What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — A construction company and private contractor were working today to contain an oil sheen the size of two football fields around a 75-foot boat that sank near Seattle. The vessel is an old World War II landing craft that was being used as a workboat with a barge at a bulkhead project in Puget Sound near the city’s West Seattle neighborhood, said Diede Janel, office manager of Waterfront Construction Inc. of Seattle. The boat was loaded with rocks Thursday and workers arriving this morning saw it go down at about 7:30 a.m., Janel said. No one was injured. The company has salvage divers on the scene and officials were hoping the vessel could be raised by a crane on the barge, she said. A cleanup contractor has also been hired, and a boom has been deployed to contain the oil. Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw said there are 300 gallons of diesel and 30 gallons of motor oil onboard the vessel in sealed tanks. The oil spill hasn’t been catastrophic, and because diesel thins quickly, there may not be enough on the water for officials to recover, said Katie Skipper, spokeswoman for the state’s Ecology Department.
School district fined $14,000 for withholding a public record
OLYMPIA — A Thurston County judge has ordered the Olympia School District to pay $14,000 for withholding a public record. Superior Court Judge Paula Casey ruled in August that the district violated the Washington Public Records Act by failing to disclose a draft letter to an attorney during litigation on behalf of the family of a 6-year-old girl who was molested by a school bus driver. The Olympian reports the judge ordered the district Wednesday to pay the money to Tacoma lawyer Darrell Cochran. He is seeking $2.25 million from the district for the family of the 6-year-old. District spokesman Ryan Betz said Thursday that the district mistakenly did not include the draft letter among the 544 pages originally provided to Cochran after he filed a lawsuit.
N. Idaho man to stand trial in house wrecking
SANDPOINT — A North Idaho landlord accused of trying to tear down a house while his tenants were still inside will stand trial Oct. 25. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports 56-year-old Paul Fagerlie Finman faces three counts of aggravated assault in Bonner County. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he used a tractor to dismantle the house last October while a woman and her two children were inside. No one was injured. Finman claims the family had been evicted and he didn’t know anyone was in the house when he started tearing it down on Oct. 8, 2010. But a judge two weeks ago denied a motion seeking to dismiss the case, noting that an eviction order gave the family until Oct. 31, 2010 to leave.
Kootenai County must return $200,000 transit grant
The Federal Transit Administration has ordered Kootenai County officials to return more than $200,000 in grant money because the county was breaching rules by holding the cash for future spending. Commissioner Todd Tondee told the Coeur d’Alene Press that the county isn’t losing the money — it’s just going to be stored someplace else. Christine Fueston, the county’s Federal Transit Administration grant administrator, said the county was saving the cash in a capital reserve fund to be used as needed down the road. She says replacing a large bus can cost more than $250,000. Fueston says the federal agency’s policy dictates that grant money must be held onto by the agency until the county needs to spend it. She says the county is eager to comply.
Several arrested as Occupy Seattle promises increased protests
SEATTLE – A day after Occupy Seattle protesters vowed to camp at Westlake Park ”indefinitely,” 10 people were arrested for remaining at the park after closing Thursday. ”I have instructed the Parks Department and the Seattle Police Department to enforce the rules at Westlake Park,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said. ”This includes prohibitions against camping and unpermitted activity. We are prepared to provide permits for First Amendment uses of Westlake Park during regular park hours.” When a group of 10 people, eight men and two women, inside a makeshift structure refused to take it down after the park closed, they were arrested for obstructing a public officer. The protest, which was sparked by the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street movement, will enter its second week on Saturday.
Monroe Reformatory still making safety changes
EVERETT, Wash. — The state Department of Labor and Industries has given the Department of Corrections a 30-day extension to finish fixing safety problems that were exposed by the strangling of corrections officer Jayme Biendl last January at the Reformatory in Monroe. Spokesman Hector Castro says prison officials are cooperating. The Daily Herald reports the changes involve how the prison documents the movement of guards and inmates. The Department of Corrections was fined $20,000 for violations related to Biendl’s slaying. Inmate Byron Scherf is charged with aggravated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
UO sociology professor Lawrence Carter dies at 68
EUGENE, Ore. — University of Oregon sociology professor Lawrence Carter, who helped develop a model for forecasting mortality rates, died Sunday in Eugene at the age of 68 from complications from multiple sclerosis. In the 1980’s he helped develop what is known as the Lee-Carter model. It is used by the Census Bureau and others in predicting demographic trends. The Register Guard also reports that as one of the few black professors at the UO in the early 1970s, Carter helped defuse tensions between the city and the Black Panthers.
