What’s news in the Northwest today:
Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh says he is reviewing the death of a 7-year-old Coeur d’Alene boy who was shot and killed during a hunting trip. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department recently completed its investigation into Conner Bartlett’s death and turned that information over to the prosecutor’s office for possible criminal charges. McHugh says he’s not sure how long it will take him to decide whether to file charges. Officials said the boy was on a hunting trip with family members on Oct. 15 and his father, Robert Bartlett, was putting a hunting rifle into a vehicle when it discharged. The bullet struck Conner, and emergency workers pronounced him dead a short time later.
Police say shots fired when 4-year-old abducted
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Police in Twin Falls have located a 4-year-old boy who was taken from his father’s house and canceled an Amber Alert issued after his abduction. KTVB-TV reports officers surrounded another house in Twin Falls this afternoon and were negotiating with the boy’s mother. Officers received a tip about the second house after the Amber Alert was issued. Police allege 28-year-old Stefanie Contreras entered a house with two other men this morning and took her son, Brandon Bearce. Officers say shots were fired during the abduction.
Idaho gets $20 million from feds for exchange
BOISE — Idaho received a $20 million federal grant to help establish an insurance exchange required by Congress’ health care overhaul, setting up a fight in the upcoming 2012 Legislature over whether the state should keep the money. The grant is among 13 awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday totaling nearly $220 million. Exchanges will serve as online marketplaces for uninsured people to buy private coverage starting in 2014. Idaho is among states challenging the health care overhaul in court. But Gov. Butch Otter’s administration favors using federal money to help set up an exchange crafted to meet Idaho’s needs, rather than leaving it to the federal government should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold the law. Overhaul foes contend taking the money undermines the challenge.
Senator irked by unpublished salmon virus study
SEATTLE — American scientists and a senator criticized Canadian officials after the disclosure that the country failed to reveal the results of tests that appeared to show the presence of a potentially deadly salmon virus nearly a decade before a salmon-virus scare this fall. The Canadian researcher’s work recently resurfaced after she was denied permission by a Canadian official to try to have her data published in a scientific journal. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is calling for stronger communication between the two countries. Researchers with Simon Fraser University in British Columbia announced in October they had detected infectious salmon anemia, or ISA, in two wild juvenile Pacific salmon collected from the province’s central coast. The disclosure prompted fears the influenza-like virus could wreck the salmon fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. scientists on Tuesday said they were disappointed that Canadian officials never mentioned the researcher’s earlier, 2002 work.
Man critical after being pinned under ATV
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A southeastern Idaho man was hospitalized in critical condition after being pinned under an all-terrain vehicle for more than a day after a crash during a hunting trip. Clark County officials say 52-year-old Brian Groom suffered from blunt force trauma, frost bite and hypothermia and was being treated at an Idaho Falls hospital. He had been pinned under the ATV in about 3 to 4 inches of snow for more than 30 hours before crews were able to free him on Tuesday evening. Officials say Groom went hunting Monday morning, but didn’t return home as planned. His family reported him missing at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday. Search and Rescue crews say a dead cow elk was tied to the ATV with a rope, preventing Groom from being able to free himself.
Occupy Eugene wants to use park indefinitely
EUGENE, Ore. — The Occupy Eugene people living at a municipal park have asked the City Council to let them stay indefinitely, arguing that the encampment gives homeless people and street youth a safe, sober place to stay. The Eugene Register-Guard reports the council may be split, with two previous supporters hesitant to allow the encampment to be permanent. The council has exempted the group from a ban on overnight camping. That ends Dec. 15. The council is scheduled to take up the matter three days before that. The protest began in mid-October and was in other parks and property controlled by the University of Oregon before it settled in Washington-Jefferson Park on Nov. 5.
Idaho court upholds conviction, sentence in stabbing
POCATELLO, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence given to a Pocatello man convicted of stabbing a classmate to death when he was 16. The Supreme Court published its 3-2 decision on Tuesday, more than a year after hearing arguments in the appeal filed by Torey Adamcik. Adamcik was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the September 2006 stabbing death of Pocatello High classmate Cassie Jo Stoddart. Stoddart was stabbed 29 times while she was housesitting for relatives in Chubbuck. A co-defendant, Brian Draper, had his conviction and sentence upheld in September, five months after the appeal was heard in his case. “We were disappointed in Brian Draper’s opinion, as well as Torey’s,” said attorney Dennis Benjamin. “They are different cases, but have a number of things in common, among them the life sentences without parole. The trend nationally and even internationally is moving away from life without parole for juveniles.”
