Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part one, with part two set to appear in Sunday’s Tribune.
COUNCIL, Idaho — The man accused of firing on deputies near New Meadows on March 29 pleaded innocent May 15 to all six charges stemming from the incident.
William “Bill” James, 24, of Cambridge, entered the pleas before 3rd District Judge Christopher Nye during his district court arraignment at the Adams County Courthouse in Council. Nye set a jury trial to begin Dec. 18.
James is facing two counts of attempted murder on law enforcement officers, two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of assault with intent to commit a serious felony.
If found guilty, those charges could net James as much as 80 years in prison, Nye said.
James will appear in court again Thursday in Council at 11 a.m. for a hearing for two more felony charges he received after allegedly damaging the ceiling in his cell at the Adams County Jail on April 20 during what prosecutors said was an attempted escape.
Those charges could add as much as 10 years to James’ sentence and another $60,000 in fines.
James is accused of leading police on a five-day manhunt starting on March 29 after he allegedly fired dozens of shots from a semi-automatic rifle at two Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Randall Benavides and Nikki Sauerland.
Benavides and Sauerland were responding to a report that James was in violation of a protection order by being on a woman’s property about 3 miles east of New Meadows.
Neither deputy saw or made contact with the suspect prior to him firing a barrage of shots toward them and pinning them down in cover behind their patrol cars.
Four bystanders, including two children, were near the deputies when the shooting began, Benavides and Sauerland testified during a hearing April 29.
The suspect fled the scene after off-duty Idaho Fish and Game Officer Randy Martinez, who happened to be across the street at a friend’s house when the shooting started, returned fire with his pistol.
James was captured by the police after midnight April 4 when he was again reported to be on the woman’s property.
— Drew Dodson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday
Temporary gazebos coming to Kamiah city park this summer
KAMIAH — The city of Kamiah agreed to spend upward of $6,000 on temporary gazebos in lieu of constructing a permanent barbecue pit at Riverfront Park.
The former barbecue pit was removed to make way for a new structure, but city officials decided to rethink the project. Complications came to light when the concrete pad was examined and was found to have crumbling edges and was not level.
Councilor Dan Millward said his intention had been to build a new structure over the old cement pad. Additional complications of electrical and water lines buried on the east and west sides of the slab make it “impossible to dig any holes there and do it safely,” Millward said at a May 13 city council meeting.
He reported researching metal structures to place over the pad as well as 10-foot by 12-foot gazebos from a big box store, but worried about their durability.
“I would rather try to build something out of wood even though metal would last longer,” Millward said. He obtained a quote of $22,000 to have a 20-foot by 40-foot structure erected, which is beyond the city’s budget.
In retrospect, Millward said there were many things the council should have considered when addressing the project. For example, the barbecue pit has some overlapping issues with camping at the park.
Councilor Stephen Rowe talked about purchasing two gazebos that could potentially make it through this season and next season if maintained.
“I think that would be the better way to go, where we can budget and allocate funds later on to build a solid structure and a more permanent structure that would last the years we would need it to,” he added.
The gist was to place two gazebos on the pad and a third added in the corner of the park that could also be rented.
Millward said the gazebos could probably be unbolted and moved to Dupont Park if desired.
The council passed a motion to purchase up to three gazebos for $6,000 and have them installed by July 1.
— Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress (Kamiah), Thursday
Frontier Days appearance by rock band Chicago pushed to 2021
WALLA WALLA — After thorough deliberation, the American rock band Chicago’s performance, slated for this year’s Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days event, will be rescheduled for 2021 instead.
The Walla Walla County Commission and the Frontier Days Board and management have cooperated with the band to reschedule the performance for Sept. 1, 2021.
“While we are saddened to not hold the Chicago concert this year, we are very pleased Chicago will keep their commitment with us for the future date,” said Travis Locke, Fair Board president and concert director. “Additionally, this postponement is a forward step in social-distancing and bringing a safer and healthier fair to you this year. The health and safety of fairgoers, exhibitors, competitors, performers, sponsors, vendors, contractors, volunteers and staff is our top priority.”
Fair Manager Bill Ogg announced tickets already purchased for the 2020 concert will be honored for the Sept. 1, 2021, date, with no action required.
Preparations for the remainder of the fair attractions continue. The Fair Board and management have partnered with the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health to form a task force committee with the purpose of researching and implementing a plan to ensure public health and safety at the fair. The Walla Walla County commissioners will revisit a decision on continuing the fair June 8.
This year’s Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days are scheduled for Sept. 2-6.
— The Times (Waitsburg), Thursday