Thursday, July 31, 2014

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:45 PM

click to enlarge A wildfire engine pulls into the temporary fire camp at the Omak Stampede fairgrounds last week. - JACOB JONES
Jacob Jones
A wildfire engine pulls into the temporary fire camp at the Omak Stampede fairgrounds last week.

click to enlarge A sign marking the Okanogan National Forest sits burnt and broken along Highway 20 west of Omak. - JACOB JONES
Jacob Jones
A sign marking the Okanogan National Forest sits burnt and broken along Highway 20 west of Omak.

As residents assess the damage and start rebuilding, the Carlton Complex Fire in Central Washington continues to burn. Officials reported this morning that the fire had grown by another 673 acres and hot weather has forced the delay of some containment efforts.

Our cover story this week shares some of the stories of community strength and human perseverance demonstrated by the residents displaced by what has grown into the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

For those seeking more information on the fire, officials have established a regularly updated website for the latest news. The newest information has the fire at 251,698 acres with 71 percent containment around the perimeter.

Fire officials previously broke the fire into three zones to localize command, but the fire has slowed to the point where the plan is to consolidate command under a single team again.

click to enlarge Fire officials released this map showing the spread of the fire from green areas to the brighter edges.
Fire officials released this map showing the spread of the fire from green areas to the brighter edges.

A map released earlier this week shows the progression of the fire from green areas to the outside, red edges.

To track current or future fires, check the InciWeb database of major fires. Officials update larger fires multiple times a day.

For future reference, here’s a brief explanation of common wildfire fighting terms including “backfire,” “crowning” and “slope-over.”

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Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Regret is real, and it’s not only reserved for that tattoo you got on a whim last weekend. The recent stormy weather that quickly gave way to the present unbearable heat has reminded us that the sun won’t stick around forever. And frankly, we don’t want to let the impending autumn hit you with the regretful realization you didn’t take advantage of the summer months' abundance of activities. Now is the time to get out there and enjoy every sunny minute, and we’ve got a few ideas to keep in mind. Remember that ridiculously fat issue we put out back in June? The Summer Guide has already directed many readers to hiking trails, food trucks, brewery tours and more over the past couple months. But there is still so much more that we wouldn’t want you to miss…
click to enlarge Our Summer Guide issue came out almost two months ago, but there's still plenty left to do before fall hits.
Our Summer Guide issue came out almost two months ago, but there's still plenty left to do before fall hits.

1) Take me yourself out to the ball game. If you haven’t hit the grandstands yet this summer, make sure you get your ticket for Spokane Indians baseball game. There is a quintessential summer ambiance established when you can smell hot dogs, beer, and sunscreen all at once. An eight-game streak is happening right now, with home games every day through this Sunday, Aug. 3, so check the schedule out and pick your game.

2) Upon moving to the area about three years ago, I spent one of my first weekends exploring the Route of the Hiawatha Bike Trail. Its path is a dirt-covered, abandoned railroad near Wallace, Idaho, winds through a gorgeous stretch of forested hills and tunnels. It's downhill for the majority of the ride, which allows riders to really enjoy the scenery. If you’re feeling ambitious and/or slightly insane, turn around and pedal your way back up those 15 miles for a leg-burning but rewarding workout (don't worry, there's a shuttle back to the car, too).

3) After a long, hot summer day, there’s nothing quite like sitting down, kicking back and listening to some tunes. Outdoor concerts are the perfect activity when the sun sets late and the heat of the day finally cools off. Neighborhoods all across the region are hosting concert or film series this season. The upcoming Festival at Sandpoint (it kicks off next Thursday, is always an outdoor music highlight of the summer. If you've yet to catch a Saturday night film at the South Perry Summer Theatre, August's showings include Raiders of the Lost Ark (8/1), The Hobbit (8/9), and Frozen (8/23).

4) Grab a table at one of this year's new sidewalk patios downtown. Recently-granted permits to several local establishments extend seating outside in a development that should benefit the overall culture of downtown. Sip on a cold drink at the Blind Buck’s stylishly small patio, or post up right out front of the mall at River Park Square with an iced coffee or ice cream.

5) Camping via canoe combines two of our all-time favorite things — boating on the water and sleeping under the stars. Plan a site on the lake where you can paddle to the shore to set up camp, and then hop in the water with your canoe or kayak. It’s adventurous and refreshing, and a perfect excursion for a night out in nature

click to enlarge Enjoy a tasty treat from Fannie's Ice Pops, often found at the South Perry Farmers Market on Thursdays. - MATT WEIGAND
Matt Weigand
Enjoy a tasty treat from Fannie's Ice Pops, often found at the South Perry Farmers Market on Thursdays.

