by Leah Sottile and Cara Gardner

Dirty Sources -- SPOKANE -- The polluted Spokane River seems to be the hottest topic of conversation around town lately, but does anyone ever think about how the pollution should be tackled? As the old saying advises, go to the source. The Department of Ecology wants to begin to curb the river's pollution problem by exploring potential sources -- namely the Little Spokane River, Dragoon Creek and Deadman Creek, all which feed into the larger river.

"There are too many nutrients in the Little Spokane, which increase the amount of nutrients in the big Spokane River. The Little Spokane is a source to the Spokane River," says Jani Gilbert, public information officer for Eastern Washington.

The Department of Ecology plans to begin a cleanup plan on the smaller waterways. The TMDL will aim to research sources of pollution that are contributing to the Little Spokane's less-than-acceptable water-quality limits. The Little Spokane is currently afflicted with three environmental ailments: fecal coliform, high temperatures and pH problems. Gilbert says all are things that can be prevented.

"Rather than coming from a pipe, it's pollution coming from diffused sources like fertilizer and animal waste, or pesticides and farmland."

Today's meeting aims to kick off the cleanup process by starting at the source and finding out from Little Spokane residents why the river might be seeing more pollution and what they can do to keep from making the waters any murkier.

A meeting about the Little Spokane River will be held on Thursday, July 8, at 7 pm at Riverside High School, 4120 E. Deer Park Milan Rd., Chattaroy, Wash. Call 622-3073.

Smokin' Numbers -- SPOKANE -- Businesses that sell tobacco products are doing their part by not selling to underage youth, according to compliance data released for the first six months of 2004. Spokane County tobacco retailers have a compliance rate of 93 percent, up from the 88 percent rate in 2003.

"We are excited to see local retailers taking youth access to tobacco products so seriously," said Dr. Kim Marie Thorburn, health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) in a statement. "Tobacco use among youth in Spokane County and Washington State remains a significant concern because most adult smokers begin their addiction before the age of 18. Of these, nearly one third will die prematurely because of tobacco use."

Through a partnership between SRHD, Spokane Teens Against Tobacco and the Washington State Liquor Control Board, local retailers are tested randomly on their compliance regarding the sale of tobacco products to minors. The compliance rate must be at or above 80 percent in order for Washington state to continue receiving block grant funding for alcohol, tobacco and drug programs.

A Peek Inside the War Chest -- SPOKANE -- It's about time for the media to begin the horse-race polling that drives everyone crazy. Who's ahead in the polls, we've learned, doesn't say nearly enough about the candidates; who's ahead in fundraising, though, is always interesting. By June, Patty Murray had raised $7.9 million in her campaign for U.S. Senate, while George Nethercutt had gathered $3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Elections Commission.

Likewise, the Democrat is far ahead of the Republicans in the 5th District Congressional race (although the three Republicans combined have raised more than the Democrat). Don Barbieri (D) had raised $621,300 by June. On the GOP side, Larry Sheahan was at $219,200; Cathy McMorris had reached $204,100 and Shaun Cross raised $186,200.

The Healthy Side of Ronnie -- SPOKANE -- There are only 25 Ronald McDonald Car Mobile Units in the world, and Spokane has one of them. The mobile unit is a primary care center for children, offering medical and dental services whether payment can be made or not. Staffed by nurse practitioners from the Intercollegiate College of Nursing, the care unit treats newborns to 21-year-olds for injuries and illnesses and provides immunizations, check-ups and dental screenings. The Ronald McDonald Mobile will be all over Spokane this summer.

"We hope to see at least 700 patients by the end of August," says Chris Riebe, Ronald McDonald Care Mobile director.

A complete listing of the service locations and days can be found at for appointments, call 324-7291.

Publication date: 07/08/04

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