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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bikini Barista issue goes to Spokane County officials

The battle over bikini baristas moved this week to the Spokane County Courthouse, as county commissioners said they will hear from the public on their own version of an espresso stand dress code. County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn said she has received numerous emails from constituents asking the county to consider a minimal clothing law for servers at java stands in the unincorporated county.

Spokane County commissioners extend mental health services tax

A tenth of a penny sales tax that pays for local mental health and criminal justice services was extended through 2019 by Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday. Commissioners Todd Mielke and Shelly O’Quinn voted in favor of the extension. Commissioner Al French was away on other county business.

Spokane County to zone marijuana away from neighborhoods

Spokane County commissioners said Tuesday they want to keep the state’s new legal marijuana business away from neighborhoods. Commissioners said the new recreational marijuana trade, approved by voters in Initiative 502 last November, would be allowed to thrive in land-use zones most appropriate for that activity.

Spokane County commissioners’ urban growth session broke law, lawsuit says

Spokane County commissioners violated the state’s open public meetings law by holding a closed-door session with a state official last spring to consider expansion of the county’s urban growth area, a new lawsuit says. The Center for Justice, a public-interest law firm, filed a complaint Friday in Spokane County Superior Court seeking to reverse any deliberations or decision reached during the May 13 meeting. The suit also asks for $100 civil penalties against each of the county’s three elected commissioners.

Spokane County votes to reorganize garbage service; residents shouldn’t notice

Spokane County commissioners voted Tuesday to reorganize the county’s solid waste system in such a way that should not affect garbage service and rates to customers. The city of Spokane has been running the countywide solid waste system under agreements reached nearly 25 years ago. The agreements are set to expire in November 2014.

Gov. Jay Inslee will appeal Spokane County growth boundary plan

Gov. Jay Inslee has stepped into the fight over a July expansion of Spokane County’s urban growth area, including newly designated industrial land near Fairchild Air Force Base. Inslee said he has directed two state agencies to file an appeal with the Growth Management Hearings Board against the urban expansion by Spokane County commissioners.

Judge denies stay on urban growth

A group of progressive organizations is trying to block urban sprawl by appealing changes to Spokane County’s urban growth area. Spokane County commissioners in July voted to add nearly 4,000 acres to areas where urban development is allowed. That expansion is about a third smaller than what was first proposed to commissioners this year. Last week, the coalition asked a Spokane County Superior Court judge to delay enactment of the growth boundary expansion pending the appeal.

In brief: WSU student recovering from fall at fraternity

A 21-year-old Washington State University student was in stable condition after falling down a flight of stairs early Tuesday inside the Delta Chi fraternity where he lives. Anthony Pentecost is the second “highly intoxicated” student to fall at one of the university’s fraternities since mid-August, said Pullman police Cmdr. Chris Tennant. On Aug. 14, a 19-year-old woman fell through a fire escape at Phi Kappa Tau, again alcohol related.

Newman Lake residents ask for help

Residents living along Newman Lake are taking their concerns about shoreline erosion to the Spokane County commissioners. Two weeks ago, they asked Commissioner Todd Mielke to help them come up with solutions for stopping the main source of the problem: wake boats specially designed to create big waves for boarders.

Spokane garbage deal is best, consultant says

Local government officials seeking to reorganize the region’s garbage system will find their best deal in an offer being made by the city of Spokane, a consultant reported on Wednesday. That offer involves the city relinquishing control of the Colbert and Valley transfer stations to Spokane County in exchange for an agreement to keep garbage from outside the city flowing to the city-owned incinerator on Geiger Boulevard.

Spokane County commissioners seek financial flexibility

Spokane County commissioners say they want more flexibility in how they handle the county’s financial affairs, as the cost of delivering services has been rising by 3 to 5 percent a year but corresponding revenue is only going up 1 to 3 percent annually. Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to join a statewide effort led by the Washington State Association of Counties to convince state legislators and the public that they need more options for funding and delivering services.

Spokane County set to put Fairchild tax vote on fall ballot

Spokane County voters will be asked this fall to open their wallets to eliminate one of the most serious civilian encroachments near Fairchild Air Force Base. County commissioners have scheduled a vote today to place a property tax increase on the Nov. 5 general election ballot to pay to relocate residents living near Fairchild’s runway.

County cuts urban growth proposal

Spokane County commissioners backtracked Tuesday on an aggressive plan to expand the county’s urban growth area. They voted unanimously to remove nearly 2,000 acres from their previous proposal to add nearly 6,000 acres to the urban growth area.

County OKs settlement in Creach death

Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a $2 million settlement with the family of Wayne Scott Creach, a Spokane Valley nursery owner and pastor shot to death in 2010 in a confrontation with a sheriff’s deputy. Commissioners Todd Mielke and Shelly O’Quinn approved the settlement without comment.

Nearly 1,000 acres added to county’s no-shooting zone

Spokane County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to add nearly 1,000 acres to the county’s no-shooting zone, after shooting activity, litter and vandalism increased sharply in recent years. One 553-acre area is in the northeast part of the county along Koth Road near Newman Lake. The other area is on the south flank of Mica Peak along Starr Road and involves 435 acres.

County commissioners join fight against ‘Bill of Rights’ initiatives

Spokane County commissioners voted Friday to challenge a pair of Spokane city initiatives that could change the way local business and government function. They join a coalition of economic development interests in seeking judicial review on the legality of the two initiatives called a Community Bill of Rights and a Voter Bill of Rights.

County open to Green Bluff events

Spokane County Commissioners told members of the county planning commission to go back to work on a set of zoning rules for wedding and special event centers on Green Bluff and in other small-tract agricultural areas of the county. Farmers and other residents of the popular farm area in northeast Spokane County have been divided on whether event centers should be allowed to operate.

City: Casino not a tax drain

A Spokane County study claiming significant negative tax impacts from a proposed Spokane Tribe casino on the West Plains is drawing criticism from the city in which the casino would be built. The Spokane Tribe Economic Project is a proposed large casino and hotel complex on 45 acres inside Airway Heights. City officials there say the STEP project would boost tax revenue by bringing more businesses to the West Plains, plus generate close to 1,000 new jobs for the area.

Report: Justice reforms working

Spokane County in the past five years has made progress in reforming its criminal justice system, but there is still a lot of work to do to reduce costs and get offenders to change their ways, a consultant said Tuesday. David Bennett, a Park City, Utah, consultant hired by the county several years ago to help guide reforms in Spokane, urged county commissioners and others to continue to work on improvements.

County foreclosing on 66 properties due to sewer debts

Spokane County will foreclose on 66 properties whose owners have not paid their sewer bills, allowing the debts to reach thousands of dollars. The foreclosure action, approved unanimously by commissioners Tuesday, comes against owners who have the largest unpaid bills, dating back years. A handful of them amount to more than $10,000 each.