Two puppies have to be euthanized after coming into contact with rabid bats

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Officials say two German shepherd puppies were euthanized after they came into contact with bats that tested positive for rabies in southwestern Washington.

Cowlitz County environmental health manager Season Long said Friday a 4-month-old and a 5-month-old German shepherd were euthanized because the puppies hadn’t been vaccinated for rabies yet, local news media reported.

Cowlitz County Health and Human Services said Thursday that two bats tested positive for rabies in the county and that some people’s pets were exposed to the disease.

Officials said the bats are the first to test positive for rabies in the county in nearly a decade.

Long said dogs that have been vaccinated for rabies and are exposed to rabid bats would not need to be euthanized.

Officials are investigating whether people were exposed to the bats.

County approves shoreline permits for proposed Kalama, Wash., methanol plant

KALAMA, Wash. — The proposed methanol plant in this southwestern Washington city has taken another step forward after Cowlitz County affirmed the project should get the shoreline permits as previously granted.

The county Department of Building and Planning reviewed the shoreline permits under the recently released greenhouse gas emission study to determine if any changes were needed, local news media reported.

Jeff Zenk, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Ecology, said the agency has 30 days to review the permits.

Zenk said Ecology can approve; approve with conditions; or deny the permits. If the department asks for additional information, it would be a “time out” on the 30-day deadline.

Northwest Innovation Works hopes to build the $2 billion project at the Port of Kalama to convert natural gas into methanol for shipment to Asia. Backers say the project would create about 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs and generate millions of dollars in local taxes.

Former Meals on Wheels bookkeeper gets three years in prison for charity theft

SPOKANE — A federal judge has sentenced a former bookkeeper for Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels to three years in federal prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley sentenced 59-year-old Michelle Ferrell on Thursday.

Ferrell had been caught taking organization funds to help pay for property in Spokane Valley that she planned to sell to fund retirement in Hawaii, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The judge told Ferrell she had stolen money from an organization that does a great public service.

Ferrell in court apologized to Spokane County Meals on Wheels

She and her husband have paid about $100,000 in restitution so far.

Woman given six-plus years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud and theft charges

SALEM, Ore. — A woman rescued from an oceanside cliff in 2017 and later arrested on 98 theft, fraud and criminal mistreatment charges has been sentenced to more than six years in prison.

Heather Mounce, formerly of Dallas, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated theft, 12 counts of identity theft and two counts of theft, local news media reported.

Defense attorney Timothy Park said domestic violence and mental illness led her to steal more than $40,000 from her former employers at a trucking company.

Prosecutors said Mounce took vacations, got massages, and went to nail and hair appointments with the money. Court documents say Mounce also created a GoFundMe account under another woman’s name saying she was a domestic violence victim and tried to garner donations.

Mounce was rescued in August 2017 by the U.S. Coast Guard near Sea Lion Caves north of Florence, which made national news.

Seattle pays $450,000 to former worker who spoke out about sexual harassment

SEATTLE — Seattle agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former City Light employee who spoke out against sexual harassment in her office and who helped create a group called the Seattle Silence Breakers to push for reforms.

The city does not admit liability in the settlement with Beth Rocha but agreed to take down a City Light blog post about an investigation into concerns raised by employees in the division where Rocha worked, the Seattle Times reported.

That investigation found violations of workplace-respect expectations but insufficient evidence to back up allegations of blatant sexism in the Customer Solutions Division, and it was criticized by Rocha and the Silence Breakers.

The city also agreed in the July settlement with Rocha to a joint statement acknowledging her work with the Silence Breakers, who include city employees and activists.

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