June 20, 2014 in Region

NW Today: Control over Idaho GOP remains uncertain

Associated Press

BOISE — An Idaho Republican Party advisory committee meeting turned combative Thursday while members discussed who held the chairmanship.

Factions inside the Idaho Republican Party have spent the past week fiercely debating who holds the seat ever since the chaotic GOP convention last week ended with no new chair elected.

After nearly two hours of yelling and talking over one another, the committee concluded that Chairman Barry Peterson’s term was extended for another two years.

However, two opinions from the GOP general counsel and the Republican National Committee argue that Peterson is no longer the chairman. They say the state central committee needs to appoint new party officers.

GOP general counsel Jason Risch said he declined to attend Thursday’s meeting because it would have validated Peterson as the current party chairman.

Martinac shipyard in Tacoma facing foreclosure

TACOMA — One of the last major shipyards in Tacoma may be closing next month after 90 years of building vessels on the Thea Foss Waterway.

The News Tribune reports J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. faces a foreclosure auction on July 18 unless it finds new business or an investor.

It owes $415,000 in payments and fees on a $5.4 million loan.

Since 1924, the shipyard has constructed 256 vessels. That last one left the shipyard a year ago.

2 not guilty pleas in Washington fake kidnapping

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — Two people accused in a fake kidnapping that alarmed people at a Sequim (skwim) park pleaded not guilty Thursday to disorderly conduct charges.

Jason Holden and a relative, Shellie Baskins, were arraigned in Clallam County District Court in Port Angeles. A third person, Jesse Holden, was scheduled to be arraigned, but the hearing was postponed until next Thursday to allow him time to find another lawyer.

The Peninsula Daily News reports the three could face nearly a year in jail or a $5,000 fine if convicted.

The Holdens wore ski masks and grabbed Baskins’ 4-year-old son April 13 at Carrie Blake Park and drove off in a van. They later said they were making a video to promote child-abduction awareness. Parents and other witnesses were outraged.

Feds to help keep sage grouse off threatened list

RENO, Nev. — The Obama administration is launching an effort to accelerate protection of sage grouse along the California-Nevada line with $31 million in spending commitments through 2024 to help ranchers and others improve grouse habitat.

A top official in the Agriculture Department told The Associated Press that Friday’s announcement may represent the best, last chance to keep the bistate population of the bird off the list of threatened species.

Jason Weller, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says that while the multiagency effort targets California and Nevada, it ultimately will benefit the overall habitat of the greater sage grouse in 11 western states.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calls it a “groundbreaking commitment.” His agencies are pledging $25.5 million and the Bureau of Land Management $6.5 million over the next five to 10 years.

State investigating poison in Eugene bee die-off

EUGENE, Ore. — The state Department of Agriculture is investigating a bee die-off at a Eugene apartment complex where a tree care company sprayed linden trees Tuesday for an aphid infestation.

Investigators Wednesday found hundreds of dead bumblebees and honeybees.

Spokesman Bruce Pokarney told The Register-Guard that the company apparently used the same insecticide that killed thousands of bees last June around a Wilsonville store parking lot.

The investigation will determine whether the tree service company will be fined.

6 killed in fiery Montana crash

HELENA — A fire engine and a pickup truck collided on U.S. Highway 12 in southwestern Montana, causing an explosion and fire that killed six people, including three children.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Gleich says the collision happened about 9 p.m. Thursday about 10 miles east of Helena, forcing both vehicles into the ditch. Witnesses said the vehicles immediately caught fire, and Gleich says they melted together in the resulting inferno.

Montana Highway Patrol Capt. Gary Becker says the crash killed the driver of the fire truck and a Helena family of five in the pickup truck.

The Gallatin County sheriff’s office said Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel was one of the victims. The names and ages of the others involved haven’t been released.

The road remained closed Friday morning as the investigation continued.

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