as a child eating the Top Ramen brand of noodles sold in many grocery stores. He has found a large variety of other noodles at Asian stores in his neighborhood along Highway 99. His web site includes photos, opinion and links. His top ramen was a package of Indonesian curly noodles that earned five stars. He gave zero stars to a Chinese brand that he says tasted like “rat-dropping stew.”

Police say man didn’t heed cookie’s fortune

HERMISTON, Ore. – An 18-year-old Umatilla man wanted for theft didn’t heed the advice from a fortune cookie after dining and then dashing from a Hermiston restaurant, authorities said. Hermiston police arrested Dylan L. Russell on Sunday evening after he left Chen’s Restaurant without paying his $16.80 food bill. Russell rode away on a bicycle and was found a short distance away carrying a plastic bag with a Styrofoam food storage box, police said. The fortune found in his pocket read, “Now is a good time to try something new.” Russell was booked into the Umatilla County jail on a warrant and investigation of third-degree theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

24 charged in extensive drug, gambling case

MILWAUKEE — Federal officials have charged 24 people in connection with an extensive drug and gambling case that covered Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, California and Illinois as well as Canada. Twenty-three people were arrested May 24 in southeastern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul. A 44-year-old Los Angeles man is still at large. U.S. Attorney James Santelle said hundreds of pounds of marijuana was transported from Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia to Minnesota, southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. About $1.3 million has been seized in the case. He said law enforcement got a tip about a year ago out of Washington that led to the investigation that also included a sports betting operation that generated tens of thousands of dollars weekly. The indictment was handed down last month but unsealed today.

Camera to allow people to watch counting of ballots

KENNEWICK – Franklin County residents will be able to watch the ballot counting process online after a video camera system is added to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office annex in Pasco. County commissioners unanimously agreed to spend $4,435 of county contingency money for half of the project. The $8,870 project will add security cameras to the annex, a web camera in the tabulating area and a monitor in the public viewing area that will allow the public to watch what goes on in the ballot storage and sorting areas, Auditor Matt Beaton said. The idea is to have the webcam on during election night when ballots are being processed. “The public needs to have confidence that things are secure,” said Diana Killian, county elections supervisor.

Missing snowshoer found near Stevens Pass

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Chelan County sheriff’s office is deciding how to rescue a snowshoe hiker stuck on rocks and threatened by avalanches near Stevens Pass in Washington’s North Cascades. Lt. Maria Agnew says if Ezra Thompson can’t be hoisted to a helicopter, rescuers will have to rope into his position. A search helicopter spotted him this morning at about the 6,700-foot elevation in the Spider Gap area about 25 miles west of Leavenworth. Agnew says he waved and appears to be in good condition. The 21-year-old from Paynesville, Minn., left the Nason Creek trailhead on May 25 and was expected Tuesday at Holden Village, a church camp where he had volunteered to clear trails. Agnew says Thompson appears to have done everything right — except use good judgment to get there.

Washington wolf plan calls for 15 packs in state

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The state plan to restore gray wolves in Washington would allow landowners to kill a wolf caught in the act of killing livestock or a pet dog on private property. The plan also calls for 15 packs — as many as 360 wolves — in the state before the lifting Endangered Species Act restrictions. The Wenatchee World reports the plan is scheduled for final review in August by the Washington Wildlife Commission.

Oregon man sentenced to life in wife’s murder

BEND, Ore. — A central Oregon man convicted of murdering his wife near their home in La Pine in 2002 has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. KTVZ-TV in Bend reports that Darrell Middlekauff claimed he was innocent but failed to protect his wife when he addressed the judge before sentencing Wednesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court. The body of Brenda Middlekauff was found in a partially buried barrel, bound and gagged. She had been shot in the head three times. The victim’s sister and several other relatives who have been in court through the trial said they finally have some peace after the sentencing.

Yakima jury clears man accused of beheading threat

YAKIMA, Wash. — A superior court jury in Yakima acquitted a Union Gap man who was accused of threatening to behead a judge and police officer. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the jury deliberated about three hours Wednesday before returning the verdict on the felony harassment charge against 40-year-old Raymond Eric Zahler. He was accused of making the threat in a letter he sent last July to multiple government agencies. The defense lawyer, Dennis Morgan, argued the language was allegorical or satirical as Zahler was writing to seek assistance in resolving a legal dispute.

Man charged with beating boy with belt arrested

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A man charged with beating his girlfriend’s 6-year-old son with a belt last spring has been arrested in Washington state. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Steven Michael Davenport was arrested on a $20,000 warrant for assault on a minor in Gallatin County. He is jailed in Bozeman. Court records say the assault was discovered in April 2010 when the boy’s aunt found bruises on the boy when she was helping him change into a bathing suit. The boy’s siblings said he was repeatedly spanked with a belt and was picked up and held by the neck.

