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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Hospital pickets protest cutbacks

Dozens of protesters picketed Deaconess and Valley hospitals on Tuesday, accusing management of staff cuts that affect patient care.

Some nurses worry that shrinking staff has forced them into administrative duties such as answering phones and processing orders rather than caring for patients.

The protesters are members of the Service Employees International Union 1199NW. The union represents more than 1,100 health care workers at both hospitals, including registered nurses at Valley.

As they waved placards questioning the hospitals’ decisions, executives noted that the protests did not disrupt the safety of patients, employees and visitors.

The hospital employees are not on strike. All services at the hospital were available and surgeries and diagnostic procedures were kept on schedule, according to a news release.

The hospitals are part of the region’s Rockwood Health System and owned by Community Health Services Inc.

Missing man found in Cusick

A Spokane Valley man reported missing a month ago was found in Cusick, Wash., on Tuesday, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Donald Bucknell, 49, was last seen Aug. 28 when he told a neighbor he was going camping, and he did not return when he said he planned to.

The Sheriff’s Office did not give Bucknell’s condition, but reported his family was on the way to pick him up. Bucknell’s family could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.

Architect, others win urban awards

Seven construction projects and one individual have been recognized with this year’s urban design awards through Spokane City Hall and the city’s Design Review Board.

• Architect Warren Heylman, who worked on modern designs for Spokane International Airport and the downtown Parkade, was given the creative citizen award.

• The mayor’s choice award went to the SIERR Building, owned by McKinstry Co.

• Urban design merit awards went to Westview Elementary School; Spokane Falls Community College’s renovated Music Building; and the Fountain Café at Riverfront Park.

• The City Ramp Garage renovation also received an award for design excellence.

• The people’s choice award went to the newly completed Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

• River Park Square’s renovation dating to 1999 was given a heritage project award. The downtown mall is owned by the Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.

Luna requests hikes for pay and reforms

MERIDIAN, Idaho – Idaho schools chief Tom Luna wants a 5.9 percent spending increase for Idaho schools next year to launch a six-year phase-in of reforms recommended by a task force.

They range from sharply boosting teacher pay to restoring cuts made during the state’s economic downturn. Luna said he endorses “every one” of the 20 recommendations from the task force appointed by Gov. Butch Otter.  “Taken together they will fundamentally transform our education system in Idaho for the better,” Luna said. “They’re all important.”

Luna’s budget request would give Idaho’s schools a $77 million increase in state funds next year. He said substantial increases would be needed every year for the next six years to accomplish the reforms, which also include boosts to teacher training, technology and student achievement standards.

Fall from balcony injures jail inmate

An inmate at the Grant County Jail in Ephrata, Wash., suffered serious injuries after falling from a second-floor balcony during an apparent suicide attempt.

Tina I. Mandelas, a 47-year-old from Moses Lake, was possibly attempting to hang herself from the second-floor railing in her cell space and fell, according to a Grant County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Mandelas was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she underwent surgery Tuesday morning, according to the release.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Districts pursue charter schools

SEATTLE – Three Washington school districts have announced plans to apply to become charter school authorizers.

They have until Dec. 31 to complete their applications to the State Board of Education if they decide to go ahead with the idea.

Earlier this year, Spokane Public Schools became the first district to gain authorizer approval from the state board.

The districts that have expressed interest in the second round are Tacoma; Highline, headquartered in Burien; and West Valley in Yakima. Tacoma and Highline were on the original list of districts that expressed interest in becoming authorizers for their districts, but neither turned in an application.

A statewide panel called the Washington State Charter School Commission also can approve charter schools in any part of the state.

The first of these new public schools are expected to open in fall 2014.

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