Friday, May 26, 2017

Mayor announces $1 million more to maintain Spokane streets until next year's full-scale overhauls

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 3:13 PM

Spokane Streets Director Gary Kaesemeyer and Mayor David Condon are aware of the long road that lies before them. - FORREST HOLT PHOTO
  • Forrest Holt photo
  • Spokane Streets Director Gary Kaesemeyer and Mayor David Condon are aware of the long road that lies before them.

Mayor David Condon spoke from behind a lectern on a Sharp Avenue sidewalk, where the street itself illustrated the progress of Spokane’s roadwork projects. A grassy median with trees splits Sharp’s four lanes down the middle. The two lanes nearest Condon were smooth with a fresh layer of asphalt, while the two on the other side were riddled with potholes and crevices.

On Thursday, Condon announced a new $1 million investment in street maintenance projects. He said the other side of Sharp would be repaired this year, but the roadwork was really intended to hold the avenue together until the city could redo it entirely in 2018. Condon said the especially long, cold and wet winter made it critical for the city to make repairs in preparation for more expansive street development.

The projects will target main roads, called arterials, responsible for most of the city’s traffic, he said.

The city was able to find $1 million for arterial maintenance after finishing other projects under budget and receiving grants that relieved financial pressure in other areas, said Marlene Feist, public works communications manager.

This year’s roadwork is intended to maintain streets slated for total reconstruction next year.

In all, 8.82 miles of new roadwork — in addition to 5.2 miles already planned — will take place over the next year, Feist said. Condon’s plan will also postpone 1.75 miles of “less critical” work on Thorpe Road, Palouse Highway and Altamont Street.

“We are making choices and prioritizing the work that needs to get done,” Streets Director Gary Kaesemeyer said in a press release.

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Montana elects House candidate who assaulted reporter, new fire chief faces challenges, and morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 9:48 AM

Brian Schaeffer, Spokane's new fire chief, faces some significant challenges.
  • Brian Schaeffer, Spokane's new fire chief, faces some significant challenges.


Some fires to put out
As Spokane's new fire chief, Brian Schaeffer has a few big challenges he'll need to deal with.

The omega-3 code

How omega-3 fatty acids could possibly stave off the impacts of dementia and depression.


Washington's biggest mental health system
A prisoner with a habit of self-harming gets $92,000 from the state resulting from a pair of lawsuits over his treatment. (Spokesman-Review)

It's fun to rebuild on the site of the YWCA
A developer wants to put up multi-use towers in a $60 million project on the north bank of the Spokane River, where the old YWCA building used to be. (Spokesman-Review)

Assault on the free press
Important notice to Montana politicians: You can body-slam a reporter the day before the election, and you'll still be elected. (New York Times)

Turkish thuggery in D.C.
The New York Times goes through a frame-by frame analysis to prove that the Turkish president's bodyguards attacked and beat protesters last week in Washington, D.C.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Four big challenges Brian Schaeffer will face as Spokane's new fire chief

Agenda includes training rookies, working with the union and saving 48 firefighter jobs

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 4:31 PM

Brian Schaeffer was officially appointed the new Spokane fire chief on Wednesday. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Brian Schaeffer was officially appointed the new Spokane fire chief on Wednesday.

Brian Schaeffer was only eight months old when a flame from a scented candle lit the fire that could have killed him. Schaeffer was in his crib in a mobile home in Freeburg, Illinois, when the candle caused the drapes to catch fire.

And he was alone. His adoptive mother was across the street, borrowing something from a neighbor.

"When I say [my introduction to the fire department] literally started as an infant, it literally started as an infant in every sense of the word," Schaeffer says.

Yesterday, Mayor David Condon — in a widely expected move —  appointed the longtime local firefighter Spokane's fire chief. Schaeffer had been serving as the interim chief ever since the retirement of former Chief Bobby Williams.

In his office, Schaeffer takes the yellowed 1971 Freeburg Tribune newspaper clipping and describes the horror that his adoptive dad, a firefighter himself, experienced while riding on the fire truck that day.

"The fire truck is taking a left. The fire truck is taking a right. And another left. And you're thinking, 'Oh, this is in my area of town. Oh, this is in my neighborhood,'" Schaeffer says. "And then you pull up, and your newborn infant and your wife [are] involved in this pretty significant fire. "

One of his neighbors, John Long, rushed into the mobile home to save Schaeffer. He would later be treated for smoke inhalation. One of the other firefighters suffered a burn from the blaze. And the family wound up homeless.