6) Treat yourself with something cool and refreshing, like a cold brew coffee from Indaba or a fruity flavor from Fannie’s Ice Pops. These treats can quench your thirst and keep you cool when the weather's hot, but their appeal sadly decreases as the temperatures do. 

7) Two words: Cannon. Ball. No, you are never too old for this. And you shouldn’t let a summer pass by without practicing your careful form and ability to soak everyone around you with an epic splash. Hit one of the local aquatic centers for a dip in the afternoon with the whole family. If you want to avoid the chlorine, take to one of the many local lakes. Tubbs Hill on Lake Coeur d’Alene is a perfect spot for your annual cannon balling to take place.

8) Though it was just a week ago we experienced that havoc-wreaking wind storm, temperatures have once again spiked back into the high 90s, causing us to perspire like crazy all over again. Three of our favorite air-conditioned activities? The MAC’s 100 Stories exhibition, the IMAX in Riverfront Park, and Mobius Children’s Museum and Science Center.

9) Go explore our beautiful state parks on one of the upcoming Free State Park Access Days. Between Riverside State Park and Mt. Spokane State Park, all outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy biking, hiking, rafting, outdoor photography and jogging. We appreciate these beautiful parks all year long, but we really love when we can roam the area for free. Also keep an eye on our ongoing, seasonal “Outing” series for reviews and suggestions on specific outdoor adventures.

10) If there is one regret that we feel certain you shouldn’t experience, it’s missing out on the fresh and local produce from our region's bountiful farmers markets. These markets are hosted in communities across the Inland Northwest, and are a perfect opportunity to appreciate our region's agriculture while biting into a delicious piece of fruit and other fresh produce. A personal favorite is the South Perry Farmers Market on Thursday evenings, which includes artisan crafts and food carts alongside the produce.

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Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:09 AM

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council has released a new bike map of the region, showing roads with bike lanes, roads where bikes are prohibited and suggested routes as well as landmarks like trailheads, bike shops and ParkNRide lots. While we can hope for a time when more roads are at least "shared roadways," this will give you a sense of where things are now so you can plan the safest ride possible.

If you want to complain about certain areas that are unsafe for bikes (or other modes of transportation), check out the city's maps for just that purpose. The bike-specific one is here.

Here's a glance at the map. Red routes have bike lanes, blue are shared roadways and green are sign-posted shared roadways. Click here to see a larger version and the full key.
View larger map

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Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 9:33 AM


Multiple cougar sightings in recent weeks, including fatal attack on horse in Deer Lake. (S-R)

Community rallies to replace stolen veteran support trailer. (KXLY)

Engineering dive team inspecting pedestrian bridges at Riverfront Park. (KREM)


Seattle cop under investigation for allegedly using coin toss to decide marijuana citations. (Seattle Times)

Montana transient sentenced to 15 years in prison for beating man over pork chop dispute. (Missoulian)

Mother's unexplained disappearance from Portland area increasingly strange mystery. (Oregonian)


Ebola death toll passes 700 in West African outbreak, state of emergency declared. (BBC)

CIA admits improperly breaking into Senate Intelligence Committee computer network. (NY Times)

Sharknado 2 premiered last night, which inspired plenty of snark, but SyFy also premiered its first teaser for the Spokane-filmed "Z Nation" zombie show coming in September:

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 4:48 PM

We've been wondering what this zombie show that's been filming in Spokane all summer is going to look like. And it sounds like tonight we might finally get a look.

During the world premier of Sharknado 2 tonight on the Syfy channel, there's going to be a preview of Z Nation, which features real-life Spokanites as zombies

Z Nation is about a group of survivors of a plague that turned most of the world into zombies who are trying to get across the country to save the world (or something like that), is produced by the same company, The Asylum, that made the Sharknado movies.

Sharknado 2, like its predecessor, is about a tornado full of sharks that makes landfall, causing massive devastation. It's some seriously high-minded stuff. As stupid as it sounds (and as stupid as it is  — I've seen it), the Sharknado movies are oddly popular, mostly because they are comprised of ridiculous scenes like these. But it's not beneath the New Yorker profiling the making of the sequel.

