Sunday, November 21, 1999

Century in Review

Through the years
A timeline of events that occurred in the Inland Northwest form 1976 to 1999

Compiled by
Kyp Graber

1976

Jan. 1 - Ten Eastern Washington farmers who couldn't sell cattle due to high DDT blood levels are suing the federal government for $260,000. The cattle were affected when the government sprayed DDT near the Colville Indian Reservation to combat an outbreak of tussock moths.
Jan. 3 - Joseph R. Garry, nationally known Indian leader and great-grandson of Chief Spokane Garry, is buried at DeSmet, Idaho.
April 16 - Spokane International Airport gets a bomb-sniffing dog following a long string of global airport terrorism.
May 12 - A local drug bust pulls cocaine worth $30,000 off Spokane's streets.
June 1 - Area banks report they've run out of the new $2 bills. More shipments of "deuces" are eagerly awaited.
July 2 - More than 10,000 North Idaho senior citizens are protesting Washington Water Power's latest energy rate hike. They ask for a rate reduction for those over age 65.
Oct. 1 - State and local Republicans have still not found a suitable candidate to run against Rep. Tom Foley. The GOP says it most likely will not find a replacement for Charles Kimball, killed Aug. 31 in a plane crash.
Oct. 1 - Sheriff's deputies are investigating yet another rape. A knife-wielding assailant hid in the back seat of the victim's vehicle and forced the 27-year-old woman to drive to the Valley, where he raped her. Fifteen other rapes have been reported since July 2.
Nov. 1 - Sheriff's officials have discovered razor blades in chocolate chip cookies given to Spokane Valley trick-or-treaters last night.
Dec. 30 - Visitors to Spokane in 1976 were big spenders. Tourism in the city raked in more than $50 million more than during 1974 and the world's fair. Increased convention spending alone created more than 200 new jobs.

1977

Feb. 1 - Gloria Morris downplays being one of Spokane's first black principals. Top administrator of Wilson Elementary School, Morris says children don't notice her color; they just care about her smile.
May 1 - From world-class runners to just plain joggers and walkers, 1,198 people finish Spokane's first Bloomsday race.
June 2 - Fewer than one in 20 of new Spokane homes built in 1976 were in the $25,000 and below price range, though every one found a buyer. This year, records show even fewer affordable homes will be built. Most houses constructed this year will sell for $40,000 to $100,000.
July 1 - The area's first state-certified health maintenance organization (HMO) opened today. The Maple Street Health Clinic is a prepaid group practice that organizes, finances and delivers comprehensive health and medical services for members who pay a monthly fee.
Oct. 17 - - Spokane native Bing Crosby dies at age 73 while playing golf in Spain. Crosby, who attended Gonzaga University, remained faithful to his Northwest roots despite the lure of Hollywood. He always called Spokane home.
Nov. 9 - Spokane has a new mayor, Ron Bair, who defeated Councilwoman Margaret J. Leonard by more than 5,000 votes.

1978

Jan. 2 - Washington state residents are being taxed to the moon - literally. If the $2.1 billion in taxes were converted into dollar bills and laid end to end, they would span the 198,863 miles to the moon.
Jan. 9 - The Sunshine Mine fire trial gets under way today. The May 2, 1972, fire trapped 91 miners some 3,700 feet in an underground tomb. This is the largest lawsuit in Idaho state history.
Feb. 1 - A new downtown fire station is in the works. Bids are $160,000 more than the architect's estimate.
May 5 - President Jimmy Carter dedicates Riverfront Park and praises the City Council for reclaiming the downtown area and revitalizing it. More than 50,000 attend the dedication ceremony.
July 1 - Although today is the first day that food was not taxed at Washington grocery stores, sales did not increase. The 5.1 percent sales tax on food was repealed in March by the state Legislature.

