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Washington hunting rules meeting in Colville Sept. 10

HUNTING — An additional public meeting to discuss Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposals for 2015-17 hunting seasons is scheduled for7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in the Colville Ag Trade Center at the Northeast Washington Fairgrounds, 317 West Astor Ave, Colville.

Hunting issues that have been discussed online, in Spokane and at other meetings across the state in August include:

  • Antler point restrictions on white-tailed deer, including the four-point minimum for whitetails in Units 119 and 121;
  • Antlerless deer opportunity for youth, senior, and disabled hunters; 
  • Spring and fall black bear seasons;
  • Special permit drawings and the  emphasis on bonus points;
  • Baiting of big game;
  • Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.

Fish and Wildlife officials from the regions and Olympia headquarters have conducted a series of meetings on the hunting proposals in Spokane, Moses Lake and Ellensburg and western Washington meetings cities. 

WDFW Eastern Region Wildlife Program Manager Kevin Robinette said the Colville meeting will be conducted by regional staff only, with emphasis on northeast Washington hunting issues.

The proposals are available online, where comments can be provided through Sept. 22.

Comments received will be used to develop specific recommendations for 2015-17 hunting seasons, which will be available for further review in January. 

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for adoption next spring.

Brother arrested in man’s slaying near Colville

COLVILLE, Wash. (AP) — The Stevens County sheriff’s office says deputies arrested 48-year-old Eric Harris on Monday night for investigation of murder in the shooting death of his 43-year-old brother Larch Harris at a home near Colville.

The sheriff’s office says the shooting took place Sunday as the brothers were arguing over a horse saddle. Their father recently died and they disagreed over the estate.

Colville shooter still at large

A man who allegedly shot his brother to death in Colville is still at large today.

Eric Harris, 48, is being sought by Stevens County sheriff’s deputies in connection with an early Sunday fight that left his brother, 43-year-old Larch Harris dead from a gunshot wound, authorities said.

When deputies arrived at Eric Harris’ home where witnesses reported the shooting occurred, the suspect had already left, according to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies are hoping to obtain a warrant for Eric Harris’ arrest, said Sgt. Loren Erdman with the sheriff’s office. Harris has an extensive criminal history, including several reports of assault, Erdman said.

“It’s definitely a possibility that he’s dangerous,” he said. “We haven’t found the weapon he had, so there’s a possibility he’s armed.”

Eric Harris is 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and several tattoos. Anyone with information about his location is asked to call 911 or the Stevens County sheriff’s dispatch at (509) 684-5296.

Murder solved in Colville coffee shop

Stevens County Prosecutors filed charging documents Tuesday detailing the allegations against woman charged last week with killing a man believed to be her half-brother in Colville.

Deena L. Bailey, 49, remains held on a $1 million bond after she was arrested last Thursday on the charge of second-degree murder in connection with the apparent beating death of 56-year-old David S. Barr.

Two witnesses said they saw Bailey, who had hitched a ride from Plummer, Idaho, a few days before, beating on David Barr during a night of heavy drinking on Jan. 9. One witnesses said he saw Bailey swinging at Barr with a bag containing tools.

That same witness returned to the apartment later that night to check on David Barr, who refused medical attention his head wounds. However, Colville Police were summoned Thursday morning to the apartment on West 2nd Street by the victim’s brother, Robert Barr.

Inside, an officer found David Barr dead in the sitting position on his couch.

Bailey, who was discovered Thursday sleeping on the couch of a local coffee shop, agreed to answer questions but claimed she had no idea that David Barr had died. She accused David and Robert Barr of sexually harassing during the night of drinking, according to court records.

Bailey, who is also described as a cousin in charging documents, is scheduled to appear on Jan. 29 for an arraignment, Deputy Prosecutor Matt Enzler said.

Read one of the best police reports ever written here.

Washington wildlife commission’s wolf hearing detailed

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine monitored the entire presentation and comment period of Friday's Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting devoted to Washington's wolf management activities.

I listened to the webcast from Olympia, too, but reading Walgamott's blow-by-blow blog post on the presentations and the 41 three-minute testimonies from the public — plus the resulting website comment string — is more entertaining and requires less caffeine to endure.

