Monday, May 22, 2017

Chemical contamination from Fairchild now affecting thousands

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 3:29 PM

Julie Dibble wants to know why the Air Force isn't testing this creek, which runs from the base through her and her neighbors' properties. The Air Force says it is focusing on testing sources of human drinking water for now. The creek is a drinking source for cattle, and children often play and run through it during the hot summer months. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Julie Dibble wants to know why the Air Force isn't testing this creek, which runs from the base through her and her neighbors' properties. The Air Force says it is focusing on testing sources of human drinking water for now. The creek is a drinking source for cattle, and children often play and run through it during the hot summer months.


Local and state officials, as well as officials from Fairchild, will hold a town hall on Tuesday, May 23 at 6 pm in the Medical Lake High School auditorium to present more information on the compounds involved in this contamination, and address questions and concerns.

Last week, the Inlander spoke with some of the first residents whose wells tested high for chemical contamination from Fairchild Air Force Base, and heard about their health fears, concerns about continuing to give well water to their livestock, and worries about what this means for the future of their properties.

One woman had scheduled a doctor's appointment to check for thyroid issues. Another worried about what type of water filter or treatment might be available — they're all using bottled water being provided by the Air Force to cook and clean, and probably will have to do so for months. A couple wanted to know if they should use their well water on their vegetable garden — would these chemicals work their way into the food? Others were giving their chickens bottled water, or throwing away the eggs.

On Tuesday, the Air Force announced that Airway Heights' water, serving more than 8,500 people, also had tested high for the chemicals. Firefighters started handing out bottled water to residents that night, with cars lining up first thing the next morning as distribution continued.

The chemicals involved, commonly referred to by the abbreviations PFOA and PFOS, were used in firefighting foam on the base for more than 40 years, from 1970 until last year.

They have a tendency to stick around in the environment and in the body, and most people have some level of the chemicals in their blood, because they've been used for a variety of commercial products, from Teflon cookware, to carpets, clothing, and food packaging — things that need to be resistant to water, grease or stains — according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While more study is needed to be sure what impacts the chemicals have on human health, they've been linked with lower birth weight and possible birth defects, increased risk for cancer, hormone changes, decreased fertility, higher cholesterol and more, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Both chemical compounds have been studied for decades. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a short-term health advisory, saying that drinking water should not contain more than 400 parts per trillion of PFOA or 200 parts per trillion of PFOS.

That number was reduced last year, when the EPA issued a lifetime health advisory level for the chemicals, warning that there shouldn't be more than a combined 70 parts per trillion of either in drinking water.

The military has tested for chemical compounds at and around different bases over the past few years, but testing at Fairchild didn't start until this year.

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WA man could get life for pot, more Washington students report thinking suicide, and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 9:34 AM


NEWS: Life in prison for growing weed? A Spokane Valley man could be put away for life, but new developments in the case could go in his favor.

NEWS: Dancing and drinking don't mix, according to an
 80-year-old Spokane law still on the books, but City Council might soon change that, and lower licensing fees for dance clubs at the same time. 

NEWS: Don't call it East Sprague anymore: It's now the Sprague Union District.

NEWS: This Spokane spring seems rainier than ever. It's not quite the rainiest year on record, but it is the wettest it's been in a decade.


More Washington students report thoughts of, or attempts at, suicide
In this year's Healthy Youth Survey, the number of students who report they've thought about suicide or tried to kill themselves is up, as is the number of those who report experiencing anxiety. The Seattle Times reports that among sophomores surveyed in fall 2016, 26 percent of the girls said they'd thought about it, while 13 percent said they'd tried it, and 14 percent of boys had thought about it, while 7 percent had attempted it. The reported rates were much higher for LGBTQ students.

New discovery about our brains
Turns out, the lymphatic system — which carries immune cells throughout the body and removes waste and toxins — goes into your brain, which wasn't known until very recently, and could lead to major developments in research on Alzheimer's and other diseases, the Washington Post reports.

