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Skylstad submits resignation to pope

Tue., March 3, 2009

William Skylstad, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, has submitted a letter of resignation to Pope Benedict as required of all bishops when they turn 75.

Skylstad’s birthday was Monday, and he sent the letter Friday, according to Deacon Eric Meisfjord, diocesan communications director. Resignations at age 75 are required under the church’s canon law, but acceptance is at the discretion of the pope.

Skylstad was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Spokane in 1960 and ordained bishop of Yakima in 1977. He returned to Spokane as bishop in April 1990.

Judge needn’t move for election

Spokane Municipal Court Judge Tracy Staab will be allowed to run in the November election.

The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 4-2 to reject a proposal from City Councilman Bob Apple that would have required municipal judges to live within city limits.

Staab, a former federal public defender, is one of three attorneys selected by Mayor Mary Verner and confirmed by City Council to oversee the city’s new court, which began operations in January. Staab moved outside city limits in 2007.

Apple’s proposal would have forced Staab to move back inside the city by the time she files for election later this year. The city’s three judges must win their seats in the November election to keep their positions.

Apple, who was joined by Councilman Mike Allen in supporting the restriction, noted that all other elected officials representing Spokane must live within city borders.

“I cannot understand why we would not have city residents represent us there,” Apple said.

Opponents of the restriction pointed to state law, which allows municipal judges to live outside city limits.

“The voters have the right to choose and decide that having the most qualified person on the bench is more important than having an attorney who lives within the city limits,” Staab said in an interview after the vote.

spokane county

Disaster declared after storms

Spokane County is among 33 Washington counties that have been declared federal disaster areas because of severe winter weather.

The declaration issued Monday by President Barack Obama was in response to public facility damage and emergency response costs from the storms that affected the area from Dec. 12 through Jan. 5.

“This is the largest federal snow disaster declaration in the state’s history,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “… The president’s decision can provide some vitally needed aid.”

The declaration authorizes Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that can defray 75 percent of the eligible damages to state and local agencies, Indian tribal governments and some private nonprofit organizations.

The other counties covered are: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Franklin, Kittitas, Pierce, Whitman, Yakima, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla and Whatcom.

Inland Northwest

Weather service warns of snow

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a hazardous weather outlook for the possibility of snow Wednesday night and Thursday as a cold, low pressure system moves south from the British Columbia coast.

About 3 inches of snow was forecast for Spokane, and upward of 5 inches could fall in some locations in North Idaho, with up to 6 inches in the mountains.

The hazardous weather outlook was in effect for areas of Eastern Washington and North Idaho from Whitman and Latah counties northward.

With a high of 39 forecast for Thursday, the snow is not likely to stick around, forecasters said.

The region’s snowpack was reported around 76 percent of normal in the mountains around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, with snowpacks elsewhere in the region varying from 61 percent in north-central Washington to 95 percent in Western Montana.

Grant County

Sheriff’s Office seeks gunman

A fight between two Grant County men over a woman erupted in gunfire Friday, but the victim avoided serious injury when he used his hand to block a bullet, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sergio David Perez, 41, of Mattawa, Wash., was suspected in the shooting and remained at large Monday.

Jorge Augustin Rojas, 41, told deputies he was walking in Mattawa when Perez pulled up beside him in a gold 2005 Chevrolet Impala and told him to get in.

The pair drove to an orchard outside of town, where Perez accused Rojas of “seeing his girlfriend” and fired a black handgun at him when he got out of the car, striking him in the hand, according to a news release.

Perez left and Rojas called a friend from a cell phone. He was taken to the Mattawa Medical Clinic, then to a Yakima hospital, where the Sheriff’s Office said he was in satisfactory condition. The Sheriff’s Office asks anyone who sees Perez or his car, Washington license plate 580 WBQ, to call 911.

From staff and wire reports

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