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Local agencies partner up for drowning prevention

Local agencies partner up for drowning prevention

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with the Spokane Regional Health District and the Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition to stress the importance of life jackets and swimming safety measures.

With the holiday weekend approaching, the agencies are partnering to remind residents that preventing drownings is as simple as putting on a life jacket.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists failure to wear a life jacket as among the top reasons people drown, along with lack of swimming lessons, alcohol consumption and lack of supervision.

Half of drowning victims in Washington state did not intend to be immersed in water. Instead, they were fishing near a river or riding in a boat but slipped and fell in cold or swift water.

The partners are working together to boost safety, even offering 25 percent off coupons for a life jacket from Big 5 Sporting Goods which you can find here.

Working 4 You: The Do's and Don'ts of Legal Marijuana

Working 4 You: The Do's and Don'ts of Legal Marijuana

By next week, customers will be able to go into retail stores and buy marijuana legal, taxed and regulated by the state of Washington. Even though Washington voters passed Initiative 502 nearly two years ago, there's still a lot of confusion about what's actually legal when it comes to recreational marijuana.

The Washington Liquor Control Board is heavily regulating the production, processing and sale of recreational marijuana. The agency is extremely busy this week, getting ready to issue licenses to the first 20 retail stores. The board and its staff are also fielding questions about what's legal in this new world.

Consumers cannot possess more than one ounce of usable marijuana at a time.

Driving while high is still illegal. Anyone caught driving under the influence is subject to a DUI.

If you're worried about what your kids will see, know this: retail stores can't display marijuana or products in public view. You don't have to worry about someone dressed like a dancing pot leaf, luring you in from the street.

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Another warning in the face of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has placed a burn ban on all DNR-protected land east of the Cascades.

Starting July 1 and running until September 30, the burn ban applies to all forestland under DNR fire protection.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them and protects forests, habitat and property.”

So far this year DNR has already had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres across the state.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR forestland with two exceptions:

Recreational fires in approved fire pits

Gas or propane stoves and barbecue grills

Fireworks and incendiary devices like exploding targets, sky lanterns or tracer ammunition are also illegal.

Warning for campers at Lake Roosevelt 4th of July weekend

Warning for campers at Lake Roosevelt 4th of July weekend

If you're headed to Lake Roosevelt for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, the Washington Bureau of Reclamation wants to make sure your campsite stays high and dry.

They're advising people camping along the Lake Roosevelt shoreline to be aware of potential dangers that could exist due to rapidly rising lake levels. The lake is impounded by Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River about 90 miles west of Spokane.

“When camping along the shoreline, it is recommended that tents and other belongings be kept well away from the water's edge,” said Public Affairs Officer Lynne Brougher. “Although the lake is a popular vacation spot, it is also a working reservoir that supplies water for hydroelectric facilities at Grand Coulee Dam which can result in rapid fluctuations.”

Brougher says campsites that are too close to the water's edge could potentially become flooded and boats that are not properly anchored or secured could drift out into the lake and become a safety hazard.

WSU researchers create gel to keep fields healthy during drought

WSU researchers create gel to keep fields healthy during drought

Washington State University researchers have created a product that could help farmers keep their fields moist during a drought.

Led by Associate Professor Jinwen Zhang, the group created hydrogel pellets similar to the super absorbent material used in diapers. The main difference is what they're made of. While diapers rely on petrolium based gel, WSU researchers have created one out of soy protein.

The pellets swell to hold 250 times their weight in water, and because they are made of biodegradable agricultural material instead of chemicals they leave no residue behind when they disintegrate in the ground. In fact, the soy protein can actually act as a source of nitrogen to help plants grow.

A soy-based product would also lessen dependence on foreign oil imports, and boos the local economy since the U.S. Produces half of the world supply of soy beans.

State begins 'Drive High Get A DUI' campaign

With recreational marijuana stores set to open early July, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is sending a message to motorists that if you drive high you'll get a DUI.

The WTSC is sending that message using some subtle humor by airing three television commercials produced by the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado being the first state to legalize marijuana. The goal is to combat high driving and the commercials play off some stereotypes.

One of the three commercials plays off the stereotype, if you're high you might not be as good at basketball as you think you are. The commercial starts with a guy getting ready to shoot a free throw. He takes so long that his friends are starting to look put out. The caption on the screen reads, 'Playing ball high is no legal.' The commercial ends with the caption, 'Driving to see the pros play afterwards isn't.' But the ultimate message here is, 'Drive high. Get a DUI.'

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

A state-sponsored survey of Washington employers shows both hiring and job vacancies increased between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013 and employers say it's taking a lot longer to fill the openings.

The Employment Security Department’s “2013 Fall Job-Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report” estimated job vacancies increased by 23 percent to 86,600 in fall 2013. Estimated hiring rose nearly 10 percent to 209,100.

Employers also reported that vacant positions remained open for more than two months before being filled. That's a striking contrast to the rate of just 19 days in 2012.

The report also shows more than half of the state's job vacancies were in urban areas of Western Washington, accounting for nearly 82 percent of all new hires from July to September last year.

The industry sector with the most job openings was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and the average estimated hourly wage for $13.69.