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Grant County investigates pertussis outbreak

Grant County investigates pertussis outbreak

The Grant County Health District is investigating three confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) and another 210 who may have been exposed to infected individuals.

The outbreak has been contained to migrant farm workers near Mattawa and Quincy, and so far no one has been hospitalized.

“Because a large number of exposed and ill individuals in a very well-defined area, we are considering this a local outbreak,” said Grant County Health Officer Alexander Brzezny.

In an effort to control the spread of the disease, GCHD distributed antibiotics for all 210 individuals who came in close contact with the ill individuals. The pertussis (Tdap) shot is also being offered to all the workers to reduce a chance of future infection.

Working 4 you: Preventing heat illnesses in young children

Working 4 you: Preventing heat illnesses in young children

It's expected to be a very hot week in Spokane, and that means children are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

There is always something to do outside in the summer, and it can be easy for time to slip by. But experts say it's important to recognize that children and adults tolerate heat very differently.

According to doctors, children are at a higher risk for heat related injuries. They say children have thinner skin and don't manage heat exchange well. Children also tend to lose more fluids through their skin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infants and children younger than four are among those at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses.

So, doctors have some suggestions for children who are heading out to play.

First, they urge parents to plan ahead. Make sure children are hydrating before they head outside to play. And once they are outside, make sure children are drinking every 20 to 30 minutes. Children should be taking frequent breaks to hydrate.

Doctors also add that it's important to watch what your children are drinking. Make sure they're not drinking any caffeinated sodas.

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.

Gang member Eddie Hernandez sentenced to 23 years

Gang member Eddie Hernandez sentenced to 23 years

A 22-year-old gang member in Grant County has been sentenced to 23 consecutive years in prison.

Superior Court Judge John Antosz followed the prosecutor's recommendation and sentenced Eddie Hernandez for the crimes of Residential Burglary, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree and Assault in the Third Degree.

Hernandez plead guilty to two of the charges in connection to an incident on June 17, 2013, when police stopped a vehicle he was a passenger in.

“Mr. Hernandez fled the scene, discarding numerous shotgun shells as he ran. Officers later found a sawed-off shotgun on the floorboard of the seat that Mr. Hernandez was seated in. Based on this evidence, Mr. Hernandez plead guilty to Unlawful Posession of a Firearm in the First Degree,” said Grant County Prosecutor Angus Lee.

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

A state-sponsored survey of Washington employers shows both hiring and job vacancies increased between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013 and employers say it's taking a lot longer to fill the openings.

The Employment Security Department’s “2013 Fall Job-Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report” estimated job vacancies increased by 23 percent to 86,600 in fall 2013. Estimated hiring rose nearly 10 percent to 209,100.

Employers also reported that vacant positions remained open for more than two months before being filled. That's a striking contrast to the rate of just 19 days in 2012.

The report also shows more than half of the state's job vacancies were in urban areas of Western Washington, accounting for nearly 82 percent of all new hires from July to September last year.

The industry sector with the most job openings was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and the average estimated hourly wage for $13.69.

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Is your neighborhood beginning to feel a little crowded? According to the Washington office of Financial Management, the state population has increased dramatically in the past year by an estimated 1.5 percent. That's 85,500 people!

Washington's population has been growing at an increasing rate, mostly due to migration. In 2013 the state saw a net gain of 49,200 people moving into the state, more than double the 21,600 from 2012.

Net migration accounts for 57 percent of the state's population growth this year, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the other 43 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the state's total population growth occurred in the five largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane who's economic activity continues to attract migrants.  

Cracked Columbia River dam to be fixed this year

The cracked Wanapum Dam should be repaired and its reservoir on the Columbia River near Vantage refilled by the end of the year.

Grant County Public Utility District says it has started drilling holes that will be used to anchor the dam in bedrock.

A 65-foot-long crack was discovered in the dam in February, and the utility determined more concrete and steel should have been used in the spillway when the dam was built in the 1960s.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the final repair plan is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but drilling anchor holes in advance will save time.