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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

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.
News >  Spokane

Finding a plus side to pollution

For more than a decade, Hugh Lefcort has researched and published scientific papers on the damage done to snails by heavy metals pollution in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin. But time and time again, something unexpected popped up: At low levels of exposure, the snails seemed to flourish, growing larger and producing more offspring.

News >  Spokane

Attire, attitudes provide a running commentary

From Superwoman to Uncle Sam, from green Mohawks to the Blues Brothers, Bloomsday has a way of bringing out the whimsical side of participants. Among this year's entrants were The Blues Brothers. Channeling the soul singers Jake and Elwood were Spokane's Paul and Tabea Wiersma, a father and daughter team.
News >  Spokane

Spring blooms big time

Maybe spring was just waiting for Bloomsday. Under cloudless skies, more than 43,300 people completed Spokane's annual road race and civic party, about 3,000 more than last year, said Jerry O'Neal, a race official and spokesman. Given the occasionally snowy spring, Sunday's sunshine left everyone elated.
News >  Spokane

Geared up to give back

As college graduates toast their accomplishments in the coming weeks, they might consider Patrick Muturi. Muturi, a 35-year-old from Kenya, will graduate Friday with a nursing degree from Washington State University. Muturi said celebrating isn't the most important part of graduation.
News >  Spokane

WSU scientist recalls breakthrough

Ten years ago, Patricia Hunt and her colleagues were studying eggs from mice, part of ongoing research into pregnancy failure. "All of a sudden our data went completely bonkers," she said.
News >  Spokane

WSU, EWU tightening their belts

Some Washington college presidents are halting most new hires as a hedge against layoffs and other cuts, given projections of a state revenue shortfall of more than $2 billion. Eastern Washington University President Rodolfo Arevalo implemented a "soft hiring freeze" in mid-April, saying the school is facing the possibility of significant cuts in the next legislative session.
News >  Spokane

EWU, UI host conservative speakers

The endless battle over liberal academia isn't likely to be affected much, but two regional colleges are about to welcome a couple of guests from the right. Former White House spokesman and conservative radio host Tony Snow will speak at Eastern Washington University on Tuesday as part of EWU's biggest annual lecture series. Meanwhile, the University of Idaho is hosting Kenneth Starr, the attorney and scholar who has become an instant political litmus test over his investigation of President Clinton.
News >  Spokane

WSU student on tuition quest

Kaia Rongstad remembers her first view of the Palouse as a sharp contrast to her hometown of Juneau, Alaska. "I was kind of freaking out on the plane, because all I could see was wheat fields everywhere," the Washington State University freshman said. "But from the second I stepped off the plane, I just kept meeting friendly people."
News >  Spokane

Rising food costs squeeze consumers, agencies

Laura Bowman has seen the food bill at her North Side day-care center rise several hundred dollars a month. Michelle Swanson has stopped eating meat and switched to soy milk. Dan Grady says he can't afford the food he wants – local, organic products. And at the Women's and Children's Free Restaurant, organizers spent 57 percent more on food this January and February than last – a result of increased prices and increased need among low-income families. Some foods, such as eggs, are no longer offered.
News >  Spokane

Details emerge in probe of frat

When Washington State University announced in February that it was yanking its recognition of Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity over allegations of drug dealing and other rule violations, it said little about the case. But a review of hundreds of pages of university and court records shows that allegations of drug dealing and witness intimidation against several former members of the fraternity grew out of a yearlong investigation by Palouse drug detectives. Most cases were resolved with plea agreements on Friday or are expected to be wrapped up next week, though Whitman County prosecutor Bill Druffel said more arrests are likely.
News >  Spokane

Dropout rates can mislead

About 11.5 percent of Spokane Public Schools high school students dropped out in 2005-06. In the West Valley School District, it was less than 1 percent.
News >  Spokane

