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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

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

Strapped EV schools are facing a lean year

When classes begin in the East Valley School District on Wednesday, things will be a lot more austere than a year ago. Teaching and administrative ranks are depleted by 12. Security guards, instructional coaches and librarians have been eliminated. New textbooks will be rare and building maintenance on hold. Programs like the high school's after-school study club are being scaled back.
News >  Spokane

Students move in at Gonzaga

Shay Logan was unloading his backpack in his new Gonzaga University dorm on Thursday: climbing ropes, camp stove, outdoor gear. He was coming off a summer of mountain climbing and into the new Kennedy Apartments. The apartments make the average dorm look awfully austere, with their spacious floor plans, Mission-style furniture, double bathrooms and full kitchen.
News >  Spokane

Area’s colleges beef up security

As colleges welcome back students for another academic year, they'll also be putting some new security measures in place – some high-tech, some old-fashioned. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in April, college officials everywhere fielded calls from parents and students, reviewed emergency plans and systems, and added new tools to improve campus safety.

News >  Spokane

Break out the driver, and the sprinklers

For years now, Washington State University officials have said a new 18-hole golf course on campus would use just 50 percent more water than the old one – despite having twice as many holes and three times the acreage. Now, with the course construction well under way and the first golfers ready to hit the driving range Monday, it appears that the new course may actually double or nearly triple the water use of the old 9-hole course. That information comes as WSU is asserting, in a proposed water conservation plan, that its new course will be 32 percent more efficient than the old one.
News >  Spokane

Fun day in the park all about kids

The stroller count was high Saturday in Riverfront Park, as thousands of families flooded in for the annual Kids Day celebration. Children had scores of games and activities to try, ranging from playing a violin to watching a mime to whacking a dummy with a bamboo kendo sword. Tied in with the activities was information about services and organizations that help families, as well as some business booths.
News >  Idaho

UI-Sandpoint gets closer

Sandpoint could be a college town by this time in 2009. Coldwater Creek founder Dennis Pence, through his foundation, has expanded the amount he's willing to spend to see that happen – from $26 million to at least $36 million, according to the agreement approved by the Idaho State Board of Education on Thursday night.
News >  Spokane

Tobacco suit about to pay off

One researcher wants to study the role of genetics in overweight pigs – with an eye toward developing individualized approaches to diet. Another hopes to create a microchip that could measure tiny "biomarkers" in the blood, raising the potential of personalized predictions for heart attack and disease.
News >  Spokane

No snoozing at WSU sleep center

The people who check into the new sleep research center at Washington State University in Spokane stay in some pretty nice digs. But the tradeoff is dramatic. They're kept awake for long stretches – 36 hours, 62 hours. No coffee or stimulating activity allowed. If they're watching a movie and they start to nod off, someone nudges them awake.
News >  Spokane

Russell judge opposes moving trial

COLFAX – Fred Russell will likely be tried in Whitman County, a judge said Tuesday, even if that means bringing in jurors from an outside county and sequestering them. Attorneys for Russell, accused of driving drunk and killing three people in a 2001 crash near Pullman, wanted the trial moved, arguing that intense, inflammatory news coverage over six years had left a majority of potential jurors with firm opinions about the case.
News >  Spokane

Defense targets missing blood

COLFAX – No independent investigation was conducted into the loss of blood samples that authorities say prove Fred Russell was drunk when he caused a fiery 2001 crash that left three dead near Pullman. That disclosure came Monday during a hearing in preparation for Russell's vehicular homicide trial, as defense attorney Francisco Duarte challenged state toxicologist Barry Logan about his office's handling of two vials of blood taken from Russell the night of the accident.
News >  Spokane

Loss of Russell blood vials a shock

After Fred Russell fled the country – and before he was captured – Whitman County prosecutors twice asked the Washington state crime lab to preserve vials of his blood that they say prove Russell was drunk when he caused a crash that left three dead. The lab manager assured them the samples would be saved.
News >  Spokane

