Friday, September 23, 2016

Prost! Oktoberfest at the River returns for another run this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:47 PM

  • Photos provided by Vision Marketing
Prost! Oktoberfest is here!

The second annual Oktoberfest at the River runs today through Sunday at the Spokane Convention Center, and it's expected to be bigger and better than last year's inaugural edition.  

This year, Oktoberfest has doubled the amount of games from the previous year, says Tom Stebbins, co-owner of Vision Marketing, the company that heads up the event. Stebbins says they've also added Silver Spurs to their entertainment, a local dance group that performs to traditional German music. The last Oktoberfest was attended by 7,948 people and this year it's expected to attract even more, Stebbins says.

"I watch people come in and it's just a happy place," Stebbins says.

The event is $10 per day with no reentry, $15 for the weekend with in and out privileges and $5 on Sunday. Admission is free for children 12 and under.

The event is family-friendly, with activities like a "Rootbier" Garden, Bocce ball and cornhole for the kids, but after 8 p.m. the event becomes 21 and over.

Friday and Saturday, there are activities from noon to midnight, and on Sunday the events go from 11 am to 5 pm.

For more information visit the Oktoberfest website.
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Spokane Public Schools recognized for improving equality in AP courses

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer

For years, minority groups have been underrepresented in Advanced Placement classrooms across the country. Even though black and Latino students make up 37 percent of students in high schools in the U.S., only 27 percent enrolled in AP courses that offer college-level curricula, and only 18 percent passed an AP exam, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the last five to six years, Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to get more students to take more rigorous coursework. In the process, says Chief Academic Officer Steven Gering, the district has discovered that sometimes the reason students don't take higher-level coursework is simple: they don't think they can. Or they don't know what they'd be getting into. 

"Some of it was kids saying, 'If somebody encouraged me, I would do it,'" Gering says. 

So Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to do just that, and they're seeing it make a difference. The U.S. Department of Education recognized Spokane Public Schools this week as one of the first districts in the nation to commit to including students of all backgrounds in AP courses, which many colleges see as a evidence that applicants can challenge themselves academically. That puts them on a list of 117 districts who are now part of the Lead Higher Initiative through Equal Opportunity Schools, an effort to identify 100,000 "low-income students and students of color" ready for AP courses by fall 2017.

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Window Dressing's new Creative Enterprise program welcomes 14 local startups

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM

The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program. - WINDOW DRESSING
  • Window Dressing
  • The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program.

After putting out the call earlier this summer for local, creatively-minded entrepreneurs who have a great idea but aren't quite ready (or able) to test out their venture in a storefront space, the Spokane nonprofit Window Dressing recently introduced the inaugural class of its new Creative Enterprise program.

After brightening dozens of otherwise rundown, unused downtown storefronts with local art installations over the past few years, the creative vitality-focused nonprofit is reaching further with its next venture — placing emerging local businesses in un-leased, empty storefronts, allowing them to test their business models before making a big investment in a permanent location.

"It gives creative entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their idea with little risk, and that aspect really appealed to us because it builds infrastructure for young and creative people within the city to succeed," Window Dressing co-founder Ginger Ewing told the Inlander back in July.

It's a win-win for both parties, including the downtown property owners agreeing to let program participants use their spaces at little to no cost, for at least six months, or until a permanent paying tenant signs a new lease.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Dolly Parton gets quite goofy, tacky, conversational and amazing

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 12:01 PM

Dolly Parton took to the Northern Quest stage last night for a sold out show. She told the audience they aren't real — her nails that is. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Dolly Parton took to the Northern Quest stage last night for a sold out show. She told the audience they aren't real — her nails that is.

She got into "Jolene" rather quickly last night. That's right, THE Dolly Parton walked out onto the outdoor Northern Quest Resort and Casino stage and treated fans to one of her best written works (possibly one of the best of all time) only a few songs into her sold-out show. It was a bit more sing/talky than her original recording, but that got us ready for the rest of the evening full of ... talking. Lots of it. 

