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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for December 2011

Odds and ends

I've got a few tidbits to share on next week. There is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting on Tuesday. (Another Tuesday night off. Whatever shall I do?) Since Monday is a holiday, I won't be in the office or on the blog. Look for your Saturday Valley Voice highlights on Tuesday morning. It's been fairly slow all around lately, so I'm hoping things will pick up in 2012 and I'll be able to post more. Happy New Year, everyone. See you next year.

Reserve city parks on Tuesday

If you really, really want to have an event in a Spokane Valley park on a specific date, get your pencil ready. The Parks and Recreation Department will start accepting park facility reservations for 2012 on a first come, first served basis at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. You have to fill out an application form and submit it, along with the fee, by mail or in person at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. The fees vary depending on what facility you are reserving and for how long. Call the Parks Department at (509) 688-0300 for more information.

Don’t burn that Christmas tree

If you are looking for a way to dispose of your Christmas tree, the Spokane Valley Transfer Station is willing to take it off your hands. Residents can take their undecorated, unflocked trees to the station at 3941 N. Sullivan Road for a $5 disposal fee. Trees taller than six feet must be cut in half. The trees will be composted.

Above all, don't haul your tree out in your yard and torch it. I've already heard one call on the scanner for that recently. Outside burning is illegal in almost every area served by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. The trees also burn hot and fast and could spread fire where you don't really want it.

Today’s highlights

Spokane Aerial Performance Arts founder and instructor Sherrie Martin works with Carolyn Kinghorn on Dec. 4 as she attempts an arrow maneuver while hanging upside down on long pieces of silk fabric. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's time to check out the highlights from today's Valley Voice as we pause mid-way between Christmas and New Year's. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped in at East Valley High School's traditional formal holiday lunch that they do every year right before winter break. No one is quite sure how long the tradition has lasted, but everyone seems to love it.

The Spokane Valley City Council once again discussed the renewal of the city's street maintenance contract. Some council members have been pushing to rebid the contract early before it ends. At the end of the night the council agreed to bring the renewal back for a vote at the Jan. 10 meeting. Former East Valley School District superintendent Chuck Stocker has been named the citizen of the year by the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce. Though he officially retired years ago, he spends much of his days volunteering in the community.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a story on an interesting new fitness business, Spokane Aerial Performance Arts, that sends students shimmying up long swaths of silk suspended from the ceiling.  

Retirements hit SR Valley office

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Will the last person out the door please shut off the lights?

An era is ending this week at the Spokesman-Review's Valley Office as four longtime employees retire - Voices editor Jeff Jordan (39.5 years), sports writer Dave Trimmer (24 years), sports writer Steve Bergum (32 years) and photographer J. Bart Rayniak (33 years).

I'd be here all day if I tried to write about the contributions of all four of them, but I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the past by posting a slide show of several of Bart's photos from years gone by. I tried just searching for Bart's name in our in-house archive system and it choked, refusing to give me more than 500 results. But I was able to find a few gems in there.

Farewell, gentlemen, and good luck in your retirement.

Saturday’s highlights

Erin Haugh shows a group of the Valley Assembly Quilters a tool that she uses to punch holes on the edge of a quilt in preparation for lacing or crocheting. The group meets in a donated room at the Valley Assembly of God, shares a common interest in quilting and provides quilts to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s cancer unit. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Saturday's Valley Voice highlights are a day late this week because of the holiday, but there are still some good stories to check out. Reporter Lisa Leinberger visted with a group of quilters at Valley Assembly of God Church. They make quilts for cancer patients and have made 700 quilts in five years.

The Spokane Valley Hearing Examiner has ruled that the developer of a proposed Fourth Avenue Townhomes project near Shelley Lake must go back to the drawing board until the proposal complies with a development agreement that was negotiated with the city. That decision has relieved neighbors who complained about the plan and said it violated the agreement.

There are also some tips on how to avoid locking your kids inside the car, which seems to be a particular issue for Spokane Valley residents. The fire department usually responds at least once a week to a report of a child locked inside a car, sometimes more. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story about Central Valley High School senior Gaven Deyarmin, who plays football and basketball for the school.

Tracking Santa on radar

This is a fun thing for the kids. The annual North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa page is up and running and will track Santa on Christmas Eve as he makes his way across the globe. Tracking will begin at midnight (MST); click here to see the site. It also includes games and activities in multiple languages. There are free Santa tracking apps in the iTunes store and the Android market if you want to follow Santa's progress on your phone.

