Regional News

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How hot is the Pacific Northwest real estate market? So hot that even in an isolated exclave such as Point Roberts, Washington, home prices are sizzling and some properties are changing hands sight unseen.

Washington, Idaho Gain Residents In 2020 Census

Aug 13, 2021
Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

New census figures show the population continues to grow in Washington and Idaho and most of their cities and counties. Here's a quick look at the numbers.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air over much of the Inland Northwest is foul and unhealthy today [Friday]. Weather forecasters expect some improvement by Sunday or Monday. But, between the heat and the smoke, there’s a question of whether people should spend time outside this weekend.

Courtesy of National Park Service

Hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs have hopped into the only wild place these frogs are found in Washington.

The release last week was an effort to help boost this genetically important population. The frogs are bellwethers for ecosystem health.

The situation at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is not pretty. You might even say it’s dire.

As of Thursday, the hospital was running at surge capacity – meaning over its normal occupancy limit. There were 41 people in the emergency room awaiting a hospital bed. And 41 of 42 critical care, or intensive care, beds were full. Fourteen of them with COVID-19 patients.

Combined, St. Pete’s and its sister hospital in Centralia are treating 60 COVID patients.

Northwest researchers are looking to the skies to help monitor wildfires as well as spot new ones with a new fire behavior forecasting system. The system uses satellites to help firefighters on the ground.

The views from space have helped map multiple wildfires this year. Satellites use infrared technology to peer through smoke. Data that satellites collect can supplement the often dangerous work traditionally mapped with special sensors on aircraft that fly at night above the flames.

East Of The Cascades Under Air Quality Alert

Aug 12, 2021
Washington State Department of Ecology.

All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.  

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.

Sea otters are undeniably cute, but cuteness only goes so far when major economic interests are at stake. That's an inference you can make from the emergence of organized pushback to the possible reintroduction of sea otters along the Oregon Coast.

KTVB screenshot

Idaho Governor Brad Little says his state is sliding backward in its attempt to manage the coronavirus.

“There are signs already that we may be in trouble in the next few days and weeks if we don’t slow things down,” Little told reporters Thursday at Nampa High School.

Quazoo.com

Fairchild Air Force Base is preparing for a Department of Defense mandate requiring service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

A group of environmental advocates and a Spokane city councilwoman are suing to stop an initiative that would bar city leaders from banning new natural gas hookups. They want to keep it off the ballot.

They argue it would hamper the region’s ability to fight climate change.

Some Covid Costs Still Waived In WA, Others Shared

Aug 11, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This week Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended two emergency orders that protect consumers from some of the costs of diagnosing the coronavirus. At the same time, he says insurance companies are looking to share Covid-related costs in other ways.

Flickr Creative Commons/Trevor Bexon

It's a good time to enjoy the night sky. The annual Perseid meteor shower is ready to make an appearance. It looks to be one of the best shows in years.

Pacific Northwest salmon could get some help from the federal infrastructure package.

Some of the funding in the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill could help remove barriers to salmon habitat – just not the same barriers on the Snake River that Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, had hoped to eventually include.

The $1 trillion infrastructure package includes $1 billion over a five-year period to help states remove pipes, known as culverts, that allow streams to flow under roadways. Improperly designed culverts can deter salmon from reaching significant portions of their habitat.

U.S. Forest Service

People in northeast Washington are weighing in on a proposal to add new wilderness areas to the Colville National Forest. Some support the idea, others are wary.

The proposal is part of the management plan for the Colville National Forest that was released two years ago. It calls for designating 61 thousand acres as wilderness. That means it would be essentially off limits to motorized travel, with a few exceptions.

That concerns Merrill Ott, a former Stevens County commissioner who represents the Tri-County Motorized Recreation Association.

Courtesy of Kootenai Health

The three hospital systems in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene says they’re postponing some non-emergency procedures to preserve staff time and beds for more acute cases.

Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

At least one race in Spokane County's August primary election is likely headed for a recount. Only two votes separate candidates for the Northeast City Council Districts in their race for that coveted second-place spot.

In the race to represent the open seat in the Northeast district, event business owner Jonathan Bingle came in first with about 46% of votes. Naghmana Sherazi, who works in the diversity and inclusion office at Gonzaga University, and Luc Jasmin, a day care owner, are vying for second with a little more than 26% of the vote each. Sherazi's up by two votes.

TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Washington State is mandating vaccination for state employees and contractors.

The requirement for state workers to get vaccinations comes as a spike in new COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant hits the state, increasing the burden on hospitals.

Avista Plans To Boost Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Aug 9, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

President Biden wants half of all new cars sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be powered by electricity. That gives the country nine years to scale up its infrastructure to support millions more electric vehicles.

In Spokane, Avista is developing that infrastructure.

With COVID-19 cases once again surging and vaccination rates lagging in many parts of the state, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered most state employees, as well as workers in private health care, long-term care and congregate settings to get fully vaccinated by October 18 as a condition of employment.

Unlike some other states, the order does not permit employees to opt for regular COVID-19 testing in lieu of getting vaccinated. Inslee’s office said a testing regime would be costly and not effective.

Athletes from the Pacific Northwest will practically need an ore cart to push their haul of precious metal to the airport after the final weekend of action at the Tokyo Olympics. Professional basketball and baseball players from Portland, Tacoma and Seattle accounted for most of the gold and silver medals as the delayed 2020 Summer Games came to a close.

Courtesy of Dan Miller

Washington has finished with its vaccine incentive program that used the state lottery.

The state’s top lottery official thinks it made a difference.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. government over damage caused by wildfires on the reservation in 2015.

The suit alleges the federal government didn’t adequately maintain forest health and prioritized other fires in Washington over those on the reservation.

“This led to tinderbox conditions in which catastrophic fire was inevitable,” according to the complaint.

In a memo to state lawmakers this week, the Washington Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said a new police use-of-force law that recently took effect does not prevent officers from responding to mental health and other community welfare calls.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane advocates for police reform on Thursday responded to law enforcement pushback against new use of force laws. They say new state laws do not prohibit officers from responding to calls that involve people with mental health crises. They offered new legal guidance from the state.

Inadequate mental health care in Washington prisons is putting some prisoners at heightened risk of self-harm and suicide, and contributing to lengthy stays in solitary confinement, according to a new ombuds report.

The report, months in the making, sounds the alarm about numerous shortcomings, including mental health workers with hefty caseloads and distressed prisoners who have to wait to see a mental health professional.

Former Spokane Police Officer Charged With Rape

Aug 4, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A former Spokane police officer has been arrested for allegedly raping and unlawfully imprisoning a woman.

Nathan Nash was booked into the Spokane County Jail Wednesday, according to a release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Nash was first accused of rape in 2019 by a woman who was a victim of domestic violence. Nash responded to her original call and followed up later alone, saying he needed to document her injuries.

During the second call, he allegedly raped the woman.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane Regional Health District is reporting that 92.7% of the region’s ICU beds are full.

About 7.8% of those ICU beds are confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to an email from the health district Wednesday.

That comes the same day the district reported more than 270 new cases of COVID-19 and 85 hospitalizations.

Not every Olympic story is happening in Tokyo this week. Take for instance two runners in Tacoma. He's a 26-year-old former Oregon Ducks standout, now a professional quarter-miler. She's a 67-year-old baby boomer who began sprinting barely a decade ago. Together they overcame various personal disappointments and sorrows to make a winning combination.

Rebecca White/SPR

Incumbent candidates had mixed results in the local non-city of Spokane races on Tuesday’s primary election ballot.

In Spokane Valley, all three incumbent council members are apparently headed to the next election in November.

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