But that's part of what made the 70-year-old's show so incredible. She talked our ears off, and it was funny and moving. It was like she invited us all over to sit in her parlor one Thursday evening to tell us her life story. The not-so-natural blonde spoke of her poor family upbringing and her faith and her prior and upcoming film/TV projects (apparently Burt Reynolds is a good kisser, for the record).

When she stood up from a bench she was singing on for part of the show, she worried her "box office" may be showing. She told us she was fine being tacky, and proceeded to explain about the town trollop she resembled her "look" after. "I'm not a natural beauty," she said. Her minister grandpa worried about her looks too, she told us, and he would ask her if she wanted to go to hell and she'd reply: "No, but do I have to look like hell when I go there?"

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WSU police investigate graffiti with the N-word and "Trump 2016"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Student Haniyyah Dixon tweeted this picture of what she saw in the basement of a WSU library - HANIYYAH DIXON
  • Haniyyah Dixon
  • Student Haniyyah Dixon tweeted this picture of what she saw in the basement of a WSU library

Haniyyah Dixon, a WSU student, says she was walking around the basement of the library with her boyfriend Wednesday when she saw the N-word written above "— TRUMP 2016."

She gasped, she says, then left the Terrell Library and called her dad, "because I was really upset." Her dad told her to tell somebody in the library, but instead she posted the picture on Twitter, writing to WSU President Kirk Schulz's account, "If you let the Republican Student Union build that 'wall,' in my eyes this is what you will be supporting." 

She was referring to the WSU College Republicans' plan to build a controversial "Trump wall" in October supporting Donald Trump. It would likely resemble a plywood wall erected at the University of Washington earlier this year in support of Trump's plan to build a wall along the southern border to halt illegal immigration.

"I think I tweeted that picture more out of anger than I did anything else, just to show that it was happening," Dixon says.

The school has since removed the graffiti. Schulz retweeted the image and wrote, "This is completely unacceptable at WSU & does not represent the inclusive & diverse environment we all strive for." 

Melynda Huskey, WSU vice president of student affairs, says she sent a photo of the message to WSU police. 

Steve Hansen, assistant WSU police chief, says police are conducting an investigation.

"We will look into it the best we can," Hansen says. "I'm not sure what, if any, leads we have at the moment."

Dixon, even though she mentioned the WSU College Republicans' plan to build a Trump wall, says she doesn't think anyone in the club wrote the epithet, and doesn't think the club is racist. But she says Trump makes it OK for people to say racist things like that. 

"People have freedom of speech, but some things you shouldn't put in a library," Dixon says. "I just felt like them being able to build that wall, that only supports what people think about Trump, or what Trump thinks about people of color." 

James Allsup, the club's president, says he and the "entirety of WSU College Republicans disavow this kind of vandalism," adding that, "racial epithets have no place in the political discourse." 

"I also believe that accusations of racism, Nazism, and bigotry have no place in the political discourse and would call on our political opponents on campus to choose their words carefully," Allsup says. 

Allsup says the handwriting on the racial slur "appears to be feminine" while the handwriting on the bottom that reads "Trump 2016," looks more masculine, and he hopes the school finds out who wrote the words. 

WSU says there are no security cameras in the area where the message was written. 

Dixon, from Tacoma, says she thinks the graffiti was put there to elicit some sort of reaction. She says it saddened her even if whoever did it thought of the graffiti as a joke. 

"I couldn't believe that somebody I was going to school with thinks like that," Dixon says. 
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WSU fees, Idaho insurance hikes, police shooting news and more headlines

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 9:18 AM


INHEALTH: The science behind kids' love of sweets; plus, a $40,000 challenge

NEWS: Spokane police will not face charges in West Wynn Motel shooting

WSU wants students to fork over extra money to help pay coach Mike Leach's salary.
  • WSU wants students to fork over extra money to help pay coach Mike Leach's salary.

