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Are You Smarter Than a Third-Grader? 

Elementary efforts to help Chief Garry; plus, Democrats on the future of the Snake River.

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THIRD-GRADERS ROCK

When it comes to non-Indians who seem to appreciate the original, indigenous inhabitants of Spokane, third-graders rule!

Maybe it has to do with being 8 and seeing the world with trusting eyes. Or it’s because local history is taught in third grade.

Last week, the third-graders at Roosevelt Elementary mocked up an enormous check so they could present the $200 they raised (by selling pencils and bookmarks for 25 cents) and donated to an effort to create new artwork honoring Spokan Garry in Chief Garry Park.

There is a “full-circle” feel to this donation.

Two years ago, another 8-year-old, Victoria Schauer, had just finished a report on Garry and was so troubled to hear that his statue had been unceremoniously torn down that she wrote a letter to the mayor and enclosed $5 of her allowance money to help build another.

Her lovely gesture inspired a fund-raising effort that has now climbed to more than $20,000, almost entirely in small donations. The Roosevelt thirdgraders, raising their $200 in quarters in just three days, are now a part of that. (KEVIN TAYLOR)

DEMS ON DAMS

Ah, it used to be so simple in the Bush years.

Dams on the Snake River were considered part of the natural landscape. The near extinction of wild salmon was irrelevant as long as there was plenty of canned salmon in the grocery stores. And Republicans like Larry Craig, Idaho’s senior U.S. Senator at the time, plotted tirelessly to gut any funding for salmon restoration.

Today, Idaho’s Republican senators say they will at least consider talking about dam breaching to help find a way to preserve federally endangered salmon runs on the Snake.

Oregon is also open to broad discussion. It is Washington’s two Democrats, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who have been unbending of late.

Conservationists have taken the unusual move this week of gently chiding the two in an open letter delivered this week. The letter never once raises the b-r-e-a-c-h word. It instead hails “new approaches” and “multiple-use options.”

“We’re asking them to give back a little bit of the ecosystem to where fish can have some natural, free-flowing areas … [and] to stop spending billions of dollars on these failed programs to try and take fry to the ocean in trucks,” says Chris Kopczynski, of Kop Construction and one of nearly 60 signatories.

The letter — signed by conservationists, by vintners in Walla Walla, and by writers, photographers and even a wheat farmer in Dusty, Wash.

— notes that tourism and recreational fisheries created by free-flowing sections of the Snake also have economic value that compare favorably to barging and hydro.

Lonnie Hutson, an outfitter in Deary, Idaho, says that until you see a healthy salmon river, “We don’t realize that something’s missing.” (KEVIN TAYLOR)

CHIEF MAKES THE SEMIS

Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is among 11 applicants to make the semifinal round of candidates seeking to replace Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, who was tapped to become President Obama’s drug czar.

The group of 11 includes three women, people from both coasts and three top administrators in the Seattle PD. Semifinalists will be interviewed by May 8, with three names forwarded to Mayor Mike McGinn by May 11. (KEVIN TAYLOR)

SAVING JOHN KNIGHTEN

Just hours after midnight on New Year’s morning, Spokane firefighter John Knighten found himself in the emergency room, having trouble breathing. Doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with the father of three. But at his wife Shawna’s urging, doctors discovered he was afflicted with a rare form of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.

Now Knighten and his family are raising money to help pay for a life-saving procedure. His insurance covers $250,000 of the $311,000 surgery and bone marrow transplants. They’ve raised about $40,000 so far, but still need another $20,000.

You can help. Visit www.savejohnknighten.com or give money at U.S. Bank. (NICHOLAS DESHAIS)

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