1979

Jan. 1 - Record lows have power companies worried about electrical demand. New Year's Eve temperatures dropped to 22 below, with no warming trend in sight. Intermittent power outages and broken water pipes are plaguing Spokane.
Jan. 2 - Four floors of the new $5 million Spokane County Public Health building flooded when frozen water pipes broke.
Jan. 5 - Publisher William H. Cowles 3rd announces plan to build a newspaper production plant across Monroe Street from The Spokesman-Review and Chronicle buildings.
Feb. 16 - Washington Water Power's net income drops sharply as record low temperatures and record high electrical usage forces the utility to buy power from outside its system.
Feb. 29 - Flames destroy the Wagner Bros. grain elevator in Lapwai, Idaho. More than $1 million in commodities was lost. The elevator was nearly full of peas, grain and chemicals.
April 2 - Jocelyn Eldridge, 20, is crowned Miss Black America of Spokane. Eldridge is a Whitworth College student.
May 1 - The fuel crunch hits the Inland Empire hard. Gasoline prices are climbing daily and have hit $1.20 per gallon.
June 4 - A Forest Service DC-3 carrying firefighters crashes near Grangeville, Idaho, killing all 10 aboard.
Sept. 1 - Twelve Spokane Texaco dealerships are awarded $2.5 million in a price discrimination suit against oil giant Texaco.
Oct. 3 - School District 81 officials say enrollment has dipped for the 10th straight year. Only 27,901 students showed up for school this fall.
Nov. 1 - The Spokane Transit Authority proposes a nickel fare hike. That puts a ride at 40 cents.

1980

Jan. 16 - Four Spokane gasoline stations begin selling gasohol.
March 5 - Congestion on the Monroe Street Bridge is prompting the city to consider a Lincoln Street bridge. The Maple Street Toll Bridge is not handling enough of the city's north-south traffic to lighten Monroe's load.
March 7 - Prime lending rate jumps to 18 percent. Spokane banks say the situation is "volatile."
April 18 - With interest rates in the midteens and the housing market stagnant, thousands of Spokane home builders are out of work. Construction is down 61 percent this year over last year. Show homes from 1979 are still on the market today.
May 18 - Mount St. Helens erupts, blanketing Eastern Washington in ash and turning day to night on "Ash Sunday." Schools and businesses close Monday in a state of emergency.
June 4 - An upturn in the wood products market has put two closed lumber mills back in business. Sandpoint millworkers reported to work this morning at Brand S Co. and W-I Forest Products Co. Nearly 200 men are now employed.
Sept. 13 - Bunker Hill Mining Co. is being sued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for its sterilization policy. The company was cited for "a corporate policy which required women employees to be sterilized in order to be eligible to work in areas of the plant where they would be exposed to lead." Lead exposure is linked to defects in children of mine workers.
Oct. 1 - The Secret Witness crime program is launched in Spokane. It has been instrumental in apprehending criminals in 40 other U.S. cities.

1981

Jan. 1 - Spokane, incorporated by act of the territorial legislature in 1881, celebrates its centennial.
Jan. 20 - A Cascades Airlines plane crashes upon descent into Spokane International Airport. All seven aboard are killed.
March 10 - Frederick "Kevin" Coe, 32, is arrested and charged with South Hill rapes. He is the son of Spokane Daily Chronicle Managing Editor Gordon Coe.
April 8 - Spokane's air quality ranks as the nation's fifth worst. The air in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tucson is worse.
June 29 - The Spokane Daily Chronicle celebrates its centennial. Spokane's oldest newspaper was first published June 29, 1881.
Aug. 1 - Defense attorneys for Frederick "Kevin" Coe, convicted two days ago of four counts of first-degree rape, asked that the verdict be set aside or a new trial be given. Public defenders Roger Gigler and Julie Twyford say Coe's rights were adversely affected in eight ways during his two-week trial. Prosecutor Donald Brockett says he remains convinced Coe is the South Hill rapist.
Sept. 10 - The wheat harvest is in and area farmers say it was a bumper crop. Most credit Mount St. Helens ash, still in many fields more than a year after the eruption, for providing nutrients and good moisture retention for growing crops.
Nov. 2 - Spokane's first kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Roger Fincher. Diana Poff, 32, received a kidney from her brother, Stanley Johnson, 31.
Nov. 3 - James Chase is elected Spokane's first black mayor. He is a longtime city councilman.
Nov. 20 - Ruth Coe, mother of convicted South Hill rapist Frederick "Kevin" Coe, has been arrested and charged with hiring a man, who she didn't know was an undercover police officer, to kill prosecutor Donald Brockett and Judge George Shields. She will retain attorney Carl Maxey.

