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Preparing for the big bang

Preparing for the big bang

Pyrotechnicians have spent all day Friday preparing for fireworks displays all across the area, including Spokane's display down at Riverfront Park.

"We've been here for two days solid days starting at, eight o'clock in the morning and we work through the course of the day," Matt King said.

King and his crew have been setting up hundreds of fireworks in Riverfront Park.

"Everything is completely scripted. We are sent a list of all the things we are supposed to be blowing up, and then how they are supposed to be grouped," King said.

He says the spot is the best for it because they have to shoot over the water so people can get pretty close.

"They can expect an absolutely perfect night. It should be temperature-wise perfect, a cloud standpoint, perfect," King said.

Debby Dodson with Spokane Parks and Recreation agrees. She said they'll be using some fireworks they haven't used in more than 20 years.

Stoddard guilty of Cassel murder

A jury deliberated for two hours and 45 minutes, including a lunch break, before finding Gary Stoddard guilty of the March 2013 killing of Heather Cassel.

In addition to the murder charge, he was found guilty of first degree kidnapping and was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of both her kidnapping and killing, which will play a role in his sentencing.

The two deadly weapon enhancements will add up to 10 years to his prison term.

After the verdict was read, Cassel's aunt thanked the Spokane Police Department and prosecutors for their work and a speedy verdict.

?We are very happy with the verdict, we are so grateful for the police department and the prosecuting attorney who was marvelous and so now Heather and Dylan are happy,? Donna Heinen said.

Stoddard's defense as the trial got underway earlier this week was that he had admitted to the killing to detectives because he thought he had terminal cancer and wanted to protect his nephew, thinking the case would never go to trial.

Local agencies partner up for drowning prevention

Local agencies partner up for drowning prevention

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with the Spokane Regional Health District and the Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition to stress the importance of life jackets and swimming safety measures.

With the holiday weekend approaching, the agencies are partnering to remind residents that preventing drownings is as simple as putting on a life jacket.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists failure to wear a life jacket as among the top reasons people drown, along with lack of swimming lessons, alcohol consumption and lack of supervision.

Half of drowning victims in Washington state did not intend to be immersed in water. Instead, they were fishing near a river or riding in a boat but slipped and fell in cold or swift water.

The partners are working together to boost safety, even offering 25 percent off coupons for a life jacket from Big 5 Sporting Goods which you can find here.

Spokane gathers to watch World Cup

It may be one of the best company parties ideas, a World Cup watch party. Chairs, pizza, and red, white and blue filled the lobby at the Washington Trust Bank in downtown Spokane.

"We have a great lobby and people seem to enjoy the big TV we have here," Branch Manager Cindy Wendle said."I thought, wow, it would be a good fun time just to kind of celebrate, and it was good timing for the game at one o'clock."

Wendle adds it was a good way for employees, and customers to relax and watch the match hoping for the U.S. win.

"I think everyone is very optimistic," Wendle said. "I think because we tied Germany I think everyone is thinking, okay they can gut this out."

"It's awesome to me to see the organization I work for embraces the spirit of right now," bank employee Filip Cracium said. "I'm a soccer guy, I grew up with it, I've played, coached, everything, so this is fun for me."

Across the street at the Post Street Ale House, a much more rowdy crowd. Fans were glued to the TV for 90 minutes. Neither team would score.

Stoddard takes stand, tries to pin murder on nephew

Gary Stoddard took the witness stand Tuesday in his own defense and tried to recant his confession to police that he killed his nephew's estranged girlfriend.

Stoddard is accused of shooting Heather Cassel to death in a botched kidnapping attempt in March 2013 and in court Tuesday he was consistent and earnest in explaining that he was trying to divert the detective's attention away from his nephew by immediately confessing to the crime.

The reason, Stoddard explained, was that he never expected to stand trial for the crime because at the time he felt he had terminal cancer and had less than six weeks to live, which is why he confessed to the killing after he was taken into custody less than 24 hours after Cassel died.

But now he wants the jury to believe that his nephew is the real killer and that he was only taking the blame because he thought he was dying.

?Look I know what they say, you can die in six weeks. if you've already got the symptoms it's too late,? Stoddard said on the witness stand Tuesday.

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Another warning in the face of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has placed a burn ban on all DNR-protected land east of the Cascades.

Starting July 1 and running until September 30, the burn ban applies to all forestland under DNR fire protection.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them and protects forests, habitat and property.”

So far this year DNR has already had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres across the state.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR forestland with two exceptions:

Recreational fires in approved fire pits

Gas or propane stoves and barbecue grills

Fireworks and incendiary devices like exploding targets, sky lanterns or tracer ammunition are also illegal.

Trial changed for man questioned in murder case

Trial has been pushed back in an illegal weapons case against a North Dakota man who has been questioned in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in Spokane, Washington.

James Henrikson, of Watford City, is charged in federal court with being a felon in charge of a firearm. His trial was originally scheduled for July 22.

Authorities say Henrikson had business dealings in the North Dakota oil patch with Doug Carlile, who was shot and killed by an intruder on Dec. 15 at his Spokane home. Henrikson has denied involvement in Carlile's death.

Henrikson was arrested in January. Authorities say they discovered several firearms and a large amount of ammunition at Henrikson's residence in Watford City.

A judge on Monday agreed to reschedule trial for Sept. 23 in Bismarck.