Northwest News Network

The Associated Press

GRAHAM, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say Josh Powell planned the deadly house fire that killed him and his young sons for some time, dropping toys at charities and sending final emails to multiple acquaintances.

Powell, the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, died along with his children Sunday.

Duck fans who went to bed in a panic Sunday day night awoke Monday to learn that University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly has turned down an offer to coach in the NFL. He will remain at the U of O.

Citing “unfinished business” at the University of Oregon, Chip Kelly has rejected an offer to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to stay and coach the Ducks.

According to U of O athletic director Rob Mullens this means Kelly wants to “continue to build this program.” Mullens said Monday he expected high level interest in Oregon coaches as an indicator of the school’s success.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In Olympia, snow and ice-laden tree branches are down on the capitol campus. On the west side of town, downed power lines made several roads impassable.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state lawmakers begin their 2012 session with no agreement in sight for how to solve major budget shortfall.

In the House of Representatives Monday, leaders from both parties laid out different visions for how they would balance the budget.

That phone call can wait, especially if you are driving, said the National Transportation Board Tuesday. In Washington, using a hand-held phone while driving became a first offense in 2010.

The National Transportation Board asks each state to ban the use of electronic devices while driving, like cell phones or mp3 players. The board thinks reducing the use of hand-held devices will reduce the amount of collisions.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington added more than 12,000 jobs in November. That drops the state unemployment rate to 8.7 percent.

In fact, employment statistics released Wednesday show that job growth has reached a four-year high in Washington.

The unemployment rate dropped 0-point-4 percent from the previous month. At 9-point-1 percent, it’s still half a percentage point higher than the national average.
Oregon’s drop in unemployment is good news, but state employment economist, Nick Beleiciks, warned people not to get too excited.

Nick Beleiciks: "It's just a one month change so far, which is very welcome after months and months of no change in the unemployment rate. So I think we're not ready to celebrate because of one month change, but it's certainly in the right direction."

A national poll released Monday shows Latinos are unhappy with both major political parties. The poll posed several questions to Latino registered voters about their attitudes toward candidates and the 2012 election.

BlueTurf / Flickr

Boise State University’s football program joins the Big East in 2013. That’s the official word from league and university officials today .

The U.S. Postal Service is moving forward with plans to close 252 processing facilities, end next-day mail service, and restrict service to rural areas.

Doctor Manya Helman runs a small clinic in a Salem office building. After 20 years in practice, she recently decided not to accept insurance payments anymore.

Manya Helman: "I'm actually enjoying practicing medicine for the first time since I started practice."
She says she can take as much time as she wants with a patient and her business doesn't have to deal with all the paperwork.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This holiday shopping season, buying online is bigger than ever. That’s got Congress taking a new look at an old fight: Internet sales tax.

One Oregon lawmaker – and Washington's state online giant – are front-and-center in the debate.

BOISE – Washington State’s move to privatize liquor sales next year could have repercussions on Idaho’s revenues. That’s according to Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluation.

Analyst Jared Tatro of Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluation says high prices for liquor in Washington drive bargain seekers to Idaho.

But privatization may change that.

“If Washington prices are reduced to the point where residents stop coming over, what we’re going to see is, for example, if it’s a 10 percent drop in sales, that’s a reduction in $3.5 million in profit,” Tatro says.

The University of Oregon Statutory Faculty formally condemned the State Board of Higher Education Wednesday for firing President Richard Lariviere. The statutory faculty consists of tenured and non-tenured professors. Students, staff and members of the public also attended the special meeting.

EUGENE, Ore. - At a special meeting of the University of Oregon faculty Wednesday, the State Board of Higher Education and Chancellor George Pernstiener were blasted for firing U of O president Richard Lariviere. Lariviere got a standing ovation from about one thousand faculty and students when he walked into Mac Court.

Sounding choked up, Lariviere spoke very briefly before the statutory faculty assembly, transferring his authority to Professor Robert Kyr, head of the U of O Senate.

Lariviere: "And to say thank you, I love you, thank you."

SPOKANE, WA - Spokane County could have another casino if all goes as planned for the Spokane Tribe of Indians. The Spokane Tribe wants to build on 145 acres of ancestral land in Airway Heights, but they must pass several levels of approval first, including that of wary public citizens.

The Spokane tribe created The Spokane Tribe Economic Project, STEP for short, in order to bring an economic boost to their tribe and community.

