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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In Brief: Ferris administrator pleads not guilty

Ferris High School assistant principal Todd Bender pleaded not guilty to two charges of child molestation during a brief court appearance Thursday.

He posted $50,000 bond and was released from the Spokane County Jail on Tuesday less than four hours after he was booked into jail.

He is accused of giving a teenage boy alcohol and molesting him several times in 2011. Bender, who remains on paid administrative leave, has worked at Ferris since 1995 as a teacher, coach and assistant principal.

Man ‘lucky’ in propane-fueled explosion

Firefighters and police responded to a report of an explosion and fireball at a mobile home in the 17500 block of East Sprague about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

There was very little fire when crews arrived. Investigators found evidence that the resident was attempting to transfer propane from a large container into a smaller one, said Kevin Miller, Spokane Valley Fire Department fire marshal. “Propane is heavier than air so it lies on the floor,” he said. “It found an ignition source and blew the doors off.”

A man was inside the mobile home but received only minor injuries. “The guy was very lucky,” Miller said. “He was at the epicenter of the explosion and it kind of went around him.”

Police suspected drug-related activity was going on inside the mobile home, said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

“The north and south walls are completely blown out and just hanging,” he said. “The guys found evidence of a lab. Not a meth lab, but a THC extraction lab.”

The process of extracting THC from marijuana into hash oil is hazardous and can lead to explosions.

The Kootenai County sheriff gave an award to a deputy who saved the life of an Oregon man suffering a heart attack while getting his marriage license in Coeur d’Alene earlier this month.

Sheriff Ben Wolfinger on Wednesday presented the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Life Saving Award to Deputy Matt Edmunds.

Edmunds was working at the county administration building Nov. 1 when the 72-year-old man suffered a major cardiac event in the county recorder’s office down the hall.

The man was in town with his fiancée to obtain a marriage license.

Edmunds radioed for a medical response, then began CPR. A minute later the man regained consciousness but was still in distress. Medics arrived and took him to Kootenai Health, where he underwent emergency cardiac surgery and was released earlier this week.

The medics credited Edmunds’ actions for saving the man’s life.

Court hears pharmacists’ Plan B challenge

PORTLAND – Lawyers presented arguments Thursday in a case involving a decision by the state of Washington to force a pharmacy to provide the Plan B emergency contraceptive even if they have moral or religious objections.

The arguments before a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Portland came more than seven years after the state Pharmacy Board ruled that pharmacies could not refuse to sell a lawful product such as Plan B because of those beliefs.

Two pharmacists and an Olympia pharmacy owner sued the state in 2007, arguing their constitutional rights were being violated by the requirement.

The pharmacy won in U.S. District Court in 2012, but the state appealed, arguing that the ruling established what could be a dangerous precedent of allowing religious objections in such matters.

Groups want nuclear power plant closed

RICHLAND – Two Seattle-based groups are calling for the closure of the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant.

Heart of America Northwest and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility on Wednesday said the Columbia Generating Station should be closed because of worries about the storage pool that cools used nuclear fuel.

A new report commissioned by the groups also questioned worker protection at the plant.

The report was written by Robert Alvarez, a frequent critic of nuclear power and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The report is “64 pages of details about a plant that the author knows very little about,” said Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest, which operates the plant.

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