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Avista thanks customers, employees for patience and hard work after storm

Avista thanks customers, employees for patience and hard work after storm

Avista released a big thank-you today to all their customers impacted by last Wednesday's wind storm for their patience during repairs, and to their crews for working non-stop to get everyone back online.

Avista says last week's storm caused the worst damage to their system since a massive ice storm in 1996, nearly 20 years ago. This time around it took nearly 96 hours to restore power to the nearly 40,000 customers left without.

Now that all the power is back on, Avista is getting a better look at the damage. Preliminary numbers show that more than 120 poles had to be replaced after high winds toppled trees onto power lines and snapped poles. That's double their initial estimate.

Dispatchers worked around the clock to prioritize work and dispatch crews to areas of highest need, organizing nearly 14,000 outage reports from customers.

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Thanks to a boost in June, Washington's unemployment numbers have dropped to their lowest levels in six years to 5.8 percent – that's according to the state's Employment Security Department.

Industry sectors saw the largest growth with 2,600 jobs. Retail grew by 2,200, leisure and hospitality by 1,900 and wholesale trade by 1,400. Professional and business services, information, manufacturing, financial services and mining also saw growth in the hundreds.

“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “The state's economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good.”

During the one-year period ending in June, Employment Security estimates that employers created 84,700 jobs.

Lewiston man becomes youngest ever Idaho State Trooper

Lewiston man becomes youngest ever Idaho State Trooper

A 21-year-old Lewiston man is one of the youngest to ever become an Idaho State Police Trooper. After 14 weeks of intense training, Brady Walker was one of 15 new troopers who were commissioned during a ceremony Friday for the Advanced Training Class in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Zachary Nichols of Grangeville was also among the newly-commissioned troopers. Both men are assigned to District 2, which is located in Lewiston.

The newly commissioned troopers will now work in their districts to complete a field training program that lasts approximately 12 weeks. During this stage the new troopers will work with a series of experienced troopers who will teach, evaluate, and document each of them in an on-the-job setting, ISP says.

Twelve of the troopers graduating completed the 10-week Peace Officer Standards Training (POST) Basic Patrol Academy just prior to attending ATC. Three of the troopers joined ISP after working for another law enforcement agency.

A first-timers guide to legal recreational marijuana

A first-timers guide to legal recreational marijuana

Legal marijuana sales kicked off Tuesday across Washington, including at one of three confirmed stores here in Spokane, with enthusiasts in line hours before opening.

But what about the curious among us who have never taken a puff in our lives, but are ready to give it a try now that it's legal and easily accessible?

“It can be a little alien if it's their first time,” said Green Leaf customer service representative Chad Welsh. “To walk in here and think 'What are these devices?' and 'What is your product all about?'”

A big part of Chad's job is to help guide first-timers through the experience, with tips on the product, how to smoke and what to smoke with. I also spoke with Daniel Wendling, general manager at Piece of Mind and assistant manager at the licensed pot shop Satori just next door, and put together a how-to of sorts for the first time smoker.

 

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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.

Local Idaho schools to receive grant funding for technology programs

Local Idaho schools to receive grant funding for technology programs

Fifteen Idaho schools will receive part of a $3 million technology grant, according to State Superintendent Tom Luna, four of them right here in the inland northwest.

The goal is for the schools to pilot innovative technologies that, if successful, can be duplicated in schools across the state to give teachers the tools they need to help raise academic achievement.

Currently Idaho has the lowest rate of high school graduates heading directly to college, at just over 45 percent. A study also found that over 60 percent of fourth grade students are not proficient in math and reading.

The Idaho State Department of Education reviewed applications from 99 schools across the state, totaling over $26 million in requests for grant funding. The applications covered a broad cross section of schools, made up of varying grade levels, demographics and regions of the state.