May 6, 2009 in City

Facility will house homeless veterans

 

The Volunteers of America opened a “transitional” home for chronically homeless veterans Tuesday with a ceremony at the new facility at 1523 N. Regal St.

The Eagle’s Rest will provide living quarters to as many as six chronically homeless people who are military veterans.

Occupants will be referred by a program that works with veterans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.

A Veterans Administration survey from 2005 and 2006 estimates the Spokane area has some 3,600 homeless veterans.

The Volunteers of America opened a five-bed veterans facility, the Rest and Recoup House, in 2008.

Eagle’s Rest residents will have a case manager who can help them stabilize their lives and set life goals.

Spokane Valley

Avista sues surgeon over fire

Another lawsuit has been filed against the Spokane surgeon blamed for starting a massive wildfire that burned 11 homes last summer.

Avista Utilities is suing Tracy Berg, a surgeon at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, for unspecified damages suffered by the power company as a result of the Valley View fire, which burned more than 1,000 acres in July, according to the lawsuit.

The suit was filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

It’s the fourth lawsuit against Berg and a teenage boy who she allowed to start a fire in an old tree stump near her property on South Eastern Lane.

The coals smoldered for days before wind sparked the blaze, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Berg still owes the department nearly $775,000 for fighting the fire.

Berg and her lawyer, Tammy L. Williams, of Seattle, were not available for comment.

Helena

Montana bans red-light cameras

Montana has banned the use of red-light cameras to catch drivers breaking traffic laws, despite existing contracts the cities of Billings and Bozeman signed with camera suppliers.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Tuesday signed into law House Bill 531.

It forbids using cameras or any other technology to enforce violations not witnessed by a police officer.

Bozeman signed with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems in 2008 to install red-light cameras at seven of its intersections.

Billings also recently approved a contract with the same company for up to 30 city intersections.

The state Senate had amended the measure to allow existing contracts for the cameras, but the House rejected the change.

Red-light cameras are used in cities, including Spokane, in as many as 25 other states.

Missoula

Asbestos case headed to jury

The jury will receive its instructions today and lawyers for the defense and the prosecution will present their final arguments in the environmental crimes trial of W.R. Grace & Co. and three former executives.

Defense lawyers rested their case Tuesday and lawyers for both sides spent the afternoon behind closed doors with U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to discuss instructions to be given to jurors.

Molloy said court would reconvene at 8:30 a.m. today, at which time he would give the jury its instructions. The prosecution was then to give its closing arguments, followed by the defense, with the jury expected to get the case sometime this afternoon.

Spokane

Felon arraigned in police chase

A convicted felon was arraigned Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree assault after police said he rammed a Washington State Patrol vehicle during a police chase through Spokane last month.

Irvin Fentroy III, 39, was charged with attempting to elude police, possession of drugs, hit-and-run, DUI and driving on a suspended license. A WSP trooper allegedly saw Fentroy driving his Chevy Lumina on the shoulder of westbound Interstate 90 at 1:45 a.m. April 11 near the Maple Street exit.

Fentroy refused to pull over, according to court records, and drove north on Walnut Street at speeds that reached 80 mph. The speeding car failed to stop at a red light and collided with both an occupied vehicle and an unoccupied vehicle.

Also during the pursuit, Fentroy allegedly rammed the front right corner of the trooper’s patrol vehicle. Spokane police joined the chase and stopped Fentroy’s disabled car by forcing it to spin out of control.

Fentroy previously was convicted of burglary, assault and possession of a firearm in 1999 and was sentenced to serve 26 months in prison. In 1996, Fentroy originally was charged with first-degree murder and later testified against Travis Comeslast. Fentroy was with Comeslast on June 27, 1996, when Comeslast shot 20-year-old Chris Gongyin.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Ellen Kalama Clark set bond at $35,000 for Fentroy and set a trial date of June 29 in connection to the police chase.

From staff and wire reports


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