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Regional News June 18

WA Regional News 4.500A Centralia man imprisoned at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell is accused of leading a drug trafficking operation from behind bars. The Chronicle reports 30-year-old Forrest E. Amos was the focus of a six-month investigation involving local, state and federal agencies that resulted in arrests or charges referred Monday against Amos and 20 other people in King, Thurston, Lewis and Cowlitz counties.

Centralia Sgt. Jim Shannon said Amos will face a number of drug-related charges. He's accused of using personal information from other inmates to set up false phone lines and make collect calls to arrange sales of pain pills and marijuana. He's also accused of working to smuggle drugs into prison.


Montesano Fires Public Works Employee
The city of Montesano fired a public works employee Russ Burke on Monday over allegations involving missing paint and his private street striping business. KBKW reports an outside investigation found the city lost hundreds of gallons of paint and a paint sprayer worth $6,000 was sold as surplus for $25 to one of Burke's employees. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges. Burke has filed a $400,000 claim for damages against the city.


Army Corps. Won't Do Overall Study Of Coal exports
An official with the Army Corps of Engineers told a Congressional committee Tuesday it doesn't plan a broad environmental study on exporting coal from the Western United States. Environmentalists and elected officials in Washington, Oregon and Montana have called on the federal government to look at the cumulative effects of shipping millions of tons of coal via train from Montana and Wyoming to ports on the West Coast. They worry about increased pollution from coal dust, traffic congestion and climate change impacts from burning the fuel. The agency previously decided to do more limited studies at two ports in Washington state: Gateway Pacific Terminal near Bellingham and Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview. Federal officials have not decided whether to do a study on a terminal at Port of Morrow, Ore.


Drone Aircraft To Study Rabbit Habitat
A group of researchers will use an unmanned aircraft small enough to be launched by hand to study potential pygmy rabbit habitats in eastern and central Idaho. Researchers from the University of Idaho, Washington State and Boise State will perform the study from June 24-30. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports the electric drone aircraft will be controlled from the ground as it flies over sagebrush in Lemhi and Blaine counties. It will take high-resolution photos to help researchers better understand the relationship between sagebrush and pygmy rabbits. The data could help researchers find the best places to reintroduce captive-bred rabbits. The National Science Foundation awarded each university around $330,000 to take part in the study.


Grays Harbor Commissioners Settle With Judges
Grays Harbor County commissioners agreed Monday to settle a year-and-a-half long dispute and litigation with superior court judges over funding and security issues. KBKW reports the agreement restores funding cut from the court budget earlier this year, splits security costs with the judges and sets a timetable for construction of a third courtroom. The lawsuit over the court funding issues cost taxpayers $628,000.


 Wake-Up Call: Starbucks To Post Calorie Counts
Starbucks has a new way to wake up its customers: showing the calories in its drinks. The Seattle-based coffee chain says it will start posting calorie counts on menu boards nationwide next week, ahead of a federal regulation that would require it to do so. Calorie counts on menus are already required in some parts of the country, including New York City. But starting June 25, Starbucks says customers at its more than 11,000 U.S. locations will be able to see that there are 300 calories in a small caramel Frappuccino and 230 calories in a small Iced Caffe Mocha. Pastry cases will also show calorie information, in case customers want to opt for a Morning Bun (350 calories) instead of a blueberry scone (460 calories).


Boeing Launches Plans For Longer 787 Jet
Boeing Corp. is starting work on a stretched-out version of its popular 787 Dreamliner jet, in the hope of reigniting interest in the aircraft after battery-related problems. Boeing announced the formal launch of its 787-10 program at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday and says it already has commitments from several customers, including United Airlines. The original 787 can seat between 210 and 250 passengers. Boeing is already working on a longer version, the 787-9, that would hold between 250 and 290 passengers, while the 787-10 would seat between 300 and 330. The air show is a platform for the race for sales between Boeing and its European rival Airbus, which is hoping that the event spark interest in its A350, its long-haul wide-body rival to the 787.


Tacoma Zoo's Leopard Cub Now On Public Exhibit
A clouded leopard cub born May 1 at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma is now on public exhibit. Zookeepers named it Tien (TEE'-en), a Thai word with a connotation of strength and stability. The News Tribune reports the cub weighed a half-pound when born and now weighs 4 pounds. The public can see it at daily 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. feedings. Clouded leopards are native to Southeast Asia forests.They are an endangered species.

 June 18, 2013/AP