In brief: McMorris Rodgers touts hydropower
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is pushing for greater development of hydroelectric power.
The Spokane Republican, co-sponsor of the proposed Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, met Wednesday in Spokane with representatives of several Eastern Washington utilities to discuss the effort.
“The potential of hydropower is tremendous,” McMorris said in prepared remarks. “Washington state alone gets over 75 percent of its power from this clean and renewable source of energy – and we owe it to the Pacific Northwest and to the rest of America to expand an energy source that will not only lower costs, but create thousands of jobs.”
The bipartisan legislation won the unanimous backing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and now is awaiting consideration by the full House. It’s intended to make it easier for small hydropower and conduit projects to get permits, McMorris Rodgers said.
Congressional analysts estimate just 3 percent of America’s 80,000 existing dams are equipped to generate hydropower.
Judge’s order for new trial upheld
The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Spokane County judge was correct in ordering a new trial for a Spokane stockbroker charged with vehicular homicide for the June 2, 2009, crash that killed a woman and paralyzed her husband.
Evidence presented at trial showed that 45-year-old Jon Strine had a blood alcohol content of .20 percent when he crashed his Mercedes broadside into a motorcycle in downtown Spokane. The crash killed 48-year-old Lorri Keller, an elementary school secretary, and paralyzed her husband, Gary Keller.
A jury deliberated for two days in February 2011 before telling Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen that they had reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty. But when Eitzen polled the jurors individually, half denied reaching a unanimous decision, which is required for verdicts in criminal cases.
Eitzen declared a mistrial, but defense attorney Carl Oreskovich argued that the decision amounted to double jeopardy. However, the Washington state Supreme Court upheld Eitzen’s ruling, which opens the door for a new trial.
Developer wins land-use appeal
An appeals court has reinstated a land-use change to allow for apartments in the vicinity of the Wandermere shopping area, but the developer will still have to comply with Spokane County traffic standards, the court said Thursday.
In a unanimous decision, the Division 3 appeals court in Eastern Washington sided with the developer and the Spokane County Commissioners after the commissioners in 2009 approved an increase in housing density on 5 acres located on Dakota Street a quarter mile north of Hastings Road.
Headwaters Development Group LLC and other investors are seeking to increase allowed density from single-family residential to multifamily use.
The change would allow for 120 apartments, but the location has only one traffic access on Dakota Street.
The county argued that traffic issues could be resolved when project plans are submitted to the county.
The Growth Management Hearings Board rejected the land-use change on appeal by neighbors and other area residents. A Spokane County Superior Court judge reversed that decision. The lower court decision was upheld by the appeals court.
Electrical smoker causes home fire
An electrical fish smoker caused a fire early Thursday that resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to a northwest Spokane home.
The Spokane Fire Department responded to the blaze just before 2 a.m. at 6018 North Greenwood Blvd. and found a single-story home with smoke showing at the rear and around the eaves, indicating the fire had already spread to the attic, according to Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius.
The fire was under control within 20 minutes, but crews were on scene for more than two-and-half hours.
Investigators determined that a fish smoker on the back porch started the fire, which moved up the outside wall and into the attic, Cornelius said. The fire and smoke caused an estimated $35,000 to the kitchen, two bedrooms and rear attic.
No serious injuries were reported, but one occupant was treated for smoke inhalation. The American Red Cross is assisting the family.
Detours planned at Pines, Mansfield
Crews will be working along the Union Pacific Railroad tracks Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The southbound lanes of Pines Road between Mansfield Avenue and Indiana Avenue will be closed. Drivers are asked to take Mirabeau Parkway around the construction site.
Detour signs will be posted along the area.
Washington state to get settlement
OLYMPIA – Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Washington will get about $4 million as part of a national settlement of claims against a mortgage processing company.
The attorney general’s office will receive an additional $433,000 in legal fees and costs.
Washington is among the states that agreed to a roughly $120 million settlement with Lender Processing Services over practices that included the “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents without proper review of the papers.
Ferguson said the settlement will require proper execution of documents and prohibit signatures by unauthorized people or those without firsthand knowledge of facts referenced in the documents.
He said the settlement is one more opportunity to improve lending and foreclosure practices for homeowners in the future.