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Upswing in DUI arrests since legalization of marijuana

While people driving high have always been a concern, it's even more so now that legal weed is so accessible. The Washington Transportation Safety Commission is going to extra lengths to inform people that driving high is a crime.

"Our deputies are actually seeing an increase in drivers under the influence of marijuana," Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick VanLeuven said.

He said that it's been a busy year for his officers in the Spokane Valley. Only eight months in and already there's been 37 DUI arrests for marijuana impairment. That number is getting ready to exceed the 44 arrests seen in 2013 and is triumphing over the 17 in 2012.

"People that think that smoking marijuana is legal, they need to understand that they cannot do that and drive," VanLeuven said.

To bring marijuana related DUI's down, officers statewide are being trained to recognize drivers under the influence and get them off the road. Drug Recognition Experts go through a two week classroom and skill training program that covers seven drug categories and the signs and symptoms.

Brush fire burns RV, triggers evacuations near Eloika Lake

Brush fire burns RV, triggers evacuations near Eloika Lake

Fire crews have a line around a brush fire that started around 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon near Eloika Lake.

The fire, located near the intersection of W. Bridges Road and N. Division Road, has been stopped at approximately 25 acres. Crews battling the fire on the ground were supported by four tanker aircraft dropping water and retardant to slow the fire's spread.

Officials with the Spokane County Fire District 4 originally thought that one mobile home was destroyed, but it was actually an RV. Five other outbuildings were destroyed, as well as a couple cars and a horse trailer. There were no injuries reported.

As winds pushed the fire to the north, several homes near the fire lines were evacuated as a precaution. The only residents who are still evacuated, are those with active flames in their yards.

A crew will stay overnight to monitor the fire.

Officials think that the fire was sparked by a downed power line on W. Bridges Road.

"It was witnessed that a power line came down and the fire started," Captain Megan Hill with Spokane County Fire District 4 said. "So it's under investigation to prove that was right."

Appeals court rules against UP railroad

A federal appeals court has ruled against Union Pacific railroad in a case involving cleanup of mining pollution in Idaho's Silver Valley.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week reversed a lower court decision that had dismissed a lawsuit by Asarco against the railroad, and the case is now headed to trial.

Asarco wants the railroad to pay some of the costs of cleaning up mining pollution in the Superfund site in the Silver Valley. Asarco has already paid $480 million to help clean up a century of mining pollution.

Union Pacific constructed rail lines to haul silver and other metals across the Silver Valley.

The railroad contended that a settlement agreement with Asarco had resolved the issue. But the appeals court found that the agreement was ambiguous.

Marshals hunting felon who fled Spokane halfway house

Marshals hunting felon who fled Spokane halfway house

US Marshals are searching for a convicted felon who walked away from a Spokane halfway house after he was released from federal prison.

Merced Jose Zamora was a large scale methamphetamine dealer who was wrapping up a 13 year sentence when he escaped a re-entry center near the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds.

Zamora was months away from being a totally free man but early Monday morning around 1:30 he left his halfway house. That facility is run by a private company that has a contract with the federal government to house and prepare ex-cons for a legal and productive life back in society.

Even though Zamora was convicted of multiple methamphetamine deals in Wyoming he was released to Spokane because he has family here.

Now marshals are looking for him and Deputy US Marshal Bob Doty said Zamora, 33, has a very unique tattoo on his neck that should make him east to spot.

Upcoming construction closing access to airport

Upcoming construction closing access to airport

The contractor working on the Highway 2/Spokane Airport interchange has adjusted their schedule and issued a revised plan for on and off-ramp closures while workers grind out old pavement and lay a new asphalt surface.

The full closures are limited to single-lane ramp sections where the roadway will be blocked during the work. The most intense work will be scheduled during hours when traffic counts are lowest.

During the following days and hours, single-lane segments of on and off ramps leading to and from Spokane International Airport on Highway 2 and Sunset Highway will be fully closed. Signed detours will direct drivers to and from Spokane International Airport. Drivers should expect slow traffic, congestion and delays on the detour routes. Travelers are urged to allow plenty of extra time to reach their destinations during these periods to avoid missing flight connections.

There will be no work from 5 am Friday, August 29 until 7 pm Tuesday, September 2.


Spokane lab certified for marijuana testing

Anatek Labs, an environmental and industrial testing facility for over 20 years, has been certified as the first recreational marijuana testing lab in Spokane.

The lab will test the weed for potency, contaminants and moisture levels to ensure it complies with state mandated standards. Although the amount of pot needed for testing is very small, it is monitored every step of the way.

"There's a tracking system in the state so the customer has to login to a system, notify the state they're going to deliver samples. When we receive them we have to login to the system and say we've gotten them because we have to track them the entire time," says Anatek's Karice Scott.

Anatek is one of just two recreational marijuana testing facilities in eastern Washington. The other is in Yakima, so Scott expects their services will be in high demand.

"We've been getting phone calls right from the very beginning. Are you going to be a lab? Once we said yes the word goes around. We have customers that are just waiting to be able to come in," she adds.

Anatek says they hope to begin test tomorrow after all of the incoming product is reported.

Volunteers needed for SNAP ombudsman program

Volunteers needed for SNAP ombudsman program

SNAP is largely known for their services helping low-income individuals and families, but did you know they also offer a vital service for the elderly?

Lisa Petrie has been the regional Long Term Care Ombudsman for Eastern Washington since 1990, responsible for overseeing 284 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes across Spokane, Pend Oreille, Ferry, Stevens and Whitman counties.

“This population is so very vulnerable, and it's so hard for them to speak up for what they need. The ombudsman is that voice,” said Petrie. “The whole idea is to visit with residents and make sure that they have the quality of care and quality of life that they deserve. Residents have rights, and we make sure they know that.”

Petrie has 38 volunteers that all make weekly and monthly visits to facilities from Colville to Colfax, getting to know the staff and residents. From their official paperwork, the responsibilities of ombudsman include: