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Washington State News Archive

Below are archived news items for the current month. To view a previous month, choose it from the list below.

"Owl recovery proposal flawed, scientists say: Democrats to seek rewrite of document"--Spoaken Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) produced the Draft Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl in April, 2007. It was greeted with enough criticism that the FWS requested peer reviews of the Recovery Plan. These reviews continued the criticism of the Recovery Plan's use of science and its conclusions, especially that the barred owl was more of a threat to the northern spotted owl than loss of habitat due to logging and development. Other critics accuse political appointees in Washington, DC of changing the Recovery Plan because of their ties to industry. - 10/01/2007

"Plan orders 'rainy day' savings"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Gov. Gregoire is hoping voters will pass the legislature’s plan for a constitutional amendment that will place 1 percent of the state’s revenue into a savings fund. The fund would only be accessible to lawmakers in the case of an economic recession, natural disaster, or other emergency. After the fund equals 10 percent of the state revenue, the excess could be spent on education costs by a simple majority vote. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council says the state will have a large surplus of unreserved funds in the coming few years. - 10/01/2007

"Port gets grant for boat zone project"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Port of Bellingham’s Redevelopment Zone has received a state grant to develop high-speed, low-wake passenger ferries. The project will be done in conjunction with Western Washington University, Bellingham Technical College, and marine vessel firm All American Marine, and is open to other firms as well. The grant is part of the governor’s Innovative Partnership Zone program, meant to spur technological innovation in the state as well as job growth. The port expects to receive about $1 million from the state. - 10/02/2007

"Washington joins dispute to change health care rule"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington and New York are opening another front in the political battle over the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP provides state administered health insurance to low-income children with joint federal and state funding. The Department of Health and Human Services changed the rules for SCHIP in August. Now a state has to enroll 95% of the currently eligible children in SCHIP before it can expand coverage. Washington and New York are among the states arguing that the rule changes were improperly implemented. At the same time, Congress has voted to expand SCHIP funding and the President has threatened to veto the bill. - 10/02/2007

"Five lahar sirens fail during test"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
If the sirens don't work, maybe the rumble of impending doom will alert you to an oncoming lahar. The Pierce County Department of Emergency Management discovered that five of the sirens in the Mount Rainier lahar warning system didn't work during a drill yesterday. The sirens are supposed to warn people to use the lahar evacuation routes if part of Mount Rainier collapses and starts rolling over the lowlands. - 10/03/2007

"Tech centers will get funding: State grants promote innovation zones"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Biomedical research in Spokane and energy research in Pullman will benefit from grants given by the state to Innovative Partnership Zones. The Spokane project will use clusters of servers to create a supercomputer-like resource for biomedical researchers in the University District. The Green IT Alliance will focus on creating enery-efficient data centers. On October 2, the Tri-City Herald reprted that "Walla Walla to get $1M from state " for an Innovative Partnership Zone for agricultural research. The grants were authorized by the Legislature in the 2007 session and are distributed by the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development - 10/03/2007

"Study finds foster care shortfall"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A new national report shows that Washington ranks 39th in terms of the amount of remuneration foster parents receive from the state. State officials say that the numbers in the report don’t include other services foster parents might receive, such as school activities fees and occasional breaks. The state foster parent association and the Washington Federation of State Employees have pushed through legislation requiring the state to meet with them, and they hope to work toward making some foster parents state employees with salaries. - 10/04/2007

"This summer was driest on record in Cascades"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The eastern Cascades saw the least rainfall since 1912. One thing is uncertain, and another is certain: nobody knows if this is another sign of climate change, and the region dodged what could have been an ugly fire season. The lack of precipitation is reflected in archived National Weather Service records and water levels in the Yakima Irrigation Project. Fewer lightning storms than usual contributed to a less severe fire season than originally feared. - 10/04/2007

