Regional News

Spokane Public Schools

This spring two black students at Sacajawea Middle School said their teacher had subjected them to an offensive, and traumatizing lesson where they were told to clean cotton in class. Spokane Public Schools hired a third-party to investigate a complaint filed by the ACLU on the student’s behalf.

That investigation was released to the public Friday.

According to the report, investigators verified that a cotton cleaning lesson did occur, but students were not forced to participate.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane City Council will discuss a series of housing, and development incentives during their meeting Monday that could spur new affordable housing projects, and preserve the existing supply of housing in Spokane.

Housing costs for both renters, and prospective home buyers, have skyrocketed in Spokane this summer, with many reporting rent increases of 50% or higher. Many first-time homebuyers have also been shut out of the market due to escalating prices.

Pandhandle Health District.

The hot temperatures this summer have promoted algae growth at some area lakes, and Idaho officials are warning people to try to avoid contact with contaminated lake water, which can be a health threat.

The algae appears as discolored water, streaks or globs of scum, or thick green matts along the shore.

National Weather Service

Eastern and central Washington should prepare for an intense, but short, heat wave this weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rebekah Cheatham says temperatures on Friday and Saturday will be close to as hot as they were during the record-breaking heat wave at the end of June.

Fernan Lake Under Health Advisory After Algal Bloom

Jul 28, 2021
Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

The Pandhandle Health District has detected toxins that are dangerous to human health in Fernan Lake.

According to a press release, toxins have been found across the entire body of water due to algal blooms. The dramatic increase in algae looks like thick green mats or scum in the water.

Health officials are urging people who recreate, or fish on the lake to be cautious and avoid exposure to the water. Toxins can’t be removed by boiling or filtration, and can contaminate fish caught in the lake.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Center for Disease Control is now recommending everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks while indoors due to an increase in infections driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Dr. Francisco Velazquez, the Spokane Regional Health District’s interim health officer, said the Delta, as well as other variants, have been detected in Spokane County.

Spokane has received about half of the precipitation it normally receives by this time in the summer.

Since January 1, the city has seen only 4.88" of precipitation. The 30-year average is 9.58" for the same time frame. Even so, this year comes in as the fourth driest on record for that time period.

Algal Bloom Puts Hayden Lake Under Health Restrictions

Jul 27, 2021
Panhandle Health District

Panhandle Health officials are urging people to be cautious when swimming, or fishing in the northern portion of Hayden Lake due to a harmful algal bloom.

Algal blooms can produce dangerous bacteria in high concentrations.  They can look like an algal mat or murky, or scummy water.

Health officials are asking people who use Hayden Lake for drinking water to be careful, because boiling, or filtering it may not remove the toxins.

They are also urging people who are exposed algae to wash with clean water.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

After loosening masking recommendations for vaccinated people, the CDC is now urging people in areas with high COVID-19 case rates to put on a face mask when indoors.

Spokane Mayor Declares Housing Emergency

Jul 27, 2021
City of Spokane

Mayor Nadine Woodward has declared a housing emergency as housing cost and scarcity continue to skyrocket in the city of Spokane.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Jake Leadingham

Jul 26, 2021
Jake Leadingham

Thirteen candidates are running for two seats on the Spokane Public School Board of directors. Our Rebecca White spoke to nine of those candidates in a series of interviews that airing on Spokane Public Radio.

Jake Leadingham is a member of the National Guard and also works as an analyst. 

Leadingham said he is primarily running because he is concerned that the school board is promoting critical race theory.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Kenneth Cameron

Jul 26, 2021
Ken Cameron

Two openings on the Spokane Public School Board have attracted 13 candidates.

Nine of those candidates agreed to interviews with Spokane Public Radio that are airing during the primary election.

Today, we’re introducing Ken Cameron, who recently retired as the owner of a promotional products business.

He said he's running on behalf of school board constients who currently don't feel heard. 

Spokane Public School Candidate: Rion Ametu

Jul 23, 2021

Thirteen candidates are running for two open seats on the Spokane Public Schools Board.

Nine of those candidates agreed to interviews with Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White.

Today, we’re introducing candidate Rion Ametu. He is a Navy Veteran and Fed Ex driver, who said he is running to ensure the school board follows through its pledge to improve racial equity.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Kata Dean

Jul 21, 2021
Courtesy of Kata Dean

Spokane Public School District voters will see 13 candidates on their ballot for two open positions this year. 

Nine of those candidates agreed to speak with Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White. 

Today we’re introducing Kata Dean. She is a stay at home mother of 5 who said her highest priority is getting children back in school, and caught up after a year at home.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate Daryl Geffken

Jul 20, 2021
Daryl Geffken

Spokane school board seats are in high demand this year. Thirteen candidates are running for two open seats during the August primary election.

Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White has spoken with nine of those candidates in the run-up to election. Today she talks with Daryl Geffken.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Department of Natural Resource lands will be closed to the public from Friday until further notice due to the growing danger of wildfires.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Melissa Bedford

Jul 19, 2021
Courtesy of Melissa Bedford

Spokane Public Radio has spoken to nine of the 13 candidates who are running for Spokane Public School Board of Directors.

An excerpt of an interview with each candidate will air in July and full interviews with each candidate is available online.

Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White spoke with candidate Melissa Bedford.

Rebecca White/SPR

Afterschool and summer programs that help children in northeast Spokane connect with safe recreation activities, literacy and science programs just received a $2 million boost from the federal government.

Since 2018 afterschool programs at northeast Spokane schools have introduced children to swimming lessons, new parks and educational opportunities.

Rebecca White/SPR

The group of community members and public officials who have been meeting for seven years to push for criminal justice reform in Spokane County met for what is likely the last time Wednesday.

During that meeting, many members expressed frustration, saying they’re concerned the new group will not focus on racial equity and have less community input.

National Weather Service Spokane

Temperatures in the Inland Northwest are still hotter than normal, and this week the region will also be more prone to fire danger and smoky air due to drought and wind.

Spokane Must Now Open Cooling Centers at 95 Degrees

Jul 13, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Cooling Centers opened in Spokane Public Libraries and at the Looff Carousel today and will be open until the temperature drops below 95 degrees.

The cooling centers re-opened after the Spokane City Council updated an ordinance outlining when the city needs to provide shelter – during heat, winter and smoke events.

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear called on the mayor’s administration to plan ahead for those events, which are likely to become more common due to the worsening climate crisis.

Rise Above

This week many local Native youth will participate in a basketball and volleyball Rise Above clinic in the Spokane Valley.

The clinic, interspersed with wellness programs and appearances from basketball and volleyball heavy weights, was inspired by founder Jaci McCormack’s experiences with sports, which she calls her saving grace.

McCormack is an Illinois State University women’s basketball legend and grew up on the Nez Perce reservation. She said basketball is where she always goes to find peace.

20 Spokane County Deaths Linked to Heat

Jul 9, 2021

In Spokane 20 deaths and many more medical emergencies have been linked to the heat wave that swept through the Pacific Northwest last week.

Many of the people who died due to heat exposure were found alone, without air conditioning. Health officials expect more deaths this summer across the region as unusually hot weather continues.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 78 deaths have been attributed to the heat, but the number is likely much higher due to delays in reporting from local governments and health districts.

Courtesy of National Weather Service

  

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that 17 people in Spokane County have died from heat related illnesses in the last week.

The Pacific Northwest experienced record breaking temperatures, with the city of Spokane reaching an all-time high of 109 last Tuesday.

According to the Medical Examiner, the county saw more heat exposure deaths in the last seven days, than in the last six years. Since 2015, there had been 13 heat exposure deaths.

Jacob Frank/National Park Service

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Tuesday due to wildfires.

According to a press release, Inslee’s proclamation bans most outdoor and agricultural burning until the end of September.

Fire Danger To Increase Tuesday Night, Wednesday

Jul 5, 2021
National Weather Service Spokane

The National Weather Center is warning of extreme fire danger Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Lightning storms, dry conditions and winds are expected to combine Tuesday evening and Wednesday, priming Eastern Washington and North Idaho for wildfires.

Evacuation Ordered For 250-Acre Fire Outside Cheney

Jul 5, 2021
Spokane Fire District 8 Firefighters

Firefighters worked overnight to contain a wildfire burning near Cheney.

As of Monday evening, the Andrus Road fire had charred more than 250 acres, according to a tweet from Washington State Patrol Jeff Sevigney. It’s burning near the Marshall Cemetery.

Eleven Deaths in Spokane Area Linked to Record Heat

Jul 1, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

In the aftermath of the record-breaking heat wave, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office has linked 11 deaths to the hazardous conditions.

The medical examiner has not yet completed autopsies on many of those death to confirm the cause.

Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane school board voted this week to change the identities of several schools. Most notably, it renamed Sheridan Elementary after Spokane civil rights leader Frances Scott.

Jerrall Haynes, chair of the Spokane Public School Board, said he fully supported the new name, and said it was personally significant to him.

Spokane Public School Board Approves New Boundaries

Jul 1, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane Public Schools Board unanimously approved new boundaries during its Wednesday night meeting, the district’s first major boundary change in 40 years.

Spokane Public Schools' new boundaries are designed to keep neighborhoods of students, and cohorts of children together during the transition from elementary to middle school to high school.

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