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In Brief 

by Inlander Staff

PETA to the Rescue -- SPOKANE -- The world's largest animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has sent a letter to Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker.

The letter was prompted by the recent arrest of Robert O. Peterson of Tonasket, who allegedly tortured and killed a cat belonging to Kathy Matlock, at whose house he was staying. Police reports said that Peterson apparently drilled the cat's eyes out and cut the animal up with a circular saw.

Judge Pro Tem Sue Berkens set Peterson's bail at $50,000 saying that he was a risk to public safety.

"Animal abusers are cowards," says Martin Mersereau, PETA cruelty caseworker. "They take their issues out on the most defenseless beings."

Peterson has a prior conviction for domestic assault against his mother. Domestic violence prevention groups have long maintained that cruelty to animals is one of the first indicators that a person can turn violent against people.

"According to leading mental health professionals and law-enforcement agencies, perpetrators of violent acts against animals are often repeat offenders," says Mersereau. "[They] pose a serious threat not only to other animals but to the community."

PETA is calling for Peterson to undergo a mandatory psychological evaluation followed by counseling and anger management classes, in addition to the incarceration he's expected to get. The organization also wants Peterson banned from further contact with animals. -- Pia K. Hansen

Give in Style -- SPOKANE -- The Inland Northwest Blood Center is holding an open house at its new location on Saturday. Not only will the INBC show off its brand-new 58,000-square-foot, $13.4 million facility on West Cataldo, but the Pacific Science Center will be there as well with its famous "Blood and Guts" exhibit.

"It's a hands-on interactive deal that includes a human brain," says Brian Coddington, spokesperson for the INBC. "There is also a full-figure skeleton the kids can take apart."

Spokane Art School will be on-site as well, inspiring children to do art with health themes. And because no open house is complete without a dignitary, on Saturday Congressman George Nethercutt is going to be presiding over the ribbon-cutting for the new facility.

"The INBC basically wants to show the community their great new facility -- it's an amazing location," says Coddington. About half of the new facility is dedicated to laboratory space, which will allow the center to develop DNA and stem cell testing.

"The only thing to remember is that you can't give blood during the open house," says Coddington. "Normally, they'd be open for donations on Saturdays, but not this time around."

-- Pia K. Hansen

The INBC open house takes place Saturday, Nov. 2, from 11 am-4 pm. The new facility is located at 210 W. Cataldo. Call: 624-0151.

Good Skills, Good Jobs -- SPOKANE -- The Community Colleges of Spokane opened a new ACT Center last week, after two years of intense planning. The center is part of a national network of more than 120 centers that help employers find out what skills their businesses need, along with helping employees pick the right classes to improve their skills.

The ACT organization is best known for its work in college assessment -- it developed the ACT assessment test for college entry -- but it's now also one of the nation's largest Web-based training networks for work and education consulting. The program offers more than 2,400 classes.

"[Employees] can upgrade their skills, and they can enhance what they already have," says Dan Ruddell, manager of the ACT Center and of WorkFirst Customized Job Skills Training. "They measure present skills, then turn around and apply those in a more meaningful work environment," he says.

A recent study commissioned by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges showed that many industries and businesses in Washington would expand, if only they could find the trained workers they need. The ACT Center will help fill that gap by training workers in exactly the areas where they need better skills.

The Spokane ACT Center is one of two planned for Washington, with the other in Bellevue. The national network plans on having more than 200 ACT Centers operating by the end of this year.

The Spokane ACT Center will serve Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana.

-- Megan B. McCarthy
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