EWU sells downtown center for $3.4M

Eastern Washington University has announced the sale of its downtown Spokane center to a Portland-based real estate company for $3.4 million. The details of the sale were announced Wednesday morning, though the fact of a pending sale – and the shifting of EWU's Spokane programs to the Riverpoint campus – have been known for months.
News >  Spokane

Fast start for top Cougar

Two days after Elson Floyd took over as Washington State University's president, he announced a shuffling of administrators in the office of student life. In the ensuing eight weeks, he's moved with a similar speed – naming three administrators he's worked with before to posts as vice presidents; promising $1 million for improved child care on campus; pledging $400,000 to cover a funding shortfall at Spokane's People's Clinic; and moving WSU's economic development office to Seattle.
News >  Spokane

Running Start gives high-schoolers a leg up

In this graduation season, Bryson Toth had more commencements on the calendar than most. Toth earned both a high school diploma and an associate's degree this spring. He'll enroll in college with a two-year head start, paid for by the state.
News >  Spokane

Education really is a game for new-degree EWU grad

Most college students write papers or take tests for their final class projects. For one of his, Marc Emerson created a computer-animated, disembodied head of Mel Gibson, under glass, giving a thunderous speech from "Braveheart."
News >  Idaho

Authorship taints critical NASA letter

Last July, a NASA official wrote to the University of Idaho asking about allegations that a researcher had compromised the security and safety of national space research. The letter raised the possibility that the researcher had provided sensitive information to "unauthorized sources" – perhaps even "foreign agents."
News >  Idaho

Dispute surrounds UI tech center

When Gary Maki returned to the University of Idaho in 2002 after a 10-year absence, he was greeted as an economic savior for the region. Maki, a renowned scientist whose microchips have been part of many of the biggest space exploration projects of recent years, brought his research team and a history of big NASA grants, breakthrough discoveries and the promise of high-tech spinoff companies.
News >  Spokane

Text message: Cut costs

When statistics students at Spokane Community College went to get textbooks in January, they found a new alternative to new and used: rentals. Now, one term later, more students in Diana Osborne's statistics class rent textbooks than buy them.
News >  Spokane

EWU’s shuffle

Eastern Washington University is closing in on the sale of its downtown Spokane center, and its long-awaited move to the Riverpoint campus is set to happen this summer. But it'll be at least a few years until EWU has its own building on that campus. In the interim, students and professors will cobble together space from different buildings at Riverpoint and elsewhere in the city. One program – journalism – is being moved back to Cheney.
News >  Spokane

Killer told doctor he’d use guns, bombs

Three months ago, Jason Hamilton told a doctor during a mental health evaluation that he would never try to commit suicide by overdose. If he were going to kill himself, he said, he'd use guns or bombs, and take "a whole bunch of people with him," police said.
News >  Spokane

WSU president steps into new job

Washington State University's new president officially took office Monday, and he started by continuing the meet-and-greet rush that he's been involved in since his hiring was announced in December. Elson S. Floyd started his tenure as WSU's 10th president by meeting with faculty, staff and student leaders – and by wading into the task of hiring a new chief fundraiser.
News >  Spokane

GU rewards winner – 61 years late

The 1940s were a tough decade for Robert Probach. He was injured twice and captured once as a soldier in World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and spent months in a German prison camp.
News >  Spokane

WSU professor facing sexual harassment suit resigns

A professor facing a highly publicized sexual harassment trial has resigned from Washington State University, as part of an agreement in which the school will provide him legal representation and reimburse him for his lost tenure. The school will also indemnify Bernardo Gallegos, which means he wouldn't be responsible for paying any judgment in the civil case. He will be paid more than $87,000 for his tenure, though he will lose some benefits. His salary was more than $132,000 a year.
News >  Spokane

Two top executives to retire from CCS

The Community Colleges of Spokane is seeing turnover in its leadership ranks with the retirements of two top executives. Jim Perez, head of the Institute for Extended Learning, is retiring and will be replaced by Scott Morgan, the chief operating officer for the CCS system for several years. The IEL includes adult education, high school equivalency courses and other programs.