Montana special election

Two men vying for the House seat left open when Ryan Zinke was named Secretary of the Interior will find out who wins in a special election this week. They differ on how much of a safety net there should be, according to the Billings Gazette.
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

THIS WEEK: Modest Mouse, Dial-a-story, Kevin Smith, Sasquatch! and more

Posted By on Sun, May 21, 2017 at 1:01 PM

Kevin Smith is doing four shows at Spokane Comedy Club over Memorial Day weekend.
  • Kevin Smith is doing four shows at Spokane Comedy Club over Memorial Day weekend.

We're barreling towards Memorial Day weekend, and as of this writing, there's some sunshine ahead, too! You'll want to check out our event listings and Staff Picks for some awesome things to do in the Inland Northwest.

Here are some highlights of the week ahead:

Monday, May 22

WORDS | This month's Spokane Poetry Slam at the Bartlett features special guest Stephen Meads, a veteran of the national and regional slam scene for more than a decade.

Tuesday, May 23

LIVE BANDS | Modest Mouse have been favorites among Northwest rock fans for decades, and they headline The Knit Tuesday. Read our editor's sort-of-fond memories of one experience with the band. Here's a taste:

WORDS | Drop by Spark Central to listen to stories read by Spokane Civic actors from the West Central Dial-A-Story project, one of the coolest events of the week for sure.

LIVE BANDS | I love the whole idea of "pastel punk," and that's what the Corner Girls promise for their show at Baby Bar, joined by Funeral Homies.

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Free Sasquatch tickets: How to win 'em

Posted By on Sun, May 21, 2017 at 10:41 AM

We're giving way two three-day passes for Sasquatch! Music Festival, valued at $295 each, to one lucky person who buys their $25 Volume two-day pass before midnight tonight (Sunday).

If you've already bought your Volume tickets, don't worry, you're in the drawing already.

Go here to buy your Volume tickets and enter!


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Why does the weather in Spokane keep disappointing us?

Meteorologist says this spring has been wettest in the past decade

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 5:37 PM


If you spend your weekdays checking the weather on your phone, hoping that it will show two bright yellow sun icons next to Saturday and Sunday, then you've likely been tricked into the same misguided optimism this year as I have.

Sure, on Monday, Spokane's forecast for the weekend says it should be nice, once we get through the rain and clouds of the weekdays. But then Friday comes, and it turns out Saturday's forecast is mostly cloudy, that it's probably going to rain a little bit, and that the day when you can enjoy the warm spring sun will have to wait.

Why does it seem like this keeps happening this year more than normal? As National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Van Horn explains, this spring's weather has been difficult to predict for a couple reasons — but mostly because of the rain. And if you think it has been wetter and cloudier than normal, then you're right.

The normal amount of precipitation in the period from March 1 until today is 3.8 inches, he says. But this year, Spokane has recorded 6.72 inches. That's the highest amount in the same period in the last decade, and it's near the highest ever recorded in that period — 7.54 inches.

The Inland Northwest has seen more low-pressure weather systems this year than in the past. That brings more rain, and it also makes it harder to give accurate forecasts, he says. It's easier to forecast when there are high pressure patterns, but it's harder to model low-pressure systems.

"That's why forecasts will change or be modified when we get closer to the event," he says.

He notes that meteorologists have significantly less confidence in forecasts seven days out than a couple days away from the weekend, anyway. But it's not uncommon for an unforeseen tropical disturbance in the Pacific Ocean to throw off all the models a day or two before the weekend, he says.

Looking out toward late spring and summer, Van Horn says the outlook is even less certain. Last year, they had a pretty good idea that it would be a dry summer. This year? Everything is in play. The models show "equal chances" when it comes to the amount of precipitation this summer. That means "we have the same chance of below normal precipitation, of around normal precipitation, and above normal precipitation."

"The predictability is not as good," Van Horn says.

