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NW today: Snow-starved Bogus Basin cuts jobs

Wed., Jan. 4, 2012, 10:45 a.m.

What’s news in the Northwest today:

BOISE — The stingy snow gods are forcing a ski resort above Idaho’s capital to dramatically reduce costs. Bogus Basin Mountain Resort is eliminating positions, cutting year-round workers’ pay and scaling back capital projects after its lifts remained idle during the holidays, traditionally one of its most-lucrative revenue periods. Its general manager and chief financial officer plan to work without pay for an extended period, while other positions were eliminated. There’s almost no chance the resort will open by Friday. If it doesn’t, that would make this the latest opening in the 69-year-old resort’s history. The latest previous opening was Jan. 6, way back in 1989. Bogus Basin makes much of its money through annual season pass sales, but it still relies on day-pass customers for a significant share of its revenue.

Girl still hospitalized after bulldog attack

KALISPELL, Mont. — Staff at Kalispell Regional Medical Center say a 7-year-old girl is recovering in the hospital after being attacked by four American Bulldogs over the weekend. A hospital spokeswoman says the girl was moved from the intensive care unit to the pediatric unit, and was listed in stable condition today. Flathead County deputies say the girl was taken to the hospital Saturday after being attacked by the dogs as she played outside a house in Creston. Undersheriff Jordan White says the dogs pulled and dragged her, resulting in extensive injuries. Deputies say the girl and her father were in the area visiting friends. Sheriff Chuck Curry says the investigation into the attack continues.

USS Reagan to Bremerton for year-long overhaul

BREMERTON, Wash. — The Navy says the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will depart Friday for Bremerton for a year-long $218 million overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The carrier is expected to return to San Diego where it has been based since 2004. It has deployed five times in six years. The Kitsap Sun reports the shipyard is wrapping up a year-long maintenance job on the USS Nimitz, which is expected to move across Puget Sound in February to its new home port at Everett. Another carrier is expected in early March when the Bremerton-based USS Stennis is scheduled to return from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East. The Stennis traveled through the Strait of Hormuz last week after a visit to Dubai.

Mount Rainier National Park to reopen Saturday

SEATTLE — Mount Rainier National Park in Washington will reopen to the public on Saturday, and all services with the exception of snow play will be available this weekend. The park has been closed since ranger Margaret Anderson was shot to death on New Year’s Day trying to stop a car that failed to pull over at a checkpoint requiring drivers to put chains on their vehicles. A memorial service is being planned for the 34-year-old mother of two who was married to another park ranger. Authorities say she was killed by Benjamin Colton Barnes, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran. Investigators found his body face down in a snowy creek Monday with a handgun and rifle nearby. An autopsy Tuesday showed he had hypothermia and drowned.

Montana officials track sick bighorn herd

LIVINGSTON, Mont. — Wildlife officials are monitoring bighorn sheep from a southern Park County herd that was hit by pneumonia to gauge the risk of a large-scale die-off of the animals. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Karen Loveless told the Livingston Enterprise that five sheep from the afflicted herd near Cinnabar Mountain have been killed since early December. Loveless says three of the sheep carried a strain of pneumonia associated with a 2010 outbreak that killed about 600 bighorn sheep in western Montana. About 80 animals from the Cinnabar herd recently dispersed into smaller groups. One bighorn lamb with pneumonia has been found on Mt. Everts, just inside Yellowstone National Park. Loveless says it’s possible the disease was transmitted to the wild animals by infected domestic sheep.

Glacier National Park gets postage stamp

KALISPELL, Mont. — The U.S. Postal Service is featuring an image of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park on an international rate postage stamp to be issued later this month. The Daily Inter Lake reports the stamp was designed by art director Ethel Kessler, based on an image taken by National Geographic photographer Michael Melford. The image shows Logan Pass, the highest point along the park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. Melting snowbanks reveal a meadow against a backdrop of Glacier peaks. The 85-cent stamp, part of the Postal Service’s “Scenic American Landscapes” series, goes on sale on Jan. 19.

