After falling from a horse and breaking her collarbone, Sandra Turtle was given a dose of her own medicine. Turtle, a longtime advocate for domestic violence victims, was taken to the emergency room, where nurses asked, " 'Are you safe at home?' "I couldn't figure out what it meant," said Turtle, a Coeur d'Alene counselor.
The people behind a massive new development on the drawing board for Hayden, Idaho, say it is being designed to restore some of the same small-town feel that's been erased as North Idaho balloons with new residents. Nothing is approved yet, but the city is abuzz over the 1,800 houses proposed for 618 acres that's now covered mostly by forest. The project would expand the city's population by more than a third, a notion that's prompting grumbling about extra traffic on already congested roads, of further escalation in property taxes, of more wildlife habitat being chewed up by bulldozers.
A Coeur d'Alene physician who abruptly closed his office early this month has left patients struggling to gain copies of medical records. One former patient, a Hayden woman, is now accusing Dr. Tarek Haw of theft, according to documents from Coeur d'Alene Police. The patient said she paid $677 to Haw for two office visits, but Haw had closed the office before she was able to receive services or results of tests. Police are investigating the matter, said Sgt. Christie Wood.
IONE, Wash. – The Cedar Creek dam was smashed and removed Tuesday morning, opening the stream once again to migrating bull trout and protecting the small town below from a potential breach. The demolition of the 95-foot-wide concrete structure is believed to be the largest dam removal yet in the Inland Northwest. The event was cause for celebration in this town of 425 people – dignitaries were coming, a barbecue was planned and a swatch of red shag carpet rounded up for a creekside ceremony – but the headline act happened hours earlier than engineers had originally estimated.
SANDPOINT – Idaho lawmakers have been asked to use part of an unexpectedly large budget surplus to attack an aquatic weed that's fouling the state's waters. Also a plague in Washington waters like the Pend Oreille River, exotic Eurasian milfoil forms dense, floating mats that are thick enough in some cases to be walked across on snowshoes, Matt Voile, noxious weed program manager with Idaho's Department of Agriculture, told members of the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. The group began three days of meetings here Monday.
KHARKOV, Ukraine – With a little help from Spokane, hope for this country's future is now growing out of the ruins of a former Soviet youth camp. Its crumbling brick buildings, heavy iron gates and cold tile floors aren't much different from any of the dozens of state-run orphanages in Ukraine, but the similarities stop there. The compound has recently been transformed into a private, Christian orphanage and is the focus of a bold new experiment.
HAYDEN, Idaho – A year ago, the lakefront parcel was covered with trees, brush and a small A-frame cabin. Now, the land sits scraped completely bald. With each rain, muddy water rolls off the site and further silts up Hayden Lake. The landowner, Spokane resident Sharon Peterman, faces criminal charges, fines and jail time. Peterman and her contractor had been warned repeatedly, but like a growing number of other property owners, they ignored the law and went forward with excavation, said Rand Wichman, Kootenai County's building and planning director.
Beginning in the late 1980s, thousands of Ukrainians and Russians fled their countries in search of a land where they didn't have to worship in the secrecy of a cellar or in the dark shadows of a forest. An estimated 27,000 Slavic immigrants have since settled in Spokane, but this people pipeline is now beginning to reverse; increasing numbers are embarking on missions to their homelands in hopes of spreading the same beliefs and prayers they have enjoyed here.
Many of Spokane's recent Ukrainian immigrants moved to the United States hoping for a place where they could practice their religion freely. But many also say they wanted to leave their homeland because of the harsh poverty, corruption and a widespread feeling of hopelessness. A revolution last year toppled a president viewed by many as corrupt. Religious freedoms are now guaranteed, and hopes are rising that the country of 48 million can pull itself out of the muck.
Ten of the choicest acres of Coeur d'Alene waterfront were staked with a mining claim Thursday by a Spokane conservation group. The Lands Council hoped its actions would serve as a protest to an 1872 law that allows mining on most federal lands with no royalties paid to the government and little protection for environmentally sensitive sites or places held dear by the public, said Mike Petersen, executive director of the group.
When ducks and geese fly north next spring, they'll have 238 more acres of nesting and resting spots near Spokane. Just weeks ago, the land was dry and used for growing hay. Now, it is crawling with heavy machinery. Wetlands and a series of four ponds are being restored to the property, which was purchased recently with a federal grant obtained by Ducks Unlimited.
SANDPOINT – In the case of Steven David Aver vs. the legal system, a verdict has not yet been reached. Aver, a 45-year-old LaClede resident, is using an obscure Idaho law to try and clean out the Bonner County Courthouse after a judge and courthouse staff ordered him to leave because he smelled.
