State 4A Fastpitch Softball Starting Friday

The 2011 State High School 4A Fastpitch Softball Championships will be held in Spokane at Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.  Games start Friday at 10am and conclude Saturday with the Championship Game at 3pm.  Ticket Prices range from 7 to 9 dollars for All Day and 10 to 15 dollars for All Tournament Games.  Pets are not permitted.

Medical Lake Soldier Killed in Iraq

A 37-year old soldier from Medical Lake was killed over the weekend, fighting in Operation New Dawn in Iraq.The Department of Defense confirmed today that Sfc. Clifford Beattie died in Baghdad when enemy forces used an IED to attack his unit. Another soldier was also killed in the attack.Beattie is a 1992 graduate of Medical Lake High School. His family says he joined the military soon after. He leaves behind a wife at their base in Ft. Riley, Kansas. He also has two children from a previous marriage who live in Yelm, WA.

Recent City of Spokane Police AIM Reports

The City of Spokane Police Department has released information regarding the first 16 weeks of 2011 to determine how close they are to reaching their goals of reducing vehicle theft, vehicle prowling and burglary by 10%. The data is then compared to their 2010 data for January until the end of April. According to a recent update they posted on Facebook, all categories except commercial burglary are lower at this point in the year. They are exceeding the 10% reduction goal in both residential burglary and vehicle theft.For the week of April 27th to May 4th, the Department announced that there were clusters of activity in Lincoln Heights, Nevada/Lidgerwood and Cannon Hill neighborhoods. Specifically a handful of garage burglaries at north side apartment complexes as well as residential burglaries in West Central and Lidgerwood areas. However, vehicle thefts is down from the previous month's average. There were only 29 vehicle thefts during that week.

Shaw Middle School Students Watch 57 People Become U.S. Citizens

The United States of America has 57 new citizens today and all of them live in the Pacific Northwest.The new Americans took the oath and said the Pledge of Allegiance at Shaw Middle School in East Spokane this morning.Jacqui Gilbert from England says, "I'm really excited to be part of the community with my citizenship and my husband and I can go home and I don't have any restrictions on me now."

Equine Herpes Postpones Pullman's Lipizzaner Stallions Show

The Lipizzaner Stallions show in Spokane on June 4th is still on, but the one down in Pullman has been postponed due to the equine herpes virus breakout. It was scheduled for June 2nd at Beasley Coliseum, but because of the quarantine, it has been canceled and rescheduled at a later date.There has been no talk from the Spokane Arena about canceling their event. According to their ticket office, it will go on as planned.

[Infographic] Spokane iPhone Users

Here's a surprising infographic. According to this data provided by Trulia, we learn a couple things. The iPhone dominates the mobile market. Chicago, Illinois is the top city for mobile activity. But wait, there's more. Spokane is the top city in the country for iPhone users.Do you own an Android or iPhone? And why?

Just Call Me Balloon Guy

He wouldn't tell me his real name. "Just call me the Balloon Guy," he said. "How old are you? " I asked. "Does it really matter,"said the bearded gentlemen with a funny hat and handful of balloons.Year after year "The Balloon Guy" shows up to Riverfront Park right next to the fountain to create magically shaped balloons that bring enchantment to kids faces and Saturday was no exception. "I do it for the smiles on their faces. Now you understand. It's pretty simple,"said Balloon Guy.He shows up 7 days a week during the Spring and Summer... rain or shine. During the winter he entertains at birthday parties across the Inland Northwest. "This is a lot more fun. I like birthday parties but this is great to be outside," said Balloon Guy.

Gonzaga Prep Extends School Day

The idea of a longer school day might sound miserable to a lot of high school students.  But for students at Gonzaga Preparatory School, the new innovated schedule is welcome to kids trying to get a leg up on college course work.The Catholic, Jesuit school has announced plans to extend the school day by half an hour this fall, allowing students to take an additional academic, elective, or Advanced Placement course to earn college credit.Classes start at 7:45 in the morning and will run to 2:45 in the afternoon.  Tuesdays though, class will start at 9 to allow for faculty meetings.Gonzaga Prep's Principal Fr. Kevin Connell explains the reason for the change, saying "We understand the demands placed on college-bound high school students and we want to allow our students to build the broadest academic foundation possible. We believe our students and their parents and guardians will find significant educational value in this increase in instructional time and flexibility in class choice without increased tuition."95% of Prep graduates go onto college.  Almost 90% of those entering four-year universities.No tuition increase is associated with the longer school day.

WSU Sleep Researcher to Testify in Favor of Naps

The WSU Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center tells Congress Tuesday why air traffic controllers need more sleep.  Dr. Gregory Belenky is one of four experts who were asked to testify before the U.S. Senate Aviation Committee.  Recent reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job have brought this issue into the public's eye.  Belenky says naps may be the best way for air traffic controllers to battle fatigue.

An Idea For Dry Fly Distilling

Spokane is known for their lilacs. We're called the lilac city. We have a Lilac Festival. Manito Park has its own lilac garden. Imagine that familiar smell... now a imagine a  liqueur. A Seattle blogger has decided to make a lilac liqueur. As of now, it's sitting on the back of their shelf fermenting.

"Local Bike/Ped Safety Projects Receive Funding"

Many communities could see some updates to their pedestrian and bicycle safety projects funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation . It will still be a couple of years before the projects are built and completed but areas of the City of Spokane, Spokane County and Airway Heights will see a chunk of that cash. 

Comments Wanted On Spokane International Airport Master Plan

Spokane International Airport has a master plan to deal with a growing and developing city over the next 30 years and you're invited to come be a part of it.So, what is the airport master plan? It's a 30 year development plan that includes drawings of how the airport hopes to expand to keep up with increased passenger travel and flights. And administrators are looking for your two cents.Tomorrow, an open house is being held at the downtown Double Tree Hotel from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Don't worry about having to stick around for the entire three hours, you can just make a quick landing, take a look, comment and take off.

Sound Off This Week on Spokane School Budget Cuts

Spokane Public Schools is facing a $9M to $12M budget shortfall and wants public input on how to get the budget in-line with the money the district has to spend.The district is holding two workshops, one Monday night at Chase Middle School and the second Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Glover Middle School, where people will get worksheets to help try and figure out how to fix the budget.Each worksheet has a list of all the ideas the school board has for closing their up to $12M budget gap. The ideas range from 3-percent cuts to administrator salaries to getting rid of various extracurricular activities.

Seattle Is Grumbling About Their Farmers Markets

Plant starters, baked bread, morel mushrooms, baskets, etc. That's what you can find at farmers markets this time of year. According to this map created by the Liberty Lake Farmers Market in 2009, there are twelve farmers markets in our area. There could be more.On almost every day of the week, you can attend a local farmers market from North Spokane to Airway Heights. There are even more outside of the county in Northern Idaho ranging from Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint and more. North of Spokane County, you can find one in Davenport. No matter where you go, you can find a farmers market. That's practically one for each major community. Is that too many? The Seattle P-I says that people in Seattle are grumbling from way too many farmers markets. Last summer they had 19 total.

Spokane River Soccer Ball Watch of 2011

The Spokane River Soccer Ball Watch of 2011 continues! It was spotted last week (features video) surfing the waves of the river and it seems to have been stuck ever since. The picture above was taken last Friday during an afternoon walk. According to one of our readers, Mark Simonds, as of this afternoon,

"Verizon says Spokane's 4G service starts on June 16"

This is news to celebrate for Spokane-based Verizon customers. Remember that thing called 4G, where Verizon says that 4G LTE users should experience average data rates of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink? Yes, that sounds a little complicated. Translated to simpleton terms, it means speed! Cue the Tool Time man grunts. Well, it's coming to our area June 16th.

Everyone Is A Winner with The Armed Forces Torchlight Parade

Lilac Festival announces the winners for various awards. The  "Queens" award goes to Freeman. Princess Award is given to Manson-Apple Blossom. Presidents Award to Chewelah and the Grand Marshall Award is Puyallup-Daffodil Festival. Ritzville recieved the Community Seepstakes and non-commercial goes out to Stomp Out MS. The Parade was a huge hit and went very smoothly, the rain held off till the last float past by the finish.

Broken Water Main Creates Large Sinkhole

A 12-inch water main break at the intersection of N. Foothills and Perry flooded the roadway and has forced the city to shut down the intersection for the rest of the week in order to repair the damage.City crews say the cast iron main broke around 4 a.m. at North Foothills and Perry Street.The water was flowing slowly at first and gradually picked up speed and intensity, sending a river of debris down the street in all directions, including the city's nearby Water Department building.

The Meat You Eat

Have you ever wondered where your hamburger or chicken dinner came from? Or how the cow or chicken was raised before it made it to your table? A national animal rights group, Mercy For Animals hopes to answer those questions and inspire you to make more ethical choices when choosing the meat you eat. Mercy For Animals will be in Spokane on Wednesday, May 25th to expose what they call animal cruelty at factory farms across the country.

Body Found In River Identified As Missing Spokane Man

A body found in the river near the Nine Mile Boat Launch has been identified as Leighton Welch, a Spokane man who was reported missing in April.Welch, a Spokane Falls Community College student, disappeared March 28 and no one has seen or heard from him since. Welch's fiancée, Michonda Weaver, was talking to Welch on his cell phone when he mentioned something about a cliff and a dog and then she heard him scream.

"Council support for property tax boost dwindles"

During City Council's May 23rd meeting, they'll be discussing: "RES 11-43". The City of Spokane is proposing to increase the regular property tax levy to provide funding for police, fire and library operations. If approved, it would be added to the August primary election.