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On a recent afternoon in Lacey, Washington police were dispatched to a report of a domestic assault that had occurred on the street in public view. Passersby reported that a man had pushed a woman to the ground and kicked her.

When the first officer arrived, he ordered the man, who was holding a glass bottle, to his knees.

Instead, the man turned toward the officer and started yelling, according to a police report of the incident. At that point, the officer pulled out his Taser and called for back-up.

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.  

Otto Kitsinger/Idaho STEM EcosySTEM

This week, students in Coeur d’Alene are working on a summer construction project. They’re directed by Barbara Mueller from the non-profit organization Gizmo CDA, an organization that is all about teaching people by making things.

Some of the biggest names in American running have bowed out of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials as the 10-day competition moves into the starting blocks in Eugene. The scratches open a lane for a new generation of stars to earn spots in the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

In quick succession earlier this week, steeplechase medalist Evan Jager of Portland, three-time Olympian Shannon Rowbury, who also trains in Portland, and 10,000 meter American record holder Molly Huddle announced their withdrawals from the 2021 Olympic Trials.

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.

Courtesy of American Red Cross

American Red Cross officials say they are urgently looking for blood donors right now.

They say there's a shortage caused by an increase in demand, combined with fewer people donating during the Covid pandemic.

Courtesy of University of Idaho

Anthropologists from the University of Idaho and 16 students yesterday wrapped up a two-week archaeological dig on the North Idaho College campus in Coeur d’Alene.

It was led by U of I Anthropology Professors Katrina Eichner and Mark Warner.

“It’s kind of looking to see if there is evidence of Fort Sherman that has been in the area, if there’s still existing evidence of Fort Sherman in the places we’re testing or if it’s been chewed up," Warner said.

A former caregiver for people with developmental disabilities has been criminally charged in connection with the 2019 death of a client who ingested a large amount of household cleaning vinegar.

Fikirte T. Aseged, 43, is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with third-degree assault, a felony, and reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor.

The Attorney General’s office announced the charges Tuesday following a nearly two-year investigation.

If you’ve ever been hiking in the Cascades, high up in the alpine meadows, and were spooked by a streak of a bird, a plume of feathers that darted right in front of your face, you may have come across the Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan.

This chicken-sized grouse stays hidden, until you are right upon it. Then it squawks and flies away.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An intense spring storm drenched the Inland Northwest early Tuesday morning, lighting up the sky and dropping needed rain.

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."

Copyright 2021 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

Washington Department of Ecology screenshot

Wildfire season is upon us and clean air agencies are encouraging you to prepare now in case smoke wafts into your area this summer.

Stephanie May says her agency, the Spokane Clean Air Agency, and several others have declared this Smoke Ready Week.

Editor’s Note: Anna King knew John Zachara, he was a friend and colleague of her husband at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 

John Zachara was a brilliant geoscientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. And he had a dry sense of humor. 

In the mountains of British Columbia a decade ago, Zachara was really getting bugged by horse-flies. 

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.

Idaho Economy Continues To Improve, Says Governor

Jun 9, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Idaho Governor Brad Little says his state’s economy is booming as it continues to move past the Covid pandemic. 

Little’s office on Wednesday released new figures that show the Gem State collected nearly $600 million more in tax revenue than expected in May.

Nearly 12,000 acres of Easterday family farmland in Benton County will likely sell for more than its $210 million asking price, according to court documents and sources with knowledge of the deal.

Two big players are vying for the sweeping property near the Columbia River: Farmland Reserve’s AgriNorthwest, which is backed by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates’ Cottonwood Ag Management. 

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.

Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth Retires

Jun 8, 2021
Screenshot from SWX

The man who has overseen Gonzaga University’s incredible run in athletics over the last quarter-of-a-century announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Mike Roth will leave on August 31 after 24 years as athletic director and 34 years in Gonzaga’s athletics department.

WA Scientist Rolls Out New Longer-Term Smoke Forecast

Jun 8, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington’s state environmental agency has developed a new tool for determining where smoke from wildfires is going to disperse. The goal is to give people who are downwind more time so they can prepare.

Courtesy of ConstantCompanion.com

A walking tour in Spokane this fall will highlight historic sites where racial injustice, or violence occurred. Organizers say there are many about which the community likely doesn’t know.

Leslie McAuley is working with Gonzaga faculty and students and others to develop an event on September 18.

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.

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