Regional News

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

Ways to Connect

Idaho Senate Approves Fetal Heartbeat/Abortion Bill

Apr 6, 2021
Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit abortions after six or eight weeks of pregnancy.

The name of the bill sponsored by Sen. Patti Anne Lodge [R-Canyon County] is the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.

Some 15,000 years ago, an ice dam broke in Montana. Water cascaded across the Northwest in some of the largest flooding ever to happen on Earth. And the Ka-milt-pah people climbed up to one of the highest points on the Columbia River.

“There were lookouts and warnings to the Ka-milt-pah band members. Prior to the big flood, they escaped the canyon,” says Elaine Harvey, a Ka-milt-pah member, known in English as the Rock Creek Band of the Yakama Nation.

Courtesy Spokane County

A bill that would force Spokane County to negotiate with the city of Spokane on how emergency communications are funded has now passed both chambers of the Washington legislature.

The bill follows a longstanding conflict between Spokane County and the City of Spokane over which government oversees the region’s 9-1-1 dispatch response.

That system is funded through a 2017 sales tax which created an entity called the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications. That group was meant to consolidate all 9-1-1 dispatchers under one agency.

The Pacific Northwest might seem like an unlikely place for mermaids and mermaid culture to catch on given the cold water here. Yet, putting on an eye-catching tail and pretending to be a mythical sea being is a thing across the Northwest. There's even a brand new mermaid museum near Aberdeen, Washington.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

CHAS Health is opening up a new mass vaccination clinic for anyone eligible to get a vaccine Wednesday at the Spokane Community College Campus.

Vaccinations are only available to those who qualify under the current state guidelines, which is people over the age of 60, people over 16 with some medical conditions. People who work in some fields such as agriculture or healthcare are also eligible now. Starting April 15, anyone over 16 will be able to get a vaccine there.

Gonzaga Men's Basketball Team Returns To Spokane

Apr 6, 2021
Courtesy of NCAA

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team returned to campus Tuesday afternoon, one day after losing the national championship game to Baylor.

In non-Covid years the players and coaches might have returned to a boisterous welcome. This year, though, the response was muted as the university restricted public access to avoid the potential spread of the virus.

Screenshot from NCAA



The magic ran out Monday night for the Gonzaga men’s basketball team. The Bulldogs lost to the Baylor Bears, 86-70, in the NCAA championship game in Indianapolis.

It was Gonzaga’s first loss after 31 wins.

If you have half-used paint cans piling up in your garage and just don’t know how to get rid of them, you’re in luck. Washington has started a new paint recycling program. It follows a similar, decade-old program in Oregon. 

Zoom screenshot

Idaho legislators will return to their 2021 session tomorrow [Tuesday] after a two-week recess. They took time off to allow a mini-Covid outbreak involving six House members to pass.

One of the items on their agenda: a second vote on accepting an early education grant. It was defeated because of concerns about the content of the curriculum.

Zags Play For First National Championship Monday Night

Apr 4, 2021
Screenshot from CBS Sports

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team will play tonight [Monday] for the national championship. The Bulldogs will try to cap their undefeated season with a win over the Baylor Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

On Saturday night, the Zags won a game that will be remembered for years. It was a tightly-contested 93-90 win in overtime over UCLA that was decided by a last-second shot from almost mid-court by freshman guard Jalen Suggs.

Courtesy of Veterans' Administration

The Veterans’ Administration in Spokane is expanding its Covid vaccination efforts to veterans, their caregivers and family members.

The expansion is authorized by the Saves Lives Act approved recently by Congress.

Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington transportation crews on Monday will begin their annual ritual of removing snow from a 37-mile stretch of the North Cascades Highway.

The effort usually takes four-to-six weeks.

Screenshot from CBS Sports

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team will play for the national championship.

On Saturday night, the Bulldogs defeated the UCLA Bruins, 93-90 in overtime, on a last-second 45-foot jump shot by freshman guard Jalen Suggs.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Police officers have broad job descriptions these days. Not only do they look for and investigate crime, but they’re also asked to be social workers and mediators. And, on occasion, they also serve as emergency medical technicians.

