NCWLIFE Evening News, February 14, 2020

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Good evening and welcome to the NCWLIFE Evening News. I’m Grant Olson. Before we get to today’s top news stories, let’s take a quick look outside our weather window:

And now, a few of the stories we’re following for you tonight, A 56-year-old Ephrata man allegedly managed an illegal gambling operation that took bets on fighting roosters. A semi went off Highway 174 in Grand Coulee just after noon yesterday, first hitting a parked car that burst into flames, then crashing into a building, and, Former employees at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works now find their life insurance tied up in a major federal lawsuit.   

But first, we begin tonight. . .

A broken Chelan County PUD water line led to a mud flow Thursday along School Street, above Wenatchee’s Sunnyslope neighborhood. PUD Water Manager Ron Slabaugh says the leak at School Street and Solstice Lane was relatively minor, but went on for some time before it was detected late Wednesday, and when repairs began Thursday morning, mud and debris flowed down to School Street.  The PUD says it’s hired a private contractor to clear away the mudflow from the street and nearby properties, between Solstice Lane and Ridgeview Boulevard. The cleanup could take up to a week.

A 56-year-old Ephrata man allegedly managed an illegal gambling operation that took bets on fighting roosters.

Grant County sheriff’s deputies arrested Reymundo Garcia on Wednesday morning, in a raid near the town of Winchester. Deputies said it was the culmination of a year-long investigation into illegal cockfights, in which gamblers bet on the outcomes.

Investigators found 13 roosters they said were physically modified for fighting, as well as quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and psilocybin mushrooms. Garcia faces drug and gambling charges. He remains in the Grant County Jail.

A semi went off Highway 174 in Grand Coulee just after noon yesterday, first hitting a parked car that burst into flames, then crashing into a building. Trooper John Bryant of the Washington State Patrol said the driver had to be taken by air ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. This morning he was listed in serious condition.

The State Patrol reports that the semi drifted onto the shoulder of the highway, overcorrected, slid on its side and struck both the unoccupied auto and the building. It then struck a highway sign, slid over an embankment and came to a rest on its top.

There were no other injuries and Bryant said he believes the building that was hit was vacant. Bryant said a Grant County Sheriff’s deputy was first on the scene, followed by aid crews. The driver of the semi initially was trapped and had to extricated from the vehicle, which was carrying a load of apples. The crash remains under investigation.

Former employees at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works now find their life insurance tied up in a major federal lawsuit.

Late last year, the aluminum giant said it would terminate the life coverage, affecting almost 9,000 Alcoa retirees, including many who worked at the now-defunct Wenatchee plant.

The United Steelworkers is suing to stop the move in federal court in Indiana. Alcoa offered a $15 million payout to retirees, an average of less than $2,000 apiece, but cashing those checks means waiving any claims for coverage. The Wenatchee Works smelter employed more than 400 people when Alcoa ceased production and laid them off in 2016.

Coming up next, The Okanogan County firefighter killed by last September’s Spring Coulee Fire may have become entangled in metal debris before suffering fatal burns. Douglas County may soon invite the public into its negotiations with public employee unions.  and, Congresswoman Kim Schrier plans another townhall appearance in Wenatchee one week from today, and, motorists are being advised to reduce their speed and watch carefully for elk as they travel on Interstate 90 near Vantage.  I’m Grant Olson and you’re watching the NCWLIFE Evening News.

Welcome back, and in other news. . .

Douglas County may soon invite the public into its negotiations with public employee unions.

County commissioners plan to hold a hearing in Waterville at 10 a.m. Tuesday on a resolution that calls for collective bargaining to take place in open meetings, and for all contract proposals to be posted as public documents — even before a contract is settled. Commissioners told NCWLIFE’s Steve Hair it’s a way to increase transparency. . .

Some union representatives disagree. Five different bargaining units represent more than 200 Douglas County employees, including administrative staff, sheriff’s deputies and highway crews. Members say it’s part of a statewide effort to weaken unions’ bargaining power. Similar resolutions have been voted on in Franklin, Kittitas and Lincoln counties. Legal challenges in those other counties that may wind up before the Washington Supreme Court.