"The money, the checkbooks, everything was destroyed," Schaeffer says. "It was really a devastating situation."

As he discussed the honor it was to be appointed chief in front of Downtown's Fire Station 1 yesterday, Schaeffer described his 28 years working as a firefighter that brought him to this point.

"The journey hasn't been without great sacrifice for myself and my family," Schaeffer says from the podium, as he begins to break down in tears. "I want to acknowledge and thank my wife for forgiving me for hundreds of missed meals, vacations, races and sometimes even promises, when my responsibilities at the fire department pulled me away. I would never have made it without you."

As Schaeffer officially takes the reins, he'll continue as the head of a department that is in the midst of change. As buildings have become more resistant to fire and as the population continues to age, the profession of firefighting has moved away from responding primarily to burning buildings and toward responding to medical emergencies.

That's true for firefighters across the country. But there are a few issues in Spokane, in particular, that Schaeffer has to grapple with:

1. Save the 48 grant-funded firefighters before the SAFER grant expires

The $9 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant the fire department received last September was enough to hire 48 new firefighters. For a department that had been understaffed for years, and was lagging behind the industry standard for response times, the new staffers came with a sigh of relief.

"I feel strongly that that's the minimum," Schaeffer says.

But the grant came attached to a ticking clock; it only lasted two years. Once the two years runs out, the department has to face the prospect of firing those new firefighters.

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Omega-3 fatty acids and better brain function, the power of cinnamon, and 'oral allergy syndrome'

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Better brains with omega-3s
Want a great source of omega-3 fatty acids? Look no further than seeds and nuts.
  • Want a great source of omega-3 fatty acids? Look no further than seeds and nuts.
By now you’ve heard that omega-3 fatty acids are implicated in better metabolism and improving our heart health. But a new study shows they may also be implicated in warding off a decline in brain function. “This is very important research because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia,” said the study’s lead author. Good sources of omega-3s include salmon, tuna and flaxseed oil.

Here's a list of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Natural help for high blood sugar?
Millions of people are considered “pre-diabetic” meaning their blood sugar runs a little too high, but not quite high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Exercise and diet can often help prevent that progression, and so can some common herbs, and one spice in particular: cinnamon.

Read more about the Spice of Life in this story from our InHealth archives.

Runny nose and itchy mouth?

If you have seasonal allergies, you may find some fruits produce a weird sensation in your mouth during certain times of the year. This “oral allergy syndrome” is the result of ingesting a food that contains a protein similar in structure to the pollens that provoke an individual’s sneezing and red eyes. This cross-reactivity occurs in predictable patterns: spring tree allergies are linked with cherries, apples and pears, while summer grass allergies go with reactions to watermelon and cantaloupe. Cooking or peeling a fruit before eating may help, but check with an allergist if symptoms occur when eating nuts.

For more health-related information, check out the current issue of InHealth.

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A Ben Carson state of mind, Montana GOP House candidate body-slams reporter, and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 9:48 AM


NEWS: A demolition ban in the Browne's Addition neighborhood remains in place after a unanimous City Council vote in favor a moratorium.

MUSIC: The Inlander's annual music festival, Volume, is just around the corner. Two days. 100 bands. $25. Click here for a taste.


'You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses'
A Republican congressional candidate in Montana body-slammed a reporter for the Guardian Wednesday night on the eve of the state's special election as the journalist persisted in asking a question about the GOP health care plan. Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs' account was corroborated by a Fox News crew who witnessed the incident.

Clueless Carson
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson claimed in an interview that poverty is a "state of mind." Seriously. (CNN)

Chief of flames
Mayor David Condon names Brian Schaeffer the next chief of the Spokane Fire Department. (Spokesman-Review)

Plugging the leaks
The New York Times obtained, apparently through U.S. government leaks, photographic evidence of the scene of Monday's deadly terrorist attack in Manchester, England. British Prime Minister Theresa May is not happy about it, while President Trump says he will "get to the bottom" of the leaks and wants those responsible prosecuted. (The Telegraph)  
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hundreds seek answers about contaminated water at Fairchild meeting Tuesday night

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 3:39 PM

"Are you positive?" "Have you been tested?" neighbors and friends asked each other as they filed into the bleachers at Medical Lake High School on Tuesday evening.

They weren't talking about some disease, but about their drinking water.

