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In Brief 

by Inlander Staff

At it Again -- SPOKANE -- The city's Office of Neighborhood Services will be hosting two open houses about the proposed annexation of the West Plains area next week. Representatives from several city departments, including deputy Director of Public Works and Utilities Dave Mandyke, will be at the meetings.

"Our goal with this open house is to try to answer all the questions people may have," says Mandyke. "We are not campaigning. We are just there to answer questions."

Many residents of the area oppose being annexed by the city of Spokane, yet the city of Airway Heights is also trying to annex part of the same area. That dispute has to be settled by the county's Boundary Review Board, says Mandyke.

Currently, residents in an area that is being annexed have to approve the annexation by a vote, but the Washington State Supreme Court is reevaluating its stand on this part of the annexation process.

"There is no way of knowing which way that's going to go, but we're watching it closely," says Mandyke.

Many West Plains residents are opposed to the annexation because they say they don't receive any services from the city, and they fear an annexation will drive up their property taxes. But the city does provide services to a large number of residents there.

"Of course some people can have their own water and their own septic systems, but we have millions and millions of dollars in lines out there," says Mandyke. "We provide lines for all sewer and all water into West Plains."

Open houses are on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Fairways Golf Course, 9810 W. Melville Rd., and on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the Waste-to-Energy plant, 2900 S. Geiger Blvd. Both open houses are from 4-8 pm. Call: 625-6320.

Focus on Seizures -- SPOKANE -- November is National Epilepsy Month, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Washington's eastern branch office is hosting an education day on Saturday.

"This will be the first education day in Spokane," says Sharon Johnston, the foundation's branch manager. "There is a lot of misinformation out there about epilepsy."

It's estimated that about 2.5 million people in the U.S. have epilepsy; 90,000 of them live in Washington state. Nationally, 42,000 die every year because of epilepsy.

Dr. Tim Powell, a local epilepsy specialist, will be speaking on Saturday, as will nurses and social workers who specialize in the brain disorder.

Many facets of epilepsy are not completely understood, but medical research has moved far beyond the assumption that epileptics are crazy or developmentally disabled -- yet some prejudice still lingers.

"Some people still think it's a mental illness, but there is no connection whatsoever between a person's IQ and a seizure disorder," says Johnston. "Many famous people, like Alfred Nobel and the painter Van Gogh, had seizures."

The sessions on Saturday also focus on correct first aid for people with seizures -- don't put anything in their mouths and don't try to restrain them -- and on how to live with epilepsy.

The epilepsy education day is on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 9 am-12:30 pm at Sacred Heart Medical Center's Providence Auditorium, 101 W. Eighth Ave. Must preregister. Call: 325-1128.

Healthy no More -- SPOKANE -- The Regional Ethics Network of Eastern Washington and North Idaho (RENEW) is holding a community conference addressing access to health care -- or the lack of it.

It's estimated that 78 percent of uninsured people in Spokane have jobs, so the old assumption that a job guarantees access to a health care plan doesn't hold true anymore.

Dan Baumgarten, executive director of the Health Improvement Project, will talk about how so many people have ended up without access to health care. Samuel Selinger, a heart surgeon who is leading the Spokane County Medical Society's effort to create "Project Access," which would benefit thousands of low-income, uninsured families, will be speaking as well.

"With costs rising from new technologies and medications and more people living longer, it is inevitable that society must choose whether vulnerable classes of people will go without health care," said Dr. John Osborn, in a written statement announcing the conference. "The future of health care is not only economic, but also a moral decision that faces us all."

The RENEW conference on health care access is on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 7-9:30 pm at Gonzaga's Jepson Auditorium. Free. Call: 444-2350.
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