Spokane area continued upward trend in employment in 2019
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — State labor officials say an increasing population and a booming economy in 2019 again spurred employment growth around Spokane. The Washington State Employment Security Department says the region covering Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties saw more than 4,600 new jobs in 2019, surpassing that mark for the fifth consecutive year. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports gains in employment, wages, population and housing occurred as the U.S. economy grew for 126 continuous months since June 2009, the longest period of economic growth in history. An economist says the region could see up to a 1.5% increase in employment growth in 2020.
HIGHWAY WORKER KILLED
Crash kills Idaho Transportation Department employee
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Transportation Department says one of its employees died as he worked along U.S. Highway 20 in southeast Idaho. The Idaho Statesman reports 56-year-old Mark Reinke was killed Thursday when his backhoe was struck from behind by a semtractor about 5 miles outside of Arco. The semi was traveling west. Reinke was wearing a seat belt but was fatally injured. He died around 7 a.m. Reinke began working for the Idaho Transportation Department last summer. He is the 40th employee to die on the job since 1960.
Oregon governor calls for breaching 4 Snake River dams
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's governor is in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee this week, saying she believes it is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs. The Tri-City Herald reported the letter outraged Washington state’s three Republican U.S. House members, who want to keep the dams. The dams generate electricity, provide some irrigation and flood control and allow barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. But they are also blamed for killing salmon and steelhead that are migrating to the ocean or back to their spawning grounds.
US agency to pay for 11,000 miles of fuel breaks in 6 states
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to fund 11,000 miles of strategic fuel breaks in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah in an effort to help control wildfires. Fuel breaks are intended to create breaks in vegetation that slow a blaze’s progress and help protect firefighters, communities and natural resources. The Oregonian reported Saturday that wildfires are becoming bigger and more frequent across the Great Basin states. Between 2009 and 2018, more than 13.5 million acres of BLM land burned in the project area. Some scientists debate the effectiveness of fuel breaks, raising questions about whether these efforts are worth funding.
Livestock disease found in elk in Montana's Ruby Mountains
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State officials say the livestock disease brucellosis has been found in elk in southwestern Montana’s Ruby Mountains for the first time. It's the latest evidence that the disease that can cause animals to prematurely abort their young continues to slowly spread among wildlife. Two elk tested positive for exposure during recent testing by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The disease can infect cattle, bison, and elk. It’s been essentially eradicated in U.S. livestock herds but persists in wildlife populations in and around Yellowstone National Park.
PIZZUTO-DEATH ROW APPEAL
Death row inmate Gerald Pizzuto's appeals nearing legal end
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — One of Idaho’s death row inmates is nearing the end of his legal appeals and that could prompt prison officials to prepare for his execution before the end of the year. Gerald Pizzuto is one of eight people on Idaho’s death row. He was convicted in 1986 of murder for the 1985 beating deaths of Berta and Delbert Herndon, who were prospecting at a remote Idaho County cabin. Pizzuto's appeals at the federal circuit court level have been exhausted. His attorneys have until March 30 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up his case.