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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County dials up alert for 911 warnings

For several years now, Spokane County’s 911 system has had the ability to notify people of potential danger nearby – a wildfire evacuation, a gunman on the loose, even a water system contamination. But the 4-year-old emergency community warning system has a major flaw: So many people have switched to cellphones and Web voice communications that the ability to reach people in an emergency is limited, county officials said Tuesday.

Settlement could cost county $375,000

Spokane County commissioners are being asked to approve a $375,000 settlement with a former licensing subagent whose contract was revoked by Auditor Vicky Dalton in 2012. Alvin and Michelle Paulsen, the owners of the subagency, sued the county in federal court for violating their civil rights by depriving them of their property interest in the subagency contract. They had operated for 33 years in Hillyard, and contend in the suit that their subagency contract was regularly renewed.

Public comment deadline set for Spokane County septic tank rules

State officials are reviewing tighter regulations for installation of septic tanks along Spokane County shorelines. In general, septic tanks will not be allowed within 200 feet of the shoreline. Larger lots could only be developed with a septic tank more than 200 feet from the shoreline.

Panel begins work on ways to reduce region’s crime rate

Eight months after a blue ribbon panel submitted 58 pages of recommendations for criminal justice reforms in Spokane County, the leaders who are responsible for implementing the reforms went to work on Tuesday evening. The new Spokane County Law and Justice Council convened its first meeting after months of debate over who should sit on what is now an 18-member panel.

Spokane County commissioners explain vote on urban growth area

Spokane County commissioners on Wednesday reaffirmed their rationale for adding about 3,600 acres of land to the county’s urban growth area. The expansion increases the amount of land where urban-style subdivisions, businesses and industry could be located.

Spokane County commissioners vote to start north Mead sewer plan

Even though a controversial expansion of the urban growth boundary has been put on hold because of legal challenges, the Spokane County Commission on Tuesday voted to move ahead with preliminary planning for a sewer system in the north Mead area. The commissioners accepted a recommendation to negotiate a contract with HDR Inc. to undertake preliminary planning.

Agreement cuts future parking, visitor fees on Centennial Trail

Centennial Trail users in Spokane, Spokane Valley and parts of unincorporated Spokane County will not pay any future parking or visitor fees under a new trail maintenance agreement finalized Tuesday. However, Washington state parks will continue to require its Discover Pass for use of trailheads in Riverside State Park north of the T.J. Meenach Bridge. The pass is $30 annually or $10 daily.

Sheriff’s race centers on jail debate

Debate over the need for a new Spokane County Jail has become a key issue in this year’s campaigns for sheriff and county commissioner after a candidate in the sheriff’s race produced a radio ad pegging the potential cost at $300 million. Doug Orr, who is challenging incumbent Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, has won the endorsement of former Sheriff Mark Sterk. In a radio ad, Sterk says, “Now is not the time to be promoting a $300 million jail.”

Growth is key in Spokane County commission race

Republican Spokane County Commissioner Al French is facing a potential rerun of 2010, when he ousted Democrat Bonnie Mager in a close race. This time, Mager has shed her Democratic Party affiliation, choosing to run as an independent.

Commission offers reasons for expanded growth area

Spokane County commissioners took steps Wednesday to justify their attempt to expand areas of the county where urban-style growth is allowed. Commissioners last July approved a 4,100-acre expansion of the areas where housing tracts and commercial uses are allowed, but the expansion was remanded back to commissioners on an appeal to the state by opponents.

Urban growth debate resumes as county commissioners hold state-ordered hearing

Spokane County commissioners got a mixed reaction from the public Tuesday in their attempt to expand the county’s urban growth area in the face of a rejection of the plan by a state review board. The commissioners approved a 4,100-acre expansion last July, which was rejected in November by the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board after the review board ruled that commissioners made mistakes in projecting future population.

Urban growth input sought

The public can weigh in Tuesday on Spokane County’s attempt to open 4,100 acres to denser development. County commissioners approved the expansion of the “urban growth area” last year to places such as the West Plains, the area north of Mead, parts of Spokane Valley and Glenrose Prairie.

Spokane County field house proposal unlikely to include ice rink

An ice rink likely won’t be included in a proposed $20 million field house that Spokane County commissioners could put to voters as part of a 2015 park ballot measure. The county is considering a proposal by the Spokane Sports Commission to underwrite a field house on the north bank of the Spokane River to draw visitors to Spokane for tournaments.

Airway Heights mayor, others protest county’s fight against casino

A group supporting a proposed Spokane tribal casino and resort rallied in front of the Spokane County Courthouse on Tuesday decrying the spending by county commissioners to fight the project. Ed Clark, part of the consulting team working to advance the casino project, said the Spokane Tribe Economic Project would bring 5,000 jobs and $450 million in investment to the region.

Green Bluff event rules approved

Spokane County commissioners voted 2-1 on Monday to set up new rules for weddings and other events at Green Bluff and other farming areas. The decision requires annual temporary use permits for property owners to host weddings or other social events.

Spokane, county begin talks on urban growth

Top elected leaders in Spokane and Spokane County spent two hours Monday morning talking about how to plan for future growth in the community. It was the first in what is expected to be a series of meetings intended to bring collaboration on growth, rather than disagreements that erupted last year when county commissioners expanded the urban growth area by 4,100 acres.

Spokane County eases marijuana lot size restrictions

Spokane County commissioners are backing off on lot size and property line rules that threatened to stop would-be marijuana growers in agricultural zones. On Monday, the growers said strict zoning rules enacted last month on a temporary basis would cause them to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments they were making to grow Washington’s newly legal cash crop.

Spokane County law and justice council will start up again

Spokane County used to have a law and justice council that was supposed to work on improving the criminal justice system. The group was formed in 1992 and was made up of representatives from law enforcement, the courts and other parts of the system.

Spokane County Commission seat likely three-way fight

Former Democratic County Commissioner Bonnie Mager is seeking a rematch with the Republican who unseated her in 2010, only this time she is running as an independent. Mager lost in a close race to Commissioner Al French for the District 3 seat on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners. French beat Mager by 2,700 votes out of 173,000 that were cast.