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In brief: Fall drawdown underway in Lake Coeur d’Alene

The slow annual fall drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene started on Tuesday, according to Avista Utilities.

The lake level will be lowered through Post Falls Dam about a foot by the end of September, giving property owners time to secure boats and docks for the winter, company officials said in a news release.

After September, the drawdown rate will increase to about 1 1/2 feet a month until reaching the winter elevation of 2,122 feet. The summer level of the lake behind Post Falls Dam is about 2,128 feet.

The drawdown will increase flows in the Spokane River, but dam operators do not plan to open the dam’s spill gates. 

The river above Post Falls Dam should remain open to boating until November, Avista said.

Residents can still weigh in on river discharge permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period for draft permits for releases of treated wastewater into Spokane River.

Residents have until Oct. 3 to submit comments on draft permits for river discharges from treatment plants operated by the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls and the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board. The proposed permits would significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus each facility can discharge to the Spokane River.

Comments may be emailed to or mailed to: US EPA Region 10, Spokane River NPDES Public Comments, 1200 Sixth Ave., Suite 900 M/S OWW-130, Seattle, WA 98101.

Grouse hunter shot, killed in Central Washington

CHESAW, Wash. – A hunter has died after being shot Monday while hunting grouse in a remote area of Central Washington.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the incident is being investigated as a homicide.

A man in his 60s from Western Washington was killed Monday in an area northeast of Tonasket, according to a Wenatchee World report. The man’s name is being withheld until his family is notified.

Rogers said a hunting partner, also from Western Washington, called for help from a nearby home at about 7:15 p.m.

Inslee may seek plan sans Columbia River bridge

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee says the state may pursue a broad transportation package without funding for a new Columbia River bridge.

Inslee said Tuesday that he wants lawmakers from both parties to come together on a broad plan that would pay for projects throughout the state. He said he is prepared to call lawmakers back from a special gathering in November in order to get the package swiftly approved.

Inslee had pushed earlier this year for a broad package that would include funding for a new Columbia River Crossing. Democrats in the House had approved a plan that would increase the gas tax by 10 1/2 cents. A Republican-dominated coalition in the state Senate rejected efforts to bring the package up for a vote, saying they want to see policy reforms first and expressing concern about the Columbia River proposal.

Criticized judge orders new sentencing hearing in rape

BILLINGS – A Montana judge has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a former teacher who received just 30 days in prison for raping a student who later killed herself.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh said in Tuesday’s order that a two-year mandatory minimum prison term for Stacey Rambold appears to be required under state law.

Baugh has faced widespread condemnation from women’s rights activists, elected officials and others for saying Rambold’s 14-year-old victim was “older than her chronological age.” He later apologized.

But in a strange twist, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said Baugh may lack authority to impose such a sentence at this point. That’s because state law says an illegal sentence must be handled through an appeal.