Regional News

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A well-organized and financed drive to create a national monument in Idaho's scenic Boulder-White Clouds backcountry is generating some push-back from a grassroots g roup. Patrick and Jenny Seefried live in MacKay Idaho on the eastern boundary of the proposed 570,000 acre national monument. They're opposed to any new protections for the rugged area.

Oregon Member of Congress Wants to Trash Reports

May 20, 2014

In the name of oversight, Congress demands thousands of reports each year from hundreds of federal agencies. But at least one Oregon member of Congress thinks it's silly to waste money on reports that are often never read, much less acted upon.

Coal-fired Power Plants in Governor's Crosshairs

May 19, 2014

Another round is beginning in the fight over clean-energy versus cheap-energy in the northwest. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is arm-twisting utilities - including Avista - to wean themselves off coal-generated power over the next several years.

The local race for Spokane county prosecutor includes a man who has worked as a lawyer for the past 24 years, and says it’s  time serious reforms of the system takes place. Breann Beggs says it’s time the status quo in the county justice system be shaken up.

Train derailments are not common in Spokane- the last major one happened in 1991. But in preparation for the worst, emergency managers did an exercise Monday to practice responding to a train derailment that involves hazardous materials.

Spokane will have its first charter school, Pride Prep, in 2015. It’s a major talking point among teachers and parents, but charters are just the tip of the iceberg for options in Spokane Public Schools. The district wants all parents to know the options, and is hosting a public meeting Monday.

Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

A vintage warbird is paying a visit to Spokane. The B-17 now called the Memphis Belle is in Spokane this week. The plane took the name of the legendary WWII plane when it starred in the 1990 movie of the same name. The real Memphis Belle resides in a museum.

Two Republican members of Congress - one from Oregon, the other from Washington - want to give counties veto power over national forest travel restrictions. A bill written by Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and cosponsored by Spokane-area Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers would strip the U.S. Forest Service of the power to write and enforce rules for motorized access to national lands.

There's No Stopping Bicyclists in Idaho

May 14, 2014

Washington is still considered the most bicycle-friendly state in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists, while neighboring Idaho is among the also-rans. But Idaho bike riders pedal under a law that bicyclists in Washington and Oregon covet.

Last week, the National Climate Assessment was issued. Now, a WSU researcher says some of the predictions could mean benefits, at least in the near term, for Eastern Washington agriculture.
Chad Kruger is the director of the WSU center for sustainable agriculture and natural resources. He was a co-author of the agriculture chapter of the North West climate assessment, a summary of which was used to put together the National Assessment. Most of that research focused on central and eastern Washington.

Residents of the Logan neighborhood next to Gonzaga got preliminary approval from the city council this week to give Hamilton street a facelift. Neighbors want a more livable, walkable community, but some city council members are concerned with how changes on Hamilton will affect plans for the North Spokane Corridor.

Entities who want permits to withdraw from the Spokane River will face more restrictions down the road. The state Department of Ecology is creating an instream flow rule for the river’s stem in Spokane County, and a portion in Stevens County.

Goats to Get Shrubs That Get the City's Goat

May 12, 2014

Heavy underbrush and voracious weeds on Coeur d'Alene's Tubbs Hill have gotten the city's goat. So, Coeur d'Alene is getting goats. A herd of more than 250 goats will be turned loose Wednesday on the city's unusual 120-acre park on the lake shore with instructions to chomp on shrubs that can turn into fire kindling during the hot, dry summer months.

The Selkirk Mountains are home to the last herd of mountain caribou in the lower 48 states. The southern Selkirk mountain herd of about 30 is listed as endangered under the ESA - endangered species act. But May 7th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed changing their status, and neither environmentalists nor snowmobilers are completely happy.

A sobering warning from noted glaciologists at the University of Washington. The enormous ice sheet covering much of the Antarctic is beginning to collapse, a process which will release enough water to raise the world's ocean levels by several feet.

Long-time Coeur d'Alene Indian tribe leader Ernie Stensgar thinks it's time to take away control of Native American trust funds from the federal government and let tribes handle the money. Stensgar, who is now chair of the Trust Reform Committee of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, has some powerful allies in his quest to control more than $4.5-billion in money held in trust for Indians - the entire Idaho congressional delegation.

