Regional News

Courtesy of Tyler LeMasters

Two people are suing Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters, asking a judge to remove him from the November ballot.

They argue he doesn’t meet a key requirement to be eligible to be a city council member, being a resident of his district for a year.

Rebecca White/SPR

As COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizing continue to soar, Spokane’s top health official is again urging people to get vaccinated.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County had 165 people in the hospital Tuesday and 347 new cases. Spokane County has not seen daily case counts this high since last winter. 

In a briefing Wednesday, Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez said the region’s hospitals are strained.

Massive Spike In COVID-19 Expected In Idaho This Fall

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of State of Idaho

Idaho health officials are bracing for increased Covid cases by fall.

They say the numbers will be as bad, or worse as previous surges.

Spokane County to Recount Votes for Two Primary Races

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

Two Spokane County races will be recounted next week due to a close margin in a Spokane City Council Race and a tie for second place in the town of Rockford.

The Spokane County election results were verified Tuesday. In the final count Jonathan Bingle came in first in the race for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, and candidate Naghmana Sherazi came in second.

Candidate Luc Jasmin however, was only four votes behind Sherazi, which triggered a recount for that race.

Rebecca White/SPR

Since Dolores DeSantis and her husband were moved to the Spokane area by the Air Force a year ago, they’ve tried to buy a house. They were outbid every time.

After a notice from her landlord last week, many rentals feel out of reach as well.

Her rent is going up by 37%.

East Of The Cascades Under Air Quality Alert

Aug 12, 2021
Washington State Department of Ecology.

All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.  

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.

Quazoo.com

Fairchild Air Force Base is preparing for a Department of Defense mandate requiring service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

A group of environmental advocates and a Spokane city councilwoman are suing to stop an initiative that would bar city leaders from banning new natural gas hookups. They want to keep it off the ballot.

They argue it would hamper the region’s ability to fight climate change.

U.S. Forest Service

People in northeast Washington are weighing in on a proposal to add new wilderness areas to the Colville National Forest. Some support the idea, others are wary.

The proposal is part of the management plan for the Colville National Forest that was released two years ago. It calls for designating 61 thousand acres as wilderness. That means it would be essentially off limits to motorized travel, with a few exceptions.

That concerns Merrill Ott, a former Stevens County commissioner who represents the Tri-County Motorized Recreation Association.

Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

At least one race in Spokane County's August primary election is likely headed for a recount. Only two votes separate candidates for the Northeast City Council Districts in their race for that coveted second-place spot.

In the race to represent the open seat in the Northeast district, event business owner Jonathan Bingle came in first with about 46% of votes. Naghmana Sherazi, who works in the diversity and inclusion office at Gonzaga University, and Luc Jasmin, a day care owner, are vying for second with a little more than 26% of the vote each. Sherazi's up by two votes.

TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Washington State is mandating vaccination for state employees and contractors.

The requirement for state workers to get vaccinations comes as a spike in new COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant hits the state, increasing the burden on hospitals.

Former Spokane Police Officer Charged With Rape

Aug 4, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A former Spokane police officer has been arrested for allegedly raping and unlawfully imprisoning a woman.

Nathan Nash was booked into the Spokane County Jail Wednesday, according to a release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Nash was first accused of rape in 2019 by a woman who was a victim of domestic violence. Nash responded to her original call and followed up later alone, saying he needed to document her injuries.

During the second call, he allegedly raped the woman.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane Regional Health District is reporting that 92.7% of the region’s ICU beds are full.

About 7.8% of those ICU beds are confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to an email from the health district Wednesday.

That comes the same day the district reported more than 270 new cases of COVID-19 and 85 hospitalizations.

Rebecca White/SPR

Voters overwhelmingly backed an Eastern Washington University professor and a financial advisor for an open school board position, narrowing a crowded field. A stay at home mom and operations manager at a food bank pulled ahead in the race for the other open school board seat.

Office of the Governor

Idaho Governor Brad Little made an appeal Tuesday to Idaho residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

His request comes during a dramatic increase in positive cases.

This weekend air quality in the Spokane area reached unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke. This summer air quality in Okanogan County briefly was the worst in the world due to wildfires.

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.

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.

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