According to a press release from the American Forces Press Service, this all started in 1955 when Sears published an ad that included a phone number to call Santa. The phone number was misprinted, though, and children ended up calling the Continental Air Defense Command operations center (which preceded NORAD). The colonol on duy went along with the requests, giving kids updates on Santa's location.  Now the annual effort includes more than a thousand volunteers and dozens of sponsors.

With that, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I probably won't post again until Tuesday.

Sullivan Bridge repairs coming

If you drive over the Sullivan Bridge, take note. A repair project is expected to begin in early January and last through the end of February, according to a Spokane Valley press release. The goal of the project is to reinforce the failing bridge so weight restrictions can be removed while the city tries to come up with enough enough money to replace the bridge. (On that note, the City found out last week that it failed to get a $10 million federal grant to rebuild the bridge.)

During the repairs, traffic will be shifted onto the east bridge that usually carries northbound traffic (only the west bridge is failing). This means that traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Since both northbound and southbound traffic will be using the good bridge, the weight limits will not apply.

Today’s highlights

At the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, a 1915 Rauch and Lang electric car is part of the new exhibit in the Campbell House carriage house. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Happy last Thursday before Christmas. It's time to take a look at the highlights from today's Valley Voice. The small towns in southern Spokane County are looking at their law enforcement bills from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office with concern, particularly Rockford. Their bill jumped $10,000 in a year.

While the Campbell House next to the MAC isn't in the Valley, it's still a regional icon. Reporter Pia Hallenberg has a story on a new visitor center in the carriage house. There are interactive exhibits in the horse stalls and touch screen displays so visitors can page through historical documents.

Correspondent Stefanie Pettit has an update on Chicken, the wayward hen she took in and cared for that now has a new home and chicken family.  Correspondent Cindy Hval has another touching Love Story, this one about a World War II B-17 pilot and his WAVES wife.  

Nothing, nothing…squirrel!

It's a slow news week as people spend all their time and energy getting ready for Christmas, so there's not much to post. Since I'm sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, I feel a bit like that dog in “Up” that interrupts himself to yell “Squirrel” and stare intently off into the distance. As soon as that phone rings, I can pounce just like a dog going after one of those furry little devils.

No council meeting this week

This is just a reminder that there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. The next meeting is set for Dec. 27 and the agenda looks pretty full. The Mayor will appoint two planning commission members and there will be discussions on the city's snow plowing policies, the street maintenance contract and the street sweeping contract.

Spokane Valley council meetings have been running long lately, but after seeing yesterday's Spokane City Council meeting stretch until 1:30 a.m., I don't think I'll complain so much about the occasional 10 p.m. meeting. Yes, you read right; 1:30 a.m. And the meeting started at 6 p.m. 

Saturday’s highlights

University High School sophomores Ashley Lewis and Lindsey Knight sign holiday cards and attach them to toys for children adopted by their Titan advisory period class. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's another lovely Monday morning, which means it is time for the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. Reporter Lisa Leinberger spoke to students at University High School who participated in the school's annual Adopt-A-Tot toy drive.

The Spokane Valley Police Department has been accredited by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. They are the only contract law enforcement agency in Washington to take this step. The Spokane Valley City Council voted to lower the speed limit on a stretch of Mission between Flora and Barker in Greenacres. The city is also considering whether to keep the traffic light at Sprague and Progress.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on second year Freeman boys basketball coach John Graham. He brought a new style of coaching to the school that has apparently been successful.

Santa tours Spokane Valley

It's time for the second round of details on where Santa Claus will be as he tours the Spokane Valley area in the white Spokane Valley Fire Department Santa van. Make your lists and check them twice, because he'll be on his way soon. Check my previous post to get his location for tonight through Saturday. Santa will be out between 6 and 8 p.m. each night.

Sunday: south of Mission to 16th between Evergreen and Sullivan.

Monday: south of 16th to 32nd between Evergreen and Flora

Tuesday: south of Wellesley to Mission between University and Pines

Wednesday: south of Euclid to Mission between Flora and Campbell Road

Thursday Dec. 22: south of Mission to Sprague between Argonne and Pines 

 

Today’s highlights

The Clock Tower in Riverfront Park originally was part of the Great Northern Railway Depot building. The depot opened on May 30, 1902. The structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. SR file photo.

