Regional News

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

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Courtesy of Karina Hernandez.

Thirteen candidates are running for two seats on the Spokane Public School Board of directors. Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White spoke to ten of those candidates in a series of interviews.

Today, we’ll hear from Karina Hernandez. She is a stay-at-home mother who says she's running in hopes of increasing resources for children with non-traditional learning styles and disabilities. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Coeur d'Alene water officials say the hot weather this summer has translated into much higher water usage by residents. They're hoping they can convince people to conserve the precious resource.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate Daryl Geffken

Jul 20, 2021
Daryl Geffken

Spokane school board seats are in high demand this year. Thirteen candidates are running for two open seats during the August primary election.

Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White has spoken with nine of those candidates in the run-up to election. Today she talks with Daryl Geffken.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Department of Natural Resource lands will be closed to the public from Friday until further notice due to the growing danger of wildfires.

Elevated Fire Risk Continues In Inland NW On Tuesday

Jul 20, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for much of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. That’s in effect through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Spokane County’s air quality is listed as moderate this morning and it’s expected to remain there for a few days.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

About $200 million in federal pandemic rescue plan money are coming Spokane’s way. Local officials have outlined the deliberative public process they’ll use to decide how to spend it.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Melissa Bedford

Jul 19, 2021
Courtesy of Melissa Bedford

Spokane Public Radio has spoken to nine of the 13 candidates who are running for Spokane Public School Board of Directors.

An excerpt of an interview with each candidate will air in July and full interviews with each candidate is available online.

Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White spoke with candidate Melissa Bedford.

If you like cheering for hometown athletes -- or former Ducks, Zags or Huskies -- you're in luck when the Summer Olympics start in less than a week. The team rosters for the USA and a bunch of foreign countries are chockablock with athletes with Pacific Northwest ties.

By our count, 49 U.S. Olympians have strong connections to Oregon or Washington. At least 52 more athletes are at the Olympics representing foreign countries after starring for universities or turning pro in the Northwest.

Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center

Cooler temperatures and a bit more humidity are expected to help Northwest firefighters for the next day or two. But the winds from the west that are moderating temperatures may also help spread flames and embers from existing fires.

Rebecca White/SPR

Afterschool and summer programs that help children in northeast Spokane connect with safe recreation activities, literacy and science programs just received a $2 million boost from the federal government.

Since 2018 afterschool programs at northeast Spokane schools have introduced children to swimming lessons, new parks and educational opportunities.

Missy Nadvornick

Ballots are now in the hands of Washington for the August 3 primary election.

Voters are receiving some help this year. For the first time, counties are required to compile their own voters’ pamphlets to provide information about local candidates and measures.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is trying to convince legislative leaders to reconvene to consider legislation barring private employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated to stay employed. A prominent business group is opposing her.

Courtesy of

A new Washington State University study finds one species of songbird was so impacted by wildfire that it delayed the period where the males molted into bright plumage, thus postponing the breeding season.

The discovery was made in Australia by WSU researcher Jordan Boersma after a wildfire raced through the habitat of the red-backed fairywren.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

An Indiana professor who is researching pollution in household drinking wells is reaching out to residents of Airway Heights.

Jackie MacDonald Gibson is studying how chemicals known as PFAS affect individual drinking wells.

Flickr Creative Commons

Health care outreach workers in Spokane say they’re trying new methods to get skeptical non-vaccinated people to get their Covid shots.

Selina Leem from the health district says one strategy that has paid off in Spokane’s Marshallese community is to enlist the support of church leaders.

TVW screenshot

As wildfires burn around Washington, the state’s Department of Ecology has declared a climate emergency for most of the state. During a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee said most of the state is unnaturally dry.

Rebecca White/SPR

The group of community members and public officials who have been meeting for seven years to push for criminal justice reform in Spokane County met for what is likely the last time Wednesday.

During that meeting, many members expressed frustration, saying they’re concerned the new group will not focus on racial equity and have less community input.