1982


April 2 - The Salvation Army Thrift Store burns to the ground. The building was worth $150,000. Lost contents add up to another $100,000.
April 8 - Recent research shows that for all Spokane's efforts to clean up its air pollution problem, there has been little improvement. The city has paved the correct number of miles of road and is working on car pooling and bus usage, apparently to no avail.
May 29 - Ruth Coe, mother of convicted South Hill rapist Frederick "Kevin" Coe, is found guilty of soliciting a hit man to kill prosecutor Donald Brockett. Her 20-year prison sentence is suspended, but she will spend one year in jail and 10 years on probation.
Sept. 1 - KHQ-TV was fined $2,000 for defying a ban on the broadcast of tape recordings that were crucial evidence in Ruth Coe's murder-for-hire trial last spring. A judge felt airing the tapes might make Coe suicidal. The station is not appealing the fine.
Sept. 1 - Stevens County commissioners declined a request from the Ione Chamber of Commerce to switch the north end of Pend Oreille County to Stevens County. Folks up north hoped to secede due to lack of power in Pend Oreille County matters, where Newport is king.
Nov. 15 - Today marks the first day of the Washington State Lottery.
Dec. 15 - More than 30 Spokane County workers will be laid off to help erase a projected $2.6 million deficit in the 1983 budget. Another 45 job cuts are pending.

1983

Jan. 1 - The Spokane Indian Reservation unemployment rate hits 75 percent. Some places in Pend Oreille and Stevens counties report 25 percent joblessness.
Jan. 5 - The Environmental Protection Agency orders a vehicle inspection program in Spokane to reduce carbon monoxide levels.
Jan. 11 - A new survey shows rates for hospital beds in Spokane went up by 10 percent in 1982. A semiprivate room in any Spokane medical center starts at $180 per day.
Feb. 2 - Republic Airlines pulls out of Spokane, ending 36 years of air service to this area. Loss of landing fees and airport space rental could cause a budget deficit at the airport.
April 6 - Kaiser Aluminum announces it will reopen two potlines at the Mead smelting plant. That brings 180 people back to work.
April 11 - The mayor of Cheney has revoked the Aryan Nations' use of the town hall auditorium to spread its racist beliefs. The white supremacists were earlier barred from the Eastern Washington University campus.
July 20 - Spokane police officer Brian Orchard dies of massive head wounds after being shot while on duty July 18.

1984

Jan. 2 - A program through the University of Idaho is linking farmers with computer technology to help them in the business and crop-growing realms. Many farmers say they'll still rely on gut feelings "no matter what the computer says."
April 16 - An independent search team is combing the waters of Lake Pend Oreille for a large serpent. Reports from 34 and 12 years ago, coupled with recent sightings, have prompted divers with sonar to search the Northwest's deepest lake for the alleged 30-foot creature.
April 24 - Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce suggests merging EWU and WSU as a solution to the Spokane campus higher education debate.
Sept. 5 - Valley Medical Center celebrates its $15.5 million addition and renovation.
Oct. 1 - Nightwalk Ministries is hoping to help Spokane's down and out. The Rev. John Olson and a handful of other clergy are talking with prostitutes, drug addicts and the city's most pitiful cases to tell them of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Oct. 5 - Seattle Judge Robert Dixon is chosen to preside over Frederick "Kevin" Coe's retrial on rape charges. A Seattle jury will hear testimony. Coe was convicted in Spokane in 1981.
Oct. 30 - Lonnie Link is found guilty of aggravated first-degree murder of Spokane police officer Brian Orchard. He is sentenced to life behind bars.
Dec. 8 - Neo-Nazi Robert Mathews dies in a gun battle with the FBI on Whidbey Island. The shootout triggers a massive federal investigation of The Order, a white-supremacist group implicated in bank robberies and murders and having roots in the Aryan Nations movement. More than two dozen white supremacists eventually are convicted on racketeering charges.