Former Hanford worker pleads guilty to timecard fraud

YAKIMA – A former Hanford worker has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government after admitting being paid at least $90,000 for overtime he falsely claimed. Christian Careaga made his first appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Yakima. He is the second Hanford worker to plead guilty after a federal investigation of timecard fraud at the Hanford tank farms under former contractor CH2M Hill Hanford Group. The tank farms store 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks until the waste left from weapons plutonium production can be treated for disposal. Careaga may be required to pay a fine of up to $90,000. Court documents do not make clear whether the fine covers overtime pay only for hours not worked or all his claimed overtime. His sentencing is set for May 17.

Teen collapses at school basketball practice

LA CENTER, Wash. — Police in the small southwest Washington community of La Center say a 13-year-old boy collapsed and stopped breathing at a middle school basketball practice. Police Chief Tim Hopkin says the boy collapsed shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday at the La Center Middle School’s gym. A coach and another man reportedly began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The unidentified eighth grader was taken first to a Vancouver hospital, then to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Ore. His condition was not known late Tuesday night. La Center School District Superintendent Mark Mansell told The Oregonian on Tuesday night “it’s very serious but all we can do is hope for the best and support our students.” About 450 students attend the school.

Source of petroleum leak in river remains undetermined

LEWISTON – The source of a petroleum leak in the Clearwater River near Orofino remains a mystery, but officials are looking at a number of possibilities including a broken line at a nearby gas station and storage facility. Earl Liverman, an on-scene coordinator from the Environmental Protection Agency based in Coeur d’Alene, said the source could be a broken gas line, an abandoned underground storage tank or something leaching out of an old landfill. The leak is near the Atkinson Distributing Inc., facility which includes a cardlock, or unmanned, gas station and above-ground storage tanks. Liverman said the underground lines at the station were pressure tested in early 2011 and no leaks were found. But that was before a small earthquake centered near Orofino shook the area on Nov. 11.

Authorities: Man kills wife, self in Libby

KALISPELL, Mont. — Authorities are investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Libby involving a husband and wife. Police Chief Jim Smith says 51-year-old Dale Kinniburgh Jr. called 911 at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and told the dispatcher he had just killed his wife, 55-year-old Katherine Kinniburgh, and was about to kill himself. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department says officers were familiar with the man and called an emergency response team from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. Meanwhile, residents in the neighborhood were cleared from the area. KCFW-TV in Kalispell reports officers entered the home at about 2:15 p.m. and found the bodies.

Lawsuit filed against Cozy Valley Creamery over raw milk case

SEATTLE – The family of a 5-year-old Yelm girl who was sickened by E. coli after drinking raw milk in November filed suit Tuesday against the Cozy Valley Creamery in Tenino for unspecified monetary damages. The lawsuit said three children in Pierce and Thurston counties got sick from the infected milk, which resulted in a recall of the raw milk on Nov. 23 and a state investigation. The suit said the state tested 42 samples, three of which tested positive for E. coli bacteria. The suit added that the 5-year-old Yelm girl was hospitalized for more than a week and now has anemia as a result of the illness. Damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” now and in the future were being sought.

Foreclosure sale of guest ranch property averted

MISSOULA, Mont. — The owners of a high-end guest ranch in western Montana and a Helena construction company have reached an agreement that canceled the sale of some ranch property to satisfy a construction lien. Officials with the Resort at Paws Up and Dick Anderson Construction declined to comment on the amount of the settlement, the Missoulian reported today. Dick Anderson sued Paws Up owner David Lipson’s Monroe Property Co. in 2001, seeking $800,000 for cost overruns on a $10 million contract for an equestrian center, roads and other work on Lipson’s property. After years of litigation, the Montana Supreme Court ruled last June that Dick Anderson could foreclose on Paws Up property to satisfy the construction lien.

Flags lowered Thursday for Longview soldier

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire has directed that flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff Thursday in memory of a Longview soldier who died Dec. 20 while serving in Afghanistan. A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Kelso Eagles for 21-year-old Mikayla A. Bragg. The Army specialist was shot while on guard duty. A military memorial service was held Dec. 29 at Fort Knox, Ky. The Daily News reports Bragg’s father and stepmother, Steven and Amber Bragg, live in Longview. Her mother, Sheyanne Baker, lives in Shelton.

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