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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Two women killed in Highway 2 crash

Two Eastern Washington women were killed Saturday night in Spokane County in a highway wreck allegedly caused by a drunk driver.

Shirley M. Wadkins, 63, of Reardan, and Viola Harrison, 80, of Okanogan, both died at the scene of the collision, which occurred at 10:15 p.m. on state Highway 2 about 4 miles east of Reardan, the Washington State Patrol said.

They were passengers in a car driven by Jerry E. Wadkins, 71, of Reardan. He was injured and transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Their 2014 Hyundai Elantra was struck by a 2004 GMC Denali driven by Gary D. Groves, 48, of Nampa, Idaho.

The WSP said Groves was eastbound when his vehicle drifted off the road. He overcorrected and struck the other car in the westbound lane, police said.

Groves was driving under the influence and faces vehicular homicide charges, the WSP said. He also was taken to Sacred Heart for injuries.

The road was closed for almost six hours.

Avista cutting flow of Spokane River

Avista announced that Spokane River flows from behind the Post Falls Dam would drop to the minimum of 500 cubic feet per second over the weekend or early this week.

Officials at Avista Corp., which operates the dam, said the lower flows will help maintain the level of Lake Coeur d’Alene and keep water in the river through the rest of the summer.

The flow levels are dictated by a federal license that governs operations of the utility’s dams on the Spokane River. The license was reissued in 2009. It balances lake levels and downstream flows, taking into account fish habitat, water quality and public recreation.

Poor snowpack, along with hot, dry weather, has reduced water levels in the lake and river. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology and other agencies are encouraging people to conserve water to reduce pumping from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

“In dry years like this, the connection between the aquifer and the river becomes quite clear,” said Guy Gregory, a senior hydrogeologist for the Ecology Department. “Water use by people directly affects river flows. That’s why we hope people will use water wisely and efficiently. Fix a leak, don’t water the sidewalk and pay attention to how much you irrigate. It matters.”

Firefighters battling blaze near Cheney

Firefighters planned to work through the night to contain a lightning-caused wildfire that flared up Sunday about 2 miles south of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge near Cheney.

The fire burned across 123 acres of grass and ponderosa pine on private land and was 20 percent contained Sunday evening, said Eric Keller with the state Department of Natural Resources.

No homes or other buildings were threatened. About 80 DNR firefighters plus Spokane Rural Fire District 3 and wildlife refuge crews were on the scene Sunday. Planes made retardant drops on the fire, which was at 31015 S. Cheney Plaza Road.

Grant County sheriff lets evacuees return

WENATCHEE – Rimrock Meadows and Rock Island Grade residents ordered to evacuate because of wildfires Saturday can now return safely to their homes.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones reduced evacuation notices in those areas near Waterville, Washington, from the mandatory Level 3 to Level 1 – asking residents to stay alert to the danger – Sunday afternoon.

The threat reduction affects about 250 residences, mainly vacation homes. There are still more than 30 residences near the north end of Palisades Road that are under the highest level of evacuation, fire spokesman Jeff Sevigney said.

The Douglas Complex fire has burned more than 20,000 acres of brush and grass between Rimrock and Palisades since starting after several lightning strikes Friday evening. No structures have burned and no injuries have been reported, authorities said.

Tacoma mayor wants vote on $12

TACOMA – Tacoma’s mayor wants to put a proposal for a $12 minimum hourly wage on the fall ballot to compete with a citizens’ initiative seeking a $15 wage.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland’s proposal will be discussed Tuesday by the Tacoma City Council, the News Tribune reported. She is asking for a gradual increase to $12 an hour by 2018.

The citizen initiative wants to see the city increase its minimum wage from $9.47 an hour to $15 almost immediately. The citizen initiative, organized by a group called 15 Now Tacoma, qualified last month for the November ballot.

Missing man’s body found in Park Lake

EPHRATA, Wash. – The Grant County sheriff’s office says the body of a 34-year-old man reported missing in Park Lake near Sun Lake State Park has been found.

The man was reported missing Saturday evening after jumping out of a moving boat.

Grant County authorities have identified the man as Robert S. Reddoch, of Olympia.

Grant County authorities say they are still trying to find another man who went missing in Banks Lake on Friday and is presumed drowned. That man has been identified as 69-year-old Craig E. Plummer, of Ephrata. Plummer went missing while swimming.

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