Stories from this compilation are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is the second of a two-part regional news roundup; the first part was published Saturday.
COLFAX - There are creatures on the Palouse that have become a nuisance. They disregard property and boundaries, going where they please, even to the point of stopping traffic and damaging crops. This year their numbers have grown.
They are amateur photographers.
"This year it's way out of control," said Carol Cooper, Pullman Chamber of Commerce tourism director.
Cooper reported to the Palouse Scenic Byway Committee on Monday at the Public Service Building in Colfax. She pointed out the rash of disrespectful photographers has caused her to make changes to Picture Perfect Palouse, a brochure originally published in 2013. It provided information on highlights of the Palouse, including a map pinpointing specific photo opportunities. After extensive complaints from landowners, and from professional photographers, the original brochures have been recalled and revised.
The new brochure still has a map of the Palouse Scenic Byway, but it only shows towns and cities, road names and public lands, such as parks.
Cooper has received reports of photographers walking into barns, camping in wheat fields, walking past "No Trespassing" signs and entering abandoned buildings on private property, getting hurt and trying to collect from property owners.
Owners of one structure reported photographers this year are rude and obnoxious.
"It's not the professional photographers by any means," Cooper told the byway committee. The professionals are also complaining about the actions of this new wave of photographers, she said.
In addition to removing the location of private property sites, Cooper has added several notes and articles to the brochure to encourage ethics.
"This guide is not a license to trespass. Please respect the property of others," states a message on the front of the brochure.
"There is plenty of beauty in our area without feeding our residents to the ungrateful," Cooper told the committee.
Cooper also manages the Picture Perfect Palouse Facebook page, which she set up in 2015. The page is a place where photographers can share their pictures and experiences on the Palouse and the Palouse Scenic Byway.
To discourage the trespassing and unethical behavior, hundreds of photos were deleted if they appeared to be taken illicitly. The cover was amended with text stating photographs that appear to be taken while trespassing would not be posted.
"Stay out of fields. Stay off of property which does not belong to you or for which you have not received permission from the landowner. Respect the privacy of residents, their fields, their homes, and their lives," it says.
Cooper added she is now very cautious about what she puts on the page.
Encouraging photography tourism has been a double-edged sword that until this year had brought more positives than negatives.
"It has been a good thing for revenue ... but it gets to the point we're not doing a service to our landowners," Cooper said.
- Jana Mathia, Whitman County Gazette (Colfax), Thursday.
Columbia County feels effects of Walla Walla hospital closure
WAITSBURG - How will the recent closure of Walla Walla General Hospital impact the Columbia County Health System, as well as Waitsburg and Dayton residents? CCHS CEO Shane McGuire addressed that question during a July 27 meeting of the Waitsburg Commercial Club executive board.
McGuire attributed the closure of WWGH in large part to a lack of cooperation between WWGH and Providence St. Mary's Medical Center, saying the two hospitals were in a constant battle over a relatively low population to support two hospitals.
"Instead of working collaboratively, General puts in a cath lab and within three months Providence announces they're going to build a cath lab as well," McGuire said. "Instead of saying, 'you can have a cath lab, let us have this,' they invest all this capital. And there are all these cardiologists with both cath labs and there is not enough cath lab need to support both. Eventually, somebody wins."
McGuire called the closure of WWGH "tragic," noting the loss of 400 jobs and 61,000 patient visits. He said Providence is being "very optimistic" in stating they can handle and absorb the swell in patient need.
"I think they're going to find that very challenging. They have no capital plans to expand ER or inpatient. ... what they've done is taken their emergency surge plans and put them into effect to accommodate the load."
After announcing its closure, McGuire said WWGH worked closely with St. Mary's and local clinics to help patients find new primary care providers.
"They did not invite us to the table," he said. "Dayton has been out of the loop, for the most part, through most of these conversations."
McGuire said Dayton and Waitsburg residents are already experiencing the effects of the WWGH closure, effects compounded by St. Mary's recent purchase of Kadlec Medical Center.
"We have already recognized an inability to transfer patients to St. Mary's. When their beds are full, they surge to Kadlec. Our next call usually was to Kadlec but now they're full. So now we're having to route to Trios, to St. Joe's, to Spokane, other hospitals that are farther away."
- Dena Martin, The Times (Waitsburg), Thursday
McCall council won't change law for Swanson
MCCALL - Former McCall City Council member Nic Swanson will not be able to apply for the city manager position after the remaining members of the council said last week they would not change city law to accommodate him.
All four remaining members of the council said they were not interested in changing the section of city code that says no former council members could be city manager unless they had been off the council for a least a year.
Swanson, 32, a general contractor, resigned July 13 and announced that he would seek the city manager's job previously held by Nate Coyle, who is moving to Florida.
Allowing Swanson to seek the manager's position would have meant the one-year provision would need to be repealed.
But council members said they did not want to do that, especially after being advised that such "cooling off" periods are common practice elsewhere.
"I see no compelling reason to change the ordinance," councilor Bob Giles said.
Councilor Laura Scott agreed, although she felt badly because she said Swanson would be well qualified to become city manager.
Mayor Jackie Aymon also agreed.
"Our job is to protect the city" from potential conflicts of interest, Aymon said.
- Tom Grote, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday