November 20, 2010 in City

In brief: Smelter spills mercury into river

From Staff Reports

About 33 pounds of mercury was released into the Columbia River last month from a spill at Teck Resources’ smelter in Trail, B.C.

The Oct. 7 spill occurred during a $3 million upgrade to the smelter’s treatment plant. According to a report by Teck, the release occurred during work on a water discharge line from the smelter’s lead refinery.

Both the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment and the Washington Department of Ecology were notified.

Given the volume of water in the Columbia, any impacts to aquatic life in the river would likely be short-lived, according to initial reports from the B.C. Ministry of the Environment.

49 Degrees North open for skiing

Ski season begins today at 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort north of Spokane.

Chairlifts 1 and 3 will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today and Sunday.

The resort, east of Chewelah, will resume operations Thursday through Nov. 28.

Brad Northrup, the resort’s director of sales and marketing, said conditions are near-perfect for an early opening.

“We have received nearly 4 feet of snow on the upper mountain in the last three weeks,” Northrup said in a news release. “More importantly, the snow that has fallen has had a good amount of moisture in it, which is ideal for creating a solid base. We are definitely off to a great start.”

This is the second year in a row 49 Degrees North has opened before Thanksgiving.

Lookout Pass Ski Area along Interstate 90 at the Idaho/Montana state line opened Friday.

SUV rollover kills man, injures wife

One man is dead and his wife is in satisfactory condition after their SUV rolled off a dirt road near Medical Lake Thursday night, according to a KHQ report.

The woman is the daughter of Medical Lake Mayor John Higgins, a member of the Medical Lake City Council confirmed Friday.

Jerod Hoeche, 30, and Amanda Hoeche, 28, were ejected from the vehicle as it rolled about 300 feet off West Leyn Road about 8:30 p.m., said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. Jerod Hoeche reportedly was driving too fast on the gravel road and lost control, Reagan said. Alcohol was a factor in the crash, he added.

Amanda Hoeche was pinned beneath a rear tire of the vehicle. First responders had to lift the SUV to free her.

Both were transported by ambulance to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Amanda Hoeche was reported in satisfactory condition there Friday night.

Reward offered for man’s arrest

A Spokane man convicted of a sex offense in Louisiana is wanted by Crime Stoppers for failing to register here. 

Details of Jermaine Geramy Johnson’s May 2004 conviction are not available, but the Spokane County sex offender registry lists him as noncompliant.

An arrest warrant was issued in August for failing to register as a sex offender.

Johnson, 31, has no local criminal convictions, according to Crime Stoppers. The fugitive apprehension organization is offering a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Johnson, 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, last gave his address as 1729 E. Sprague Ave., Apt. C, in Spokane.

He’s a level 1 sex offender, the classification considered least likely to reoffend.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or submit tips online at www.crimestoppersinland

Comments on mine waste cleanup due

Local residents have only a few more days to send in their thoughts about a proposed $1.3 billion cleanup of mining waste in the Upper Coeur d’Alene Basin.

Public comments must be postmarked by Tuesday to be considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Information about the proposal is available at select local libraries or online at

Mail comments to: Coeur d’Alene Basin Team; EPA, ECL-113; 1200 Sixth Ave., Suite 900; Seattle, WA 98101.

Comments may be e-mailed to:

Driver indicted in death of pedestrian

A motorist who killed a pedestrian while intoxicated last April on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Andrea M. George, who was 18 at the time of the crash, struck Patrick A. Gourneau, 22, of Tensed, Idaho, on Desmet Road just before 6 a.m. on April 19.

She was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on Thursday after a grand jury indicted her on an involuntary manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison or a $250,000 fine, and no more than three years probation.

The charge alleges George was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and was speeding at the time of the crash.

Her first appearance in U.S. District Court is scheduled for Monday in Coeur d’Alene.

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