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In brief: Washington short on farm workers in March

YAKIMA – The state reported a 5 percent farm labor shortage for March in Washington.

It’s the first time since 2008 that a farmworker shortage was reported as early as March, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

An economist with the state Employment Security Department, John Wines, said the shortage was largely caused by the weather. There was little spring frost and orchards bloomed about a week earlier than last year, so growers need more help thinning blooms.

Dead bees possibly hit by passing cars

SALEM – The Oregon Department of Agriculture says the thousands of honeybees found dead along Highway 99 in Sherwood may have been hit by cars.

Department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said an investigator went to the site Monday and found about 30 commercial hives on a nearby lot with a vacant house.

Pokarney said the only dead bees found were along the highway, not around the hives, leading the investigator to think a swarm may have been hit by passing cars.

He also sent some of the dead bees to Oregon State University, where an expert will check them for pesticides, disease and parasites.

Idaho gold dredgers planning protest

LEWISTON – Idaho gold seekers say they will gather in central Idaho to run their suction dredges in the Salmon River to protest mining regulations.

John Crossman of the Southwest Idaho Mining Association of Boise told the Lewiston Tribune that the suction dredgers plan to gather near Riggins around the Fourth of July.

Crossman said the goal of the protest is to remove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from Idaho.

The EPA last year ruled that suction dredgers need National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits to operate in the state.

No Trader Joe’s for Portland center

PORTLAND – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said Trader Joe’s will not be coming to a northeast Portland neighborhood.

Trader Joe’s pulled out of a proposed location in February after some members of the community complained about gentrification.

Hales tried to get the grocery chain to reconsider, but a company official has told him the decision won’t be reversed.

The mayor said Tuesday he’s confident that a similar project will eventually rise on the corner of Northeast Alberta Street and Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.