WINTHROP — Under partly-sunny skies and before a crowd of winter sports fans, Wilbur the Winthrop Whistlepig proclaimed on Saturday that the end of winter is here. Some cheered, but more boos erupted from the crowd at Winthrop’s trailhead after school Superintendent Mark Wenzel read the rhymed proclamation which ended, “The climes are chilly, and snow is all over. But I smell the scent of a faint spring clover. I predict that winter is over!”
OKANOGAN — A burn ban in effect since Friday in Okanogan County was extended this morning until at least 10 a.m. Tuesday. Monitors in Twisp and Omak showed air quality this morning to be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
OMAK — Authorities have seized five severely underweight cows and a horse, and also discovered five cows and a goat that apparently already starved to death at an Omak woman’s property. Lisa M. Smith, 50, owns the animals and the residence, and deputies with the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office are seeking a warrant for her arrest, said Sheriff Frank Rogers.
OKANOGAN — An Okanogan County Sheriff’s sergeant who returned fire after an Okanogan man shot toward him from a vehicle in November was justified in shooting the man twice, a Douglas County Sheriff’s investigation found. According to the investigation:
WENATCHEE — Compared with the game wardens of years past who focused largely on patrols and writing tickets, today’s state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers are highly trained police officers who investigate complex crimes. Among hunters, some welcome the change, while others say it’s gone too far.
OKANOGAN — The Okanogan School District and Aero Methow Rescue will both ask voters to renew maintenance and operations levies in a special election Feb. 12. Ballots went to registered voters in those districts last week, and must be postmarked by Feb. 12. Voters in Okanogan will also decide whether to fund a $1.15 million general bond issue that would extend the life of school district buildings and grounds through renovations and upgrades. The bond issue needs 60 percent of voters to approve in order to pass, while the maintenance ...
OMAK — In an office building in Omak, Dan Christensen sits in front of two computers. On one, he’s filling out a damage complaint for deer that got into a nearby orchard. On the other, he’s recovering digital photographs erased from a memory card that may contain important evidence. The $4,500 thumbdrive that helps him reconstruct a photograph was developed to investigate child pornography. But Christensen isn’t looking for people who make and distribute child porn. He’s trying to find the people who poach deer, bait bear, or kill wolves.
TONASKET — The Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office this week seized 11 dogs that were underfed and arrested their owner on suspicion of second-degree animal cruelty. Sheriff Frank Rogers said the dogs included five puppies and two pregnant females that were in very poor shape.
OMAK — The Omak and Okanogan schools will start two hours late this morning due to icy roads caused by freezing rain. Some parts of Eastern Washington were reporting ice accumulations up to one-tenth of an inch.
WENATCHEE — Federal agencies will waive recreation user fees on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The forest pass, a day-use parking fee required on some federal lands, is waived at all U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation lands.
WENATCHEE — A Stage 1 burn ban is still in effect as an inversion and stagnant air is forecast to continue for all of North Central Washington at least until Tuesday. Under a Stage 1 ban, all outdoor burning and the use of uncertified wood-burning devices is prohibited, unless it is a home’s major source of heat.
WINTHROP — Move over Punxsutawney Phil, here comes Winthrop Wilbur. This Groundhog Day, Winthrop residents and visitors are invited on a two-hour tour on skis or snowshoes to look for Wilbur the Winthrop Whistlepig.
WAUCONDA — Okanogan County Sheriff’s deputies removed eight horses from a field near Wauconda on Tuesday after determining they were not being fed or watered. Sheriff Frank Rogers said a Gig Harbor man owns the horses, and told authorities he had asked his son who lives in Tonasket to care for them. Deputies left messages for the son, but were unable to reach him.
TONASKET — An announcement this week that North Valley Hospital will close its assisted living facility left 27 seniors looking for a new home and some of their relatives angry over the decision. The public hospital says funding losses are forcing the move 15 years after their assisted living center was built with a bond passed and funded by the community.
WENATCHEE — The state Department of Ecology on Tuesday banned all outdoor burning and the use of uncertified wood-burning stoves, inserts or fireplaces in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, until further notice. Current weather conditions has resulted in stagnant air, and air quality monitors in Wenatchee and Twisp recorded moderate air quality, while those in Leavenworth and Okanogan registered air unhealthy for sensitive groups.
OKANOGAN — Okanogan County Commissioners on Wednesday appointed Omak attorney Charles Short as the county’s new district court judge, effective Jan. 15. Short, 38, replaces Henry “Hank” Rawson, who was elected to become one of the county’s superior court judges in November.
WINTHROP — A public health official said Tuesday that a Methow Valley basketball player with a confirmed case of pertussis did not pose a high risk of spreading the disease at a Brewster tournament in late December. But other schools should still be on the lookout for any students with symptoms of whooping cough, and take measures to prevent outbreaks in other areas.