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Originally published November 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 12, 2007 at 9:29 AM

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Vote count tightens on schools measure

Supporters of the proposal to make it easier to approve school-district levies around the state were optimistic Sunday. Though the ballot measure...

Supporters of the proposal to make it easier to approve school-district levies around the state were optimistic Sunday.

Though the ballot measure was still losing, the margin was shrinking. At the end of counting Sunday, the proposal trailed by fewer than 1,000 votes with about 178,000 still to be counted, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

House Joint Resolution 4204 would allow school levies to pass with a simple majority vote rather than a 60 percent supermajority.

"We're still behind but we're very, very hopeful," said George Scarola, legislative director for the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit group that backed the proposal.

Of nearly 300,000 votes cast statewide, early returns Tuesday showed the measure trailing by 38,000 votes.

After more King County ballots were counted Sunday, county by county tallies compiled by the campaign to approve the measure showed the gap down to 922 votes.

Of the votes that remain to be counted, about a third — some 58,000 ballots — are in King County, where 58 percent of the votes already counted have approved the measure.

Counting will resume Tuesday.

Seattle

Port of Seattle seat still too close to call

The race for Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 5, is down to the wire. Over the weekend, challenger Bill Bryant's lead over incumbent Alec Fisken narrowed by just over 1,300 votes.

At the end of the Sunday count, Bryant was ahead by 4,737 votes.

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"It would be tough to close the rest of the gap," Fisken said Sunday.

But because the vote count has swung unpredictably, he isn't ready to concede. Fisken said at least 60,000 votes are still to be counted.

Counting continues Tuesday.

In the other Port Commissioner race on the ballot, challenger Gael Tarleton ousted incumbent Bob Edwards.

Longview

Recall of cashews sold by Scouts

Girl Scouts of Western Washington is recalling 10-ounce cans of Ashdon Farms cashews after small pieces of metal were found in some cans.

Girls Scouts in Pierce, Lewis, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Pacific counties have been selling the nuts. They were sold as part of a fundraiser.

Scouting officials say no injuries or illnesses have been reported in connection with the recall.

Ashdon Farms is investigating how the metal pieces fell into the cans. The company has worked with Girl Scouts for more than a decade.

Helena, Mont.

Rock is downfall for escaped convict

A Helena Prerelease Center employee, hearing something rustling in the bushes, threw a rock at a shrub.

To his surprise, he heard someone say "Hey, you hit me in the head," said Helena Police Cpl. Bill Tompkins.

The rock had hit a 22-year-old escaped convict the center was searching for.

The convict was being transferred by bus from a prison in Seattle to one in Great Falls when he got off at the wrong stop in Helena on Friday, Tompkins said. It wasn't clear if the man meant to get off the bus in Helena or if it was a mix-up, Tompkins said.

The convict contacted the Helena Prerelease Center, which brought him from the bus stop to the center, Tompkins said.

Hours later, center employees noticed the convict was missing and alerted police, Tompkins said. They later called back saying the convict was hiding in bushes outside the center.

Police found the man hiding behind some barrels, and took him into custody for probation violation, Tompkins said.

Times staff and wire services.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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