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Spokane/East. Wash/North Idaho News Releases for Mon. Feb. 24 - 5:52 pm
Police & Fire
DEA announces launch of methamphetamine initiative - Efforts will assist in combating record amounts flooding the Pacific Northwest
DEA Seattle - 02/20/20 11:02 AM

 SEATTLE – Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon today announced that the DEA will direct enforcement resources to methamphetamine “transportation hubs” — areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country. While continuing to focus on stopping drugs being smuggled across the border, DEA’s Operation Crystal Shield will ramp up enforcement to block their further distribution into America’s neighborhoods.

DEA has identified eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs where these efforts will be concentrated: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.

Methamphetamine seizures in the Pacific Northwest are continuing to rise. In 2019, DEA seizures throughout the region were an all-time high of more than 3,200 pounds. Recent seizure amounts for the region are on pace to surpass last year. “The increased volume of high grade methamphetamine flooding our Pacific Northwest neighborhoods coupled with increased overdose rates is alarming,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.  He further added, “Operation Crystal Shield will further enhance law enforcement efforts in key distribution points throughout the Pacific Northwest linked to the identified transportation hubs in the southwest.”

Operation Crystal Shield builds on existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States. From FY 2017 to FY 2019, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly twenty percent.  

“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”

Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border and is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways to major transfer centers around the country. It is often found in poly-drug loads, alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.

Information regarding illicit drug trafficking activities can be anonymously submitted at www.dea.gov

Visuals are available (local and national) – please contact Special Agent Jodie Underwood 


Federal
BLM's sage-grouse plans put Western communities first
Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash. - 02/19/20 11:34 AM

Additional documentation highlights robust analysis
 

The Bureau of Land Management will publish six draft supplemental environmental impact statements (SEISs) on Friday for management of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on public lands in seven Western states, highlighting the collaborative process undergone in 2019 to develop plans that reflected the needs of Western communities and Greater Sage Grouse habitat.  

The draft SEISs address issues identified in an October 16, 2019, order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, which placed a preliminary injunction on the implementation of 2019 BLM sage-grouse plans in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada/northeastern California and Oregon.

"In March of last year, the Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans were adopted with strong bipartisan support by the Western states, as the plans made important modifications that matched the input provided by the states and Western communities," said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond. "The draft SEISs illustrate the hard look and robust analysis we performed in this collaborative process to balance our habitat conservation and enhancement goals in response to recent litigation."

The draft SEISs explain how the range of alternatives analyzed in the 2019 EISs was developed, the incorporation by reference of the effects analysis from the 2015 EISs, and how best available science was used. Reports by the National Technical Team and Conservation Objective Team were critical in developing the plans. The current draft SEISs also clarify the BLM’s approach to compensatory mitigation in authorizing various uses of lands that also provide habitat for the sage-grouse.

Suspending implementation of the 2019 plans has affected programs and projects across the BLM and in Western states from authorizations of renewable energy projects and oil and gas leases to grazing permit renewals and wildfire management. For example, in northeastern California, adaptive management measures to respond to changes in sage-grouse populations cannot currently be used because the data-model used in the 2015 plan is no longer the best available information.

In Wyoming, a land exchange that would increase public access and improve resource management cannot proceed and in Utah, court-ordered travel management planning has been slowed while routes are re-evaluated for conformance with the earlier sage-grouse plans. The impact to the states goes on, but the BLM is complying with the court’s order by conforming its actions to the 2015 plans while the draft SEISs undergo public review and comment.  

States primarily manage wildlife species, and federal agencies like the BLM manage wildlife habitat. The 2019 plans were adopted after months of close coordination and cooperation with state governments in the affected states. The goal was to better align BLM plans for managing habitat with state plans for conserving the species, including state plans for compensatory mitigation, while addressing the circumstances and needs of each individual state. 

The 2019 plans received bipartisan support from the governors who sought changes to the 2015 plans for their respective states.

The draft SEISs are now available online. The BLM will accept comments on the documents starting Friday, February 21, 2020, through April 6, 2020.

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals. 


DOI Hosts Media Teleconference Call February19 at 3 p.m. EST to Greater Sage-Grouse Planning
Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash. - 02/19/20 8:59 AM

On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. EST, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Casey Hammond will hold a media teleconference to discuss the availability of supplemental environmental impact statements to the 2019 Greater Sage-Grouse conservation plans.  The SEISs respond to a 2019 preliminary injunction suspending implementation of the plans.

Who:  Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Casey Hammond
What:  Media teleconference to discuss the Greater Sage-Grouse plans
When:  3:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Call details:  All credentialed news media are invited to participate. You must RSVP at BLM_press@blm.gov prior to the call to receive the call-in number and passcode for today’s teleconference.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.


Tri-Cities-area School Districts
Nine Outstanding Local Teachers Named Crystal Apple Award Winners
ESD 123 - 02/24/20 8:25 AM

PASCO, WA – This year marks the 22nd Annual Crystal Apple Awards, recognizing extraordinary teachers from nine local school districts.  These educators, along with one surprise “Special Achievement Winner” will be honored at the Crystal Apple Award ceremony taking place on Thursday, March 12 at 4:30 PM.