Murder charged in Port Angeles shooting
PORT ANGELES, Wash. — A man accused of killing his next-door neighbor in Port Angeles during a violent argument was charged Thursday with murder. Bail for 58-year-old Bobby J. Smith was set at $1 million. He’s accused of shooting 63-year-old Robert Fowler in June at Smith’s home. The Peninsula Daily News reports Smith will be arraigned Oct. 21 in Clallam County Superior Court. Smith told police the shooting was self-defense. He had moved to Texas during the investigation and was arrested last month in the Amarillo area.
Navy SEAL from Washington dies in Indonesia
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department says a Navy SEAL from Washington has died in a motorcycle accident in Indonesia. The Pentagon says 33-year-old Michael R. Tatham of University Place was killed Wednesday in Bali while on a rest and recuperation leave from the Afghanistan War. Tatham was assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit.
Man charged with not revealing HIV status
CALDWELL, Idaho — A convicted sex offender from the Caldwell area has been charged with having unprotected sex with women without telling them he is HIV-positive. Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor says 50-year-old Roland Rivera was arrested Thursday on a charge of “transfer of bodily fluid which may contain the HIV virus.” Court records say Rivera acknowledged to investigators with a sex offender task force that he had unprotected sexual contact with women without disclosing he has tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus. Taylor has a 2009 conviction for felony indecent exposure. Canyon County officials are urging anyone who may have had sexual contact with Rivera to seek medical attention.
Helena shooting victim had just filed for divorce
HELENA, Mont. — A Helena man who was shot to death Thursday morning was denied an order of protection last month and filed for divorce two days before his estranged wife was charged with killing him. The Independent Record reports 48-year-old Joseph Andrew Gable asked District Judge Dorothy McCarter for a temporary order of protection from Michelle Coller Gable on Sept. 20, alleging she was stalking him. He said Michelle Gable had entered his apartment and started a confrontation in which she threw a laptop computer down the stairs. McCarter denied the request, writing: “No personal danger or threat involved.” Michelle Gable is charged with two counts of deliberate homicide in the death of her husband and his female acquaintance at his apartment.
Drug raids on 56 pot locations in Clark County
VANCOUVER, Wash. — About 300 police officers and federal agents from 16 agencies raided 56 indoor marijuana growing operations Thursday in Clark County and arrested 43 people. The Columbian reports Operation Gang Green also netted about 6,800 marijuana plants. Police say it was the result of a task force investigation that began in 2009, linking a marijuana growing ring to organized crime, money laundering and the hiding of proceeds from unlawful drug sales. Many of those arrested are making court appearances today in Clark County Superior Court.
Aberdeen sign: ’I’m sick of all the meth heads’
ABERDEEN, Wash. — The message on a sign outside an Aberdeen bowling alley read, “I’m sick of all the meth heads and thieves in our town.” Rainier Lanes owner Rob Shaver told KIRO-TV he put up the sign recently after years of battling thieves and vandals at the bowling alley and an espresso stand his family also runs. He says thieves have stolen downspouts and drain pipes off the building. Shaver says the response has been so positive he replaced the message with one thanking people for their support.
Washington teen who faked pregnancy gets Lifetime movie
SEATTLE — Faking her pregnancy was the high school project that keeps paying off for one Washington state teenager. Gaby Rodriguez of Toppenish was 17 last April when she told a high school assembly that she’d faked her baby bump for the past six months to see how the community would react. The project earned her international headlines and appearances on morning television shows, and now she also has movie and book deals. Her attorney, Anne Bremner, says Rodriguez is in Vancouver, British Columbia, this week to watch the filming of “The Pregnancy Project,” starring “Spykids” actress Alexa Vega. The movie is to air on the Lifetime channel. Both the movie and book are due out early next year.
Click here to comment on this story »