1985

Jan. 3 - Three Northwest ag credit institutions are being liquidated. Milk River PCE, Western Montana PCE and Western Washington PCE suffered nearly $10 million in loan losses in 1984 alone.
March 1 - A fledgling traffic plan for a north-south freeway and two expressways in north Spokane was nixed by the Spokane Regional Council. The estimated cost of the project was $210 million.
March 19 - Calling himself the "Spokane scapegoat," Frederick "Kevin" Coe was sentenced in Seattle to life plus 55 years for his convictions as the "South Hill Rapist."
May 1 - "The Joy of Running," a sculptural work by David Govedare, is unveiled to the public today. Most citizens liked the Bloomsday-style sculpture at Post and Spokane Falls Boulevard.
July 24 - Potlatch Corp. closes Lewiston and Jaypee lumber mills, idling 1,300 Idaho workers.

1986

Jan. 1 - Spokane can look forward to a new mayor. Vicki McNeill will take over the top city position from James E. Chase, the city's first African-American mayor. The popular Chase has left a legacy, including the Chase Youth Commission, which promises to be a permanent part of city politics, bringing teenagers into the process to find solutions to local problems.
Jan. 2 - A grand opening is scheduled today for the new Coeur d'Alene Public Library. The former Louisiana-Pacific office has been transformed into a library the city can be proud of.
Jan. 13 - Batus Inc. announces that the three Crescent stores in Spokane are for sale. The Crescent employs 700 people and has been a major fixture downtown since the turn of the century.
May 1 - A full-page ad for The Coeur d'Alene Resort invites all to a guided tour of the shoreside hotel on May 4.
Sept. 29 - Three terrorist bomb blasts rumble through downtown Coeur d'Alene. The pipe bombs cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Nov. 10 - Shell service station owner and Kellogg City Councilman Wayne Ross is holding daily meetings on how to build a gondola from downtown Kellogg to Silverhorn ski area. Townsfolk believe the plan will work and have been remodeling Bavarian style in anticipation.

1987

Jan. 9 - Two Spokane women are missing in the Cascade foothills after a presumed plane crash. Lisa Brockett, daughter of Spokane County Prosecutor Donald Brockett, and her friend Christine Karstetter, daughter of Valley Fire Battalion Chief Dick Karstetter, are the targets of a massive search effort near Ellensburg.
March 13 - A KC-135 tanker practicing stunt maneuvers crashes at Fairchild Air Force Base, killing all seven aboard. A halt is called to the Strategic Air Command's program for bombers performing stunts.
July 8 - The town of Usk, Wash., is thrilled that a $300 million newsprint mill will be built nearby on the Pend Oreille River. The plant will provide 140 jobs in this economically depressed area.
July 15 - Fire rips through the Hangman Hills subdivision southwest of Spokane; 22 homes burn, and hundreds are evacuated.
Nov. 2 - The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring an expensive anti-fog device on Spokane's proposed trash incinerator. The device will add another $1.3 million to the $82 million plant and cut electric revenues from the steam plant by $200,000 annually.

1988

Jan. 6 - A land swap to give public ownership of both sides of the Spokane River between Argonne Road and the Idaho border is announced. This would pave the way to extend the Centennial Trial to Idaho.
Jan. 25 - Six-year-old Tricna Dawn Cloy is abducted from the bedroom of her home at Third and Thor. A citywide search is under way for the child, taken in the dead of night.
April 29 - The Crescent will soon be known as Frederick & Nelson. The Seattle chain has purchased the three Spokane stores and says it is making a major investment in Spokane.
May 1 - A record 53,106 runners finish the 12th annual Bloomsday.
June 1 - Sacred Heart Medical Center announces it will build a $14 million heart institute to offer the latest in cardiology and research.
June 10 - Skeletal remains of a small girl found in an Eighth and Havana gravel pit were identified as Tricna Dawn Cloy, 6.
Sept. 5 - Spokane Police Chief Terry Mangan has identified six known gang members and 15 gang "wannabees" in Spokane to date. Members of the Crips and Bloods have come to Spokane looking for an easy crack cocaine market and a place to hide from California police.
Oct. 24 - Confirming rampant rumors, Boeing announces it will build a new factory in Airway Heights employing up to 500.

