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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Region in brief: House fire’s cause being investigated

From Staff And Wire Reports

Spokane firefighters said Thursday they were investigating the cause of a fire that caused about $20,000 in damage to a home Wednesday evening.

The blaze at 4110 N. Cedar St. was brought under control within 15 minutes after next-door neighbors heard smoke detectors sounding within the house about 7:15 p.m.

Six fire companies and 22 firefighters were on the scene and confined the fire damage to the main living area. One firefighter cut his hand and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

District’s efforts honored by EPA

Spokane Public Schools is one of 10 districts nationwide being honored this week in the nation’s capital by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for providing cleaner air in schools.

The EPA created the recognition program, Tools for Schools, a decade ago to address air quality issues in school buildings, including respiratory problems, headaches and nausea as well as a rise in asthma and allergies.

“It is critical that our children have safe, healthy classrooms and an environment that helps them prepare for the future,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

Spokane Public Schools improved the air quality in its schools by replacing heating and cooling systems that pump fresh air into every classroom, officials said.

Taxpayer checkoff to parties targeted

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers will consider legislation to end the state’s voluntary tax return checkoff that helps fund political parties, four years after more taxpayers started choosing to donate to Democrats than Republicans.

Individual taxpayers don’t pay more if they decide to donate $1 to the party of their choice. “It’s a diversion from the general fund, unlike any other checkoff,” said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, the bill’s sponsor. “Right now, I’m just trying to save some money.”

Republicans got more of the donations from 1976 until 2006, when Democrats edged ahead, a trend that held this year.

Twelve of the House State Affairs Committee’s Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, voted to introduce the bill; four Democrats opposed the move. It now will be scheduled for a full hearing.

Jewish center shooter sentenced

SEATTLE – A man who went on a shooting rampage at a Seattle Jewish center, killing one woman and wounding five others, appealed for forgiveness and blamed his medication as King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas sentenced him Thursday to life in prison without parole.

“I am not a man filled with hate,” Naveed Haq told the court. “I would like to say I apologize from the depth of my being.”

Haq, 34, drove from his Eastern Washington home in Pasco to Seattle on July 28, 2006, and held a teenage girl at gunpoint as he forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. He stalked through the second-floor office, firing as workers dived for cover beneath their desks or leapt from windows.

Pamela Waechter, director of the charity’s annual fundraising campaign, was killed as she fled down a stairwell.

Haq was convicted last month at his second trial.

His first trial ended with jurors unable to decide whether he was legally insane at the time of the killing.

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