"Federal prosecutors ask U.S. Supreme Court to consider Ressam case"--Peninsula Daily News
The case of terrorist Ahmed Ressam may be scrutinized again in the U.S. Supreme Court. Ressam was charged with plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport in 1999, after attempting to enter the U.S. at the Port Angeles border crossing with a car full of explosives. The terrorist was sentenced to 22 years in prison, which prosecutors are saying is not enough jail time for the crime committed. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals threw out one of the charges brought against Ressam, but the Justice Department fears that the decision was too lenient and will have a negative bearing on the ability to prosecute future terrorism cases. - 10/05/2007

"Waste pesticide collections reach 2 million pound mark"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture's Waste Pesticide Identification and Disposal Program has collected over 2 million pounds of pesticides from farms and households. Pesticide use is also an urban issue. Because of the health and environmental issues involving pesticides, there are strict state and national laws about their use and disposal. Pesticide related illnesses are investigated by the Department of Health. - 10/05/2007

"WSUV gets innovation name, but no money"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Washington State University Vancouver is proud to be named as a partner in one of the innovation partnership zones authorized by the state legislature. It would have been even happier to be one of the new zones that's getting start-up money. WSUV is a partner in the zone with the Columbia River Economic Development Council. It sees being named an innovation zone as leverage for future funding. The innovation partnership zones are planned to create local clusters of economic development and growth. - 10/08/2007

"Man gets first orca safety ticket"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A local ordinance passed in San Juan County was put into practice for the first time with the ticketing of a speed-boater for driving too fast near two orca whales. The ordinance is meant to remedy reckless boater behavior in the whales’ habitat in and around the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. The National Marine Fisheries Service says that orca whales in the J, K, and L pods are in danger of becoming extinct and has put them on the endangered species list. The new law bars people from feeding the killer whales, from approaching them within 100 yards, and from traveling at unsafe speeds within 400 yards. - 10/08/2007

"Attorneys attack state patrol lab at hearing"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Mistakes made by the state’s toxicology laboratory could mean overturning 40 drunken driving cases in the state. Earlier this year, the lab manager resigned when she was accused of certifying solutions for breath-analysis machines without personally testing them. Then a mathematical error was found in a spreadsheet used to calculate blood alcohol. So far, the mistakes have led to 36 suspended licenses being returned. Washington DUI laws allow people accused of drunk driving to contest their license suspensions, and the mistakes made by the lab may have an impact on appeals throughout the state. - 10/09/2007

"Federal plan to save fish released: Habitat degradation a common threat"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) The last 150 years have not been kind to the salmon runs on the upper Columbia River; gone are the days of harvesting salmon at Kettle Falls. Dams blocked fish runs and drowned Kettle Falls. Development, agriculture, and logging destroyed fish habitat. The National Marine Fisheries Service has released a recovery plan for steelhead and spring Chinook salmon from below Wenatchee to the Canadian border. It also covers bull trout, a threatened species. The plan was developed with considerable public input. - 10/10/2007

"How new flood maps might affect you"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The new FEMA 100-year flood maps have been issued for Pierce County, which could affect thousands of property- and home-owners. The maps show areas that are prone to flooding, which fluctuate periodically. The floodplain maps can affect local building ordinances as well as flood insurance premiums and property values. Property-owners who are now shown to live in a floodplain can appeal FEMA’s conclusion, but must submit their request with technical, scientific information explaining why their property is not located in a floodplain. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will hold three public meetings in Pierce County to explain the new maps and gather input. - 10/10/2007

"No quick answers in plane crash"--Seattle Times
The National Transportation Safety Board will begin an investigation into what caused the Cessna 208 Grand Caravan plane crash in the central Cascades on October 7. The investigation of the plane itself will be handled by the NTSB’s northwest regional office, while the central office in Washington, D.C. will look into weather conditions and examine air-traffic radar records. Officials say it could be months or years before the cause of the crash can be determined. In a safety recommendation letter written in 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a series of recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding operation of Cessna 208 planes in icing conditions. - 10/11/2007

