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The carefully followed death toll from COVID-19 may not fully capture the loss of life during the pandemic. Analysis of state and federal statistics for deaths from all causes shows hundreds of additional deaths above normal levels this spring in the Pacific Northwest. Some or many of those may actually be missed COVID deaths.

Jeremy Burnham

There will be no Hoopfest in downtown Spokane this year.

The huge three-on-three basketball tournament had already been postponed once. And now Hoopfest officials say it’s time to concede that it won’t be safe even later in the fall.

Candidate Interview: Democrat Lori Feagan

21 hours ago
Courtesy of Lori Feagan

This week we’re interviewing candidates running for the Fourth District state House seat that Representative Matt Shea is vacating.

On Monday we heard from Spokane Valley businessman Mike Conrad, one of the three Republicans in the race. Today [Tuesday] we talk with Democrat Lori Feagan. She’s a nurse practitioner who specializes in internal medicine.

Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

Spokane County health authorities are urging people who go to get tested for Covid to assume they’re positive and stay home until they hear otherwise.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says many labs that test the samples are so busy that they’re not able to return results for a week or more.

The U.S. Forest Service is considering changing a rule that prevents logging of large trees on national forestland in parts of Washington and Oregon. 

Federal officials say it’s an important update that could help tame large-scale wildfires. Conservation groups worry the amendment process has been rushed and could damage important forest habitat.

Candidate Interview: Republican Mike Conrad

Jul 13, 2020
Courtesy of Mike Conrad

This week we begin interviewing candidates running for the state House seat that Representative Matt Shea is vacating in the Fourth Legislative District. Technically it’s an open seat, but because of some late maneuvering during candidate filing week, an incumbent, Representative Bob McCaslin, is running for the seat.

One of the candidates in the race is Republican Mike Conrad. Conrad is the CEO of The Savory Butcher, a Post Falls company that sells bulk meat products that its customers order and pick up. The company operates not just in this area, but in several states around the country. We asked Conrad why he’s running for the legislature.



An Idaho group sponsoring a school funding initiative says it will resume collecting signatures today [Monday].

A federal judge in Boise ruled Reclaim Idaho will have 48 days to gather the signatures it needs to place the measure on the November ballot. That after the group successfully argued the state refused to extend the window for signature gathering that was interrupted in mid-March by coronavirus restrictions.

The Old Moscow-Pullman Road has quite a history running through the heart of Pullman. 

It started with a Y-shaped intersection with no traffic signal just west of town, and a road between the two cross-border college towns that was impossible to use in the winter.

In 1929, gravel was put down and, thanks to the nation’s growing number of motorists, what became State Route 270 just grew and grew.

Last fall, we brought you the story of Feast World Kitchen, a new Spokane restaurant featuring a rotating menu from immigrant and refugee chefs. As part of our occasional series, Refugee Stories, we followed up to see how Feast is faring amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Twenty-four year-old Carter Hudson is a musician and songwriter known during non-COVID times for his weekly performances at The Drinkery, a bar located in Spokane’s historic Garland District. His submission to this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest is an intimately shot video featuring Hudson alone in his bedroom, surrounded by guitars. The lyrics to the song, titled “I Can’t Hear You Anymore,” are personal.

Candidate Interview: Republican Nathan Sybrandy

Jul 10, 2020
Courtesy of Nathan Sybrandy

Today [Friday] we present the last of four candidates running for a state House seat in Washington’s Fourth Legislative District. It’s an open seat that has drawn three Republicans and one Democratic candidate.

We’ve heard from two of the Republicans, Rob Chase and Leonard Christian and Democrat Lance Gurel. Today, we talk with the third Republican, Spokane Valley nurse Nathan Sybrandy.

Efforts to introduce more grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades have come to a halt. U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced he’s putting a stop to the plans Tueday, July 7, after years of debate.

Courtesy of Reclaim Idaho

A federal appeals court has ruled an Idaho initiative campaign can move ahead with collecting online signatures for its school funding measure.

Reclaim Idaho hopes to put its initiative on the November ballot. It would require the state to raise state income taxes for corporations and people who make more than $250,000 a year. The money would be routed to public schools.

Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Thursday] announced the Gem State will stay where it is in its recovery from the coronavirus.

“Over the past two weeks, Idaho did not meet the criteria to advance past the final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan. We will remain in stage four for at least another two weeks," the governor said.

State epidemiologist Christine Hahn cited the rise in Covid cases in Idaho over the last two weeks.

Candidate Interview: Democrat Lance Gurel

Jul 9, 2020
Courtesy of Lance Gurel

Today [Thursday] we present the third of four candidates running for a state House seat in Washington’s Fourth Legislative District. It’s an open seat that has drawn three Republicans and one Democratic candidate.

We’ve heard from two of the Republicans, Rob Chase and Leonard Christian. Today, we talk with the one Democrat in the race, Lance Gurel. Gurel ran last year for a city council seat in Spokane Valley and now he’s trying to win an open seat in the legislature.

