Regional News

The latest stories from Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest News Network.

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Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Mass vaccination sites and clinics in Washington are now open to the entire adult population, as well as 16- and 17-year-olds.

State health officials say about six million people are eligible to be inoculated. Those who aren’t are 15 years of age or younger, for whom there is not yet a vaccine.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho House has narrowly voted down a proposed constitutional amendment related to the legalization of drugs such as marijuana.

The measure would have sent to the ballot a measure to require two-thirds approval of the legislature in order to legalize one of the drugs on the top two tiers of the state’s controlled substances list.

Much of the Northwest’s high country is still deep in good snowpack but short on rain this spring. That has dryland wheat farmers and cattle ranchers fretting. Cold, wind and dust are even wreaking havoc with produce farmers in the region.

Courtesy of Lucrecia Hill

This week, we’re interviewing people who have announced their candidacy for Spokane city council. We're focusing this week on the five candidates in the Northwest district. Today, Rebecca White introduces us to Lucrecia “Lu” Hill.

Hill grew up in Hillyard. She's a yoga teacher, consultant and powner in several cannabis brands.

SPR City Council Interviews: Lucrecia "Lu" Hill

5 hours ago
Courtesy of Lucrecia Hill

This week Spokane Public Radio is interviewing every city council candidate from the city's Northwest district.

City Council District 3 Candidate Lucrecia "Lu" Hill and reporter Rebecca White discuss economic recovery, homelessness, affordable housing, public safety and environmental policy. Interviews with her opponents, Christopher Savage, Mike Lish, Karen Kearney and Zack Zappone will be posted this week.

Most community members say they want the Joe Albi Stadium rebuilt downtown, according to results of a survey Spokane Public Schools conducted over the last few weeks.

Washington Opens Covid Vaccinations To All Adults Today

9 hours ago
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington opens Covid vaccines to all adults, as well as 16- and 17-year-olds, on Thursday. Health providers say they’re bracing for a big rush of people who have waited patiently for their turn.

In a time of reckoning about historical monuments, Washington state lawmakers found a bipartisan path to change out a prominent statue. A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday begins the process of putting a statue of the late tribal treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr. in the U.S. Capitol.

Screenshot from Spokane Regional Health District

During most of the last week, coronavirus cases in Spokane County have risen back into triple digits, though still much lower than at the peak of the pandemic.

“We had spring breaks. We had Easter, which is also typically a big celebration for a lot of people. And then we had the NCAA Tournament, all of those at the same time, at a time when we were in Phase 3, which means a lot more things are open," said Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez.

Courtesy of Reclaim Idaho

A bill that would toughen the signature requirements for initiatives in Idaho has gone to Governor Brad Little’s desk. He has until Saturday to sign it.

This year’s bill would require signatures from six-percent of registered voters in all 35 legislative districts in order to quality a measure for the ballot.

Restaurant host Christopher Savage is one of five candidates vying for an open city council seat in Northwest Spokane.

  

He’s currently a host at Pool’s Public House and previously worked as a Lyft Driver.

 

Savage is also a board member for Spokane Meals on Wheels and has served on various boards for the city, including the salary commission and a water conservation board.

 

SPR City Council Interviews: Christopher Savage

Apr 14, 2021
Courtesy of Christopher Savage

This week Spokane Public Radio is interviewing every city council candidate from the city's Northwest district.

City Council District 3 Candidate Christopher Savage and reporter Rebecca White discuss economic recovery, homelessness, affordable housing, public safety and environmental policy. Interviews with his opponents, Lucrecia "Lu" Hill, Mike Lish, Karen Kearney and Zack Zappone will be posted this week.

Steve Jackson/SPR

Researchers are looking into all kinds of quality-of-life issues for people as they age. And now that kind of work is extending into the canine realm.

Washington State University researchers are looking into about how your dog can live a better life.

The Dog Aging Project is a joint effort by WSU and several other higher education institutions.

WSU Researcher Dr. Lynne Nelson says the project is investigating questions about genetics, canine cognition, cardiology and age-related mobility.

The 100 day countdown to the opening ceremony of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics begins Wednesday. Yes, the summer games are proceeding amid an ongoing global pandemic. Olympic hopefuls and Pacific Northwest athletes already picked for Team USA invariably said they are eager to go.

SPR City Council Interviews: Karen Kearney

Apr 13, 2021
Courtesy of Karen Kearney

This week Spokane Public Radio is talking with every city council candidate from the city's Northwest district.

