Regional News

The latest stories from Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest News Network.

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The US Supreme Court's decision upholding Michigan's ban on affirmative action criteria in college admissions is unlikely to set off ripples in Washington State's legal and social fabric. Washington has had a similar ban in place since 1998.

 

In a long-running wage dispute between the Washington Department of Social and Health Services and hundreds of its disgruntled case workers, the state agency demanded to know the identities of whistle-blowing employees. In an unusual case, a federal appeals court panel firmly said "no."

Even though marijuana has been legalized in Washington State, that hasn’t prevented a Kettle Falls-area family from being charged in Federal court with marijuana manufacturing charges.

Federal DEA agents raided the rural property of 70 year old Larry Harvey and his 55 year old wife Rhonda Firestack-Harvey in August of 2012 and seized 44 immature marijuana plants.

It’s a big weekend for music lovers, Saturday is Record Store Day. Indie record stores nationwide are taking part in the event, and that holds true in Spokane. Bob Gallager runs the 4,000 Holes record store on north Monroe Street. He says the event started about six years ago, when Indie stores were looking to drum up more business, as the economy was starting to fade.

 

Plans for a new span on the Columbia River I-5 corridor are dead, but some spending in the long and expensive planning process is rising zombie-like to bedevil the Washington State Department of Transportation. Washington State Auditor Troy Kelly has found more than $17-million in questionable - or undocumented - expenditures in the state's bill of $188-million for a long, fruitless study of a new bridge to link Washington and Oregon.

Firefighters Go Digital With Patient Medical Info

Apr 17, 2014

Firefighters in Spokane are phasing out a reporting system in place since the late 1800’s. As of Monday the Spokane Fire Department will collect patient information digitally, instead of by pen and paper. Since 1884, the department has recorded medical info on paper for patients in medical emergencies. Now, firefighters will pull out a tablet computer and type into software called Patient Care Reporting (ePCR).

 

Inland Northwest Girl Scouts got a rare visit from their national CEO Wednesday. Girl Scouts of America CEO Anna Maria Chavez gave the keynote address at the Spokane chapter’s annual leadership luncheon. With her direction, young girls are ignoring the label ‘bossy’.

Huge Potholes Ahead for Highway Trust Fund

Apr 15, 2014

 

Washington Senator Patty Murray leaned hard on the horn this week, trying to warn Congress that the federal highway trust fund is going broke faster than anyone thought. The Department of Transportation warned the trust fund will run out of gas completely by the end of August, rather than in October as first projected.

Moratorium Halts Future Drive-Thru’s on Hamilton

Apr 15, 2014

 

The Spokane city council made sure last night that a new McDonald’s restaurant will be the only drive-thru only business on the Hamilton corridor, at least for the near future. Monday night, council member Amber Waldref proposed a moratorium to prohibit certain business permits for the next six months.

The Washington Employment Security Department says a new program with the Federal Treasury has allowed them to collect money from people who received unemployment payments, who actually were working.

 

The rail lines in the Inland Northwest are at capacity, even before proposed coal and oil projects bring more trains through the region. That’s the upshot of a report by a transportation expert from Montana, who presented his findings at Gonzaga University Tuesday. Terry Whiteside is a principal in Whiteside and Associates. His firm analyzed rail impacts from all proposed coal export facilities in the northwest, including two in Washington and one in Oregon.

 

An interim review of Boeing's progress on building a fleet of new aerial tankers for the Air Force gives the company high marks for sticking to a strict budget. But government auditors are worried about some possible hurdles ahead. The first four test tankers have been built - they're essentially engineering test beds - and may be flown by the middle of next year.

The city administration will start the process of creating a police ombudsman commission this month. The commission will be made up of Spokane citizens, and its formation begins with two public hearings. The police ombudsman is tasked with reviewing police conduct and doing outreach with citizens. The commission will monitor the quality of the ombudsman’s work, and can request the ombudsman perform further investigations.

 

Police in Spokane have arrested a second suspect in the murder of Spokane businessman Douglas Carlile. The Spokane Police Department says suspect Robby Wahrer drove the van used in the killing. Suspect Timothy Suckow is charged with first-degree murder in Carlile’s death. Major Crimes Lieutenant Mark Griffiths says officers arrested Wahrer on Thursday for second degree murder and conspiracy to commit second degree murder.

 

When a citizen uses deadly force against another person, their actions are reviewed through the scope of Washington state law. Part of Washington law explains when it is justifiable for a person to commit homicide. Deputy Travis Pendell at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office says it’s important people know the law in terms of protecting their safety.