1989

Jan. 30 - Gregory Allen Rowley is found guilty of the February 1987 murder of Spokesman-Review newspaper carrier David L. Ritchey. Rowley says he had been smoking marijuana and stumbled across Ritchey's body in the Rogers High School parking lot near his home. He testified he was too afraid to report his find. He will serve 46 years in prison.
April 7 - Locals are outraged at gasoline prices. Regular is selling for 96 cents per gallon, while unleaded is tagged at 98 cents.
June 1 - House Speaker Jim Wright announces his resignation, putting Rep. Tom Foley in the speaker position - and third in line for the presidency.
Sept. 1 - Investigators still don't know what caused the recent crash of a Heartflite helicopter. Patient Robert Lewis Adams and five Heartflite crew members were killed when their helicopter broke up and crashed in the woods north of Spokane.
Oct. 1 - More than 300 abortion protesters marched around Deaconess Medical Center today. Deaconess is the only local medical center where abortions are performed.
Oct. 2 - Sacred Heart Medical Center today canceled its United Way fund-raising campaign. The center and the Catholic Diocese of Spokane have withdrawn because the charity funds Planned Parenthood of Spokane and Whitman Counties.

1990

Jan. 1 - Washington state minimum wage raised to $4.25 and automobile insurance becomes mandatory.
Jan. 22 - Riverfront Park's historic Carrousel gets an $80,000 makeover, but the city decides not to install a sprinkler system, which could save the structure from fire.
Jan. 25 - Thomas Edward Maupin stands trial today for the abduction and murder of Tricna Dawn Cloy, 6, nearly two years ago. Family members testify Maupin was home sleeping when the girl was taken from her East Central neighborhood bedroom. Maupin eventually was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Feb. 1 - The Washington state Supreme Court rules that Virgil Howell cannot collect damages from Deaconess Medical Center and the local blood bank for AIDS-infected blood he received in a 1984 knee surgery. Liability on AIDS-infected blood went into effect in 1985.
May 20 - Whitworth College marks its 100th commencement.
July 2 - Spokane's first-ever Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament raises more than $25,000 for local charities. More than 500 teams take part.
Oct. 1 - Stevens County residents receive 911 emergency phone service.
Oct. 3 - Hecla Mining and Gulf Resources and Chemical Co. agree to plant trees on barren Silver Valley hillsides. The plan is to naturally clean soil contaminated by years of lead and zinc smelting.
Nov. 10 - Spokane native Julia Sweeney makes her comedic debut on "Saturday Night Live."

1991

Jan. 17 - Headlines scream "U.S. wins round 1" as the U.S. and its allies follow up devastating pre-dawn air strikes with daylong attacks on Saddam Hussein's Iraqi armies. Pentagon officials say the pause for peace is over. Fighting has begun. Crews from Fairchild Air Force Base are serving in the region.
Jan. 24 - Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington - barely. Numbers from the 1990 census show Spokane with 177,196 residents. Tacoma is only 532 people behind.
May 16 - Construction is quickening on Phase I of the Coeur d'Alene Factory Outlets in Post Falls. The first 12 stores should open in June.
May 22 - Spokane County announces plans to build a $17.9 million Argonne Road underpass. The road will be lowered 18 feet to carry bottlenecked traffic under Burlington Northern tracks.
July 2 - A study of electromagnetic radiation at Mullan Road Elementary suggests the school's fluorescent lights may be a worse problem than nearby KGA radio towers.
Sept. 10 - Home prices in Spokane jumped sharply this summer. A home selling for $60,155 in the spring costs $70,363 today.
Oct. 21 - Two West Central neighborhood girls were kidnapped while going to the store for candy. Rebecca West, 12, is still missing, but the body of Nicki Wood, 11, has been found under a pile of burning pine needles off Seven Mile and Pine Bluff roads. A massive search effort is under way for West.
Nov. 1 - Wheat prices soar to a 21-month high. Soft white is fetching $4.29 per bushel in Portland, pleasing area growers.
Nov. 25 - Deaconess Medical Center unveils its newly finished, $11 million birthing center to rave reviews.

