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Medical Students 'Match' With Post-Graduation Employers

Mar 20, 2021
Courtesy of WSU College of Medicine

Fourth-year students at Washington’s three medical schools now know where they will be working after they collect their diplomas this spring.

About 40% of the first graduating class of Washington State University’s medical school learned on Friday that they will stay in-state. Here's where two of them will land.

With March Madness getting into full swing this weekend, it's a safe bet that some area fans want to wager on their favored teams in the NCAA basketball tournament. Placing a legal bet on college basketball is virtually impossible in the Pacific Northwest for the time being, though there are changes afoot.

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Six Idaho legislators have tested positive for the coronavirus and, as a result, the legislature is taking a two-week break. House Speaker Scott Bedke broke the news today.

“I’m not all that surprised," he said. "We knew it was a possibility and we planned for it as best we could. It would have been nice if we could have finished completely, but we didn’t. We will come back and finish the job.”

Courtesy of WSU College of Medicine

Today [Friday] is a big day for fourth-year medical students in Spokane and around the country. It’s the day when they learn where they will begin their careers as medical doctors.

It’s also a milestone day for the WSU College of Medicine. Its first class of students matched today.

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little is not a big fan of the federal Covid aid package. He says it’s too expensive and rewards governments and businesses that have irresponsibly spent money during the pandemic. Nevertheless, he said on Thursday the Gem State will accept its share.

Washington’s eviction moratorium will be extended through June and two million more Washingtonians will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 31.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the moratorium extension and the speeded-up vaccine timeline at a virtual news conference on Thursday.

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.

Screenshot from Kootenai County Elections Office

An Idaho House committee has voted to change the years in which voters elect local and regional leaders.

In Idaho, and Washington for that matter, voters decide state and national races in even-numbered years and local races in odd-numbered years. That system shortchanges the local races, says Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt [R-Eagle].

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.

Last June, Washington’s chief revenue forecaster delivered the bad news to state lawmakers and state officials.

“The longest economic expansion in U.S. history is, unfortunately, over. We are now in a recession,” Steve Lerch told the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

At the time, Lerch projected the state would lose nearly $9 billion in revenues over four years. But he also emphasized there was a lot of uncertainty in the forecast.

Sure enough, the September and November forecasts weren’t nearly as bleak. Taken together they reduced the almost $9 billion drop to a projected $3.3 billion reduction.

Then came Wednesday's March revenue forecast. It showed the state returning to pre-pandemic revenue levels.

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. 

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

Courtesy of Downtown Spokane Partnership

During a school district public forum on the location of a planned stadium, many parents and business owners said they were open to a downtown location.

ID House Committee Approves Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Bill

Mar 17, 2021
Idaho Public TV screenshot

An Idaho Senate committee has advanced a bill that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The vote on Thursday came after testimony from people such as Angela Dwyer from Stanton Healthcare. That’s a Boise-based crisis pregnancy center.

TVW screenshot

The Washington and Idaho legislatures are right in the thick of their 2021 sessions. Idaho lawmakers expect to finish by March 26. Washington’s session is scheduled to end on April 25.

Even during sessions held during a pandemic, people who can’t travel to Olympia or Boise can keep an eye on what their elected representatives are doing. In Idaho, most of the proceedings are viewable online through Idaho Public Television. In Washington, coverage is provided by TVW.

Idaho’s boat inspection stations are up and running again this spring on roads and highways entering and leaving the Gem State.

Interest in them has been renewed with the discovery of zebra and quagga mussels in the region about two weeks ago.

Cattle rustling is as old as the West. And a recent $225 million alleged cattle heist involving Easterday Ranches and Tyson Fresh Meats in Washington is one of the largest cases in U.S. history.               

And that case, like others nowadays, happened on paper, not on the range.

This coming Sunday, March 21, will mark one year since the U.S. and Canada closed their shared border to nonessential crossings due to the pandemic. It's anybody's guess when the border might reopen for discretionary trips. In the meantime, every weekend rain or shine, Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington, becomes a happening meetup point for couples and families separated by the northern border.

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.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

On Tuesday, members of Spokane’s chapter of Veterans for Peace looked back 53 years to the My Lai massacre, an event some believe turned American public opinion against the Vietnam War.

Here are a few moments from the gathering at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Riverfront Park, starting with the chapter’s vice president, George Taylor.

Courtesy of Dr. Michael McDonell

Washington State University College of Medicine Associate Research Professor Kate Hirchak and her colleagues are asking this question: Which incentives motivate American Indian and Alaska Native people with severe alcohol addictions to stop drinking, at least for a few days?

Gonzaga, WSU Women To Participate In March Madness

Mar 15, 2021
Courtesy of NCAA

The women’s March Madness national basketball tournament will include two Inland Northwest teams, Gonzaga and Washington State.

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.  

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An Idaho House committee has approved a bill that prohibits the state or any local government agency from imposing a mask mandate to deal with an infectious disease.

The legislation says entities such as health districts may recommend wearing masks, but not require it.

The bill had broad support during a Monday hearing in Boise. 

Next Covid Vaccine Phase in WA Opens On Wednesday

Mar 15, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington will open Covid vaccinations to a new group of people on Wednesday.

The new phase will add high-risk workers in certain settings where there are large numbers of people: grocery stores, food processing and correctional facilities, fishing vessels and buses. It will also apply to people 16 and older who are pregnant or who have a disability that puts them at high risk for severe disease if they contract the virus.

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.

Gonzaga, EWU Men's BB Teams Set To Go In NCAA Tournament

Mar 15, 2021
Courtesy of NCAA

The NCAA tournament will begin on Saturday for the Gonzaga and Eastern Washington University men’s basketball teams. On Sunday, the two teams learned about their seedings in the 68-team tournament, which begins next weekend in Indianapolis.

Deadline Approaches For Wildfire-Related Loans

Mar 15, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Small Business Administration says the window is still open for people and firms harmed by last September’s wildfires.

The federal agency is reminding eastern Washington and north Idaho residents interested in wildfire-related loans due to last September’s fires that they must apply by April 12.

Courtesy of Post Falls School District

About 40 school officials in eastern Washington are asking Governor Jay Inslee for flexibility in how they space students in their schools.

Ocean conditions can be integral to salmon survival. And in 2021, the Pacific Northwest’s iconic fish will face a mixed bag: some good and some bad conditions while out at sea.

Salmon survive best when the water is cooler along the coast and warmer farther out. Colder La Niña conditions have also led to higher salmon counts. Right now, that’s exactly what’s happening. But things will likely change over the summer.