While some there had already had their private wells tested for chemical contamination, possibly linked with firefighting foam used on Fairchild Air Force Base for more than 40 years, others lived close enough to the base that they wondered whether they needed to have their water tested, too.

Many were among the more than 8,000 people whose water comes from Airway Heights, which had two of its main well systems test high for the chemicals last week, and has been providing bottled water for residents while trying to flush the contamination from the city's system.

While waiting for the 6 pm meeting to start, people who'd never met casually compared serious medical issues they'd had in the past. Was their pancreatic cancer linked with the drinking water? What about the mysterious ulcers they couldn't figure out? If they seem to be sick all the time, could that be related? 

With news of the emerging contaminants PFOA and 
Col. Ryan Samuelson, commander of Fairchild Air Force Base's 92nd Air Refueling Wing, speaks to a crowd of hundreds Tuesday night, May 23, about water contamination near the base. - SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL
  • Samantha Wohlfeil
  • Col. Ryan Samuelson, commander of Fairchild Air Force Base's 92nd Air Refueling Wing, speaks to a crowd of hundreds Tuesday night, May 23, about water contamination near the base.
PFOS being found in higher-than-recommended concentrations in their water, every malaise seems subject to scrutiny, and Tuesday's meeting revealed few answers as to whether specific health issues and the chemicals are interconnected.


airchild Col. Ryan Samuelson, Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, started the meeting with a prepared speech, spending about 20 minutes explaining his commitment to transparency as the process of testing moves forward, giving an overview of what was going on, and trying to combat misinformation.

"You deserve to know what we know, because this is a concern for all of us," Samuelson told the crowd.

While the testing that Fairchild started in April raised questions about how long the Air Force had known the chemicals were an issue, according to other experts at the meeting who have been involved in systematic testing at other bases around the country, Fairchild has been one of the fastest to release information to the public.

Rather than wait for verified results, as soon as preliminary tests showed higher levels than an Environmental Protection Agency health advisory recommends, the base alerted well owners and started providing water for them. Samuelson has committed to getting information out quickly and answering questions.

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As Browne's Addition seeks historic recognition, City Council retains demolition ban

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 11:58 AM

These townhouses under construction on Chestnut and Second Avenue have become an example, cited by the Browne's Addition Neighborhood Council, as to why the neighborhood needs a demolition ban. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • These townhouses under construction on Chestnut and Second Avenue have become an example, cited by the Browne's Addition Neighborhood Council, as to why the neighborhood needs a demolition ban.

Housing developers looking to tear down and build up in the Browne’s Addition neighborhood will either have to look elsewhere or sit tight for the next six months.

On April 10, the Spokane City Council unanimously voted in favor of an emergency moratorium — and a six-month extension at Monday's meeting — on demolition permits for Browne’s Addition after multiple properties have been torn down. Most recently, a house at 201 S. Chestnut St. was demolished and is being replaced with a multi-family residential complex, contributing to the neighborhood council's decision to request the moratorium.

While the moratorium is in place, the city plans to review current demolition regulations, and the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council will work to complete an application for historic neighborhood status.

Councilmember Lori Kinnear sponsored the anti-demolition ordinance and pushed to add more support of historic preservation to the city’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2018.

“While we want infill, we don’t want to destroy what we have in our city,” Kinnear said at Monday's City Council meeting.

Rick Biggerstaff, Chair of the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council, says it is important to protect neighborhoods’ personalities. He pointed to Perry and Kendall Yards as examples of neighborhoods with contemporary personalities, and Browne’s as one with a more historic personality.

“When you enter our neighborhood, you go back in time,” Biggerstaff says.

Browne’s Addition residents understand that not all of their properties are perfect, he says, but they care about what they have.

“We buy these properties knowing we are going to get our elbows greased and our hands dirty,” Biggerstaff says.

He says the neighborhood does not oppose new housing and development, but wants more communication with developers from the very beginning of the process to maintain the area’s aesthetic.

Biggerstaff says he was particularly disappointed to see the loss of open, green space at the Chestnut Street address when demolition finished and construction began.

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Daybreak Youth Services keeps expanding, moves outpatient facility to Spokane Valley

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 11:07 AM

Clients at Daybreak Youth Services, now located in Spokane Valley. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Clients at Daybreak Youth Services, now located in Spokane Valley.

Daybreak Youth Services has moved its Spokane outpatient treatment facility to Spokane Valley, allowing it to expand its treatment capacity for teens.

It's the second expansion for Daybreak Youth Services just this year, as the nonprofit works to offer more services to kids in Washington with substance abuse and mental health disorders.