So not only is the weather this year hard to predict in the short term, but there aren't too many answers long-term, either. But keep checking the weather app if you want.
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Why a Spokane Valley man could face life in prison for growing pot — and why the case may now be falling apart

Did U.S. Attorneys withhold information that could point to his innocence?

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 1:05 PM

Jerad Kynaston faces a potential mandatory life sentence for his involvement in a Spokane Valley grow operation six years ago. But have U.S. Attorneys withheld information that could prove his innocence? - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Jerad Kynaston faces a potential mandatory life sentence for his involvement in a Spokane Valley grow operation six years ago. But have U.S. Attorneys withheld information that could prove his innocence?

The life that Jerad Kynaston has built for himself in the past five years — including his construction company, long-term girlfriend and their new puppy — could come crumbling down because of his involvement in a Spokane Valley marijuana grow operation.

In 2011, local and federal law enforcement raided the house where Kynaston, now 29, and at least seven other people were growing a bunch of weed. Police found more than 1,000 plants (though 677 of those "plants" were either empty pots, or pots that contained "the root structure of suspected harvested marijuana plants") and one handgun.

All seven men were indicted in 2012 on violations of the Controlled Substances Act and, if found guilty, some are potentially facing mandatory 10-year sentences due to the amount marijuana that police found. Kynaston, who has two prior marijuana-related felony convictions, is facing a potential mandatory life sentence. He's also facing a firearms charge.

The case has languished in the system for the past five years. This week, it seemed that Kynaston was ready for it to end; he and at least two co-defendants were ready to plead guilty.

But less than 48 hours before the hearing at the Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse in Spokane, the defense team stumbled on police reports written in March 2012 that had not previously been turned over to the defendants.

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City Council may strike a ban on 'immoral or obscene dancing' — and cut the license fee for Spokane cabarets

Venues that allow dancing are now charged triple the license fees of venues that don't

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 1:02 PM

Entertainment venues that allow dancing are currently charged $300 for license fees — as opposed to $100 for those that don't. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Entertainment venues that allow dancing are currently charged $300 for license fees — as opposed to $100 for those that don't.

Right now, the mere act of allowing dancing triples licensing fees for Spokane entertainment venues. On Monday, the City Council will consider changing that, as well as an 80-year-old “immoral or obscene dancing” ban still left on the books.

City Council President Ben Stuckart proposed leveling entertainment licensing fees and removing the 1937 dance ban.

“How do you even determine what is immoral or obscene?” said Adam McDaniel, Stuckart's legislative assistant. “A lot of people would say my dancing is obscene.”

When piecing together ordinances to regulate cabarets in 1937, A.B. Colburn, City Commissioner at the time, told the Spokane Daily Chronicle that his original intention was to halt dancing in saloons. Dancing on Sundays was also banned at the time. But Colburn was not strictly opposed to all dancing and drinking, as long as the two were separate and done at a place and time he thought was appropriate.

“If a decent dance hall is operated adjoining a beer parlor, that is a different matter,” Colburn told the Chronicle. He did not want people drinking and dancing at the same time.

The Spokane Federation of Women’s Organizations staunchly opposed the measure, saying alcohol and dancing should be entirely separate, and that allowing cabarets to earn licenses unfairly favored their generally upper-class patrons.

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East Sprague neighborhood rebrands as 'Sprague Union District'

City accelerates work on streetscape improvements

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 11:02 AM

As the city ramps up its improvements to East Sprague, businesses in the area want to move away from the "East Sprague" name altogether.

From now on, they want you to call it "Sprague Union D
Jim Hanley, owner of the Tin Roof in the newly dubbed Sprague Union District. - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • Jim Hanley, owner of the Tin Roof in the newly dubbed Sprague Union District.

The new name came by popular vote of business owners and neighbors of the area, says Jim Hanley, owner of the Tin Roof furniture store on East Sprague and a member of the East Spokane Business Association. The businesses are now in the process of creating a trademark, coinciding with city construction to improve the East Sprague streetscape.

