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Mercury cleaned out of school, officials say

Lake City High School is mercury-free, officials said Monday.

The Coeur d’Alene school has unofficially been turned back to the school district after state and federal officials came in last week to clean up after authorities discovered a student had brought vials of a dental mixture that contained mercury to school.

The incident prompted the closure of Lake City High School on Thursday and Friday. Students are out this week for spring break.

The transfer of the school will become official Wednesday if results from the latest air scan of the building are confirmed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Everything came out good. We feel real confident,” said Jim Washko, Coeur d’Alene deputy fire chief and head of the incident response.

Crews cleaned nine contaminated classrooms and a few janitor closets.

The temperature at the school was raised to 85 degrees so the liquid mercury would vaporize and be carried out of the building by ventilators.

This week, tiles and carpet removed during the cleanup will be replaced.

The school should be ready for the return of students Monday, officials said.

Agents from the EPA and state Department of Environmental Quality will write reports on the incident in the next 30 days.

The cost of the cleanup – and who will pay for it – should become apparent when they’re finished, Washko said.

The school district has not discussed whether it will seek to recoup any costs from the boy’s family, spokeswoman Janet Feiler said.

Rasha Madkour

Kootenai County

3,000 free trees available Saturday

Kootenai County will get a lot greener after Saturday, when 3,000 trees will be given to residents of Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden.

Plant-a-Tree Day will begin at 9 a.m. at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls. Volunteers for the city of Post Falls will hand out trees until 3 p.m. or until the trees run out.

There will be limits of two trees per person, three per household. Donations to the Post Falls Tree Trust Fund will be accepted.

Three types of flowering trees and seven shade trees will be available.

They will range from 6 feet to 8 feet in height.

Master Gardeners and Community Canopy, a three-city partnership promoting tree care and maintenance education with the goal of sustainable urban forests, will be on hand to help people select trees and learn how to care for them.

For a free utility line location check before digging planting holes, call (800) 428-4950.

Other sponsors of the tree giveaway are JUB Engineers, First American Title Co., Panhandle State Bank, ReMax and the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency.

Scott Maben


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