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Man arrested trying to sell drugs on courthouse lawn

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11, 2012

Grant County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Grand Coulee man for allegedly trying to sell marijuana on a courthouse lawn.

About 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies learned an adult male was approaching people in front of the Grant County Courthouse in Ephrata, Wash., and asking them if they wanted to buy marijuana, a Grant County Sheriff’s Office news release said.

Deputies found 22-year-old Andrew Allen Kramer, who had a “strong odor of marijuana about his person,” standing on the front lawn of the courthouse, the news release said. When deputies detained him, they found 20.5 grams of “portioned and packaged” marijuana in his pockets. Kramer was arrested, cited for possession of marijuana, then released.

“This one speaks for itself,” Sheriff Tom Jones said.

Council reappoints mayor, deputy mayor

A Spokane Valley City Council made up of many members elected on promises of change voted to stay the course Tuesday night.

Council members Tom Towey and Gary Schimmels were reappointed mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, by unanimous votes.

No other nominations were put before the seven-person council.

After his appointment, Towey paid credit to city workers.

“The staff has been absolutely great in my transformation from a civilian to an elected official,” he said. “I’m really encouraged in the direction the city of Spokane Valley is going. Not only do we have a great staff, we have a great council.”

Spokane Valley operates under a city manager system, meaning the mayor and deputy mayor are largely ceremonial positions, charged with running council meetings and representing the city.

Agency shuts down mine’s main shaft

Federal inspectors closed down the Lucky Friday Mine’s main shaft last week as a result of hazards associated with loose rock.

The vertical shaft is the underground silver mine’s main entrance and exit, and hauls both workers and materials. Inspectors closed the shaft last Friday, after determining that conditions flagged during a Dec. 20 inspection had not been fixed, said Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Hecla Mining Co., which operates the Lucky Friday Mine, voluntarily closed a shaft providing secondary access to the mine on Friday until repairs are made. That shaft had also been cited for loose material, Louviere said.

The Lucky Friday has been under a closure order since Dec. 14, when a rock burst injured seven miners. However, federal inspectors had modified the closure order to allow access to some areas of the mine, Louviere said.

A Hecla spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Man in court on assault charges

Police say a man fired shots at his former roommates during a fight over a TV.

Michael L. Backemeyer, 35, was arrested Sunday after police identified him as a suspect in the Dec. 26 shooting at 807 E. Augusta Ave.

Backemeyer was kicked out of the apartment by other tenants for stealing, police say. He showed up at the building to retrieve his television, but the tenants wouldn’t let him take it because they said he owed them money.

“Backemeyer became angry and pointed a handgun at one of the tenants,” police said in a news release. “Officers found two bullet holes inside the ceiling and wall in the apartment.”

Police identified Backemeyer in part through witness descriptions of his distinct tattoos, including one of Benjamin Franklin on the back of his hand, according to court documents.

Officers arrested Backemeyer near North Nevada Street and East Joseph Avenue. He appeared in court Monday on charges of first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

Man pleads guilty in courtroom outburst

A last-minute plea deal Monday halted a trial for a Spokane man accused of intimidating a public servant following a courthouse outburst at a deputy prosecutor.

Roland W. Finney, 36, pleaded guilty to riot in Spokane County Superior Court and was sentenced to six months in jail. He’ll be credited for 59 days already served.

Sixty prospective jurors and a visiting judge were at the courthouse Monday for what was to be the start of Finney’s trial. He pleaded guilty before selection proceedings began.

Finney was accused of intimidating Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla on Aug. 30, 2010, after Cipolla refiled drug-related charges against him that had earlier been dismissed.

Cipolla said Finney “threatened to take me outside and ‘kick my ass,’ ” according to court documents. “The threats continued to escalate including killing my wife, ‘Life is a bitch, you marry one and then she dies’ and that I had better watch out,” Cipolla wrote.

Fire at metal business ruled accidental

Fire investigators say a blaze that caused more than $150,000 damage to a Broadway Avenue business Monday night was accidental.

The two-alarm fire at Industrial Systems and Fabrication, at 5217 E. Broadway Ave., was reported at 6:46 p.m. after workers had left for the day.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department said that a grinding operation threw off sparks that smoldered in combustible materials and burst into flame after the business had closed for the day. Industrial Systems is a metal fabrication and repair company.

Old voting forms require redo

Some Kootenai County voters will have to reapply for their absentee primary ballots after they sent in outdated forms.

Unlike years past, the Idaho GOP this year will only allow registered Republicans to vote in its primary. However, the forms sent in by about 100 people in Kootenai County requesting primary ballots did not provide a space for voters to indicate their party affiliation. Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes’ office will send new applications to people who sent in the old forms.

The new applications can be found on the county clerk’s website, elections.


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