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Difference Makers 2017

They're all around us: difference makers who have accomplished much and are doing great things in their community.

The Spokesman-Review and Gus Johnson Ford partnered to publish profiles of people who made a difference to our community during the past year. • Some of them took lofty ideas and turned them into concrete projects. Others acted out of selflessness in a desperate moment. All deserve to be recognized. • And yet there are so many more people who are changing the Inland Northwest for the better through their daily feats and long-running efforts. We hope you will share those stories with us.

2017 Difference Makers

2016 Difference Makers

County, city at odds over plan for YMCA

County commissioners are balking at changes Spokane city officials want to make to a plan to buy the YMCA building in Riverfront Park partly with taxpayers’ money. Commissioners told city and county parks staff Tuesday they are reluctant to agree to some changes in their offer to use the Conservation Futures fund to pay off bonds to buy the building. The purchase would be a way to prevent it from being turned into condominiums in what many consider an integral part of Riverfront Park.

Elderly man in morning crash identified

A man crashed into parked trailer after suffering a medical condition while driving near the intersection of Nevada Street and Empire Boulevard this morning.

Fish Lake Trail work has deadline

Construction on a paved rail-trail bicycle route between Spokane and Cheney must begin by June under stipulations for recently appropriated federal stimulus funding. Plans for the second phase in developing the 10-mile Fish Lake Trail were ready to go when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money recently became available, Spokane officials say. The project fits government criteria for quickly producing jobs as well as providing for fuel-efficient travel and recreation.

Testimony favors undeveloped shorelines

A slide show of waterfowl, a recording of a songbird and a few human cries for the defense of private property rights greeted Spokane County commissioners Tuesday night as they heard testimony about changes to the Shoreline Master Program. Most of the two dozen speakers asked commissioners to do away with any changes that they perceived would allow more development along the Spokane River or the McKenzie Bay area of Liberty Lake.

Quintet receives recognition for athletic achievements

The lure of a challenge and long years of dedication to their craft earned five people special recognition during Wednesday’s Youth Awards Luncheon. Area coaches Don Fox, Ron Long and Cor van der Meer received Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters 25-Year Awards for many years of contribution to high school and college sports.

Huckleberries: ‘The Boss’ still deserves some ‘Glory’

Yeah, yeah, Barack Obama is cuh-razy about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, particularly after the support “The Boss” gave him during the prez campaign. Moi? I was impressed that a 59-year-old rocker who is two months my senior could still run and slide around a Super Bowl stage like he did during halftime. Some but not all of my Huckleberries Online commenters gushed about Springsteen’s high-energy performance. For example, BlueInIdaho opined: “I tuned in for the halftime and the last five or so minutes of the game. The Boss was awesome – one of the few greats that I have yet to see in person.” However, the kids weren’t impressed (if you give me the latitude to call college students “kids.”) At the Univeristy of Idaho Argonaut, sports editor Levi Johnstone sniffed: “Not only did ‘The Boss’ nearly die trying to get his old (butt) up on the piano Super Bowl Sunday, but in a dramatic turn of events, old Bruce found himself singing a couple of octaves higher after accidentally slamming his (groin) into the camera after a 5-foot knee slide. The ‘Glory Days’ are over, and ‘The Boss’ should retire.” I’d like to be around 40 years when Levi’s 60 or so, to see if he can jump from his knees, to a standing position. That is, if he can do so now. Super Bowl as church

Our View: Errors like one made by prosecutor imperil rights

The judge arrived Monday morning expecting to preside over a home-invasion trial involving four suspects. Defense attorneys were set. The suspects, after spending months in jail, would get their day in court. So would victims. A jury empaneled last week was ready to go. Then Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz dropped a bombshell. He was amending the charges to show that the crimes were committed April 17, not April 15. He had known about the error since last fall but failed to notify defense attorneys. Two of the suspects have strong alibis for the original date in the charges. Attorneys prepared their case with that in mind.

‘Careless handling’ draws ire of judge

The Spokane County prosecutor’s office was sanctioned Monday and fined $8,000 by a judge angry over mishandling of a critical detail surrounding a home-invasion case that could send several men to prison for the rest of their lives. At issue was a last-minute change Monday by Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz, who altered the date – from April 15 to April 17 – that the robbery and attempted first-degree murder occurred on, effectively gutting defense preparations for the trial. At least two of the four men charged with the crime had strong alibis for the original date that prosecutors used in filing criminal charges, including one who was attending a court-ordered alcohol monitoring test.

Eyman files tax-cap initiative

Undeterred by voters' rejection of his last ballot measure at the polls in November, initiative pitchman Tim Eyman -- baby in hand -- today filed his "Lower Property Taxes Initiative" for this year.

Ranger station sale on hold in Twisp

The U.S. Forest Service has suspended the auction of its former ranger station in Twisp, Wash., after the Colville Confederated Tribes complained that it should have had the right to acquire the property first. Caught in the middle of the dispute in federal court is the Methow Valley town, which has made acquisition of the property, including 17 buildings on 6.7 acres, the focus of its redevelopment plans.