NW Today: Inslee seeks farm disaster aid for mudslide

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has asked the federal government to declare Snohomish County as a farm disaster area so farmers and ranchers affected by the deadly Oso mudslide could seek financial and other help.

The governor sought the declaration from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack late Thursday.

Inslee says the declaration could provide emergency low-interest loans and other help to cover losses of farm property or production in the county where the mudslide occurred, as well as neighboring counties.

The area is known for its hay crops, Christmas trees, and pasture land. Dairies, sheep farms and other livestock operations are in the area.

N. Idaho man pleads guilty in trailer park killing

MOSCOW — A North Idaho man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an acquaintance at a trailer park.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that 28-year-old Nathaniel H. Nisbet made the plea Thursday in 2nd District Court. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a second-degree murder charge.

Police say Nisbet shot and killed 42-year-old Charles “Pat” McMichael during a confrontation at the Bel Air Mobile Home Park in Moscow on Nov. 10.

Authorities say McMichael arrived at the home with his wife and Nisbet’s estranged wife to change the locks on her mobile home, but McMichael found Nisbet inside with a 9 mm pistol.

Judge John R. Stegner has yet to rule on whether he will accept the plea agreement.

If he does, Nisbet faces up to 15 years in prison.

Hardin jail eyed for regional BIA inmate facility

BILLINGS, Mont. — A private corrections company is seeking to turn a long-vacant southeastern Montana jail into a treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates from the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest.

Steve Afeman with Emerald Correctional Management said Friday the Lafayette, La.-based company has a tentative agreement with Hardin’s Two Rivers Authority to operate the jail.

The $27 million Hardin jail has gone unused since it was built in 2007.

It rose to notoriety after desperate Hardin officials at one point offered to take the suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A California con-man later duped officials with a grandiose plan to turn the jail into a military training camp.

Afeman says his company plans to house about 350 inmates in Hardin for therapeutic treatment programs lasting 90 to 100 days.

Everett woman tried calling 911 dozens of times

EVERETT, Wash. — An Everett woman says she called 911 at least 37 times early Thursday when an intruder broke into her home, but couldn’t get through during the statewide outage of the emergency call system.

Alicia Cappola told KIRO she armed herself with a knife and confronted a man who crawled through a window. He ran out of the house.

Cappola says she finally reached someone about an hour after her first call. By the time an officer arrived, the intruder was gone.

CenturyLink says it’s still trying to find out what caused about a six-hour outage of 911 service at dispatch centers across Washington and parts of Oregon.

Volunteers sprucing up downtown Spokane Saturday

SPOKANE — About 400 volunteers are ready to spruce up downtown Spokane on Saturday for a second annual spring cleaning program.

News reports say that’s twice the number of last year’s volunteers.

They’ll pick up litter, remove graffiti and plant flower beds.

It kicks off a week of volunteer projects known as “Spokane Gives Week.”

Migrating gray whales visible off Washington coast

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The spring migration of gray whales is underway as more than 20,000 swim from their breeding waters off Baja, Mexico, to rich feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea.

Migrating whales can be seen from many locations along the Washington coast or the Strait of Juan de Fuca where some stray.

The Quileute Tribe is holding a ceremony Friday (at 10 a.m.) at LaPush to welcome the whales.

The Peninsula Daily News reports tribal school student perform traditional dances that recall the tribe’s history of hunting whales from canoes with ropes made from cedar and floats made from seal skins.

More Portland restaurants putting seats in street

PORTLAND — Portland plans to turn more parking places into restaurant seating.

The Bureau of Transportation plans to add up to 10 businesses to the city’s Street Seats program, which expects eight already in the program to renew. Spokeswoman Diane Dulken says community members love it because it brings life to the streets.

The Oregonian reports the program began in 2012 with three restaurants.

Portland neighborhood trying to save giant tree

PORTLAND — Residents in Portland’s Mount Tabor neighborhood are trying to save a giant tree from the developer’s saw.

When neighbors heard of plans to build on the lot where the tree stands they asked for a compromise that would allow for new homes to be built around the tree.

KATU reports it’s known as the Paradox walnut tree, a type developed by Luther Burbank.

The tree trunk is 15 feet around.

Neighbor Margreit Hecht says if the tree could write history, it could write the history of Portland, and if it could speak it would say, “What a crime it would be if you cut me down.”

Demolition of I-90 snowshed at Snoqualmie Pass

HYAK, Wash. — Demolition begins Sunday on the snowshed that has covered the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass for 64 years.

The work is part of the $551 million Transportation Department project to improve traffic flow over the pass, especially in winter.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the area where the snowshed stands will be replaced with bridges that will carry traffic over the avalanche chutes.

The Snoqualmie Pass improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2018. Drivers can expect delays and detours while the work continues.

An average of 28,000 vehicles drive over Snoqualmie Pass each day.

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