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Spokane/East. Wash/North Idaho News Releases for Sun. Jan. 23 - 9:58 am
Fri. 01/21/22
ESD 123 Announces Top Finalists In Superintendent Search
ESD 123 - 01/21/22 5:30 PM

PASCO, WA – Three finalists are moving forward in Educational Service District (ESD) 123’s selection of the agency’s next superintendent. ESD 123 is located in Pasco, Washington and provides services to 23 school districts and communities across seven counties. 

Following the fall 2021 announcement of current Superintendent Mr. Darcy Weisner of his planned retirement, the ESD 123 superintendent job application was posted from November 16 to December 31, 2021.  The search committee (comprised of three ESD board members, two school district superintendents, and one OSPI representative) have narrowed down the candidates to these top 3 finalists:

  • Steve McCullough, Superintendent, Tonasket School District
  • Sarah Thornton, Assistant Superintendent of Legal and Business Services, Pasco School District
  • Troy Tornow, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, ESD 123

ESD 123 staff will meet with the top three prospective candidates via a virtual forum. Then on Thursday, February 3, the candidates will participate in onsite interviews with the ESD board of directors, district superintendents, and search consultant. The ESD Board of Directors anticipates announcing their selection for the next ESD 123 Superintendent by the end of February.

"We are very pleased with the pool of candidates that came forward through the search process,” says ESD 123 Board Chair Kara Kaelber.  “We're confident the Board will be able to find the right candidate for the job out of these top three.”

For more information, please contact Molly Curtiss, Director of Communications, at 509.544.5787 or mcurtiss@esd123.org


Attached Media Files: Meet the Top Candidates

Twenty-Three People Indicted in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 01/21/22 3:44 PM

Richland, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced the unsealing of a 138-count federal indictment charging twenty-three defendants in Washington, California, Michigan, Nevada, and British Columbia, Canada with participating in a staged automobile accident scheme, obstructing an official proceeding, and making false statements to FBI investigators. 

According to the indictment, twenty-two of the defendants conspired to commit mail and wire fraud and health care fraud by staging approximately 14 automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of almost $1 million in false insurance claims for lost wages, bodily injury, and property damage.  According to the allegations, in at least three of the staged accidents, there were no occupants (driver or passengers) in the “victim” vehicle when a defendant deliberately drove the “at fault” vehicle” into the “victim” vehicle.  The twenty-two defendants alleged to have been involved in the scheme are: Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Insaf A. Karawi, Hasanein A. Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, Mashael A. Bachay, Hussein K. Bachay, Mohammad Bajay, Noor Tahseen Al-Maarej, Ali F. Al-Himrani, Rana J. Kaabawi, Amar F. Abdul-Salam, Ameer R. Mohammed, Mohammed F. Al-Himrani, Maria Elena Sanchez, Seifeddine A. Al-Kinani, Farooq S. Yaseen, Firas S. Hadi, Abdullah Al-Dulaimi, Khalil Abdul-Razaq, Jesus George Sanchez, and Sinan Akrawi. 

The indictment further alleges that when Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Hasanein A. Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, Ali F. Al-Himrani and Mohammed Naji Al-Jibory (who is not charged in the staged accident scheme) learned of the FBI’s investigation, they committed various acts to obstruct official proceedings.  Some of the alleged obstructive acts included Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Hasanein A. Yaser and Mohammed Naji Al-Jibory fabricating a story that the FBI case agent, and another individual suspected of working as an FBI informant, solicited a $22,000 bribe payment in exchange for offering the investigation or case to go away.  Other alleged obstructive acts included Ali Abed Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay and Ali F. Al-Himrani using threats of physical force to prevent communication of information about the possible commission of federal crimes to a law enforcement officer and a judge.

Two of the defendants, Ali Abed Yaser and Mohammad Naji Al-Jibory, are charged with making false statements to FBI investigators.  Ali Abed Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, and Ali F. Al-Himrani are charged with witness tampering.  The indictment also alleges Ali Abed Yaser attempted to tamper with evidence.

