September 20, 2011 in Region

NW today: Fleeing may have triggered grizzly mauling

Associated Press
 

What’s news in the Northwest today:

BILLINGS, Mont. — Investigators say a fatal bear mauling in Yellowstone National Park was possibly triggered by the California victim and his wife screaming and yelling as they ran from an approaching grizzly mother with cubs. New details in the July 6 mauling of 57-year-old Brian Matayoshi emerged today as authorities released 911 recordings and investigative documents. Hikers who reported the attack can be heard on the recording saying they heard screaming and animal noises from the direction of the encounter. A short time later, a lone female voice was heard calling for help. Two other people have been killed by grizzlies in the Northern Rockies this year. That includes a second attack in Yellowstone on a Michigan man earlier this month and a Nevada hunter killed in northwest Montana Friday.

Former U.S. attorney.: Strict medical pot law may be OK

HELENA, Mont. — Montana’s former U.S. attorney says he believes the federal government would be comfortable with state medical marijuana laws that are tightly written and allow very few people to legally use the drug. Bill Mercer spoke during a Helena conference sponsored by the Burton K. Wheeler Center, based in Bozeman. Monday evening’s discussion focused on finding a balance between federal laws and states’ rights. “I think you’ve really got to tighten up those categories,” Mercer said. Those attending the meeting held wide-ranging opinions on medical marijuana, but nearly everyone agreed that the current system isn’t working. “It seems like a mess to me,” said panel moderator Lee Banville, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Montana. Montana voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2004. Five years later, the Obama administration released the Ogden memo, which stated that as long as a person’s marijuana use follows a state’s medical marijuana laws, the government wouldn’t prosecute them. After that memo, the number of medical marijuana users and caregivers rose — eventually reaching about 30,000 people with medical marijuana cards by June 2011.

Benton City student says principal threatened him

PROSSER, Wash. — A Kiona-Benton City High School student has a restraining order against the principal who is accused of threatening to cut off a rosary he was wearing. Roel Corral asked for the restraining order Friday against Wayne Barrett because of a confrontation earlier this month. The principal allegedly unfolded a pocketknife and threatened to cut off the rosary. Rosaries are banned in district schools because they are associated with gangs. Barrett was originally ordered not to come within 100 feet of Corral. The Tri-City Herald reports a Benton County District Court judge modified the order Monday to 25 feet so that the principal could carry out his job at the school.

Idaho man gets 8 years for $29 million Ponzi scheme

POCATELLO, Idaho — An eastern Idaho man who pleaded guilty to running what investigators called the largest Ponzi scheme in state history has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison. KIFI-TV reports Daren Palmer was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Pocatello. He also was ordered to pay nearly $30 million to the victims of his scheme. Palmer pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in May. He sought a four- to five-year sentence while prosecutors recommended 10 to 12 years. Court records show Palmer’s Trigon Group received about $75.8 million from 68 investors between 2002 and 2008. They lost more than $20 million of that money. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission earlier won civil lawsuits against Palmer totaling $90 million in restitution and fines.

Imperial Oil wants judge to revisit megaload order

MISSOULA, Mont. — Imperial Oil of Canada is asking a Montana judge to dissolve or modify his order that effectively stopped huge loads of oilfield equipment from travelling along two-lane roads in Montana. District Judge Ray Dayton, of Anaconda, is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in Missoula, the Missoulian reported today. Dayton sided with Missoula County and three environmental groups in May in ordering a temporary injunction preventing the Montana Department of Transportation from issuing any more permits for pullouts along the route. Dayton said the agency didn’t seem to adequately consider the impact of new turnouts along the route and the environmental assessment wasn’t clear on how the agency concluded an interstate route wasn’t feasible. Imperial, a Canadian subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., called Dayton’s ruling unprecedented.

