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Spokane Valley

Archive for February 2011

Tomorrow’s meetings

There are some city council meetings tomorrow that might be of interest to those interested in keeping up on what city government is doing. The Spokane Valley City Council will meet tomorrow at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. On the agenda is a discussion of the draft amended 2011 Transportation Improvement Plan, discussions on the city's maintenance shop and animal control, plus an update on the Shoreline Master Program process.

The Liberty Lake City Council will meet at tomorrow 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is scheduled to be there to discuss the countywide comprehensive emergency management plan. The council is also set to discuss an amendment of the River District Specific Area Plan overlay and establishing a set meeting time for council members to meet with local business leaders.

Armed robbery at convenience store

The McDonald Food Mart at Sprague and McDonald (across from our office) was robbed at gunpoint a few minutes ago. Police are already on scene. The robber is described as a white male with blond hair wearing a checkered jacket. It is not known what direction he left in. More when I have it.

1:06 p.m. update: Police are chasing a man seen heading east on Valleyway. Sheriff's Office is telling Barker High School to lock down.

1:07 p.m. update: Police have in custody a man at Broadway and Mamer who fits the description of the robber.

1:10 p.m. update: Officers are calling for a K9 search of the area for the gun.

1:21 p.m. update: K9 search underway, brief school lockdown over. Quick work by the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Grab an umbrella

If you're looking for something to do this afternoon, head to the groundbreaking for the new Spokane Valley Fire Department administration building at 3:30 p.m. If the weather doesn't shape up, though, it looks as though you might need an umbrella to do so. The fire commissioners, fire chief and others will be there to officially launch the project, which will be built next to Station 8 at 2110 N. Wilbur. The project should be complete by the end of the year.

Saturday’s highlights

This photo shows the interior of a house on the 13200 block of East 24th Avenue that burned. Piles of charred, shoulder- high debris had to be removed. The damage is estimated at $160,000. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Batten down the hatches so you don't blow away in the wind and take a look at some of the stories we had in Saturday's Valley Voice. A group of Millood residents is upset that the city council wants to tear out the wading pool in the city park to save money. But insurance and maintenance issues may spell doom for the popular pool. The council is taking another look at the issue.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department spent several hours at a fire in the 13200 block of East 24th on Feb. 17 because the house was so cluttered. The home is not currently habitable and the owner did not have insurance. That fire topped events for the week ending Feb. 23.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to former Liberty Lake mayor Steve Peterson last week. He has filed paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission to run for mayor in November. He lost that seat in 2007 to the current Liberty Lake mayor Wendy Van Orman.

Electronic books are apparently becoming more and more popular and the Spokane County Library District has greatly expanded their ebook collection by partnering with Project Gutenberg, which offers free downloads of classic books.

Coming on Saturday

Tomorrow sounds like a really, really good day to curl up with a blanket and a cup of coffee to read the Valley Voice. There will be an update on the efforts of Millwood residents to save the wading pool that has been a city park staple for decades. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will have a campaign announcement for the November Liberty Lake election for mayor.

The Spokane County Library District, which serves the entire Valley area except Liberty Lake, recently added thousands of free electronic books to its web site. They're available to anyone. It was also a busy week for the Spokane Valley Fire Department and we'll have pictures of a fire they struggled to put out in an extremely cluttered home.

It’s Barney time

Meet Barney, the newest cute creature featured for adoption from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. He is about a year old and gets along well with other dogs as well as cats. Since he's young, he could use a bit more training, which SCRAPS will provide for free. He's a handsome looking fellow and he's got perfect petting fur.

If you would like to adopt Barney, ask for him by identification number 0810. The adoption fee for dogs is $82.04, which includes a vet check, license, microchip, vaccinations and either spaying or neutering (although Barney is already neutered). You can stop by to visit Barney at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Part of Highway 27 closed

The Washington State Patrol has closed Highway 27 between Fairfield and Tekoa because of poor visibility. It is unknown when the road may reopen. Be very careful when driving through areas prone to drifting and blowing snow.

Some libraries closed

Apparently if you live in Otis Orchards or Fairfield you can't use your snow day to head to the library to check out a fresh batch of books. The Spokane County Library District has closed those branches because of the weather. Check here for a full story.

