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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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James Hagengruber

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News >  Idaho

Avalanche danger growing

Avalanche danger is considerable in the region's backcountry and only expected to increase as fresh snow is expected to be dumped tonight atop slippery, cold-hardened slopes. One avalanche has already been reported in the St. Joe River area near Prospector Creek, according to a report issued Friday by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The slide happened Wednesday after a road grader passed under a steep slope. The grader was not hit by the snow and no one was injured.
News >  Idaho

Loan helps revive hospital

KELLOGG – When it was built nearly 50 years ago, Shoshone Medical Center offered not only the latest health care technology, including a state-of-the-art telephone system, but the building's 18-inch concrete foundation also offered refuge as a bomb shelter. Today, the structure is a medical monstrosity. The thick walls are almost impossible to upgrade with modern ventilation systems. Accessing pipes buried deep in the concrete isn't easy, either. Even the bathrooms are hopelessly out of date and are too narrow for a wheelchair, hospital CEO Gary Moore said during a recent tour.
News >  Spokane

Public gets say on depot leak

Within hours of discovering a broken underground drain pipe at a Hauser, Idaho, railroad refueling depot, workers began excavating the surrounding diesel-sodden soil. About 200 cubic yards of earth – roughly a dozen heaping dump truck loads – was removed during the initial effort to chase the plume of contamination, according to a 110-page report on the spill made public earlier this week by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. Although scientists with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality are continuing to sift through hundreds of pieces of data contained in the report, including soil and groundwater sample results, the document provides the best answer yet on how much diesel fuel was spilled into the ground above the Rathdrum-Spokane Valley aquifer. Chemical levels in 138 soil samples are being used to determine how much fuel-laden wastewater was spilled before the broken pipe was detected Dec. 10, said Marc Kalbaugh, DEQ's site remediation manager.

News >  Idaho

Agencies unite to monitor water

Leaked wastewater at a Hauser, Idaho, railroad refueling yard might not pose any immediate health threats to the region's drinking water, but local governments and regulatory agencies in Washington met last week to establish a network to keep a closer watch on the situation. Water users are concerned about the extent of the contamination and groups ranging from the city of Spokane to the town of Millwood and the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District are clamoring for the latest soil and water test results, said Jim Bellatty, manager of the Washington Department of Ecology's water quality office in Spokane.
News >  Idaho

Anger vented at spill forum

Although initial tests show only small amounts of toxic chemicals seeped into the region's aquifer from a Hauser, Idaho, railroad refueling facility, high levels of concern and frustration were expressed at a public forum in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday. The meeting, hosted by the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, was the first of its kind since a wastewater spill was discovered at the depot Dec. 10. The group's director, Barry Rosenberg, said an opportunity was needed for state officials to share the facts of the spill directly with the public.
News >  Idaho

Additional flu vaccine arrives

Extra doses of flu vaccine will be available across the Panhandle beginning Friday to adults 50 years and older. The Panhandle Health District recently received 1,280 additional doses of the vaccine from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said Susan Cuff, spokeswoman for the health district. The doses will be distributed across the five counties of North Idaho, with 780 staying in Kootenai County.
News >  Idaho

Wolf sightings on the rise

More wolf sightings are being reported across North Idaho, including near Coeur d'Alene, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department. From a distance gray wolves are often mistaken for large dogs or wolf-dog hybrids, but agency biologists believe the latest reports are probably true. Repeated wolf sightings have been reported near Priest Lake, Bonners Ferry and even in Lake Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay area east of Coeur d'Alene, said Jim Hayden, the Fish and Game Department's regional wildlife manager.
News >  Idaho

Fuel leak likely hit aquifer

Diesel fuel and motor oil spilled from a broken pipe at a Hauser, Idaho, railroad refueling depot have seeped into the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, said Marc Kalbaugh, site remediation manager with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Despite the evidence of contamination, Kalbaugh said he believes the ground water remains safe for drinking. The aquifer supplies drinking water for Spokane and Kootenai counties.
News >  Idaho

Eagle enthusiasts clog shoreline road

Record flocks of bald eagles and rubber-necking eagle watchers are turning Lake Coeur d'Alene's northeast shoreline into a traffic scene straight out of Yellowstone or Yosemite national parks. Cars stop in the middle of the road, other vehicles drift over the centerline as their drivers' eyes scan treetops for the telltale white heads, and binocular-clutching pedestrians shuffle along the road's narrow shoulder.
News >  Idaho

Mounties rescued from Idaho backcountry

Two Canadian Mounties were rescued Friday night in the backcountry of Boundary County, Idaho, according to a statement from Boundary County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Day. The Royal Mounted Police officers were patrolling the border by snowmobile when they became stuck in deep, soft snow near the Grass Creek area. The creek is in a remote, heavily forested area north of Upper Priest Lake.
News >  Idaho

Dam talks focus on falls, lakes

Mild, rainy weather is creating spring thaw-like conditions in the mountains of North Idaho. On Friday, a torrent of snowmelt and rain roared through downtown Spokane's river channel. The roiling blue and green water could be seen from the conference room where scientists, government officials and Avista Utilities executives gathered to discuss plans to boost summer river flows over waterfalls in downtown Spokane and Post Falls.
News >  Idaho

BNSF still testing after depot leak

Investigators expect to know Monday if diesel fuel from a broken pipe at a railroad refueling facility reached the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer near Hauser, Idaho. The leaking wastewater pipe was detected a week ago at the newly constructed Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. refueling depot. A railroad spokesman said there's no evidence of danger to the region's drinking water supply – the aquifer is about 160 feet below the site – but a state official cautioned against drawing conclusions until soil test results are returned Monday.
News >  Idaho