Sam Gehrke / Northwest News Network

Hundreds of students and faculty crowded together on the University of Oregon campus Tuesday to express their anger and frustration over the firing of President Richard Lariviere.

"The people, united, will never be divided."

Last night, the Oregon board of higher education, led by Chancellor George Pernsteiner, gave president Lariviere his "30-day notice" sparking outrage among the university community.

We've all experienced it.

You're going somewhere busy so there's a long tail-back at the exit. You dutifully take your place at the back of the line, only to watch other drivers zip-up to the front, and squeeze in at the last moment.
State Police Lieutenant Greg Hastings, says it's dangerous and that troopers issued dozens of $142 dollar citations hours after Thanksgiving dinner was finished.

High winds and sheets of rain are causing problems along the coast and some of Oregon's highways Tuesday.
Trees have been blown down along Highway 18 in Polk County -- at the east end of the Van Duzer Corridor.
Lou Torres of the Oregon Department of Transportation says the road is closed.

Residents who live on Highway 36 west of Eugene are waiting for the results of a Pesticide Exposure Investigation by the state of Oregon. They believe herbicide spraying by the timber industry is causing health issues in their communities.

For years, residents near Blachly and Triangle Lake have complained of pesticide drift from clear-cut sprays. But it wasn’t until last spring that they caught the attention of the state. In independent biological testing, more than 30 people from the area tested positive for the common timber industry herbicides Atrazine and 2,4,D.

Sugar beet seed is a rare bright spot for struggling grass-seed farmers. Farmer John Reerslev of Junction City says the GMO product provides a safe way to control weeds.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture held a hearing to consider the possible deregulation of biotech sugar beets, developed by agribusiness giant Monsanto.

"Hybrid sugar beet seed has always been the highest per acre net return on our farm. I had 120 acres two years ago on 6 percent of our land, but it was valued at 25 percent of our income. It’s a very important rotational crop," Reerslev said.

Convicted murderer Paul Ezra Rhoades died by lethal injection Friday morning. His death marks the first time in 17 years Idaho has held an execution. In his last remarks, Rhoades did not take full responsibility for the three murders he was charged with.

In his final statement, Paul Rhoades took partial responsibility for the murder of Susan Michelbacher. He said he was sorry for the part he played in her death.

Rhoades told the families of Nolan Haddon and Stacy Baldwin that they have to keep looking for their killer.


Seventeen people, including one juvenile, were arrested Thursday in downtown Eugene as part of what police say was non-violent civil disobedience.

Nearly 70,000 people in Idaho don’t have jobs. That’s according to estimates from the Idaho Department of Labor. That figure doesn’t take into account the thousands of people who are underemployed or who’ve given up the search.

Justy Thomas was 34 years old then, and like so many in her situation, was at a crossroads. When Thomas lost her job four years ago she decided to college.

Thomas: "I wanted to do a reset. I wanted to change my career"

She says going to college also seemed like a necessity.

Derin / Flickr

This month, some Alaska Airlines flights will be flying on used cooking oil as they travel from Seattle to Portland and Washington D.C.

Boise, ID - Idaho’s Board of Education voted Thursday that students will have to take two online courses to graduate high school. The requirement is unique in the nation. Education Board spokesman Mark Browning says there is one more step.

Mark Browning- “The legislature will get the opportunity to review the rule in January. If and when the legislature approves of it, then it becomes a permanent rule. And should they choose to reject it then we would have to start over but for right now it is in place, it’s done.”

SALEM, Ore. - Earlier this week Bank of America backed down on a five dollar monthly fee for debit card users. That gives consumer groups hope that similar fee relief could come to people who receive benefits by a reloadable cash card.

So far, just one apple orchard in Washington has taken up the state's offer for inmates to help with the harvest. That’s despite a severe worker shortage that has many growers facing big losses.

This week, McDougall and Sons orchard near Wenatchee put more than a hundred inmates to work. They're from a minimum security work camp near Forks.

The orchard pays the state $22 an hour per worker. That covers costs for housing, transportation and other expenses. The inmates are paid minimum wage.

If you’ve ever wondered why your health insurance rate has gone up, that information is now public. Washington State’s Office of Insurance Commissioner has a new website that can help explain that.

Whenever an insurance company wants to raise rates for individual or small group plans, the Insurance Commissioner's Office reviews those requests. In the past, the agency could approve or reject the new rates, but it couldn't release any information behind the decision.