Thursday brings you another edition of the Valley Voice on your front porch (or on your computer screen). In today's edition reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the Reading Buddies program at Opportunity Elementary School. The school brings in volutneers from Eastpoint Church to help third graders practice their reading skills.

There was an interesting twist at this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting, where a council member said that Valleyfest organizers had been offered money in years past to not apply for lodging tax funding. The discussion was part of the ongoing debate over the council's decision to not grant Valleyfest any lodging tax money this year.

Lisa also has a story on several decisions made by the Liberty Lake City Council. The council voted to approve the 2012 budget, pay of a golf course bond and reduce the city's utility tax to 3 percent. The Clock Tower in Riverfront Park isn't in Spokane Valley, of course, but it is a regional icon. Correspondent Stefanie Pettit has a story on the landmark and the man who keeps it running.

A “green” credit union

SR reporter Mike Prager has a story today on Spokane Teacher Credit Union's new “green” branch in Spokane Valley. It has a free charging station for electric cars, solar panels and a roof that reflects heat. The new branch on 32nd opened this week.

Santa is coming, part two

I put out a partial schedule of Santa's visits to Spokane Valley neighborhoods yesterday, but the always busy jolly man is also making the rounds with Spokane County Fire District 8 firefighters in the areas south of Spokane and Spokane Valley.

Today: Santa will be at Station 82 at 12100 E. Palouse Highway, from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. He'll also be at the Albertson's parking lot at 32nd and Highway 27 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday: the Saltese and Morningside neighborhoods from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Friday: the Hangman Valley area and the Moran Prairie area east of Regal and south of 57th from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday: the Moran Prairie area west of Regal and north of 57th from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Sunday: the Moran Prairie area west of Regal and south of 57th from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Monday: the Moran Prairie area east of Regal and north of 57th from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Are you missing something?

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has a story in today's paper on a recent vehicle prowling arrest that resulted in the recovery of about 100 stolen items. Spokane Valley Police arrested Nathan J. Calvert, 28, for car theft and residential burglary after a resident caught Calvert rummaging through his car.

Many of the items recovered haven't been reported as stolen, however. Police have posted pictures of the stolen items on the department's Facebook page, so if you have been a recent vehicle prowling vicitim, check it out. Contact the Spokane Valley Police Department at 477-3300 if you recognize something as yours.

Santa Claus is coming to town

The Spokane Valley Fire Department's Santa van is ready to roll again. The white van squires Santa around the Spokane Valley area every winter, giving kids a chance to visit the red-robed one and whisper what they want for Christmas in his ear.

The van will be making the rounds every night from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning Tuesday and going through Dec. 22. I'll post the schedule for the first few nights now, with more to follow later.

Tuesday: north of Sprague to Mission between Pines and Evergreen

Wednesday: south of 32nd to 44th between University and Sullivan

Thursday: south of Sprague to 16th between Havana and Argonne

Friday: south of Mission to 16th between Flora and Barker

Saturday: south of 16th to 32nd between Dishman-Mica Road and Pines

Saturday’s highlights

Mike Frucci and his wife Vicki sort through books at the Children's Book Bank at the old University High School. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Good Monday morning, everyone. I have a few highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice in case you missed them. Reporter Lisa Leinberger wrote a story about a hidden gem, the Children's Book Bank. The bank allows teachers to come and pick out free books for their students. There have been more than 100,000 books distributed since 1997.

The Spokane Valley City Council agreed to accept grants for two road construction projects, the reconstruction of Sprague between Evergreen and Sullivan and the completion of Mansfield Ave. east of Pines. The Mayor is interviewing 12 applicants for the two vacant Spokane Valley Planning Commission seats. His recommendation for the appointments is expected at the Dec. 27 council meeting.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report from the Millwood City Council meeting. Finances in the city are apparently not as dire as they first appeared, but the council did approve a 2 percent natural gas utility tax.

Today’s highlights

The landowner of a 3.77-acre parcel, just west of Shelley Lake and north of Central Valley High School at 15818 E. Fourth Ave., is proposing to build 41 townhomes. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

First of all, let me apologize for being MIA from the blog a lot this week. I was moving my base of operations and have spent a lot of time packing and unpacking files. But I'm all settled in now, so it's back to normal. Today's Valley Voice is full of news stories, including one from reporter Lisa Leinberger on the fun High 5 program at Evergreen Middle School. Nearly all the students have signed a pledge to stay drug free and participate in High 5 events.