Fights over federal forest policy are often fiery, but the latest one includes some memorable howling. On Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service announced it would be suspending hundreds of projects across the Inland Northwest after a judge ruled the agency needed to include more public involvement in its decisions. Not only will the decision halt some fuels-thinning projects and trail work, but one top agency official said a public comment period might now even be needed before a toilet can be fixed.
KELLOGG, Idaho – The grandiose mountain scenery has helped lure new teachers to this cash-strapped school district. Now, the thick forests that cover these mountains could soon be used to heat the schools and protect the district from budget-blowing energy price increases. If voters approve, the Kellogg School District will soon begin heating some of its buildings with wood chips and spindly trees. Superintendent Greg Godwin said it didn't seem to make sense to write checks to Avista for up to $16,000 a month for natural gas while being surrounded by so much potential fuel.
LAKEVIEW, Idaho – The massive hill of dirt looks like it was dumped here yesterday. No plants grow on its slopes, which seem to crumble and tumble down to a nearby creekbed with every footstep. The pile has been here for nearly a century, said Earl Liverman, project manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It looks fresh because the dirt is actually arsenic-rich mine tailings. In some places, the tailings contain 900 times the amount of arsenic needed to kill any seed that manages to land and sprout in the soft earth.
Owners of forestland can earn tax breaks while learning how to keep their trees healthy through a stewardship training class being offered by Washington State University Extension and the state's Department of Natural Resources. Courses begin next week in Spokane, Colville and Twisp. The six-week course meets once weekly and costs $95, but WSU Extension Agent Emily Burt said the class cost is typically much less than the price of a stewardship plan from a private forestry consultant. The plans are required to obtain state tax breaks offered for private forestland.
Chemical de-icers have become the weapon of choice for improving traction on roads and highways across the region. Their increase in use has also shown up in water samples taken from the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Experts in Idaho and Washington stress there's little cause for concern, but agencies in both states say they are keeping a close eye on the chemical's presence.
After being snared in a bureaucratic spider web, law officers from across Idaho are coming back early from a relief mission to Louisiana. "I'm a little miffed," said Bonner County Sheriff Elaine Savage. Her department helped organize the effort, which sent seven deputies and two moving vans full of donated supplies to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.
CLARK FORK, Idaho – Automobiles might play a role in the mating rituals of some humans, but for the better part of the past decade vehicles have also factored prominently in the spawning routines of Granite Creek's trout population. Lower portions of the stream were left impassable to fish after a 1996 flood. This meant that every day during spring and fall spawning runs, state workers would have to load egg-laden cutthroat and bull trout into a pickup for a short drive upstream. After the eggs were deposited and fertilized, and the fish had rested a bit, they would swim downstream and into a trap to await another pickup ride home to Lake Pend Oreille.
CLARK FORK, Idaho – Automobiles might play a role in the mating rituals of some humans, but for the better part of the last decade vehicles have also factored prominently in the spawning routines of Granite Creek's trout population. Lower portions of the stream were left impassable to fish after a 1996 flood. This meant that every day during spring and fall spawning runs, state workers would have to load egg-laden cutthroat and bull trout into a pickup for a short drive upstream. After the eggs were deposited and fertilized, and the fish had rested a bit, they would swim downstream and into a trap to await another pickup ride home to Lake Pend Oreille.
A partial tunnel collapse has prompted a temporary closure of the Route of the Hiawatha bicycle trail. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dave O'Brien said a "large portion" of rock fell out of the ceiling of one of the tunnels near the upper end of the popular bicycle trail, which follows an abandoned rail bed along the Montana-Idaho border.
Suddenly, firewood doesn't seem so old-fashioned. Woodcutters say they are having trouble this year keeping up with demand. Some have raised prices, but the increases appear to be at much lower rates than those affecting other heating fuels.
Flaws have been discovered in a supposedly impermeable concrete coating at BNSF Railway's depot atop the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. There is no evidence of any train fuel leaking through the "blisters" in the coating and into the aquifer 160 feet below the site, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. But after a series of leaks were reported earlier this year at the depot – the railroad has blamed the problems on faulty design and sloppy construction – public tolerance for any additional flaws is running low, said Barry Rosenberg, executive director of the Coeur d'Alene-based Kootenai Environmental Alliance.
Fernan Lake Road, one of Idaho's most dangerous roadways, will be rebuilt beginning in 2008. Although the project will cost at least $1 million for each of the nearly 11 miles being rebuilt, federal officials believe the work will prevent at least 180 crashes over the next two decades, according to estimates from the Federal Highway Administration.
The body of an apparent homicide victim was found Monday in a remote section of north Spokane County. A man driving a four-wheeler on East Laurel Road spotted the corpse lying in a clearing early Monday afternoon and called authorities, said Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Tower. The area is roughly 25 miles northeast of downtown Spokane.