Local briefs

Cleanup time

SPOKANE -- The Washington State Department of Ecology has updated its list of contaminated sites across the state. The list is evaluated in February and August every year. This time, 32 properties were added to the list while 13 were removed, bringing the total number of sites targeted for cleanup to 875.

According to Ecology, most of the sites are located in Western Washington, and the new sites include waste-disposal facilities, bulk fuel plants, auto yards and properties with leaking underground storage tanks.

In Spokane County, the Geiger Field Housing Area (where underground diesel fuel storage tanks were leaking) and the Jeld-Wen site (a former wood product treatment facility) were taken off the list. At the same time the Burlington Northern Santa Fe black tank property and the Cheney Super Stop lots were added.

Though Ecology is looking at a net gain of cleanup sites, the agency maintains it's making headway in containing the ecological problems across the state.

"It's significant that more sites are moving into a cleanup phase than are being discovered," says Jim Pendowski, manager of Ecology's toxics-cleanup program. "We're concerned about all levels of hazardous sites and want to see them undergoing treatment, but it's a credit to updated regulations and industrial practices that we've seen fewer reports of newly contaminated properties."

Youth awards

SPOKANE -- More than 1,300 youth and teens, plus four entire student bodies, have been nominated for the 14th annual Chase Youth Awards, and on Wednesday the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Opera House.

"The winners are secret until that night. And we actually don't like to call them winners, we like to call them recipients and role models," says Wendy Acosta, the city's youth involvement coordinator. "The members of the Teen Advisory Council are the ones putting on the evening, I'm just the token adult. The teens are the ones who pick up the ball and run with it."

Awards are given in seven categories, including citizenship, courage, personal achievement and community service. Acosta says it's especially important to recognize youth who are doing positive things in a time like this, marred by recent school shootings.

"After the school shootings, we need to take time out in the community and ask our youth what it would take to make them feel safe," she adds. "And then listen to what they are saying. What I hear is that it's not metal detectors, it's not more rules or more knee jerk control -- it's a personal connection with a caring adult." Ideally this connection should be established at home, but if that's not possible the community needs to step up.

"I think we forget, even as a parent, to thank our kids. We forget to say 'You are a good person, we value you, keep going,'" says Acosta. "All the nominees are going to be wearing lilac ribbons, and I want for people to shake the hand of that nominee, thank them for what they did for our community and tell them to keep going."

& & & lt;i & The Chase Youth Awards are held at the Opera House on Wednesday, March 21, with doors opening at 6 pm. Call: 625-6054. & & & lt;i &