Spokane

Rebecca White/SPR

Health officials are concerned about rising COVID-19 cases, especially in younger people, that could put the county of compliance with the governor’s re-opening metrics.

To stay in Phase 3 of the governor’s re-opening plan, Spokane County must have less than 200 cases per 100,000 people. As of Wednesday, the county had 183 cases per 100,000. Spokane County Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said that was concerning.

Courtesy Spokane County

A bill that would force Spokane County to negotiate with the city of Spokane on how emergency communications are funded has now passed both chambers of the Washington legislature.

The bill follows a longstanding conflict between Spokane County and the City of Spokane over which government oversees the region’s 9-1-1 dispatch response.

That system is funded through a 2017 sales tax which created an entity called the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications. That group was meant to consolidate all 9-1-1 dispatchers under one agency.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

CHAS Health is opening up a new mass vaccination clinic for anyone eligible to get a vaccine Wednesday at the Spokane Community College Campus.

Vaccinations are only available to those who qualify under the current state guidelines, which is people over the age of 60, people over 16 with some medical conditions. People who work in some fields such as agriculture or healthcare are also eligible now. Starting April 15, anyone over 16 will be able to get a vaccine there.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

A small percentage of people who’ve been vaccinated in Washington and Idaho have become infected with COVID-19. Health officials say that’s not a sign the vaccine doesn’t work, or that people should cast aside public health guidelines.

Spokane County Sheriff Deputies To Equip Body Cameras

Mar 29, 2021
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Every sheriff’s deputy in Spokane County could soon be equipped with body cameras by the end of this year.

The Spokane Police Department has had body cameras for years, along with Lincoln County, which borders Spokane County. Leaders in Spokane County had previously hesitated when asked to purchase them, over concerns about how much it could cost the county to respond to public records requests.

Rebecca White/SPR

             

The Spokane Regional Board of Health is now looking for a permanent new health officer.

During its regular meeting on Thursday the board voted to spend up to $50,000 on a recruitment firm to find qualified candidates.

Courtesy of the TSA

As travel picks up for spring break, the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, has added new technology at Spokane International Airport to reduce contact between agents and travelers.

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the new technology would make going through security more efficient, and reduce risk for both parties.

“There’s no contact between traveler and TSA officer, and we know that fewer touchpoints is safer and healthier for the traveler, and safer and healthier for our employees,” she said.

The Spokane City Council has unanimously voted to acknowledge the injustices committed against Native Americans and that City Hall sits on is tribal land.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Karen Stratton, whose mother was a Spokane Tribe member, said she was proud of the resolution, and the commitment it represents.

Rebecca White/SPR

Many living in long-term care facilities have spent the last year in isolation. But as more and more people are vaccinated, families can reconnect and see their loved ones in person.

After a year of missed holidays and milestones, Nannette Mogensen is celebrating her 84th birthday with her family.

Mogensen is now fully vaccinated and lives in Touchmark, a senior living facility on Spokane’s South Hill.  On Sunday, her three children and two of her granddaughters surprised her.

“Happy Birthday, mother, I love you,” says Shelly Christensen, Mogensen’s daughter.  

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition

Many families have spent the last year isolated, struggling with unemployment and under intense stress. All of those are risk factors for domestic violence.

Current job data show that women were more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic then men. That puts women in abusive relationships in difficult, or sometimes dangerous situations.   

Morgan Colburn is the Director of Counseling, Advocacy and Outreach at YWCA Spokane.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.  

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.

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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.

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An employee for the company that drives school buses for the Spokane School district has died amidst a COVID-19 outbreak.

The employee was one of more than two dozen who has tested positive during an outbreak among Durham School Services workers. Durham contracts with Spokane Public Schools to provide bus services to the district.

Courtesy Downtown Spokane Partnership

The entity that owns and operates the Spokane Arena has thrown its support behind a proposal to build the new Joe Albi stadium downtown. And the entity that's building that stadium will entertain the idea.

On Tuesday, a group of business and hospitality leaders as well as a professional soccer league renewed their request to have the replacement for Joe Albi built downtown. They argue their newest proposal will save voters money by having the Spokane Public Facilities District cover maintenance and operations costs. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a 5-year police contract that will give police officers raises and remove barriers to civilian oversight.

City Council Members and Mayor Nadine Woodward have praised the contract, saying it complies with a city charter amendment passed in 2013. The charter required the city to allow a police ombudsman to independently investigate potential police conduct and publish reports on his findings.

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane’s city Flag Commission says it has picked a dozen finalists for a new city flag. They were chosen from 400 citizen submissions.

 

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Washington's Covid vaccinations are getting back on track after harsh winter weather nationwide slowed down shipments last week.

Many scheduled immunizations had to be canceled, but this week picked up pace again. Department of Health officials say one day this week, a record 5,000 doses were administered at the mass vaccination sites.

Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is urging schools to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Inslee made the point during a visit to a Spokane school on Tuesday.

Inslee met with students and teachers at Stevens Elementary, and participated in a roundtable with Spokane Public School District staff and city officials.

He said other schools across the state should be looking at Spokane as an example.


High Winds, Some Power Outages Expected Monday Night

Feb 22, 2021
Courtesy of the National Weather Service

Some residents across the greater Spokane region could lose power late this afternoon and tonight as strong winds hit the area.

The National Weather Service issued an advisory Monday warning winds could be around 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 miles per an hour. The warning is in effect for the area ranging from Spokane to Moses Lake and South to Walla Walla.

Hoopfest To Host Spring Outdoor Basketball League

Feb 19, 2021
Jeremy Burnham/SPR

Hoopfest, Spokane's famed three-on-three basketball tournament, is extending its popular outdoor, all ages event to more than one weekend a year.

The organization has announced it will host an outdoor league, starting in March.


Courtesy of Nine Mile Falls School District

Spokane area school districts are heeding the call of Governor Inslee and President Biden to bring more students back to school.

Most, if not all, have had at least some children attending since day one of the academic year. But now individual districts are moving at their own pace in easing in older students or expanding the number of days in the classroom.


Courtesy of the Spokane Police Department

Spokane Police arrested an Airway Heights man Thursday who is accused of vandalizing a Spokane Jewish Temple with racist symbols.

The man, 44-year-old Raymond Bryant, was caught on the temple’s camera system earlier this month and was arrested for defacing the side of the temple and its Holocaust memorial. Thursday morning police executed a search warrant on his home and arrested him. He was charged with malicious mischief and harassment, both felonies.

courtesy of Amazon

Amazon announced Thursday that it will open a new Fulfillment Center in Spokane Valley.

The new center will be located at 18007 E. Garland Ave and will process larger orders like pet food, outdoor workout equipment and cleaning supplies, according to a news release. 


Courtesy of CHAS Health

Many Spokane residents who have been inoculated at the mass Covid vaccination site at the Spokane Area could get their second dose within days.

Kelli Hawkins, the communications manager for the Spokane Regional Health District, said the switch to second doses is a part of a larger Washington State Department of Health push to get people fully vaccinated.

“I do know they have released information about prioritizing second doses for a couple weeks," she said. "That will happen here in Spokane too and our second doses will start taking place next week.”

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

As Washington rolls out the COVID-19 vaccine for its most vulnerable residents, new data shows significant racial disparities in coronavirus immunizations. People at both the local and state levels say they’re taking steps to address those.

One of the biggest vaccine disparities is among those who identify as Hispanic. According to Washington State Health Department data, Hispanics make up 4.7% of people who have at least one dose of the vaccine, but 13.2% of the population.

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