Who’s reffing the game between wolves and everyone else?

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A few callers say they're scratching their heads trying to figure out the point of today's outdoors column regarding wolves.

Here's a hint: Wolves need a lot of fresh meat year round in order to survive.

The Yellowstone model has spawned a myth that elk and moose — the wolf's favorite meal — are overpopulated throughout the West and that wolves will bring the ecosystem into balance.  

But in Northeastern Washington, there's no over-population of elk, moose or deer.

Unless wolves are managed, they will continue to multiply and reduce game population to even lower numbers. Then, left to natural processes, the wolf numbers will go bust, but not before they turn to preying on livestock as their last-ditch effort to survive.

Either way, wolf management is the better option if you really care about the future of wolves.

Read a detailed account of Washington wolf management update and resulting public comment during the Oct. 5 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Olympia.

Wedge wolves topic of Colville public meeting tonight

ENDANGERED SPECIES — At the request of Stevens County ranchers and commissioners, Washington Department of fish and Wildlife officials will present an update on their efforts to deal with gray wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle since mid-July.

Some of the issues were spelled out in today's Outdoors column.

The cattle belong to the Diamond M Ranch which summers its livestock on a national forest grazing allotment in the “wedge” area near the Canada border between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, will outline the agency's efforts in a public meeting set for 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 20) in the Colville County Commissioner's meeting room (old Avista Building) 230 E. Birch Street Colville 99114.  See map.

WDFW posted these answers to questions about the Wedge Pack issues on its website Wednesday.

Reading between the lines, Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott says the agency appears to be targeting more than just a few of the Wedge Pack wolves — perhaps the entire pack of 8-11 animals.

Dump truck joy ride strikes power lines

Police say a man stole a dump truck and took it on a drunken joy ride that destroyed light poles and power lines in the city of Colville.

Robert Gene Bankston Hartman, 28, told officers he didn't mean to knock down the lines when he stole the dump truck from a construction site and drove it through town. He said he'd had about 14 beers when police confronted him about 9:45 p.m. on July 23, but later told police he'd actually been drinking vodka.

Police had heard residents were trapped in their homes at South Wynne Street and West Columbia Avenue because of down power lines. They soon realized Hartman and the stolen dump truck were to blame. Hartman abandoned the truck at 1st Street and Railroad Street and ran, but an officer blocked his path with his police car.

About 1,400 people lost power for about two hours because of the melee. The area extended from Highway 395 at Pingston Creek to just south of Colville, from Valley Westside just east of Colville High School, police said.

One witness told police that Hartman was laughing while he was striking the power lines.

Hartman's blood alcohol level registered at .226 and .220. The legal limit for driving is .08.

Hartman is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and drunken driving.

Forest Capital sells timberlands in northeast Washington

PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS — Forest Capital Partners, which has a regional office in Colville, has sold its 1.88 million-acre timberland portfolio to Hancock Timber Resource Group and Molpus Woodlands Group.

FCP, with headquarters in Portland and Boston, paid $1.65 billion for the timberland in a 2005 deal with Boise-Cascade. The financial terms of what it sold for have not been disclosed.

“We will continue current practice for public access,” said Hancock spokesman Brian Carmichael responding to questions from The Spokesman-Review. “We have no plans for changes at Colville office.”

Hancock Timber is acquiring 573,000 acres in Oregon, 376,000 acres in Louisiana, 264,000 acres in Washington and 138,000 acres in Idaho.

Molpus is buying 286,000 acres in Minnesota, 110,000 acres in Louisiana and 138,000 acres in Idaho.

Dick Molpus is the president of Molpus Woodlands Group, which acquires, manages and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for pension funds, college endowments and wealthy individual investors.

He describes the timberlands as highly productive and ideally situated near timber markets with competitive pricing.

Kokanee “stocked” in streets of Colville

FISHING — Kokanee by the bucket full were in the streets of Colville Wednesday afternoon after a truck from the Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery had a close call with a motorist at the town's roundabout.