"Bonneville cleanup targets 'hot spots'"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Getting rid of old equipment used to be so much simplier--you just dump it in river. That's how employees at Bonneville Dam disposed of three electrical capacitors in 1969. In those simplier days the workers didn't think about the PCBs in each of the capacitors. Now cleaning up the PCBs in the river and an adjoining landfill is a major project. PCB concentrations are a major concern in the lower Columbia River; some of the local crayfish have such high PCB concentrations that they're considered hazardous waste. - 10/11/2007

"Gang sweep exaggerated: ATF greatly overstated number of arrests"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) Sometimes the numbers cited in press releases aren't very accurate. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the multi-agency Spokane Gang Enforcement Team performed a three day sweep of gang members in late September. The ATF announced in a press release that 77 gang members were arrested. An investigation by the Spokesman-Review showed that only 35 people were jailed and most had been released. Some were not associated with gangs. People in Spokane and the ATF are vague about how the numbers became exaggerated. The numbers have been quoted by candidates in the Spokane mayor's race. - 10/12/2007

"Regional transit fight heats up"--Everett Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Proponents and foes of Proposition 1 debated the pros and cons of the upcoming ballot measure in Everett. Opponents say the measure doesn’t do enough for the amount of money it will cost—some figures claim the figure will be as high as $157 billion, while the official figure is $17.8 billion. Those in favor of the measure, which is proposed by Sound Transit and the Regional Transportation Investment District, argue that the light rail infrastructure and highway improvements that will be funded by Prop. 1 are vital to easing traffic congestion in the south central Puget Sound region. Voters in Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties will be asked to approve the measure this November. - 10/12/2007

"Cancer rates dropping fast"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The annual Report to the Nation on cancer shows that death rates dropped about 2.1 percent a year between the years 2002 and 2004. Gains in fighting colorectal cancer were lauded for a large percentage of the decrease—scientists saw a 5 percent mortality decrease in men and a 4.5 percent decrease in women for that particular cancer. Breast cancer diagnoses were down 3.5 percent per year, the report said. The report also showed that cancer mortality is decreasing slightly faster among men than among women. - 10/15/2007

"Congress OKs new rules for compensation payments for Hanford workers"--Pasco Tricity Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety has been allowed to ease compensation rules for early Hanford workers who may have developed cancer because of their exposure to radiation at the facility. Previously, workers who asked for the $150,000 compensation needed to prove that there was at least a 50 percent chance that their cancer had been caused by their work at Hanford, but the new rules recognize that early workers were not being reliably monitored for exposure when the plant was run by DuPont. The new rules will apply to workers or their survivors who worked in certain areas of the plant from 1943 to 1946. - 10/16/2007

"Social security going up by 2.3 percent"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Social Security Administration announced that the smallest increase in four years, at 2.3 percent, will be added to monthly social security benefits in 2008. The cost-of-living increase is based on the consumer price index from July through September of each year. The Senior Citizens League says that the cost of living increase is lower this year than it has been in previous years due to a decrease in the price of oil during those months. However, the senior citizens advocacy group claims that the consumer price index doesn’t take into account the rising costs of goods and services that seniors spend the most money on: medication, Medicare, and food. Also, the cost of oil has risen in October, occurring too late in the year to be calculated into the cost-of-living increase. - 10/17/2007

"Deadly superbug is here – why isn’t it tracked?"--Seattle Times
A pathogen that causes staff infections, nicknamed MRSA, appears to be growing stronger and more resistant to treatment. A recent study shows that on average, more people in this country are killed by the bug than die of AIDS. However, the Center for Disease Control has yet to require tracking and reporting of infections caused by MRSA, which some in the health care field are decrying. The Pierce County health department is leading the way in this respect; they’ve been voluntarily tracking MRSA cases for years. But the state department of health says that preventing and treating the cases are more important than tracking their numbers, and that there may not be enough resources to effectively do both. - 10/18/2007

