Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kristin Armstrong's Possible Return to the Olympics Hits Roadblock

Posted By on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 9:21 AM

  • Laurie Pearman
Only days after announcing  she was coming out of retirement in an effort to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics, two-time gold medalist Kristin Armstrong received a bit of disappointing news. 

After announcing her intentions to compete in next month's Pan Am Continental Road Championships in Mexico, Armstrong learned Friday the USA Cycling selection committee had rescinded a nomination for Armstrong to compete. Armstrong was nominated based a new format crafted by USA Cycling, but learned the criteria has changed.

"Like a lot of you, I just learned that this criteria for selection had changed recently, and now USA Cycling has decided to revert to their older criteria," Armstrong wrote April 17 on her website. "If under this 'new' criteria I am not selected, I will not only fully support USA Cycling's decision but more importantly, the athletes that will be representing the USA in Mexico."

Armstrong still has an opportunity to make the field at the U.S. Championships, scheduled for Saturday, May 23 in Tennessee. If successful, Armstrong could advance to the world championships in order to accumulate enough points to make next year's Olympic team.
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Prosecutors: Idaho Suspect Charged With Rape and Theft, Was Serial Liar

Posted By on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 9:03 AM

  • Spokane County Sheriff's Office
  • Michael McNearney Jr.
A long line of women in northern Idaho want justice for what they say was a long list of lies told by 24-year-old Michael McNearney Jr.

Among other things, prosecutors say, McNearney claimed the following:

-He was a U.S. Marine.
-He was a good friend to the local sheriff and judge.
-He was struggling with cancer.
-He was homeless and often slept on the beach of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
-He had, on several occasions, thousands of dollars in the bank.

None of it was true, according to prosecutors, adding McNearney stretched and often shattered the truth to get into the good graces of a string of women in Kootenai County.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports McNearney has been spending a lot of time in a Kootenai County courtroom in a lengthy probable cause hearing. Prosecutors said McNearney hustled thousands of dollars from the women. The Press reports at the conclusion of the hearing on April 17, the case was transferred to Idaho's First District Court where McNearney will face seven counts of felony rape in addition to grand theft.

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Video: Shrine Circus Met With Protests... Again

Posted By on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 8:56 AM

The Shrine Circus, which traditionally travels through Southern Idaho each summer with stops in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, brings more than a parade of animals—it also courts a fair amount of controversy.

KHQ-TV reports at the circus' latest stop in Spokane, Wash., this week, protesters said that many of the animals had been trained with bullhooks and live a life of fear and suffering.

"It's a horrible life," Lesley Johnson told KHQ-TV. "I feel so deeply for them."

But a circus spokesman insists they take "magnificent care" of the animals had no plans of getting rid of their star attractions.

Spokane, North Idaho News

It was a year ago when Boise Weekly met a group of Wood River Valley students at Hailey's Sage School who convinced the Ketchum City Council to approve an ordinance—the first of its kind for Idaho—banning exotic circus animals from performing in Ketchum.

"Quite often, the abuse happens behind the curtain and no one can film it. You can rarely get the evidence," 13-year-old Will Griffith told BW. "And if you try to call the police to report abuse, quite often, the circus is out of town by then."

In June of last year, a handful of protesters met the Shrine Circus when it came to Boise's CenturyLink Arena with signs that read, "Their pain, your shame," and "Elephants are abused."

"Lots of people don't know what goes on behind closed doors," protest organizer Lorraine Guptill, a Mountain Home store owner, told BW prior to the demonstration. "Every year we have a lot of people who say they're sorry they went in and they're never coming back."

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Idaho Assisted Living Facility, Targeted in Prior Investigation, Has License Reinstated

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:35 AM

A Wood River Valley assisted-living slammed for improper care—including not providing enough food to its infirm residents—has had its license reinstated.

In February, Idaho Mountain Express reported investigators had discovered several issues at the Safe Haven Home in Bellevue, including failure to properly administer medication, failure to keep accurate medical records and failure to maintain an appropriate infectious-control program when the facility ran out of cleaning supplies.

According to a Department of Health and Welfare document, one caregiver at the facility told investigators when the administrator was responsible for buying food during the summer months of 2014, "the food didn't make it here." Another caregiver told investigators the administrator did not shop for food for a 20-day period, and the caregiver ended up making rice and cream soup for the residents. Health and Welfare investigators concluded six of the seven residents dropped an average of 22 pounds in a period of 61 days.