Last week, some Spokane officers went through a new round of medical training.

The two states are both led by strong Democratic majorities and face similar issues. Only one of them is successfully passing legislation.

Flickr Creative Commons

When Washington opens Covid vaccinations to anyone older than 16 on April 15, some believe that will lead to a rush of new people that will overwhelm the state’s Covid vaccine application system. The Department of Health's Michele Roberts isn’t so sure.

TVW screenshot

The Washington and Idaho legislatures are moving into the final weeks of their 2021 sessions.

Citizens interested in specific bills can track them online using their assigned bill numbers. Those rarely change. But sometimes in Washington the letters attached to bills do change, and they provide clues as to the bills’ legislative journeys.

Courtesy of City of Airway Heights

Nearly four years ago, the city of Airway Heights discovered its water was contaminated by firefighting chemicals used at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base. Now, the city is asking the state of Washington to pitch in for a new source of clean drinking water.

After months of waiting for Washington's most vulnerable residents to be vaccinated, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that he's relaxing eligibility requirements to include everyone age 16 and older, beginning April 15.

Updated April 1, 2021, 5:50 p.m. PT:

Washington rancher Cody Easterday pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal district court to defrauding Tyson Foods Inc. and another company out of more than $244 million. Easterday admitted charging the companies for the costs of purchasing and feeding hundreds of thousands of fictitious cattle.

What’s the background on all this Easterday – Tyson “Cattlegate” stuff? See previous coverage from Anna King here.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state will soon make Covid vaccine available to anyone older than 16, effective April 15.

Inslee made his announcement this afternoon [Wednesday].

Flickr Creative Commons

The Covid vaccine will soon be available to anyone 16 and older in Washington and Idaho. But what happens if a 16- or 17-year-old wants to be inoculated, yet his or her parents say no?

Courtesy of CHAS Health

A small percentage of people who’ve been vaccinated in Washington and Idaho have become infected with COVID-19. Health officials say that’s not a sign the vaccine doesn’t work, or that people should cast aside public health guidelines.

Courtesy of Gonzaga University

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team is headed to the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament. The Bulldogs beat Southern California Tuesday to punch their ticket.

Screenshot from Murray Roundtable

Spokane County officials say they allocated about $23 million in CARES Act money last fall to help small companies stay afloat during the pandemic. On Tuesday they reported that money went to more than 1,100 small businesses and nearly 200 non-profits.

The next batch of relief money for small businesses is on the way, says Sen. Patty Murray [D-Washington].

More folks from Pacific Northwest government and industry are jumping on the hydrogen bandwagon to test if the alternative fuel could be a viable and green replacement for diesel and gasoline in some situations. The potential converts include more than half a dozen transit agencies from Everett to Eugene, state legislators and Boeing's drone subsidiary in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Northwest farmers who grow potatoes for your French fries are themselves plenty fried.

The three massive agribusiness companies that make much of the world’s frozen fries, tots and hashbrowns are going to pay Northwest potato farmers less this year. 

“It really is a punch in the gut,” says Adam Weber, a 27-year-old, third-generation grower in Quincy in Washington’s Columbia Basin.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner is offering a possible solution to financing for preserving some desirable property in south Spokane.

The future of the 48-acre Pilcher property, located between Latah Creek and the bottom of High Drive Bluff Park, has been up in the air for a couple years.

 

Courtesy of State of Idaho

Washington and Idaho health officials say each state has recorded about 100 cases of people who contracted Covid after receiving a vaccine. Those are called “breakthrough” cases.

In Washington, the number is 102. In Idaho, it’s 97.

Spokane County Sheriff Deputies To Equip Body Cameras

Mar 29, 2021
Flikr Commons

Every sheriff’s deputy in Spokane County could soon be equipped with body cameras by the end of this year.

The Spokane Police Department has had body cameras for years, along with Lincoln County, which borders Spokane County. Leaders in Spokane County had previously hesitated when asked to purchase them, over concerns about how much it could cost the county to respond to public records requests.

Pages