"Everything is getting bigger and better across the board," says Alayna Becker, Daybreak communications manager.

The organization's outpatient program previously operated from downtown Spokane, at 960 E. Third Ave., and served about 70 clients per month. The outpatient program moved to its new location in Spokane Valley, at 200 N. Mullan Rd., in April, and enables Daybreak to serve up to 100 clients per month. It also makes it easier to serve teens who go to school in Spokane Valley, Becker says, as Daybreak works closely with those schools.

Last week, Daybreak celebrated the opening of a new 58-bed inpatient treatment center for adolescent recovery in Vancouver, Washington. It has 43 residential treatment beds, three detox beds and 12 mental health evaluation and treatment beds for teens of both genders, ages 12 to 17. Daybreak also operates a 40-bed inpatient facility for girls only in Spokane for teens to recover from substance abuse and/or mental health issues.

Becker says the long-term strategy is to hopefully bring in more transitional housing to serve teens. For its inpatient programs, there's about a 50 percent recovery rate for kids. Many kids leave the facility and either go back into a home where substance abuse is present, or they are homeless or in foster care. That, she says, isn't conducive to maintaining a healthy recovery.

"As a long-term strategy," she says, "we hope to bring more transitional housing."
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Britain on 'critical' alert after terrorist attack, remembering a Seahawks star gone too soon, and morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 9:42 AM


NEWS: The state Department of Ecology is now taking comments on cleanup options for a contaminated former BNSF Railway refueling station in Hillyard.

ARTS & CULTURE: This year's Spokane is Reading book has been announced: it's A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.

Cortez Kennedy spent  his entire 11-year NFL career with the Seahawks; he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Cortez Kennedy spent his entire 11-year NFL career with the Seahawks; he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Britain on 'critical' alert
The country is on edge, anticipating the possibility of more terrorist attacks, after a 22-year-old suicide bomber blew himself up at an Ariana Grande show in Manchester on Monday, killing 22 people, many of them children, and injuring 64 others. ISIS has claimed responsibility; local police say they are investigating a terrorist network. (Vox/The Atlantic)

New fire chief
Spokane will name its new fire chief today; it's expected to be Brian Schaeffer, interim chief and longtime assistant chief. (KXLY)

Trump meets Pope

The leader of the free world and the leader of the Roman Catholic church met for the first time today at the Vatican. (New York Times)

Math is hard
The new Trump budget unveiled yesterday, which slashes spending on social programs in favor of a 10 percent boost in military spending, has a big problem — it's based on a $2 trillion mathematical error, says New York magazine.

See u in the fall! — "Donny"
At the end of his brief-by-design 15-minute stay at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum, the President of the United States signed the museum's Book of Remembrance as if it was a middle-school yearbook. (New York magazine)

Seahawks great dies at 48
A tribute to Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle and Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, who died in Florida on Tuesday at age 48. (Tacoma News Tribune)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Spokane is Reading book is A Land More Kind Than Home

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 4:57 PM

With the summer months stretching ahead, and hopefully plenty of time for beach or backyard reading, bookworms of all stripes are already working on their extensive summer reading lists. Here's another title to add to the mix, this year's Spokane is Reading selection, A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash.

Published in 2012 as Cash's debut, the bestselling title is narrated by three main characters living in rural Appalachia. On its website, Spokane is Reading describes the book as "a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all."

In a review by the Washington Post, the novel is described as a harrowing tale about the a community whose main moral compass is a fundamentalist church leader who uses his congregation's blind faith as a weapon against them.

Spokane author Jess Walter has said of the book: “Wiley Cash knows how to grab his reader on page one and hang on for dear life as he presents brilliant portraits of desperate people caught up in an underworld where danger, damage, drugs, and fractured families are all clasped in the tight fist of poverty.”

Though not sequels, Cash's bestselling second novel This Dark Road to Mercy has a somewhat similar tone,  examining the limits of love, family bonds, atonement and vengeance. His third novel, The Last Ballad, comes out about a month before Cash's visit to Spokane for two community events on Thursday, Nov. 9.

The 16th annual Spokane is Reading community reading event, sponsored and organized by the Spokane Public Library, the Spokane County Library District and Auntie's Bookstore, includes two free readings and talks with Cash, in Spokane Valley and downtown Spokane. Leading up to the November event, the community can engage with Cash's works through book discussions and other programming at Spokane libraries and Auntie's.
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