July 28, 2014

A lot of color

Runners encounter enthusiastic color applicators on the South Fork of the Palouse River during the Colfax Concrete River Festival last Saturday. The color run started at Schmuck Park and went through town and into the flood control to end back at Schmuck Park. Different color stations hit runners with pink, blue, yellow and green pigments.

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Jury rejects suit in sexual harassment case

A U.S. District Court jury in Spokane Friday ruled in favor of Whitman County Assessor Joe Reynolds when it rejected the sexual harassment suit filed by Brenda Arthur, an employee in the assessor’s office.
The jury returned a verdict of “no” on whether or not Arthur was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment in the assessor’s office. They also ruled “no” on whether or not she was retaliated against under the federal Title VII discrimination law.
Friday’s verdict by the district court jury was announced at Monday’s county commissioners’ workshop session by Commissioner Michael Largent.
Reynolds denied that he had said or done anything that was inappropriate. His attorney, Jerry Moberg of Ephrata, said the trial was a “she said-he said” type of case and the jury agreed with Reynolds that her claims were false.
“Our defense was that Reynolds did not do any of the things he was accused of by Ms. Arthur,” Moberg said. He added Reynolds still considers Ms. Arthur to be a valuable employee in the assessor’s office.
Moberg’s comments were issued in a statement from the assessor’s office.
Arthur’s civil suit against Reynolds and the county was initially filed in Whitman County Superior Court in 2011 by Spokane Attorney James McPhee. It was moved to U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington in May of 2012 under alleged violations of the Title VII federal law.
The trial was conducted last week after U.S. Judge Lonny Suko denied a motion by the county’s attorney, Michael McFarland of Spokane, to dismiss the suit. In his ruling, Judge Suko disqualified parts of Arthur’s suit, including a contention that her earlier complaints against Reynolds were subsequently cited in county employee training sessions without her permission.
Whitman County was listed as a defendant in the suit with Reynolds for its alleged failure to implement training after initial misconduct complaints were filed against Reynolds by Arthur and a county hearing was conducted.
Arthur’s suit alleged on several occasions Reynolds made suggestive comments to her while she was working in the office. The suit also alleged physical contact.
Reynolds is one of two county elected officials who are being challenged in the fall election. He is being challenged by Jim Hawkes, an appraiser in the assessor’s office from Pullman.

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Old Mill Days returns Saturday

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter

The second edition of the Oakesdale’s Old Mill Days will be Saturday with events scheduled from 7 a.m to midnight.
Featured will be area bands, headlined by a three-hour set from The Senders, a parade, dunk tank, car and tractor show, egg toss sponsored by AmericaWest Bank, a beer garden with door prizes and the Masons’ ice cream wagon.
It starts with a pancake breakfast at Oakesdale Fire Station and closes at midnight.
Three new attractions are tours of Hanford Castle from 3 to 5 p.m., bingo at the bus garage all day and a kids triathlon at 9:30 a.m. The McCoy Valley Museum is open for tours. All proceeds will benefit the museum, which will also hold a silent auction through the day with items such as WSU football tickets.
Grand Marshals Ruth and Verne Pittmann will lead the parade at 11 a.m. with participants lining up a half hour earlier at the Oakesdale Presbyterian Church.
The food headquarters will be the old gas station across from Crossett’s Market, where a new offering of beer brats will be added to the menu of barbecue hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and chips.
The brats will simmer first for 15 minutes in a mixture of beer, mustard seeds, coriander and caraway seeds, onions, garlic and fresh ginger.
“Something that’s tasty but inexpensive,” said food co-chairman Gail Parsons, of the yet-undecided kind of beer to be used.
The pulled pork and potato salad will be supplied by the Feeding Station from Tekoa.
Entry fee for the five-mile fun run and kids’ triathlon will be $10 with all participants receiving a t-shirt.
The triathlon will be untimed with distances adjusted for the youngest kids to the oldest (age 15). It starts with a swim in the pool, from one side to the other for 5-year-olds up to six lengths for older kids, then culminates in a bike ride (up to three miles) and short run (up to 1.5 miles).
“The distances are geared to introduce the younger kids to a triathlon,” said volunteer Cap Perry. “It’s not meant to be grueling.”
Old Mill Days was revived in 2013 after a five-year hiatus. The event also marked the 125th anniversary of Oakesdale’s founding, along with the 25th anniversary of the Oakesdale Historical Society.
“We had a lot of people show up last year and we’re hoping for more,” said Jake Dingman, the event’s chairman.

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Sports

Asotin stops Posse enroute to state finals

Asotin County Blues, a top bracket team which rode the fence all the way to the state Junior Legion playoffs last weekend in Spokane ended the season for the Colfax-based Posse team in the first playoff round last Thursday.
Asotin finished its Spokane run with a 3-1 record to get the number-three Spokane ticket in the 16-team state finals. Other Spokane finalists include Mt. Spokane in first place; Gonzaga Prep, second; Mead, fourth, and Ferris, fifth.
The Ferris team eliminated Lewis & Clark, the top qualifier in the National Division, in the last round.
The state finals will at A.K. Jackson Field at Shadle Park and Whitworth, and are slated to start Saturday with the final rounds July 31.
Pullman Posse, which waited more than a week to learn where they landed in the playoffs among the three Spokane divisions, drew the top bracket Asotin Blues in the first round last Thursday.
Asotin took the elimination opener 4-2. They posted a 4-0 lead after three innings before Posse came to life for two runs in the sixth inning.
Each team rapped seven hits in the opening game, but the Blues had the hits in the right places to book their runs early.
Jake Cillay pitched the first five innings for Posse, and Trevor Joirmman went to the mound in the fifth and kept the lid on the Blues offense until the finish.
Evan Parks and Jeff Davies each tagged a double to lead the Posse bats. Also rapping hits in the last Posse game were Jake Mendiola, Ryan Vannucci, Garrett Burke, Cal Gregory and Cillay.
Asotin Pitcher Aaron Trimmel walked just two Posse batters and struck out 10 in getting the win.
After bumping Posse out of the playoff, Asotin went to the elimination brink in the Friday round with a 0-10 shutout at the hands of Mt. Spokane, the eventual winners of the Spokane show. The Blues had just two hits and their offense booked five errors in the shutout loss.
Asotin kept in the running in Saturday’s elimination round with a 3-2 zap over University. In that game they scored two runs in the last chance seventh inning to keep in the hunt for a state slot.
Sunday, they clinched a state slot with a 4-2 win over Lewis & Clark. Asotin batters booked 11 hits in the Sunday win.

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Opinion

Gordon Forgey

Two hospital shootings took place recently in Spokane.
Hospitals are not normally considered places of violence, except in movies and on T.V.
Yet, violence, whether with guns or not, is a growing reality at hospitals, especially in emergency rooms.
It has even become a concern in Whitman County. Disturbances and violent patients are not new at Whitman Hospital and Medical Center.
In fact, the Colfax Police Department has started to position officers there during the early morning hours.
The new program gives the hospital, and for that matter the rest of the community, full 24-hour police coverage. Of particular concern is the potential for problems in the emergency room during those hours.
In the past, on-call officers would respond to problems there at certain hours. Reaction time can be longer in these cases.
If response time is not quick in dangerous situations, the hospital staff is left to its own devices.
This new coverage policy reduces the risks posed by violent people, whether they be patients, visitors or those newly brought into the emergency room.
It is an important change. It is good for the community at large and for the hospital and its staff and patients.
As such, it is a good community partnership.
Gordon Forgey
Publisher

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