Washington city removes Nativity scene from public park after complaints

A Nativity scene in a Woodland, Washington, park was removed Tuesday after city officials said they received complaints questioning the Christmas display's presence on public land. Officials said the Nativity scene – featuring a manger, baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the three wise men, an angel and several genuflecting animals – would be moved to a privately-owned vacant lot. The … Continue reading “Washington city removes Nativity scene from public park after complaints”

A Nativity scene in a Woodland, Washington, park was removed Tuesday after city officials said they received complaints questioning the Christmas display's presence on public land.

Officials said the Nativity scene – featuring a manger, baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the three wise men, an angel and several genuflecting animals – would be moved to a privately-owned vacant lot.

The decision came after the city’s attorney advised officials that keeping the display on public property was a violation of federal and state laws.

“I wouldn’t have chosen to do this, but it’s in the best interest of the city to do so,” Mayor Will Finn told Fox 12. “The feedback I’m getting is that it’s in a better spot.”

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The Nativity scene itself is privately owned, Fox 12 reported.

The city had allowed it to be displayed at Horseshoe Lake Park for the past few decades, with Finn estimating the manger had been set up in the park every holiday season for the last 40 years.

In recent weeks, however, the city reportedly received several complaints about the religious scene. City Administrator Peter Boyce said he received at least 5 complaints since the display was erected earlier this month.

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Among those who sent the city a letter was Marc McVey, who questioned if the manger's presence on public grounds was legal.

“They responded to me today and said they moved it – it was a difficult decision, which I respect,” he told Fox 12. “Believe me, I’m not anti-religious. I think it’s great. I love this holiday season – I have a Christmas tree up myself, but it made me a little bit uncomfortable to have that on public land.”

Jenny Tingley, who had been able to see the Nativity scene from her home, said she was disappointed to see it moved.

“Our grandkids love it when they put little baby Jesus out,” she said. “I didn’t think it was offensive at all. I thought it added to the look of our town when it’s the holidays.”

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Boyce said Tuesday the town is now receiving dozens of complaints from residents upset to see the Nativity scene removed from the park.

In a statement, Finn said: “I personally see the Nativity as a symbol of Christmas and feel comfort when seeing it displayed. I’m also grateful for the community’s understanding of the difficult but important decision…This move…puts the Nativity in a more visible location within our city, while respecting the public nature of public property.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this report stated that the Nativity scene was in Oregon. It was in Woodland, Washington.

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Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Man with child porn stash in treehouse in woods gets nine months in jail

A man from Washington state was sentenced to nine months behind bars last week after federal officials found a child pornography stash in his illegally built "fairy" treehouse on federal land.

Daniel Wood, 57, pleaded guilty Nov. 20 to one count of second-degree possession of child pornography and one count of second-degree attempted viewing of child pornography, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

A U.S. Department of Natural Resources employee had heard rumors in the hiking community about a cabin built illegally in the Snoqualmie National Forest, about 50 miles east of Seattle. The federal employee tried unsuccessfully to locate the cabin himself five times in 2016, according to an FBI report.

The home was known to the U.S. Forest Service for seven years and had last been examined by the agency three years earlier.

After finding the tree house in November 2016, the employee found framed images of child pornography mounted on the walls, including a montage of five large photos displayed across a bed.

He took some photos and brought them to the King County Sheriff’s Office, according to the PI.

The remote structure featured a porch surrounding the home and a ladder that hung about 8 feet off the ground. In 2017, the FBI searched the cabin and found dozens of photos of young girls fastened to the walls. Several items were taken that contained DNA samples and fingerprints that matched Woods.

Authorities seized thousands of child porn images and videos at Wood’s home in Mill Creek in February of this year. Many matched photos that appeared to be printed out, taped together and hung in the cabin.

One sheriff’s detective described the cabin as an "an elaborate treehouse that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house.”

As part of his sentence, Woods will not be allowed to have contact with children without supervision for 10 years, must register as a sex offender and undergo sexual deviancy treatment.

Washington man responds to police department’s Facebook post, promises to turn himself in

A Washington state police department found out the hard way you can't always trust someone you meet online.

Especially if you're trying to put them behind bars.

The Richland Police Department told its story of being jilted in a Facebook post on Monday that was directed at 38-year-old Anthony Akers. Police said Akers had promised to turn himself in after being informed he was wanted for "failure to comply" — but the cops got stood up.