You can catch this nonsense tonight at 9 pm on SyFy, and enjoy flying shark after flying shark until the sneak peek of Z Nation finally quells at least a bit of the curiosity that's been building inside so many of us this summer.

UPDATE: Here's the trailer:

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 1:49 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

Hey everyone. If my email inbox is any indication, you're all wondering where's the (legal, recreational) weed? Spokane Green Leaf remains the only of Spokane County's three licensed retailers that's open. They've expanded their hours, but prices are still $25-27 a gram. Satori is still hoping to open Aug. 1 and Green Star Cannabis at some unspecified future date. (Speaking of Satori, we got a press release from Satori Dance Studio on South Monroe this week pointing out that they now share a name with a pot shop. “If their customers mistakenly step into my studio, I’ll happily give them a pair of dance shoes instead of a plant,” the owner said.) Sativa Sisters in the Valley hasn't yet been licensed, but they're advertising an August opening as well. The liquor board is continuing to license retailers as they pass their final inspections, and has now licensed 33 total. Before you start thinking you'd be better off on the westside, though, note that Seattle's one and only store is closed awaiting a product delivery on Friday.

Now, onto the news. The New York Times has editorialized in favor of federal marijuana legalization. Yeah, I know. Woah. (This, of course, has led to more talking heads discussing the issue and not being able to resist making dumb jokes. It also will not change the paper's drug-free policy for employees.) Read the editorial and check out the series they're rolling out about their position here. Certainly, this is a big deal. But to some it wasn't much of a surprise. Here's an excerpt from The Cannabist's conversations with activists about the editorial:

“I wasn’t really terribly surprised,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, one of the largest trade groups in the American marijuana industry. “Colorado especially having taken the lead in replacing the criminal market with a regulated one has demonstrated to the world that not only does the sky not fall when marijuana is legal and regulated, but there are huge benefits to the economy and the community.

“We’re seeing millions in tax revenues and thousands of jobs, and at the same time crime is down across the spectrum in Denver and tourism is up — and people from throughout the country can now see what regulated cannabis looks like.”

I can't let the Times get mentioned without sharing this marijuana trend piece they posted last week. The story covers marijuana-friendly weddings with a mix of eye-rollers ("The rules and regulations about marijuana ... are still being written and constantly changing, like springtime weather in the Rockies.") and some interesting stuff (whether pot gets everyone mingling or causes them to leave the dance floor empty). Read at your own risk.

Senators from Washington and Colorado sent a letter this week to the White House chief of staff and the U.S. attorney general asking for "regulatory clarity" on pot laws. Read the letter here.

In Portland, city leaders may be looking to pass a pot tax before the state legalization initiative there gets a vote in November, Willamette Week reports. A rule in the measure says cities can't add extra taxes on marijuana, but there's a chance taxes passed before the vote could be grandfathered in.

Here in Washington, the start of the Kettle Falls Five trial we wrote about earlier this year has been postponed while attorneys review more evidence. A researcher on the westside is testing sewage to see how many people are using pot. And the Spokesman had a story over the weekend about how cops can still get search warrants if they smell marijuana — whether they have evidence state marijuana laws are being broken or not. Read more here.

A new study shows no link between the legalization of medical marijuana and an increase in underage use of the drug, reports the Washington Post. This has been an issue for opponents of a move to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

In Colorado, there's now a co-working space for cannabis startups and some say legal pot is attracting more homeless people.

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Working in customer service, many of my interactions this week have centered on the heat. Yes, we’re sweating. No, I can’t work functionally in my converted attic apartment. Maybe you’re ready for it to be over. Maybe I am too, but I annoy myself when I complain a lot, so I am taking up a new strategy. Keeping in mind that we live in an extreme climate, singing “Turn, Turn, Turn” in your head might be a good first step. If you’re like me, it’s not enough. It’s time to turn to magical thinking and self-hypnosis.

If you’ve lived in Spokane for more than six months, you know about our winters, their unending fury, and their frosty air. The mist in the background of this shot from Mt. Spokane two winters ago is the air I’ve been fantasizing about today. Can you conjure up what it feels like to inhale that sharp air?

Next, I’ll work on trying to be grateful for all of the things about winter that are lacking right now. If you were me, in January of this year taking this picture, your wool socks would be giving way to the snow that snuck in through the top of your boots. The desire to find more winter beauty to photograph would be waning in competition with the numb feeling spreading from toes to ankles and the realization that it’s a mile and a half walk back to warmth and blankets. You might stink this week, but you’re probably not numb from cold. Great news!

