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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Teens face felony robbery charges

Staff and wire reports

An attempted beer theft by three 17-year-old boys Wednesday turned into a chase that landed them in the Spokane County Jail on felony robbery charges, police say.

After running past a woman trying to lock the doors at the Fred Meyer at Sprague Avenue and Sullivan Road about 11 p.m., the teens headed for the beer aisle and grabbed a couple of cases. One hit the woman in the chest as they ran out the door, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Police arrived to find an employee chasing the suspects near Sprague and Progress. Makia K. Lund complied with officers and was arrested, but Albert J. Reeves III, of Veradale, kicked another officer while boasting that “he was the member of a gang that owned Spokane,” according to a news release. Officers arrested Reeves and the third suspect, Andrew J. Price, who they say was lying in the snow encouraging Reeves to fight the officers.

“We’re seeing more and more of this,” said police spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. “Instead of just dropping the beer and running, they throw the beer at the car, they hit the clerk, they try to run down an employee with their car, and that makes it a robbery, a felony.”

The three face felony charges of first-degree robbery and were booked into the Spokane County Jail. Reeves was also arrested on a third-degree assault charge, and Price was arrested on charges of obstructing police.


Homeless Coalition seeking volunteers

The Spokane Homeless Coalition’s fourth annual count of the homeless will take place Jan. 29.

The group needs volunteers to help collect information at sites set up at various nonprofit organizations.

The annual count is a mandatory requirement to access state funds for programs that reduce homelessness. Interested volunteers should contact Spokane’s Human Services Department by Monday at (509) 625-6130.

Volunteer orientation is scheduled for next Friday, with data collection training Jan. 22.

Coeur d’Alene

Police say motorist threatened driver

A road rage incident Coeur d’Alene police say was triggered by a motorist changing lanes quickly to avoid a snow berm could land a man in jail on an aggravated assault charge.

Two detectives spent Thursday looking for a Coeur d’Alene man witnesses say followed another driver after the driver quickly merged in front of him on northbound Government Way near Kathleen Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

The driver told police that when he shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of apology, the man pulled out a knife, held it up to his own neck, then pointed it at the driver, according to a police report.

The suspect followed the driver to a Hanley Avenue business, where he got out of his Jeep and ran at the driver, who had exited his vehicle to ask a friend for help. The suspect cursed at the driver and threatened to cut him with a hatchet, according to police.

The suspect left as the driver’s friend called 911. Police tracked the Jeep’s license plate to a Coeur d’Alene man but hadn’t located him as of Thursday evening, said Sgt. Christie Wood.


Forest Service can sell old station

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service can sell a former ranger station in Twisp, denying a request by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to block the sale.

The tribe had argued that the property about 60 miles north of Wenatchee was a historical fishing and gathering spot for some tribal bands.

U.S. District Judge Lonny R. Suko in Yakima dismissed the case Monday.

The Forest Service’s Methow Valley Ranger District planned to sell 6 acres and 17 buildings. The site served as the Twisp ranger station until offices were consolidated with the Winthrop ranger station.

The Twisp Public Development Authority bid $1 million for the land. It was the only bidder.

Hutterites ordered to lower water

The Spokane Hutterite Brethren must begin lowering the water behind an earthen dam on a tributary of Deep Creek to prevent flooding, Washington Department of Ecology officials said Thursday.

The dam near Reardan, which can store up to 13 million gallons of water, was built without permits. The Hutterite community has been working with the state to bring the dam into compliance with safety regulations.

Snowpack in the 600-acre watershed above the dam has renewed concerns about flooding, said Doug Johnson, Ecology’s dam safety engineer. If the warming trend continues, enough snow could melt to fill the reservoir and send water over the dam’s unlined spillway.

The department issued a regulatory order to the Hutterite Brethren, requiring the community to immediately pump or siphon 4 feet of water out of the reservoir, which would bring the water level to 16 feet below the dam’s crest. The reservoir must stay at that level until all dam safety deficiencies are resolved, Ecology officials said.

Spokane County

Sex offender moves into county

A level 3 sex offender recently released from prison has moved to the 100 block of North Rambo Road on the west side of Spokane County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Charles Emerson Leroy Smith, 37, is under Washington Department of Corrections supervision for three to four years after being released from prison, where he’d been since August for failing to register as a sex offender.

Smith was convicted of third-degree child molestation in 1992, according to the Sheriff’s Office. His victim was a two-year-old girl he was baby-sitting, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and he was convicted of possession of child pornography in 1995.

Level 3 sex offenders are considered the most likely to reoffend. Smith is not wanted at this time, but the sheriff’s office wants the public to be aware of his presence.


Idaho group wants higher alcohol tax

A nonpartisan group is pushing Idaho lawmakers to raise the tax on beer and wine, saying the money should be put toward substance abuse treatment programs.

Keith Allred, executive director of The Common Interest, discussed the proposal Thursday at a legislative preview hosted by the Associated Press.

The state tax on beer, currently set at 15 cents per wholesale gallon, hasn’t been raised since 1961, Allred said, and the wine tax (currently 45 cents per gallon) hasn’t been raised since it was established in 1971. Distilled spirits are not taxed, because the state-run Idaho Liquor Dispensary already receives all profit from spirit sales.

Allred proposed hiking the beer tax to 52 cents per gallon and the wine tax to $1.56 per gallon, and using the additional $19 million raised by the hike to pay for substance abuse programs. That would likely reduce the state’s overcrowded prison population, he said, saving money that would be spent on building more prisons.


Cabin owners get break in lease hikes

The cost of leasing U.S. Forest Service land occupied by private cabins will rise only modestly this year, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said Thursday, offering stopgap relief to cabin owners braced for colossal increases tied to reappraisal of national forest parcels.

In challenging the big increases that loomed, cabin owners said a 2000 measure passed by Congress should have prevented steep hikes but missed the mark. Montana Democrat Jon Tester and several U.S. Senate colleagues last month asked Rey to suspend or delay higher fees for cabin sites in national forests around the country. Cabin owners range from “people of modest means who have had a cabin for three generations to (actor) Bruce Willis,” who has a cabin in Idaho, said Rey, head of the Forest Service.

“Some of these people are rich, some are not so rich,” Tester said Thursday.

The fee increases faced by cabin owners threatened to push some out of the forest getaways, Tester wrote Rey in a letter signed by Sens. Jon Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

Increases this year will be tied to inflation, Rey said in a telephone interview.

From staff and wire reports
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