Urban Goat Farmers Get Trained This Week in Spokane

May 7, 2014
Paige Browning

A goat eats about a ton of hay a year. That helpful little fact is part of curriculum for Spokane’s first ever urban goat-keeping class this Thursday. The new city ordinance that allows people to raise backyard livestock goes into effect on May 9th.

http://www.votebonniemager.com/

There is a familiar name in the race for Spokane County Commissioner, District 3. Former commissioner Bonnie Mager will try to win back the seat she lost to Al French four years ago. This time Mager has decided to run as an independent, rather than a Democrat. She says she would like to make the position non-partisan, but she's weighing in with some progressive opinions.

Washington State transportation planners are jostling to get part of a surviving relic of the 2009 stimulus package meant to pull the nation out of the great recession. In eastern Washington, the state wants to buttress a rickety old railroad and smooth out a highway bottleneck.

City Unveils $310M Water Plan to Public

May 5, 2014

A proposed clean water plan would divert an unprecedented amount of pollutants from the Spokane River, but cost taxpayers about 300-million dollars over five years. The mayor’s administration and city council are seeking public input on the Integrated Clean Water Plan on Monday.

 

Jokes about inaccurate weather forecasts are some of the oldest around. But a University of Washington atmospheric science professor says bad weather predictions are no joke.

Sun, Crowd, and Music for New City Hall Plaza

May 2, 2014

 

Avista Utilities celebrated its 125th anniversary by building Spokane a new City Hall Plaza, and sprucing up the adjacent Huntington Park. Paige Browning reports on the celebration at city hall on Friday. At Avista’s celebration, there was sun, a big crowd, and live music. Local teenage band Acuff and Sherfey played to the crowd outside city hall, where people gathered for the first time at the new plaza.

40 years ago, Spokane leaders were on the brink of hosting the world’s fair. Expo ‘74 made Spokane the city it is today, with a large park along the river, a major performing arts center, and a downtown core. On Saturday, the Spokane Parks Foundation invites the public to remember what happened here in 1974.

 

A new federal judge for the eastern district of Washington, centered in Spokane, has been confirmed by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate. He's 56-year old Stanley Bastian, managing partner of a Wenatchee law firm and a former president of the Washington State Bar Association.

If you are signed up for private insurance through Washington’s Health Exchange, don’t be surprised if you are asked to prove you are not in jail. The question may come as surprise. But it may come, even if you’ve never been convicted of a crime.

WSU Prof Develops Sleepy Driver Detector

Apr 28, 2014

 

Cars can do amazing things these days - up to and including driving themselves. So some specialized researchers at a WSU lab in Spokane figure a car ought to be able to tell when its human driver is about to doze off.

City Reaches Deal With Former Chief Stephens

Apr 26, 2014

The mayor of Spokane announced Friday a settlement between the city and a police officer. The city will pay Scott Stephens $190,000, equivalent to one year’s pay plus benefits as an assistant chief. When Stephens was demoted in December, the police chief received a report that Stephens made threatening statements due to his downgrading.  The city gave no direct explanation of this at the time, but placed Stephens on administrative leave.

The city of Spokane holds a groundbreaking Friday for a building centered on garbage trucks, plows, and other fleet. The new Nelson Service Center will be a one-stop shop for city fleet. Its primary roles will be as the home of solid waste management, i.e. garbage trucks, and as a fleet maintenance facility.

 

The Saturday Earth Day celebration will be in a familiar place. After a couple of years holding the event on the streets of downtown Spokane, the location has been changed back to Riverfront Park.

Sherry Urann is an Earth Day organizer. She says "moving Earth Day back in to the park is an opportunity to bring awareness to the beautiful river and the falls, and also to remind us of all the intentions that came with the building of the park during the 1974 World's Fair."

Research Blooms In the Idaho Desert

Apr 24, 2014

 

A flat, dry desert expanse out in the middle of nowhere may seem an odd place to build a cutting-edge research lab. But Idaho has one.A whole host of state, congressional and federal officials gathered at the Idaho National Laboratory the other day to celebrate opening of a new research lab they call the Energy Innovation Laboratory.

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