Talks fail on motorized use on Gallatin Crest
HELENA, Mont. — Attempts to reach a settlement failed in a long-running dispute over the use of snowmobiles, dirt bikes and other vehicles in a wilderness study area north of Yellowstone National Park, leaving a federal appeals court to resolve the conflict. The issue centers on the U.S. Forest Service’s 2006 Travel Management Plan that would restrict the recreational use of motorized and mechanized vehicles within the Hyalite/Porcupine/Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, also known as Gallatin Crest. Congress created the 155,000-acre wilderness study area in 1977, ordering that its existing wilderness character as of that time be maintained for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Three conservation groups sued the Forest Service over the plan meant to manage travel and recreation within the study area. The groups — the Montana Wilderness Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Wilderness Society — said the plan would allow too much motorized vehicle use in the wilderness study area, which is part of the 1.8 million acre Gallatin National Forest.
No problems in Washington alcohol sampling program
TACOMA — The Washington Liquor Control Board says there have been no complaints from the public about a free alcohol sampling program that began Sept. 1 at 10 farmers markets. Spokeswoman Ann Radford told The News Tribune things are running smoothly. Wineries report increased sales after customers have a taste. The Legislature authorized a test of the free-tastings as a way to promote Washington breweries and wineries. The test period runs until Nov. 1 of next year. After that it’s up to state lawmakers to decide whether to extend it.
Wildlife managers try to lure terns to SE Oregon
BURNS, Ore. — The Corps of Engineers is scheduled to start construction in December on a $4 million island in a lake near Burns in hope of attracting Caspian terns to southeast Oregon. Wildlife officials want the birds to nest in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to reduce the population on East Sand Island near Ilwaco, Wash., where they have been eating too many young salmon in the Columbia River. The Oregonian reports that officials hope Caspian terns will switch to eating immature carp that have clogged Malheur Lake and crowded out waterfowl. Migratory birds had depended on the lake as a stop on the Pacific flyway. Carp were introduced in Malheur Lake in the 1940s by the federal government in the mistaken belief they would become popular for sport fishing.
Victim’s family slams Oregon governor over death penalty
PORTLAND, Ore. — The former husband of a woman killed by Oregon death row inmate Gary Haugen calls Gov. John Kitzhaber a coward for halting Haugen’s execution. Ard Pratt is a former Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene in 1981 after his ex-wife, Mary Archer, was raped and beaten to death. Pratt and his daughter, Kathy Pratt, told KGW Tuesday that the governor dismissed the law and the will of the people last week when he gave Haugen a reprieve. Ard Pratt says the governor should have put his personal feelings aside. Haugen was serving a life sentence for killing Mary Archer when he killed another inmate in prison and was sentenced to death. Haugen also slammed Kitzhaber for stopping the execution, which had been set for Dec. 6.
Mother, children arrested in Hood River killing
HOOD RIVER, Ore. — A mother and her two adult children have been accused of shooting their father to death in 2003 in Hood River. The Hood River County sheriff’s office says deputies made arrests Tuesday on 46-year-old Rosario Munoz De Garcia, 27-year-old Guadalupe Garcia and 24-year-old Jorge Garcia Munoz. They face murder and conspiracy charges in the death of Faustino Garcia Garcia. KATU reports his family had reported him missing the same morning his body was found.
WSU to save money through extended holiday closure
MOSCOW – Washington State University campuses will be more quiet than usual this holiday break, when officials plan to shut down nonessential business operations and associated buildings during the last week of December in an effort to save money. The cost-cutting measure was adopted last year after being studied by an ad hoc committee led by Provost Warwick Bayly, who said other institutions including the University of Idaho have implemented similar plans successfully. University spokesman Darin Watkins on Tuesday said the option had been under consideration at WSU since Washington legislators initially began making cuts to higher education funding. “One of the top ideas presented about how to save the university money was to close it between Christmas and New Year’s,” Watkins said this week. “We save by not heating buildings and through other operational expenses.”
Faculty endorses drop in degree credits
MOSCOW – Some University of Idaho students could graduate earlier than originally anticipated if a policy change endorsed by the Faculty Senate on Tuesday is eventually approved by the full faculty and university president. The proposal would reduce the minimum number of credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree to 120 from 128, which is the minimum number of credits the university has required of its degree-seeking undergraduates for the past 40 years. The proposed change would bring the UI catalog in line with current Idaho State Board of Education policy, which changed last year to allow the state’s four-year colleges and universities to reduce their minimum credit requirements from 128 to 120. University officials also said changing to 120 minimum credits would put the UI in the company of most U.S. higher education institutions, including Washington State University, and could benefit some students who don’t necessarily have the time or money to stay in school longer.
Bremerton landlords grouse at subsidized housing
BREMERTON, Wash. — Some Bremerton landlords complain the Bremerton Housing Authority has so much subsidized housing it’s taking renters away from private business. One landlord, Connie Christman, told the Kitsap Sun it’s unfair competition. The Bremerton Housing Authority has — or is in the process of building or acquiring — 2,256 public housing units. The rental vacancy rate in Bremerton is around 8 percent. Normal is considered 4 percent.