"PDC wants court to clarify ruling"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Public Disclosure Commission is asking for clarification of the state Supreme Court’s decision that ruled that false statements made by candidates during a campaign are protected free speech. The PDC wants to know if defamation can still be used as a way to prevent and prosecute political lying. The commission says the decision is unclear on that matter, but that defamation of character would be the only remaining piece of the law about political lying that the commission might be able to implement in order to keep candidates from slandering their opponents. - 10/19/2007

"Hospital errors no longer public"--Spokane spokesman-Review
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) Hospitals have privacy issues, too. The Office of Health Care Surveywill no longer release information on serious, preventable medical errors that identify the hospital where the mistakes happened. This change in reporting was sought by the Washington State Hospital Association. The Association based this request on a close reading of a 2006 law that made these reports confidential. - 10/19/2007

"Septic plan prompts worries"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A site near Carbonado,/a> in Pierce County may be the future home of commercial septage spraying. Northwest Cascade, Inc. is applying for permits to spray as much as 6 million gallons a year of partially-treated sewage onto 1,300 acres. The company says that the application of “biosolids” as a fertilizer has been proven safe, but some concerns remain regarding the impact of heavy metals on plants. Pierce County has said that the spraying will not pose a threat and has not called for an environmental impact study. Northwest Cascade has been researching the spraying techniques and environmental ramifications for the past two years. - 10/22/2007

"Mattawa police hire translators"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The small town of Mattawa in central Washington pays translators $30 an hour for police work and has submitted a plan formalizing the policy to the Department of Justice. Most of the town's population is Hispanic, and most speak Spanish at home. A lawsuit was filed with the Department of Justice over the need for translators to aid police working with many of the residents. The Department of Justice has programs for law enforcement working with "limited English communities". These programs were spurred on by Executive Order 13166. - 10/21/2007

"Fishermen sue state over chum changes"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle gillnetters are suing the state over changes made to the chum salmon fishing season that they say disadvantage them in the fresh fish market. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has reduced the number of days gillnetters can fish in local waters by about 20 percent this year. State officials say they are trying to find a balance in the market for both gillnetters and larger “purse seine” fishing boats; formerly, the state had increased the season for gillnetters, but their share of the market increased more than expected, so the state reduced it this year. Now, gillnetters are not allowed to fish for chum on Thursdays or Fridays, which the fishermen say hurts their weekend business. - 10/23/2007

"Murray rips program for ill workers"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Senator Patty Murray criticized the handling of claims under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). She was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee (a video of the hearing is available--the hearing starts at 17 minutes into videocast). The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) administers this program. It pays benefits to workers who were exposed to radiation or toxic substances while employed at nuclear weapon programs. The criticism is based on the long delays in paying benefits to Hanford workers who were exposed to radiation in the 1940s. Elderly people suffering from radiation exposure don't have the luxury of patience; often the most they can hope for is that their survivors will get some benefits. - 10/24/2007

"Satellites eye Peninsula to help manage its water"--Peninsula Daily News
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim are helping NASA find new uses for its old satellites and satellite data. So far, the satellites in Sequim are helping to forecast snowmelt from the Olympic Mountains in a more accurate and detailed way than had been previously available. The NASA satellites are part of a grant program called Crosscutting Solutions, which aims to apply space technology and space science to programs here on Earth. - 10/24/2007

"$125,000 in pollution fines to help Duwamish salmon"--Seattle Times
The fines levied against Sound Transit in the process of building their “green” light-rail line from downtown Seattle to the SeaTac airport will go towards seven projects designed to help fish survive in the Duwamish. The Department of Ecology said that part of the pollution stemmed from runoff from concrete that hadn’t set properly and had flowed into the river, which could cause the salmon to suffocate. People for Puget Sound will oversee the projects, which will work to restore some of the salmon’s habitat along the river. - 10/25/2007

"Huge weir arrives at dam"-- Walla Walla Union-Bulletin - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
In an attempt to preserve salmon runs on the Snake River, the Army Corps of Engineers is installing a 2,000,000 pound weir on the Lower Monumental Dam. The effort to save the Sanke River salmon involves private organizations, Indian tribes, the states of Idaho and Washington, and various federal agencies. One proposal to save the salmon is breaching the dams, including Lower Monumental Dam, on the lower Snake River. Opponents question the value of breaching dams. By saving fish, the weir could save the dam. - 10/25/2007

