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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Man denies plot against witness

From Wire Reports

KENNEWICK – A man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to hire a hit man to kill a key witness in his drug trial.

Soloman Luke Swanson, 32, of Kennewick, is accused of promising to pay an acquaintance up to $4,000 to kill the woman. Court documents say she was a confidential informant sent into Swanson’s home to buy drugs.

Swanson entered the plea Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court.

Swanson faces trial Jan. 25 on five counts of delivery of methamphetamine and one count of possession of meth with intent to manufacture or deliver. He was out on bail when he was arrested last month for investigation of conspiracy to commit murder. A Feb. 22 trial date has been set in that case and on an unrelated drug charge.

Doctors amputate hunter’s hand

LEWISTON – Doctors were forced to amputate an Idaho hunter’s hand after his shotgun accidentally exploded on Christmas Day, family members said earlier this week.

The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office says Shawn Crea, of Bellevue, was bird hunting with companions near state Highway 7 in North Idaho when he fired his Remington firearm and the gun exploded.

Crea’s left hand was severely injured during the blast. Lu Crea said her brother-in-law had hoped to lose only a few fingers, but doctors could not save any part of his hand.

The Sheriff’s Office said the gun may have exploded because of an improperly hand-loaded shell.

Judge backs city on golf course bid

LEWISTON – A judge has sided with Lewiston officials who didn’t pick the lowest bidder when awarding a contract for construction of a new irrigation system at a city golf course.

Second District Judge Jeff Brudie removed a temporary injunction preventing the city from signing a nearly-$1 million contract with an out-of-state company that was the second-lowest bidder, in a ruling earlier this week.

Brudie said city officials were not obligated to pick the Idaho-based Hillside Landscape Construction, which bid $868,380 on the project at Bryden Canyon Golf Course, because of the lower price and ignore other qualifications.

The city plans to move forward with Nebraska-based Landscapes Unlimited, which bid $949,000 on the project.

Toddler killed in crash on bridge

HELENA – Police say a toddler was killed after a northern Montana woman lost control of her vehicle while traveling on U.S. Highway 2 and crashed into a guardrail.

The Montana Highway Patrol said the 39-year-old Harlem woman was traveling with four of her children Thursday when the vehicle crashed while crossing the Milk River bridge at about 10:43 a.m.

A 2-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene. The mother and her three other children were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities did not immediately identify the driver or any of her children. Police say none of the passengers were wearing seat belts and speed was a factor in the crash on the snowpacked road.

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