The Okanogan County firefighter killed by last September’s Spring Coulee Fire may have become entangled in metal debris before suffering fatal burns. A new report on the September 1st incident finds that Okanogan Assistant Fire Chief Christian Johnson and a teammate ran on foot when the wind shifted, and their fire truck was overtaken by flames.

Johnson found himself in a field of metal refuse without his fire-retardant jacket. His teammate found him badly burned about 150 feet from the truck.

Johnson died one month later at Harborview Medical Center. Fire teams managed to keep the blaze to 107 acres, and successfully protected a barn and other structures.

The report, by a multi-agency fire investigation team, says the absence of a jacket likely contributed to the severity of his injuries, but it’s impossible to know why he left it behind.

Congresswoman Kim Schrier plans another townhall appearance in Wenatchee one week from today.

It’s her first visit of 2020, but the 8th District Democrat from Sammamish has spent a lot of time meeting with Wenatchee Valley constituents since her election two years ago. This meet-and-greet starts at 6:00 p.m. February 21st at the Wenatchee Community Center, located at 504 South Chelan Ave. Admission is free, but you can book advance seating online through Eventbrite.

Once again, motorists are being advised to reduce their speed and watch carefully for elk as they travel on Interstate 90 near Vantage.

Electronic warning signs are in place from the Vantage Bridge to milepost 120 west of the Ryegrass Rest Area.

Earlier this week, the Department of Transportation estimated there was a herd of 200 to 300 elk in the area. In 2016, about 80 elk were killed by vehicles on that stretch of freeway.

Six miles of electronic fencing was installed in 2017 but it does not keep elk off the freeway entirely.

You’re watching the NCWLIFE Evening News. Coming up next, tonight’s feature story and your complete local weather forecast. That and much more still to come on the NCWLIFE Evening News, stay with us.

Welcome back to the NCWLIFE Evening News. . .

Before we get to your Northcentral Washington weather forecast, let’s check in with NCWLIFE’s Megan McPherson now for a look at what’s happening around the valley for you to enjoy this weekend. . .

And that is a look at your local weather forecast, coming up next, tonight’s sports report with Eric Granstrom and more as the NCWLIFE Evening News continues right after this.

On the Les Schwab College Women’s Basketball Scoreboard last night…

#15 Gonzaga bounced back from a weekend loss to Saint Mary’s to down San Francisco last night 56-38.  LeeAnne Wirth and Melody Kempton scored 10-points apiece in the victory for the Bulldogs.

Idaho outscored Eastern 21-7 in the 4th quarter en route to a 75-46 win over the Eagles.  Eastern Washington is now just 1-and-12 in Big Sky play.

Samantha Bowman came off the bench to score 27-points and lead five players in double-figures as Central Washington beat Simon Fraser 83-74.

And in men’s college basketball last night, Cody Riley scored 11 of his 19-points in overtime to lead UCLA over Washington State 86-83.  The Cougs were led by Jeff Pollard’s 20-points.

Despite a game-high 19-points from Jaden McDaniels, Washington fell to USC 62-56 in Los Angeles.  The Huskies dropped to 2-and-10 in the Pac-12.

Travon Allen scored 32-points and grabbed 11-rebounds and Idaho upset Eastern Washington 74-71.

Jeryn Lucas continues to be a one-man wrecking crew for Central Washington as he scored 25-points to lead the Wildcats over Alaska-Fairbanks 66-63.

Coming up on the Women’s College Schedule this weekend…

Tonight, the Washington women play at #12 Arizona at 6 o’clock while Washington State plays at #22 Arizona State.

Saturday, #15 Gonzaga hosts Santa Clara at 2 o’clock.  Wenatchee Valley plays at Spokane at 2.  Eastern Washington hosts Portland State at 2:05.  And the Central Washington women travel to Bellingham to face Western Washington Saturday night at 7.

Finally on Sunday, Washington plays at #22 Arizona State while Washington State visits #12 Arizona at 11am.

