Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let’s look at that anonymous website attacking Rep. Matt Shea opponent Josh Arritola

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM

The text, giddy about the last-minute launch of a website attacking Josh Arritola, came late Tuesday evening. It was from Josh Arritola.

“Matt’s team is preparing an attack on me but they uploaded it too soon and we are preparing to debunk it before they have a chance,” Arritola wrote. (It’s worth noting, however, that claims to be unaffiliated with any candidate or political group.)

This isn’t the first time the seat has spawned an attack website. Two years ago, the Inland NW Leadership PAC put out The Shea Report, a rundown of the many controversies that have dogged Shea for the past six years. (I tackled its problems here.) But this new attack page goes after Shea’s opponent, questioning his political associations, his business record, and the degree to which he was homeless. It makes the now-familiar accusation that Arritola was secretly recruited by establishment Republicans, but with a few new wrinkles.

Josh Arritola, right, with a cardboard cutout of opponent Matt Shea.
  • Josh Arritola, right, with a cardboard cutout of opponent Matt Shea.

Arritola has admitted to the Inlander that he made several factual mistakes during his debate with Shea: He was incorrect when he said that the city of Spokane Valley hired a lobbyist because Shea's representation had been so poor, and incorrect when he said that every donation to Shea but one came from outside the 4th District. But the site, so far, doesn't focus on those.

This post summarizes the claims made on the anti-Arritola site, gives some context and double-checks the facts, and gives Arritola a chance to respond. If you want a more general overview of the race check here, or a collection of Matt Shea quotes, check here.

“Political Leanings”

"Who Is Josh Arritola?" continues the liberal-by-association accusations that have defined the majority of Shea’s attacks on Arritola.

The site provides evidence that Arritola “liked” The Mainstream Republicans on Facebook, then quotes the Mainstream Republican website, “Many members of Mainstream are pro-choice and support Marriage Equality, though not all,” then uses that to say, “The 4th District by large does NOT support pro-choice and Marriage Equality. Do you want a representative that does?”

In the debate, however, Arritola said that not only is he against abortion, he’s against it in all circumstances, a position held by only 31 percent of Republicans nationwide.

Similarly, it links to the endorsement of Arritola in the Progressive Voters Guide, without mentioning how tepid the endorsement actually is: “The only candidates in this race are conservative Republicans who are out of step with mainstream values on many issues. Nevertheless, Josh Arritola is the better choice in this race… While we don't agree with his positions on women's health, the environment, and other important issues, he would bring a level of professionalism and reasonableness that Shea lacks.”

It also takes on Arritola’s endorsement by the Association of Washington Business. The site, helpfully, outlines the reasons why Shea voted against certain bills, preventing him from getting an automatic endorsement. (In 2013, partially because of his Boeing vote, Shea also had one of the lowest Republican records in the Legislature from the AWB.) It then argues:

“Additionally, Josh’s comment “Matt Shea is the ONLY incumbent Republican NOT endorsed” is not true as a number of the Freedom Agenda team did not get the automatic endorsements because they too were under the 80% requirement. So much for the AWB and for Arritola telling the TRUTH.”

In reality, the other members of the Freedom Agenda group were endorsed, though not automatically. Dave Taylor and Elizabeth Scott are listed under the AWB’s additional endorsements page, the same page that lists the endorsement of Arritola. Jason Overstreet, the final member of the main Freedom Agenda team, isn’t running for re-election – so he wasn’t up for an endorsement.

Continue reading »

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Spokane company Beardbrand is on ABC's Shark Tank tomorrow night

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 4:57 PM

The Spokane-based company sells beard oils, waxes and care products. - BEARDBRAND.COM
  • The Spokane-based company sells beard oils, waxes and care products.

With No-Shave-November starting in a few days, it's timely that Spokane-based startup Beardbrand, which sells products catering to the "urban beardsman," is competing on the Emmy-winning reality investment show Shark Tank. The episode airs tomorrow night, Oct. 31, at 9 pm, so those who choose to stay in and pass out candy should be able to catch its premiere on ABC. 

Beardbrand CEO Eric Bandholz, who has since moved to Austin, Texas, is appearing on the show to introduce the company's mission and products — high-quality beard oils, mustache waxes and beard grooming accessories — to Shark Tank's investors, aka "sharks," who then have the option to invest in a percentage of the company.