Since 1999, the Crystal Apple Awards have recognized 235 local educators.  The awards are sponsored through generous contributions from community organizations, businesses, and service groups.  Thanks to these charitable organizations, each Crystal Apple winner will be presented with a beautiful glass “crystal apple,” gift certificates to local sporting events and dining, and a $1,000 check.  (The teachers have already been informed of their awards. See the attached list of 2020 Crystal Apple winners.) In addition to the nine teachers, one local community leader will be surprised with the Special Achievement Award for his/her contributions to the education community.

Superintendents from the following school districts will recognize their 2020 winners during the ceremony:  Columbia-Burbank, Finley, Kennewick, Kiona-Benton, North Franklin, Othello, Pasco, Prosser, and Richland. The public is encouraged to attend the celebratory event on Thursday, March 12, beginning promptly at 4:30 PM in the ESD 123 Professional Development Center, located at 3924 W Court St in Pasco.  For more information, contact Molly Curtiss at 509.544.5787 or mcurtiss@esd123.org.

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The Crystal Apple Award is co-sponsored by numerous community organizations and businesses all wishing to honor the many educators who have made a positive impact on the lives of their students.  This year’s Platinum Level Sponsors (donating $600 or more) include:  Bechtel National, Evergreen Associates, Gesa Credit Union, Johnson Controls, Pasco Kennewick Rotary, STCU, Stevens / Clay, Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary Club, and Washington River Protection Solutions.




Attached Media Files: 2020 Crystal Apple Winners

Regional High School Art Exhibit Now Open (Photo)
ESD 123 - 02/21/20 11:17 AM
High school art exhibit
High school art exhibit
http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2020-02/1212/131709/thumb_IMG_20200221_101748.jpg

PASCO, WA – Judges are making the difficult decision today to narrow down 424 incredible works of art to the top 24 pieces that will receive “Judges Choice” awards at the 47th Annual Regional High School Art Show.  The exhibit featuring high school art from 10 school districts across Southeast Washington is on display now through March 6 at the Columbia Basin College Gjerde Atrium in Pasco.

Educational Service District (ESD) 123 and CBC host the regional art show every year to celebrate student art. An award ceremony honoring the top Judge’s Choice, Honorable Mention, and Superintendent’s Choice awards will take place at 6 PM on Thursday, March 5 at the Gjerde Center.

Students whose artworks are selected as Judge’s Choice winners and are approved for sale will advance on to the state competition in Olympia in May.  The art show and March 5 award ceremony is free and open to the public.  Learn more about the rotating art displays hosted by ESD 123 on our website at www.esd123.org/programs__services/art_show.  For more information, contact Molly Curtiss, ESD 123 Director of Communications, at 509.544.5787 or tiss@esd123.org">mcurtiss@esd123.org.

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About ESD 123:  Educational Service District 123, based in Pasco, WA, is one of nine ESDs in Washington. Dedicated to delivering collaborative solutions that promote learning, ESD 123 serves 23 school districts in seven counties of Southeastern Washington. Under Superintendent Darcy Weisner and its board of directors, this legislatively mandated, not-for-profit educational organization provides efficiency of educational systems and equity of learning opportunities for over 70,000 Washington students. For more information about ESD 123, please call 509-544-5700 or 888-547-8441 or visit www.esd123.org.




Attached Media Files: High school art exhibit , Guests appreciate the art exhibit , High school art exhibit on display at CBC

MEDIA ALERT - Guy Strot to Lead Dayton School District (Photo)
ESD 123 - 02/20/20 12:39 PM
Guy Strot
Guy Strot
http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2020-02/1212/131680/thumb_Strot_Guy_Bell_Picture.JPG

DAYTON, WA – Mr. Guy Strot will begin his position as Dayton School District’s next superintendent on July 1, 2020.  After finalizing contract negotiations at their board meeting last night, the Dayton School Board announced the formal offer and acceptance for the district’s incoming superintendent.

From the Dayton School Board:

"The Dayton School Board is excited that Mr. Strot will be joining our team in July. He comes to us with an excellent background in education and will bring new experiences and leadership to our district.  Working with ESD 123, our pool of qualified superintendent candidates was very impressive.  Guy was able to connect with the community members and staff during his interview process that made him stand out from the others.  He is student-focused, and has experienced many of the qualities that our District desires."

Mr. Strot, who currently serves as a principal in Kalama School District, says that he is looking forward to joining Dayton’s schools.

“Dayton is a great town,” Strot said.  “During the interviews, my wife and I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful students, staff, parents and community members.  I want to thank the board for giving me this awesome opportunity.  I would also like to recognize Doug Johnson for all he has given to Dayton School District.  He has done great work.  I look forward to coming back in March and meeting with district staff as we build our plan together.”

Current Dayton Superintendent Doug Johnson is retiring at the end of this school year.  The district has utilized the services of Educational Service District 123 for their superintendent search.  For more information, contact ESD 123 Superintendent Darcy Weisner at 509.544.5785.

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Attached Media Files: Guy Strot