The residents suffer from dementia, Parkinson's disease, cerebrovascular disease and other ailments, according to Health and Welfare.

This morning's  Mountain Express reports Safe Haven owners have received a letter from Health and Welfare officials stating a follow-up inspection in late March indicated all "core issue" deficiencies had been corrected. Safe Haven owners said they could "now be looking to fulfill a backlog of applications it has had for admitting new residents."
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Idaho Jobless Rate Drops Again, Now at 3.8 Percent

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM

Idaho's unemployment rate dipped .10 percent in March to its lowest level in seven years.

This morning, the Idaho Department of Labor reported another 5,400 Idahoans were added to Gem State payrolls in March, dropping the state's unemployment rate to 3.8 percent. Labor Department officials pointed to 1,000 new jobs in the construction industry; commercial transportation and the hospitality industries also saw increases in March. Overall, March's numbers represent the third largest one-month increase on record to boost the labor participation rate—the percentage of working-age adults with jobs or looking for work.

Seventeen counties had rates at or below the statewide rate: Fremont County, with 3.1 percent, had the lowest jobless rate; Adams County had the highest with 7.3 percent.

In the Treasure Valley, the Boise metro market (which includes Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell), registered a 4 percent unemployment rate, while the city of Boise was at 2.4 percent, the lowest of all major cities in Idaho.
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Lewiston Tribune: Whooping Cough Break-Out in Idaho County

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:16 AM

Health officials in central Idaho are pointing to families whose children haven't been vaccinated for a breakout of whooping cough.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports Megan Wilson, a nurse practitioner at St. Mary's Hospital in Cottonwood and Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino said several diagnoses of pertussis—whooping cough—have been confirmed. Two new cases were reported this week.

"We've had several positive cases here in our community, Wilson told the Tribune, adding the  outbreak was occurring in families with children who aren't vaccinated.

"Idaho County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the entire state," Wilson said. "There is this population in Idaho County [that reads and hears negative reports] that are not evidence-based, but a lot of people take that as gospel."

Health officials remind the public that pertussis is a highly communicable disease that is spread through the air.
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

UPDATE: Otter Vetoes Cannabis Oil Bill

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

UPDATE: April 16, 2015

After a long, emotional fight through the 2015 session of the Idaho Legislature where proponents of Senate Bill 1146aa ultimately secured passage of the measure which would provide a legal defense for parents of children who use cannabis oil for relief from severe epileptic seizures, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter vetoed the bill in the late afternoon hour of April 16, 2015.

The bill had been the subject of some of the most emotional testimony of the recently-wrapped legislative session and, on more than one occasions, the bill appeared to be dead. Yet proponents of the measure kept pushing on, until both the Idaho House and Senate agreed that it should become law.

But Otter, who had sent his top drug czar to testify against the bill during committee hearings, said "There were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solution in this bill to let it become law."

"Of course I sympathize with the heartbreaking dilemma facing some families trying to cope with the debilitating impacts of disease," wrote Otter with his veto. "[The bill] asks us to legalize the limited use of cannabidiol oil, contrary to federal law. And it asks us to look past the potential of misuse and abuse with criminal intent."

UPDATE: April 6, 2015

Monday afternoon, the Idaho House approved in a 39-30 vote the much-debated Senate Bill 1146aa, which provides a legal defense for parents, grandparents and guardians of children who suffer from severe epileptic seizures when they choose to use a non-psychotropic cannabidiol oil for relief.

"You're going to hear a lot about how the sky is falling if we do this," said sponsor Iona Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher when he introduced the measure to the House floor.

And indeed, opponents pushed back hard in a two-plus hour debate, saying that approval was a "slippery slope" toward legalization of marijuana. But the bill, otherwise known as "Alexis' Law," doesn't legalize anything. Instead, it allows parents and guardians of children who suffer from extreme seizures to formally talk with their physicians, almost always neurologists, about the possibility of using the oil for relief. To date, it has been illegal for Idaho doctors to consult with their patients regarding the oil.

Rexburg Republican Rep. Dell Raybould told a heartbreaking story about how his granddaughter had died in his wife's arms after suffering through seizures through most of her five years.

"She suffered these seizures time and time and time again,' said Raybould. "Had this product been available then, we would have done everything in the world to use it."

But Democratic Rep. John Rusche, a physician, said he would vote against the measure.

