NCWLIFE Evening News May 26th, 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, Just one month after a coronavirus outbreak in one of its farmworker housing units, Stemilt Growers says 25 out of 60 people in one of its packing house teams have tested positive for the virus. A group of local business, government and church leaders and others, filed lawsuits in Chelan and Douglas counties Friday seeking to strip Gov. Jay Inslee of his COVID-19 emergency powers. Local leaders say they’re moving toward proactive community-wide testing for COVID-19 throughout the Wenatchee Valley, and, Grant County received approval Saturday to move to Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phased COVID-19 reopening plan.   

But first, we begin tonight. . .

When Chelan and Douglas counties will be eligible to move to Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phased COVID-19 reopening plan remains unclear. The two counties are still in Phase 1 and have seen a spike in positive coronavirus tests in the past week.

Chelan County reported 25 new cases Saturday after three other days of double-digit increases last week. Douglas County also had 12 new positive tests in the latest Chelan-Douglas Health District report.

Inslee said last week part of the criteria for moving to Phase 2 is cases per 100,000 population in the past three weeks and neither Chelan nor Douglas counties comes close to meeting that criteria. Only 14 of Washington’s 39 counties remain ineligible to move to Phase 2. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order is due to expire May 31st, but it is almost certain to be renewed.

Just one month after a coronavirus outbreak in one of its farmworker housing units, Stemilt Growers says 25 out of 60 people in one of its packing house teams have tested positive for the virus.

The fruit company tested the workers on Friday and announced the results Saturday. All those identified will undergo isolation protocols before returning to work. The cases were discovered in Stemilt’s specialty packaging line, which shut down after after three workers there tested positive on May 19th. Stemilt says COVID-19 appears to have spread through the line despite CDC-approved sanitation, separation and mask-wearing measures throughout the Olds Station facility. Stemilt president West Mathison says, quote, “The safety and well-being of our team members has been and remains our top priority.”

A group of local business, government and church leaders and others, filed lawsuits in Chelan and Douglas counties Friday seeking to strip Gov. Jay Inslee of his COVID-19 emergency powers and lift restrictions imposed under his Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders. The lawsuits, filed in Chelan and Douglas County Superior Courts, claim Inslee was granted the emergency powers when there were fears the COVID-19 pandemic would create a surge of cases that would overwhelm hospitals and other health care facilities.

That lawsuit claims there is no such emergency in Chelan and Douglas counties and no current modeling of the pandemic indicates there will be in the future. The lawsuits are two of several that have been filed in the state seeking to overturn restrictions imposed by Inslee during the pandemic The Chelan and Douglas County lawsuits don’t seek monetary relief but cite financial, emotional and spiritual losses each of the plaintiffs have suffered under Inslee’s order.

In Chelan County, the 30 plaintiffs include four members of the Wenatchee City Council; lead plaintiff Jose Cuevas, Ruth Esparza, Linda Herald and Travis Hornsby.

All three Douglas County Commissioners are among the nine plaintiffs in that county’s lawsuit, including lead plaintiff Dan Sutton, Mark Straub and Kyle Steinberg.

Local leaders say they’re moving toward proactive community-wide testing for COVID-19 throughout the Wenatchee Valley.

A coalition including local hospitals, clinics and the Chelan-Douglas Health District says it wants to test 250 random households in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Cashmere and Leavenworth, to establish what the baseline rate of infection is for the two-county area.

Data gathered by the sampling method would help the counties move toward a Phase 2 reopening of services under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Grant County received approval Saturday to move to Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phased COVID-19 reopening plan.

Phase 2 will allow many retail and professional businesses to reopen, as well as restaurants, though with restrictions. Inslee announced last week that Grant County was one of several counties eligible to move to Phase 2.

On Saturday, seven counties had their applications approved, including Grant. Twenty-one of Washington’s 39 counties have now been approved for Phase 2, with three more eligible.

Coming up next, A brush fire burned about 30 acres north of Chelan Saturday afternoon before several fire agencies were able to get the blaze under control. A climber who fell near the top of the old Butte Pinnacle on Monday had to be rescued by crews from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office’s and Chelan County Fire District 1. Moses Lake police broke through fortified doors and windows early this morning to serve a search warrant at College Apartments, and, Chelan County’s youngest Superior Court judge is the first public official in the Wenatchee Valley known to have fallen ill with coronavirus.  I’m Grant Olson and you’re watching the NCWLIFE Evening News.

Welcome back, and in other news. . .

A brush fire burned about 30 acres north of Chelan Saturday afternoon before several fire agencies were able to get the blaze under control just before 7 p.m.

Because of the difficult terrain off Union Valley Road, a pair of helicopters were called in to assist. Crews involved in the firefighting effort included, Chelan County Fire District 5, Douglas County Fire District 4, Douglas Okanogan Fire District 15, as well as Department of Natural Resources firefighters. Officials say the fire started when a controlled burn was spread by winds.

A climber who fell near the top of the old Butte Pinnacle on Monday had to be rescued by crews from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office’s and Chelan County Fire District 1.

The fire district reports that the hiker was injured and unable to get up or down the mountain on his own.

