In brief: Masked man with knife robs cashiers
A masked man robbed several cashiers at knife point at the Safeway on Northwest Boulevard about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses said the man put a knife to at least two cashiers’ throats and demanded money before fleeing north down Maple Street on foot.
Three men gave chase to the man, who got into a car parked on West York Avenue, witnesses said.
Rick Foxley, 53, was one of the men who chased the robber, and said the man pulled off his face mask before getting into the car. Foxley said he and the others were able to get a good look at the man’s face and take down the car’s license plate number.
William McCreight, who was at the store buying a bottle of wine, said he “was going to bust him in the head with a wine bottle” but the man fled before he could get to him. McCreight described the man as mixed-race, 6 feet 3 inches tall, 180 pounds, and having a “lazy eye.”
A Safeway manager said she could not comment on the robbery.
State renegotiates foster care reform
Reforms prompted by a landmark lawsuit against Washington state’s foster care system will be completed in two years under a renegotiated settlement announced Tuesday by the Department of Social and Health Services.
The deal – worked out between the Children’s Administration and attorneys for plaintiffs in the 1998 case of Jessica Braam, who lived in 34 foster homes by the time she was 12 – acknowledges the state has made significant progress.
Under the renegotiated settlement, the department will have completed by the end of 2013 reforms that include keeping foster children in stable placements, that siblings are placed together when it’s possible and that they be able to visit one another when it’s not.
GOP donates $25,000 to Condon
Spokane mayoral candidate David Condon advertises himself as “nonpartisan” on his signs, but that didn’t stop the former aide to Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from getting a $25,000 contribution from the state Republican Party.
The contribution, the largest so far in a Spokane city race this year, was received by Condon’s campaign on Thursday, according to records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Condon already had a big lead in fundraising over Mayor Mary Verner. As of Friday, Condon was reporting about $245,000 raised compared to Verner’s $121,000.
Contributions to city races usually are limited to $800 per donor per election, but state parties are limited to giving an amount equal to 80 center per voter. In Spokane, that amounts to $110,607.
Verner, who has been endorsed by the Spokane County Democratic Party, received just $800 from the state Democratic Central Committee.
Little Spokane study under way
A groundwater study of the Little Spokane River Basin has started this week. As part of the study, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey hope to take measurements from 250 private wells to better understand how groundwater interacts with rivers in the basin.
Agency officials will be contacting property owners for permission to measure water levels in their wells.
The work, which will continue through early December, is being done in cooperation with Spokane County and the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Fire in building shuts down traffic
A report of smoke on the ground floor of the Dresden building on North Monroe Street prompted Spokane firefighters to close a portion of the street to traffic Tuesday night as they searched for a source.
Crews evacuated the building on the 700 block of North Monroe around 7 p.m. and soon emerged with at least one culprit: a smoldering potted aloe vera plant. One firefighter on the scene noted that potting soil can burn well, though it wasn’t clear what caused the fire to begin with. The scene was soon cleared and no injuries were reported.
Nine kids contract whooping cough
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has been confirmed in nine Kootenai County children, ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years old, a news release from Panhandle Health District said. None of the children has been hospitalized.
“Most of the sick children have not been immunized,” said Dave Hylsky, epidemiologist for the health district, noting that pertussis is highly contagious in group settings.
The pertussis vaccine is from 60 to 80 percent effective, said Cynthia Taggart, a spokesperson for the health district. However, the release said, the vaccine has been shown to prevent more serious symptoms.
Pertussis is particularly dangerous for children younger than 1. Pertussis starts with a runny nose and watery eyes but the cough takes over in a week or two.