The trial for accused killer Naveed Haq has been scheduled for Jan. 14. A judge Thursday bumped the trial date, originally set for October...

Share story

Seattle

The trial for accused killer Naveed Haq has been scheduled for Jan. 14. A judge Thursday bumped the trial date, originally set for October, after attorneys on both sides of the case agreed more time was needed for expert witnesses to conduct their investigations and finish reports.

Haq, who is charged with one count of aggravated first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary and malicious harassment, is accused of a July shooting rampage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle that left one woman dead and five others wounded.

Mount Vernon

Corps lacks money to repair levees

The Army Corps of Engineers does not have the money to help pay for repairs to levees in several districts in Western Washington and Montana.

The Corps on Wednesday sent letters to Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, as well as Renton and a county in Montana, informing them of the money shortage.

“It’s hopefully not a permanent situation,” said Doug Weber, natural-disaster manager for the Corps’ Seattle district. There’s little money available until Congress approves a budget for the fiscal year that began in October.

The Corps’ contribution to dike maintenance and repair is significant, said Chuck Bennett, a commission for dike District 12 in Skagit County.

“It’s a nightmare if you’ve got to take care of it on your own,” he said.

Seattle

Health-care aide accused in sex case

The license of a health-care assistant with the Country Doctor Community Clinic in Seattle has been suspended after he allegedly had sex with a patient and fondled another.

Fitsum Fikak, 28, was given notice of the state Department of Health charges Wednesday. A health-law judge suspended his license Thursday.

Fikak is being held in the King County Jail pending criminal charges for rape and molestation.

Tukwila

Museum of Flight to buy 6.5 acres

The Museum of Flight announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement to purchase about 6.5 acres of land adjacent to the existing museum to build a Space Gallery and a covered structure for some large aircraft.

The sale was contingent on a determination from the Environmental Protection Agency that cleanup was complete on the site, where a chemical manufacturing plant had been housed, according to a museum news release.

The price was not disclosed, but the museum said the sale of the property amounts to a substantial philanthropic gift.

Seattle

Crews cleaning up Pier 91 oil spill

The Coast Guard and state Department of Ecology continued Thursday to clean up an oil spill underneath Pier 91 in Seattle.

About 42 gallons of oil spilled from the bulk grain cargo ship, Songa Hua, into Elliott Bay early Wednesday while the ship was fueling from a barge. In all, about 168 gallons of fuel spilled, but most of it remained on deck.

As of Thursday afternoon, crews had recovered about one gallon of oil from the water.

The cause of the spill is under investigation by the Coast Guard and the Department of Ecology.

Fort Lewis

2nd Watada trial set for July 16

A second court-martial is to begin July 16 for an Army lieutenant who refused to go to Iraq with his Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigade and spoke out against the Bush administration.

The first military trial for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada ended in a mistrial after three days when the judge said he didn’t believe Watada fully understood a pretrial agreement he’d signed that would have cut his sentence to four years.

Friday, the Army refiled charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer — the same charges Watada, 28, initially had faced. If convicted, Watada could be sentenced to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.

Watada is now assigned to an administrative position at Fort Lewis.

Seattle

Pedestrian on I-5 hit, killed by car

A 21-year-old man died early Thursday after he was hit by a car while walking on Interstate 5 near Northgate.

Miles Grantham was wearing dark clothing and walking north in the southbound lanes of I-5 when he wandered into the fast lane and was hit by a car being driven by a 52-year-old Seattle woman, according to the State Patrol.

The woman suffered minor injuries.

Pedestrians are prohibited from walking on the freeway, Trooper Jeff Merrill said. The State Patrol will investigate why Grantham was walking on the freeway, but charges are not expected.

Seattle

Environmentalists against new viaduct

Leaders of a dozen environmental groups in Seattle and Washington state announced Thursday their opposition to building a new elevated highway to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

While some of the groups favor a tunnel replacement, and others a surface-streets-and-transit option, all said they were united in viewing a new aerial highway as the wrong approach for Seattle’s waterfront.

The groups include People for Puget Sound, Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, WashPIRG and Transportation Choices Coalition. Denis Hayes, a founder of Earth Day, said North American cities that decided against building new freeways — such as Portland and Vancouver, B.C. — are often considered the most livable.

Hayes and others said the main advantage of not rebuilding the viaduct is that other options would better connect the city to its waterfront, making downtown a more attractive place to live and work. That would cut down on suburban sprawl, car use and pollution, they maintain.

Snohomish County

PUD gets permit to study tidal power

The Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) received another permit Thursday to study tidal power in Puget Sound.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given permission for the PUD to consider Deception Pass for a tidal power project. FERC gave the PUD the permit over competing applicant Oceana because the PUD is a regional power supplier. Oceana is an East Coast company.

This gives the PUD permission to study six of seven sites it applied for last summer. Study permits for Speiden Channel and San Juan Channel, off San Juan Island; Guemes Channel, near Anacortes; and Agate Passage and Rich Passage, along Bainbridge Island; were approved Feb. 23.

Still outstanding is an application to study Admiralty Inlet. The city of Port Townsend also has applied to study that area for tidal power.

Issaquah

Schools job down to one candidate

The Issaquah School Board has narrowed its search for a new superintendent to a single top candidate, Kelt Cooper, who has more than 10 years of experience as a superintendent in the Southwest.

Cooper is now a doctoral candidate — focusing on curriculum and instruction — as well as an adjunct professor at New Mexico State University. He last served as superintendent at Nogales Unified School District in Arizona from 2000 to 2005. He was also a superintendent of two Texas school districts from 1994 to 2000.

Cooper received 24 out of a possible 25 points, board President Jan Woldseth said. The next closest candidate received 14 points, making Cooper a “runaway” candidate, Woldseth said.

The board will make a final decision about offering Cooper the job during an upcoming meeting, Woldseth said.

Seattle

Deal paves way for 2nd train to B.C.

A second daily train from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., could begin service next year, following a deal announced Thursday by the provincial government.

A passing track will be added to the BNSF corridor just north of the Canadian border. There now is only one Amtrak roundtrip a day. Buses substitute for the train at other times.

“Hopefully, we can get up to four trains by 2012,” said Bruce Agnew of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center, a longtime advocate for regional rail connections.

A provincial spokesman, Mike Long, said additional trains aren’t planned now, but even a second train would help people reach the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Veracruz, Mexico

2 arrested in rape of Tacoma woman

Police on Thursday arrested two men accused of raping a 23-year-old tourist from Tacoma in the Gulf port city of Veracruz.

Police spokeswoman Claudia Medina said the men, 23 and 27 years old, met the woman on the beach and invited her for a drink at a hotel. Hotel personnel found the woman tied up after assailants left her room Wednesday night. The two suspects were expected to be charged with rape later Thursday.

The woman remained hospitalized in Veracruz with a broken rib and facial injuries and was under strict guard, Medina said.

Medina said the hotel staff provided authorities with the license plate and make of the suspects’ car, which enabled them to track down the men Thursday.

Seattle Times staff and news services