January 21, 2009 in City

In brief: Snow on roads, license plates affects red-light program

 

The snow that made driving difficult last month also made it harder for Spokane’s new red-light cameras to catch drivers running red lights.

Snow and ice obscured license plates and covered stop lines on streets that authorities use to determine whether a car entered an intersection after the light turned red, said Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller.

Camera-related citations in December were half the number issued in November.

The program began at three Spokane intersections in October; the next month, about 400 citations were issued. So far, about 70 percent of drivers are paying the $124 tickets, Fuller said. About $30,000 has been collected, she said.

The first hearing where people could contest the tickets was last week, Fuller said. Once the judge explained citations won’t be reported to insurance or appear on driving records, all the drivers decided to pay. Some tickets were reduced to $100.

Spokane Valley

Three arrested in drugstore heist

Three suspected pharmacy robbers, including a 15-year-old boy, were apprehended Tuesday within two hours of an OxyContin robbery from a drugstore at Sprague and Pines in Spokane Valley.

Joshua M. Warren, 18, and the boy are accused of stealing the popular prescription painkiller from Walgreens, 12312 E. Sprague Ave., about 11:50 p.m. Monday while David J. Harrington, 20, stood watch outside, according to Spokane Valley police.

Police say Warren punched an employee in the head while demanding the drug, then fled with Harrington and the boy. Police arrested the boy about 12:05 a.m. Tuesday at First Avenue and Union Street; Harrington was arrested as he walked near Fourth and Union. Warren was arrested about 1:30 a.m. after an officer recognized him from the pharmacy’s security video, according to police. Warren was treated at a hospital after apparently swallowing a handful of pills, police said.

Police found more than 100 pills on Harrington and “numerous” pills on Warren, according to police.

Harrington and Warren were booked into Spokane County Jail on felony counts of first-degree robbery and possession of a controlled substance. The 15-year-old was booked into the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of first-degree robbery.

County extends time for decision on court

The Spokane County Commission agreed Tuesday to give Spokane Valley leaders until Dec. 1 to decide whether they want to own Municipal Court similar to the city of Spokane or continue contracting with District Court.

Cary Driskell, a Spokane Valley deputy city attorney, told commissioners that city leaders haven’t decided to create a separate court or contract those services to the city of Spokane. City leaders “want time to look at alternatives,” Driskell said.

Based on election cycles and notification rules, a decision to split from District Court must be made by Feb. 1 or city leaders would have to wait for the next election cycle in 2014 to revisit the issue.

Driskell said city leaders are reviewing all 17 contracts with the county after commissioners recently decided to cancel Spokane Valley’s contract for snowplowing service next winter.

Commissioner Mark Richard acknowledged hard feelings between the entities and called for greater discussion. “We need to repair the damage … so your citizens and our citizens don’t suffer because of our lack of communication.”

Jody Lawrence Turner Meghann M. Cuniff Thomas Clouse

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