NEWS BITES for January 16, 2024

Jan. 16—COLUMBIA BASIN — With severe cold temperatures, all North Central Washington Library System libraries are open as warming centers. Those in need of a warm place to stay may spend time in the library during library hours with no limitations other than to obey the law.

In Moses Lake, the Open Doors Sleep Center is also available from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. seven days a week and is located at 1045 E. Broadway Ave.

COLUMBIA BASIN — The American Red Cross has issued a press release indicating blood stores are low in multiple areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, and asking for those willing to donate to visit their local blood donation center.

"One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty blood bank without any blood on the shelves. Doctors often can't operate without blood available to make surgeries, medical procedures and treatments possible," said Dr. Eric Gehrie, executive physician director for the Red Cross. "More challenges lie ahead as the potential for severe winter weather and seasonal illness may compound the dire blood supply situation. Donors of all types — especially those with type O blood and those giving platelets — are urged to give now."

The Inland Northwest Blood Center has an office in Moses Lake located at 660 S. Coolidge Street in the lower level of Samaritan Hospital. The facility is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other donation opportunities may be found by visiting and entering your zip code.

EPHRATA — The Grant County Fire Marshal's Office announced Jan. 12 that it had investigated at least three structure fires that day. The statement indicated that area residents should be careful when using space heaters to ensure no flammables are near them and they have clearance to operate.

MOSES LAKE — Law enforcement responded to a report of domestic violence near the Grant County Fairgrounds on Saturday. A K-9 officer was called in to assist in the search for the alleged assailant after he ran when authorities arrived. The weather caused the suspect's trail to be untrackable. The suspect is reported as a 17-year-old Hispanic male wearing a black hat, gray hoodie, black pants and white shoes. He was believed to be unarmed.

OTHELLO — The Othello Police Department released a statement reminding area residents that January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

"Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking. It not only represents a threat to international peace and security but also undermines the rule of law, robs millions of their dignity and freedom," the OPD statement said.

Anyone suspecting someone is being trafficked should call the National Human Trafficking Awareness Hotline at 888-373-7888.