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NW today: Elk hunter injured in grizzly attack

What’s news in the Northwest today:

KALISPELL, Mont. — Officials say a grizzly bear with two cubs attacked and injured an elk hunter in northwestern Montana before being killed by the hunter’s partner. Bruce Auchley of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the hunters from Kalispell were returning to get more meat from the carcass of a bull elk they killed earlier on Saturday about 40 miles east of Kalispell when the bear attacked. Auchley says the hunters shot the bear once before it bit 31-year-old Anthony Willits on the lower left leg. Auchley says 29-year-old Gregory Louden shot three more times, killing the grizzly. The men hiked out and Willits was taken to Kalispell Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery. Auchley says officials on Sunday planned to go to the area where the bear was reported killed.

Two freshmen stabbed at Snohomish High School

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — Police have responded to a stabbing at Snohomish High School. School District spokeswoman Kristin Foley says two high school freshmen were stabbed and have been taken to local hospitals. A high school sophomore is in police custody. All three students are female. She says the school is in emergency lockdown. Counselors are on hand to help the students.

Fire breaks out at Omak hospital, no injuries

OMAK, Wash. — Firefighters in Okanogan County have knocked down an early morning fire in the basement of a hospital in Omak. KREM-TV reports the fire broke out around 2 a.m. today at Mid-Valley Hospital. Employees had to move patients from one area of the hospital to another because of the fire and smoke, but no injuries were reported. Cause of the fire has not been determined.

Seattle ‘Viadoom’ traffic congested but moving

SEATTLE — This morning’s commute in Seattle was congested but moving slowly as drivers dealt with “Viadoom,” the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, one of the city’s main north-south highways. Transportation Department spokeswoman Kris Olsen says the loss of the viaduct put pressure on the entire freeway system in the Seattle area. She says some drivers may have delayed their commute into the 8 o’clock hour. The backups were especially noticeable for West Seattle drivers who saw a long line of taillights when they pulled onto the West Seattle Bridge in the 7 a.m. hour. Buses were full, and other commuters rode bikes or took the water taxi across Elliott Bay. The viaduct section of Highway 99 carried 110,000 vehicles a day. The nine-day closure began Friday for partial demolition. The work is part of the $3.2 billion project to replace the aging elevated highway with a tunnel under downtown Seattle.

Blast to breach Condit Dam in SW Washington

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Crews are setting dynamite to blast a hole Wednesday in the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River about 65 miles east of Vancouver. The Columbian reports the blast is expected to release a huge surge of water that will carry sediment from its reservoir three miles downstream to the Columbia River. The Portland-based utility PacifCorp is removing its 99-year-old hydroelectric dam to restore salmon and steelhead habitat. The removal of the 125-foot tall Condit Dam follows work to remove two remove two other dams in Washington — the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River.

Prosecutors file assault charges in hazing

KALISPELL, Mont. — Prosecutors in Flathead County have filed misdemeanor assault charges against two Glacier High freshman football players allegedly involved in hazing teammates on a bus. KCFW-TV reports the charges were filed Friday in District Court against two 15-year-old boys. The boys were among six kicked off the football team after the hazing. Two were suspended from school. One has returned to classes and the other can return on Oct. 31. A Kalispell police officer had recommended filing sexual assault charges against two of the players.

‘Reptile Man’ captures alligator in Gresham pond

GRESHAM, Ore. — A man known as the Reptile Man jumped into a Gresham pond Sunday to capture a young alligator. Richard Richey took the gator to his home in Colton. He says he’s licensed to keep and transport exotic reptiles. He holds reptile shows around the Northwest. The Oregonian reports Multnomah County Animal Control had been trying to capture the alligator since it was reported Thursday in the pond at Birdsdale Industrial Park. Animal control workers had set a trap using chicken for bait. Richey says the alligator was too cold to eat. He says the only way to capture it was to jump in and wrangle it by hand.