Here’s part of Doug Nadvornick’s interview with Lance Gurel.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is looking for 80% of county residents to wear masks as they’re out and about. That, he says, is the minimum needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Right now, his rough guess is that about 65% of people are masking up.

CDA Authorities Continue Search For Two Crash Victims

Jul 8, 2020
Idaho Department of Lands

The recovery effort continued this afternoon [Wednesday] for what is believed to be the final two bodies from Sunday’s plane crash over Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Lt. Ryan Higgins says his agency’s sonar team is scouring one section of the area where the two planes that collided entered the lake.

Candidate Interview: Republican Leonard Christian

Jul 8, 2020
Courtesy of Leonard Christian

Today [Wednesday] we present the second of four candidates running for a state House seat in Washington’s Fourth Legislative District. It’s an open seat that has drawn three Republicans and one Democratic candidate.

On Tuesday, we heard from one of the Republicans, Rob Chase. Today, we talk with Leonard Christian. Christian is a Spokane Valley realtor and Air Force veteran. He served one year in the legislature, 2014, after then-Representative Larry Crouse retired.

Here’s part of Doug Nadvornick’s interview with Leonard Christian.

A leading Republican candidate for Washington governor is being accused of mishandling a child sexual abuse investigation in Ferry County.

A lawsuit filed in 2017 claims that Loren Culp and two other law enforcement officers didn’t properly investigate the claims of a 17-year-old girl, who said she’d been molested by a relative since she was five.

Culp, who’s police chief of Republic in Ferry County, interviewed the girl, but said in his report that he didn’t think she was being truthful.

Four Washington state tribes have opened negotiations with the state government to introduce sports betting. Earlier this year, the legislature authorized wagering on sports, but only at tribal casinos -- unlike the broader legalization in Oregon.

Courtesy of Idaho Department of Lands

Divers have recovered three more bodies from Sunday’s mid-air collision and crash into Lake Coeur d’Alene.

That means six of the eight people believed to have killed are now accounted for, says Kootenai County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ryan Higgins.

Candidate Interview: Republican Rob Chase

Jul 7, 2020
Courtesy of Rob Chase

Today [Tuesday] we present the first of four candidates running for a state House seat in Washington’s Fourth Legislative District. It’s the seat now held by Representative Bob McCaslin. McCaslin has switched and is now running for the other seat in the district as part of some late maneuvering in the last few hours of the candidate filing period.

Today we hear from former Spokane County treasurer Rob Chase, who came into 2020 planning to challenge Cathy McMorris Rodgers for her congressional seat.

Courtesy of Rudy Soto

Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) is seeking his second term as the congressman representing Idaho's First Congressional District.

He's challenged by a first-time candidate, Democrat Rudy Soto, who recently toured the Panhandle to introduce himself.

Here are a few excerpts from his interview with SPR's Doug Nadvornick.

Bureau of Land Management

Dive teams working at Lake Coeur d’Alene on Monday to recover the bodies of several victims of a Sunday afternoon mid-air collision.

The planes went down in the water between Powderhorn and Black Bays.

Lieutenant Ryan Higgins from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office told reporters Monday afternoon that three bodies out of eight are now recovered. He says crews have discovered the locations of two others on the bottom of the lake; those have yet to be recovered. Three others are believed to be down there too.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

For years, Idaho’s Silver Valley has had skies that have failed to meet federal air quality standards. But the air has gradually improved and may soon get an official thumbs up from the government.

For years, pollution belched out of the stack at the Bunker Hill lead smelter. But during the last generation, the real issue has been smoke emitted by wood stoves.

Spokane County Sets Covid Record On Sunday

Jul 5, 2020
Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County reported a record 98 confirmed Covid cases on Sunday. That’s 17 more than the previous mark, set earlier last week.

The 20-to-29 age group continues to be the leader in the demographic count with more than a quarter of the county’s 1,668 cases.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Avista is looking for new renewable energy projects to add to its portfolio.

It will be one of the utilities in Washington required, by the year 2045, to create electricity using only sources considered to be “green.”

Each year since 2014, NPR has invited musicians from around the country to submit video performances of original songs for its Tiny Desk Contest. It’s an offshoot of the popular Tiny Desk Concert video series in which well known and obscure musicians perform at Bob Boilen’s desk at NPR headquarters. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the state Health Secretary are hitting the pause button on the county-by-county reopening process in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Inslee announced that for at least the next two weeks all counties in Washington state will stay in whatever reopening phase they are currently in -- with a couple of exceptions.

For the first time since Herbert Hoover won the presidency nearly a century ago, the state of Washington won’t have a statewide initiative to the people on the November ballot in a presidential election year.

At the Secretary of State’s office, the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline to submit 259,622 valid voter signatures to qualify an initiative came and went quietly. No campaigns made an appointment to drop off petitions, according to a spokesperson.

A review of Washington’s initiative history reveals that not since 1928 has the November ballot been bereft of an initiative to the people in a year when voters were electing a president.