The truck belonging to the Spokane Tribe was transporting fish to be raised to larger size at the Sherman Creek Hatchery operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Here's the scoop — an accurate word in this case — from Tim Peone, Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery manager:

Apparently an errant “young lady” driver unbeknownst of the roundabout rules pulled out in front of our planting truck causing the driver to lock up the brakes. The sloshing water broke a hinge off a lid spilling 24.7 pounds of kokanee @ 14.4 fish/pound equaling roughly 356 fish out of a load of 12,000 fish. 

Yup I made him pick them all up (with the help of city crew, I heard).

From all reports, the kokanee were collected of the street before the area walleye anglers could gather them up for bait.

Man gets 5 years for Colville meth house

A Colville methamphetamine addict has been ordered to spend five years in federal prison after a search of his home revealed guns and video tapes of him using methamphetamine.

Michael Wayne Alexander, 55, allowed people to use meth at his home on Valley Westside Road in Colville since at least 2000 until January 2009, when a search warrant revealed meth, heroin, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and ammunition for.357 caliber and .45 caliber firearms.

Polcie found a .357 caliber Ruger revolver and a .45 caliber Remington handgun in a storage unit belonging to Alexander. They also found video tapes showing Alexander using meth with other people in his home and shop.

He pleaded guilty in February to being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of a firearm and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

He was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court to five years in prison, followed by three years probation.

“Those who are involved in the use of illegal substances while possessing firearms pose a dangerous threat to our communities and will be responded to accordingly.” U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby said in a prepared statement.

Sex offender registers in Colville

Authorities are warning of a sex offender considered likely to reoffend who recently registered at an address in Colville.

Clifford T. Morton, who was born in 1985, is living in the 1100 block of Basin Road, the Stevens County Sheriff's Office said today.

Morton, a level 3 sex offender, was convicted in Whatcom County of third-degree rape of a child in 2004 and second-degree assault and second-degree burglary in 2006.

He is not wanted by law enforcement, but the sheriff's office wants people to be aware of his presence.

“This notification is not intended to increase fear,” the sheriff's office said in a news release. “Rather, it is our belief that an informed public is a safer public.”

McMorris Rodgers in Colville Weds.

Some members of Congress are getting an earful about health care reform and other topics at their town hall meetings this August break from the session.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office released the first few days of her public schedule for the August break, and it starts with a discussion of health care and a town hall for seniors on Wednesday up in Colville.

She’ll be talking to the Colville Chamber and the Colville Rotary about health care reform at the Rotary Pavilion in City Park at noon.

She’ll also have a Seniors Town Hall at the Northeast Washington Ag Center, 317 W. Astor, at 3 p.m.

Colville is usually pretty friendly territory for McMorris Rodgers, so the shouting might be kept to a minimum.

For the rest of her public schedule, to date, go inside the blog

Lawmakers blast child protective officials; DSHS defends itself…

Photo: Colleen Beimer, from Bonney Lake, cries while holding a picture of her grandchildren. Richard Roesler - The Spokesman Review

Lawmakers, parents and a local prosecutor on Thursday blasted state child-protection officials, saying the state is too quick to remove children from their families.

“The system is broken. The children are forgotten,” said Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen. He said he found “a culture of deceit and deception” among Child Protective Services workers in Colville.

The standing-room-only crowd, numbering about 100, was full of parents and grandparents, some holding photographs of children.

Thursday’s meeting was called by state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who’s been highly critical of state officials for months in a case involving grandparents’ efforts to get custody of their 3-year-old granddaughter.

“Lies are put on desks,” Roach said on the Senate floor later in the day. “Children are being hurt.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services said officials take such allegations very seriously.

“If someone believes that any of our staff have been dishonest, falsified documents or have retaliated against families, we ask that people report this to the Children’s Administration or Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman,” said Sherry Hill.

“The first priority of the Children’s Administration is the safety of children,” she said. “Our goal is to keep children in their home as long as they are safe.”

Of the child abuse and neglect cases investigated, she said, fewer than 20 percent result in the children being placed in foster care. And when that does happen, Hill said, “we then work toward reunification with the family if that is possible.”

Governor orders flags flows at half-staff in honor of Colville soldier killed in helicopter crash…

Flags across the state will be flown at half-staff Tuesday, in memory of Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, a soldier and Colville resident who died last week in a helicopter crash in Iraq.