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Office Hours

Posts tagged: Fairchild Air Force Base

Huffington Post hosts a discussion on the impact of casinos on city economies

Continuing the thread on the possible approval by the BIA of the Spokane Tribe's proposed casino in Airway Heights, here's a little online discussion covering the debate over how gambling helps or hurts city economies.

It's on Huffington Post.  It's not long, it's a bit scattershot, and it totally avoids the local issues involved in this community, the tribal history of gambling and the need for economic diversity among tribal governments.

The BIA hasn't said when it will make the formal “record of decision” on the request. If approved by the Interior Department, the request then needs the approval of Gov. Jay Inslee.

Here’s the debated ‘spaghetti-flight’ photo that tribe’s consultant says is misleading

One SR story with a major business component is today's piece on a private study looking at the question of encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base by a proposed Spokane Tribe casino.

The casino still faces two rounds of government review.

But the study, paid for by the tribe, not suprisingly found no conflict or negative impact on the base. It also averred that the tribe is totally committed to working with the Air Force in resolving any flight path issues.

Flight paths have become one of the issues raised by critics of the proposed casino. They have used a widely seen image, showing a week's worth of flight paths in and out of Fairchild, showing that the proposed casino is directly below. The implication is clear: this is a very bad spot for a new casino.

However Paul Hirsch, president of consulting group Madison Government Affairs, in Washington, D.C., looked at that aerial image and map, and concluded it misrepresents the threat. 

Read the story at to get the gist of Hirsch's concerns, included in the study.

At the bottom of this story is a link to the PDF copy of the study called the STEP Assessment Report. (STEP stands for Spokane Tribe Economic Project.)

Main reasons the BIA sees proposed casino not harming Fairchild

The key section of the recently released Bureau of Indian Affairs environmental impact statement summarizes why the proposed Spokane Tribe casino and project doesn't impede or endanger the operation of Fairchild Air Force Base, west of town.  A major argument cited by critics was the fear that future Base Relocation and Closure reviews would lead to a reduction in operations at Fairchild.

The proposed casino would be about 1.5 miles away from the main gate of Fairchild.

The attached document (linked below) is the third chapter which is the BIA comments and responses.

The pages worth looking at are 3-13 through 3-18.

Here's the summarized response:

“For the reasons described above and in Section 4.9 of the Final EIS, the Proposed Project would have no impact on Fairchild AFB’s military value based on the evaluation criteria historically used by past BRAC committees to develop recommendations for base realignment and closure.

 As described in Section 4.9 of the Final EIS, implementation of the Proposed Project would not encroach upon Fairchild AFB’s available air space or impede its ability to implement the operational and training mission of the installation because:

1) with the implementation of mitigation recommended in Section 5.0 of the Final EIS the Proposed Project would not create an air navigation hazard or otherwise impede Fairchild AFB operations;

2) the Tribe has agreed to accept any inconveniences associated with AFB operations during operation of the Proposed Project; and 3) the Fairchild AFB has confirmed that it will not alter its flight patterns in response to complaints from the Tribe related to nuisances on the project site.  Therefore, with identified mitigation measures contained in Section 5.0, the Proposed Project is not considered an “encroachment” that would make Fairchild AFB vulnerable to closure” 


Fairchild workers could face furloughs if the ‘fiscal cliff’ talks don’t find a solution

Do you or anyone you know work as a civilian at Fairchild Air Force Base?

It may be a tough week ahead if Congress doesn't come up with a solution to the “fiscal cliff” deficit deadline.

A Wall Street Journal article notes that the Pentagon would notify up to 800,000 civilian workers to brace for furloughs in the frst month of 2013 if no solution to the deficit issue is found.

Those workers, if affected, would need to take mandatory leave without pay for a certain period. Those furloughs would be of unlimited duration, depending on how Congress resolves the standoff.

Here's the Sunday afternoon update on where those talks are, compliments of the Washington Post.

New Fairchild Fitness Center looks like a million (closer to $20 million, actually)

We posted a short item in Sunday's print editions about the $20.4 million new Fairchild Air Force Base fitness center.

It replaces the original center, built in the 1940s. That old center is being demolished by Lydig Construction, of Spokane. Lydig was in charge of the two-year project.

The new center is thoroughly ready for the 21st century, with swimming pool, indoor running track, large basketball courts, weight rooms and workhout auditorium. 

The center also added some newer features needed for the SERE program, which trains military personnel in survival and evasion tactics. Some added features were new SERE training units designed to be used in the pool.

This photo is courtesy of Eric Olson, of Lydig. 

The $20.4 million includes the cost of demolishing the older center, said Olson.

Hearing on Spokane Tribe’s casino proposal is certain to generate a lot of heat

View Larger Map

In case you didn't know, tonight is the public hearing hosted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the Spokane Tribe's impact statement for a proposed casino and resort on the edge of Airway Heights.

The hearing starts at Sunset Elementary School in Airway Heights. The map shows the location. It starts at 6 p.m.

If you go expect plenty of back and forth on how and why this is either a good jobs-producing proposal or a dangerous precedent and a likely encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base. Officially and completely honestly, OfficeHours is taking no sides on this issue. We wish both sides stick the facts and avoid overblown rhetoric.

For a summary of the proposal and the EIS, it's at this link.

A lot of people helped start the Spokane Turbine Center

A few bits of information left out of a Wednesday SR story about the Spokane Turbine Center deserve some mention in the Office Hours blog.  (To see a short video about the three-week course offered by the STC, it’s here.  The full story is here.)

For one, the building the STC has moved into, at the intersection of Rutter Parkway and Fancher, is the renovated former home of the 116th Observation Squadron, which was created and first stationed at Felts Field in 1924. STC Executive Director Jeff Turcotte noted that an anonymous benefactor covered the cost of renovating the stately brick building that is the STC offices.

The 116th eventually evolved into the 142nd Air Defense Group, which became the Air Force refueling wing based at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Second, the training offered by STC is focused on the Kodiak, a small, powerful turboprop aircraft designed by Quest Aircraft Co., in Sandpoint.

The Kodiak was designed by Tom Hamilton, who resides in the Newport area. Paul Schaller, CEO of Quest, said the initial capital to launch the company came from about a dozen U.S. mission aviation groups.


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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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