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In brief: Delta to start Spokane-Atlanta direct flights

Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday that it will offer direct flights once a week to Atlanta starting June 21 and 22 as part of the carrier’s summer seasonal schedule.

The first flight will arrive from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on the afternoon of June 21 and depart Spokane on the return leg the next morning.

Todd Woodard, Spokane airport spokesman, said opening the new route has been a goal of the airport staff for a long time because it makes travel easier to major destinations in the South, East Coast, Caribbean and Mexico.

Delta is now the only airline to offer direct service from Spokane to the southeast U.S.

Joe Esposito, a Delta managing director, said the new flight will offer a one-stop connection to more than 150 domestic and international destinations from Atlanta.

The Atlanta flights will use Airbus A320 jets that are equipped with in-flight Wi-Fi and both first-class and economy seating.

Bill aids former contract liquor sellers

OLYMPIA – Owners of former state contract liquor stores struggling with the new law on liquor sales would get some help from fees under a bill approved Tuesday by the Washington State Senate.

Former contract stores have struggled because they lost much of their market to national retailers who can sell liquor for less.  Senate Bill 6237 revises the fee structure so that any former contract store that has less than $200,000 in sales in a month will not pay the fee and those with sales between $200,000 and $350,000 a month will pay 7 percent of the receipts. Those with sales of more than $350,000 a month will still pay the 17 percent fee.

The bill was sent to the House on a 30-17 vote.

Meetings set for Colville forest logging

A proposed timber harvest and restoration project on 12,800 acres of the Colville National Forest is the topic of public meetings Monday and Tuesday in Colville.

A 10-year stewardship contract has been awarded to Vaagen Brothers Lumber Inc. for a stewardship project on the land. Up to 30 million board feet of timber could be harvested over the decade. The company will also do restoration work to improve forest productivity, road conditions, fish and wildlife habitat and grazing.

Under the terms of the contract, Vaagen Brothers must comply with federal National Environmental Policy Act planning. That work is being done by Cramer Fish Sciences of Lacey, Wash., which is working under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service. The NEPA analysis is scheduled for completion next year.

Members of the public can learn more about the proposed actions and provide feedback at the meetings, from 6 to 10 p.m. both nights at the Agricultural Trade Center, at the Northeast Washington Fairgrounds on Astor Avenue and Washington Street in Colville.

Fairchild investigates airman photo

Fairchild Air Force Base is investigating an “inappropriate” photo showing an airman sticking her tongue in the mouth of the outline of a soldier on the POW/MIA emblem.

“Absolutely the actions depicted in this dated photo do not accurately reflect the values and patriotism of the men and women of Fairchild Air Force Base or the respect we hold for prisoners of war and those missing in action,” Col. Brian Newberry, commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, said in a news release.

When the investigation is complete, action will be taken “at the appropriate level,” Newberry said.

A story in the Stars and Stripes military newspaper identifies the woman in the photo as Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers, who was a senior airman when the picture was taken three years ago. The photo began spreading quickly through social media this week.

Henderson joins political action group

Idaho Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, has joined with two retired senators from his district to form a new political action committee that will interview legislative candidates and endorse and support those with the most skill in economic development.

Henderson is joining former GOP Sens. Jim Hammond and Dick Compton in the new PAC, which they’ve dubbed “Job Creators PAC.” The three are filling its coffers with their leftover campaign funds.

Henderson, 91, is retiring after his current term in the House. He had more than $16,000 left in his campaign fund as of the last reporting period.

“Government does not create jobs, we enable jobs,” Henderson said. “We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we think we’ll be able to make a good assessment of the potential effectiveness of candidates.” In addition to the three former lawmakers, a dozen other District 3 residents have signed on to help with the effort.

Robberies hit coffee stand, food driver

Jitterz Java on Northwest Boulevard in north Spokane was robbed by a man with a gun Tuesday, hours after a Jimmy John’s delivery driver was also robbed by a man wielding a gun.

There are no indications that the two cases are related, Spokane police Lt. Dean Sprague said. “We’re treating them as separate incidents,” he said.

The Jimmy John’s driver went to the 1800 block of East South Riverton Avenue shortly after 5 p.m. to deliver an order when he was confronted by a group of people. One of them, a white man wearing a gray hoodie with black on it and a ski mask, was holding a gun, Sprague said.

The coffee stand was robbed by a man who walked up to the window and displayed a gun at 6:40 p.m. He ran west with an undisclosed amount of cash. He is described as a white man wearing a black hoodie and a full-face ski mask. A police dog was unsuccessful in tracking the thief.

Sprague said police are not sure if the Jitterz Java robbery is related to other recent coffee stand robberies. “That’s certainly being looked at,” he said.

Bill would ease growth rules for counties

OLYMPIA – Four Eastern Washington counties could opt out of many requirements of the Growth Management Act under a bill approved unanimously Tuesday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 6194 allows counties with fewer than 20,000 people that voluntarily agreed to join the GMA in the past to drop out of the law, which is designed to control development and fight urban sprawl. They would have to provide the same level of legal protection for some critical environmental areas and comply with other state land use laws.

The law would cover Pend Oreille, Ferry, Garfield and Columbia counties. The bill was sent to the House on a 47-0 vote.


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