Thursday’s highlights

North Palouse Community Food Bank president Sheila Dyer assists a client last Thursday. Although the food bank is open only limited hours, Dyer will let people set up appointments for emergency needs. The food bank serves Fairfield, Rockford, Latah and Waverly. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

We've got items from just about every corner of the Valley in today's Valley Voice. Retired educator Chuck Hafner has thrown his hat in the ring by filing paperwork to run for a Spokane Valley City Council seat in November - but he hasn't decided which one yet. There will be three to chose from; the ones currently filled by Bill Gothmann and Dean Grafos and the seat vacated by Rose Dempsey.

The East Valley School District board voted this week to ask voters to pass at $33.75 million bond on April 26. It would mean improvements to Trentwood, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Skyview and Trent Elementary schools.

The North Palouse Community Food Bank has been quietly serving the communities of Fairfield, Rockford, Latah and Waverly since 2005. It relies on the generosity of residents and community food drives. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the third graders at Pasadena Park Elementary who have made crafts for the Iditarod mushers.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and also to accept a grant to put in sidewalks on 24th between Adams and Sullivan.

Are we having fun yet?

School children all over the Valley are giddy this morning. Probably everyone knows by now that just about every school district is closed today - Freeman, Central Valley, West Valley and Liberty. East Valley is on its winter break this week, so they are not racking up a snow day they'll have to make up later. Highway 195 between Spangle and Rosalia was closed for several hours this morning, but it is now open again.

The City of Spokane Valley started a full city plow this morning. Still, be careful on the roads until things get cleaned up. Don't forget there's ice under that fresh new snow.

I took the picture above in my front yard this morning after I spent an hour digging out my car and my driveway. The snow was deep, but thank goodness it was pretty light and fluffy. Now it needs to stop snowing so I don't have to do it again.

It’s here

As a winter storm arrives in Spokane, Wash., snowflakes land and melt on a car window on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Well, the snow we've all been eagerly anticipating is here. At the moment it is tough to see across the parking lot. The scanner is still fairly quiet, though I would expect that to pick up as the snow accumulates. So far there's a semi accident on Highway 195 near Babb Road with the driver still trapped inside. If any particular spots get nasty as the afternoon progresses, I'll let you know.

1:44 p.m. update: If anyone was planning to head over to Coeur d'Alene, use caution. The westbound lanes of I-90 are shut down between Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls due to a nine car accident. Roads are apparently very slick there with the Idaho State Patrol dealing with more than half a dozen accidents.

2:22 p.m. update: A six car pileup was just reported in the eastbound lanes of I-90 at Argonne. Emergency crews are on the way.

2:27 p.m. update: Three car accident at Bowdish and Mission. It's officially getting nasty out there.

3:12 p.m. update: Accident reports are continuing to come in steadily. Check here for information on the weather by reporter Mike Prager. Be very careful driving home tonight. 

3:32 p.m.: Heading away from the scanner. Everyone drive safely. Check here for school closure information tonight and tomorrow morning.

Coming Thursday

We've got tons of good stuff coming your way again in Thursday's Valley Voice. The East Valley School Board voted to take the plunge and ask residents to approve a bond on the April ballot. The Spokane Valley City Council had a fairly short meeting Tuesday, but did vote to approve a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors.

The North Palouse Community Food Bank in Fairfield has been well supported by the community. It serves the towns of Fairfield, Rockford, Latah and Waverly and we went down there last week to so how they do it. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to some third graders at Pasadena Park Elementary who have been learning about the Iditarod sled dog race. The students made centerpieces that will be shipped to Alaska to decorate the tables of the mushers who will gather for a banquet.

There will also be another Spokane Valley campaign announcement for the November election. You'll have to check out the Valley Voice tomorrow for more details. 

Bits and pieces

Don't forget that the Liberty Lake City Council is having a retreat tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 22170 E. Country Vista Drive. The agenda for the evening shows they will be discussing the project list for street maintenance, status of the Valleyway and Lakeside road improvements, the city arboretum, budget goals for 2012 and council districting. It should be an interesting discussion. The meeting is open to the public, but no public comment will be taken.

