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Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says school districts must now offer in-person options for children to attend school.

“By April 5, all students in kindergarten-through-six must have the opportunity to engage in an onsite, hybrid model of instruction. By April 19, all other K-through-12 students must be offered a hybrid model of instruction," Inslee said on Friday.

Spokane Indians Celebrate Having Fans Back In 2021

Mar 12, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane Indians Baseball Club

The Spokane Indians minor league baseball club welcomed the news about the move to Phase 3 in Washington. It means they’ll have actually have a season with fans in the seats.

The season opens May 4.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health is moving its vaccine prioritization soon to more essential workers rather than just those over the age of 65. But one set of workers not found on the priority list is restaurant employees.

Wikimedia Commons

North Central High School will consider officially changing its mascot after a group of Native American students raised concerns that the symbol is dehumanizing to Indigenous people.

North Central High School has had an Indian as its mascot for almost 100 years, adopting it in 1923. In the 1990s students voted to not use the symbol for athletic events, but it is still visible on school property, and the image is used by the Alumni Association.

Residents of the Pacific Northwest will have to set their clocks ahead by an hour this weekend to move onto daylight saving time. The Oregon and Washington legislatures voted nearly two years ago to stay on daylight time year-round -- joined later by Idaho and British Columbia -- but still the biannual time change ritual and associated grumbling persists.

It's the news many have been waiting for. Starting March 22, all 39 Washington counties will advance to Phase 3 under a revised COVID-19 reopening plan Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled on  Thursday.

Courtesy of Idaho Secretary of State

The Idaho legislature is a step closer to making it more difficult to legalize drugs such as marijuana.

A House committee voted Thursday to put a constitutional amendment before voters. It would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the legislature to allow the possession and use of drugs that are now considered illegal.

The proposal comes as advocates of medical marijuana have begun to collect signatures for a 2022 state initiative.

Idaho Moves Closer To Allowing Industrial Hemp

Mar 11, 2021
Flickr Creative Commons/Marcia O'Connor

An Idaho Senate committee has approved a bill that would lead to a new industrial hemp industry in the Gem State. Idaho is the only state in the nation not to allow farmers to grow and companies to process industrial hemp, according to Global Hemp Industries.

But the Idaho Farm Bureau, represented at a Thursday hearing by Braden Jensen, is asking legislators to change that.

Courtesy of Downtown Spokane Partnership

A month before the Spokane Public School Board is scheduled to start construction on a new Joe Albi Stadium, they will again ask constituents if they want the stadium to be built downtown instead.

The pivot comes after a request from a coalition of business organizations and hospitality leaders as well as a professional soccer league.

ID School Levies: Lower Winning Margins, Larger Turnout

Mar 10, 2021
Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene School District

There are a few similarities when you review school levy results from Spokane and Kootenai counties during the last two months. While most of the levies were approved, the winning margins have been smaller than in past years.

We talked with representatives of two north Idaho districts that had successful measures on Tuesday.

Idaho House Says No To Ban On Residential Picketing

Mar 10, 2021
Courtesy of State of Idaho

The Idaho House has killed a bill that would have made it illegal for protestors to picket in front of someone’s home.

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Brooke Green [D-Boise] because of an incident last April. Activist Ammon Bundy and others picketed the home of a Boise-area police officer who arrested a woman who refused to leave a city park that was closed for Covid reasons.

All But Two North Idaho School Levies Pass

Mar 10, 2021
Courtesy of Lakeland School District

Voters in north Idaho approved most of the school levies on Tuesday’s ballot, a few by narrow margins.

Two have apparently fallen short. The West Bonner County School District measure has about 46% approval. The Post Falls levy is 33 votes behind out of 2,900 ballots cast.

There are also tight margins in the Boundary County and Lakeland School Districts, but with the opposite result.

Washington’s 105-day legislative session has crossed the halfway point and a key deadline for policy (non-budget) bills to clear their chamber of origin has passed. Majority Democrats are moving swiftly to enact a pandemic-era agenda focused on issues like tax reform, police accountability, racial equity and global climate change. Minority Republicans, meanwhile, are seeing a few of their bills advance while also objecting to much of what Democrats are pushing forward. So, what’s moving and what’s not? Let’s take a look.

Whitworth President Leaving for Job in Alabama

Mar 10, 2021
Courtesy of Whitworth University

Whitworth University President Beck Taylor is taking another job at a private Christian School in Alabama.

