Regional News

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward has chosen an outside advisor to assist her in addressing homelessness. This is a response to the resignations of several leaders in the city's Neighborhood, Housing and Human Services Department.

According to a news release Tuesday, Woodward has chosen Chris Patterson as a senior advisor on homeless issues. Patterson founded a mental health treatment service for youth and has worked under former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

He also grew up in Spokane in foster care.

Vaccine shot
Flickr / US Army Corps of Engineers

As Washington state’s vaccination rate approaches 70%, many more rural counties are lagging behind. Health officials are hoping trusted relationships with physicians will close that gap.

Cindy Wendle to Head Spokane United Soccer League

Jun 21, 2021
United Soccer League

Cindy Wendle, a Spokane businesswoman and a former candidate Spokane City Council President, will be the president of the United Soccer League Franchise in Spokane.

The United Soccer League was an advocate for Spokane Public Schools to build its new stadium downtown, and the organization will be the stadium’s first tenant.

Wendle has been heavily involved in Spokane County’s CARES Act program, is a board member of the Northeast Public Development Authority has been involved in local politics when she unsuccessfully ran for Spokane City Council President.

Parking Tickets to Double at the End of the Month

Jun 18, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Parking tickets for downtown Spokane are doubling at the end of the month.

Parking tickets are currently $15 in the downtown area, but due to a fee increased approved by Spokane City Council, the tickets will double to $30. The City Council voted to increase parking tickets after a study found the current fees and system often led to people overstaying parking spots in front of downtown businesses, making them difficult to access, and led to people circling through downtown looking for spots longer, which makes traffic worse.

Despite increasing vaccinations and relaxation of COVID-19 regulations across the state, state wildland firefighters will still need to follow strict COVID-19 protocols.

The Department of Health says more than 67% of the state's population over age 16 is now vaccinated against Covid. And while that certainly includes many who work on DNR fire crews, currently DNR managers have no way to determine who that might be.

Rebecca White/SPR

  Spokane County’s apartment vacancy rate has dropped to a historic low, a symptom of an ongoing housing crisis worsened by the pandemic that is impacting renters in most counties across the state.

According to the University of Washington’s Center for Real Estate Research, Spokane County’s vacancy rate for apartments is .5%.  Several other growing Eastern Washington counties, such as Yakima, Benton and Franklin Counties also had vacancy rates below 1%. King County’s vacancy rate was actually higher than usual, with about 7.1% of apartments being vacant in the spring apartment assessment.

Courtesy of City of Spokane

The city of Spokane will investigate allegations of racism against its city manager after a departing division director accused the city’s top employee of mistreating him because he is Black.

According to The Spokesman-Review, Cupid Alexander, the leader of the city’s homeless and neighborhood services department and the only Black leader at City Hall, announced he was resigning on Monday. On Wednesday, local media obtained emails from Alexander to city manager Johnnie Perkins alleging a pattern of mistreatment, and that Perkins was forcing him out early.  

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

Wildfire aid for Malden was held up by the White House for four months. A new  bill introduced by Cathy McMorris Rodgers could change that.

Here’s an excerpt of a video the congresswoman posted to her website.

“The Malden Act would do three main things – First It requires the president to approve or deny a disaster declaration within 30 days. If the request is not denied within 30 days, it is approved.”

It would also would require FEMA to provide resources to local emergency managers to help with their recovery and prepare them for other future emergencies.

Courtesy of City of Spokane

A departing director of the city’s homeless and neighborhoods services division has accused the city manager, who oversees all employees at city hall, of mistreating him because of his race, according to a report by The Spokesman-Review.

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."

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.

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.

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.

TVW

Washington State will offer lottery drawings and other prizes for people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee said the prizes, which include money, gaming systems, tuition and tickets to sporting events, will encourage immunization.

Rebecca White/SPR

The city is changing several of the homeless services it offers, remodeling its newest shelter on Mission Avenue and opening the Cannon Street shelter year-round.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced several updates to how the city responds to homelessness at a presser Thursday. She said the city’s newest shelter on Mission Avenue is being remodeled into a service center which will help people staying there get into long term housing, instead of continuing as a night by night shelter.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Public Schools is facing allegations of racism after a middle school teacher asked her students to clean cotton in class, an incident that left the only black students in the classroom feeling humiliated, say their representatives.

Vaccine Clinics Available at Spokane Fire Stations

Jun 2, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane residents can now get vaccinated at fire stations in their own neighbohoods. 

At the first vaccine clinic at a fire staion in northeast Spokane, Mayor Nadine Woodward said she hopes bringing shots directly to the communiy will make getting vaccinated easier, and bring Spokane one step closer to re-opening.

"We want to continue to push the importance of vaccines in our community. Spokane County is at 50% initial vaccination. We need to get to that 70% statewide in order to fully open June 30."

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington Board of Health says it will hold a hearing as it decides whether to take action after the removal of former Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Spokane Falls Community College

Local governments and critical public infrastructure are increasingly becoming the target of cyber-attacks. But some of those governments are working with a network of community colleges, technical schools and state universities to try to protect themselves, and give students an opportunity to get real-world training.

Spokane School Board Names Three New Middle Schools

May 26, 2021

The Spokane Public School Board has unanimously voted to name their new middle schools after a Japanese civil rights activist, the woman who saved the Spokane Salish language, and a Holocaust freedom fighter.

Spokane’s new middle schools will be named after Denny Yasuhara, Pauline Flett and Carla Peperzak.

Courtesy of Ping Ping

Violence against people of Asian descent has long been a part of American history, but it’s been especially vicious during the Covid pandemic.

“A man was captured on video downtown attacking an Asian couple, spitting on them, slapping the man’s face and yelling at them, quote, ‘It’s your fault.’”

That’s Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, speaking on the Senate floor after the body passed a resolution condemning Asian hate.

On Wednesday the Spokane Public School Board will choose names for three new middle schools.

The School Board will choose between the names of several civil rights icons, historical figures and community leaders.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County’s filing week closed with nearly 198 candidates filing for 122 public offices.

Spokane Unveils New North Bank Playground

May 21, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane City leaders cut the ribbon on one of the final Riverfront Park redevelopment projects Friday, the Ice Age Floods Playground.

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