The hope is that this name change goes better than the most recent time businesses around East Sprague tried to brand themselves, when they pushed to be called the "International District" in an effort to build up more international businesses.

"It didn't seem to work. It didn't catch on," Hanley says.

ESBA ran a survey asking local business owners and residents what they should name the district that encompasses the area from the Hamilton Street Bridge to a little bit east of Freya Street, and they came up with Sprague Union District. The name stems from the area being called Union Park in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it was a factory section of the city, with working-class citizens and immigrants.

Hanley says referring to the area as East Sprague is too broad, and could refer to anywhere from downtown Spokane to parts of Spokane Valley. He says the reputation of East Sprague referring to a hub for prostitution was considered in the name change, though he says that prostitution hasn't been a problem there for a couple of years.

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"We're number 44! We're number 44!" Spokane ranked 44th most attractive city for millennials

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 10:17 AM

On a list of 100 cities that'd be best for millennials to move to, media company Growella has ranked Spokane 44th.

That's memorable, right? It's one of only, like, 9 palindr
Hey, it's better than being 50th.  - Right, millenials?
  • Hey, it's better than being 50th.
    Right, millenials?
omic numbers on the list, so that's basically like being in the top 10, right?

Or! If you divide our ranking by 2 (for the number of times you can hear that the guy who wrote "White Christmas" is from here without getting annoyed) and then divide that by 11 (think of it as a numerical representation of the smoke stacks), and then divide that by 2 again (for our 2 milk bottle-shaped buildings), we're number 1!

To be fair, Spokane was beat out for the other 43 slots by some steep competition. Really, who can upstage the perennial millennial favorite Seattle (how will we ever get out of your shadow???), or the place where you couldn't buy alcohol outside of a bar or restaurant until 2009, and still can't on Sundays: Lubbock, Texas (number 18! 18th, for blue-law's sakes!).

Ostensibly, other factors, like how far your paycheck goes, how many other young people live there, how many jobs there are, and what public transportation and the commute are like factored into the rankings to objectively rank cities around the country. The site does declare that it didn't look for hip factors, like where you can get your wine ('cause apparently we millennials all love wine), artisan coffee, or second-hand clothing.

"You’ll find no mention of the trendiness of a town, or its hipness. Grades are assigned based on statistics and our algorithm only," Growella's piece says.

Jokes aside, if you like these kinds of lists, you might be interested to know that when compared to other cities in our region, Spokane came in 6th in the West, according to the list, trailing:

5) Boise
4) Anchorage
3) Denver
2) Seattle
1) Colorado Springs
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Most citizen complaints against Spokane cops in 2015 not reviewed, Weiner now a sex offender, and other news of the day

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Ombudsman Bart Logue's report doesn't pull punches — but also has praise for the Spokane Police Department. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Ombudsman Bart Logue's report doesn't pull punches — but also has praise for the Spokane Police Department.


When the cops don't listen
In 2015, amid Spokane's police chief chaos and without an ombudsman, the vast majority of citizen complaints were not reviewed or acted upon.

In memory of Cornell
The Inlander's Dan Nailen remembers Chris Cornell, the former frontman of Soundgarden.

Closing the garage

Spokane's new City Attorney pick has resurrected old arguments about the River Park Square parking garage — but Ben Stuckart says it's time to stop re-litigating the past.

Printing a heart

Technology might someday allow us to use 3-D printing to create new organs.


Raúl of law
At one time, Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador seemed like one of the best hopes for an immigration compromise in the House. But now, the bill he's pushing would crack down, deporting more people and punishing "sanctuary cities." (Spokesman-Review)

Hug of death
Former FBI Director James Comey really, really disliked getting hugged by Donald Trump. (New York Times)

Sext offender
Anthony Weiner, the man who — through his inappropriate text messages helped to made Trump president — will plead guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor. (CNN)

Mueller time
How Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's presidential campaign may complicate other investigations into the Russia connection. (Washington Post)
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