Fuel mix-up strands 2 dozen vehicles

ANCHORAGE - Hector Reyes knew something was wrong with his employer's truck when it started pinging badly a few minutes after he refueled it from an unleaded-gasoline pump at a Bethel gas station.

"Instantly, I told the guy that I was with, 'This doesn't sound right,' " Reyes said Wednesday. "I kind of just told him, 'It feels like diesel.' "

Turns out that's exactly what it was.

The Ryan Air truck was among 24 vehicles that sputtered out after refueling from a gasoline holding tank at NorthStar Gas that was accidentally filled with 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Four snowmobiles also were affected. The problem was discovered three hours after a customer discovered the tank was filled with the wrong fuel. Altogether, almost 430 gallons of diesel were pumped into vehicles that are designed to run on gas.

NorthStar manager Wesley Bennett said the mishap two weeks ago leaves the rural fuel distributor with a mess that could run as high as $100,000 in vehicle tows, repairs and the possible loss of more than 2,500 gallons of diesel, which was drained out of the tank the same day and replaced by unleaded gas. The diesel is being tested to see if it can be salvaged.


Ketchum officials pass broad smoke-free law

KETCHUM - Ketchum officials have banned smoking in a long list of areas that include all city-owned facilities, parks, and indoor public places and places of employment, including hotel and motel rooms.

The Idaho Mountain Express reported that City Council members passed the ordinance Monday. It comes with a yearlong education campaign before enforcement begins. After that, penalties start with a warning and rise to a $52 fine for a third violation.

Employers in the resort area who are found to discriminate against employees making complaints concerning the ordinance face fines of $1,000 to $5,000.


Bill killed; would have increased bison hunting

HELENA - The House rejected a bison management plan Wednesday that would have increased the number of hunting licenses for bison and prohibited the future relocation of the animals.

The measure underscored a struggle between wildlife supporters, who want to see free-roaming bison restored to grasslands, and landowners who say the time of the bison has passed.

Senate Bill 143 was one of the most contentious of the legislative session. It directly targeted any bison movements from Yellowstone National Park, home of one of the last wild herds in the nation, and aimed to shrink the herds there by increasing the hunting season in the area.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. John Brenden of Scobey said that despite Montana's brucellosis-free status, bison coming out of Yellowstone have the potential to spread the disease to cattle.


Lincoln bridge girder slips, stops train traffic

LINCOLN - A girder on a new pedestrian bridge being built near the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln has slipped, forcing a halt to railroad traffic that travels under the bridge.

The city of Lincoln said in a news release that the girder slipped about 1 p.m. Friday. It is the middle of three that holds up the north side of the new West Haymarket Pedestrian Bridge now under construction.

Cranes were moved to the site to support the girder so rail traffic could resume. Structural engineers will check the girder and decide if it needs to be removed.

South Dakota

Grandma gets to keep girls-only playhouse

RAPID CITY - A South Dakota woman who had built a girls-only playhouse for her granddaughters gets to keep the log cabin building after a yearlong battle with the Pennington County ordinance officer.

Beverly Sears, 74, of Silver City, had a private contractor build the 12-by-12-foot cabin last summer. It has a tiled roof and a sliding door and is nestled on a vacant lot next to Sears' property.

Most important, it was boy-proof, the Rapid City Journal reported.

But while Sears considered the playhouse perfect, it violated zoning ordinances, and the grandmother racked up $800 in fines and faced a warrant for her arrest after missing a court appearance in October.

On Tuesday, Pennington County commissioners voted to waive the fines so long as Sears pays a one-time permit fee for the structure.

"We feel very grateful," said Sears' lawyer, Nate Oviatt.


New tiger cub at zoo surprises officials

TACOMA - A Sumatran tiger named Jaya has given birth to a female cub - a surprise since they didn't know the big cat was pregnant, officials at a Tacoma, Wash., zoo said. Both mom and cub seem healthy, they added.

Point Defiance & Aquarium officials said several ultrasounds had been performed on the tiger in the past few weeks, but it's not easy to get clear images on a standing, moving tiger. Nothing about Jaya's behavior suggested she was about to give birth.

Veterinarians found the cub in a nest box when they were getting Jaya ready for a physical Wednesday morning.


Man to use 'Robin Hood' defense in robbery trial

JACKSON - A Utah man accused of robbing a Jackson, Wyo., bank says he gave the money away to poor people and intends to mount a "Robin Hood" defense when he goes on trial later this month.

Corey Allan Donaldson, 39, an Australian citizen who was living in Sandy before his arrest, is accused of taking $147,000 from U.S. Bank on New Year's Eve.

The Jackson Hole Daily reported that Donaldson mailed a statement to the newspaper saying he'll argue that the federal government is "not innocent enough" to prosecute him because it helps foster corruption and greed in the nation's banks.

He also referred to himself as Robin Hood.

Prosecutors said Donaldson had threatened to detonate explosives around the bank if he didn't get the money. He previously told the newspaper he had given away the money.

"I regret that laws had to be broken to do what I did, but there are people with a roof over their heads right now because of what I did," he said in an earlier telephone call to the paper.

Police have said $16,000 was found in his possession when he was arrested in late January.

Donaldson is representing himself. The trial starts April 29 in federal court in Cheyenne.

The Associated Press