Northwest Briefly: Public records committee calls for changes

OLYMPIA — Washington’s Sunshine Committee is sending its first pair of recommendations to the Legislature.

The panel of open-government experts said the public should know more about the finalists for top government jobs. But one member disagreed with that idea, arguing that fewer people will apply for top government jobs if their names might be released.

The committee also said the limits on child death studies should be narrower. As it stands, all child death review documents can be kept out of public view, even if there isn’t a privacy issue.

Anti-war graffiti sprayed on Capitol

Officials are cleaning up graffiti that was sprayed on the state Capitol overnight.

An anti-war message and an anarchists’ symbol were sprayed on a pillar above the Capitol steps and on the sandstone surrounding large metal entry doors.

The state Department of General Administration estimated the damage to be around $1,000.

Spokane: Crib death cases prompt warning

Health officials are concerned about a spike of nine sudden infant death syndrome cases since August in Spokane County.

The total number of crib death cases in the county was eight for last year, compared with two in 2006, and so far this year there have been five.

Julie Graham, a spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District, said most of the recent deaths have involved infants sharing beds with adults. The agency has issued a warning that babies are more safe in cribs and bassinets than in adult beds.

D.C.: Bush pardons Spokane man’s crime

A Spokane man was among the 15 people President Bush pardoned Tuesday.

Bush, who in addition commuted the prison sentence of another person, has been stingy about handing out such reprieves. With about nine months left in his administration, he has granted 157 pardons. That’s less than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents.

Most of those on Bush’s most recent pardon list were convicted of white-collar or drug offenses.

William L. Baker of Spokane was sentenced in 1980 to two years in prison for falsifying records.

Richland: Astronomers try to save observatory

A natural preservation plan is threatening the Rattlesnake Mountain observatory.

The Energy Department notified 12 agencies Friday to remove structures from the mountain northwest of Richland. Most are telecommunication towers, but one is the observatory of the Alliance for the Advancement of Science Through Astronomy.

The federal agency decided in 1999 to manage the mountain for natural preservation. Matt McCormick, the assistant cleanup manager at the Hanford nuclear reservation, said the agency is now moving to phase out uses that are inconsistent with preservation.

Alliance President Roy Gep­hard said that threatens the state’s largest astronomical observatory. He said there’s no money to move it or any other place to put it.

Tacoma: A slow start to reverse commute

A so-called “reverse commute” train to bring commuters to Tacoma is off to a slow start with riders.

Since the service began last fall, weekday ridership has grown to barely three dozen people on the southbound Sounder train from King County. That compares with more 500 commuters who take the first train in the morning from Tacoma to Seattle.

Officials said the Tacoma service also benefits Seattle commuters.

That’s because Sound Transit has room to park only four trains at a time in Tacoma, so the agency can operate a fifth northbound train in the morning as a turnaround after the southbound run.

Siblings arrested for 1978 killing of man

A brother and sister are being held in the disappearance and death of a man 30 years ago in the Tacoma area.

Pierce County sheriff’s detective Ed Troyer said the 54-year-old woman was arrested Monday at her home in Seattle. Her brother, a 59-year-old sex offender and manslaughter convict, was arrested Monday at a meeting with his probation officer.

Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Renee Ray Curtiss, 54, and Nicholas Louis Notaro, 59, during their Pierce County Superior Court arraignments in the 1978 death of Joseph Tarricone.

The case stems from the disappearance in 1978 of 53-year-old Joseph Tarricone, who owned a meat distribution company in Alaska. His remains were found June 4 by workers at a shopping center construction site in the Summit area near Puyallup.

Waitsburg: Pilot hurt in crop-duster crash

A pilot injured when his crop-duster plane crashed while landing at an airstrip near Waitsburg in Columbia County is expected to be OK.

Amber Woodworth, co- owner of Cropland Air Services of Dayton, says pilot Jon Easmon was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, where he was conscious and in stable condition.

Officials said a gust of wind flipped the 1976 Schweitzer Ag-Cat as it was landing Tuesday, destroying the plane.

It’s the second crop duster crash in the Palouse region in less than a week.

Tumwater: Counties get federal jobs grant

Several southwestern Washington counties will benefit from a $5 million work force initiative grant.

The federal Labor Department awarded the grant to the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council on Tuesday. The Pacific Mountain region comprises Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties.

The grant goes toward the development of long-term strategies that prepare workers for high-skill careers.

Alaska: Four die from home stabbings

Sitka police said four people have died after being stabbed.

The Sitka Daily Sentinel reported one person was arrested at the home where the victims were found Tuesday.

Police said three people were found dead inside the home. A fourth victim later died at a hospital.

Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt said they received a 911 call from a cell phone at 11:44 a.m. The caller said he was outside the home and told the dispatcher that there was a “guy outside stabbing people.”

The dispatcher said she could hear people screaming in the background.

Oregon: Some items returned after hoax

Deputies in southern Oregon said people who responded to a pair of hoax Internet ads are beginning to return Robert Salisbury’s belongings, which they took thinking the items were free.

On Saturday, a pair of fake ads on the Web site Craigslist said Salisbury was leaving his home in Jacksonville and his belongings were there for the taking. Dozens of people responded. Some even refused to give Salisbury his stuff back when he tried to stop them.

Associated Press

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