Beardbrand's online store was launched last year, after Bandholz and company co-founders Lindsey Reinders and Jeremy McGee worked together during Startup Weekend Spokane. The company currently carries more than 25 products and has reached $1.5 million in annual sales.

The details and results of Bandholz's pitch are being kept secret until after the episode's first airing. It will be available to watch for free online one week after it airs on TV, or soon after it airs for viewers who sign into ABC's site through their TV provider.

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Spokane is a spooky place — here's some favorite creepy stories from the archives

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Signs of Spokane's past lurk below street level, including Louis Davenport's safe in the hotel's basement. - STEPHEN SCHLANGE
  • Stephen Schlange
  • Signs of Spokane's past lurk below street level, including Louis Davenport's safe in the hotel's basement.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be overflowing with other local media outlets' postings about ghosts and supposedly haunted Inland Northwest locales over the past couple weeks. With the big October holiday less than a day away, we decided it timely to revisit the Inlander's archives of creepy coverage, both lighthearted and serious, to get in the mood for All Hallow's Eve. 

In the past year, freelance videographer Nathan Brand put together several heavily researched mini-documentaries for a short series he dubbed "Unsolved Secrets of Lost Spokane."

Episode 1 takes viewers into the basement of the old Dutch's pawn shop building to see its historic and creepy bear murals that once decorated a speakeasy and card room there.

Episode 2 is short primer on one of the region's earliest serial killers, known as "Bluebeard."

Brand also dug deep to uncover all the grisly details about early Spokane's infamous axe-murdering teen, Sidney Sloane.

Also earlier this fall, Brand took his fascination with unsolved murders and Spokane's darker past even deeper to investigate the unnatural death of prominent public figure, Spokane fire chief Al O'Connor, who unexpectedly dropped dead more than 30 years ago. The cause of his death still remains a mystery.

In time for the Halloween season last year, we also sought to enlighten readers about some of the Lilac City's best urban legends, like the haunted "Thousand Steps" at Greenwood Cemetery, some creepy, unexplained happenings at the Dania Furniture building, and downtown's resident theater spirits. 

Our fascination with the lesser-seen and super-creepy underground sites around the region doesn't end there. Photographer Stephen Schlange was on a mission last fall to document what lies behind some of the city's locked doors that only a few are privy to.

Back in the early aughts, then-Inlander staffer Mike Corrigan penned a fascinating first-person account of his discoveries beneath Spokane's downtown streets in a piece titled "Speakeasy Spelunking." 

Later, Corrigan went back underground to seeking for evidence of Spokane's Cold War-era nuclear bomb shelters.

Another past staffer uncovered the haunted histories of Spokane's most famed ghost-ridden sites — The Davenport Hotel and the Patsy Clark Mansion. 

The historic Masonic Temple, now being renovated and restored as an event center called Riverside Place, also has a colorful and eerie history we've delved into for fascinating features. 

The Inlander has also done a fair share of reporting on ghost towns, including Elberton, Wash., on the Palouse, and the death of another Spokane far from our own.

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OUTLANDER: Beaver dams Hangman, oil trains, nuclear risks and Oregon wolves

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Beaver dams, like this one at the mouth of Hangman Creek, help build habitat and improve flow health. - JOE CANNON
  • Joe Cannon
  • Beaver dams, like this one at the mouth of Hangman Creek, help build habitat and improve flow health.

OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities for celebrating the Great Outdoors.

Curved tangles of willow branches now span the mouth of Hangman Creek near People's Park as busy beavers have tried to take advantage of the lower autumn water flow. Joe Cannon, a restoration expert with The Lands Council, enthusiastically shared photos of the structures earlier this week as part of his mission to raise awareness of the critters' many beneficial impacts.

A new beaver dam recently appeared across the mouth of Hangman Creek in West Spokane. - JOE CANNON
  • Joe Cannon
  • A new beaver dam recently appeared across the mouth of Hangman Creek in West Spokane.

"I think it's great," he says. "[The beaver] is becoming acknowledged as an important piece of our natural [system]."

Cannon explains beavers work to thin out stream-side brush, slow water flows, filter out sediment and back up streams in ways that help expand wetland areas outward, improving habitat in many ways. The New York Times ran a story earlier this week about the renewed appreciation for the West's "ecosystem engineer."