“Dear Anthony, is it us?” the post read. “Last Wednesday, we reached out to you as ‘wanted.’ You replied and even said you were going to turn yourself in. We waited, but you didn’t show.”

The police department asked Akers to call them and even offered to swing by his place. Akers reportedly has a history of “drug abuse and protection order violations," Q13FOX reported.

Akers responded, essentially telling the cops: "It's not you. It's me."

Akers said he “obviously” has “commitment issues” — but promised he would be at the police station the next day “not later than lunchtime.”

“Thank you in advance to your response if you are patiently giving me another chance with us, I know I don’t deserve it. P.S. you’re beautiful,” Akers wrote.

Later, he posted a picture of himself outside the police station.

Akers wrote: “Here for our date sweetheart."

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Washington woman dead from brain-eating amoeba after using neti pot filled with tap water, report says

A Seattle, Washington woman whose brain was partly a “ball of bloody mush” after rare brain-eating amoebas infected her likely contracted the organisms after she used a neti pot full of tap water to clear her sinuses, according to a report.

The woman, who was not been identified, was admitted to the Swedish Medical Center earlier this year after she had a seizure, The Seattle Times reported. An initial CT scan revealed what doctors believed was a tumor.

But they would soon learn that what was inside the woman’s skull was not a tumor at all.

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“When I operated on this lady, a section of her brain about the size of a golf ball,” Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Swedish Medical Center, told The Seattle Times. “There were these amoeba all over the place just eating brain cells."

“We didn’t have any clue what was going on,” he added.

Tissue taken from the woman’s brain during the procedure would later confirm the presence of the amoeba, specifically Balamuthia mandrillaris — which cause a rare but potentially deadly brain-eating infection known as granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE), according to the publication.

The woman, who was 69 years old, died in February — roughly a month after doctors discovered the amoeba in her brain and about a year after she was initially infected.

According to a study recently published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, doctors believe the woman likely became infected when she used tap water in her neti pot, a teapot-like vessel used to flush out nasal passages.

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The contaminated water went up the woman’s nose “toward [the] olfactory nerves in the upper part of her nasal cavity,” The Seattle Times reported, which ultimately caused the infection which first appeared as a red sore on her nose.

“It’s such an incredibly uncommon disease it was not on anyone’s radar that this initial nose sore would be related to her brain,” Keenan Piper, a Swedish Medical Center employee and co-author of the study, told the newspaper.

Health officials suggest using only distilled, sterile or previously boiled water to rinse sinuses. Tap water can contain tiny organisms that are safe to drink but could survive in nasal passages. That said, the woman’s case was rare; there were only three similar cases in the U.S. from 2008 to 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Former Red Robin burger chain CEO dead from self-inflicted gunshot, reports say

Michael Snyder, the former CEO of the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews restaurant chain, died of a self-inflicted gunshot Sunday at his home in Washington state, according to reports.

Snyder, 68, shot himself in the head while sitting on a bench in the front yard of his home in Yakima, the New York Post reported.

Yakima police said they do not release information pertaining to suicides, interim Chief Gary Jones told the Yakima Herald.

“And we have not found any criminal conduct,” he said.

Snyder and his brother became the first Red Robin franchisees in 1979 when they opened their first restaurant in Yakima.

The pair continued to expand and eventually opened 14 restaurants in Washington, Colorado and Idaho. Snyder became president and CEO in 1996 and in 2000, respectively.

He later merged his Snyder Group Inc. with the Red Robin parent company, the New York Daily News reported.

In 2005, Snyder was forced out after being forced to make restitution on $1.25 million in unauthorized perks, including use of a corporate jet.

He resigned as chairman, CEO and president, but served as a consultant during the leadership transition period. In 2007, he agreed to pay $150,000 in civil penalties to settle charges that he misrepresented travel costs and business expenses, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"During Mike’s time with the Red Robin family, he made many contributions to the growth of our brand, including his role as an early franchisee and, some years later, his leadership role at the company,” a Red Robin spokesman said in a statement, according to the Post.

The restaurant chain has about 566 locations in North America.

Homeless man finds $17G, hailed for turning it in

A homeless man in the Tacoma, Wash., area is being praised for his decision to turn in $17,000 he found outside a local food bank.

