Regional News

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

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of American Red Cross

American Red Cross officials say they are urgently looking for blood donors right now.

They say there's a shortage caused by an increase in demand, combined with fewer people donating during the Covid pandemic.

Courtesy of University of Idaho

Anthropologists from the University of Idaho and 16 students yesterday wrapped up a two-week archaeological dig on the North Idaho College campus in Coeur d’Alene.

It was led by U of I Anthropology Professors Katrina Eichner and Mark Warner.

“It’s kind of looking to see if there is evidence of Fort Sherman that has been in the area, if there’s still existing evidence of Fort Sherman in the places we’re testing or if it’s been chewed up," Warner said.

A former caregiver for people with developmental disabilities has been criminally charged in connection with the 2019 death of a client who ingested a large amount of household cleaning vinegar.

Fikirte T. Aseged, 43, is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with third-degree assault, a felony, and reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor.

The Attorney General’s office announced the charges Tuesday following a nearly two-year investigation.

A former caregiver for people with developmental disabilities has been criminally charged in connection with the 2019 death of a client who ingested a large amount of household cleaning vinegar.

Fikirte T. Aseged, 43, is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with third-degree assault, a felony, and reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor.

The Attorney General’s office announced the charges Tuesday following a nearly two-year investigation.

If you’ve ever been hiking in the Cascades, high up in the alpine meadows, and were spooked by a streak of a bird, a plume of feathers that darted right in front of your face, you may have come across the Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan.

This chicken-sized grouse stays hidden, until you are right upon it. Then it squawks and flies away.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An intense spring storm drenched the Inland Northwest early Tuesday morning, lighting up the sky and dropping needed rain.

Vaccine shot
Flickr / US Army Corps of Engineers

Washington state officials are warning residents to beware of scammers impersonating lottery workers, saying there have been several scams reported since the state rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine lottery.

“We will never ask you for personal information over the phone, or by email, or by text. We’re not going to ask you for your date of birth, your social security number, your phone number, your address, your banking information, your mother’s maiden name, none of that kind of thing."

Copyright 2021 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

Washington Department of Ecology screenshot

Wildfire season is upon us and clean air agencies are encouraging you to prepare now in case smoke wafts into your area this summer.

Stephanie May says her agency, the Spokane Clean Air Agency, and several others have declared this Smoke Ready Week.

Editor’s Note: Anna King knew John Zachara, he was a friend and colleague of her husband at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 

John Zachara was a brilliant geoscientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. And he had a dry sense of humor. 

In the mountains of British Columbia a decade ago, Zachara was really getting bugged by horse-flies. 

CREDIT COURTESY OF SRTC

Washington State is receiving more than $47 million in American Rescue Plan funding for public transit infrastructure projects, which includes one project in Eastern Washington and five in Western Washington.

According to a news release Friday from the Department of Transportation, the projects include $5.8 million for the Central City Line Bus Rapid Transit project in Spokane.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is now requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the college this fall.

According to a news release Thursday, all students who participate in classes on campus this fall must show proof of vaccination, though medical, or religious exceptions will be available.

Online graduate students are exempt from the new requirement.

Gonzaga joins several other universities in Washington state in requiring vaccination against COVID-19 including Washington State University, Eastern Washington State University and University of Washington.

Governors Inslee, Little Say Idaho And Washington Nearing COVID-19 Goals

Jun 10, 2021
TVW

More than two-thirds of Washington residents 16 and older have had at least their first COVID shots. That puts the state just four percentage points away from 70%, the goal Governor Jay Inslee established to reopen the state before June 30.

Here's one small item that shows state officials are worried about wildfires. The Department of Natural Resources says people may, temporarily, no longer use two of its properties in Stevens County as shooting ranges. They're worried shooters could spark fires in the dry conditions there.

Rebecca White/SPR

At the beginning of the pandemic, when the nation faced rampant unemployment, both landlord and tenant advocates predicted a tsunami of housing issues would overwhelm the courts, homeless, and housing services.