Valleyfest organizers are worried about the future of the annual festival in the aftermath of the decision by the Spokane Valley City Council not to grant lodging tax funding. There will be a second round of applications accepted, but organizers worry it may be too late. This week the council also had a lengthy discussion on the city's street maintenance contract and whether the term is too long and if the contract should be re-bid.

A hearing was held last week on a proposed 41 townhome development just west of Shelley Lake on Fourth Ave. Neighbors spoke against the project because they believe it violates a developer's agreement negotiated between Spokane Valley and the property owner. A decision on whether to approve the plan for the development should come within two weeks.

Lisa also has a report on the Liberty Lake City Council budget discussions this week. The council decided to have a special meeting next week to discuss it further.

Spokane Valley gets road grants

Word has come in that the city of Spokane Valley has been awarded Transportation Improvement Board grants to pay for the extension of Mansfield Ave. east of Pines and the reconstruction of Sprague Avenue from Evergreen to Sullivan Road. The Spokane Valley City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to accept the grants.

Other items on the council's agenda tonight include a discussion of the city's capital projects list, gateway signs, the street maintenance contract and the street sweeping contract. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Saturday’s highlights

West Valley junior Jacque Swanson, left, and senior Linda Juitt have helped open Inspire, a clothing store for lower-income and budget-minded students. As a part of their Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program, they’ve opened the in-school store two days a week. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

School and city news dominated the Saturday Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger weighed in with a story on longtime Central Valley board member Cynthia McMullen, who has retired after 24 years. Lisa also met up with a few high school girls who have set up a store at West Valley High School called Inspire. The store is there to sell designer clothes for prices low enough that all students can afford them.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a lengthy discussion last week on the speed limit on Mission Ave. between Flora and Barker. No decision was made, but they did agree to move forward on a vote this month to consider whether the limit should be changed from 35 miles per hour. The council also heard a report on the Shoreline Management Program, which is currently stalled. A new plan must be approved by 2013.

In more school news, correspondent Steve Christilaw had a story about new West Valley High School wrestling coach Mike Bundy. Last year he was the assistant wrestling coach at Central Valley High School.

Christmas tree lightings tonight

Hundreds of Spokane Valley residents turned out for the second annual Christmas tree lighting at University City Mall in 2004. The event had several musical performances, a Santa visit and the tree lighting. SR file photo.

Both Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake are having Christmas tree lighting ceremonies tonight, so bundle up the kids tonight and head out to one of the celebrations. Spokane Valley's annual ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the University City parking lot at University and Sprague. The lighting will be at 6 p.m. Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey will speak and there are usually singers performing Christmas music. The event is hosted by the Spokane Valley Rotary.

Liberty Lake's annual ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. The night is packed with free events, including crafts, carriage rides, choir music and pictures with Santa. The evening ends at 8 p.m.

Only 24 more days until Christmas!

Today’s highlights

Company Ballet School dancers get into costume before rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” on Nov. 7 in Millwood. SR phto/Colin Mulvaney

We've got a lot of news for you in today's Valley Voice. Correspondent Valerie Putnam checked in with the dancers with the Millwood Ballet Theatre and Company Ballet School who are putting on performances of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.”

The Spokane Valley City Council did not allocate the community festival Valleyfest any lodging tax money for the first time since 2004. In 2011 the $36,000 the city gave to the festival accounted for 27 percent of its budget. Putnam also has a second story on the discussion at the Millwood City Council's special budget workshop. The city is facing a budget shortfall and is reportedly considering a 2 percent utility tax on Avista natural gas customers.

A group of members of St. Mary's Catholic Church have put together a petition calling for the dismisal of the parish priest, the Rev. Victor Blazovich. They have presented the Bishop with a six page document outlining their complaints against Blazovich.

In a story that reaches much further than Spokane Valley, reporter Pia Hallenberg writes that Camp Fire USA Inland Northwest Council has decided not to run Camp Dart-Lo as a day camp in 2012 because of a budget shortfall.

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Welcome to the Spokane Valley blog. Here we cover news, events and information from the greater Spokane Valley area, including Millwood, Otis Orchards, Liberty Lake, Newman Lake, Rockford and Fairfield.

Stop by often to find stories, information on events received too late to print in the Valley Voice and breaking news.

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Nina Culver (@ninaculver) Nina Culver covers city of Spokane Valley, Spokane Valley Fire Department, Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, Spokane County Fire District 8, Liberty Lake Police Department and the small towns of Fairfield and Rockford.

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