The longer a dam can stay in place, the more it can contribute to habitat function. Cannon says unfortunately the Hangman Creek dam will likely get washed out by the often erratic flows through the waterway.

"It's just an incredibly flashy stream there," he says.

But he admires the creatures for trying. Cannon also appreciates the opportunity for the public to observe wildlife so intimately, so close to the city. He says he has received many excited or curious messages about the new dams.

We wrote about Cannon's work as an ambassador for beavers earlier this year, along with his efforts to minimize nuisance conflicts with property owners.

Cannon says he has spent much of the week camping out at an observation site because he feels the community needs to understand wildlife in order to best protect it. That involves recognizing their benefits and heading off disputes.

"The trick is keeping them out of trouble," he says.

IN OTHER NEWS: Hundreds of concerned citizens turned out to a public hearing on the safety and environmental concerns surrounding oil train shipments through Spokane. See photos from the hearing and rally. A new report finds close to 3,000 rail crossings in Washington that have never been inspected. (Inlander/NW News Network)

The Lands Council also hosted its fourth annual Reforest Spokane Day on Saturday. See photos from the tree-planting event. (Inlander)

The Nature Conservancy environmental protection group purchased 48,000 acres (larger than the city of Tacoma) of private timber holdings along I-90 near Cle Elum, including areas along Lake Kachess and Lake Keechelus. (Seattle Times)

A troubling draft report outlines severe worker safety concerns at Hanford Nuclear Site. (KING 5)

Environmental groups also plan to file suit over the nuclear site’s impact on the Columbia River and surrounding habitat. (AP)

The public serves as first line of defense in fighting poaching and other outdoor crime. (S-R)

Washington trails conference embraces diversity in users and urban spaces. (Crosscut)

An in-depth investigation of how anti-government sentiments threaten public land officers and employees. A related map shows three incidents in Washington, as well as a salt-shaker assault in Idaho. (HCN)

Washington fishery officials are considering new requirement for anglers to keep all hatchery catches. (Lewiston Trib via Oregonian)

Oregon is seeing increased tension between recovering wolves and residents. (WW)

Meanwhile, Oregon biologists mount unsuccessful expedition to re-radio collar popular OR-7 wolf. (Oregonian)

Mason County man charged for using excavator to illegally redirect Tahuya River. (WA AG)

Packing almost 600 pounds of gear for a remote, month-long National Geographic expedition. (NatGeo)

HALLOWEEN: Oregon farmer uses soil science to grow massive pumpkins. (USDA)

And some would argue Hollywood’s greatest horror villain has always been nature. (Outside)

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Three possible names for that still-unnamed plaza near City Hall

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 12:10 PM

A dedication at the plaza when Huntington Park reopened in May - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • A dedication at the plaza when Huntington Park reopened in May

Remember earlier this year when the city planned to name a new plaza next to City Hall after Spokane founding father James Glover? They'd even already bought the stone engraved with his name on it. Then, some city councilmembers started to wonder whether Glover was really the type of guy we wanted to be naming public gathering spaces after. As it turns out, Glover's history is, well, complicated, especially around how he treated his wife. The Inlander published an in-depth story about his troubled legacy this summer, which you can read here.

After the council backed away from the name "Glover Plaza," the city asked for suggestions from the public about what to name the area. They got a range of responses, including a small campaign to name the plaza after local writer and musician Isamu Jordan, who died last year.

Now, the Plan Commission (a group that advises the city council, but can't make these decisions on its own) is recommending three possible names to inspire the naming of the plaza:

The council will vote to choose one of these Nov. 10. What's your pick?

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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Debates! Galas! Bass! And doing the Timewarp!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 10:25 AM

You know all about our wide array of event listings, and the considerable care put into our Staff Picks. Perhaps you're just so busy you can't take the time to read through those listings on your own. We're here to help. 

Here's what jumped out at me as I perused the event listings for Thursday, Oct. 30: 

COMMUNITY | You might have heard, there's an election going on Tuesday. As long as you're registered, it's not too late to peruse the Inlander's extensive Election 2014 coverage. And you can drop in on a debate between Fifth Congressional District candidates Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas. The debate starts at 4 pm at the Lincoln Center.