Kindergarten goes full-day

The walls of Mrs. Golden's kindergarten class are covered with the alphabet, with shapes and colors, with drawings of "The Cat in the Hat." But the Logan Elementary teacher is doing more than academics. She's teaching manners, patience and cooperation. She's helping negotiate conflicts and enforcing the rules.
News >  Spokane

Seeking alternatives

Dan Sweetland moved from his parents' home – and the violence and drug use there – when he was 5. After a year at his grandmother's, he lived with an aunt until he was 12, then returned to his father's.
News >  Spokane

SCC’s interim president made permanent

Spokane Community College moved its interim president to permanent status Thursday – giving Joe Dunlap the top job at SCC four years after he arrived at the college. Dunlap, 57, was vice president of learning from his arrival in 2004 until last September, when he became the interim president to replace Steve Hanson, who retired. He was selected from three candidates for the permanent position.
News >  Spokane

Volleyballers hope to net spot in Junior Olympics

Wendy Krell's multi-generational cheering squad came a long way to watch her play volleyball Saturday. Krell is a member of the Dallas Juniors, a Texas volleyball club among 230 teams trying to qualify for the Junior Olympics this weekend in Spokane. Her mother, Connie Krell, and grandfather, Reuben Meller, traveled from Dallas to cheer her on.
News >  Spokane

WSU student housing to expand

Washington State University will start building the first new dorms on the Pullman campus in 37 years as part of a 10-year, $200 million plan to improve student housing. WSU's Board of Regents approved the $26 million residence hall Friday at a meeting in the Tri-Cities. It's one piece of a plan to replace older, larger dorm buildings on campus with seven new ones that are smaller and offer students more styles of housing, said Barry Johnston, associate vice president for business and finance.
News >  Spokane

WSU gets $25 million gift

Washington State University will announce a record $25 million donation Monday to help create what President Elson Floyd envisions as a kind of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for animal health. WSU announced Thursday that it would hold a news conference in Seattle to discuss the gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The school would not release the grant amount or details, but characterized it as the "largest private gift in the university's history."
News >  Spokane

SCC picks three president finalists

Spokane Community College has selected three finalists for the job of president, and they'll appear in a series of public forums April 1-3. The finalists are the interim president, Joe Dunlap; North Idaho College administrator Eric Murray; and Ivan Gorne, an administrator at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, SCC announced Wednesday.
News >  Spokane

In forgotten war, failure ‘a realistic prospect’

It's often dubbed the other war. Sometimes the forgotten war. But the six-year battle in Afghanistan is coming off its deadliest year yet, and observers say 2008 could be a turning point in a region that's a strategic nexus for terrorist groups.
News >  Spokane

Morning Star faces two new lawsuits

Two more men sued Morning Star Boys' Ranch and its former director this week, bringing to 10 the number of men who have sued over sexual abuse allegations at the boys home. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court, one of two plaintiffs alleges he was abused in 1980 and 1981 by the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, former director of the ranch, and another staffer who has since died, identified as Reese Hall. The second plaintiff says he was abused from 1977 to 1979 by a staffer whose identity isn't known, the lawsuit says.
News >  Spokane

People’s Clinic to shut down

Nine months after it was rescued from the brink of closure, the People's Clinic is closing for good. Officials say they're directing the clinic's 1,500 student and low-income patients toward other sources of health care, and trying to establish relationships with other clinics to allow its nurse practitioners to continue treating patients.
News >  Spokane

WSU rescinds its recognition of fraternity

Washington State University has revoked its recognition of a fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda, alleging drug use and sales, providing alcohol to minors and other violations of university policy. But WSU would release few details about the case, and officials refused to immediately release records from its investigation, as it has done in past cases of student discipline.
News >  Spokane

Violence climbing near WSU campus

Two attacks – and two broken jaws – have gotten most of the attention on the subject of violence this year at Washington State University. But police statistics show that fistfights, brawls and other public confrontations have been rising in Pullman for years. The number of assaults reported to Pullman police has climbed 41 percent since 2000, and the number of disorderly conduct complaints – which can include "assaultive behavior" – has more than doubled, according to Police Department statistics.