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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shawn Vestal

Stories by Shawn Vestal

Current Position: columnist

Shawn Vestal joined The Spokesman-Review in 1999. He currently is a columnist for the City Desk.

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News >  Spokane

Winter advisory: Heat cost will soar

The first snowfall is months away, but it’s already putting a chill on winter budgets. Virtually every source of household warmth is expected to get more expensive this year. The region’s main utility, Avista, wants to increase rates for electricity and natural gas in Washington and Idaho – the figures aren’t final, but customers could be paying in the neighborhood of 20 percent more this winter, if increases in rates and surcharges are approved.

News >  Spokane

Check out the lines

As everything gets more expensive, the region’s public libraries – and their free services – are becoming more popular. In everything from book checkout to Internet usage, libraries in Spokane, Spokane County and Coeur d’Alene say they’re seeing significant increases.
News >  Spokane

Ex-UI researcher faces deportation

Katarzyna Dziewanowska grew up in the “gray communist life” of Poland. But it was in America where she found a truly nightmarish experience with a bureaucracy.
News >  Spokane

Snug as a bug in a college dorm

Colleges throughout the Inland Northwest are bracing for record freshmen classes this fall, and officials are looking for places to put them all. At Washington State University, the dorms are essentially full and the university has stopped taking housing applications from anyone but freshmen, who are required to live on campus. WSU is expanding some rooms and considering having students live with residence advisers, who typically get single rooms.
News >  Spokane

Wild July keeps area firefighters on alert

Firefighters all over the Spokane area have had a wild July – and not just because of big, devastating fires like Thursday’s blaze in the Joel building downtown or the wildfire earlier this month that destroyed 11 homes in the Valley. From brush fires to burning cars and mattresses, the summer has been busy for crews in Spokane and Spokane Valley, officials said Thursday. The day before the Joel fire, the Spokane Fire Department posted a list online of the July fires it has investigated – 22 incidents as varied as a cooking fire in a duplex, a house fire caused by a meth lab, and kids burning playground equipment.
News >  Spokane

WSU sued over water rights

A coalition of conservation groups opposed to a new golf course at Washington State University has sued the school, arguing that a recent court ruling invalidates the majority of WSU's water rights. The suit is the latest step in a long-running battle over the new Palouse Ridge Golf Club, which will use millions of gallons a year from the Grande Ronde Aquifer for irrigation.
News >  Spokane

Scaling back

Most years, you'd find Gwen Druckrey and her husband out in their boat somewhere over Fourth of July weekend. Not this year. "I'm staying home," Druckrey, the business manager for a Spokane towing company, said before the holiday. It was a popular option, given the high price of gas. Steve Schennum, an electrical engineering professor at Gonzaga University, planned to do the same thing – after a trip to Colorado to camp and raft cost him $800 in gas.
News >  Spokane

Harrowing, grimy, hard to forget

It's been more than a half-century, but Kirby Billington remembers the sound of his ship, the USS Saunter, scraping over the top of a mine in Manila Bay. Finding mines was the Saunter's mission. But not this way.
News >  Spokane

Gun-rights backers hail decision

Inland Northwest gun-rights advocates greeted Thursday's Supreme Court ruling as a long-awaited victory – though the victory was closer than they'd have liked, with the Supreme Court rejecting Washington, D.C.'s, handgun ban 5-4. "I think they followed the Constitution," said Terry Rogers, owner of All American Arms in Spokane Valley. "I was very disappointed it wasn't 9 to 0."
News >  Spokane

Officials debate Palouse Ridge pros and cons

In the years that Washington State University officials talked about, dreamed of and planned for a destination golf course on campus, they intended to pay for it – or at least a lot of it – with private donations. Now the 18-hole Palouse Ridge Golf Club is nearing its grand opening on Labor Day weekend, and university officials hope it becomes a regional draw for golfers, a championship course for tournaments, a boost for the university and an engine for the local economy.
News >  Spokane

Biodiesel on board for trial run

CRESTON, Wash. – When the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad train pulled out of town Friday, it was hauling 52 cars, about 6,600 tons of wheat and – for the first time – 500 gallons of biodiesel. It was the first leg of a journey expected to last all summer, as the railroad operator and an Eastern Washington biofuels company test whether biodiesel can work in locomotives.
News >  Spokane

Costs squeeze Meals on Wheels

People working in the region's meal-delivery programs are seeing an inflationary double-whammy – on the meals and on the wheels. Regional Meals on Wheels programs, which deliver food to the elderly and homebound, are seeing their food costs rise sharply – as is everyone, with grocery bills rising faster than at any time in the last two decades. And the run-up to $4 gas has driven down the number of volunteers willing to deliver the meals.
News >  Spokane

Lengthy college career

Ann Prideaux has waited for this a long time. She graduated from high school in 1953. She first enrolled in college in 1989. And Saturday, wearing the cap and gown and gray cord of the magna cum laude graduate, she'll go through commencement ceremonies with hundreds of fellow students at Eastern Washington University.
News >  Spokane

Commuter pays a penny a mile

Four-dollar gas isn't giving Mike Cameron any heartburn. The 58-year-old has spent the last month riding his electric bike to and from work at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Spokane. It's eight miles each way, and he figures it's costing him 16 cents a day.
News >  Business

High food costs hit area colleges

Like home cooks, regional college dining officials are struggling to deal with the rising cost of food. Students at Inland Northwest colleges mostly avoided big price increases this year, but their meal plans will be more expensive when classes resume in the fall.
News >  Spokane

WSU to cut courses, degrees

Washington State University will cut the number of courses it offers by 20 percent, eliminate majors and minors, and redirect resources toward its strongest areas, a new university report says. The report calls for an audit of all university courses, majors and minors, as well as an "overhaul" of general education programs – the core courses that students take in their first couple of years.
News >  Spokane

Police powers in spotlight

It sounds like a typical play rehearsal at first. "OK, places," calls Brooke Kiener, a theater instructor at Whitworth University. "Let's go, guys. Focus." But Kiener's students are preparing an unusual performance. "Crossing the Line" is an amalgam of nine pieces that incorporate dance, monologues, acting and research. It explores issues of police power and citizen oversight that have arisen from the Otto Zehm case – the mentally disabled janitor died after a struggle with police – and other controversies related to law enforcement in Spokane.
News >  Spokane

Rights leader retiring from NIC

Tony Stewart, a longtime champion of human rights as well as a college instructor and public-television host, is stepping down after 38 years at North Idaho College. Stewart has scheduled a public gathering Thursday to announce his retirement and address his future plans – including his acceptance of a new position with another organization. Stewart, 66, would not answer questions about his plans Monday, saying he wanted to wait until the formal announcement.
News >  Spokane

Research center cleared by state

The Idaho attorney general's office has concluded that researchers at a University of Idaho center in Post Falls broke no state laws in blending the interests of the university and two private companies that benefited the researchers. But investigators with the space agency NASA, which provides a large share of funding for the Center for Advanced Microelectronics and Biomolecular Research, are still probing how the center's officials handled federal grants over the years, according to an attorney involved in the case.
News >  Spokane

Geology degree a hot commodity

It's a good time to be a geology major. Graduates in the field are facing lucrative opportunities as they enter the job market, thanks to record metals and oil prices. The average pay for a petroleum geologist with two years experience or less has risen about 60 percent in the past eight years.