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REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ABOUT 3 OTTERS THAT WERE FATALLY SHOT: PACIFIC GROVE  (AP) — Federal wildlife officials say three California sea otters were fatally shot on the Monterey Peninsula and are offering a $21,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday said the shootings happened last September around Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove.
The otters are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, which could lead to $100,000 fines and jail time for anyone found guilty of the shootings.
Two of the otters were shot in the head, the third through the back.

SONOMA COUNTY PIPE RUPTURE LEADS TO SEWAGE SPILL:  GUERNEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Officials are monitoring contamination levels in the Russian River in Sonoma County after a ruptured sewer main spilled an estimated 100,000 gallons of raw sewage into the waterway.
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reports  that the 16-inch concrete sewer pipe just outside Guerneville broke on Thursday afternoon while crews were repairing a leak. The workers were able to contain the spill a few hours later and planned to install a new piece of pipe overnight.
Sonoma County Water Agency spokesman Brad Sherwood said the spill was the largest discharge into the Russian River in at least a decade, though initial observations indicated the contamination had diluted. Officials were expected to continue testing the river on Friday.
Sherwood said the recent rainfall had increased flows in the river, which could help dilute the waste.

BART HIRING CONSULTANT TO PROBE CONTRACT TALKS: OAKLAND  (AP) — The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency is hiring a consultant to investigate its recent round of contentious labor negotiations, which led to two strikes and a contract dispute.
The commuter rail line’s board of directors voted 5-4 for the consultant on Thursday. The goal is to determine what went wrong with the talks.
BART unions went on strike over the summer and then again in October. The two sides reached a tentative agreement before BART objected to a provision about family leave. Negotiations resumed and a final deal was reached in December.
The consultant will be paid a maximum of $225,000.

STUDENTS TO RETURN JAPANESE TSUNAMI BOAT: CRESCENT CITY  (AP) — Six high school students from Crescent City are travelling to Japan to meet the owners of a small boat that washed ashore in Northern California two years after it was swept to sea during the March 2011 tsunami.
The Del Norte High students will meet with students from a school in Rikuzentakata, Japan that the boat belonged to.
The Del Norte students helped restore the panga that spent two years making its way across the ocean.
Rikuzentakata, a seaside town that lost 2,000 of its 24,000 residents to the tsunami, which featured 62-foot waves.

SUSPECT KILLED BY LA DEPUTIES HAD CHILD IN CAR: WEST COVINA  (AP) — Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say a suspect shot and killed by deputies while fleeing an attempted robbery had a woman and a child in his getaway car.
According to the Los Angeles Times the man tried to hold up a woman at her home near West Covina Thursday evening.
The victim’s son called authorities and the suspect ran to his car and sped off.
After a brief car chase the man pulled over and led deputies on a foot pursuit through a market and into a residential neighborhood, where he was shot.
The woman in the car was arrested and the child was taken into protective custody.

WORKER FATALLY CRUSHED AT SAN LEANDRO COMPANY: SAN LEANDRO . (AP) — State officials are investigating the death of a mechanic who was crushed to death by a front-end loader at a construction equipment dealership in the San Francisco Bay area.
The incident happened Thursday at Volvo Construction Equipment and Services in San Leandro.
Authorities say 48-year-old John Jacini, a field service technician and Castro Valley resident, was working underneath the front-end loader on some tracks when the equipment fell on him. He died at the scene.
The circumstances leading up to the death are under investigation by Cal/OSHA, the state agency that investigates workplace injuries and deaths.