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Region in brief: Fair attendance down

Attendance at this year’s Spokane County Interstate Fair was down 6 percent from last year, but revenue was up, fair officials reported Thursday.

Revenue from admissions sold at the gate rose by 2.6 percent from 2008, largely because the fair did not offer a “Free Day” this year, said Erin Gurtel, Spokane County Fair and Expo Center spokeswoman.

Group tickets sales also rose this year by 20 percent. In addition, about 900 people used the fair’s free parking shuttle from Spokane Community College to the fairgrounds. The 2010 fair is for Sept. 10-19. For more information, go to

Sara Leaming

OxyContin robber sentenced

A man who robbed a pharmacy of OxyContin will spend nine months in jail.

Tom E. Snell, 24, will be on probation for a year after he’s released. Snell pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery Thursday, his charge amended from first-degree robbery because he never displayed a weapon when he robbed the Rite Aid at 29th Avenue and Regal Street on July 6.

Snell had no prior felony convictions when he handed an employee a note stating, “Don’t be stupid. Hurry up. I have a gun,” according to court documents.

Snell, a Lakeside High School graduate and former Eastern Washington University student, apologized Thursday.

“The root of my problems is my addiction,” he said.

Meghann M. Cuniff

Hospital plans residencies

Medical students from the University of Washington could be doing residencies at Kootenai Medical Center within three years as the hospital begins a certification process.

The hospital hopes the teaching program will help attract family practitioners to North Idaho, according to a Thursday announcement.

Residency applicants would interview with Coeur d’Alene physicians. If accepted, the applicants – two each year – would spend the first year of residency in Boise followed by two years at KMC.

Once established, the KMC program could expand to four residents.

Many physicians set up their medical practices within 50 miles of where they completed their residency training.

Staff report

Event to cover conservation

The public will consider the role of conservation in providing future energy at the 13th annual Wild Idaho North conference in Sandpoint on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League, the conference will include remarks by U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, and Roger Valdez, an energy efficiency expert from Sightline Institute, a Seattle think tank devoted to sustainability issues.

The conference will run from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Sandpoint Business and Event Center and include music, food, and a silent auction. The cost is $45. For information, call (208) 265-9565 or go to

Staff report


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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.