1992

April 12 - Downtown is unusually quiet today as Frederick & Nelson closes its doors. Bankrupt, the retailer began its going-out-of-business sale Feb. 19. The store was formerly the Crescent, a downtown mainstay since the early 1900s.
July 1 - The new prison at Airway Heights is behind schedule as officials argue over where to lay sewer pipes on land owned by Metropolitan Mortgage of Spokane. The 400-bed prison is scheduled to open in October.
Aug. 21 - Fugitive Randy Weaver holds off authorities at his Ruby Ridge, Idaho, cabin. His wife, Vicki, and son Samuel, 14, are killed. His friend Kevin Harris is wounded, and U.S. Marshal William Degan of Boston is killed in the firefight. Weaver is wanted on federal weapons charges.
Aug. 31 - After holding off federal agents for 10 days, Randy Weaver and his three daughters surrender, leaving their Ruby Ridge cabin. Weaver is arrested, while his daughters are taken to stay with their grandparents.
Oct. 21 - The family of Rebecca West, 12, still waits for word on their missing daughter. Rebecca disappeared one year ago today while going to get candy with a friend, Nicki Wood, 11. Wood's body was found two hours later, but West has not been found. There is a suspect in jail, but no formal charges have been filed.
Nov. 3 - Shoshone County Sheriff Frank Crnkovich admits he took money from poker machine vendors and tipped off bar owners to gambling investigations. He denies taking money from brothel madams.

1993

April 7 - Cominco Ltd., which operates a lead smelter in British Columbia, announces it will cut in half the amount of mercury it puts into the Columbia River. The company is blamed for polluting the river north from Grand Coulee Dam and damaging fish populations.
July 2 - Blake Richard Pirtle is sentenced to death for the May 1992 throat-slashing murders of two young Burger King employees in the Spokane Valley restaurant. This is the first death sentence handed down in Spokane in 31 years.
July 7 - Former WSU quarterback Drew Bledsoe signs a $14.88 million pro football contract with the New England Patriots. He is the top draft pick, wanted for his ability to throw and scramble.
Oct. 6 - The first wall of the new Veterans Memorial Arena is raised. More than 4,000 yards of concrete will be used in the footings, foundation and retaining wall.

1994

Jan. 21 - Deaconess and Sacred Heart medical centers announce they will combine their air ambulance services to keep costs down and stop duplication.
March 1 - Fairchild Air Force Base announces all B-52's will be moved from the longtime bomber base. KC-135 tankers will move in to make Fairchild the largest refueling station in the nation.
June 24 - In the wake of the Mellberg massacre, Fairchild Air Force Base is again in shock and mourning as the last B-52 at the base crashed and exploded in flames while practicing for an air show. The crew of four was killed. An investigation into whether the crew was told to practice unsafe maneuvers is under way.
Nov. 8 - Political newcomer George Nethercutt upsets 30-year incumbent Tom Foley, the speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency, for his 5th Congressional District seat. It is the first defeat of a sitting speaker in 134 years. Nethercutt won by 3,900 votes.
Nov. 22 - Baby Ryan will continue on life support as he is moved to Portland for dialysis treatments. The premature child, son of Nghia and Darla Nguyen, is the center of an ethical debate between the family and Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital wants to remove him from dialysis, while the family feels it should fight for his life.
Dec. 6 - Egghead Software announces it will employ up to 200 workers at its new Spokane sales and technical support center.

