Regional News

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.

Courtesy of Spokane County

The record-breaking heat hitting the northwest is damaging infrastructure, including roads in the greater Spokane region.

At least one unincorporated Spokane County road has been closed due to damage caused by the heat. Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, the information and outreach coordinator for Spokane County Public Works, said the heat makes the road more susceptible to damage.

“When you’ve got a road surface that’s softening because of the heat, those tires are going to chew up the road surface. It’s not unlike studded tires chewing up asphalt.”

Washington, Oregon Economies Now Open

Jun 30, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Wednesday both Washington and Oregon re-opened their economies.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is holding celebratory events around the state, including a stop late Wednesday afternoon in downtown Spokane.

Kalispel Tribe Purchases Spokane County Race Track

Jun 29, 2021
Kalispel tribe of indians

Spokane County announced Tuesday that it’s selling its raceway in Airway Heights to the Kalispel Tribe for six-point-one million dollars.

The tribe was reportedly the first to offer to buy the 243-acre property. A competing buyer made counteroffers, but the tribe upped its bid and won the right to buy the property.

The sale includes not just the raceway oval, but existing buildings, some business-related equipment and the land on which they sit.

A Washington state firefighter was hurt battling a fire in Kittitas County on Sunday.

The Department of Natural Resources reports the crew member sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries and is resting in a hospital. The person’s name hasn’t been released.

The Koffman Road Fire, as it is called, began on Sunday and has burned more than 400 acres of grass and brush. It has since been contained.

Spokane Transit Offering Free Rides to Cooling Centers

Jun 29, 2021

Spokane Transit says it’s working with Avista to make free bus rides available to people who want to find a cooling center to get out of the heat.

The agency says it will provide door-to-door transportation, to and from the centers. People who want a ride must call 509-328-1552 at least two hours in advance. They must wear a mask on all transit vehicles.

The service is available immediately and will continue through Friday.

Power Outages Likely To Continue Through Heat Wave

Jun 29, 2021
Avista Utilities

Power outages caused by the record-breaking heat wave could continue for the rest of the week, as high electric use and hot conditions strain the Inland Northwest’s power grid.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The unprecedented heat in the region this week poses some extra challenges for those with vegetable gardens.

 

With temperatures in the triple digits for the next several days in the Inland  Northwest many plants could stop producing food and blossoms, wilt or die.

Courtesy of National Weather Service

Spokane has broken its all-time record high temperature. At 4 pm the National Weather Service reported the temperature at its Spokane International Airport facility had reached 109.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County has had three commissioners for most of its history as a government, but will have five elected by district starting next year.

A committee has been chosen to draw the lines for the new districts and has about five months left to complete the task. The group’s chair says they need feedback from the public now.

Official public hearings and information sessions start next month.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

As temperatures approach record levels, the city of Spokane will open the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park as well as public libraries to those with no other option to escape the heat.

TVW

A college student in Spokane is one of a handful of vaccinated people across the state to win a $250,000 prize for getting a shot.

In a news conference Thursday, the winner, only identified by the Governor’s Office as Marissa P, addressed the public alongside Governor Jay Inslee.

“Well like he said, my names Marissa, I’m from Spokane, I’m pre-nursing and I’m so honored to be here, I feel so blessed to be here. I just want to say stay healthy, stay safe and go get vaccinated.”

Rebecca White/SPR

Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that he is extending many eviction protections until September, but tenant and housing advocates are concerned that changes to the moratorium are confusing and could lead to a false sense of security.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane will soon have both men, and women’s professional soccer.

The coalition of businesses, local elected leaders and a professional soccer league that lobbied to have the new Spokane Public Schools outdoor stadium downtown announced that a pre-professional women’s team will be launching in Spokane next year.

Cindy Wendle, the president of United Soccer League Spokane said the women’s team will provide opportunity and role models for younger girls in soccer programs in the community, and is one of the 30 national leagues launching.

National Weather Service

Health and fire officials are expecting the region next week to experience both a heat wave and, potentially, smoke from wildfires – a dangerous combination that could cause a spike in both heat stroke and respiratory illnesses.

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