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Police arrest man wanted after chase

A man who police say led them on a high-speed chase last month and apparently eluded them by ducking into a Fred Meyer store was arrested Sunday.

With the help of a county K-9 unit, Spokane police arrested Eli Vansickle, 31, at an apartment complex in north Spokane, officer Devin Presta said Sunday. Vansickle was wanted for failing to report to the Department of Corrections. When police attempted to pull over his Chevy Blazer on Sept. 25, Vansickle fled, driving at speeds that sometimes topped 60 mph.

He was spotted pulling into the Fred Meyer parking lot at Fifth Avenue and Freya Street, but police were unable to find him in the store. On Sunday, after police received information that he was in an apartment complex, they surrounded the building in case he tried to flee again.

He didn’t. Presta said Vansickle “immediately gave up,” was arrested and jailed on warrants for possession of stolen property, eluding police and escape. He’s also a suspect on 17 counts of second-degree theft and six counts of second-degree malicious mischief, many of which stem from vehicle prowlings throughout the city and county. He’s also a suspect in an assault in Spokane on Friday, Presta said.

West Plains

West Plains home destroyed by fire

A double-wide mobile home on the West Plains was destroyed by a fire Sunday afternoon, an official with Spokane County Fire District 3 said.

The woman who owns the home at 6602 W. Jade and is the sole occupant was away when the fire started, Battalion Chief Debby Dodson said. The woman has a dog, which was outside and not injured in the fire. But the home “is basically a total loss,” Dodson said.

A neighbor reported smoke coming from the home shortly after noon, and firefighters saw a heavy column of smoke as they approached. Six trucks and some 20 volunteer firefighters were called to the blaze, and no one was injured putting it out. The cause of the fire is not yet determined but is not believed to be suspicious, Dodson said.


Machinists, Boeing begin talks

The Machinists union confirmed Sunday that negotiations to end a five-week strike at the Boeing Co. have begun.

A note saying talks with a federal mediator were under way was posted Sunday on the union’s Web site. Spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said she did not know where the talks were being conducted.

Boeing and union spokesmen have said the two sides agreed to a media blackout on the negotiations.

An agreement to renew contract talks for the first time since the strike began on Sept. 6 were announced Wednesday.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents about 27,000 hourly production workers, including about 25,000 in and around Seattle. Key issues include job security, pay, retirement benefits and health care.


Potlatch announces temporary layoffs

Potlatch Corp. has temporarily laid off 102 employees from lumber and cedar operations in Lewiston because of the stall in housing construction.

“It’s basically due to a lack of orders,” Potlatch spokesman Matt Van Vleet said.

Van Vleet told the Lewiston Tribune there’s less demand for wood products. The workers are scheduled to return Oct. 20.

Earlier this year, Potlatch laid off about 100 workers for a week in June after rain and snowmelt made it difficult to move logs to a mill. The most recent layoffs represent a small portion of Potlatch’s 1,700 employees in Lewiston as sales of paperboard and tissue products remain strong.


Man falls off cliff while walking dog

A man who died while hiking with his dog at the Columbia River Gorge has been identified as 70-year-old Joseph Kohut, of Portland.

Authorities say Kohut fell Saturday from the top of Triple Falls – a drop of more than 100 feet.

A volunteer firefighter noticed the dog sitting at the top of the falls, looking over the edge of the cliff. The firefighter then noticed the man’s body below.

Rescue workers hiked to him and began treatment but he died of severe head injuries.


Parking meters free today

Although Spokane parking meters will not have to be plugged today because of Columbus Day, Spokane city and Spokane County offices will remain open and garbage and recycling pickup will stay on schedule.

Students in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene school districts still need to report to class, and Spokane Transit District schedules will be unaffected.

Post offices and most banks and credit unions will be closed. Kootenai County offices will be closed.

From staff and wire reports