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NW today: Rhino romance heating up at Oregon Zoo

What’s news in the Northwest today:

PORTLAND, Ore. — A massive steel gate slides open and through it slips Pete, 2,405 pounds of burnin’ love machine. He lopes confidently toward floor-to-ceiling bars that separate animal enclosures, reaches his horn through and touches it to the pointy end of the Oregon Zoo’s most fetching newcomer, another black rhinoceros named Zuri. Her ropy tail swishes. Fan yourself if you must because there’s likely more rhino romance on the way. Pete and Zuri have been able to see one another from afar since she arrived in April on a breeding loan from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the two recently had their first chance to tap horns from side-by-side cages, as they did Thursday. As each grows accustomed to the other’s leathery face, and if they seem calm and amenable, keepers soon will give the big beasts increasing access. They’ll get the run of the warren of enclosures inside the rhino barn and eventually roam the grassy outdoor exhibit space or wallow together in a muddy pit. For Pete, that sort of “From Here to Eternity” moment has been a long time coming. His last mate, Miadi, died in 2005. This time around, it’ll be one of those May-December affairs. Zuri, whose name is Swahili for “beautiful,” is 3 and hasn’t bred before. Pete, 24, is a grandfather yet remains spry.

Inmate stabbed 30 times in Yakima County Jail

YAKIMA, Wash. — A man who was stabbed 30 times at the Yakima County Jail suffered a collapsed lung and may lose an eye. The county Department of Corrections says two other inmates face possible charges in the Wednesday night attack. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the stabbing took place on the jail’s fourth floor, which is set aside for violent offenders and gang members.

Illegal outfitter faces 10 years in federal prison

BOISE — A renegade Idaho hunting outfitter pleaded guilty to breaking the law yet again, acknowledging in federal court that he operated an unlicensed guiding business and misrepresented bankruptcy information. Sidney R. Davis of Soda Springs faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Aug. 31. Davis has operated Trail Creek Lodge near Soda Springs, Idaho since 1993, but he had his outfitting and guiding license revoked in 1996 after violating Idaho regulations. In the latest case, Davis admitted to illegally guiding a mule deer hunt in October 2008. He also acknowledged omitting material information from his 2005 Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. In 2006, Davis garnered national attention by accusing his former business partner, NBA basketball player Karl Malone, of bribery. A judge threw that case out.

Cool, wet spring delays Washington strawberry crop

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — As this cold, wet spring continues to deprive Whatcom County residents of much-desired sunlight, local farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about what this is doing to the crops. At this point Whatcom County berry farmers could get a decent — albeit smaller — harvest if the skies clear and temperatures rise in the coming weeks. Already feeling the impacts of a cold, damp spring are dairy and seed potatoes farmers. Many Whatcom dairy farmers haven’t been able to get in a first cut of grass or silage, typically done in April. That may force farmers to pay for feed, which can be triple the cost of cutting grass. Since the ground has been so muddy, seed potato farmers haven’t been able to use their equipment to plant, making it possible some varieties will be skipped this year.

Firefighters go to Moses Lake for airport training

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — If you see plumes of black smoke and flames coming from the Grant County International Airport, don’t worry. The sights are part of firefighter training offered by Big Bend Community College’s Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting School. The various training scenarios include commercial aircraft on fire, a wing wheel break and engine issues, explained Keith Taylor, the college’s training coordinator. Instructors and students are able to work out ideas and new approaches, while honing their skills.

Woman missing, presumed drowned in Salmon River

SALMON, Idaho — Lemhi County official say a 21-year-old woman from Salmon is missing and presumed drowned in the Salmon River after she went into the fast-moving water to save a dog. The sheriff’s office says two women went into the river Wednesday evening to rescue a dog when the strong current swept them, along with another dog, away. Officials say 24-year-old Luci Zavas was able to get to an island along with both the dogs, where she was rescued. Officials searched by boat, on foot and by air, but have been unable to locate Lela Knox. The sheriff’s office said Thursday the search was now a recovery effort.

