NCWLIFE Evening News February 4th, 2021

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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 Link Transit bus suffered minor damage early Wednesday afternoon when it was hit by some small rocks near Hurricane Point on Highway 97A north of Entiat. A Wenatchee man who allegedly cashed more than $17,000 in fraudulent checks last fall was arrested Tuesday, and, Grant County wants to build its new jail far from the existing facility, next door to the Ephrata airport.   

But first, we begin tonight. . .

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Chelan and Douglas counties continued to fall sharply in the health district’s latest weekly report.

The Chelan-Douglas Health District’s weekly “thermographic” showed 323 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, down from 472 new cases per 100,000 reported last week.

New cases for the two counties have been steadily declining since reaching its peak of more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents in December. The improvement likely will help the North Central region of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington plan meet at least one of the three metrics needed to loosen restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

The other two counties, Grant and Okanogan, also have been reporting a declining number of positive test results. The North Central region met only one of the four metrics last week and will be reevaluated next week.

A Link Transit bus suffered minor damage early Wednesday afternoon when it was hit by some small rocks near Earthquake Point on Highway 97A north of Entiat.

Link spokesman Eric West said the driver stopped and inspected the bus, as did a state Department of Transportation worker and it was determined it would be able to continue on. West said the Route 21 bus remains in operation but will need some minor repairs.

Rock slides have been a persistent problem in that area. Passenger Tammy Daniels of Entiat said she looked up to see the rocks coming down and was QUOTE, shaken up for sure, UNQUOTE. There were no injuries.

A Wenatchee man who allegedly cashed more than $17,000 in fraudulent checks last fall was arrested Tuesday, and now faces possible charges of identity theft, forgery, and related felonies. 39-year-old John Ervin Witherspoon has a Wenatchee address, but local police say he used a North Carolina driver’s license back in November when he passed two checks on someone else’s closed account at KeyBank. On his third attempt, with a check written out for more than $9,000, bank managers recognized Witherspoon and contacted police. He had been sought for questioning for months until his arrest this week. Judge Kristin Ferrera ordered him held in the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on $5,000 bond.

Grant County wants to build its new jail far from the existing facility, next door to the Ephrata airport. Under the county’s plan, the jail next door to the county courthouse, built to house almost 200 inmates, would be replaced by a larger jail on the Ephrata outskirts.

The Grant County Board of Commissioners is now taking public comment on the recommendation. Citizens can submit written comments to the commissioners’ office by February 19th, or attend a virtual public hearing February 22nd.

Coming up next, 12th District State Senator Brad Hawkins is asking Governor Jay Inslee to make all K-12 teachers and school staff in Washington eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. The Wenatchee School District’s half-day in-class instruction schedule has meant more buses on the road throughout the school day that’s led to a serious shortage of drivers to cover all the routes, and, President Joe Biden’s administration today declared the Washington wildfires of 2020 a federal disaster. I’m Grant Olson and you’re watching the NCWLIFE Evening News.

Welcome back, and in other news. . .

12th District State Senator Brad Hawkins is asking Governor Jay Inslee to make all K-12 teachers and school staff in Washington eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The state is currently in Phase 1B, Tier 1 of its vaccine eligibility. Teachers and staffers wouldn’t be in line for vaccines until Tier 2, and then only if they are age 50 or older.

In a letter to the Governor dated Wednesday, Hawkins asks Inslee to advance the entire state to Phase 1B Tier 2, allow school employees providing in-person instruction today to be assigned to Phase 1B Tier 1, or grant discretion to local health providers on how to administer the vaccines.

The Wenatchee School District’s half-day in-class instruction schedule has meant more buses on the road throughout the school day that’s led to a serious shortage of drivers to cover all the routes.

Superintendent Paul Gordon told the school board Tuesday that administrators and engineers have had to take over routes as more drivers are trained, which takes four to six weeks. . .

President Joe Biden’s administration today declared the Washington wildfires of 2020 a federal disaster. The state has sought disaster classification for those massive fires since they struck last September, but the Trump administration never acted on the request.

The president’s approval makes federal money available for recovery and rebuilding in the fire zone, which includes Douglas County, Okanogan County, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Last year’s wildfire season destroyed more than 800,000 acres and 298 homes, including severe damage to Bridgeport, and the near-destruction of the town of Malden. A 1-year-old child was killed in Okanogan County’s Labor Day fires, and his parents were badly burned.

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. . .

Time now for tonight’s feature story. As vaccines and other measures are brought to bear on the coronavirus pandemic, 8th District Congresswoman Kim Schrier wants to see more at-home COVID-19 tests made available to the general public. In a remote hearing Wednesday of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Schrier said federal effort is needed to get these tests cheaply and easily into American homes. . .

