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Idaho mental health care ranked poorly

A recent report on mental health care systems shows Idaho is one of the lowest-ranking states for mental health care nationwide.

The Idaho Legislature funded the study by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which examined the current state of mental health care in Idaho.

Stephen Weeg, executive director for HealthWest in Pocatello, says the report shows what mental health professionals already knew: Idaho doesn’t get enough funding for mental health and substance abuse services.

The report assessed the state’s mental health treatment capacity, cost, eligibility standards and its areas of responsibility in dealing with health care issues.


Old tires taken from Hurricane Ridge

More than 21 tons of discarded tires have been removed from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

The tires were placed at the lower end of a ski lift at the scenic viewpoint in the early 1980s. The purpose was to improve the contour of the area and make it easier for skiers to get onto the lift.

The tires no longer are needed for that purpose, so they were earmarked for removal last year.

During three days this week, Coast Guard personnel broke apart the tire pile, then got the tires ready to be lifted by helicopter to the Hurricane Ridge parking lot. From there the more than 500 tires were loaded into a state Transportation Department truck to be taken for recycling. Ten park workers also helped with the project.


Park visitation set record in June

More people visited Yellowstone National Park in June, July and August than in the same period last year.

Park spokesman Al Nash says visitation set a record in June and was strong in July and August. Visitation topped 612,000 in June, 826,000 in July and 735,000 in August.

Overall, summer visits were up 1.4 percent compared to last year.

For the year, visits are down about half a percentage point from 2007. Yellowstone officials say that’s probably because of cold and wet weather this spring.

Summertime visitation was strong despite the weak economy and high gas prices.


Clark Fork water safe, officials say

Federal officials say the water in the Clark Fork River below the former Milltown Dam is suitable for drinking and recreation.

The Missoula Board of Commissioners met with federal officials Friday after learning that contaminated sediment had washed downstream in greater volume than originally predicted after the dam was breached in March.

The work is part of a Superfund cleanup of old mine tailings in the bottom of Milltown Reservoir.

Researchers have said the concentration of mining contaminants in sediment along the river exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s worst-case scenario. EPA Milltown project manager Russ Forba doesn’t dispute that.

Peter Nielsen, environmental health supervisor for the Missoula City-County Health Department, said the water is cleaner than it has been in years.


Composter must track down odors

Seattle-based Cedar Grove Composting Inc. has been given a deadline to track down the sources of offensive odors coming from its Smith Island site in Snohomish County and tell how it plans to deal with them.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has given the business until Sept. 30 to have a plan in place.

After that, the agency and business will negotiate a timeline for action, according to Jim Nolan, the agency’s compliance officer.

The agency has the power to fine the company.

Complaints about a stench coming from Smith Island increased in June. People who live in Marysville and north Everett complained of an odor that went from occasional and bearable to persistent and overpowering.


Police say man killed himself

Missoula police say a 45-year-old man shot himself to death during a traffic stop.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Sheriff’s Lt. Rich Maricelli said an officer made a routine traffic stop at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, spoke to the female driver and the male passenger, then returned to his patrol car to run their names.

As the officer approached the vehicle again, the man got out of the car and began walking away.

Witnesses told KPAX television that the officer used a stun gun on the man, and that they heard a shot. The man died at the hospital. His name hasn’t been released.

Maricelli said investigators do not believe any of the officers discharged their weapons.

From wire reports


Top stories in Spokane

Freeman students march in unity to honor memory of slain classmate Sam Strahan

UPDATED: 3:06 p.m.

updated  Drenched in sunshine and a sharp spring wind, more than 70 students marched Friday out of Freeman High School behind a “Freeman Strong” banner to the same football field where they sheltered in fear last September following the shooting that killed 15-year-old Sam Strahan and injured three girls.