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Water projects to receive federal funds

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington state Department of Ecology announced Monday the list of clean water projects to receive $65.4 million in federal stimulus funding administered through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The money will be paid out as grants or as low-interest loans. The money goes to publicly- owned wastewater treatment plants and associated activities that are ready to proceed, according to a state news release.

Ecology integrated the federal funding with its annual water quality grant and loan program, nearly doubling the amount the state can offer for 2010, according to an Ecology news release. Before receiving the stimulus funds, Ecology planned on distributing $71 million, subject to the final state budget. The agency now proposes to offer about $140 million, according to the news release.

The city of Airway Heights received about $24 million, of which about $9 million is a loan and the rest is a grant, said Jeff Nejedly, who supervises the unit that manages water quality finances for Ecology. The money is for Airway Heights’ wastewater treatment facility.

Spokane County earned approval for its $16 million request for the initial cost of its wastewater treatment facility. The state expects to provide a total of about $65 million in low-interest loans for the project, which is expected to cost about $170 million if the county gets approval to discharge treated water into the Spokane River.

Spokane County and the city of Spokane will continue to receive the same annual $5 million grant for a septic tank elimination project, Nejedly said.

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

UPDATED: 9:38 p.m.

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.