1995

April 3 - A huge research program into the Coeur d'Alene River Basin shows a "really sick ecosystem" clogged with heavy metals such as lead.
May 18 - John Medlock is found guilty of killing 13-year-old Rebecca "Becca" Hedman, a Tacoma runaway turned crack addict and Spokane prostitute. The story spurs the Legislature to look at ways to save troubled kids.
June 14 - The Spokane City Council announces it will seek a $23.8 million federal loan to build a larger Nordstrom store to bring shoppers back to ailing downtown.
July 1 - Scott O'Grady was welcomed home to Spokane by 1,200 flag-waving friends, family and fans. "Scott O'Grady Day" was declared to welcome home the Lewis and Clark High graduate, whose F-16 was shot down by a Serb missile. O'Grady spent six days avoiding capture in Bosnia and is being hailed as a national hero, though he says he was just "a scared little bunny rabbit."
Sept. 1 - Spokane is tied for first with Bemidji, Minn., for the city with the most number of "censorship" attempts on materials in public schools, says the Washington, D.C.-based People for the American Way.
Sept. 2 - Smith's Home Furnishings, which recently opened two mega stores here, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. All Washington stores will close and 81 workers in Spokane are unemployed.
Sept. 10 - Cominco Ltd., a lead and zinc smelter in Trail, B.C., stops dumping slag into the Columbia River. One smelter had dumped 400 tons of waste into the river daily for 65 years.
Dec. 21 - The historic Lincoln County Courthouse is nearly razed in an arson fire. Volunteer fire crews from througout Lincoln and Spokane counties save the "Grand Old Lady's" exterior, though the building is almost completely gutted.
Dec. 31 - Coeur d'Alene Greyhound Park, Post Falls' tourism centerpiece for eight years, stops running live dog races. The park has lost more than $21 million since it opened in 1988.


1996

Jan. 1 - Washington State Patrol records show troopers have made nearly 1,000 drug-related arrests in five years by patrolling the area around Ritzville. Interstate 90 and Highway 395 to the Tri-Cities, and eventually California, intersect there.
Jan. 3 - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says it has had William Hill, 17, in custody since the Dec. 21 Lincoln County Courthouse arson fire. Hill was watching the historic building burn when he was arrested on a warrant charging him in another case. He is the prime suspect in the arson fire. He later pleads guilty to an arson charge.
Feb. 11 - Bob Stevens is having second thoughts about the Green River killings. Stevens, who helped get his brother Bill off the suspect list, is now writing a book blaming the 49 unsolved murders on his brother. Detectives thought for years Bill Stevens of Spokane was their man, but they lacked physical evidence. He died of cancer in 1991.
Feb. 14 - Spokane County joins eight rural counties in a consortium to build a juvenile jail in Medical Lake called Martin Hall, to open in spring of 1997.
April 6 - Gonzaga University puts a $25,000 bounty on the head of the unknown racist hate-mail author who is targeting black GU law students.
June 20 - Washington's first live quintuplets are born at Sacred Heart Medical Center to Joyce Bowman of Richland.
June 21 - Spokane teacher Jane Schelly returns to Kashmir to plead with a shadowy rebel group that kidnapped her husband, Donald Hutchings, and three other Westerners nearly a year ago. Schelly was briefly held hostage herself but let go soon after. Hutchings has been missing since July 4, 1995.
July 13 - Armed masked men in fatigues bombed a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday moments before robbing the same Spokane Valley bank that was bombed and robbed in April. The FBI is expected to categorize the bombing-robbery as domestic terrorism and bring 50 or more FBI agents to Spokane this weekend to pursue leads.
Sept. 5 - Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley proposes the county ban smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco by minors. Under state law only "obtaining," not possessing or using tobacco, is illegal.
Oct. 10 - About 100 federal agents poured into Sandpoint on Wednesday to raid three homes and a business belonging to suspects in the Spokane Valley bank robberies and bombings. Authorities raided the homes of Charles H. Barbee, Robert S. Berry and Jay Merrill. All three were charged Wednesday with nine counts relating to the Spokane Valley bank robberies and bombings.
Nov. 19 - Ice Storm hits Spokane and the immediate area, leaving thousands without power. Sheets of freezing rain and ice knock down trees, severing power lines throughout the area.
Dec. 21 - President Clinton appoints Democrat Bruce Reed, a Coeur 'd'Alene High School grad, as his top domestic policy adviser.

