NW today: Rapture ribbing reported motive in shooting

What’s news in the Northwest today:

EUGENE, Ore. — The motive in a workplace shooting in Eugene is reportedly the ribbing one employee took from a co-worker after the predicted May 21 rapture failed to occur. The mother of the victim told The Register Guard that her son said Dale O’Callaghan took it personally when he was needled about his belief that he would be taken to heaven by the return of Jesus Christ. O’Callaghan is accused of shooting Jerry Andrews on Friday at LHM Hydraulics, where they worked. Andrews suffered a fractured shoulder. His mother, Robin O’Brien, says her son didn’t want to speak with a reporter about the shooting, but she said O’Callaghan had expected to be taken up in the rapture. The 39-year-old O’Callaghan is held in the Lane County Jail on an assault charge.

Washington state workers decline prize

OLYMPIA — A group of six Washington Transportation Department employees turned down a productivity prize of as much as $10,000 each that they won for finding a way to save $6 million over three years for highway de-icing salt. A maintenance director, Chris Christopher, says they felt the improvement was part of their jobs. The snow and ice team agreed to share a $1,000 prize awarded Friday by the state Productivity Board. The Olympian reports it was the last meeting of the board which has been eliminated by state budget cuts. KOMO-TV reports the team was able to save money on deicing salt by changing contracting rules. The state now uses salt barged in from Mexico or Chile instead of being brought in by rail from Utah.

Washington Supreme Court hearing school case

OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in a lawsuit filed against the state by a coalition of school districts, teachers and community groups who say the state is failing in its constitutional duty toward public school children. A superior court judge ruled in February 2010 that the state is not fully paying for basic education. The state has appealed. Washington uses sales, business and state property taxes to pay about 72 percent of what it costs to educate Washington’s 1 million school children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Another 16 percent comes from local levies and 9 percent comes from federal dollars, primarily for education of special-needs children. About 41 percent of the state’s general fund is allocated for K-12 public education.

Tucson homicide suspect arrested near Spokane

SPOKANE — A man wanted in connection with a homicide in Tucson is being held in Spokane. KREM reports a sheriff’s deputy checked out a pickup truck with a missing front license plate early Saturday in Spokane Valley and arrested 26-year-old Jonathan G. Baumbach of Tucson who was sleeping inside. The station says he’s accused of killing 61-year-old Robert Pardee and taking his pickup. Officers making a welfare check found Pardee’s body June 20 at his home in Tucson. In a jail interview Monday, Baumbach told a KREM reporter he hit Pardee on the head with a rubber mallet and cut his neck with a razorblade because he suspected Pardee was sleeping with his fiancée.

Whale skeleton reassembled in Tacoma

TACOMA — The skeleton of a gray whale that died last year in Seattle is taking shape in Tacoma. Highline Community College marine biologist Rus Higley, staff and volunteers are bleaching and assembling the skeleton. This summer they plant to put it on display in the Marine Science and Technology Center in Des Moines. Higley told The News Tribune it’s been a long, messy, smelly process. Volunteers cut up the whale and buried the bones in September under horse manure to have flesh removed from the bones naturally. The bones were dug up in March and volunteers started bleaching them with peroxide.

Deputy kills wolf seen in north-central Idaho yard

LEWISTON — An Idaho County sheriff’s deputy has killed a young wolf after a homeowner in Elk City reported seeing the animal in his backyard. Sheriff Doug Giddings told the Lewiston Tribune that he believes there are too many wolves in the region and they’ve moved into Elk City. Giddings says Elk City Deputy Mike Chlebowski shot the wolf Saturday night, but the young female wolf was only injured and ran into the woods. Two deputies tracked the animal on Sunday and killed it. Giddings says the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has authorized the sheriff’s department to kill wolves in the Elk City township.

Eugene council compromises on Pledge of Allegiance

EUGENE — The Eugene City Council voted 6-2 to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at four meetings each year close to patriotic holidays: Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July. It was a compromise after Councilor Mike Clark suggested that the pledge be recited at the start of each regular meeting. The Register Guard reports the council also decided on a 7-1 vote Monday to endorse a resolution that funds for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be redirected to domestic needs. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy sponsored a similar anti-war resolution that won support at last week’s Conference of Mayors meeting in Baltimore.

Eugene arsonist sentenced for selling heroin

EUGENE, Ore. — An arsonist who avoided federal prison five years ago by helping lock up Earth Liberation Front activists is headed to state prison for selling heroin. The Register Guard reports 38-year-old Jacob Jeremiah “Jake” Ferguson of Eugene was sentenced Monday in Lane County Circuit Court to nearly five years in prison after pleading guilty to selling heroin, possessing cocaine and endangering his 4-year-old daughter in the process. He was on probation under a 2007 plea deal for his role in arsons by an ELF band known as The Family. Targets included a meat-packing company, car dealership, ranger station and lumber company. Ferguson is depicted as the leader of the group in the documentary “If A Tree Falls.” He faces a probation revocation hearing July 14 in federal court.

Scientists: Snake River dams must be breached

LEWISTON – The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society said Monday the lower Snake River dams must be breached if wild runs of salmon and steelhead are to be saved and restored to fishable numbers. The organization of fisheries professionals first endorsed breaching 12 years ago. President-elect Dave Ward of Portland, Ore., said members wanted to revisit the issue prior to a court decision on the fate of the federal government’s plan to balance the needs of protected fish with the operation of dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. The plan does not call for breaching, but a provision calls for dam removal to be studied if the runs decline far below current numbers. “We are just letting the parties and the judge know a large group of independent scientists feel a certain way based on the best available science,” said Ward, who works for the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Authority. “I don’t hold strong hope it will actually affect the judge’s decision but I think it’s another piece of information available.”

Timber industry sues to increase logging in Oregon

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The timber industry has sued the Obama administration to get them to start logging more on federal lands in Western Oregon. The American Forest Resource Council and others filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar faces a court deadline Friday in a separate case to say what he plans to do with the Western Oregon Plan Revision, a Bush administration plan to increase logging on the so-called Oregon & California railroad timberlands overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Managet. Salazar withdrew the plan, saying it was not defensible under the Endangered Species Act. A judge ruled that withdrawal was not done properly. The timber industry lawsuit also contends the timber volume under the plan should double.

Oregon governor to enact birth-to-college education panel

SALEM, Ore. — One of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s top priorities is becoming law. The Oregon governor will sign a bill today creating an Education Investment Board, which Kitzhaber hopes will eventually take over governance of education from birth through college. The measure to be signed today gives the board limited authority to come up with a plan for how it should function. But Kitzhaber envisions the board will eventually have the power to recommend budgets and to direct policy across all agencies involved in teaching. Kitzhaber fought hard to create the panel, which was approved by the Legislature last week after months of negotiations. Spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki says the governor’s office has not yet received the other 13 education bills approved by the Legislature.

S. Oregon restaurant seeks man’s best customer

TALENT, Ore. — State health officials and a southern Oregon restaurant have launched a pilot program to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. The Mail Tribune reports the owner of the Avalon Bar and Grill in Talent, Susan Schaffer, was among restaurant owners and dog owners interested in modifying state regulations that prohibit dogs from any eating area, with exceptions for service and patrol dogs. Schaffer is required to make regular reports to state health officials about how the pilot program is working out. The findings will help determine whether state health rules will be revised. Public comments will also be considered. Oregon Health Authority officials say allowing dogs at dining areas appears to be a trend the food and hospitality industry is pursuing, so they’re considering it — at least outdoors.

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