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Communications, STA tax vote deadline near

Voters have three more days to ponder the fate of a countywide emergency communications sales tax.

The one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax would raise money to update communications equipment used by police and firefighters and help pay for a 24-hour non-emergency crime reporting center.

Most voters also will be asked if they want to continue paying a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax for the Spokane Transit Authority.

Property tax issues also will be considered in Spangle and in the East Valley and Freeman school districts.

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday to be counted. Those who don’t want to pay for postage can take their ballots to drop boxes, including at the county elections office, 1033 W Gardner Ave.

- Jonathan Brunt

Spokane Valley

Pizza store employee accused of robbery plot

A Spokane Valley pizza worker who thought he was going to be fired is accused of hatching a robbery plan that landed him and his buddies in jail.

Justin J. Thomas, 18, wasn’t fired, but “failed to communicate that fact to his three accomplices” who showed up at Pizza Hut, 1207 S. Pines, about 1 a.m. Saturday. The three robbers, their faces covered with ski masks, implied they were armed and left the pizza shop with a safe and cash tray, said Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Deputies who questioned Thomas “became suspicious when he gave super-detailed descriptions of the robbers, right down to their shoes.” He described the getaway vehicle as a Honda Pilot.

“When asked how he knew the make and model of the car, he said he had a friend who lived (on South Farr) who owned one,” Reagan said.

Sheriff’s Cpl. Marty Pannell went to the address and found the hood of the friend’s Honda Pilot still warm. Inside the home, the deputy questioned and arrested John C. Poston, Cody L. Nickerson and a 16-year-old. Poston and Nickerson are 18. The Sheriff’s Office didn’t say if the safe or cash tray was recovered.

Thomas, Poston and Nickerson were booked into jail on charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree assault. The 16-year-old was booked into the county’s juvenile detention facility on the same charges.

- Bill Morlin


Vacuum cleaners help quell jail disturbance

A half-dozen large and loud whirring vacuum cleaners were used early Saturday to quell a yelling disturbance by a group of Spokane County Jail inmates, authorities said.

The disturbance, involving “virtually all” inmates on the sixth floor of the jail, began about 11 p.m., said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The inmates began yelling and attempting to flood their cells to back their demands to be moved to another cellblock where they would be allowed more time out of their cells, Reagan said.

Light fixtures and a ceiling were damaged during the three-hour disturbance, but a damage estimate wasn’t available.

Inmate Daniel M. Campbell, 20, was charged with second-degree malicious mischief related to the disturbance.

Corrections officers covered individual cell doors with magnetic covers before bringing in “a half dozen large vacuum cleaners,” Reagan said.

“They left the vacuums running to drown out the inmates’ yelling and the event died out about 3 a.m.,” Reagan said.

- Bill Morlin


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