Unpregnant Toppenish student gets 3.86 grade

TOPPENISH, Wash. — In the final step of her senior project, Gaby Rodriguez — the teen who recently made national and international news for faking a pregnancy — presented her experience Thursday to a committee of community members. And they gave her high marks and handshakes. “I was impressed with her professionalism, how she poised herself up there. She seemed to be very confident and calm,” said Barb Moses, the instructional technology coordinator for the Toppenish School District and one of the six people who scored Gaby’s project. “I just have no doubt she’s going to take this experience with her and do great things with it. She’s going to be a lighthouse.” Like the other 140 Toppenish High School seniors participating in this year’s senior boards, Gaby was judged in six categories: research, project, organization, delivery, professionalism and visual element/technology. Gaby didn’t speak to reporters Thursday, part of an agreement with Mercer Island-based literary agent Sharlene Martin.

Central Oregon county sprays bumper crop of mosquitoes

LA PINE, Ore. — Wet spring weather in Oregon has been good for mosquitoes in the central part of the state. The Bulletin newspaper in Bend reports that Deschutes County is spraying along the Little Deschutes River near La Pine to control a bumper crop of the bugs. Officials say minor flooding along the river left plenty of standing water along the banks, the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Managers for the Four Rivers Vector Control District has been spraying along the Little Deschutes River by hand since the end of March, but had to move to helicopter spraying this week to keep up with the breeding levels. The mosquitoes are being sprayed with DTI, a biological pesticide that won’t harm amphibians, fish and birds.

Paradise Inn opening for season at Mount Rainier

MOUNT RAINIER, Wash. — Paradise Inn opens its doors today for the season for Mount Rainier visitors. Built in 1916, the inn is a National Historic Landmark. It has 118 guest rooms, a full-service dining room, cafe and gift shop. The national park says the Inn at Longmire also is open. It has 25 rooms, restaurant and general store.

Man killed in Everett just got out of jail

EVERETT, Wash. — The man who was shot to death early Tuesday at an Everett home had been let out of the Snohomish County Jail the day before. The Daily Herald reports police are still investigating the death of 30-year-old Michael A. Carter. He had completed a 30-day jail sentence and had a record that included possessing stolen property and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Move against prostitution near Seattle Center

SEATTLE — The Seattle city attorney wants to drive prostitutes out of a neighborhood near the Seattle Center. KOMO reports Pete Holmes is asking for a new zone called a SOAP for “stay out of area of prostitution.” When prostitutes are convicted they are ordered to stay out of SOAP zones. Seattle currently has seven SOAP zones.

Dog to be euthanized after biting Butte girl

BUTTE, Mont. — A Butte judge has ordered a pit bull-cross dog to be euthanized for biting a 7-year-old girl several times. The dog’s owner, Cleve Brown, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor citations for having a biting, barking or jumping dog and for not having the dog on a leash. City Court Judge Steve Kambich fined Brown $300 and ordered him to pay restitution for the girl’s medical costs after the May 20 attack. Court records say the girl was bitten on the arm and when she tried to run the dog jumped on her back and continued biting her. She was treated at St. James Healthcare. Animal control officers seized the dog and it was held at the Butte animal shelter pending the court ruling.

Man convicted of misdemeanor in crosswalk deaths

BOISE — Nearly two years after a Boise couple were struck and killed in a crosswalk while walking home from church, a jury found the driver who hit them guilty of two counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. John Tiemann of Boise faces sentencing on July 13 for the August 2009 deaths of Tom and Mary Woychick. Tiemann testified he believed the couple had waved him through the crosswalk that morning. Prosecutors argued Tiemann is blind in one eye, has limited peripheral vision in the other and had a responsibility to take extra care while driving. They also argued he was reckless for driving while on medications that could cause impairment. Jurors found Tiemann was negligent, but did not show wanton or reckless disregard or willful indifference to the safety of others.

2 face drug charges after explosion, fire

KALISPELL, Mont. — Two 22-year-old Evergreen men who were burned in a house fire investigators say was caused by trying to convert marijuana into hashish have pleaded not guilty to manufacturing dangerous drugs. Court records say cousins Matthew and Tyler Shepard told emergency responders they were using a PVC pipe and butane to extract oil from marijuana stems on March 16 when a dryer ignited the fumes and caused an explosion. The Daily Inter Lake reports both entered their pleas Thursday before District Judge Ted Lympus in Kalispell. Their trials are scheduled for October. Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry has said both men were medical marijuana card holders. Officials have said the marijuana was legal under the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, but converting the plants to the more potent drug hashish is not.

Tags: NW Today