WSU president proposes new fees
Hoping to make the school's athletic department financially viable, the president of Washington State University has proposed asking students to kick in another $50 per semester. The idea is being widely panned. (Spokesman-Review)

Idaho preparing for insurance rate hikes
The Idaho Department of Insurance unveiled its approved health insurance rates for all individuals and small group health plans for 2017.  Across the state, the average rate for individual plans offered on the state health insurance exchange will be almost a quarter higher in 2017. (Boise Weekly)

Renfro accused of bad behavior behind bars
Accused cop killer Johnathan Renfro, currently incarcerated in Kootenai County jail, allegedly made weapons, planned to escape and bragged about shooting an officer, according to revelations made in court. (CDA Press)


Officer involved in shooting released
A Tulsa, Oklahoma, officer who shot an unarmed black man has been charged with manslaughter and released on a $50,000 bond. The shooting, which was captured on video, has sparked national outrage. 

Charlotte mayor calls for release of police shooting video 
The mayor of Charlotte North Carolina is requesting that a video capturing the police shooting of black man be released to the public. The incident caused protests in the city. 

Hackers stole info from 500 million Yahoo users
Yahoo has revealed that state-sponsored hackers broke into the company's network and stole names, email addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive information in 2014. 
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The science behind kids' love of sweets; plus, a $40,000 challenge

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 2:16 PM


Sugar Babies 
Ever wondered why kids seem to crave sweets? Turns out seeking sugar was a good strategy for our ancestors who were in constant search for energy-rich foods. Children in particular are drawn to sweet things. While adults on average prefer the sweetness level of a beverage with 7 teaspoons of sugar in 8 ounces of water, the “bliss point” for kids is a whopping 12 teaspoons. Offering fruits for dessert and avoiding sweet drinks may help kids learn to resist the lure of sugar

Find more info on feeding young kids here


Win $40,000 and Save Lives
Opioid overdose killed 28,000 people in the U.S. in 2014. Last November, the FDA fast-tracked approval of Narcan, a nasal spray form of the drug naloxone that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose. When someone has stopped breathing, there’s not a minute to waste in getting the drug to them. That’s why the FDA has issued a challenge to techies and coders: They’re looking for a mobile phone app that can rapidly connect nearby good samaritans carrying naloxone to the location of an overdose. It might look something like PulsePoint, which was credited with saving the life of a Spokane baby in 2014. 

Starting tomorrow, teams or individuals can register for the contest, which will include a two-day code-a-thon and other steps, ultimately leading to the awarding of a $40,000 prize. Details, and there are many, are here.

Be a Superhero for Parkinson’s 
If you are hankering to bust out your WonderWoman or Spiderman costume a little before Halloween, consider attending Shaken But Not Stirred. The Sept. 28 gala (from 6 pm to 9 pm at Arbor Crest) features food, drinks, live music, and raffles for large prizes, all to benefit the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation Inland Empire. “There’s a super hero theme, but you don’t have to dress up like a super hero,” says Emily Goldbach, the organization’s community resources coordinator. “It’s a time to have fun and help the Parkinson’s community.” All the money raised will be used locally. Call 509-443-3361 or go to 613 S. Washington, Suite 104 for tickets.
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[UPDATED] VIDEO: Spokane police will not face charges in West Wynn Motel shooting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 1:58 PM

Aaron Johnson, pictured during his most recent stay at Eastern State Hospital.
  • Aaron Johnson, pictured during his most recent stay at Eastern State Hospital.

The two Spokane officers involved in the shooting of 32-year-old Aaron Johnson outside his room at the West Wynn Motel will not face criminal charges, according to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office.

Johnson was hospitalized after the May 2 shooting, but he survived. He has been locked up in the Spokane County Jail ever since. This is the second time in three years police have used lethal force against Johnson. He was shot by officers outside Truth Ministries Spokane in 2014. The officers were not aware of this before arriving at the motel, Capt. Tracie Meidl says.

Spokane police released redacted police reports and body camera footage from some of the officers involved in addition to surveillance footage from outside the West Wynn Motel during a news conference Wednesday.

