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In Brief 

by Pia K. Hansen, Leah Sottile and Cara Gardner

One Dirty River -- SPOKANE -- Every year, the organization American Rivers publishes a list of the country's most endangered rivers. This year, the Spokane River is number six out of 10.

This year's most endangered river is the Colorado, followed by the Big Sunflower River in Mississippi and the Snake River in Idaho.

"It's the first time the Spokane River has been on this list," says John Osborn, conservation chair for the Sierra Club's upper Columbia River Group. "Number six means it's the sixth most endangered river in the nation -- the Mississippi is number 10."

Osborn says that low river flows (due to the aquifer being pumped for industrial use), PCBs and sewage are some of the biggest issues the river is faced with.

"The Spokane River is at a crossroads: is it 'Near Nature, Near Perfect' or is it 'A Sewer Runs Through It'? The community will be making decisions that will impact which way that goes."

Osborn encourages people to write letters to agencies and legislators, demanding that the river be cleaned up and preserved.

"We need that spirit of Expo '74 to come back," he says.

To become involved in river preservation, call the Sierra Club

at 456-8802.

One Home at a Time -- SPOKANE -- After this Saturday, Rebuilding Together Spokane will have refurbished 30 low-income homes and one elementary school -- all in the past four years.

The local volunteer organization is committed to rehabilitating homes that have become unsafe and run-down, and to assisting those who are physically or financially unable to make the major repairs that their homes need. Volunteers work on the selected houses during a one-day blitz each April, aiming to see occupants warm, safe and independent.

"A lot of the people who we have serviced over the past few years, they are just the opposite of that," Michael Pettit, public relations coordinator of Rebuilding Together says.

More than 300 volunteers will work away on seven houses this Saturday, including one that belongs to a legally blind, single mother of 11. She's recovering from a stroke and a broken hip and can't make the necessary repairs on her West Spokane home.

"She's a humble lady. She wanted help but was willing to give up her spot if someone else needed it," Pettit says. He adds that Rebuilding Spokane has plenty of volunteers, but that the group always is in need of supplies and monetary donations.

For more information, visit

Ironman Volunteers -- COEUR D'ALENE -- Chances are you can't swim two-and-a-half miles, proceed to hop on a bike for 112 more miles and then run like the wind for that last little stretch of 26.2 miles. That's a feat few can pull off -- and one that even fewer would want to.

Each year, the famous Ironman Competition brings athletic zealots and their supporters together for the ultimate adrenaline churning, heart-pounding endurance challenge. The Lake City won a five-year contract to host the Ironman last year, so for the next four years, including this one, the race will take place in Coeur d'Alene.

The Ironman Competition is expected to bring thousands of people into the city on and around race day, which is June 27, and race coordinators are seeking many more people to help them organize athletes, stabilize crowds and otherwise make the day go smoothly.

"We had close to 4,000 volunteers show up on race day last year," says Donna Wemple, Ironman volunteer coordinator. From motorcyclists to water refillers, volunteers will aid in all aspects of the race. Athletes depend on hundreds of non-exhausted or delirious people to help them stay on course, keep hydrated, avoid sunburns, find their bicycles and not hit the concrete when they pass out.

Wemple says people can sign up for their three top choices of volunteer work and they try to match everyone up with their first choice.

Log onto and following links for volunteer sign up

Clean Roads -- We're all about keeping the state highways clean, but last week we inadvertently ran the wrong number to call when someone is throwing trash out their car window. The correct number is (866) LITTER-1

Publication date: 04/15/04
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