What’s news in the Northwest today:
MAZAMA, Wash. — A group proposing an expansion of the North Cascades National Park has dropped plans to include much of the Methow Valley because of opposition from mountain bikers, hunters and hikers who take their dogs along. The proposal released Friday by the American Alps Legacy Project calls for adding 238,000 acres to the park. That’s 109,000 acres less than once envisioned. Jim Davis of the North Cascades Conservation Council said some legitimate activities in the area aren’t right for national park. The Wenatchee World also reports some conservationists worried the tiny unincorporated town of Mazama would be overdeveloped if it bordered the national park. The land under consideration for addition to the national park is currently part of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington state mental hospital may release 150 patients
LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Western State Hospital may release 150 elderly patients with dementia as it plans to eliminate 220 jobs to cut costs. The News Tribune reports many of the patients have histories of punching, kicking and scratching caregivers and it would be difficult to place them in nursing homes. Hospital CEO Jess Jamieson said the patients proposed for discharge are ready for community settings if there were places equipped to deal with them. A staff meeting was held Monday at the Lakewood hospital to brief employees on possible budget cuts. About 100 Western State employees have been laid off in the past three years. As of Monday the hospital housed 528 patients.
Washington state oysters sicken 5 people
PORTLAND, Ore. — Washington health officials say five people in the state got sick from eating raw oysters that were harvested from an area of Puget Sound’s Hood Canal and distributed to 23 states. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday warned the oysters could be contaminated with a bacteria that causes an illness called vibriosis. The FDA says it has no reports of hospitalization or death. Washington health spokesman Donn Moyer on Tuesday said Washington has not received reports of illnesses in other states. He says three illnesses are confirmed, and tests are pending on two cases. He says multiple companies have recalled oysters harvested between Aug. 30 and Sept. 19. The growing area is in Mason, Jefferson and Kitsap counties. The state says it typically sees about 50 cases of vibriosis a year.
Oregon toddler home after being shot in stomach
PORTLAND — A toddler shot in the stomach last week is home and recovering. KPTV-TV reports 2-year-old Payton Flow of The Dalles was unsupervised in a room with his brother, a 3-year-old, on Friday night when a loaded .380-caliber automatic pistol owned by their mother went off. Payton’s mother, Johnnie Williams, says she usually leaves her gun in her car for protection, but on Friday left the loaded weapon on a table in a room where the boys were playing. The bullet did not hit any of Payton’s major organs, and he was released from the hospital after just 24 hours. Police in the Dalles have not said whether they will file charges against Payton’s parents. Williams says she takes responsibility for the shooting.
Mom charged in death of 4-month-old
OLYMPIA – The mother of a 4-month-old boy who died Saturday has been charged with second-degree murder in Thurston County. Rachel Bryan, 20, of Centralia was initially arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault of a child Sept. 20 after her son was admitted to Providence Centralia Hospital with head injuries. Thurston County sheriff’s deputies arrested Bryan because the child was injured at a mobile home in the 20000 block of Grand Mound Way in Thurston County. The child was transferred to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and placed on life support. He died there just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Bryan was formally charged in Thurston County Superior Court with second-degree murder with aggravating circumstances, because she ”knew or should have known that (the child) was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance,” according to charging documents. According to court papers, Bryan has admitted to assaulting her baby.
Business burglar sentenced to 67 days
MOSCOW – The man arrested on suspicion of 13 criminal charges related to thefts from multiple Pullman businesses was sentenced Friday in Whitman County Superior Court to 67 days in jail, effective immediately upon sentencing. Fredrick Downey, 51, was arrested in January for stealing small sums of money from businesses on Professional Mall Boulevard, using Wal-Mart gift cards from a Pullman resident’s mail and breaking into the Pufferbelly Depot on Grand Avenue. Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said Downey received the maximum sentence available, based on prior felony history and seriousness of the crime. He said Downey is a multiple-time felon for burglary-related crimes. However, the most recent incident before the Pullman thefts and burglaries was in Nevada in 2000, therefore ”wash out provisions” apply.
Door-to-door salesman sentenced for battery charge
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A door-to-door salesman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for battery with intent to rape in connection with an assault on an Idaho Falls woman. Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said 18-year-old Akeem Thomas must serve at least three years before he will be eligible for parole. Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Clark told the Post Register that he was happy with the sentence. Prosecutors said Thomas, of Oakland, Calif., was going door-to-door selling cleaning products when the assault occurred. The victim in the case said Thomas entered her home to demonstrate his cleaning products, and after the demonstration took off his pants and raped her. Police said after Thomas left the home, the woman called a friend who called police.
Crews check for more gas leaks in Seattle
SEATTLE — Puget Sound Energy crews worked through the night checking for more natural gas leaks in the north Seattle neighborhood where a home exploded Monday and injured two residents. Spokesman Roger Thompson says crews walked and drove a 5-square mile area using sensitive equipment that can detect methane. Thompson says the leak that set off the blast was caused by corrosion initiated when a tree knocked down a power line Sunday and electricity traveled into pipes in the ground. Two residents burned in the blast and fire are at Harborview Medical Center — a woman in serious condition and a man in satisfactory condition. They were identified in The Seattle Times as 50-year-old Hong Phung, a Crista Ministries dietitian, and 53-year-old David Ingham, a Seattle City Light employee.
Med marijuana group gardens outlawed in Clarkston for now
LEWISTON – Group grows of medical marijuana have been banned in Clarkston for at least six months. The city council adopted a moratorium on collective cannabis gardens Monday night, based on a recommendation by Police Chief Joel Hastings. The temporary ban does not affect individual patients authorized to grow medical marijuana. No one from the audience objected to the council’s decision, and there was no discussion after the motion was made. Collective gardens are legal under a new law in Washington, and as many as 10 cannabis patients can grow up to 45 plants in a shared plot. ”This gives the city some time to research the impact of collective grows and how they could affect the community and neighborhoods,” Hastings said after the meeting. Concerns about group grows include increased traffic in areas where these gardens are located and the possibility of thefts, Hastings said. ”We’ve already had two burglaries where marijuana grows were targeted,” he said.
Charity leader to be sentenced in money smuggling
EUGENE, Ore. — The leader of the U.S. branch of a now-defunct Islamic charity faces sentencing on convictions he helped smuggle $150,000 to Saudi Arabia in 2000 that prosecutors maintain was intended for Muslim fighters battling the Russian army in Chechnya. Pete Seda, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, is due in U.S. District Court in Eugene this afternoon. He was convicted a year ago of tax fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government. Prosecutors hope to see Seda sentenced to the maximum eight years in prison on grounds he intended the money to go to terrorists. The defense counters that Seda was never charged with terrorism, prosecutors never established what happened to the money, and he should get probation with credit for time in jail while awaiting trial.
Transient attacks Hispanic family at Union Gap
UNION GAP, Wash. — A man who attacked a car with a Hispanic family inside at Union Gap told police he hates Mexicans. Police say the man hurled a can of beer at their car Saturday as they drove by him near the entrance to a restaurant. Police say he followed the car to the parking lot, pounded on the driver’s side window until it broke and bit the father. Police arrested 30-year-old Peter M. Weller, a transient who is white. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports Weller said he became upset with the family after he thought they were going to pull over and give him a ride. He said wants to kill Mexicans and accused the father of being a member of the “Mexican mafia.” He’s jailed for investigation of malicious harassment.