The released information includes body camera footage from Officer Stephen Anderson, who was present at the time of the shooting, as well as footage from other responding officers.
The footage does not include that of Officer Shane Phillips, who shot at Johnson nine times, striking him six times.

At the time of the incident, Spokane police were having issues with their body cameras, Meidl says. 

Meidl explains some officers would turn their cameras off to preserve battery life, which was the case for Phillips. Within the past couple months, every Spokane police officer has received a new, upgraded body camera, though an official policy telling officers exactly how and when to use those cameras has yet to be approved.

The video footage from the body camera of Officer Anderson is embedded below. (Warning: It contains graphic images.)

The video footage released seems to be consistent with officer reports and dispatch reports. 

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Chief candidates talk property crime, Hillary Between Two Ferns and other news

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 9:31 AM


NEWS: We asked each of the four police chief candidates how they would address the property crime problem in Spokane. Here's what they had to say.

MUSIC: Music Editor Laura Johnson on why new isn't always better, especially when it comes to musical instruments. Behold: The Organ. The Brass. The Guitar.

ELECTION: Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate next week. You can join us for a boozy watch party at nYne starting at 5 pm next Monday. Oh, and here's a fun little drinking game to get you started.


• Two Spokane Police officers will not face charges in the May 2 shooting at the West Wynn Motel. Aaron Johnson, the man shot by police, survived and is currently booked into Spokane County Jail on assault charges. Johnson also survived being shot by Spokane Police in 2014. (Spokesman-Review)

• A second night of protests in the wake of police shooting in Charlotte, N.C., erupted into violence and chaos. One man was shot, and after initial reports that he was killed, officials now say the unidentified man is on life support. Police say four officers were also injured. The North Carolina shooting followed two other deadly officer involved shootings in Columbus, Ohio, and Tulsa, Okla. (New York Times)

• Every member of the WNBA's Indiana Fever knelt and locked arms during the national anthem last night, protesting recent police shootings. The demonstration was started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and it's spreading. (The Atlantic)

• The Coeur d'Alene City Council approved the annexation of the southern tip of Blackwell Island Tuesday evening after a request from Duane Hagadone. Hagadone Corp. owns 24 acres of the island and operates two businesses on the property. The annexation allows those businesses to connect to city water and sewer. (Coeur d'Alene Press)

• Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant (R) called on Gov. Jay Inslee to release reports on staffing and other problems in Western State Hospital, the state's largest psychiatric hospital. Bryant (AP)

• The best Hillary Clinton interview on the internet today: Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How the four candidates for Spokane police chief would tackle property crime

Posted By and on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 4:00 PM

The four men competing to be Spokane's next permanent police chief sat through a round of media questions yesterday. The Inlander asked each how they would address The Property Crime Problem

Earlier this week, Spokane Mayor David Condon called property crimes in Spokane the city's "number one issue," and submitted a proposal to allocate more resources toward addressing the problem, which includes pumping $1.7 million more into the police department. $1.6 million of that would go toward investigations, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Here's what each of the four candidates said: 

Craig Meidl
Acting City of Spokane Police Chief
  • Young Kwak Photo
  • Craig Meidl

A longtime Spokane cop, Meidl was a member of police leadership as property crime spiked up around 2011 through 2014, and as it began to settle back down in the last two years.

"People are tired of property crimes in the city of Spokane," Meidl says.

Property crimes are one reason why he took Capt. Brad Arleth off the lead of a race-data project that he'd been praised for.

"Every single media person I talked with today, just talked about property crimes. We need our precinct captains — who are the tip of the spear for our responses to property crimes — to focus on those property crimes" Meidl says. "The more that's put on their plate, the more distracted they are at focusing on property crimes."

Fighting property crime means working with the community to hit the root causes. The challenge, he says, are resources. He cites the example of a call last summer when he came across a man who admitted he was on meth. Meidl suggested drug rehab. At the time the meth addict was interested.

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