"We need to know what we're doing here," said Rusche. "And the scientific study on the use of this drug is sadly lacking."

Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker called the issue, "the most difficult of the session and I have to vote no."

But Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood, a former physician, said his yes vote "wasn't difficult for me at all. I'll sleep well tonight when I vote in favor of this."

Ultimately, Rusche was the only Democrat to join 29 Republicans in voting against the bill.

Monday's vote came less than one week after a stunning reversal from the Idaho House State Affairs Committee, which initially killed the measure in a tie vote but then picked the bill up again and passed it, sending it to the full House. The bill has already passed through the Idaho Senate and now it heads to the desk of Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter who has publicly voiced his opposition to the measure.

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Idaho Officials: 'Human Crisis,' 'Unintended Consequences' In Child Support Debacle

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 12:10 PM

Calling the recent debacle surrounding the failure of the Idaho Legislature to align Idaho with federal child support standards as a "human tragedy," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong confirmed Thursday morning that more than 150,000 letters would be sent to Idaho households that receive child support payments.

In effect, the letters warn that Idaho is at risk of not being able to collect and/or process non-voluntary child support.

Idaho has received a 60-day notice from federal officials, warning that the state needs to cure its child support enforcement problem, caused by a Idaho House committee's vote to kill a measure that would have brought Idaho in line with federal standards.

In a prepared statement on Thursday, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said there was still "unfinished business," indicating that he was laying the groundwork to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the outstanding crisis. Otter confirmed that Idaho has until June 12 or June 14 to come up with a solution, "otherwise we're going to suffer the unintended consequences."

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Foothills Slaying Suspect Appears in Ada County Court

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 12:06 PM

Adam Michael Dees is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three felony counts of grand theft, three counts of forgery and one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit - ADA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Ada County Sheriff's Office
  • Adam Michael Dees is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three felony counts of grand theft, three counts of forgery and one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit
A Nampa man, charged with the slaying of three adults in their Foothills home, appeared in an Ada County courtroom Thursday morning, but his attorneys asked for four more weeks before their client issues a plea to three counts of first-degree murder.

Adam Michael Dees, 22, is charged with the March killings of 80-year-old Ted Welp; his 77-year-old wife, Elaine; and their 52-year-old son, Tom. According to the indictment, Tom Welp had been stabbed in the neck and additional weapons used in the crime were a 9 mm handgun and baseball bat. It is believed that the Welps were killed on March 8 or March 9.

Dees was taken into custody shortly after the deaths for allegedly using the Welp family's credit cards at a series  of local stores.

If convicted, Dees faces the possibility of being put to death or spending the rest of his days in prison.

Fourth District Court Judge Samuel Hoagland agreed that Dees could return to court on Thursday, May 14 to enter a plea.
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Lewiston Tribune: Amazing Rescue as Vehicle Rolls To Edge of Lewiston Cliff

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 9:47 AM

29-year-old Jason Warnock of Lewiston pulls 23-year-old Mathew Sitko of Lewiston from an SUV Wednesday after smashing the window with a rock. - BARRY KOUGH
  • Barry Kough
  • 29-year-old Jason Warnock of Lewiston pulls 23-year-old Mathew Sitko of Lewiston from an SUV Wednesday after smashing the window with a rock.
UPDATE:  April 16, 2015  1 p.m.

Lewiston Police have identified the hero who pulled a driver from an SUV April 15, as the vehicle was dangling from the edge of a canyon.

It was 29-year-old Jason Warnock of Lewiston who appeared on the scene, rescued the driver of the vehicle, and left.  Police have since identified Warnock and thanked him for his heroic efforts.

ORIGINAL POST: April 16, 2015  9 a.m.

Law enforcement officials say they still don't know the name of the hero who rescued a man from a vehicle dangling off the edge of a Lewiston canyon April 15.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports on the incident with an amazing photo showing the unidentified man pulling a Lewiston driver from the car, which perilously teetered over the lip of Lewiston's Bryden Canyon.

The driver, 23-year-old Matthew Sitko, says the man probably saved his life. Police say Sitko lost control of his GMC Yukon in the morning hours of April 15 before crashing through a yard and two terraces and rolling toward the canyon's edge.

Witnesses said the man broke the passenger side window of Sitko's vehicle and pulled Sitko from the wreck. Sitko was transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries and the hero slipped into obscurity... at least until friends and neighbors identify him to the press.

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