Regional News

The Spokane City Council has unanimously voted to acknowledge the injustices committed against Native Americans and that City Hall sits on is tribal land.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Karen Stratton, whose mother was a Spokane Tribe member, said she was proud of the resolution, and the commitment it represents.

Rebecca White/SPR

Many living in long-term care facilities have spent the last year in isolation. But as more and more people are vaccinated, families can reconnect and see their loved ones in person.

After a year of missed holidays and milestones, Nannette Mogensen is celebrating her 84th birthday with her family.

Mogensen is now fully vaccinated and lives in Touchmark, a senior living facility on Spokane’s South Hill.  On Sunday, her three children and two of her granddaughters surprised her.

“Happy Birthday, mother, I love you,” says Shelly Christensen, Mogensen’s daughter.  

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that a corrections’ officer's use of lethal force against a 70-year-old woman last December was justified.

According to a news release, Sgt. Justin White shot Nancy King after King allegedly pulled a knife and tried to force her way into the jail lobby. The release says White ordered her to drop the weapon before he shot, and she continued to walk toward him.

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition

Many families have spent the last year isolated, struggling with unemployment and under intense stress. All of those are risk factors for domestic violence.

Current job data show that women were more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic then men. That puts women in abusive relationships in difficult, or sometimes dangerous situations.   

Morgan Colburn is the Director of Counseling, Advocacy and Outreach at YWCA Spokane.

Fully Electric Bus Unveiled in Spokane

Mar 18, 2021
Courtesy of SRTC

The Spokane Transit Authority has unveiled a 60-foot electric bus that might remind people of the city's defunct street car system.

“It’s meant to operate like a streetcar in other cities,” Brandon Rapez Betty of Spokane Transit said. “It’s so much more affordable and it’s a lot more flexible to accommodate our downtown events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest.”

He said the bus was also designed to invoke the image of a train, with a dark front fading to lilac. He said it’s much quieter than the diesel engines most of the current buses have, and releases zero emissions.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward urged the community to stay resilient, and continue to support its local businesses, during a virtual State of the city address Wednesday.

Rebecca White/SPR

On Wednesday many high-risk workers, people who have medical conditions or are pregnant became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Spokane Regional Health District briefing Wednesday, Dr. Mark Schemmel, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, urged everyone eligible, especially those who are pregnant, to contact a doctor and get a vaccine. 

Spokane City, County Clash Over Collecting Utility Tax

Mar 16, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

More than eleven years after approving it, the city of Spokane is considering whether to collect a 20% utility tax on the county’s wastewater plant. If it moves ahead, other local governments say they may sue.

According to Spokane city code, the city may collect 20% of the gross income from a wastewater treatment facility.

Rebecca White/SPR

A little more than $217 million in federal stimulus will soon be available in the Spokane region, which local leaders say is a gamechanger for economic recovery.

Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs said the city, which is slated to receive about $84 million, could potentially use the funds to make long-term investments to move the entire economy forward.

“This is a historic amount of money,” Beggs said.  

Downtown Spokane Partnership

Spokane residents can again weigh in on whether they prefer a new stadium downtown, or on Joe Albi’s current site.

Spokane Public Schools is set to begin construction on a replacement for Joe Albi on its current site starting next month. But, last week the School Board decided to ask the public if they wanted a stadium downtown after a proposal from coalition of hospitality groups and a professional soccer league.

Wikimedia Commons

North Central High School will consider officially changing its mascot after a group of Native American students raised concerns that the symbol is dehumanizing to Indigenous people.

North Central High School has had an Indian as its mascot for almost 100 years, adopting it in 1923. In the 1990s students voted to not use the symbol for athletic events, but it is still visible on school property, and the image is used by the Alumni Association.

Courtesy of Downtown Spokane Partnership

A month before the Spokane Public School Board is scheduled to start construction on a new Joe Albi Stadium, they will again ask constituents if they want the stadium to be built downtown instead.

The pivot comes after a request from a coalition of business organizations and hospitality leaders as well as a professional soccer league.

Whitworth President Leaving for Job in Alabama

Mar 10, 2021
Courtesy of Whitworth University

Whitworth University President Beck Taylor is taking another job at a private Christian School in Alabama.

Taylor will become president of Samford University in Homewood, Alabama in July. Taylor has led Whitworth since 2010 and is its 18th president. According to a university news release, he will resign May 31.

Wikimedia Commons

Under current law possessing psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, could lead to five years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Under a new proposal that could soon be before city of Spokane voters, the city would be barred from using resources to prosecute or police the substance.

Mason Lord is the chair of Decriminalize Spokane and the sponsor of a city initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. He said if he can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, Spokane voters could join a national effort to change policies around mushrooms and other plant-based substances that carry heavy legal penalties.

Wikimedia Commons

The city of Spokane Valley is preparing to add more restrictions to its camping code, which bars people from living, or storing their belongings on public property.

The original ordinance is more than a year old, and city officials have never issued a citation or a ticket, said Morgan Koudelka, the senior analyst who manages the city’s homeless policy.

Wikimedia Commons

An employee for the company that drives school buses for the Spokane School district has died amidst a COVID-19 outbreak.

The employee was one of more than two dozen who has tested positive during an outbreak among Durham School Services workers. Durham contracts with Spokane Public Schools to provide bus services to the district.

Courtesy Downtown Spokane Partnership

The entity that owns and operates the Spokane Arena has thrown its support behind a proposal to build the new Joe Albi stadium downtown. And the entity that's building that stadium will entertain the idea.

On Tuesday, a group of business and hospitality leaders as well as a professional soccer league renewed their request to have the replacement for Joe Albi built downtown. They argue their newest proposal will save voters money by having the Spokane Public Facilities District cover maintenance and operations costs. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The city of Spokane released a report Wednesday that shows disparities in interactions between police the community.

The city hired a consulting firm to analyze the last three years of data that includes arrests and other interactions with the public. The firm found racial disparities in 911 and Crime Check calls to police and disparities in use of force.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Republicans have chosen a former U.S. Attorney and GOP party leader to help redistrict Spokane County.

Senate Republicans chose Robin Ball, the owner of Sharp Shooters gun shop and the former chair of the Spokane County Republican Party. House Republicans chose Jim McDevitt, a former U.S. Attorney, as their representative in the county's redistricting.

Sen. Mike Padden, who represents Spokane Valley, confirmed the nominees Tuesday.

Courtesy of Downtown Spokane Partnership.

A coalition of business, hospitality leaders and a professional soccer league are again asking Spokane Public Schools to consider building the new Joe Albi Stadium downtown.

Business and hospitality groups have been advocating that a new stadium be built downtown for years.

They argue it would be a boon for business and attract professional sports teams. Voters were asked if they wanted a stadium downtown, or at the current Joe Albi site in 2018.  About 64% voted no.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

 

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Flikr Commons

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.

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