The High Angle Rope Rescue Team from the sheriff’s office and the Technical Rescue Team from the fire district were able to reach the man, who eventually was treated and released.

Moses Lake police broke through fortified doors and windows early this morning to serve a search warrant at College Apartments at 4740 Grape Drive Northeast.

Police arrested 35-year-old Ryan R. Runnels after reportedly finding a stolen shotgun with the barrel sawed off inside the apartment. Police said Runnels is a seven-time convicted felon who had been arrested 33 times over the years.

This time, the Moses Lake Regional Tactical Response team broke its way into his apartment about 4:15 in the morning and found the shotgun, which had been stolen in Adams County, as well as small amounts of heroin and methamphetamines. Runnels faces charges of possession of a stolen firearm, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a short barrel shotgun.

Chelan County’s youngest Superior Court judge is the first public official in the Wenatchee Valley known to have fallen ill with coronavirus.

Judge Kristin Ferrera, who’s 40 years old, announced last week she’s tested positive for COVID-19. She underwent testing after exhibiting a dry cough. She has not returned to hear cases in the Chelan County Law and Justice Center since her diagnosis on Friday, and says she won’t do so until cleared by her doctors. Ferrera is one of three Superior Court judges in Chelan County. Sher’s served on the bench since 2018 and heads the county’s drug court. Superior courts statewide have taken precautions against coronavirus, including limiting the number of cases they hear and canceling jury trials until the pandemic has lifted.

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. . .

Everyone wants a return to something like normal after the COVID-19 crisis has passed, but epidemiologists say that can’t happen without contact tracing … mapping out the relationships between coronavirus patients and those they’ve exposed. In tonight’s feature story, Congresswoman Kim Schrier says under a bill she’s proposed, contact tracing could be a national service. Here is NCWLIFE’s Jefferson Robbins with more on this story. . .

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.

Former Cougar and NFL draft bust Ryan Leaf was arrested for domestic violence over the weekend in Palm Springs California…

TMZ is reporting that the former No. 2 overall draft pick was booked into the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.  Bai l was set at 5-thousand dollars.

The 44-year old has been engaged to Anna Kleinsorge, a former Georgetown volleyball player, since 2017.  They have a 3-year old son together.

Leaf was the second pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers but had just a four-year career before his personal life fell apart.  He dealt with drug addiction and spent two years in prison after being arrested in 2012 for breaking into a home in Montana.

Recently, Leaf was hired by ESPN as a football analyst and has been co-hosting a show on SiriusXM’s Pac-12 channel.  Leaf had put his life back together to the point Washington State enshrined him in their hall of fame last fall.

Two days after the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow voluntary workouts on campus by football and basketball players, the SEC announced it would begin voluntary football activities June 8th

SEC officials noted any workouts would take place “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.”

The Southeast Conference decided to resume athletic activities with the guidance of a league task force that includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools.

Other conferences are expected to follow with campuses opening for athletes on a voluntary basis.

John Schneider is entering his 11th season as the Seahawks General Manager.  Working along side Coach Pete Carroll, Schneider is credited with overhauling Seattle’s roster to create a Super Bowl champion in 2014.

The NFL Network’s Michael Silver recently completed a feature on Schneider, calling him the Seahawks’ 13th Man…

You can see the entire piece at Seahawks dot com.

As negotiations continue for a return of Major League Baseball, one thing’s for sure…it won’t look the same…

There apparently won’t be any spitting either.  Or high-fives, fist bumps or hugging.  No pregame exchange of lineup cards.  No throwing the ball around the horn after an out.  Fighting will be banned.  First and third-base coaches will have to keep their distance from base runners.  And, there will be no fans, at least in the beginning.

The largest hurdle management and players need to overcome in returning play during a pandemic is economics.  Ownership and the players’ union are miles apart on an agreeable format.  Time is ticking.  Major League Baseball would need to return in the next three weeks if they hope to begin play by July 4th.

By the way, just a public service message here about being careful around the water.  I was on the Columbia River in Wenatchee last weekend and the water level is high, running fast and very chilly.  With the warming temperatures this week, folks are going to want to head towards the water. 

The Columbia River was 53-degrees when I was on it Sunday.  The Wenatchee I’m sure is much colder.  Remember that the rivers are swollen with snow melting in the higher elevations.  Add that to the swift-moving water, and it’s awfully easy to literally and figuratively get in over your head in a hurry.  So just be careful and be sure to keep a close eye on the little ones as they stick their toes in the water.

And here’s a look at what we have on the NCWLIFE sports schedule for later this week and heading into the weekend…

It begins Thursday with Hockey Night as the Wenatchee Wild take on the Chilliwack Chiefs in the RBC Cup from May of 2018.  Arch Ecker has the play-by-play at 7 o’clock.

Friday’s featured game is from last October at Wenatchee High School where the Panthers hosted Moses Lake in volleyball.  Eric has the call on that starting at 7.

Then on Saturday, we’ll start things off at 2 o’clock with Wenatchee and Eastmont boys soccer from April of 2018.  That will be followed at 7 o’clock by more action from the RBC Cup where the Wenatchee Wild took on the Steinbach Pistons in a 2nd-round game in May of 2018.

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.