NCWLIFE Evening News March 26th, 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, The Yakima man accused of steering a Ford Explorer through Wenatchee, while a passenger opened fire on another vehicle, was acquitted yesterday of all criminal charges./ A new sales and use tax in the city of Wenatchee should raise about $1.2 million dollars for shelter programs aimed at the Wenatchee Valley’s homeless population./ Governor Jay Inslee and state health officials announced yesterday that three feet will be the new minimum separation between students in Washington classrooms, and, Leavenworth took steps this week to finalize the purchase of the former Osborn Elementary School property.

But first, our top story tonight. . .

A semi and two pickups were involved in collisions on Highway 17 south of Moses Lake early this morning that claimed the life of the 57-year-old driver of a pickup and injured the drivers of the other two vehicles.

The State Patrol identified the deceased man as Froylan Valdivia of Warden. According to the state patrol, Valdivia was northbound on Highway 17 about 4:45 a.m. preparing to make a left turn when his Chevy Silverado pickup was hit from behind by a Peterbilt tractor being driven by 30-year-old Abel Juarez Avila of Connell.

That pushed Valdivia’s vehicle into the southbound lane where it was struck by a Ford F-350 pickup being driven by 26-year-old Arturo Fernandez of Ephrata. Trooper John Bryant said Valdivia was driving the Silverado with only its running lights on and no tail lights.

Both Avila and Fernandez were transported to the hospital in Othello with injuries that were not believed to be serious. Highway 17 at Road 5 Southeast about 10 miles south of Moses Lake was closed for more than six hours this morning while troopers investigated.

The Yakima man accused of steering a Ford Explorer through Wenatchee, while a passenger opened fire on another vehicle, was acquitted yesterday of all criminal charges.

A jury cleared 27-year-old Juan Mendoza Rodriguez on counts of first-degree assault and drive-by shooting, after two days at trial in Chelan County Superior Court.

Police said Mendoza was the driver in a shooting near the intersection of Douglas and Idaho streets, when passenger Alexander Lopez fired a rifle at another car in

traffic and wounded one occupant. Both Mendoza and Lopez have been jailed since that incident. Mendoza is now free, but Lopez, who’s 20 years old, allegedly admitted to carrying out the shooting. He faces trial in April.

A new sales and use tax in the city of Wenatchee should raise about $1.2 million dollars for shelter programs aimed at the Wenatchee Valley’s homeless population. The tax amounts to 10 cents on every $100 dollars of purchases in the city.

Together with about $400,000 dollars from a similar tax in East Wenatchee, it will help pay for a low-barrier shelter, such as the sleep centers put in place in Moses Lake and elsewhere, and related services for those without housing. The vote was unanimous, but there was

lively input from the public and debate among councilmembers. . .

Governor Jay Inslee and state health officials announced Thursday that three feet will be the new minimum separation between students in Washington classrooms, down from a minimum six feet.

The three-feet recommendation comes from the Centers for Disease Control, which says it appears to be a safe distance to keep COVID-19 under control in schools when students are wearing masks. However, six feet will still be the minimum in lunchrooms, when passing in halls between classes, and in other circumstances. Educators and parent groups have been lobbying the state to incorporate the federal distancing guidelines, in the hopes of returning more students to schoolrooms. . .

Leavenworth took steps this week to finalize the purchase of the former Osborn Elementary School property. The city council agreed to spend up to $630,000 for the purchase of the building and grounds from the Cascade School District. The Osborn building and grounds have been largely unused since the district moved its elementary students to the new Alpine Lakes school. The city is still brainstorming how it might use the property. Many residents have advocated turning the space into a community center.

Coming up next, The city of Leavenworth this week terminated its contract with the managers of its yearly Oktoberfest./ Orchardists in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties now call on the same man when they see a pest problem./ Wenatchee Valley College students will soon be able to apply for Coronavirus relief funding, and, Just what was the light show that lit up the Pacific Northwest skies last night, we’ll let you know coming up.   I’m Grant Olson and you’re watching the NCWLIFE Evening News.

Welcome back, and in other news. . .

The city of Leavenworth this week terminated its contract with the managers of its yearly Oktoberfest. The city council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to end its agreement with Projekt Bayern, the nonprofit association that hosted the three-weekend autumn celebration. That doesn’t mean the end of the popular festival itself – the contract to manage the event will go out for bid in 2022.

Projekt Bayern has canceled its last two Oktoberfests, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Carl Florea said it’s time to reimagine how festivals are staged in the city, given recent changes to the downtown core.

Orchardists in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties now call on the same man when they see a pest problem. As of March 9th, the three counties operation a Tr-County Horticultural Pest and Disease Board.

Will Carpenter, the longtime director of fruit pest operations in Chelan and Douglas counties, will now serve all three counties. The mission of the agency is to eradicate pest and disease-infested vegetation that

threatens commercial tree fruit growers. The counties say joining forces makes sense, since commercial fruit crops are largely the same throughout the region, and a threat in one county is a threat to all.

Wenatchee Valley College students will soon be able to apply for Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act funding.

CRRSA Act funding is the second round of the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds. Wenatchee Valley College will receive $4.3 million dollars, $1.2 million of which will be distributed directly to students.  Student CRRSA Act funding will provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the pandemic. WVC will make an application available in the month of April. Students can sign up to be notified when it is ready at wvc.edu/ReliefFunds. Current and new students are eligible to apply. The funds must be spent within one year of allocation.

A sudden light show lit up the Pacific Northwest last night, and it was visible from right here in Wenatchee. Rodrigo Ramirez took this video from Wenatchee shortly after 9 p.m. A booster from a Falcon 9 Heavy rocket launched three weeks ago by SpaceX fell back to earth, creating a debris scatter that burned up on reentry. Ordinarily the boosters are supposed to deorbit without much disturbance, but this one skipped across the sky instead. There were no reports of any debris reaching the ground.

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. . .

Members of Congress believe Facebook, Twitter and Google have a lot to answer for in the shaping of American politics. In tonight’s feature story, in a remote hearing yesterday, 8th District Representative Kim Schrier had a chance to grill Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the amount of medical disinformation on its platform, particularly amid the ongoing pandemic. . .

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.

Thanks Eric.

Now let’s check in with Dan Kuntz for a look at what’s coming up Monday 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.