More Wind May Help, Hurt NW Firefighting Efforts Thursday

Jul 14, 2021
Courtesy of Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center

Fire crews in the Northwest are bracing for more winds Wednesday evening as they battle wildfires that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres of parched land.

Earthquake researchers are eager to dig into a trove of new data about the offshore Cascadia fault zone. When Cascadia ruptures, it can trigger a megaquake known as "the Big One." The valuable new imaging of the geology off the Oregon, Washington and British Columbia coasts comes from a specialized research vessel.

National Weather Service Spokane

Temperatures in the Inland Northwest are still hotter than normal, and this week the region will also be more prone to fire danger and smoky air due to drought and wind.

Spokane Must Now Open Cooling Centers at 95 Degrees

Jul 13, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Cooling Centers opened in Spokane Public Libraries and at the Looff Carousel today and will be open until the temperature drops below 95 degrees.

The cooling centers re-opened after the Spokane City Council updated an ordinance outlining when the city needs to provide shelter – during heat, winter and smoke events.

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear called on the mayor’s administration to plan ahead for those events, which are likely to become more common due to the worsening climate crisis.

Lightning Ignites Several Fires On Colville Reservation

Jul 13, 2021
Courtesy of Colville Confederated Tribes

Northwest fire officials say there are 10 large fires burning in Washington and Oregon. That’s up two from Monday.
The newest triggered evacuations on the Colville Indian Reservation in eastern Washington.

Courtesy of Spokane Valley Career and Technical Education

Many employers in the U.S. are having trouble finding qualified workers as the country emerges from the pandemic. Spokane Valley manufacturing interests have decided one of the best ways to combat that is by developing their own workforce.

On Monday, several companies welcomed 20 high school students for the first day of a Production and Manufacturing Academy.

In August of last year, Tiffany Krueger feared her dream of owning and operating a fitness center would be crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee imposed new restrictions on gyms that nearly tripled the required space between class participants. For Krueger’s small gym, Athena Fitness and Wellness in Olympia, that meant further reducing class sizes.

Wildfires Spread Out All Over The Northwest

Jul 12, 2021
Courtesy of Northwest Interagency Coordinating Center

Federal wildfire officials say eight major fires are burning more than 220,000 acres in Washington and Oregon. That doesn’t count several other fires burning in Idaho.

UPDATE: Three new fires that ignited last night are burning on the Colville Indian reservation, including two near Nespelem.

Flickr Creative Commons/Cannabis Culture

You've probably heard the anecdotal evidence for years from sources as varied as school anti-drug programs to Cheech and Chong. Now, a WSU study seems to confirm what we have heard about cannabis use and memory issues.

The State Of Northwest Fires At The Beginning Of The Week

Jul 11, 2021
Courtesy of Idaho Fire Map

Wildfire season has intensified in the Inland Northwest, with the central Idaho mountains and the area where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho meet as the hot spots.

Rise Above

This week many local Native youth will participate in a basketball and volleyball Rise Above clinic in the Spokane Valley.

The clinic, interspersed with wellness programs and appearances from basketball and volleyball heavy weights, was inspired by founder Jaci McCormack’s experiences with sports, which she calls her saving grace.

McCormack is an Illinois State University women’s basketball legend and grew up on the Nez Perce reservation. She said basketball is where she always goes to find peace.

20 Spokane County Deaths Linked to Heat

Jul 9, 2021

In Spokane 20 deaths and many more medical emergencies have been linked to the heat wave that swept through the Pacific Northwest last week.

Many of the people who died due to heat exposure were found alone, without air conditioning. Health officials expect more deaths this summer across the region as unusually hot weather continues.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 78 deaths have been attributed to the heat, but the number is likely much higher due to delays in reporting from local governments and health districts.

Courtney Flatt/NW Public Broadcasting

Tribes across the Northwest called for immediate action to remove the four Lower Snake River dams during a two-day Salmon and Orca summit in western Washington. The group called on President Biden and congressional members to “take bold action, now.”