Jury reconvened for sentencing trial

Although Hayden businessman Christopher Close was convicted in July of defrauding the federal government and some of his elderly clients, the jury reconvened in Coeur d'Alene this week for an unusual sentencing trial. A pending U.S. Supreme Court case could require juries – not judges – to consider so-called sentencing enhancements, which can add additional jail time or fines to punishments, said Wendy Olson, the assistant U.S. Attorney who led the prosecution against Close. Sentencing enhancements are applied in weapons, drugs or fraud cases.
News >  Idaho

Refuel depot leak spotted

An unknown amount of wastewater, including diesel fuel and motor oil, has leaked from a broken pipe at a train refueling facility located over the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer near Hauser, Idaho. The leak was detected Friday and the pipe was immediately shut down, but an official with the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. said the fracture could be more than three months old.
News >  Idaho

More snowmobile restrictions advocated

Conservation groups say they will fight for larger tracts of high country to be declared off-limits to snowmobiles to protect the region's endangered caribou. Representatives from groups on both sides of the United States-Canada border met Monday in Spokane with state, federal and provincial scientists to discuss caribou recovery efforts.
News >  Spokane

A special spree for the holidays

BreAyan Lane didn't want to wait for Christmas to use a gift she picked out Sunday afternoon at NorthTown Mall's JC Penney. The 6-year-old Spokane girl slipped the gift on her feet before she even left the department store. "I've never had boots before," she said.
News >  Spokane

Man dies when hit by pickup

A pedestrian was struck and killed Sunday evening while trying to cross North Division Street, just north of Francis Avenue. The man had made it across five lanes of traffic but was hit by a pickup truck in the sixth lane just a few steps from the curb. He was struck at about 5 p.m. and was pronounced dead 15 minutes later at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said Spokane Police Cpl. Jon Strickland. Neither the victim's name nor the pickup truck driver's identity was released Sunday night. The victim was elderly, Strickland said.
News >  Idaho

Disc helps conquer back pain

The first artificial spinal disc in the Northwest was implanted Thursday at a Coeur d'Alene hospital in the lower back of Wilma Turner, a 55-year-old poodle breeder and horse rancher from Newman Lake, Wash. Turner hurt her back four years ago in a car crash. She tried to conquer the resulting back pain with all manner of physical therapy and injections. But the pain slowly became crippling. Fusing the vertebrae together seemed to be her only option, she said.
News >  Idaho

Bush wants to double timber cut

The Bush administration plans to double the nation's efforts to thin fire-prone Western forests and will emphasize the cutting of trees that can be sold to help pay for the work, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said Thursday in Coeur d'Alene. Rey, who directs U.S. forest policy, outlined the president's natural resource agenda at the annual meeting of the Intermountain Forest Association. Along with thinning more forest, the Bush administration wants to reform the Endangered Species Act, streamline national forest management and give states more power in managing roadless areas.
News >  Idaho

Sawmills hungry to get more timber

Despite being surrounded by seemingly endless tracts of thick forest, a sawmill owner in Plummer, Idaho, says his mill can't find enough timber and is now hauling logs from as far away as the Washington coast. "We have to go where the wood is," said Todd Brinkmeyer, president of Plummer Forest Products, a three-year-old mill. "When we built the mill we never thought we would be struggling for the fiber as much as we are. Our resource issue has been 100 times more difficult than I ever contemplated."
News >  Idaho

Foresters lament hurdles

The leader of a major forestry organization sent a message to the White House urging the president to send federal troops to fight forest fires. Not enough resources were being devoted to save the nation's forests as a series of severe fires grew in strength, the forester complained. "That was a telegraph sent in 1910," said Neil Smith, current leader of the group, the Western Forestry and Conservation Association, which is holding its annual meeting this week in Coeur d'Alene. "Here we are 100 years later. The controversy is still there."
News >  Idaho

Prosecutor: Hagadone meetings legal

Coeur d'Alene's City Council members and mayor did not violate Idaho's open meeting laws when they accepted invitations to meet one-on-one with developer Duane Hagadone, according to an investigation conducted by Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas. Hagadone met individually with each elected official on Oct. 21 at the Coeur d'Alene headquarters of his hotel and media corporation. Later that same day, he publicly unveiled a proposal to reroute downtown streets to make room for a new hotel and botanical garden.
News >  Idaho

Christmas tree hunters go wild

Thousands, if not millions, of Christmas trees are available to local residents at steep discounts from the tree lot prices. Many of the specimens would appeal only to Charlie Brown, but persistent hunters routinely haul symmetrical, full-bodied trees from Inland Northwest national forests. All it takes is a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, a bit of driving and a couple dozen pulls on a handsaw. Like most bargains, there's a catch, said Forest Service spokesman Rex Holloway.
News >  Idaho

Ex-Boundary Prosecutor Day succumbs

Randy Day, the longtime Boundary County prosecutor who led criminal investigations following the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff, died Thursday at the Bonners Ferry Hospital following an extended illness. He was 54. Inside county lines, Day will be remembered as a powerful advocate for local causes, including a recent attempt by community leaders to purchase two closed sawmills, said Bonners Ferry Mayor Darrell Kerby. "He never once balked at donating his legal experience anytime there was an issue where our community was potentially harmed."
News >  Idaho

Sagle wastewater plan stirs protest

Federal regulators have extended the public comment period for a proposal to dump treated wastewater from Sagle, Idaho, into the Pend Oreille River. The comment period was originally scheduled to expire Friday, but it was extended through Dec. 27 after the Environmental Protection Agency received an influx of comments opposing the plan. A petition drive also has collected hundreds of signatures of local residents demanding the agency hold a public hearing on the idea, said Rosemary Shoong, a Sagle landowner leading the opposition.