Lawmakers eye emergency water rights for cleaning up spills

BOISE — Emergency crews pulling contaminated water from rivers after such things as tanker trunk crashes is standard cleanup practice in Idaho.

But removing that water could be violating the state’s strict water-rights laws where water distribution is closely monitored.

So lawmakers on Monday voted to hold a hearing on legislation granting an emergency water right when crews are trying to clean up spills in waterways.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director John Tippets said the agency will always work quickly to remove contaminated water.

But he said the legislation is needed to prevent someone from coming in and saying their water right is being violated because of the emergency cleanup.

Tippets noted that crews swung into action Jan. 1 after a BNSF Railway locomotive derailed in northern Idaho and spilled diesel fuel into the Kootenai River.

House panel OKs Arts Commission plan to engage in art therapy

BOISE — Lawmakers on a House panel on Monday approved changes to rules for the Idaho Commission on the Arts allowing the agency to participate in art therapy for wounded veterans, stroke victims and others.

The House State Affairs Committee voted to approve the substantial change that deletes from the rules a prohibition on the commission participating in such activities.

The change is part of massive cuts to the state’s administrative rules book undertaken by Republican Gov. Brad Little last year.

Arts Commission Executive Director Michael Faison told lawmakers that art therapy has been proven to have substantial benefits.

Faison, after the committee meeting, said he’s waiting for the Legislature to approve the rules before implementing a program for art therapy.

Both the House and Senate will have to approve the changes.

Idaho couple arrested after kids found in home with trash, rotten food

BOISE — Meridian Police arrested two people on Saturday after four children were considered to be in imminent danger because of the conditions of the home in which they were living.

Joanna Griswold, 31, and Christopher Griswold, 33, were booked into the Ada County Jail on suspicion of felony injury to a child after police responded to their home in the 100 block of Lava Falls Drive. Joanna Griswold also had an outstanding warrant for contempt of court.

A Meridian Police Department news release stated that officers entered the Griswolds’ home and “observed piles of trash on the floor inside the residence that were emitting strong odor of mildew.”

“Officers were not able to find a clear path when walking through the home,” according to the release. “They observed metal pieces, dirt, rotten food, clothing, dirty diapers and a bottle of bleach on the floors. In addition, furniture and counters were covered in rotten food, trash, dirty bottles and dirty dishes.”

Police entered the home because they were conducting a follow-up on a Department of Health and Welfare referral.

Officers declared all four children — a 12-year-old girl, two 8-year-old girls and a 5-month-old boy — in imminent danger and placed them in state custody.

Flipped semi blocked both lanes of Highway 240 north of Richland

KENEWICK — A semi truck flipped across both lanes of the Hanford highway Monday morning, slowing traffic for hours.

The crash happened about 23 miles west of Richland on Highway 240 before 8 a.m., said Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson.

Both lanes of the highway were blocked by the truck and trailer and Thorson tweeted that it was expected to take two to three hours to clear.

Traffic was slowly being routed on the dirt shoulder of the highway around the jack-knifed truck until it could be towed away.

The wreck was just south of the Vernita Bridge on the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Montana man gets 80 years in prison for double slaying

HELENA, Mont. — A man convicted of deliberate homicide in the slayings of a couple in their Montana home has been sentenced to 80 years in prison.

The Independent Record reported Kyle Hamm was sentenced Monday for the deaths of 64-year-old Charla Taylor and 61-year-old David Taylor, who were found dead in their home north of Helena in March 2018.

The couple’s son, Kaleb Taylor, pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide and was sentenced to life in prison. A third defendant, Journey Wienke, also was convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors said the Taylors had confronted their son after he burglarized their business to get money to pay a drug debt. Hamm told investigators the three drove to the home together the night of the slayings but said he stayed in the truck with the door open as Kaleb Taylor and Wienke went inside.

Hamm was charged under a state law that says a person who is “legally accountable” for a robbery, assault with a weapon or other forcible felony that causes the death of another person is guilty of deliberate homicide.

Hamm will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

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