 

Officials at WSU Spokane have commissioned a feasibility study to look at the possibility of starting their own medical school. While WSU Spokane is already in a partnership with the University of Washington that offers a four year medical program, WSU Spokane officials believe the Spokane school is a good position to offer its own program.

BPA Water Planners Aren't Celebrating Just Yet

Apr 10, 2014

 

The people who run the sprawling Columbia River water system are giving the current water supply outlook a thumbs up. But they also have their fingers crossed. Bonneville Power Administration hydrologists are still somewhat off balance after a roller coaster winter - from a so-so December to an alarming drought in early February to deluges of rain and snow last month.

4,200 Ponderosas Planted to Kick of Volunteer Week

Apr 10, 2014

The volunteer week Spokane Gives begins Saturday, through collaboration between the mayor’s office and non-profits. The seeds planted Saturday will start a week of growth in the volunteer community. The seeds being planted are literal. Local Boy Scout troops will plant more that 4,000 Ponderosa Pine seedlings along the developing north-south corridor.

Idaho Loses Medicaid Reimbursement Dispute

Apr 7, 2014

 

The State of Idaho took on the federal government in a court case over Medicaid reimbursement rates, and lost. Five Idaho corporations which provide basic life skills - routine functions such as bathing, eating and laundry - sued the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare three years ago in federal court. The Medicaid providers argued that they were losing money under Idaho's budget restrictions because their  reimbursements had been frozen since July 2006.

Deborah Amos is a familiar name to NPR listeners. She has reported for years as a foreign correspondent, often reporting from the Middle East. Amos will be in Spokane this week, taking part in the Get Lit! festival.

Washington insurance commissioner Mike Kriedler is happy with the number of people who have signed up for medical insurance or qualified for Medicaid in the state. Kriedler says prior to authorization of the Affordable Care Act, it was estimated there were a million people in Washington without health insurance.

It seems last ditch efforts by neighbors will not stop McDonald’s from building a drive-thru only location in Spokane. Emails between the two parties this week suggest the drive-thru will open in June, as planned.

Representatives from McDonald’s approached the city for a building permit last spring, and the planning department granted it this February. That’s when Logan neighborhood stakeholders like Karen Byrd found out. 

Medical marijuana patients in Washington State should probably not have to worry about federal intervention at this point. But a member of the Washington Liquor control board says the fate of medical marijuana dispensaries is uncertain.

Poker in the Cards For Coeur d' Alene Casino

Apr 1, 2014

Another political and legal fight may be brewing between the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the State of Idaho - this one, over poker. The tribe plans to add poker to its attractions at the Worley casino, even though state officials say it would clearly be illegal under state law. The move might also violate the tribe's 1992 agreement with the state, and federal regulations to boot.

Given the amount of rain and snow in eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle this month. it may hard to think of a drought disaster area in the rich farm region of southern Idaho.

An Idaho Falls man who fired at - and hit - the White House in 2011, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on terrorism and weapons offenses. For months before he drove 2,000 miles from Idaho to Washington D.C. 23-year old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez had been telling acquaintances that he was on a mission from God to "take out" President Barack Obama.

 

The wedding day for about 7,000 same-sex couples in Washington is just three months away. It’s not a date they chose, but one set by the state’s same-sex marriage law. Some couples are excited, but others never planned to marry at all. Washington state is phasing out same-sex domestic partnerships, now that the couples can marry.

Mayor Vetoes Anti-Sprawl, Urban-Growth Ordinance

Mar 31, 2014

 

Monday, the mayor of Spokane made a rare use of his veto power and rejected a city council resolution regarding the urban growth area. Mayor David Condon says he will veto a recent resolution that barred contested developments outside the city limits from accessing city utilities.

 

The super-sized restaurant chain McDonald’s has planned a new location near Gonzaga University. That came as a surprise to neighbors, who found out in February.

Driving down Hamilton street past Safeway grocery, you’ll see a backhoe moving dirt under a brand new McDonald’s sign. The company chose this spot for a new drive-thru only location, adding to just a handful of its drive-thru only restaurants in the world.

Speed and Ease the Keys to Voter Registration Drives

Mar 28, 2014

 

A new Washington State study shows that people eligible to vote - but not registered to do so - are more likely to become voters if the process is quick and simple. The study done for the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), boiled down to a marketing effort.

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