Those advocates are hoping that millions in rental assistance and several tenant laws that go into effect this summer in Washington could resolve that anticipated wave of evictions. But many fear that help won’t be ready in time.

Idaho Economy Continues To Improve, Says Governor

Jun 9, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Idaho Governor Brad Little says his state’s economy is booming as it continues to move past the Covid pandemic. 

Little’s office on Wednesday released new figures that show the Gem State collected nearly $600 million more in tax revenue than expected in May.

Nearly 12,000 acres of Easterday family farmland in Benton County will likely sell for more than its $210 million asking price, according to court documents and sources with knowledge of the deal.

Two big players are vying for the sweeping property near the Columbia River: Farmland Reserve’s AgriNorthwest, which is backed by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates’ Cottonwood Ag Management. 

Courtesy of Spokane County Assessors Office

Homeowners in Spokane County saw around a 12.6% increase in their assessed value this year, with some neighborhoods in Spokane seeing significantly higher spikes in value due to the tight housing market.

Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth Retires

Jun 8, 2021
Screenshot from SWX

The man who has overseen Gonzaga University’s incredible run in athletics over the last quarter-of-a-century announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Mike Roth will leave on August 31 after 24 years as athletic director and 34 years in Gonzaga’s athletics department.

WA Scientist Rolls Out New Longer-Term Smoke Forecast

Jun 8, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington’s state environmental agency has developed a new tool for determining where smoke from wildfires is going to disperse. The goal is to give people who are downwind more time so they can prepare.

Courtesy of ConstantCompanion.com

A walking tour in Spokane this fall will highlight historic sites where racial injustice, or violence occurred. Organizers say there are many about which the community likely doesn’t know.

Leslie McAuley is working with Gonzaga faculty and students and others to develop an event on September 18.

Courtesy Stevens County Fire District 1

Fire crews in Stevens County are urging the community to be cautious when using guns after several fires broke out at shooting ranges.

Officials say the most recent fire at the area known as Bogg’s Pit near Loon Lake was the third since April.

The largest burn was about two acres.

Flikr Creative Commons

Cannabis stores in Washington can now offer in store vaccines, with a complimentary joint.

According to a Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board news release, the “Joint for Jab” program goes from Monday until July 12. People getting a first or second vaccine dose at a vaccine clinic in a pot shop will be eligible for one pre-rolled joint.

The program is only for people 21 or older, and does not include any other cannabis products.

Courtesy of Charity Doyl

After a year of organizing and activism against hate, Asian and Pacific Islanders in Spokane are coming together, this time to celebrate their culture and heritage.

The Pacific Northwest is famous for churning out jet airliners, computer software and huckleberry syrup. The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials beginning June 18 in Eugene will showcase another local product: Olympic distance runners.

Courtesy of Irvine Seed Company

Washington State University has long been known for its agricultural research. Now it’s expanding its emphasis on a crop that was once considered fringe, but is now becoming more mainstream. It has created a center that focuses on marijuana-related issues.

Courtesy of Jacob Frank, National Park Service

Crews battled several small wildfires around the Inland Northwest over the weekend, many of them burning dry brush and whipped up by brisk winds.

TheBackyardGnome.com

Spokane County fire officials today [Friday] announced countywide burn restrictions as the fire danger increases due to dry conditions and brisk winds.


Dry summers are not unusual, says Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Greg Rogers. What’s different this year is the timing.

While Washington’s system has been strained for years, state officials and disability rights advocates say it effectively ground to a halt during the pandemic.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This week, Spokane Public Schools has broken ground for two of its three new middle schools.

On Wednesday, the district held a ceremony to formally begin the building of the new Denny Yasuhara Middle School in northeast Spokane. On Thursday, the district celebrated the beginning of construction at Pauline Flett Middle School near Albi Stadium.

Pages