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In brief: Chief says downtown benefits from policing

Spokane police Chief Frank Straub forcefully denied complaints that his department wasn’t doing enough to protect downtown businesses, an allegation that swept social media after the closure of a popular bar.

During a press conference, Straub said crime downtown had dropped by more than 10 percent compared to last year, largely because of “very aggressive” policing.

“The complaint and the statement that the Police Department is being less than responsive … our statistics beg to differ with that complaint,” Straub said, noting that 10 officers currently patrol downtown and that 17 arrests have been made since Thursday in the area surrounding the Blue Spark, which closed Sunday after 14 years in business.

Head-on injury crash blocks Highway 291

A two-vehicle collision involving a Department of Natural Resources truck blocked State Route 291 for several hours Tuesday afternoon.

At about 2 p.m., 76-year-old Cordelia Brown was traveling northbound in the Suncrest area when she crossed the center lane of traffic, hitting the DNR vehicle head on, the Washington State Patrol said. She was airlifted to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and treated for an injured leg, Trooper Jeff Sevigney said.

The driver of the DNR truck, Jacob Flint, 20, and his passenger Jason Burdick, 23, were transported by ambulance to Holy Family Hospital. Both were treated and released, Sevigney said.

One lane of traffic was closed for about three hours, according to a news release.

Foster shelter home needs summer clothing

The Salvation Army’s emergency foster shelter is in need of summer clothing for children.

Sally’s House is a shelter for children awaiting placement with a foster family. Every child who stays at the shelter receives a new or gently used set of clothing and pajamas, according to a news release.

The shelter needs tank tops, T-shirts, shorts, sundresses, sandals, tennis shoes and light summer pajamas for children ages 2 to 12.

Sally’s House is at 222 E. Indiana Ave.

Hit-and-run suspect has history of DUI charges

A Spokane man accused of two hit-and-run incidents Friday faces his fifth driving under the influence charge in 10 years.

James L. Hicks, 46, allegedly drove through a yard on the 4900 block of East Sixth Street, damaging water pipes. When Spokane County sheriff’s deputies responded, they found Hicks in a black Dodge Durango.

Deputies also responded to a hit and run at 57th Street and Glenrose Road and the victim identified Hicks’ car, according to an affidavit.

He was required to have an ignition interlock device in his vehicle until 2024, but the device was missing, according to the affidavit.

Hicks was booked into Spokane County Jail on a felony DUI charge, hit and run, second-degree driving with a suspended license and tampering with an ignition interlock device.

Man arrested in fires set to barn, hay bales

A Boundary County man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly torching hay bales and a barn early in the morning.

The Boundary County Sheriff’s Office took Gary Brown, 19, into custody and charged him with arson and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Authorities received reports of hay bales on fire around 2 a.m. near Copeland Road in the northern area of the county. A witness saw a vehicle leaving another fire on Krause Road that eventually destroyed a barn and its contents, including several tons of baled hay and farm equipment.

A property owner followed the vehicle and gave a description, license plate number and location to the sheriff’s office.

Brown’s two 17-year-old passengers were charged with being minors under the influence of alcohol and were released to their parents.


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Before the falls: Spokane and the history of river cities

The falls are beautiful, they’re powerful and they’re the reason for the city. Spokane is one of a small number of American cities that have falling water in their hearts, and it’s no accident. The reasons for a city are many, but chief among them is water – for drinking, for transportation, for industry and, most recently, for beauty.