A two-day series of stories on the human toll of uranium mining on the Spokane Indian Reservation has won first place in the Best of the West journalism competition, which honors the best journalism among news organizations in 13 Western states.
Reporter Becky Kramer and photographer Jed Conklin’s project, “Radioactivity on the Reservation,” took first place in the Growth and Environment Reporting category.
A judge called the project “an astonishing piece of reporting that casts a bright light on a little-known period of the country’s history and how it reverberates in troubling ways to the present.”
The Best of the West contest is administered by First Amendment Funding Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation, and draws about 1,300 entries each year.
Read the series at www.spokesman.com/midnitemine.
Suspect carjacks occupied vehicle
A shoplifting suspect swung a knife at a security guard, then forced his way into an occupied car in the parking lot of the Spokane Valley Wal-Mart and drove away with the people still inside, according to Spokane Valley police.
The thief released the occupants of the car a short distance away, police said in a news release. They were unharmed.
Police are searching for a white man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with blond hair and a medium build. He was last seen driving the 2001 white Dodge Intrepid, with Washington license plate 172XTI, that he took from the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Wal-Mart security called Crime Check about 2 p.m. to report a man stealing merchandise from the store at 15727 E. Broadway Ave. A guard confronted the man as he tried to leave the store with a Blu-ray device, the news release said. The man swung a knife at the guard, who also was unharmed.
The man ran through the parking lot and jumped into the Dodge, where a husband and wife were waiting for their daughter to finish grocery shopping.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
Best of Broadway lineup announced
Now we know what will follow “Jersey Boys.” West Coast Entertainment on Monday announced the rest of its lineup for the 2012-’13 Best of Broadway series.
A three week-run in October for the Tony-winning smash “Jersey Boys” was announced earlier this year. “Rock of Ages,” a 2009 Tony nominee built around ’80s rock songs by the likes of Journey, Night Ranger and Pat Benatar, will come to the INB Performing Arts Center Feb. 7-10.
“War Horse,” the Tony-winning hit featuring phenomenal puppetry from Handspring Puppet Co., will run March 5-10. “Flashdance,” based on the popular ’80s movie, will run April 11-14, 2013 – mere months after it opens on Broadway this fall.
The season will end May 21-24, 2013, with a production of the classic “West Side Story.”
West Coast also announced three one-night-only shows: “Rain,” a tribute to the Beatles, in January, the return of the popular New Shanghai Circus on Feb. 1, and “Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance” on April 6.
Tickets go on sale to the public through TicketsWest outlets on June 22.
Unoccupied SUV pulled from river
Emergency crews recovered a midsize SUV from the Spokane River on Monday morning after it was spotted upside down in the water downstream from the Maple Street Bridge.
The Spokane Fire Department water rescue team and Spokane County sheriff’s divers went to the scene. Divers found no one inside the vehicle, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.
Rescuers launched boats into the high-flowing river to reach the location of the vehicle, which was partially on the bank.
Schaeffer said the SUV went down more than 300 feet of steep embankment from Ohio Avenue. It was registered to an owner in Western Washington but was not reported stolen, he said.
Crews initially gathered at Summit Boulevard and Ohio Avenue on the north bank of the river west of the Maple Street Bridge after the call about 8 a.m.
Boats were launched from an access point along the river at the west end of Water Avenue in Peaceful Valley.
A spill of oil and gasoline was reported to the Washington Department of Ecology.
Schaeffer said the episode, not a life-threatening emergency, became a good training exercise for water rescue personnel because they were able to undertake maneuvers more slowly than if a life was at risk.
“It was very good practice,” he said.
Kids stop bus after driver stricken
MILTON, Wash. – Police are praising Milton middle school students who safely stopped a school bus Monday morning after the driver was stricken, apparently with a heart attack.
The bus was on its way to Surprise Lake Middle School when the driver slumped over and passed out.
As the bus lurched toward the curb, two students went to the driver’s seat and stopped the bus. One took the keys out of the ignition and others called 911.
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