New intramural sport — bubble ball soccer — taking CWU campus by storm (VIDEO)

Bubble ball soccer at Central Washington University’s Student Union and Recreation Center, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (Brian Myrick/Daily Record)

Central Washington University junior Savannah Isbey was working out in the school’s Recreation Center when she first saw it: Bubble ball soccer — full-contact indoor soccer played inside giant inflatable bubbles.

“It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, so it was definitely something I wanted to do,” she said.

Isbey was among the dozens at the Student Union and Recreation Center on Thursday who came to watch or participate in the university’s latest intramural sports offering.

“Basically, it’s just soccer with full contact,” said Jordan Stinglen, an events and intramural coordinator at the Recreation Center.

Players climb inside the inflatable, tube-like balls, which are roughly 4-by-4 feet. They’re held up with shoulder straps. Players inside hold on to small handles at about chest-level. Teams have four people.

Most teams last week played without a goaltender. Late hits or blocks from the back are prohibited, but beyond that, it’s full-contact. Beyond that, it’s a free-for-all.

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Concerns mount over brush removal at Irene Rinehart park

A sign, posted at the entrance to Irene Rinehart Park outlines a plan to remove vegetation growth from levees bordering the Yakima River and Reecer Creek, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. (Brian Myrick / Daily Record)

The city of Ellensburg has proposed clearing vegetation from the levees around the ponds at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park, which park users and community members say would damage wildlife habitat and tarnish one of the city’s favorite recreation areas.

City officials say the clearing — which, as proposed, would include most of the vegetation along the slopes of the levees — is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The levees are the city’s responsibility, but the Corps of Engineers certifies whether or not levees are safe, said city Planning Supervisor Lance Bailey earlier this month.

“They come and do inspections as part of the maintenance activities,” he said. “There’s certain types of vegetation that need to be regularly removed or controlled in certain areas of the levees.”

If the Corps doesn’t certify the levees, the city loses the ability to access FEMA money in case of an emergency, Bailey said.

The city’s levees are not unsafe or otherwise deficient. The levees did receive “minimally acceptable” overall marks, with a few “unacceptable” grades, in the last review from the Corps, dated 2012.

“The city’s kind of in the middle of it,” City Engineer Derek Mayo said earlier this month. The Corps is concerned the high water and debris can rip out larger vegetation, damaging a levee.

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CWU signs a five-year contract for pilot training

Central Washington University and its flight training contractor signed Thursday a five-year contract for pilot training services for students in the school’s aviation program.

IASCO Flight Traning of Redding, Calif., has been conducting flight training for CWU for the past months based on a letter of understanding.

It was all the two had after a buyout of the company, and subsequent hold on contract negotiations as the buyout progressed, briefly left the status of the aviation program’s ability to train pilots in question.

IASCO and Central signed a contract earlier this year, but announced in August IASCO wouldn’t be able to start training operations.

IASCO later announced its intent to work with Central. Lawyers on both sides have been working to resolve the situation.

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Council programs capped at 2014 funding levels as part of budget talks

As part of voting on a budget for 2015-2016, the Ellensburg City Council agreed to a compromise on funding council-funded programs — which includes money that goes to events such as the downtown cleanup or social services including the FISH food bank and drug court.

The council voted unanimously Monday to limit funding to 2014’s request, a total of $104,000. It’s less than the $109,000 requested, but more than the proposed $100,000 cap.

Council member Mary Morgan was absent.

The programs are a set of city-funded events and services whose funding falls under the direct discretion of the council, as opposed to under a broader line item in the city’s budget plans.

Representatives from three groups asked the council to hold or put off cuts, including the Ellensburg Downtown Association, HopeSource and Youth Services of Kittitas County.

The funding system has been around since the mid 2000s, and the council tentatively agreed this summer to a cap the total amount as costs kept rising.

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CWU marchers join in protests

A group leaves Central Washington University’s SURC building on a march through campus in protest of alleged injustice and police brutality in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York,Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.

A gathering of students and others marched around Central Washington University’s campus Thursday afternoon, protesting along with others around the country who are angry after a string of deaths of unarmed African Americans at hands of police this year.

Marchers joined for many of the reasons mobilizing thousands of others across the county: concerns over systemic racism, police accountability and how the criminal justice system treats people of color.

Even in sleepy Ellensburg, people need to think about the role of the police and systemic racism, said Gianni Glover, a CWU junior and participant in the march.

No matter where they live in the U.S., police behavior and systemic racism is a problem for everyone.

“There’s not a lot of awareness going on. There’s too many people walking around with their heads down, they’re just trying to forget the situation. And I understand that. Police brutality is a crazy thing,” he said.

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Central cutting 57 jobs, most of which are already unfilled

Central Washington University says it will cut 57 positions to help close most of a predicted $6.5 million budget gap, but 41 of those positions were already vacant.

Other cuts include 12 percent in the Division of Business and Financial Affairs, 6 percent in the President’s Division, 5 percent in the Operations Division and 2.3 percent in the Division of Academic and Student Life, according to a news release.

 

The cuts will go toward closing a $6.5 million budget gap predicted for next fiscal year. The university’s original budget predictions, adopted in 2011, allowed for some tuition increases or further state support. The money never came.

Central used reserve money to bridge the gap into 2015, Assuming no tuition increases or money from the state, that gap would grow to about $9 million in 2016, then $10.5 million in 2017.

“Our new management system provides two important options for meeting our budget challenges: an incentive for academic units to generate new revenue rather than simply making cuts, and a system for transparently evaluating the effects of administrative cuts on the core academic mission,” CWU President James Gaudino said in the release. “The provost and deans used the new management approach to minimize cuts to people and programs; the overhead reductions in administrative divisions reduced cuts in the academic units.”

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Man to spend 366 days in prison for photos of nude relative

An Ellensburg man was sentenced in Kittitas County Superior Court on Monday to a year and a day in prison for taking nude photos of a then 16-year-old relative in March 2013.

Court records said Robert Arthur Busha, 69, had the girl, who was staying at his house, come to a studio he had set up there, then had her pose in various states of undress for photos.

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