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In brief: Durham awarded school bus contract

Spokane Public Schools’ board voted unanimously Wednesday to contract bus services with Durham Student Services.

District administrators had narrowed down the choices to the three lowest bidders – Durham Student Services, First Student and Santa Barbara – for the five-year contract.

Although Durham bid $300,000 more than the lowest bidder, administrators thought they were the better choice due to safety record and efficiency.

Durham is the current transportation provider for the district’s students. The new contract will cost $9.7 million annually.

Bill bars minors from ‘vapor’ cigarettes

OLYMPIA – Minors would be barred from buying “vapor” cigarettes under a bill headed to Gov. Jay Inslee.

In a 46-1 vote, the Senate approved a bill Thursday that would make it a gross misdemeanor to sell noncombustible tobacco products to minors. The products extract nicotine from tobacco without a flame.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said it’s important to keep the products from teens because nicotine habits can be formed early in life. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said banning their sale to minors is important but “this does not validate the use for adults.”

The bill passed the House unanimously last month.

Fly-fishing retreat needs applicants

Women who have survived breast cancer are invited to apply for a free fly-fishing retreat on the Coeur d’Alene River this summer.

The application deadline is April 19. Apply at www.castingfor

Fourteen women from North Idaho and Eastern Washington will be picked randomly from online applications to attend the 2 ½-day Casting for Recovery retreat at Shoshone Creek Ranch June 28-30.

Meals, lodging, instruction, equipment and counseling are provided.

A fundraising dinner and auction for the program will be held April 27, 5:30 p.m., at the Coeur d’Alene Inn. The cost is $30 per person, $50 for two or $180 for eight.

For dinner tickets or information, contact Dave Londeree a (208) 946-6631 or Kathy Baker-Carothers at (208) 665-6218.

Area residents behind mailing

A retired tire store owner and conservative activist from Liberty Lake is bankrolling a mailing urging Battle Ground, Wash., voters to reject an April 23 school levy.

The fluorescent yellow fliers from Citizens for Responsible Taxation hit mailboxes in the Western Washington town this week.

On April 1, the political action committee spent $2,088.72 on printing and postage for “opposing Battle Ground district levy,” according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

The group’s leadership is composed of retired tire store owner Duane Alton of Liberty Lake and Spokane residents John Beal and Marilyn Montgomery. Alton is listed as the group’s campaign manager.

Raffle supports human rights center

Groceries for a year is the top prize in a new raffle supporting the work of the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene.

The nonprofit center and Super 1 Foods announced the fundraiser Tuesday. Organizers hope to conduct it at least twice a year.

The $10 tickets go on sale Monday at Super 1 Foods stores in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, and at the institute, 414 W. Mullan Road.

For each 4,000 tickets sold, 20 prizes will be awarded in a drawing.

The grand prize will be $100 a week for 52 weeks, redeemable at any of the six Super 1 stores in North Idaho. Other prizes will range from $1,000 to $25 in Super 1 gift cards.

The institute will draw for the first 20 winners Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.

Proceeds will fund programs to combat hate and promote dignity and respect in the region.

Information: (208) 292-2359 or


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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.