VISUAL ARTS | Get your Halloween costume some use a day early at the Spokane Arts Awards Costume Ball, going down tonight at The Davenport. It's the big finale of the Create Spokane month of activities, and a fine way to recognize some of the folks making the city a great place to live. 

MUSIC | Throw together a DJ and a producer who both love house music, and you might get Bassjackers, who have remixed hits for the likes of Rihanna and Moby. They're performing with like-minded beat maestro Dyro at the Knitting Factory. Here's a taste of what they do: 

FILM | The Panida Theater in Sandpoint is getting Halloween off to a proper start with a late-Thursday/early-Friday screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Doors open at 11 pm, there will be beer and wine, and the costume contest commences promptly at 11:30 pm tonight. Get your costumes ready all you Riff Raffs!

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MORNING BRIEFING: Sheriff assault, nuclear lawsuit and food truck camels

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 9:54 AM


Spokane County Sheriff Knezovich disputes minor assault allegation leveled by former undersheriff. (KXLY)

City Council prohibits inquiries into immigration status by police and other city employees. (S-R)

Apparently Spokane's food truck scene has been lacking one thing — camels. But no more. (KREM)


New development pushing homeless camp off property near Target in Coeur d'Alene this week. (CdAPress)

Environmental groups planning lawsuit over Hanford impacts on Columbia River system. (Yakima Herald-Republic)

Portland ends free disabled parking amid widespread abuse. (Oregonian)


Quarantined nurse takes bike ride, probably just to piss people off. (NYT)

U.S. economy grows at strongest six-month rate since 2003. (WaPost)

Israel closes access to holy site in Jerusalem, sparking new clashes. (BBC

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WEED WEDNESDAY: The Marijuana Midterms

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 3:46 PM


Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at

The un-weed-friendly Valley has its first store inside city limits. Cinder opened over the weekend and has a strain called "God's Gift" that is almost 32 PERCENT THC! Owner Justin Peterson tells us business has been good since they opened and "insane" since KREM did a story on God's Gift. Prices range from $18-22 a gram. Find all of the local stores here.

As I hope you've noticed, there's an election next week. And in a few places across the country, pot is on the ballot. Alaska and Oregon will vote on legalization measures similar to our I-502, Washington, D.C. is considering a measure to allow adults 21 or older to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana, and Florida will vote on medical cannabis. And bills for the next few years are being drafted in plenty of states — even Texas. All this is likely to set up 2016 as the most important election ever for marijuana reform, says the Brookings Institution.  The researchers who've been studying marijuana at Brookings also did a Reddit AMA today that has tons of interesting stuff in it. Read it here.

Hundreds of cashless ATMS, often used by marijuana businesses, were shut down in Washington and Colorado last week because of concerns about federal banking rules, the Denver Post reports. In a meeting in Spokane earlier this week, growers and store owners said they were among those who lost access to these machines.

In Idaho, a truck driver was pulled over and admitted to having an ounce of pot, KHQ reports. In fact, he had 150 pounds of pot.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled in favor of Wenatchee's ban on pot businesses. We wrote about that case earlier this year.

While raiding a medical grow last week, a member of the San Diego Narcotics Task Force wore a shirt (shown in video from a local TV station here) that said, "F—- the growers. Marijuana's still illegal."

Wonder if anything has changed for black market growers since I-502 took effect? The Stranger asked some.

Old, but still interesting: The NCAA released a report this summer about alcohol and drug use among student athletes. Looking for the biggest stoners? Join lacrosse or women's ice hockey.

Finally, our cover story this week is about medical marijuana growers facing federal prosecution for their business. Check it out online right here, and on stands tomorrow.

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Environmental, safety risks dominate public testimony on oil train shipments

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Audience members raise their hands and signs in quiet support of specific statements during public testimony. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Audience members raise their hands and signs in quiet support of specific statements during public testimony.

Hundreds of concerned citizens waved their hands and protest signs in silent support as dozens of people offered public testimony Tuesday night against the increased crude oil traffic passing through Spokane. As part of an ongoing study of safety risks, the state Department of Ecology hosted the public hearing for local feedback on oil by rail.

Dale Jensen with Ecology's Spills Program emphasized the importance of the public feedback and thanked the group for attending.

Dale Jensen, a manager with Ecology's Spills Program, shares background on the ongoing rail shipping study. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Dale Jensen, a manager with Ecology's Spills Program, shares background on the ongoing rail shipping study.