City Council District 3 Candidate Kearney and reporter Rebecca White discuss economic recovery, homelessness, affordable housing, public safety and the environment. Interviews with her opponents, Lucrecia "Lu" Hill, Mike Lish, Christopher Savage and Zack Zappone will be posted over the course of this week.

Courtesy of Karen Kearney

This week, we begin a series of profiles with people who have announced their candidacy for Spokane city council. We'll focus this week on the five candidates in the Northwest district, starting today with Karen Kearney.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho House on Tuesday refused to approve a budget to pay school teachers because of a continuing dispute about the teaching of social justice issues.

Washington State Department of Health

Several government and private providers in the Northwest have paused use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine effective immediately after six women who had received the vaccine developed blood clots.

According to a Washington state Department of Health news release, the vaccine will be on hold until the state receives recommendations from the FDA and CDC.

Courtesy of Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Earth Day will be formally celebrated on Thursday, April 22.

Three Inland Northwest environmental groups that share a common focus are combining their efforts to sponsor an early celebration.

Courtesy of Zack Zappone

This week, we begin a series of thumbnail sketches with people who have announced their candidacy for Spokane city council seats. We'll focus this week on the five candidates in the Northwest district, starting Monday with Zack Zappone.  

SPR City Council Interviews: Zack Zappone

Apr 12, 2021
Courtesy of Zack Zappone

This week Spokane Public Radio is talking with every city council candidate from the city's Northwest district.

City Council District 3 Candidate Zack Zappone and reporter Rebecca White discuss economic recovery, homelessness, affordable housing, public safety and the environment. Interviews with his opponents, Lucrecia "Lu" Hill, Mike Lish, Christopher Savage and Karen Kearney will be posted over the course of this week.

Idaho legislators gave a sympathetic ear Monday to an Oregon group that wants to redraw state lines so that conservative eastern and southern Oregon would become part of the expanded state of "Greater Idaho." A separate group formed by Washington state farmers is pursuing the same idea for eastern Washington.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are opening a two-day mass vaccination event to any resident age 16 and above who resides in the 11 counties that span the tribes’ ceded territory. The offer is open to anyone, not just tribal members. 

The 11 counties include: Benton, Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties in Washington and Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Grant, Baker and Malheur counties in Oregon. 

Spokane County Hires New Medical Examiner

Apr 12, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County has hired Dr. Veena Singh as the new Chief Medical Examiner.

The medical examiner’s office does autopsies and forensic investigations into the causes of people’s death in Spokane and the surrounding counties.

Dr. Singh most recently served as a medical examiner for Anoka County, Minnesota and previously has worked in New Mexico and Arizona.

She is also Board Certified in Forensic, Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and is originally from Portland.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Washington and Idaho legislatures are passing a flurry of bills as they race toward their respective adjournments.

In Boise on Monday, the Senate approved, by one vote, legislation that would allow the state to accept a $6 million federal early learning grant that has been dogged by arguments over the underlying intent.

Washington State Governor's Office

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Whitman, Cowlitz, and Pierce counties have failed to meet the state’s re-opening metrics and will face more restrictions.

Those counties will go from Phase 3 of the governor’s re-opening plan to Phase 2, which means businesses must operate at reduced capacity and both indoor, and outdoor gatherings must be smaller.

Peter Lancaster has always had a love for rabbits. But when he first saw a pygmy rabbit – perhaps what would become the most influential animal throughout his life – he didn’t know what it was.

One spring break as a kid, Lancaster went camping with a few friends a little ways from his home in East Wenatchee. 

Out in the sage, they saw this little creature.

“We looked at it, and we all said … Pika?” Lancaster recalls.

The son-in-law of the Washington State Patrol chief resigned as a trooper after investigations into allegations of on-the-job sex and sexual assault. He is now fighting to keep his badge, testing the state's narrow law for decertifying police.

Washington Covid Vaccine Finder

For the last few months, Washington has limited who has access to coronavirus vaccines. But those limits go away on Thursday. All adults and 16- and 17-year-olds will be eligible to apply for vaccination appointments.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington Senate has unanimously approved a wildfire prevention and forest health bill.

The legislation has several components. One creates a wildfire account into which the state would deposit $125 million each biennium. That would pay for programs that help to make communities and forested areas less susceptible to wildfires.

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