The following defendants are charged in the Indictment:






Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


El Cajon, CA


El Cajon, CA


El Cajon, CA


Vancouver, B.C. Canada


El Cajon, CA


Temecula, CA


Temecula, CA


El Cajon, CA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Las Vegas, NV


Detroit, MI


El Cajon, CA


Kennewick, WA 


Kennewick, WA


Eltopia, WA


La Mesa, CA


Kennewick, WA

Four defendants have not been located at this time and are considered fugitives.  If convicted, the defendants face the following possible maximum statutory sentences: 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and each count of mail and wire fraud; 20 years in prison for conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and each count of witness and evidence tampering; 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud; and five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III and Dominique Juliet Park, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Wed. 01/19/22
Idaho Power, PacifiCorp and BPA propose new plan for Boardman to Hemingway transmission line
Bonneville Power Administration - 01/19/22 1:19 PM

Portland, Oregon – Idaho Power, PacifiCorp and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) have reached a non-binding agreement that would help meet growing customer demand, improve safety and reliability, and reinforce the Pacific Northwest transmission system. The agreement clarifies and updates roles and responsibilities for the Boardman to Hemingway (B2H) transmission line.  It would pave the way for all three organizations to deliver low-cost power to their customers and support each one’s clean energy goals. 

The proposed agreement is an important step for this 500-kilovolt, 290-mile transmission line, which would deliver 1,000 megawatts of reliable, affordable power in each direction between the Pacific Northwest and Mountain west. B2H is anticipated to come online in 2026. 

“B2H is a major piece of Idaho Power’s long-term plan to meet customer needs,” said Mitch Colburn, Idaho Power Vice President of Planning, Engineering and Construction. “This agreement solidifies and simplifies a path forward for a project that will help us continue our century-long tradition of reliable, affordable, clean energy.”

“This project is a key element of PacifiCorp’s expansive Energy Gateway transmission plan to enable our customers and communities to grow with greater grid resilience, lower costs and provide more renewable energy supply by increasing the connectivity between PacifiCorp’s diverse Western and Eastern systems,” said Rick Link, PacifiCorp Senior Vice President, Resource Planning, Procurement, and Optimization.

“This arrangement paves the way toward a promising and economic solution for serving all of the participants and supports efforts to meet the region’s clean energy goals,” said Kim Thompson, BPA vice president, Northwest Requirements Marketing. “B2H is an important project, and this proposal offers BPA a durable, cost-effective means of reliably delivering federal power to our southeast Idaho customers.”

Key elements of the agreement, which benefit each organization’s customers and stakeholders, are listed below:

  • Idaho Power and PacifiCorp will jointly own the B2H transmission line, with PacifiCorp owning 55% and Idaho Power owning 45%. 
  • Idaho Power will acquire an ownership interest in PacifiCorp transmission lines and other equipment between eastern Idaho and the Four Corners Substation in northwest New Mexico. B2H and those acquisitions amplify Idaho Power’s connections to key energy markets that will help the company meet rapidly growing customer demand.
  • The Bonneville Power Administration will transfer its ownership interest in B2H to Idaho Power and will not participate in construction or have any ownership interest in the transmission line project. Facilities currently used by PacifiCorp to serve BPA’s customers in and around Southeast Idaho will be transferred to Idaho Power.  BPA will acquire transmission service over Idaho Power’s transmission system, including the newly constructed B2H, to reliably and cost-effectively serve public utility customers in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. More information about BPA’s effort to serve these customers and its public process to consider the agreement is available in BPA’s letter to the region
  • PacifiCorp will acquire Idaho Power transmission assets across southern Idaho that, combined with its majority stake in Boardman-Hemingway, will increase its contiguous power transfer capability between its Western and Eastern systems, and will acquire additional transmission service from BPA to enable it to serve its growing customer base in central Oregon.

With the non-binding term sheet developed, the three organizations will move into a negotiation phase to finalize the agreements and seek regulatory approval.  Concurrent with this press release, BPA is issuing a letter to its regional stakeholders and customers that outlines the proposal, describes the background and explains the process for engaging with BPA on this topic.  


The term sheet and background information about B2H is available at the project website.    


# # # 

Interior Department Announces Historic Launch of the Foundation for America's Public Lands
Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash. - 01/19/22 12:03 PM

Foundation will leverage public, private funds to benefit BLM-managed public lands


WASHINGTON – Taking historic action that will benefit the nation’s public lands for generations to come, the Foundation for America’s Public Lands launched today at a virtual event featuring remarks by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Department leaders. This congressionally-chartered, non-profit foundation authorized by Congress in 2017 will help leverage public and private dollars to conserve, protect and restore lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management for the benefit of the American people.