"It really is so important that all of you are here tonight," he says. "We have a new and ever-changing dynamic in our state. … We're now seeing a substantial increase in the amount of bulk oil traveling to and through Washington by rail."

Jensen says almost 9 percent of the state's oil now comes in via rail as three of five refining facilities have started processing product from the Bakken oil fields. Shipping oil by rail has skyrocketed in recent years, as have dangerous or deadly derailments.

Ecology recently released a 110-page preliminary report on expected increases in oil train shipments and the potential impacts of that traffic. Tuesday's hearing served as part of the continuing effort to evaluate the potential public heath and environmental risks.

Jensen says the preliminary recommendations include expanded rail infrastructure inspections, focusing on "high-risk" crossings. They also call for increased spill training for first responders, and emergency planning for smaller communities along rail lines.

State agencies have already started drafting legislation around those recommendations to introduce in the upcoming session.

Many local officials attended the hearing to share constituent concerns and demand urgent action from state and federal regulators. State Sen. Andy Billig notes his daughter, along with thousands of other students, attends school within blocks of the railroad tracks.

"An oil train derailment here would be catastrophic," he says, adding, "I urge you to revisit the draft recommendations and make them stronger."

Billig argues any rail plan must respect the values of safety and prosperity, and "oil trains impact both."

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan faced dozens of quiet thumbs-down hand motions from the audience when he suggested the region must invest in expanded rail capacity.

"Rail is an essential part of our trade-based economy," he argues. "The alternative is to stand by and watch that investment go to competitors like Canada and elsewhere."

Fagan says 10 percent of the state's GDP has ties to rail, which drives billions of dollars in jobs and wages.

"A pro-growth approach to transportation," he says, "is essential to securing the next generation of prosperity for Washington families."

The audience also displayed thumbs-down signs if they disagreed with testimony. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • The audience also displayed thumbs-down signs if they disagreed with testimony.

Two other speakers voiced support for embracing oil train traffic. One man explained he had spent years living next to the railroad tracks without any fear for his safety or property. He described the attempt to impose new regulations as "government overreach."

The majority of the approximately 50 speakers strongly opposed any increase in rail traffic, and in several cases, any oil shipping through the state. Speakers from across the Inland Northwest, including many from Sandpoint and other areas of North Idaho, warned of unacceptable threats to human life, wildlife habitat and the region's aquifer.

Many accused the rail industry of sticking small communities with the risks and expenses of shipping oil while the railroads kept all the profit. They called for railroads to shoulder increased responsibility for rail inspections, emergency preparation and spill responses.

"Why are we expected to make it profitable for BNSF?" a woman asks, her 9-year-old daughter standing at her side.

Andy Hail, a deputy chief with Spokane Valley Fire Department, admits local agencies would struggle to contain a catastrophic fire as seen in photos of recent train derailments in North Dakota and Canada.

"Our responsibility here is to avoid the unthinkable," he says. "[But] we are going to be significantly challenged in the event that we have any spill. … We need to have a properly equipped rail-response capability."

In a short rally and march prior to the hearing, local officials and activists addressed additional concerns about the public risks of oil shipments. City Council President Ben Stuckart explains that a strong rail system used to be an economic advantage, while now many agricultural shipments find themselves delayed behind the ever-increasing oil traffic.

"What have they done to deserve to move to the front of the shipping lines over our products?" he asks, adding, "Wheat, potatoes and apples do not go boom and explode."

Twa-le Abrahamson, with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, notes the rail industry directly conflicts with many of the community's priorities and values.

"We have goals for our future generations," she says. "We have goals for clean water. … We want a safe city to live in. … No coal. No oil."

Ecology officials thanked the community for its engaged and thoughtful feedback. Officials expect to release an updated report in December. Additional comments can be submitted online.