Oregon ethics agency tosses food company complaint

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon ethics commission has thrown out a complaint a food company filed against an Oregon state scientist over a salmonella outbreak and imported cantaloupes. The agency’s executive director, Ronald Bersin, says it deals with using public office for personal gain, not performance questions such as those raised by Del Monte Fresh Produce. The company’s complaint said Oregon’s senior epidemiologist, William Keene, conducted what appeared to be a cursory investigation and made an error in judgment. The Oregonian reports Bersin dismissed the complaint in a letter last week. The company has filed suit against the federal Food and Drug Administration over an order halting imports of Guatemalan cantaloupes, and it has filed notice it intends to sue the Oregon Health Authority.

Boy Scout statue stolen in Tacoma

TACOMA — Tacoma Boy Scouts are asking metal recyclers in the region to watch for a 6-foot bronze statue of a Boy Scout that was stolen. It was toppled over the weekend from its place outside the Tacoma headquarters for the Boy Scout Council. The council serves 18,000 Scouts in Pierce, Thurston, south King, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Pacific counties. The News Tribune reports the statue cost nearly $14,000 when it was installed 12 years ago. The theft was reported Monday to police. Scouts are hoping the statue will be returned somehow.

Oregon father charged in overdose death of toddler

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A Grants Pass man has been charged with manslaughter in the death of his toddler son who, left alone, ate more than 40 antihistamine pills. The Daily Courier reports that 38-year-old Patrick Hart was indicted Friday and arrested Monday. The youth, Steven Lukas Dean Hart, died in September 2010 at 16 months. The Grants Pass police say his father left him unattended for more than an hour, his mother returned to find him with Benadryl pills, and he died later at the hospital. The father also was charged with criminal mistreatment.

Suicide prevention signs posted at S. Idaho bridge

BOISE — State transportation officials say signs with a national suicide prevention hotline number have been posted at a bridge that spans the Snake River near Twin Falls. A regional director for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in south-central Idaho proposed the signs more than a year ago as a way to dissuade people from using the Perrine Bridge to end their lives. The Idaho Transportation Department announced Monday that 18-inch signs placed at each bridge entrance read: “Need hope? Call 1-800-273-8255.” Perrine Bridge, some 480 feet above the river, gets a lot of attention as one of the world’s most-frequented BASE jump sites with more than 5,000 jumps annually. But the bridge has on occasion drawn people looking to use the long fall to end their lives.

2 Alaska Airlines flight attendants get sick

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two flight attendants working on an Alaska Airlines flight became sick while working in the rear galley of the plane. The Anchorage Daily News says the two reported feeling nauseated and short of breath during a flight Sunday night from Portland to Anchorage. Airline spokesman Paul McElroy says no one else on the plane reported feeling ill. He says the two flight attendants were taken to the hospital after landing and reported feeling better. McElroy says mechanics inspected the plane and cleaned air vents and changed filters in the rear. But he says the reason for the illnesses is not known. He says the plane is back in service and the situation is being monitored.

Search for missing Oregon bike tour worker resumes

RIDDLE, Ore. — A search for a missing worker on the Cycle Oregon bike tour in Douglas County is going into its fourth day. Bicyclists and other volunteers from Portland planned to travel south today to help look for 54-year-old Mark Bosworth. He vanished from a bike tour campsite in Riddle over the weekend. Riddle, south of Roseburg, was the sixth stop in the annual seven-day tour. The Oregonian reports that friends described Bosworth as not his usual self Friday, appearing confused and sometimes incoherent. The last report of him came from late Friday night. The search began the next morning. Bosworth is a geographic information system supervisor for the Metro regional government. He has twice been in remission with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Eugene City Council likes downtown dog ban

EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene City Council made it clear Monday night that it will reject a proposal to lift a ban on dogs in a business district near the University of Oregon. The Register Guard reports the majority of the council sided with business owners who said the dog ban was one of the reasons the district is thriving. The ban was imposed 15 years ago after businesses complained that transients, drug dealers and panhandlers were bringing aggressive dogs that caused problems and frightened customers. Council members said they may expand the dog ban to other parts of downtown Eugene.

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