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In brief: Stage 2 burn ban declared in county

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has announced a Stage 2 burn ban for the most populous areas of Spokane County.

The ban means all burning, even in certified stoves, is prohibited unless alternate heat sources are inadequate and an exemption has been obtained from the clean air agency. The ban applies to all solid fuels – including wood, manufactured fire logs and pellets – within the county’s Smoke Control Zone, which includes the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.

The Stage 2 ban is expected to be in effect at least through Monday, the agency said. Low air quality because of an extended period of stagnant air prompted the ban.

Washington, Idaho near top for cats

Washington ranks fifth nationwide for cat ownership, with 39 percent of households owning a cat.

Idaho also hit the top 10, in eighth place, with 34.6 percent of households owning a cat, a news release from the American Veterinary Medical Association said.

Washington also ranked in the top 10 in 2006, the last time the AVMA put together the statistics, ranking fifth, with 44.5 percent of households owning a cat.

The survey is conducted every five years and includes a breakdown of pet ownership by state. The most recent survey is based on Dec. 31, 2011, numbers.

The top cat-owning state is Vermont, with 49.5 percent of households.

Kindergartners not ready for math

SEATTLE – Washington education officials struggling to help high school students pass a statewide math exam may want to look at the first results from a new kindergarten readiness test.

When the fall 2012 kindergarten test results are seen as a group, the data show many 5- and 6-year-olds do not have the skills expected for children entering school.

The biggest deficit is math. Only 52 percent of the 21,811 children tested have the expected math abilities.

Inslee, Holder to discuss pot law

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson will meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week to discuss Washington’s voter-approved law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Inslee spokesman David Postman said the two will meet with Holder in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Postman said Inslee will travel to Washington, D.C., today to attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration.


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Northwest Passages Book Club: Author J.A. Jance on the art of (re)invention

UPDATED: 9:17 p.m.

Best-selling author J.A. Jance, the latest author to be featured by The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages Book Club, is the author of 56 novels, spanning series featuring such characters as Arizona Sheriff Joanna Bradley, Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont, former television anchor turned sleuth Ali Reynolds and Tucson’s Walker family.