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.

There’s been a shake up in the front office with the Wenatchee AppleSox…

After more than 15-years serving as the team’s general manager, Ken Osborne has resigned the position.  Allie Schank, who has been the assistant GM for the past four seasons, will now become the GM.

Osborne worked alongside original AppleSox owner Jim Corcoran since 2006 as an assistant general manager.  He became the general manager in 2018.  Osborne was crucial in his role when Jose Oglesby bought the team from Corcoran three years ago. 

With her promotion, Schank joins Corvallis’ Bre Miller and Bellingham’s Stephanie Morelli as the only three female general managers in the West Coast League.

In today’s press release from the AppleSox, Osborne says he will work alongside his wife in her insurance business.

Gonzaga has replaced two home games with two road games in order to keep playing basketball…

The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs will play today at Pacific at 3 o’clock and then Monday at BYU at 5 o’clock on ESPN.  The change was necessitated by cancellations this week by Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara, who couldn’t make the trip to Spokane because of COVID-19 in their programs.

Also on the men’s college basketball schedule today include some Pac-12 contests as Washington plays at Oregon State at 6 on the Pac-12 Network while Washington State plays are Oregon at 8 on FS-1.

The teams will switch sites Saturday when Oregon hosts Washington at 1 o’clock on CBS and the Cougars play the Beavers in Corvallis at 3 o’clock.

The women’s schedule remains the same for now…

Washington State will host No. 5 UCLA Friday at Noon while USC plays at Washington at 7.  Then on Sunday, it’s reversed as the Trojans visit Pullman at Noon while the 5th-ranked Bruins take on the Huskies at 2 o’clock in Seattle.

We are just two-weeks away from pitchers and catchers arriving in Peoria to begin spring training for the Mariners…

Seattle shares its practice facilities in the desert with the San Diego Padres.  A player who came over from the Padres to the Mariners late last season in a trade was Ty France.

France is expected to battle for a starting spot at second base with Shed Long, Jr. and Dylan Moore.  France tells Mariner fans that Seattle’s potential to compete in the American League West is close…

France and the rest of the position players are to report to spring training February 22nd.  The Mariners first Cactus League game will be February 27th against San Diego.  The regular season is set to being with Seattle hosting San Francisco April 1st at T-Mobile Park.

A very important relationship in any NFL team’s makeup is that between the starting quarterback and the offensive coordinator.  Russell Wilson seemed to have that with Brian Schottenheimer on and off the field.

Now that Schottenheimer is gone, the relationship-building has begun between Russ and Shane Waldron.  The 41-year old Portland native says work on those conversations have already begun…

Waldron grew up in Portland, Oregon and attended high school at La Salle.  He admits he wasn’t really a Seahawks fan growing up…

Waldron is in the process of moving his wife and two daughters to the northwest to begin work on his new position as offensive coordinator with the Seahawks.

The countdown to Super Bowl Sunday is winding down as Tampa Bay gets ready to host Kansas City in the 55th version of this game…

Unfortunately for viewers on Direct TV, there’s an argument going on between KIRO-TV and AT&T/Direct TV that has resulted in channel 7 being dark…

The skirmish is between Cox Media Group, owners of KIRO, and Direct TV over the carriage fees.

This means no KIRO and also could mean no Super Bowl for those who receive KIRO on Direct TV.  The disagreement between the two sides does not affect your ability to watch KIRO on cable, other satellite companies or over the air.

KIRO is asking its viewers who have been impacted to contact Direct TV and tell them they want their station back.  AT&T/DirecTV were quoted in TV Technology dot com this week as saying “We’re disappointed Cox Media Group and Wall Street financier Apollo Global Management have intentionally put our customers in the middle of a private business matter.  We continue to work with Apollo and Cox to get these situations back and appreciate our customers’ patience while we do.”

By the way, you can still see KIRO on LocalTel Cable and you’ll be able to watch Super Bowl 55 uninterrupted on Sunday.  That is if you don’t run out of dip.

The game itself will feature the NFL’s oldest quarterbacks in 43-year old Tom Brady against on of the league’s youngest in 25-year old Patrick Mahomes.  A fun fact, Tom had graduated from high school in California passing for over 3-thousand yards and 30-touchdowns his senior year before Patrick was even born.

And tonight is Hockey Night on the NCWLIFE Channel…

Our featured game is from Thanksgiving weekend of 2019 as the Wenatchee Wild entertained the Langley Rivermen.  Arch Ecker has the call here tonight at 7 o’clock.

Thanks Eric.

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 night.