Oregon newspaper carrier helps save house from fire

EUGENE, Ore. — A newspaper carrier and his son in Eugene helped save a house from burning when they spotted smoke on their morning delivery rounds. The Register-Guard reports that Brian Richcreek and his 14-year-old son saw smoke pouring from the chimney and attic vents at the home of Jack and Linda Wormdahl last Sunday. Richcreek immediately called 911, and firefighters arrived minutes later to quickly extinguish a fire that had sparked in a bedroom. A faulty power strip was blamed for the blaze — which caused heat and smoke damage to the home’s interior. The Wormdahls were on an overnight trip to the Oregon Coast at the time, but Jack Wormdahl said Richcreek probably saved the home from being destroyed.

Adding historic routes to national trail system topic of meeting

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A public meeting is planned in Walla Walla to discuss a planned National Park Service study of the feasibility of adding historic routes to the nation’s historic trails system. The study will look at 64 routes in more than a dozen states stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast, including the Naches Pass Trail in Washington. The study will make a recommendation on national significance of the routes, with Congress making the final decision on adding to the National Trails System. To become a national historic trail, the route must have historic significance, a far-reaching effect on American or Indian culture and the potential for public recreation or historical tourism. The meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Fort Walla Walla Museum at Fort Walla Walla Park.

Hearing delayed for man charged in strangling case

LEWISTON — A preliminary hearing has been delayed for a second time for a Lewiston man charged in connection with the strangling death of his ex-wife. The Lewiston Tribune reports that Nez Perce County Prosecutor and defense attorney Paul Thomas Clark requested the delay, saying the hearing would take longer than normal and would likely require a special court session. The 37-year-old Joseph A. Thomas Jr., a former Nez Perce County sheriff’s deputy, is charged with first degree murder. The body of his ex-wife, 28-year-old Beth M. Irby-Thomas, was found May 1 at her home. Prosecutors say Lewiston police found her with a belt around her neck and underneath a pile of blankets. Magistrate Gregory Kalbfleisch said the preliminary hearing would be held sometime during the week of June 27.

Caregiver pleads no contest to marijuana charge

ANACONDA, Mont. — A medical marijuana caregiver from Anaconda has pleaded no contest to felony criminal production of dangerous drugs. The Montana Standard reports 28-year-old Branden Hagerman was charged last year after police searched his residence and found 50 marijuana plants. He was allowed 24 plants for his four patients, which included himself. Hagerman entered the no contest plea as part of an agreement that calls for a two-year deferred sentence and a $1,000 fine. District Judge Ray Dayton has not scheduled a sentencing hearing. Court records say last May, officers performed a civil standby for Hagerman’s partner to remove her belongings from a residence. She told detectives that Hagerman had medical marijuana plants. She was listed on the lease and gave officers permission to view the growing operation.

Navy sending shorter ship to Portland festival

PORTLAND, Ore. — The high level of the Columbia River has forced the Navy to change plans for the Rose Festival fleet in Portland. The Oregonian reports the destroyer Shoup won’t fit under the Steel Bridge, so it’s being replaced by the frigate Ingraham, which is about 20 feet shorter. Both vessels are based at Everett, Wash. Most of this year’s fleet will arrive Wednesday along Tom McCall Waterfront Park where they will be available for tours.

Latah County sheriff wants to replace vehicles

MOSCOW – The Latah County Sheriff’s Office has a big need – up to 20 new vehicles – to replace high-mileage vehicles in its fleet. But county commissioners are unsure where that money would come from in their 2012 budget, and said they are hesitant to tap into an already dwindling general reserve. Vehicles are racking up mileage at alarming rates, said Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch, and soon may affect the safety of responding officers and residents involved in emergency situations. Commissioner Tom Stroschein said the Idaho Legislature has put a heavy burden on already struggling county governments to come up with money that just isn’t there for projects such as the vehicle replacements. In a best-case scenario, the sheriff’s office would ask for a maximum of 20 vehicles at about $25,000 to $30,000 each, Rausch said.

Average Oregon university tuition hike 7.5 percent

PORTLAND, Ore. — The State Board of Higher Education is expected to approve tuition hikes Friday for Oregon’s seven state universities. The Oregonian reports the increases average 7.5 percent for full-time undergraduates who are state residents. The average annual cost of tuition and fees will rise to more than $7,600. The increase at the University of Oregon would be 9 percent, giving it the system’s highest total tuition and fees at nearly $8,900. Add the cost of room and board and other expenses and the total cost next year at UO will be about $22,000.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email