Tenino brothers arrested in death of 71-year-old

OLYMPIA – Two brothers from Tenino have been arrested in the slaying of a 71-year-old man who was beaten to death with hammers, Thurston County authorities say.

Terry Allen Durga, 42, and Donald Ray Durga, 36, were being held in the Thurston County Jail following their arrests for investigation of first-degree murder. Cash-only bail was set at $1 million each on Friday.

The victim – Smiley E. Farr – had been living in an old school bus near a house between Tenino and Grand Mound.

The brothers, who knew Farr, went to his home last Sunday to rob him, said Capt. Dan Kimball of the sheriff’s office. After the attack, less than $1,000 was taken from the victim’s wallet, he said.

The brothers spent the money at a casino later that day, Kimball said.

Vehicular homicide: A bench warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old Pullman man who failed to appear for a pretrial hearing on charges filed in the deaths of three Washington State University students in a car wreck last summer. Frederick David Russell is charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault in the June 4 accident on the Moscow-Pullman highway. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 5 in Whitman County Superior Court. Judge David Frazier issued the bench warrant Friday after Russell failed to show up for the hearing. The warrant orders law enforcement agencies to hold Russell without bail. Killed in the accident were WSU seniors Branden Clements, Stacy Morrow and Ryan Sorenson, all 21. Three other WSU students were critically injured in the crash. Russell, also a WSU student, suffered minor injuries.

Expansion on hold: Crystal Mountain Ski Area will have to wait until spring for a decision from the U.S. Forest Service on its $50 million expansion plan. The resort owner, Boyne USA, wants to construct a 100-passenger tram that runs to the top of Crystal Mountain, in addition to a 100-room hotel conference center, more restaurants and parking and ski lifts. The company spent $2.4 million on a draft environmental impact statement that examines six alternatives. The Forest Service has recommended Alternative 6, which allows Boyne between 90 percent and 95 percent of what it wants. The public-comment period ends Wednesday. Larry Donovan, project leader for the Forest Service, says the review has drawn 600 responses, mostly from individuals. More may come in before the deadline from environmental groups, he said.

Logging industry layoffs: Logging equipment maker Madill Corp. has announced it will shut down its manufacturing operations at the Port of Kalama because of a slump in the timber industry and the nationwide economic downturn. The company laid off eight of its 60 employees on Friday, and more layoffs will follow as production orders are filled, Madill controller Mike Pang said. Madill will continue to manufacture equipment at its plant in Nanaimo, British Columbia. It will maintain its sales and service departments at the Port of Kalama, where it has been since 1977, and at its office in Eugene, Ore.

Risk of sabotage?: The Sept. 11 attacks have the Army thinking of moving a stockpile of 2,635 containers of mustard agent at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. The mustard agent, which accounts for 63 percent of the site’s chemical agents, has been kept in a shed in a secure area. “What I can say is that question has arisen, certainly after Sept. 11,” depot spokeswoman Mary Binder said when asked if the agent was being moved to earthen bunkers. The Army has long considered the risk of sabotage or accident. Following Sept. 11, Binder said the Army has been revisiting worst-case scenarios. According to a depot fact sheet, the agent is stored in containers about the size of a household water heater. The liquid freezes at 57 degrees, so for much of the year it is solid. But if exposed to air, it can turn into a colorless vapor with an odor of garlic or mustard. The agent tends to hug the ground when released, and strong winds cause it to evaporate more rapidly. It causes burning or stinging and sometimes blisters to eyes, lungs and inside the mouth and nose. In high concentrations, it can cause skin cancer or lung failure or cancer.

Lights out: Under orders to cut energy costs, the Oregon Transportation Department has begun turning off some street lights along freeways. Most of the darkened lights will be at interchanges and along straight stretches of freeway, transportation officials said Friday. Lights will remain on in areas with sharp curves, at the top of exit ramps and where lanes merge. Ed Fischer, a transportation engineer, said the department studied crash data to ensure that lights remain on along dangerous stretches and that officials would closely monitor accidents in unlit areas for any increases. The plan is to leave the lights off for two years and then evaluate crash data before deciding whether to make the dimming permanent, officials said. Fischer said motorists may not even notice the turned-off lights, which have been dark in some Eastern Oregon areas for months. He said he had hoped to make all the changes by this summer, but some weren’t started until recently because other projects had a higher priority.

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