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Tourism ambassadors ready to welcome Lilac City visitors

Tourism ambassadors ready to welcome Lilac City visitors

With Bloomsday and Hoopfest coming up, Spokane is about to see an influx of tourists. They're in luck if they get lost or have a question because the city has 1,200 everyday citizens trained to be experts on everything Spokane.

Spokane is the only city in Washington State to train its citizens to be Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTA). The National Program teaches students everything from a city's history to how to interact with a newcomer.

At first glance, you might not notice, but Rebecca Bishop is a CTA. Her gold star pin gives it away.

"No secret hand shake but we do kind of give a nod because it's, you know, something to be proud of," Bishop said about passing fellow CTA's.

As an employee of the Museum of Modern Arts and Culture, Bishop though it fit she become a CTA and took the day-long class and stringent test to do it. Her hard work has paid off as she has been nominated for CTA of the year.

"It signifies that I'm involved, that I'm aware, that I care about this community," Bishop said.

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Blossoming flowers herald arrival of spring ... and ticks

Flowers are blooming, spring is in full swing and so are insects, with ticks being especially active right now.

Ticks are active all summer long however you'll start to see a lot of them at the beginning of spring. Experts say to stay away from tall grasses and if you are out keep on the trails.

The Spokane River is one of Steven Bishop and his dog Blue's favorite places.

"I've been walking down here for 20 years," said Bishop.

It's also a popular spot to find ticks.

"Oh, I was covered with them," said Bishop about a recent trip.

With flowers and grasses in bloom ticks are very active. Climbing out to the very edge of small shrubs and tall grasses they wait to catch a ride and some lunch.

"I'll see one crawling across my chest or wherever the dog is lying I'll see one crawling across the floor," said Bishop.

Ticks feed on blood by burying their heads under the skin of people and animals and can cause infections like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Relapsing Fever, Lyme Disease and tick paralysis.

"Tick disease in our area is actually pretty rare," said Steve Main.

Girl Scouts asking for support during Idaho Gives

Girl Scouts asking for support during Idaho Gives

Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho is hoping the region will jump on board and donate during the first ever Idaho Gives campaign.

 

Idaho Gives is a 24 hour giving campaign sponsored by the Idaho Nonprofit Center. The event gives donors the opportunity to give to any of the 531 participating non profits across Idaho. For every $10 donation made groups will be entered to win a Golden Ticket prize. The more donors that GSEWNI gets, the more chances they have to win prize money.

 

Groups have also been divided by size into three separate scoreboards. Each scoreboard carries an additional $5,000 worth of prize money that will be divided between the top five money raisers at the end of the day. Idaho Gives also features an Everybody Wins Award, this award takes a general pool of money and divides it by the percentage if the total raised. For example, if Girl Scouts raises one percent of the total for the entire campaign, then they receive one percent of the Everybody Wins Award.

I came. I saw. I danced. I lost.

Since I so shamelessly begged for your votes, I figured the least I could do was share the outcome of last weekend's CYT Dancing With Celebrities (and, the video proof of what took place.)

I suppose I gave the conclusion of this story away in the headline. But, what I left out is that I had a total blast doing this event and I'm so glad I did it, despite not winning in the end. I was fortunate to meet and work with an AMAZING dancer, Brenden Hebert. That man can move, folks - and, he didn't even yell at me when I couldn't figure out the most basic steps in the choreography. Did he laugh at me sometimes? Sure. Especially during one of our first rehearsals when my heels caught on each other and I fell flat on the ground like a falling tree. But, he was always patient and constructive and I was lucky to share the stage with him, even if just for a few minutes.

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Corral your bike during Bloomsday

Corral your bike during Bloomsday

Anyone who's ever raced Bloomsday knows that getting downtown on race day takes some planning. The brave souls drive and park, the ones willing to put in more time on their feet use the STA bus shuttles. The Spokane Bicycle Club suggests riding your bike, they'll even watch it for free. 

For the last 14 years the Spokane Bicycle Club has offered a free bike corral for racers arriving by pedal. Riders can drop off their bicycles as well as warm-up gear, back packs and after race picnics. The club started the bike corral after seeing similar set ups at other events in both Portland and San Fransico. Last year, around 200 racers parked their bicycles in the corral. 

Apprehensive about adding a ride home after a 12k road race? Sally Phillips, of the Spokane Bicycle Club, says that riding a bike uses an entirely different muscle group than running and walking. Phillips wants racers to know that pedaling home is in many ways more pleasant than trekking another mile to your car or walking across downtown to the bus shuttle stops. 

Counterfeit Chihuly ring smashed open

Counterfeit Chihuly ring smashed open

A Spokane art collector is now a key witness in the federal trial of a Seattle area man, charged with selling fake Chihuly artwork.

This week, 35-year old Michael Little was arrested by Renton police for trafficking counterfeit goods.

The investigation started in February, when federal agents were notified of counterfeit Chihuly pieces being sold across the state.

Dale Chihuly is a world renowned glass artist.

According to court documents, James Coombes bought $22,000 worth of what he thought were authentic Chihuly pieces from Little in 2012.

Coombes, who lives in Spokane, planned to donate the pieces to Gonzaga.

When Coombes attempted authenticate the pieces, it became clear they were not the real deal.

From his Seattle studio, Dale Chihuly talked about the case with KXLY sister station, KOMO-TV.

"I don't mind when people copy my work, I don't like it when people forge my signature," Dale Chihuly said.

Little now faces five years in prison.

Coincidentally, real Chihuly pieces are on display right now at the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga. The exhibit runs until July 31st.

Settlement reached with former police chief

The Spokane City Council will soon be considering a resolution night to pay former interim police chief Scott Stephens a $190,000 settlement.

The resolution is listed on the council's legislative agenda for May 6.

Friday morning the police department sent out a brief, one-sentence statement from Police Chief Frank Straub wishing Stephens well in his future endeavors.

"I appreciate Asst. Chief Stephens many years of service to the Department and the community as well as his leadership during a transitional period in the Department?s history and wish him well in the future."

Mayor David Condon confirmed Friday afternoon Stephens filed a $750,000 claim against the city last week, but settled with the city for $190,000. Condon described the settlement as being "fair to all."

Stephens, the one-time interim chief passed over by Mayor David Condon to take on the chief role after Anne Kirkpatrick resigned in 2011, has been on paid administrative leave since December following a shake-up in department leadership that saw Stephens go from assistant chief to being in charge of getting the department re-accredited.