Kevin Booth, 32, of Sumner found the cash in August, inside a brown bag he discovered lying on the ground, the Puyallup Herald reported.

“At first, I was like, what the heck is that lying on the ground?” Booth said.

He pulled out a $20 bill, but later gave the bag to a food bank volunteer, not realizing how much more money was inside it.

They decided to turn the cash over to police, who kept the money for 90 days without receiving any claims, the report said.

The police recently gave the cash to the food bank, which plans to use it for a building expansion. The food bank gave Booth an unspecified reward.

He also received a citizen certificate from the Sumner Police Department and gift cards for use at his favorite local store, Seattle's Q13 FOX reported.

“I believe a hand up is what we should be doing with our homeless,” food bank volunteer Anita Miller told the Herald. “All of us who are trying to help should think about that.”

Booth also received praise from the local police chief.

“Not every citizen would be as honest as you in this situation,” Chief Brad Moericke told him.

Booth said he felt happy about the recognition he received and was glad the food bank would be expanding.

“There are a lot of people who would have taken it,” Booth said about the cash. “I’m just not that person.”

Vermont colonel forced to resign after flying F-16 to meet love interest: report

The former commander of the Vermont Air National Guard was forced to resign in 2015 after flying an F-16 fighter jet to a work meeting in Washington, D.C., that doubled as a romantic rendezvous, according to a report.

Col. Thomas Jackman – whose aviator callsign was reportedly "Snatch" – had been exchanging flirtatious emails with an unidentified Army colonel who worked at the Pentagon for two months before they arranged to meet in January 2015, when he would be in town for a work conference, according to the report by local Vermont website VTDigger, which cited three former Guard members with knowledge of the incident.

Jackman, who was married at the time, told the outlet that he was not involved with the female Army colonel. He reportedly declined to comment on whether the trip forced him to retire.

Jackman, 55, the commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, reportedly used his authority to fly an F-16 nearly 500 miles from Burlington to Andrews Air Force Base, located just outside Washington D.C.

When bad weather forced the base to shut down the runway the morning of the trip, Jackman wrote to the woman that he would possibly fly to Langley Air Force Base instead. It was unclear where he landed, the report said.

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In a statement to the website, 1st Lt. Mikel Arcovitch, the Guard’s media spokesman, said it’s “not common practice” for pilots to fly fighter jets to work conferences.

However, "when it has occurred, pilots conduct training and complete annual requirements to and from the conference location," he added.

Members of the 158th Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron train in Alpena Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jon Alderman)

The Air Force and Vermont Air National Guard did not immediately respond to Fox News requests for comment.

The hourly operating cost of the F-16 is about $8,000, according to the Department of Defense. It was not immediately clear if Jackman was required to reimburse the Guard for flying the plane.

Though Jackman stayed on the base the night after the conference, he also booked hotel rooms in Alexandria, Va., and Washington D.C. for stays on the 27th and 29th of January, the site reports.

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Guard leadership somehow got wind of the trip and ordered him home on a commercial flight, the report said. Another pilot retrieved the jet.

Jackman, whose 32-year military career included two tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan, was pressed to step down and given advanced notice so he could retire with full benefits, the report said. He was reportedly allowed to keep his security clearance.

Vermont’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Steven Cray said rank and file servicemembers had lost confidence in the colonel's leadership.

Jackman now works as a postmaster for the U.S. Postal Service in Vermont.

Dead sea lions, some with gunshot wounds, washing up along shore near Seattle

Since September, at least 13 dead California sea lions have been reported dead along the shores of Puget Sound near Seattle, including six with gunshot wounds and another discovered Tuesday with its head cut off, according to conservation groups.

The Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a group that responds to dead or stranded sea lions, confirmed seven of those dead sea lions are suspected to have died from “acute trauma” caused by humans, the Seattle Times reported.

Earlier this month, the carcass of a bullet-riddled sea lion washed up along a West Seattle shore and another was found the following day.

“Honestly, I just could not go to look after what I had seen the day before,” said Randie Stone, who discovered a dead sea lion Nov. 14. “To me, this is such a heinous act.”

NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency tasked with managing marine resources, has confirmed the deaths of five sea lions, including four that suffered gunshot wounds, a spokesman said.

