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Friday, January 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Corrected version

Local Digest

Cruz will quit, endorse Rossi

OLYMPIA — Dr. Federico Cruz, director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, will drop out of the governor's race and endorse Dino Rossi for the Republican nomination, sources told The Associated Press yesterday.

Rossi, front-runner for the GOP nod, and Cruz, who has been running a low-key campaign since late July, scheduled a joint news conference today in Olympia.

Republican sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said Cruz will defer to Rossi.

Others said Rossi is definitely picking up Cruz's support and would solicit his help in wooing Hispanic voters.

School bus driver resigned after slapping 7-year-old

EVERETT — A school bus driver resigned yesterday after she allegedly slapped a 7-year-old student on a morning bus route.

Everett School District spokeswoman Gay Campbell said the incident occurred as the driver was taking students to Woodside Elementary School in Bothell.

Responding to a disruption involving the student, the bus driver stopped the bus and slapped him, Campbell said. The driver then continued to school and reported the incident to the principal. The boy was not injured.

Campbell said officials with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and Durham School Services, the company that provides the district's transportation, were immediately contacted. Campbell said Durham officials fired the driver.

Man found in river had been missing since November

SULTAN — A body pulled from the Sultan River on Saturday has been identified as Jamie K. Rodriguez, of the Sultan area, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.

His cause of death has been determined as drowning.

Rodriguez, 21, was last seen by relatives Nov. 5. They reported him missing to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Two people found Rodriguez's body in the Sultan River at about noon Saturday.

Assault suspect found hours after standoff at apartment

SEATTLE — A two-hour standoff yesterday in which police believed a man was holed up with a shotgun in a Belltown apartment ended when officers entered and found no one.

Officers arrested the man about 4 p.m. in the University District.

The incident began about 12:15 p.m. in the 2900 block of Second Avenue South. Seattle police spokesman Duane Fish said two men were negotiating the sale of a motorcycle when they started to fight.

One of the men stabbed the other in the head with a pair of scissors, police said. From initial reports, police believed the attacker was hiding in a nearby first-floor apartment. The injured man, who is in his 20s, was taken to Harborview Medical Center, but his wound was not serious.

Police surrounded the apartment and tried to contact the man before entering the apartment about 2 p.m. They found the shotgun.

Industrial fire caused $17 million in damage

SEATTLE — The fire Sunday that destroyed a South Seattle manufacturing plant caused $17 million in damage, including $14.5 million to the contents, a Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman said.

After stabilizing the walls, investigators yesterday went inside Capital Industries for the first time to examine the remains of the 50,000-square-foot building. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

The company, at Second Avenue South and South Mead Street, makes metal containers such as commercial trash bins.

Fires at fast-food outlet determined to be arson

SEATTLE — A fire yesterday morning at an Arby's restaurant south of Safeco Field was determined to be arson, said Seattle fire investigators.

A smaller fire which caused $200 damage Monday morning at the same restaurant, at 2425 Fourth Ave. S., was also determined to be arson.

Yesterday's fire was reported about 4:40 a.m. The fire caused $25,000 damage to the structure and $150,000 damage to its contents. Most of the damage was confined to a storeroom and was smoke-related.

Transit union wants monorail workers on public payroll

SEATTLE — A local transit union is demanding that the Seattle Monorail Project hire its Green Line workers as public employees, instead of contracting out between 100 and 150 operations jobs to private industry.

Marc Auerbach, an executive committee member for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, said privatized operations won't necessarily save money and that low-paid workers such as station attendants are more likely to make a living wage as public employees.

The union has launched an advocacy Web site.

Monorail board member Cindi Laws said the workers will be unionized even if they are employed by private companies, which are bidding to design, build and operate the 14-mile line through the western side of the city.

Board members are still debating the issue as a final vote approaches on Feb. 11.

Legislation will request funds for Paine Field study

EVERETT — State Sen. Dave Schmidt, R-Bothell, said yesterday he will submit a bill to the Legislature requesting $100,000 in state funding for Paine Field to research the costs and market for commercial flight.

The prospect of commercial flight at the airport, which is mostly used by Boeing, as well as private and corporate aircraft, isn't new, but it has gained renewed interest from politicians and local business people this year.

The Snohomish County Economic Development Council, Snohomish County Council and Paine Field management have agreed in recent weeks to research the value of making commercial flight available at the airport.

Commercial flight, advocates say, would make the county more competitive, recruit more businesses and provide residents a better quality of life.

Teenager given 6-year term for strangling woman

PUYALLUP — A 19-year-old woman was sentenced to 6½ years in prison for strangling a 36-year-old single mother of triplets in 2001.

Dana Laskowski was found dead Aug. 31, 2001, in her Puyallup home. Emily Lauenborg, who was friends with Laskowski's niece, was arrested last March.

Lauenborg, who was 17 when she killed Laskowski, pleaded not guilty to murder last year but changed her mind Wednesday in a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Puyallup police Detective Scott Bramhall said Lauenborg and the niece were cohorts in theft, drugs and prostitution. Bramhall said Lauenborg was jealous of Laskowski's influence over the niece and killed Laskowski while under the influence of drugs.

Times staff and news services

Information in this article, originally published January 23, was corrected January 24. A Durham School Services bus driver resigned Thursday after she allegedly slapped an Everett School District student. Because of an editing error, a news brief reported that the driver had been fired.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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