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NW today: Obama visit decision postponed a day

Mon., May 9, 2011, 9:31 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

BRIDGEPORT, Wash. — The White House says it has postponed today’s announcement of which of three high schools, including one in Washington state, will be selected for a visit by President Barack Obama. The announcement now is expected Tuesday. Bridgeport High School is one of three finalists to have Obama deliver this year’s commencement speech. The others are in San Diego and Memphis. Bridgeport made it to the final round of the president’s Top Commencement Challenge because of the school’s high graduation rate and the number of students going on to college. Most of the students are Hispanic and come from low-income families in the town of 2,400. Bridgeport is on the banks of the Columbia River in central Washington’s apple and cherry orchard country.

State, feds plan to drive bison into Yellowstone

BILLINGS, Mont. — State and federal officials plan to start pushing hundreds of bison back into Yellowstone National Park this week to make way for cattle that graze on surrounding lands in Montana. A helicopter is scheduled to assist in the effort beginning Tuesday in the West Yellowstone area. Officials want to prevent any contact between bison and cattle to guard against the spread of an animal disease. Yellowstone’s bison periodically attempt to migrate outside the park in search of food at lower elevations during winter. But for the last two decades that migration has been blocked to prevent the transmission of brucellosis, a disease that causes pregnant animals to prematurely abort their young. On the north side of the park, about 800 bison that were captured during that migration continue to be held in government-run holding pens near Gardiner. Many of those animals could be released back into Yellowstone this week, said park spokesman Al Nash.

Third Conoco megaload crosses into Montana

BOISE — The Idaho Transportation Department says the third of four refinery equipment shipments for ConocoPhillips has crossed into Montana. The ITD says the shipment left mile marker 169 on U.S. Highway 12 at 10 p.m. Friday and reached the top of Lolo Pass about 40 minutes later. It entered Montana shortly after 11 p.m. Emmert is the contract hauler moving the equipment for ConocoPhillips. The Lewiston Tribune reports Emmert plans to begin hauling the fourth shipment from the Port of Lewiston on Tuesday. The coker drums are destined for the ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings, Mont. The first two shipments arrived in Billings in early April.

Trial scheduled to start in pedestrian fatals

BOISE — A vehicular manslaughter trial is scheduled to start today in 4th District Court in the case of a Boise man charged with striking and killing an elderly couple as they walked home from church. The Idaho Statesman reports John Tiemann faces two felony charges for the August 2009 deaths of 78-year-old Tom Woychick and 76-year-old Mary Woychick. Prosecutors say Tiemann is blind in one eye, has diminished sight in the other, and it was reckless of him to be driving. They also argue Tiemann was under the influence of an over-the-counter antihistamine and an anti-seizure medication. Tiemann told police he thought the couple waved him by at the crosswalk. Attorney Chuck Peterson says Tiemann passed driving tests a month after the crash. Tiemann was arrested eight months after the crash.

Cougar sightings up, bear calls begin

CASHMERE, Wash. – Residents in the Wenatchee Valley are reporting more cougar sightings this spring, and also starting to see bears in the Leavenworth area looking for food, said state Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Doug Ward. Ward said his officers are getting about five calls per week from people who’ve seen a cougar – some of them close to communities – including one Wednesday of a cougar sitting on a rock on the hillside near Rusty’s Drive-In in Cashmere. “It was not a major issue,” he said. “But typically we’re done with cougars by May. This year, we’re still getting sightings. They’re not going back out with the deer.” Bears have also emerged from dens and are looking for an easy meal.

Demolition on schedule for Elwha River dams

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The National Park Service says plans are on schedule to remove two dams on the Elwha River near Port Angeles and restore a salmon run to the river inside Olympic National Park. Spokesman Dave Reynolds told the Peninsula Daily News that generators in the powerhouse at the Elwha Dam will be turned off June 1. By mid-September a contractor will begin removing concrete from the dam. The Elwha and the upstream Glines Canyon Dam were built in 1913 and 1927 without fish passages. The dams generate enough electricity for about 1,700 homes. The $327 million project to remove the dams and restore the river will take about three years.

Portneuf, other Idaho rivers predicted to flood

POCATELLO, Idaho — Steady spring rains and runoff from melting snow has the National Weather Service warning that several waterways, including the Portneuf River in eastern Idaho, will soon flood. The Idaho State Journal reports that the Portneuf at Pocatello was just above the official flood stage at 8.6 feet on Sunday. It’s expected to hit nearly 10.8 feet by early Wednesday morning. Bannock County deputies are checking the levels of Marsh Creek and Rapid Creek as well for possible flooding.

3 women stabbed outside Des Moines apartment

DES MOINES, Wash. — Residents of an apartment complex in Des Moines heard screaming late Sunday night and opened their doors to find three women had been stabbed. A woman in her 50s and two women in the 20s were taken to a hospital. KOMO News reports the women had been in a parked car with a man arguing over a debt when he attacked and ran them down when they tried to run away. Police have found a suspect.

Target practice fatality in southwest Washington

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Clark County sheriff’s office says a woman was fatally shot at a target practice area in southwest Washington. Deputies and firefighters responded to the scene Sunday afternoon on state land near Larch Mountain and found the woman with a head wound. The 31-year-old was flown to Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver where she died. A sheriff’s spokesman, Sgt. Kevin Allais, told KATU a man who was with the woman and who called 911is cooperating with investigators.

Judge scheduled to hear more on federal dam plan

PORTLAND, Ore. — A U.S. District Court judge in Portland today will conduct what might be the final hearing on the federal government’s third attempt at a plan for operating hydroelectric dams in the Columbia Basin. Judge James Redden has twice rejected government proposals because of the risk to the region’s wild salmon. A lawsuit filed in 2001 challenged federal strategy for the recovery of wild fish. The plaintiffs, including the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce tribe, maintain that the latest federal plan remains too risky for wild salmon and steelhead. The Oregonian reports that Redden last week said he wanted to hear about the uncertainty of habitat benefits, the extent of survival improvements for salmon required by law and the potential for more actions on dams.

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