In short, I’ll be going to my unhappy place a lot this week. Remembering my hatred of being cold and my impatience with winter’s stranglehold on the Inland Northwest can spark an appreciation for near-nudity, vinyl related discomfort, and hot pavement. Here are a few more visual aids for your own experiments in self-hypnosis. We’re going to get through this, Spokanites!

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 8:52 AM


Common Core textbooks arrive at Spokane area elementary schools. (S-R)

Airplane with blown tire makes emergency landing in Spokane. (KREM)

Small boat explodes at Lake Pend Oreille, injuring man and grandson. (KHQ)

Kimberly Jeffreys, wife in Spokane development fraud, sentenced to 90 days of home confinement. (S-R)


Bainbridge Island ferry loses power, stranding hundreds in Puget Sound. (Seattle Times)

House committee condemns Obama over Bergdahl exchange. (AP) Judge denies CNN copy of 1999 police report involving Bergdahl family. (Idaho Statesman)

Idaho suspends plan to hire professional hunter to kill wolves in Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. (Missoulian)


American economy shows 4-percent growth in second quarter. (LA Times)

Israeli shells reportedly strike UN school, killing at least 20 people. (NYT)

Jury awards former wrestler and senator Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in bizarre defamation case against renowned military sniper and best-selling author, who was murdered last year. (WaPost)

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 8:19 AM

While the rest of us sit inside at our air-conditioned desks or do whatever else we can to stay cool today, it's fair to say Elaine K. Howley has the most strenuous plan to beat the heat. The 45-year-old open-water swimmer is attempting a solo, non-stop swim of the length of Idaho's largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille — a total of 34 miles from the southern tip at Buttonhook Bay up to Sandpoint's City Beach in the northwest. 
click to enlarge Ultra-marathon swimmer Elaine K. Howley.
Ultra-marathon swimmer Elaine K. Howley.

If Howley is successful, she'll be the first person to do so. It's expected to take the Boston-based ultra-marathon swimmer between 17 and 20 hours to complete her journey if conditions are fair, but could take as many as 24 hours if the water is choppy. Follow Howley's progress throughout the day via the Sandpoint Online Facebook page, which is posting frequent photo and video updates of her swim. 

Howley's impressive resume includes the "Triple Crown" of ultra-marathon, open-water swims — solo crossings of the Catalina Island channel (20.4 miles), the English Channel (21 miles), and a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island (28.5 miles). Adding to her swimming skill set is certification as an ice swimmer. She completed a 1-mile swim in Boston Harbor's 41-degree water in December 2012 without a wet suit.

As she swims today, Howley is supported by an experienced boat and kayak crew, though rules of the Marathon Swimmers Federation (which she co-authored) state that a swimmer may not touch the boat or any crew members, and may not wear a wetsuit. The latter shouldn't be an issue as Lake Pend Oreille averages a surface temp of 65-70 degrees this time of year.

The marathon swim is in part helping to promote the upcoming Long Bridge Swim, a 19-year Sandpoint summer tradition that helps raise funds for swimming lessons and aquatic safety. Participants in the annual event, this year on Sat, Aug. 2, swim the length of the bridge over a 1.76-mile stretch of the lake near Sandpoint. Long Bridge Swim founder Eric Ridgway challenged Howley to swim Lake Pend Oreille to help promote aquatic recreation in the Sandpoint area and the Long Bridge event

“We have such an incredibly beautiful lake here that I am sure that we are going to have many more open water swimmers coming in the years ahead to take on the challenges of this fresh water playground,” Ridgway told Sandpoint Online.

click to enlarge KEOKEE PUBLISHING
Keokee Publishing

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Photo by Caiti Currey via @CaitiKXLY

Wednesday is your last day to get rid of green debris from last week’s storm for free.

The City of Spokane is waiving the fees for small branches and other yard waste at the Waste to Energy Facility (2900 S. Geiger Blvd.) and North County Transfer Station (22123 Elk-Chattaroy Road). The cost is normally $5 for up to 220 pounds of material. The temporary fee break does not include “logs, roofing, vinyl fencing or similar materials.”

Over the weekend, 600 people brought 150 tons of materials for disposal, according to the city.

Meanwhile, the city is also offering a new grant program for neighborhoods looking to plant more trees, which could be a way to eventually replace those lost in the storm. More information on how to apply here.

The storm that hit just after 4 pm last week downed trees across the northern part of the city and county and knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses. Clean up and relocation continues.

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Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 16
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