Oregon City rejects federal bonus for top teachers

OREGON CITY, Ore. — The Oregon City School District is rejecting a $2.5 million federal grant intended to reward top teachers. Superintendent Larry Didway says the district team evaluating the system couldn’t agree on using test scores to give merit pay to individuals. The Oregonian reports six other districts are using Teacher Incentive Funds: Albany, Bend-LaPine, Crook County, Lebanon, Redmond and Salem-Keizer

Fish tagged in Wyoming ends up in Montana

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says it has documented a 415-mile journey by a channel catfish. The agency tagged the catfish in June 2007 just below the Kendrick Diversion Dam on Clear Creek east of Sheridan. That same fish ended up on the hook of an angler recently on the Yellowstone River near Pompey’s Pillar, Mont. Game and Fish believes it may be the longest documented fish movement in Wyoming fish tagging history. The fish likely traveled down the Powder River into Montana and then turned upstream in the Yellowstone. The fish had to negotiate four irrigation diversions on its journey. It’s believed high water may have allowed it to get by most of the obstacles.

$19,000 reward in Seattle’s Greenwood arson

SEATTLE — Police, fire and insurance officials are presenting a reward of nearly $19,000 today to a Seattle woman and her brother who provided information that helped convict a man in the Greenwood arson case. Nineteen fires set in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood in 2009 caused damage estimated at more than $2 million. A tip led to the arrest of Kevin Todd Swalwell who pleaded guilty to setting 10 fires and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. One of the fires damaged the Taproot Theater where the reward is being presented today.

Cantwell holding Senate hearing on aviation jobs

SEATTLE — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is in Seattle to hold a congressional hearing on the training needs for aviation jobs. Cantwell is conducting the meeting this morning for the Senate Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee. The session will gather testimony from business and education officials as it examines how to ensure that there are enough skilled workers to fill aviation industry jobs. The hearing is being held at the Museum of Flight.

2 Washington-based soldiers die in Afghanistan

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — Three U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, including two based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Department of Defense says the soldiers based in Washington state were 29-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij of San Diego and 20-year-old Pfc. Christopher A. Horns of Colorado Springs, Colo. Both were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Also killed was 24-year-old 1st Lt. Ashley White of Alliance, Ohio. She was assigned to 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina National Guard in Goldsboro, N.C. The Defense Department says they died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

Judge orders talks in Montana dinosaur dispute

BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal judge has ordered settlement talks in a multi-million-dollar dispute over bone castings from three famed tyrannosaurus rex specimens. Attorneys say the case is the first of its kind involving a copyright fight over dinosaur castings — fossil replicas often used in museum displays. It pits a South Dakota research company against a Montana nonprofit that allegedly made unauthorized copies of castings from two t-rexes, dubbed Stan and Sue. The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research claims Fort Peck Paleontology, Inc. of eastern Montana used the castings to fill out incomplete portions of a third tyrannosaurus rex, known as Peck’s Rex, and then profited from sales of replicas. Through a copyright infringement lawsuit filed in federal court in Montana, Black Hills is seeking $7.4 million in damages — a figure that could be tripled to more than $22 million under federal copyright law, said the South Dakota company’s attorney, Luke Santangelo. But Antoinette Tease, a Billings attorney representing Fort Peck Paleontology, says her client made “negligible profits” off the castings and offered to return them but was turned down.

Mountain Jesus statue could lose its lease

HELENA, Mont. — A statue of Jesus on U.S. Forest Service land in the mountains over a Montana ski resort faces potential eviction amid an argument over the separation of church and state. The Forest Service offered a glimmer of hope late last week for the statue’s supporters by withdrawing an initial decision to boot the Jesus statue from its hillside perch in the trees. But as it further analyzes the situation before making a final decision, the agency warned rules and court decisions are stacked against allowing a religious icon on the 25-by-25 foot patch of land. The statue has been a curiosity to skiers at the famed Big Mountain ski hill for decades, mystifying skiers at its appearance in the middle of the woods as they cruise down a popular ski run. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation isn’t amused by the Jesus statue. The group argued that the Forest Service was breaching separation of church and state rules by leasing the small plot of land for the Jesus statue, and is pushing the agency to stand by its original decision to remove the religious icon.

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