“It is a privilege and honor to manage America’s public lands for the benefit of current and future generations. To do that right, we need a Bureau of Land Management ready for the future, not just with the right personnel, structure and resources but also with a support system of outside partners collaborating on its success,” said Secretary Haaland. “I’m proud to appoint visionary leaders who will take on the enormous task of building the Foundation from the ground up to create this legacy and ensuring that its work is closely aligned with the agency’s mission and priorities.”

“We are thrilled to begin working with these remarkable leaders to get the Foundation for America’s Public Lands off to a great start. Like its sister foundations at the Park Service, Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, I’m confident this organization will play a historic role for our public lands,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

Secretary Haaland named four founding Board members, distinguished leaders with extensive experience who will oversee and guide the Foundation in its initial efforts. The Foundation for America’s Public Lands will operate and raise funds independent of the BLM, though its work will complement that of the agency and help the BLM better accomplish its mission. The four founding Board members include:

  • Governor Steve Bullock – Steve Bullock is a native Montanan who has worked tirelessly to protect Montana’s way of life, including protecting its public lands. Bullock served two terms as Montana’s 24th governor from 2013 to 2021. During his two terms, Governor Bullock worked across the aisle to strengthen Montana’s economy, invest in public schools, freeze college tuition and expand career training so that Montana’s kids can build a better future. He increased funding for state parks, created a state government position focused on opening up access to public lands, and launched the state’s first Office of Outdoor Recreation. He has a track record of bringing people together to get things done and has served as chair of both the Western Governors Association and the National Governors Association. Prior to serving as Attorney General and Governor, he was a union-side labor lawyer. 


  • Maite Arce – Founder of Hispanic Access Foundation, Maite Arce has 15 years of experience developing innovative outreach strategies that effectively mobilize under-represented populations. She has a proven track record of working with faith and community-based leaders, with whom she designs and executes data driven and measurable outreach initiatives. Arce formerly served as Vice President of Operations for the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO), increasing Latino parental involvement in education and public policy participation among Latino faith and community leaders. Arce received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Logos Christian College in Jacksonville, Florida.


  • Neil Kornze – Neil Kornze is the Chief Executive Officer of the Campion Advocacy Fund and Campion Foundation. In this role he oversees grantmaking, policy initiatives, and operations, working closely with the trustees and staff to protect America’s last wild places and combat homelessness in Washington state and across the country. Previously, Kornze served as Director of the Bureau of Land Management from 2014 to 2017. Under his leadership, the BLM protected iconic American landscapes like Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah and the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Kornze also worked as a Senior Advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and later founded his own strategy firm that helped clients protect land, water and wildlife.
  • Stacy Leeds – Stacy Leeds is an experienced leader in law, higher education, governance, economic development, and conflict resolution. In 2021, she joined the faculty at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University as the Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership. Leeds is Dean Emeritus, University of Arkansas School of Law (2011-2018) and the first Indigenous woman to lead a law school. She is a former Justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and former Chairperson of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. She is currently a district court judge for Muscogee (Creek) Nation and an appellate court judge for other Indigenous Nations. She is frequently tapped for conflict resolution and management roles, including arbitration, mediation, and negotiations. She previously served on the National Commission on American Indian Trust Administration and Reform for the U.S. Department of the Interior.


In the coming months, Secretary Haaland will appoint an additional five founding Board members to staggered terms of four and six years to complete the Board. The BLM is working with the initial Board members to file papers of incorporation with the District of Columbia, where the Foundation will be officially located, and to apply to the Internal Revenue Service to secure 501(c)3 tax exempt status. 

On May 5, 2017, Congress authorized the creation of a BLM-affiliated Foundation in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. As mandated by the legislation, the Foundation will:  (1) encourage, accept, and administer private gifts of money, real and personal property; and in-kind services for the benefit of, or in connection with the activities and services of, the Bureau of Land Management; (2) carry out activities that advance the purposes for which public land is administered; (3) carry out and encourage educational, technical, scientific, and other assistance or activities that support the mission of the BLM; and (4) assist the BLM with challenges that could be better addressed with the support of a foundation, including reclamation and conservation activities, activities relating to wild free roaming horses and burros, and the stewardship of cultural and archaeological treasures on public land.

The BLM will provide initial funding and support for the Foundation and is in the process of hiring a full-time liaison who will work closely with its Board and staff to ensure close coordination. Once operational, the Foundation will operate independently of the agency, though the BLM Director will serve as an ex officio Board Member.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.