See additional photos from the rally and march below:

A few dozen people gathered in Riverfront Park for a short rally in opposition to increased oil train traffic. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • A few dozen people gathered in Riverfront Park for a short rally in opposition to increased oil train traffic.
Twa-le Abrahamson, with the Spokane Tribe, tells the assembled rally that oil industry priorities conflict with local values. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Twa-le Abrahamson, with the Spokane Tribe, tells the assembled rally that oil industry priorities conflict with local values.
Some protestors carried photos of immense fires that broke out after recent oil train derailments. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Some protestors carried photos of immense fires that broke out after recent oil train derailments.
Terri Anderson, with the Tenants Union of Washington State, addresses a rally against oil trains, noting many elderly, low-income or disabled residents live within the "blast zone" for oil train derailments. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Terri Anderson, with the Tenants Union of Washington State, addresses a rally against oil trains, noting many elderly, low-income or disabled residents live within the "blast zone" for oil train derailments.
Environmental advocates and community organizers march through Riverfront Park in opposition to increased oil train traffic in Spokane. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Environmental advocates and community organizers march through Riverfront Park in opposition to increased oil train traffic in Spokane.
Citizens march through Riverfront Park. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Citizens march through Riverfront Park.
Anti-oil train citizens march through Riverfront Park. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Anti-oil train citizens march through Riverfront Park.

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A spooky, shocking, super-sized Halloween

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Some folks go a little over the top when it comes to celebrating Halloween
  • Some folks go a little over the top when it comes to celebrating Halloween

More bells and whistles seem to be expected every year in the name of holiday traditions. Gathering a few pieces of candy wearing a sheet with eyeball holes doesn't cut it anymore. We need convincing haunted houses. We need to feel absolute panic and terror in corn mazes. We need to stuff a pillowcase full of candy during condensed and safer trick-or-treating escapades, instead of ringing a few neighborhood doorbells around the block. We need to dress up, and we need to go all out.

The expectations for Halloween are high. The shock value and big bucks are basically a given, but where will we draw the line? Scarywood, tagged with the line "never sleep again," costs almost $40 a pop at the gate on Saturday nights. Not only are events and attractions breaking the bank, but according to the National Retail Federation, Halloween 2014 will set the record for the highest number of costumes purchased by Americans. The average person is expected to spend more than $75 on Halloween, contributing to the holiday's total spending of $7.4 billion. Twenty-three million pet owners in the U.S. are also expected to dress up their furry friends. Having Oct. 31 land on a Friday night only amps up the intensity and expectations of A-game costumes and parties.

Looking at the Party City's online page featuring the most popular over-the-top costumes for adult women, you'll see a sexy flapper, a sexy circus ringmaster, sexy cop, sexy "spider girl," sexy Wonder Woman — you get the idea. On the site's featured "sexy" tab, costumes sexualize everything from peacocks and sailors to pirates, school girls, skeletons, prisoners and Native American "princesses." 


In light of the immense popularity of Disney's Frozen, Amazon's bestselling costume this year is the film's princess character Elsa. Out of the online retailer's overall 10 best-selling products, five are inspired by Frozen. Has Halloween perhaps become more than a spooky or goofy dress-up night, and instead a competition and expression of your kid's favorite movie franchise-turned-product?

Who will make the move away from this super-sized celebration trend? Of course, a collection of cavity-fighting local dentists. Sweet-crazed kiddos on Halloween often chow down until the all that remains are the toothbrushes they received from the neighborhood rebel parents and stale candy from brands they haven't heard of. With the exponential growth of consumerism and processed sweets, many dentist offices are now offering a bold alternative to the Halloween-candy hype.

Dentist offices around the Inland Northwest are catching on to growing candy giveaways, trading money for trick-or-treaters' goodies. These fairly confiscated sweets are then sent overseas to U.S. military troops through a program called Operation Gratitude. It's a win-win for kids, parents and their dentists — and kids can still enjoy this Halloween tradition, even keeping a modest amount of treats before they cash in, should they choose.

Participating dental practices in the Inland Northwest include KiDDs Dental, DaBell Orthodontics, North View Family Dental, Studio Smiles Northwest, Kool Smiles Spokane, Kidsmile Dental, Northview Family Dental and 8 Days a Week Dental.

Shannon Wells at Northview Family Dental hopes that clinics throughout the community continue the growing trend, and make candy giveaways an annual tradition. To her, this project lifts the morale of soldiers while making kids feel a sense of fulfillment through their donations. Kids can even write heartfelt letters and cards for the soldiers when they stop by to drop off the candy.

Perhaps our society will never fully return to the days of homemade costumes, watching Jamie Lee Curtis run from Michael Myers and dancing to "Monster Mash," but at least these dentists are offering ways to scale back the excess a little bit. 

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