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In brief: Bill bars ‘vapor’ cigarettes from kids

OLYMPIA – “Vapor” cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the need to light up tobacco, would be illegal for minors in Washington under a bill that got unanimous support from a House panel Thursday.

The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee voted 8-0 to put so-called vapor products under the same age restrictions as cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. The products give the user a dose of nicotine in a device designed to look like a cigarette that releases a vapor.

Committee members described House Bill 1937 as a “no-brainer” in a state that doesn’t even allow the sale of cigarette papers to minors, and a representative of RJR Tobacco said the company supports it. Chairman Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said the issue is nicotine and “this is just a different delivery system.”

Transient-camp stabbing brings sentence

A man who stabbed another man in a transient camp in Coeur d’Alene last summer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

James H. Kountz, 56, stabbed James Hoglen, 43, last June during an argument at the camp near Wilbur Avenue and U.S. Highway 95. According to court documents, Hoglen said Kountz came after him with a knife and cut him in the face and then on his left side. Hoglen tried to defend himself by throwing a camp chair at Kountz, who said he was going to kill Hoglen.

Hoglen sustained a cut near his left eye and three injuries on his torso.

Kountz will be eligible for parole after four years, with credit for time served.

Kountz has a long criminal history that includes a conviction in California for involuntary manslaughter. 

Kootenai County treasurer retiring

Tom Malzahn, treasurer of Kootenai County since 2001, will retire March 28.

“My reasons for retirement are personal,” Malzahn said without elaborating in a news release Thursday announcing the retirement.

Malzahn boasted that the “Treasurer’s Office is a much better place today for our customers to do business and for our employees to do their job than it was 16 years ago,” when he became deputy treasurer.

In his announcement, Malzahn lists five accomplishments from his term, including the implementation of ways to make it more convenient for county residents to pay their taxes and the cross-training of employees to provide services more seamlessly.

Malzahn endorsed Deputy Treasurer Laurie Thomas, who filled in for him in 2008 when he underwent treatment for prostate cancer, to serve out his term through 2014.

Per Idaho statute, Kootenai County commissioners will appoint his replacement based on recommendations from the county’s Republican Central Committee, Malzahn said.

Driver arrested after car, foot chase

An alleged drunken driver attempted to flee from law enforcement Wednesday after bumping a curb right in front of a Spokane Valley police car, sheriff’s deputies say.

Deputy Juan Rodriguez said he saw Cody B. Staley, 29, bump the curb then travel eastbound on Broadway Avenue at 1:25 a.m., weaving and at one point crossing into the oncoming lane of traffic, a Sheriff’s Office news release said.

As Rodriguez followed, Staley pulled into a residential neighborhood at speeds of more than 50 mph and almost hit a parked car, the release said. Stopping in a dead-end street at Alki Avenue, Staley then ran away on foot.

Rodriguez chased Staley through residential backyards until Staley tripped on some construction materials and was handcuffed after a short struggle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Staley was taken to Spokane County Jail on a felony charge of attempting to elude and misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and obstructing a police officer.

Army paratroopers rescued from tree

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The Army said firefighters have rescued three paratroopers who got stuck in trees after they jumped from an aircraft in a training exercise in Washington state.

Joe Piek, a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said all three were unhurt after getting stuck in trees near one of the base’s drop zones on a windy Thursday afternoon.

He didn’t have many details but said the big, wide-open drop zones are surrounded by trees, and parachutes can drift off course if winds change or increase during a jump.

Piek said firefighters from both Thurston County and the base responded.

The rescue took place in a thickly wooded area near the town of Rainier.

Three-year-old girl dies in house fire

LIND, Wash. – A 3-year-old girl has died in a house fire in the Columbia Basin town of Lind.

The fire occurred Wednesday evening.

Firefighters were able to pull the child from the burning house, but she suffered burns over a large portion of her body. She was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center.


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