Taylor will become president of Samford University in Homewood, Alabama in July. Taylor has led Whitworth since 2010 and is its 18th president. According to a university news release, he will resign May 31.

Courtesy of Pullman Regional Hospital

Many people are eager to get their Covid vaccine shots. Others are in no hurry. Still others say there’s no way they’ll be vaccinated.

Leaders at Pullman’s hospital say they’ve had some success in convincing some of their vaccine hesitant employees to take the needle.

Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene School District

Two Kootenai County school levies are on the verge of being approved, one other is too close to call, if Tuesday night’s results hold.

In the Coeur d’Alene School District, voters have given a two-year, $40 million levy nearly 60% approval, with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.

Screenshot from ESPN

The Gonzaga men’s and women’s basketball teams are both headed back to the NCAA’s “Big Dance.” Both came back from double-digit deficits to beat teams from Brigham Young University.

Trees have a little secret you might not know about. Yes, they produce oxygen. Yes, they take in carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas. But, they also emit methane.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that can be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.

“Just about every tree we measured had elevated amounts of methane in it. And that was consistent across the Northwest with a variety of different species,” says Nick Ward, a scientist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Wikimedia Commons

Under current law possessing psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, could lead to five years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Under a new proposal that could soon be before city of Spokane voters, the city would be barred from using resources to prosecute or police the substance.

Mason Lord is the chair of Decriminalize Spokane and the sponsor of a city initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. He said if he can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, Spokane voters could join a national effort to change policies around mushrooms and other plant-based substances that carry heavy legal penalties.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington House on Tuesday unanimously approved a wildfire prevention and forest health bill and sent it to the Senate.

Among other things, the bill would create a fund that would receive $125 million each biennium. That would pay for programs that help to make communities and forested areas less susceptible to wildfires, says Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene School District

An Idaho House committee has said yes to a bill that would allow school employees to bring guns to their workplace.

Rep. Chad Christensen [R-Ammon] says his bill is aimed at giving schools a chance to respond immediately in case someone comes to campus and starts shooting.

A public utility in North Central Washington broke ground Monday for a hydrogen production facility. It's one of several related actions in the Pacific Northwest that reflect renewed interest in hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel.

Flikr Commons

A Spokane County Sheriff Deputy is on administrative leave after a confrontation that left a Chattaroy landowner in the hospital.

According to a press release from the Sheriff’s office, the landowner called law enforcement after discovering a theft on his property. After calling the sheriff’s office, he went to his property to secure it, and was armed. According to the release, the Sheriff’s Office was not informed that he had returned.

IDOC Booking photo

The man convicted of killing a Kootenai County family and abducting their children may never face the death penalty.

Joseph E. Duncan has been on death row for more than a decade, but may not survive to his execution date. Duncan, according to court filings, has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Wikimedia Commons

The city of Spokane Valley is preparing to add more restrictions to its camping code, which bars people from living, or storing their belongings on public property.

The original ordinance is more than a year old, and city officials have never issued a citation or a ticket, said Morgan Koudelka, the senior analyst who manages the city’s homeless policy.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

If you’ve received your Covid shots, the CDC has announced it’s ok to get together, without masks, with others who have been inoculated.
Seattle infectious disease expert Shireesha Dhanireddy says she agrees, to a point.

Idaho Legislature Wades Into Dam Breaching Debate

Mar 8, 2021
Screenshot from Rep. Mike Simpson video

Idaho’s legislature has weighed into the newly-reignited regional conversation about whether to breach four lower Snake River dams. A Senate committee on Monday approved a memorial that praises the dams for the role they play in the regional economy and culture.

State of Idaho

Idaho officials say the days of time-consuming searches for Covid vaccines in the Gem State are over.

“What we’ve done is created one spot where people can go and they can enter their information and say, 'I’m interested in being vaccinated,'" said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.

Screenshot from CDA School District levy video

Eleven north Idaho school districts have supplemental levies on Tuesday’s [March 9] levy.

The largest measure is in the Coeur d’Alene School District, which is asking voters for $40 million for the next two years.

Washington Officials Latest To Warn About Zebra Mussels

Mar 5, 2021
National Park Service

Washington state wildlife officials are working with pet store chains to stop the spread of aquarium products found to contain zebra mussels.

A zebra mussel is a tiny shellfish native to the Black and Caspian Seas in Ukraine. But they’re now found all over the world, except in the Northwest.