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VA employees past and present voice concerns over management

VA employees past and present voice concerns over management

President Obama has ordered a comprehensive investigation of Veterans Affairs hospitals, but despite the president's forceful words to take action, the scandal is not going away as more current and former VA employees come forward with concerns.

Some of the biggest concerns that current and former employees of the VA are saying is there is a disconnect with management, a division and lack of communication that creates discontent in the system and ultimately effects services to veterans.

When the scandal at the VA hospital in Phoenix broke, eyes turned back to the Spokane VA Medical Center, where Phoenix VA hospital administrator Sharon Helman used to work as the hospital director from March 2008 to January 2010.

"We thought she was sharp alright, she was a good politician but she was not a good director," former VA employee Carroll McInroe said.

McInroe worked for the VA at that time and says immediately things started to fall apart.

"After she arrived 16 professionals walked out the door and a lot of those were our top MDs. Our top MDs pretty much left," said McInroe.

How to protect yourself from the eBay data breach

How to protect yourself from the eBay data breach

If you use eBay, change your password. That's the message from the company after hackers broke into the online retail site and now have customer names, passwords, email addresses and other sensitive information.

The online marketplace says there is no evidence financial information was stolen, but if you are one of the 145 million people with an account on eBay... Some of your personal information, like your date of birth and address, could be in the hands of hackers, but there are things you can do to ward off hackers, according to Chelsea Maguire with the Better Business Bureau.

"It's very important that people change their passwords regularly, we often just get very used to it and we don't want to try to remember something new but when you do change your password regularly it reduces your risk of any hacker going through and find that information," Maguire said.

If you're changing your password, make it something difficult to thwart hackers.

"Simple numbers, your child's birth date, name, those are easily guessed and found, make sure it is very complicated, has uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols," Maguire said.

Spokane is Reading Swamplandia! this summer

Spokane is Reading Swamplandia! this summer

Spokane is reading this summer, and will be diving into the swamp lands of Florida for the 13th year of the community reading event. This summer Spokane is Reading Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

Hoopfest registration deadline extended

Hoopfest registration deadline extended

If you missed the Hoopfest registration deadline you’re in luck. Hoopfest has extended the deadline through Monday and will allow up to 150 more teams to register.

Spokane County residents sue over improper taxes

Residents of Liberty Lake and Spokane Valley are suing Spokane County after they were wrongly taxed to pay for control of noxious weeds.

They filed a civil lawsuit in Spokane County Superior Court this week seeking full refunds. The plaintiffs include the mayor of Liberty Lake, Steve Peterson.

The Spokesman-Reviewsays property owners in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake were improperly taxed more than $1 million over the past decade for noxious weed enforcement.

Spokane County Risk Manager Steve Bartel said Friday that an outside attorney will review the suit.

The problem was discovered last year. Spokane Valley property owners have been improperly assessed about $95,000 a year, while the amount assessed on Liberty Lake parcels has been about $9,000 a year.

Fungus, pests afflict Northwest's ponderosa pines

Foresters say pests and fungal infections are afflicting the region's ponderosa pines, and while they seldom kill the trees, they do worry landowners.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the unsightly appearance of the trees is being caused by fungal infections and tiny insects called pine scale that thrive during cool, moist conditions. Pine scale can look like paint spatters, while fungi are identified by black or brown splotches on the needles.

Steve McConnell, a Washington State University Extension forester in Spokane, says he's getting two to three calls per day from panicky landowners. But he says that if trees are otherwise healthy, they should recover no problem.

State Department of Natural Resources officer Guy Gifford says the outbreaks are typically not so widespread. This year, he's seeing acres of affected trees, and he says that is unusual.

Pest control companies go to war against yellow jackets

Pest control companies go to war against yellow jackets

Prime Pest Control went to battle in the Wandermere area Friday afternoon with chemicals, a backpack, and a spray gun. The battleground was the eaves and cracks of the home. The enemy: Yellow jackets.

Paul Nibarger and Lance Freeman with Prime Pest Control are already receiving hundreds of calls to attack yellow jackets, hornets, and paper wasps. Experts say it's the best time of year to cripple these pests' forces, before they build their army.

"Then if they land on our treatment and we kill one of them, that's one less hive we have to deal with later," Nibarger said.

Nibarger's been battling yellow jackets for 12 years. Last year was the worst he's seen. Because there were so many, it increases the chances those queens made it through the winter. It means this summer could be just as bad.

"Last year was an incredible year, so we'll see if it compares with last year but we're definitely getting a lot of calls," Nibarger said.

Multiple pest control companies say it's a little earlier than usual to see this many yellow jackets flying around.

It's why Nibarger and Freeman will keep moving pushing forward, to the next battleground.