The federal government estimates that between 1998 and 2017, about 700 California sea lions have been found with gunshot or stab wounds.

A local marine conservation group announced a $5,500 reward to catch those responsible for the sea lion shootings, Seattle's KING-TV reported.

Robin Lindsey, of the Seal Sitters, said reports of shootings usually increase along with fish runs.

Video

During the fall and spring, sea lions shootings have been reported in Puget Sound when males migrate from the Channel Islands in Southern California to forage for food, NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Kristin Wilkinson said.

“According to those who live and work along the Elliott Bay and Duwamish waterfront, shots are being heard even more frequently this year,” Lindsey wrote in a Nov. 21 posting on Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

The sea lions can found primarily along the West Coast and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Previously hunted for pet food and pelts, California sea lions were once on the brink of extinction, but their population has rebounded from less than 90,000 in 1975 to more than 250,000 in 2014.

Dead sea lions, some with gunshot wounds, washing up along shore near Seattle

Since September, at least 13 dead California sea lions have been reported dead along the shores of Puget Sound near Seattle, including six with gunshot wounds and another discovered Tuesday with its head cut off, according to conservation groups.

The Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a group that responds to dead or stranded sea lions, confirmed seven of those dead sea lions are suspected to have died from “acute trauma” caused by humans, the Seattle Times reported.

Earlier this month, the carcass of a bullet-riddled sea lion washed up along a West Seattle shore and another was found the following day.

“Honestly, I just could not go to look after what I had seen the day before,” said Randie Stone, who discovered a dead sea lion Nov. 14. “To me, this is such a heinous act.”

NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency tasked with managing marine resources, has confirmed the deaths of five sea lions, including four that suffered gunshot wounds, a spokesman said.

The federal government estimates that between 1998 and 2017, about 700 California sea lions have been found with gunshot or stab wounds.

A local marine conservation group announced a $5,500 reward to catch those responsible for the sea lion shootings, Seattle's KING-TV reported.

Robin Lindsey, of the Seal Sitters, said reports of shootings usually increase along with fish runs.

Video

During the fall and spring, sea lions shootings have been reported in Puget Sound when males migrate from the Channel Islands in Southern California to forage for food, NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Kristin Wilkinson said.

“According to those who live and work along the Elliott Bay and Duwamish waterfront, shots are being heard even more frequently this year,” Lindsey wrote in a Nov. 21 posting on Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

The sea lions can found primarily along the West Coast and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Previously hunted for pet food and pelts, California sea lions were once on the brink of extinction, but their population has rebounded from less than 90,000 in 1975 to more than 250,000 in 2014.

Dead sea lions, some with gunshot wounds, washing up along shore near Seattle

Since September, at least 13 dead California sea lions have been reported dead along the shores of Puget Sound near Seattle, including six with gunshot wounds and another discovered Tuesday with its head cut off, according to conservation groups.

The Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, a group that responds to dead or stranded sea lions, confirmed seven of those dead sea lions are suspected to have died from “acute trauma” caused by humans, the Seattle Times reported.

Earlier this month, the carcass of a bullet-riddled sea lion washed up along a West Seattle shore and another was found the following day.

“Honestly, I just could not go to look after what I had seen the day before,” said Randie Stone, who discovered a dead sea lion Nov. 14. “To me, this is such a heinous act.”

NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency tasked with managing marine resources, has confirmed the deaths of five sea lions, including four that suffered gunshot wounds, a spokesman said.

The federal government estimates that between 1998 and 2017, about 700 California sea lions have been found with gunshot or stab wounds.

A local marine conservation group announced a $5,500 reward to catch those responsible for the sea lion shootings, Seattle's KING-TV reported.

Robin Lindsey, of the Seal Sitters, said reports of shootings usually increase along with fish runs.

Video

During the fall and spring, sea lions shootings have been reported in Puget Sound when males migrate from the Channel Islands in Southern California to forage for food, NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Kristin Wilkinson said.

“According to those who live and work along the Elliott Bay and Duwamish waterfront, shots are being heard even more frequently this year,” Lindsey wrote in a Nov. 21 posting on Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

The sea lions can found primarily along the West Coast and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Previously hunted for pet food and pelts, California sea lions were once on the brink of extinction, but their population has rebounded from less than 90,000 in 1975 to more than 250,000 in 2014.