Regional News

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a 5-year police contract that will give police officers raises and remove barriers to civilian oversight.

City Council Members and Mayor Nadine Woodward have praised the contract, saying it complies with a city charter amendment passed in 2013. The charter required the city to allow a police ombudsman to independently investigate potential police conduct and publish reports on his findings.

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A bill that would restructure how emergency communication is funded in Spokane County has passed the state House.

The bill is the latest entry into a conflict between Spokane County and the City of Spokane over how the region responds to 911 calls. It was sponsored by Spokane Democrat Marcus Riccelli.

Spokane County’s emergency dispatch services are funded through a 2017 sales tax which created a new organization called Spokane Regional Emergency Communications. That group was designed to consolidate 911 call takers under one agency.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane’s city Flag Commission says it has picked a dozen finalists for a new city flag. They were chosen from 400 citizen submissions.

 

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A new bill that would provide one electronic learning device for every K-12 student in the state has passed the House in Olympia.

The bill was prompted by the Covid pandemic and the closure of many, which have relied on remote learning for students isolated at home.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Throughout the pandemic, communities of color have been hit disproportionately hard, with higher death, and hospitalization rates. When the state’s eviction moratorium ends this month, many believe that people of color will be disproportionally impacted as well.  

Terri Anderson, Director of the Spokane Chapter of the Tenant’s Union of Washington State, said Black and Latino families, especially in Spokane, are much more likely to be renters. They were underserved when rental assistance was distributed into the community during the pandemic.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

After four years of negotiating the city of Spokane is set to adopt a new police contract on Monday.

The contract has garnered praise from most city leaders, but some fear it still gives the Spokane Police Guild too much power over the office voters approved to oversee police misconduct.  

Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County Jail staff have asked for a $32 million temporary jail to replace an aging facility near the airport they argue is near the end of its usable life.

The Geiger Jail facility is a 50-year-old former military base which can handle around 300 inmates. Spokane County Detention Services Director Mike Sparber said it has serious sewage and infrastructure problems that could cost millions to fix.

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Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking people to temporarily take down their bird feeders because of a salmonella outbreak.

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman says sick birds are being reported all over the region. The initial reports came in at first from the west side of the state, but after an online page was set up to take reports of sick birds.

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Washington's Covid vaccinations are getting back on track after harsh winter weather nationwide slowed down shipments last week.

Many scheduled immunizations had to be canceled, but this week picked up pace again. Department of Health officials say one day this week, a record 5,000 doses were administered at the mass vaccination sites.

High Winds, Some Power Outages Expected Monday Night

Feb 22, 2021
Courtesy of the National Weather Service

Some residents across the greater Spokane region could lose power late this afternoon and tonight as strong winds hit the area.

The National Weather Service issued an advisory Monday warning winds could be around 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 miles per an hour. The warning is in effect for the area ranging from Spokane to Moses Lake and South to Walla Walla.

Courtesy of the State of Idaho

An Idaho Senate committee said yes Friday to a bill that would make it harder for the public to put initiatives up for a statewide vote.

The committee approved a proposal by Kootenai County Republican Senator Steve Vick. His bill would require initiative sponsors to collect signatures from at least six percent of registered voters in all 35 legislative districts. Current law requires six percent from just 18 districts.

Hoopfest To Host Spring Outdoor Basketball League

Feb 19, 2021
Jeremy Burnham/SPR

Hoopfest, Spokane's famed three-on-three basketball tournament, is extending its popular outdoor, all ages event to more than one weekend a year.

The organization has announced it will host an outdoor league, starting in March.


Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

 

A more infectious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Southwest Idaho.

 

The variant was identified in an adult man who told health officials he had recently traveled internationally, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Health. The variant is known as B.1.351 and was first detected in South Africa.

 

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Washington state health officials say they are working to make sure distribution of the Covid vaccine is equitable. That means it’s distributed in the same proportion to minority groups as to the population as a whole.

Recently, the head of the Washington Department of Health, Umair Shah, said further analysis of numbers of those vaccinated shows better progress toward that goal than initially thought.

Courtesy of Nine Mile Falls School District

Spokane area school districts are heeding the call of Governor Inslee and President Biden to bring more students back to school.

Most, if not all, have had at least some children attending since day one of the academic year. But now individual districts are moving at their own pace in easing in older students or expanding the number of days in the classroom.


courtesy of Amazon

Amazon announced Thursday that it will open a new Fulfillment Center in Spokane Valley.

The new center will be located at 18007 E. Garland Ave and will process larger orders like pet food, outdoor workout equipment and cleaning supplies, according to a news release. 


