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Fungus, pests afflict Northwest's ponderosa pines

Foresters say pests and fungal infections are afflicting the region's ponderosa pines, and while they seldom kill the trees, they do worry landowners.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the unsightly appearance of the trees is being caused by fungal infections and tiny insects called pine scale that thrive during cool, moist conditions. Pine scale can look like paint spatters, while fungi are identified by black or brown splotches on the needles.

Steve McConnell, a Washington State University Extension forester in Spokane, says he's getting two to three calls per day from panicky landowners. But he says that if trees are otherwise healthy, they should recover no problem.

State Department of Natural Resources officer Guy Gifford says the outbreaks are typically not so widespread. This year, he's seeing acres of affected trees, and he says that is unusual.

Pest control companies go to war against yellow jackets

Pest control companies go to war against yellow jackets

Prime Pest Control went to battle in the Wandermere area Friday afternoon with chemicals, a backpack, and a spray gun. The battleground was the eaves and cracks of the home. The enemy: Yellow jackets.

Paul Nibarger and Lance Freeman with Prime Pest Control are already receiving hundreds of calls to attack yellow jackets, hornets, and paper wasps. Experts say it's the best time of year to cripple these pests' forces, before they build their army.

"Then if they land on our treatment and we kill one of them, that's one less hive we have to deal with later," Nibarger said.

Nibarger's been battling yellow jackets for 12 years. Last year was the worst he's seen. Because there were so many, it increases the chances those queens made it through the winter. It means this summer could be just as bad.

"Last year was an incredible year, so we'll see if it compares with last year but we're definitely getting a lot of calls," Nibarger said.

Multiple pest control companies say it's a little earlier than usual to see this many yellow jackets flying around.

It's why Nibarger and Freeman will keep moving pushing forward, to the next battleground.

Athletes shine at 13th annual Developmental Olympics

Athletes shine at 13th annual Developmental Olympics

As temperatures soared into the 80s Thursday a special group of kids from the Mead School District got their shining moment on the track during the 13th annual Developmental Olympics.

The Olympics hit Mead High School Thursday, where 105 athletes participated and everyone got a ribbon for their effort. They were also cheered and encouraged on by sophomore Tatum Eames, the ultimate cheerleader leading the bowling station at the district's Developmental Olympics.

"It's so awesome, I was really excited, I couldn't sleep last night because I was really just pumped to be out here with all the kids," Eames said.

Dressed in jerseys with their numbers pinned on, these kids spend the morning moving through different stations and competing in various events.

"For the parents, you see a lot of emotion out here because they don't get to see all the things their students can do necessarily, what they see is the struggles, the daily struggles," Lindy Terry with the Mead School District said.

Thursday wasn't about struggles. It was about succeeding, about trying your best.

Orlison canning Pilsner 37 in support of Team Gleason

Orlison canning Pilsner 37 in support of Team Gleason

It's a big day for Orlison Brewing and Team Gleason, Steve Gleason's ALS foundation as the Airway Heights brewing company unveils its new beer that will help raise money for the non-profit organization.

It's a little hectic at Orlison Brewing, as it always is for canning date, but the guys at the brewery are especially proud of their latest batch of Pilsner 37. It's already been in area bars, but now that it's being canned it opens them up to an entirely new market and it's also great exposure for Team Gleason

Orlison couldn't be happier to be a part of Steve Gleason's foundation. They get some great exposure for a new product and, "it also gives the Gleason Foundation additional revenue from the sales of this so it is a good partnership, we make a good team together," brewmaster Bernie Duenwald said.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of Pilsner 37 go directly to Team Gleason so Orlison hopes the beer sells well.

From Seattle to Clayton, marijuana stores getting ready to open

From Seattle to Clayton, marijuana stores getting ready to open

Each day Washington grows closer to legal marijuana sales and some business owners are now setting up shop as the liquor control board pushes forward with its investigations.

The success of potential pot store Savage THC in Clayton could all depend on traffic. Not trafficking but traffic on Highway 395, which connects Spokane to Canada.

"I'm trying to suck in the Canadian visitors by telling them it's only 138 clicks (kilometers)," owner Scott Dekay said.

Dekay is currently building the infrastructure for his pot business.

"I'm thinking like a bank style window, maybe with bars or plexiglass, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet," he said.

Dekay is excited since receiving this letter from the liquor control board stating his application is moving forward.

"My daughter is here for a visit, I don't see her very often, and I just told her, 'This is the best day of my life since you were born,'" he said.

If he passes a background check and financial investigation he could be awarded a license, but there's still a lot of work to do. Counters, signs, security cameras, everything built to the specifications he presented in his application.

Inslee stops release of inmate who nearly killed Richland police officer

Inslee stops release of inmate who nearly killed Richland police officer

A man who stabbed a Richland police officer seven times and then shot him twice nearly 32-years-ago will remain behind bars.

Jerry Lain, who has been jailed for the last three decades, was up for parole in 2010 but then-Governor Christine Gregoire exercised a rarely used executive power stopping his parole. Now Governor Jay Inslee has done the same.

In 1982 Lain, 56, was on the run from parole in Iowa. He was caught prowling cars in Richland by Police Officer Mike Fitzpatrick. Initially Lain told Fitzpatrick to shoot him but when the officer got close enough Lain stabbed him multiple times then shot him twice using the officer's own gun.

Fitzpatrick survived the assault and Lain was given a maximum sentence of life in prison. Lain was eligible for parole in 2010 and then again in 2014 and both times his release has been stopped, first by Gregoire and now by Inslee.

State Representative Kevin Parker, who has been working with the Fitzpatricks to block Lain's release, said it was the right choice.

VA Medical Center undergoing inspector general audit

VA Medical Center undergoing inspector general audit

The Spokane Veteran Affairs Medical Center is being audited by the VA Inspector General's office in the wake of accusations leveled against the VA hospital in Phoenix of a secret waiting list and delayed response times.

151 VA hospitals are being audited across the country in the wake of the allegations made in Phoenix.

Auditors are specifically looking at patient scheduling practices and the result of those audits being conducted in Spokane and across the country would be released for several weeks.

This audit comes on the heels of revelations that the Phoenix VA hospital had a secret list for veterans waiting for health care. A list of around 1,600 names was designed to disguise how long veterans were actually waiting to be treated.

Reports say 40 veterans died while waiting on that secret list in Phoenix.

The director of the VA hospital in Phoenix, Sharon Helman has been placed on administrative leave.

Helman previously was the director of the Spokane VA Medical Center in 2007 and 2008 and was later transferred to a VA hospital in the Chicago area.