1997

Jan. 1 - Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend still has his medical license, though he must pay a $1,000 fine and undergo 20 hours of sensitivity training. Amend was disciplined by the Department of Health for unprofessional conduct in four controversial death investigations.
Jan. 1 - Snow claims many casualties when the weight of the melting white stuff causes many roofs to collapse. Portions of the Spokane YWCA building caved in. Officials fear flooding if the warm snap continues.
April 1 - Tom DiBartolo is hoping to get his bail reduced. The 18-year Sheriff's Department veteran is accused of shooting his wife, Patty, in the head, killing her, last November. His children have asked the judge to keep their father behind bars out of fear he'll hurt them. DiBartolo has admitted to several extramarital affairs over the past 19 years. He maintains a pair of robbers shot his wife and wounded him in a south Spokane park.
April 1 - The Spokane Guilds' School Bingo closes after two years of losing money. At its peak three years ago, the bingo hall raised $180,000 for the charity. Tribal casinos are blamed for the lack of bingo players.
April 17 - Jerry Boot, 18, received a 35-year prison sentence yesterday in a plea agreement over the 1994 abduction and murder of Felicia Ann Reese, who was killed as she prayed and sang songs to God. Kevin Boot, Jerry's cousin, was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1996. Prosecutors contended Kevin was the triggerman.
Sept. 4 - The Kalispel Tribe wins federal approval to build a tribal casino near Airway Heights despite the fact the land is not on their reservation near Usk.
Sept. 25 - Barry Loukaitis was convicted of murder Wednesday in a 1996 classroom attack that killed three people and wounded a fourth at a Moses Lake junior high school. Loukaitis, who was 14 at the time of the attack, was tried as an adult and pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Now 16, he was the only one in the courtroom who did not react to the verdicts.

1998

Jan. 1 - Pasadena, Calif., has been overrun by cougars - WSU Cougars. The Cougs play today in their second Rose Bowl, taking on the Michigan Wolverines. The Cougs last ran for the roses in 1931. The Cougs lose in the last seconds, 16-21.
Jan. 2 - Don and Irma Wilson of Spokane say they'll be returning to Spokane soon. The couple is still in Nashville, Tenn., where they are finishing up burn treatment after an Oct. 10, 1997, transformer explosion.
Jan. 21 - Murderer Tom DiBartolo, 43, a former sheriff's deputy, is sentenced to 26 years in prison for killing his wife, Patty, in November 1996. DiBartolo's children asked the judge for a 50-year sentence.
Feb. 11 - Anthropologists, studying ancient bones, make a clay model of what Kennewick Man may have looked like, and find it's the twin of Patrick Stewart, the actor who plays Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Feb. 12 - Nordstrom has signed a 20-year lease on new quarters in River Park Square. The mammoth mall is scheduled to open in August 1999.
April 1 - The federal government approved a $22.65 million loan to clear the way for River Park Square redevelopment.
April 5 - With new gambling laws allowing casinos, local card rooms are raking in the money - as is the city. In 1996, $149,744 was collected in city taxes from cardrooms. Figures from 1997 show $214,078 in taxes collected.
May 6 - Whitman County and Pullman police have identified eight more Washington State University students responsible for the May 2 riot on Greek Row that left 23 police officers and several students injured. Students are being asked to view a videotape of the drunken finals-week riot to identify some of the nearly 200 people who committed felonies. So far, members of three fraternities and one dorm have been named.
Sept. 1 - The summer of '98 was one for the books. The National Weather Service recorded 31 days of temperatures above 90 degrees, thanks to El Nino.

1999

Jan. 1 - U.S. Bank sells Schweitzer Mountain Resort to Harbor Properties Inc. and billionaire Keith McCaw for an undisclosed price.
Jan. 15 - Kaiser Aluminum locked out Steelworkers yesterday after rejecting a union offer to end its 106-day strike and resume work while bargaining continues.
March 20 - Gonzaga University wins the hearts of America as the Bulldogs basketball team competes in the Elite Eight. Spokane's Cinderella team was finally beaten by the University of Connecticut 67-62 in the NCAA West Region Final. Coach Dan Monson and most players are moved to tears by their accomplishments.
June 1 - Robert Wood, in jail accused of killing his 11-year-old son Chris and torching his home, was found hanged in his cell yesterday.
Oct. 21 - Kaiser Aluminum Corp. reported yesterday the highest quarterly loss yet during its yearlong dispute with the United Steelworkers of America. The net loss for the company was $39.2 million for the period that ended Sept. 30, a date that also marked the first anniversary of a union walkout at five Kaiser plants in the United States. The strike became a lockout in January.

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Also in this report
  • Back to cover
  • Fire and ice
  • Through the years
  • In the news
  • Photographs