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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

In brief: State population growing slowly

Washington’s population grew less than 1 percent in the past year mainly from a slight increase in people moving into the state, the Office of Financial Management said Monday.

The annual estimate of state population said net migration, the difference between the people moving in and those moving out, had been falling since 2007, but that turned around in 2011 for a slight uptick. For the year ending April 1, the state gained an estimated 49,870 people, making the overall population 6,817,770, according to the office.

Seattle is the largest city, with an estimated population of 616,500. Spokane remains second, at 210,000, ahead of Tacoma at 199,600. Spokane Valley remains the state’s 10th-largest city, with 90,550. Spokane County is the state’s fourth-most populous, with an estimated population of 475,600, trailing only King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Man charged with attempted murder

A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.

Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins’ home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.

Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door at 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.

Hodges stole marijuana, police said, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.

“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”

Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

Delays likely on part of Sprague Avenue

Sprague Avenue from Napa to Pittsburg streets is closing today at 5 a.m. so the Spokane water department can work on water services there.

Drivers will be detoured onto Riverside or First avenues. Delays are likely. The work could be completed by Wednesday unless crews run into complications in the street, city officials said.

Council approves utilities director

The Spokane City Council on Monday approved Mayor David Condon’s choice to lead the city’s water, sewer and trash systems.

Condon announced early this month that he selected Rick Romero, the city’s internal auditor, to be the city’s utilities director. The council voted for his appointment in a 5-0 vote. His salary has been set at about $132,000.

Romero is a graduate of Newport High School and has a bachelor’s degree and master’s in business administration degree from Eastern Washington University.

Before joining the city in 2008, he served as the associate vice president for business services at EWU. Romero replaced interim Director Gerry Gemmill, who was named by Condon to serve as the local government and labor relations director.