Also making news in Liberty Lake is a resident who traces his family tree back to George Washington's brother. Check out this story by SR reporter Mike Prager for more. Also, the lengthy saga surrounding the 4th district senate seat vacated by Bob McCaslin and filled by Jeff Baxter continues. Former state representative and former judge Mike Padden has announced he will run for the seat in November. Reporter John Craig has the details.

Spectacular sunset

We had some gorgeous sunsets last week and SR photographer J. Bart Rayniak shot this view recently as seen from the Otis Orchards post office. There was another great sunset last Thursday for a short time, but the one time I wanted a lengthy red light on Pines I didn't get it, so I couldn't take a picture.

Most of our pictures are available for purchase by the public. If you would like a copy of this one, click here and then click on the “buy this photo” button directly underneath the photo.

Saturday’s highlights

A wide-open garage like this one in Liberty Lake is an almost irresistible opportunity to burglars, police say. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There is a lot to catch up on if you missed Saturday's Valley Voice. Open garages like the one pictured above have been nothing but a free buffet for thieves in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Police have arrested suspects in each city, but there are still more out there. Police are urging people to lock up.

The town of Fairfield is considering a six percent utility tax on electricity usage in order to raise money for street maintenance. A public hearing was held last week and a vote is expected by April.

Last week students from Ness Elementary helped distribute free food at Millwood Presbyterian Church. The food distribution is held every month. The Spokane Valley Fire Department also made an arrest for two recent arson fires. Anthony W. Sotin was indicted by a Federal grand jury on two counts of arson and one count of wire fraud.

Coming on Saturday

Saturday's Valley Voice is going to be packed with good stuff. Even though Monday is a holiday, I plan to drop in and post some links. But if you can't wait that long, tomorrow you can check out our newly redesigned Voices web page that just pops with pictures.

The Fairfield City Council held a public hearing this week to discuss a proposal to add a 6 percent utility tax on electrical bills to help pay for street maintenance. A crowd of about 20 residents turned out, which is a large showing in a town of only 587 residents.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department arrested Anthony W. Sotin in connection with two recent arson fires. He was indicted by a Federal grand jury this week. His lengthy criminal record includes a previous conviction for arson.

Both Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake have been having problems with garage burglaries lately. Police urge people to lock up at night to foil the thieves that are apparently roaming the neighborhoods in the early morning hours looking for crimes of opportunity.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger talked to some Ness Elementary students who spent part of their day recently helping hand out food for Second Harvest at Millwood Presbyterian Church.

Flying high

Here's a look at what is happening outside our Spokane Valley office right now. Avista has been replacing power poles up and down Sprague for the last couple of weeks and today it's our turn. Don't look down!

Bits and pieces

As we look ahead to next week, Monday should be fairly quiet because of the President's Day holiday. City offices in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake will be closed. But it is a different story on Tuesday.

Tuesday night the Liberty Lake City Council will host a retreat from 6 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. They are expected to discuss city goals, including the arboretum. The East Valley School District board of directors will hold it's regular meeting at 6 p.m. at the District Administration Center, 12325 E. Grace. The board is expected to vote on whether or not to ask voters to approve a construction bond on an upcoming ballot.

The Spokane Valley City Council is back in town and ready for its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. On the agenda is a vote on a proposed ordinance on e-cigarettes, a report on chickens in residential areas and a report on adult retail business rules.

Meet Tennessee, a happy hound

This week's Feature Creature is a happy looking hound called Tennessee. Staff at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service estimate he is between one and two years old. He likes to play, walks well on the leash and appears to be house trained. He is overly enthusiastic when meeting other animals, however, so introductions should take place when he's leashed.

If you would like to adopt Tennessee, ask for him by identification number 0698. The adoption fee for dogs is $82.04, which includes a vet check, license, microchip, vaccinations and either spaying or neutering. You can stop by to visit the friendly hound at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Today’s highlights

Members of the East Valley High School Washington Drug-Free Youth puppet troupe include from left, Cally King, Searra Cameron, Jon Merkel, Mickell Rigsby, Jessica Rabe, Morgan Hendricks and Kendall Bancroft. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There's a nice, thick Valley Voice to read today. Reporter Lisa Leinberger takes a look at the Washington Drug Free Youth chapter at East Valley High School. It is the largest chapter in the state. Members take a pledge to be drug free and in exchange they get a t-shirt and discounts and local businesses. They also talk to younger students about the importance of being drug free.