In Men’s College Basketball Saturday…

Wenatchee Valley travels to Spokane for a 4 o’clock showdown with the Sasquatch.  At 5, USC entertains Washington State on the Pac-12 Network.  Washington plays at UCLA at 7 on ESPN-2.  Central Washington plays at Alaska-Anchorage at 7.  Eastern Washington tips at Portland State Saturday night at 7:05.

Turning to the Les Schwab Prep Girls Scoreboard from last night…

Moses Lake Christian eased by Entiat 53-25.  In the Central Washington 2-B District Tournament, Brewster beat Bridgeport 65-36 and Lake Roosevelt trucked Tonasket 54-27.

Coming up on the Prep Girls Basketball Schedule this weekend…

Moses Lake celebrates senior night tonight with Wenatchee in town to wrap up the Big-9 regular season at 5:45.  Tomorrow in the Central Washington 2-B District Tournament, Brewster plays at Liberty Bell at 6 while Waterville-Mansfield hosts Lake Roosevelt, also at 6. 

The District 6 1-A Tournament is all at Eastmont High School tomorrow with the Chelan girls facing Okanogan in a loser-out game at 1.  Then Omak takes on Cashmere for the girls District Championship at 5.  We’ll have that game LIVE on the NCWLIFE Channel.

In boys basketball tonight, the Central Washington 2-B District Tournament has Brewster hosting Liberty Bell while Oroville’s at Lake Roosevelt at 6.  And in the Big-9 finale for both teams, Moses Lake hosts Wenatchee at 7:30.

Tomorrow at Eastmont High School, Chelan faces Omak at 3 in a loser-out game of the District 6 1-A Tournament.  Then at 7 it’s Okanogan and Cashmere for the boys Championship.  We’ll also have that LIVE on the NCWLIFE Channel.

The Girls Regional Wrestling Tournament is in Othello over the next two days…

Cashmere, Eastmont, Ephrata, Moses Lake, Quincy and Wenatchee wrestlers will start their tournament today at 5.  It continues tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.

All the boys regional wrestling tournaments are spread out tomorrow.  Eastmont, Moses Lake and Wenatchee wrestlers are in Skyline in Western Washington as they mash up the Kingco League and Big-9 in the Region II 4-A Tournament.  It begins at 9:30.

The Caribou Trail League’s best are facing the Northeast A League’s best at the Region IV 1-A Tournament at Deer Park High School.  That gets underway at 10am.

And the Ephrata and Quincy wrestlers are at East Valley of Spokane High School tomorrow for the Region IV 2-A Tournament beginning at 11am.

The Wenatchee Wild host Vernon tonight, Chilliwack tomorrow and then head for Salmon Arm Sunday as the BCHL season winds down…

The Wild enter the weekend in 5th place in the Interior Division with 58-points.  They’re just one-point back of Vernon and three-points behind 3rd-place Salmon Arm. 

“Voice” of the Wild, Arch Ecker, says there’s plenty of positioning for the post-season yet to be determined…

If Wenatchee can climb up in the standings, that would mean-home ice advantage in the playoffs.  Right-winger Luke Ormsby says the team is looking at a rather simple approach…

As in any sport, you always want to be playing your best when the post-season arrives.  And, according to Ecker, the Wild’s game has certainly elevated at the right time…

The puck drops tonight and tomorrow night at 7:05 at the Town Toyota Center.

Thanks Eric.

Finally tonight, the Apple license plate moved a step closer to your vehicle yesterday. A bill by 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins was approved by the Senate by a 46-1 vote. The lone no vote came from Spokane Republican Senator Mark Schoesler.

The bill now needs the approval of the House. Hawkins is teaming with the Washington Apple Commission and the Washington Apple Education Foundation in pushing for recognition for the state’s best-selling fruit.

Now let’s check in with Dan Kuntz for a look at what’s coming up tomorrow morning on Wake Up Wenatchee Valley, Dan. . .

And that’s going to do it for our newscast tonight. For more on these stories and other news from around North Central Washington, you can find us on Facebook or our website at ncwlife.com. And, remember, if you see news happening we’d like to hear from you.  You can send us an email at news@ncwlife.com, or give us a call 888-NCWL (6295). I’m Grant Olson, thanks for joining us and have a great weekend.