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NW today: Races wide open in 2 Idaho towns

What’s news in the Northwest today:

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Voters in two eastern Idaho towns will receive blank ballots during a Nov. 8 election to fill local government seats. The Post Register reports that in the small towns of Warm River in Fremont County and Lewisville in Jefferson County, no incumbents filed complete paperwork by the Sept. 9 deadline to get on the ballot. And no one is challenging the mayors or city council members. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says he’s not aware of any other Idaho cities facing similar issues, though the problem is not without precedent given the number of very small, rural towns within the state. The town of Warm River, for example, has just eight registered voters. With no candidates on the ballot, voters will have to write-in the names of candidates.

Occupy Portland demonstration assembled today

PORTLAND, Ore. — Demonstrators supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate power assembled today in downtown Portland for a demonstration. A crowd numbering in the hundreds began gathering at noon in Tom McCall Waterfront Park near the Burnside Bridge. The organizers have mapped out a march route through the downtown but haven’t said where they expect to wind up, or what they might occupy. Demonstrators say on a website they are nonviolent. Police and Mayor Sam Adams say the city government’s objective is to make sure the event is safe for participants and the public.

New judge sought Washington prison guard slaying trial

EVERETT, Wash. — Lawyers for the Monroe prison inmate charged with murder in the slaying of Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl asked for another judge today to hear the trial that could result in a death penalty for Byron Scherf. Scherf lawyers accuse Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne of an appearance of bias in favor of the prosecution. Deputy prosecutors accused the defense of “judge shopping” and attempting to intimidate Wynne. KOMO Radio reports the judge said he’d consider the motion and rule in 10 days. The 53-year-old Scherf was already serving a life sentence for sex crimes when Biendl was strangled last January in the prison chapel.

Coulee City mayor wants city to pay for his recall defense

COULEE CITY, Wash. – The mayor of this tiny, wheat farming community in northern Grant County has asked the city to reimburse him for more than $62,000 in legal fees paid in his successful defense against recall. Mayor Rick Heiberg requested the reimbursement in a letter that was presented to the five-member city council Sept. 21. In the letter, the mayor cited a November 1986 city council resolution that requires the city to reimburse its elected officials for attorneys fees, judgments, fines and settlements paid in connection with ”acts or omissions committed in good faith while performing duties on behalf of the town.” In his letter, the mayor told the council that if they didn’t authorized the city to reimburse him, he would seek to force their authorization with a court order.

Sedro-Woolley couple arraigned in daughter’s death

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A Sedro-Woolley couple charged with homicide by abuse in the death of their 13-year-old daughter adopted from Ethiopia pleaded not guilty today at their arraignment in Mount Vernon. The Skagit Valley Herald reports Skagit County Superior Court Judge Dave Needy reduced bail from $500,000 to $150,000 each for Larry and Carri Williams. They were charged in the May 12 death of Hana Williams who was found in the back yard just after midnight after several hours in the rain. She died of hypothermia and also showed evidence of malnutrition. The Williamses also are charged with child assault for the alleged abuse of an adopted son. That boy and six biological children are now either in foster care or staying with relatives.

Okanogan PUD withdraws plan for Loomis-area dam

OKANOGAN, Wash. – The Okanogan County PUD has dropped all efforts to build a dam on the Similkameen River that could have created an international lake and enough power to meet the utility’s average energy needs. The PUD last week formally requested to withdraw its permit to study options for a dam at Shankers Bend with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. ”It’s the economic times. That’s probably the biggest driving factor,” Dan Boettger, PUD director of regulatory and environmental affairs, said of the decision. He said the high cost of pursuing a proposal, along with opposition from environmental groups and complexities of working with both the United States and Canada, were among the reasons.

Washington Wine Commission leader to leave

SEATTLE — The executive director of the Washington Wine Commission plans to leave her post at the end of the year. Robin Pollard said in a statement today that she is excited to pursue businesses opportunities of her own after six years with the commission. Pollard took over the commission in 2005. During her tenure, the number of Washington wineries more than doubled to 740. She led the development of marketing campaigns in major U.S. cities and worked to help open new export markets for Washington wine, including Canada, Japan, Northern Europe, Southeast Asia, India, and Mexico. The deputy director of the commission, Chris Stone, will serve as interim director after Dec. 31, 2011.

Teen dies in fall from cliffs west of Pocatello

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Power County officials say a 16-year-old Pocatello boy has died after falling off rock cliffs in south-central Idaho. The sheriff’s office received a call at 2:35 a.m. today that a boy had fallen off a cliff. He was dead when officers arrived. The teen was camping and riding motorcycles with friends in the Bonanza Lake area southwest of Pocatello. Officials say the fall is still being investigated. The boy’s name hasn’t been released.

Washington man suspected of killing both grandfathers

COUPEVILLE, Wash. — A 30-year-old man in Washington state has been charged with killing one of his grandfathers and remains a suspect in the death of the other. Island County prosecutors say Joshua David Lambert stabbed his paternal grandfather, 80-year-old George Lambert, on Monday with what appeared to be an ice pick. George Lambert’s 66-year-old sister was struck in the head and bound with tape. Investigators say she later was able to call for help and identified Joshua Lambert as the attacker. Lambert is also a suspect in the death that day of his maternal grandfather, August Eisner. The transient from Oak Harbor is set to be arraigned Oct. 17 on murder and kidnapping charges. Prosecutors say he has a long criminal record, including convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.

ATF: Fire at Idaho fur seller turned over to FBI

BOISE — The FBI has classified a fire at a western Idaho fur and fireworks retailer as a potential domestic terrorism case, federal authorities said. Animal rights activists claimed to have started the Sept. 24 blaze at the Caldwell business. Federal agents “are taking custody of the evidence,” Mark Leiser with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the Idaho Statesman. On the day of the fire, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office in Los Angeles announced that it received a message from animal rights activists claiming responsibility for setting the blaze at the Rocky Mountain Fireworks & Fur Co. No one was injured in the fire. In addition to fireworks, the business outside Boise buys coyote and bobcat pelts and sells trapping supplies, including equipment that helps drown beavers. It also sells knives, predator calls and scents to help lure bobcats. The activists said they belonged to a group called The Arson Unit and could have ties to the Animal Liberation Front. Their message said they pumped fuel into an Idaho fur and fireworks retailer before setting the place ablaze.

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