Here are the Top 10 local and regional stories of 1995, as chosen by readers and staff members of The Spokesman-Review.
1. Scott O’Grady.
The Spokane boy who always wanted to fly became nationally famous when he survived six days behind Bosnian lines after his F-16 was shot down.
2. Rachel Carver.
When a 9-year-old girl failed to show up for the last day of school at Ridgeview Elementary, Spokane launched a massive search. Days later, her body was found and her uncle, Jason Wickenhagen, was arrested. He later pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
3. GOP Revolution.
Fresh from their victories in 1994, Republicans tried to deliver on their “contracts” with voters. In Washington, D.C., they cut spending and demanded a balanced budget, shutting down the federal government when the president balked. In Olympia, they pushed for tax cuts and forced the Democratic governor to scale back his health-care reform.
4. Kara Claypool.
The 7-year-old student at Willard Elementary School who taught her classmates, their parents and a community to understand AIDS instead of simply fearing it, died of the disease.
With drive-by shootings and murder-suicide slayings, domestic violence and tavern brawls involving motorcycle gangs, Spokane’s murder rate reached an all-time high.
After more than two years of study, the Board of Freeholders asked Spokane County voters if they wanted to merge city and county government into a unified entity. Voters overwhelmingly said no.
For some Americans, distrust of the government turned to fear, loathing - and sometimes violence. Some refused to pay taxes, others moved far from government’s reach while a few self-styled patriots took up arms against local, state or federal government officials.
8. Grass smoke.
Grass-seed growers got a boost from the Legislature when a little-noted bill allowed a longer burning season. The fire in the fields was matched by the heat from angry Spokane County residents who said the smoke was a serious health hazard.
Dexter Amend, Spokane’s newly elected county coroner, clashed with the hospital that runs the county’s morgue, then drew harsh criticism and strong praise for his comments about homosexuals. He faces a lawsuit, a governor’s investigation and a recall drive.
Spokane opened its new $62 million Veterans Memorial Arena for sports and entertainment events, and tore down the old “Boone Street Barn.”
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