"State hopes to collect millions from Asarco"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Mining company Asarco, which ran a Ruston smelter for nearly a century, owes the state millions in environmental damages for contaminating soil over a 1,000 square-mile area. The company has filed for bankruptcy, but the state could still see the money owed them if banks decide to buy out the state’s interest in the company. Washington’s claims total over $600 million, while the total pollution-related claims of state and federal governments and two tribes against the mining company comes in at $11 billion. Washington attorneys have asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to approve a fraction of the claim, $112 million, which will go towards contamination clean-up in the Ruston area. - 10/26/2007

"63 years later, Army exonerates black troops"--Seattle Times
Four of the 28 black soldiers convicted in the largest court-martial of World War II have been exonerated. The Ft. Lawton soldiers were found guilty of rioting and two were convicted of manslaughter in the hanging of an Italian prisoner of war in 1944. However, the Army Board of Review has reviewed the cases of four of the soldiers and found that their trial was unfair. The defense attorneys were not given access to the Army’s investigation documents, and were only given 10 days to prepare for the trial. As recompense, the Army will grant the four soldiers honorable discharges and backpay. It is thought likely that the other 24 soldiers will be exonerated if their families petition for it. - 10/27/2007

"Programs assist poor with winter heating bill"--Longview Daily news - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The weather's getting colder, and heating costs are expected to rise this winter. The Lower Columbia Community Action Program is helping low-income households cover their primary heating costs. The funding comes from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that distributes money to the states for this purpose. LIHEAP funding is manged by the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development on the state level. Community service organizations distribute the funding on the local level. This map shows you where to apply based on where you live. - 10/29/2007

"Tacoma schools dispute dropout numbers"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A study undertaken by Johns Hopkins University claims that five of Tacoma’s high schools are “drop-out factories.” The study says that only 60% of freshmen enrolled in the public high schools make it to graduation. The Tacoma superintendent and state officials dispute this figure, however, claiming that according to their numbers, the graduation rate for those high schools is actually 67.5%. They say that the Johns Hopkins numbers don’t take into account students who have moved, enrolled in private schools, or started home-schooling. The Johns Hopkins study and the state used different methodology to come up with their statistics, but either way, nearly one-third of freshmen entering Tacoma’s comprehensive high schools are not graduating. No Seattle high schools made the drop-out factory list. - 10/30/2007

"Many cities find Kyoto promises hard to keep"--Seattle Times
Although 28 Washington cities have signed a pledge to match Kyoto Treaty mandated emissions levels by 2012, most of them will not be able to live up to this goal. Overall, 630 cities have signed this pledge in order to pressure state and federal governments into taking more action against global warming. However, some cities haven’t even been able to measure their current emissions levels yet, which will make cutting levels back to below 1990 levels within five years more difficult. Also handicapping efforts is the fact that cutting back requires major changes in infrastructure and transportation, changes that often aren’t up to local governments. In addition, many cities will see their populations increase during this time period. Seattle and Portland have managed to cut back significantly, but challenges remain as population density climbs. - 10/31/2007

"Cost for replenishing water in Odessa aquifer could top $6 million (sic)"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Once the well runs dry it can cost a lot of money to refill it. Contrary to the typo in the headline, the Bureau of Reclamation estimates it would cost from $2 billion to $6 billion to replenish the Odessa aquifer in Central Washington. Ground water in the Odessa Subarea has been dropping by 7 feet per year, and some wells in this agricultural area are now over 2,000 feet deep. Proposed solutions involve drawing water from the Columbia River and diverting it through canals or to reservoirs in the area. Anywhere from 120,000 to 515,300 acre feet of water would be diverted (an acre foot equals 325,851 gallons). - 10/31/2007

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