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NW today: Teen admits ‘Chain Saw Chicken’ vandalism

Compiled from wire reports
What’s news in the Northwest today:

CLACKAMAS, Ore. — A 13-year-old Sandy-area boy has admitted cutting down trees on Highway 26 in vandalism local residents blamed on the “chain saw chicken.” The teen pleaded guilty in Clackamas County court Wednesday to criminal trespassing. He also pleaded no contest to recklessly endangering another person. Trees and power poles were brought down in several incidents since last December. They caused two collisions with minor injuries. One incident of vandalism in April cut power to 500 customers. Residents named the vandal the “chain saw chicken” because he struck under cover of darkness.

Vancouver schools testing iPods in some classes
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Some Vancouver schools are using iPod Touch devices in class. They are used for drills, short video lessons or to provide Internet access to students who may lack technology at home. The school district used federal and state grants to cover costs of about $10,500 per class. The iPods are checked out to students only during class hours. The iPods are being used by several dozen math students at Vancouver High School and four classes of third-grade students at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

Strapped schools seek creative ways to raise cash
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Financially strapped schools are increasingly having to rely on fundraising to meet budget gaps. But with businesses and families also pinched, striking a balance between seeking help and over-asking is critical. Instead of calling businesses or hawking products, some Idaho principals and parent-teacher organizations are opting for carnivals, silent auctions and other activities to raise cash. Ethel Boyes Elementary School Principal Diana Molino sat on the school roof Oct. 22 in pink pajamas and a bathrobe to reward students for raising more than $7,000 for the school’s computer lab.

Judge to side with Idaho teacher over paycheck
NAMPA, Idaho — A judge plans to rule in favor of an Idaho teacher who filed a claim against the now-defunct Nampa Classical Academy charter school, saying she never received her August paycheck. Roma Blinn filed a small claims court action against the school in Canyon County’s magistrate court last month, saying she was owed $5,000 for the last month of her teaching contract and damages. Judge Brian Lee says he would rule in favor of Blinn in a written decision next week, but first needs to determine whether she is entitled to the full amount of restitution she is seeking in her claim.

Schweitzer gives position on ballot initiatives
HELENA, Mont. — Gov. Brian Schweitzer says he supports a cap on so-called payday loans. But he opposes a constitutional initiative to prohibit certain real-estate taxes and a call to convene a new constitutional convention. The Democratic governor voted Thursday ahead of the election Tuesday. Before doing so, he told the Lee Newspapers State Bureau his positions on the 2010 ballot initiatives. He says Montana’s constitution is “pretty good” and calling a convention to change it would be a “dumb idea.” He says deciding on real estate taxes should be left to the Legislature. But he says interest rates on payday loans should be capped at 36 percent.

Snow allows early opening for Timberline Lodge
GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. — Skiers and snowboarders are getting an early start at Timberline Lodge. Friday’s opening is the fourth season opener before Halloween in the past 50 years at Mount Hood. Last weekend’s storm dumped three feet of snow on the slopes.

Grant County may outlaw gang hand gestures
EPHRATA, Wash. — Grant County commissioners may outlaw gang hand gestures. The Columbia Basin Herald reports the commission is considering a disorderly conduct ordinance to ban gestures, words or signs that provoke assault. Quincy Mayor Jim Hemberry and police Chief Richard Ackerman asked for the ordinance. They say the flashing of gang hand signs often leads to violence.

Oregon offers website for domestic violence victims
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has created a new website with information to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking in the workplace. The website offers details about support services as well as state laws on employment rights for victims. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian noted that Oregon law allows victims to take reasonable unpaid leave from work if necessary for safety. The new website is

Police: 2 die in wrong-way crash on I-84
JEROME, Idaho — State police say two people are dead after a wrong-way driver caused two separate crashes on Interstate 84. The crashes occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday near Bliss. Police say 59-year-old Gabriel Silva of Buhl was driving the wrong way in his pickup truck in the westbound lanes and slammed head-on into a car driven by 21-year-old Shantay Henson of Pocatello. Police say both Silva and Henson died in the crash. Silva nearly crashed five miles before that when 33-year-old Harold Carroll of Ontario, Ore., was forced to veer off the road to avoid Silva’s vehicle. Police say Carroll’s vehicle rolled and he sustained non-life threatening injuries. Police say alcohol is suspected to be a factor.

Oregon brothers sentenced in $1.3M tax fraud scheme
PORTLAND — An Oregon man was sentenced to five years in federal prison and his brother ordered to serve probation for their roles in a $1.3 million tax fraud scheme that included gambling with stolen money. Federal prosecutors said 47-year-old Lee Howlett was sentenced to the prison term and ordered to pay $754,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, which had previously seized $285,000 from his bank accounts. Prosecutors said Lee Howlett returned more than $340,000 but that money came from refunds for phony corporate tax returns and he used hundreds of thousands of dollars of the stolen money to gamble in Oregon and Las Vegas. His 49-year-old brother, Todd Howlett, was sentenced to five years on probation for helping to carry out the scheme.

Driver arrested after 5 pedestrians hit in Seattle
SEATTLE — Police say the woman driving a pickup truck that struck five pedestrians in Seattle appeared to be impaired by alcohol or drugs and was arrested for investigation of vehicular assault. One of the people struck Thursday night appeared to be critically injured. She’s at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Police expect the others to recover from their injuries. The pedestrians were crossing a street after a concert in the Sodo neighborhood.

Yakima deputy accused of sexual assault on duty
YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima County sheriff’s deputy is accused of sexually assaulting a woman a gunpoint while he was on duty. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports 37-year-old Deputy Sean Moore was arrested Wednesday and appeared Thursday in court where he was ordered held on $500,000 bail for investigation of assault and rape charges. A police report says Moore and the woman are well known to each other. He is accused of assaulting her Sunday after he found another man at her home.

Ferndale man pleads guilty in goat sex case
FERNDALE, Wash. — A Ferndale man accused of sexually abusing a goat pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. The Bellingham Herald reports the 27-year-old man, Gary Veldhuizen, was sentenced Monday to a month in the Whatcom County Jail. He was arrested by sheriff’s deputies in May after a relative caught him having sex with the animal.

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