Some COVID-19 vaccine doses delayed due to weather

Feb 17, 2021
Courtesy of CHAS Health

Weather delays have pushed back both first and second dose vaccinations around the country as the nation experiences a historic cold snap.

Those delays have impacted Spokane vaccinations as well. Providence Healthcare announced Tuesday that Wednesday’s second dose vaccines would be delayed due to weather.

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Washington’s Senate Ways and Means Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would put in place more rules dealing with landlords and tenants during the Covid-19 emergency.

Last year, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation that put in place an eviction moratorium to help those facing financial difficulties because of the pandemic.

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

As Washington rolls out the COVID-19 vaccine for its most vulnerable residents, new data shows significant racial disparities in coronavirus immunizations. People at both the local and state levels say they’re taking steps to address those.

One of the biggest vaccine disparities is among those who identify as Hispanic. According to Washington State Health Department data, Hispanics make up 4.7% of people who have at least one dose of the vaccine, but 13.2% of the population.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

After four years of negotiating the city could soon have a new police contract.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced the contract in a press conference Friday and members of the city council and police union both voiced their support.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane is slowly, but surely making progress on protecting its homeless population from the coronavirus.

Kylie Kingsbury, the homeless outreach coordinator for the Spokane Regional Health District said 184 vaccines had been given at homeless shelters since the end of January.


Kate Burke won't seek reelection

Feb 11, 2021
City of Spokane

A Spokane city councilwoman has announced she won't run for a second term. That move inserts some intrigue in a council district that commonly elects people with a variety of views.

Spokane City Councilwoman Kate Burke announced she will not seek a second term. She made the announcement in a Facebook post Wednesday saying she’s cherished the opportunity, but wanted to make space for others.

Eastern Washington to move to Phase 2 of re-opening

Feb 11, 2021

The door has opened a little wider for Spokane and eastern Washington counties as they emerge from the pandemic. 

Governor Jay Inslee announced during a press conference Thursday that the East region of the state, which includes Spokane and eight other counties have met the metrics to move to Phase 2. The criteria the region had to meet included a flat or declining hospitalization, positivity and new cases rate. 

Spokane Police Department

Police are investigating a hate crime Monday after a Jewish temple in Spokane was vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols.

When workers arrived at Temple Beth Shalom Monday, they found the Holocaust memorial and the side of the temple had been vandalized, according to the Spokane Police Department. Police suspect a white man last seen wearing blue jeans, a dark jacket and a red mask spray painted Swastikas on the temple. He was caught on Temple Beth Shalom’s security cameras Monday.

TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s Roadmap for Recovery has drawn rebuke from some Republicans, Democrats and local public health districts from both sides of the state.


Doug Nadvornick/SPR

More than 26% of Spokane County voters have returned their ballots for next Tuesday’s special election. That ballot includes levies from 14 school districts.

Jesse Harding

Proponents of a rail to trail corridor in Ferry County are worried that their county commissioners have plans to introduce motorized vehicles adjacent to the path.

In 2009, Ferry County residents voted by 61 percent to allow only non-motorized use of the old railway.

Now, trail organizers say it appears the county is ignoring that public vote, and looking to allow motorized vehicle use, like all terrain vehicles alongside the trail on the county’s right-of- way.

Democratic congressional candidate Lisa Brown is hopeful that Congress can come up with some sort of plan to assist the children of illegal immigrants. Many of these children are in a state of limbo now that President Trump has overturned the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

Brown says the latest version of the ‘Dream Act” that would grant a conditional green card to current DACA recipients sounds promising, but she worries what it might take for it to actually pass both houses of Congress:

KPBX Image

This show co-features an interview and performance by Dawn Wolski, General Director , Opera Coeur d'Alene and Sandra Piques Eddy who plays Carmen in the upcoming Coeur d'Alene Opera and Spokane Symphony co-production of Carmen. Wolski also plays Frasquita, a companion of Carmen. 

West Side Story

Angela Pierson and Duncan Menzies play Anita and Tony respectively. In today's performance they sing the songs Something's Coming and A Boy Like That.

Photo courtesy WildEarth Guardians via Flickr

A forest ecologist says that requests for more forest thinning to reduce the threat of fire danger are misguided.

The number of wildfires burning across the west has prompted some lawmakers to call for more timber harvest to reduce the threat of wildlife by reducing the number of dead and dying trees, many of them suffering the effects of bark beetles.

One ecologist says that the real issue is a warmer climate, and calls for more thinning are just a way to please the timber industry.

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