In brief: November jobless rate crept up to 7.7 percent

December 27, 2012 - Updated: 5:03 a.m.

Spokane County’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly in November, to 7.7 percent. That matches the national jobless rate and is just under the statewide rate of 7.8 percent.

The county rate also remains about two percentage points lower than in the first quarter of the year. It hit a high this year of 9.9 percent in February.

Unemployment varies widely across Eastern Washington, with a high last month of 11.1 percent in Ferry County and a low of 5.2 percent in Whitman County.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance shot up to about 4,200 in Spokane County in November – about 1,400 more initial claims than in October.

About 5,650 people had continuing unemployment claims in the county last month, and 379 individuals had exhausted their unemployment insurance.

Scott Maben

Police seek male suspect in stabbing at gas station

Spokane police are searching for a man suspected of stabbing another man during a fight early Wednesday at a gas station.

Officers responded to a call at 4:30 a.m. of two groups of men fighting at the Tesoro gas station on 901 E. Sharp Ave., where they found an adult male with a stab wound to his back, according to a news release. The injury was not life-threatening. One of the groups had left and the suspect was not found.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid-40s, who was shorter than average with a medium build. He was apparently carrying a cane.

Sgt. Jason Hartman said police were collecting surveillance video from the store in hopes it would offer clues to the identification of the suspect.

Police encourage anyone with information about the fight to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Man in burning home arrested after treatment

A Spokane resident faces charges of arson after he was found drunk and naked early Christmas morning in the basement of his burning home, according to police.

Neighbors noticed smoke coming from the home at 324 E. Rich Ave. and found Jeffrey A. Stephens, 43, at the home at about 6 a.m. Tuesday, said Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department.

The neighbors saw a shirt and blanket on fire in the entrance of the home and tried to throw them onto the snow, Schaeffer said. Stephens eventually appeared from the basement of the house, incoherent and not wearing any clothes. In spite of the neighbors’ calls to him, he went back to the basement.

“It appeared that he was heavily intoxicated at the time that the neighbors met him emerging from the basement,” Schaeffer said.

Firefighters responded to the blaze and Stephens was taken to Providence Holy Family Hospital. He later returned to his home where he was later arrested.

Investigators discovered 12 different places where a fire was started in the home, including shirts, Christmas decorations, blankets and the carpet, Schaeffer said.

Kaitlin Gillespie


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