Spokane

Rebecca White/SPR

As school districts navigate their second year of pandemic-era instruction, school boards of directors are facing escalating hostility.

The increased attention has ranged from more participation at school board meetings, to harassment, to threats and intimidation.

Education leaders are calling for patience and civility.

Debbie Long has served on the Central Valley School Board since 2003. She says in 18 years, she’s presided over contentious issues, but none as divisive as masks and coronavirus vaccinations.

Rebecca White/SPR

City of Spokane water customers who are behind on their bills will have until the end of March to get caught up if a resolution to extend the deadline is approved by the Spokane City Council tonight. 

The moratorium on utility shutoffs and late fees in Washington state expired at the end of September.

Spokane Transit Authority

Spokane’s rapid transit bus project, the City Line, was scheduled to launch in May. Supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic will push the start date back to 2023.

The City Line is designed to operate more like a street care than a traditional bus route. A key component of that plan is new bus stations.

Brandon Rapez-Betty, the director of communications for the Spokane Transit Authority, said the agency needs about 2,000 linear feet of tube steel to build the bus stops along the route.

That material isn’t currently available due to supply chain issues.

Gonzaga University

Three City Council candidates and a school board candidate promised to take climate change seriously, and look for ways to promote local environmental policy in a forum Wednesday.

City Council candidates were asked in a climate forum at Gonzaga University’s third annual climate forum whether they would work to make Spokane more resilient, and if they would support climate intervention policies.

Naghmana Sherazi, a candidate for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, called for the city to include communities of color in climate planning.

City of Spokane

The mayor of Spokane has released her proposal for the fiscal 2022 budget. It’s about 11% higher than this year’s budget.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Despite drought, wind and unusually warm temperatures, all factors for wildfire spread, Spokane County saw less unhealthy air quality than it has in previous years.

Since the beginning of this year air quality in Spokane County has fallen below the unhealthy for some group’s standard on eight separate days.

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said this year is an average of what the area has already seen, and will see in the coming years.

Courtesy of the ZoNE

Northeast Spokane includes one of the lowest income census tracts in the city. A new survey on rent increases found 78% of respondents were worried about staying housed. The survey comes as Spokane County sees historically low vacancy rates, and big rent increases.

TVW

Visiting a Spokane hospital today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was committed to enforcing a mandate that requires state workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The mandate has generated a flood of exemption requests, has drawn protest and is being challenged in court. It’s also led to concerns that some state employees and healthcare workers will walk instead of getting a shot. Inslee said he believes when most people get down to the wire, they will choose the vaccine.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Tenants in Washington now have an additional 30-day stay from eviction if they’re seeking help for past-due rent after the governor extended the bridge eviction moratorium.

Despite that extension, many could still be at risk of losing their housing due to lack of participation in the state-funded eviction resolution programs.

Avista Utilities

Fall is normally when utility assistance providers see a wave of requests for help paying winter heat bills.

This year, they expect an even larger barrage starting when Governor Jay Inslee’s moratorium on utility shutoffs expires next week.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners Director of Community Action, Carol Weltz, said the non-profit has enough federal aid relief to handle every anticipated request, but said staff can only process so many at a time.

The Spokane Regional Health District is asking the public to stay out of Newman Lake due to a toxic algae bloom.

Toxic algae blooms are caused by warm temperatures, low water levels and phosphorous.

A common source of phosphorous is lawn, or agricultural fertilizers. They can also be caused by overgrowth of invasive aquatic plant species.

Center for American Progress

As families try to return to the workplace- many are struggling to find childcare – due to the number of providers that closed during the pandemic, and staffing shortages at the centers that are still open.

Several Spokane area providers, businesses and state agencies have put together a list of policies, and potential funding sources they hope could put the industry on solid ground.

Rebecca White

Healthcare providers say if COVID numbers don’t improve, Eastern Washington could soon follow North Idaho into crisis standard of care.

Rebecca White

Inland Northwest healthcare providers are expecting a new surge of cases in the weeks following holiday gatherings on Labor Day weekend.

Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said regional hospital capacity is already stretched at about 90%, and the community is contending with the more infectious Delta Variant.

Courtesy of the National Weather Service.

This summer’s average was the hottest on record for most of the Inland Northwest, with most communities seeing temperatures a few degrees higher than average.

The climate normal for a summer in the Spokane area is 67.8 degrees. The average temperature in Spokane this summer, a combination of both overnight lows and daytime highs, was 73.1, several degrees above the 30-year-average and beating the county’s 2015 record.

Gonzaga University

A Gonzaga University commission tasked with making recommendations in the wake of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis has released its report.

Courtesy of Spokane County Redistricting Commission

The group tasked with carving Spokane County into five new county commissioner districts has released four maps.

The maps have garnered mixed reviews.

Fairchild Air Force Base

Growing up Lizzie Denton always pictured herself as a nurse.

Now, the 27-year-old is a one of a handful of women pilots stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. She’s also a soccer coach and Sunday school teacher for children on the West Plains, and said she hopes her story and experience will inspire the next generation of girls.

Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

Spokane County election officials have recounted votes for two close Spokane County races, reaffirming an existing lead and a tie.

Courtesy of the Northeast Tri-County Health District

Hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases in eastern Washington and north Idaho are soaring – and healthcare providers fear that if this trend continues, there will soon be a shortage of both beds and staff to treat dangerously ill patients from both rural and urban communities.

Northeast Tri County Health Officer Sam Artzis said the counties he serves, Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille, have not only approached the high tide mark from last December for hospitalization and new cases.

Wikimedia Commons

As drought conditions continue in Washington State, dry conditions and stagnating water are starting to impact Eastern Washington’s White Tail Deer population.

According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 50 deer have died outside of Colfax in the last few weeks from two drought related illnesses.

Two diseases are impacting Washington’s White Tail deer population this summer, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease – or EHD and Blue Tongue.

Rebecca White/SPR

Healthcare providers are raising the alarm as the Inland Northwest hits its highest hospitalization level since the start of the pandemic.

Rebecca White/SPR

As COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizing continue to soar, Spokane’s top health official is again urging people to get vaccinated.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County had 165 people in the hospital Tuesday and 347 new cases. Spokane County has not seen daily case counts this high since last winter. 

In a briefing Wednesday, Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez said the region’s hospitals are strained.

Spokane County to Recount Votes for Two Primary Races

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

Two Spokane County races will be recounted next week due to a close margin in a Spokane City Council Race and a tie for second place in the town of Rockford.

The Spokane County election results were verified Tuesday. In the final count Jonathan Bingle came in first in the race for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, and candidate Naghmana Sherazi came in second.

Candidate Luc Jasmin however, was only four votes behind Sherazi, which triggered a recount for that race.

Rebecca White/SPR

Since Dolores DeSantis and her husband were moved to the Spokane area by the Air Force a year ago, they’ve tried to buy a house. They were outbid every time.

After a notice from her landlord last week, many rentals feel out of reach as well.

Her rent is going up by 37%.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spokane Public Schools

This spring two black students at Sacajawea Middle School said their teacher had subjected them to an offensive, and traumatizing lesson where they were told to clean cotton in class. Spokane Public Schools hired a third-party to investigate a complaint filed by the ACLU on the student’s behalf.

That investigation was released to the public Friday.

According to the report, investigators verified that a cotton cleaning lesson did occur, but students were not forced to participate.

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