The Spokane Valley Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend to the City Council that the rules on keeping chickens in residential areas should be relaxed. Roosters, however, will not be welcome.

Correspondent Jill Barville has an inspiring story on Jeana Moore, who walked 4,434 miles across the country to raise awareness of the National Bone Marrow Registry. There is also a tribute to the Very Rev. Mart Craft, who served at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Evanglist for 42 years. He died recently of cancer at the age of 71. He founded Mid-City Concerns and was president of Connoisseur Concerts in addition to his work with the church.

The open range

People talk all the time about how rural Spokane Valley used to be - full of orchards and farms. But it can be a hard thing to picture while driving down a major commerical and commuter corridor like Sullivan Road. This aerial view of the corner of Sprague and Sullivan looking north was taken in 1965. See which landmarks you can pick out.

Coming Thursday

In Thursday's Valley Voice we'll take a look at the Washington Drug Free Youth chapter at East Valley High School. It's the largest chapter in the state, though EVHS certainly isn't the largest high school. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will look at the group of teens who are willing to plege to stay drug free and submit to random drug tests to prove it.

Last week's Spokane Valley Planning Commission meeting was for the birds - literally. After hours of public testimony and discussion, the commission unanimously voted to recommend to the city council that the city's rules on chickens in residential areas be relaxed to allow more people to keep the feathered creatures in their back yards. Everyone who testified at the public hearing was in favor of the idea. The city council will have the final say on the matter.

We'll also have a report on the Liberty Lake Council meeting this week. Among other things, they discussed their council retreat that is set for next week at City Hall.

Chunk missing from overpass

The driver of an oversized load apparently forgot to double check his math yesterday and wacked the Flora overpass on westbound I-90. He hit it hard enough to rip off a chuck of concrete more than a foot wide and three inches deep, according to a report emailed by the Washington State Patrol. The truck is owned by Conmat Inc. in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

The Washington Department of Transportation immediately sent out a crew to inspect the bridge, said DOT eastern region spokesman Al Gilson. In addition to checking the integrity of the bridge the crew was also looking for loosened debris that might fall on the road or passing cars. “The bridge is structurally sound,” Gilson said. “There was some rebar damage.”

Crews will repair the damage soon, Gilson said. As is standard practice, either the truck driver or the company he works for will have to pay the bill. “We'll send an invoice out to them,” Gilson said.

Hunger has been dumped

The final numbers are in from the five week Dump Hunger campaign to collect donations for local food banks. The goal was to fill a dump truck with 225,000 pounds of food. Western States Equipment branches in five western states teamed up with regional Albertson's locations to collect food. The drive collected 348,607 pounds of food, plus $25,952. Each dollar is considered to be equal to five pounds of food, making the grand total 528,319 pounds of food for local food banks.

Local beneficiaries include Community Action Partnership in Hayden (5,378 pounds) and Second Harvest (76,264 pounds). In all, donations were given to 13 agencies in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming. This is the third year for the Dump Hunger campaign, which has brought in 1,233,017 pounds of food since its inception.  

Fairfield public hearing

Since there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight, I may head south and drop in on the Fairfield City Council meeting instead. At tonight's meeting there will be a public hearing on a proposed utility tax to raise money for street maintenance, which will probably garner some interest from residents. There should be time for a questions from the public. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Fairfield City Hall, 218 E. Main.

Weekend robbery

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of a man who put a woman in a choke hold, then punched her in the face before stealing her purse and shopping bags on Sunday. The 61-year-old woman had arrived at Poppy's Tavern, 415 S. Dishman Mica Road, to open up for the day. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more here.

Saturday’s highlights

Otis Orchards Elementary kitchen manager Judy Boykin serves up chicken fried steak wth potatoes and gravy, vegetables, rolls and cookies for the senior meals lunch Feb. 3. Lunch through Valley Meals on Wheels is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

We managed to pack several interesting stories into Saturday's Valley Voice. Here's the roundup, in case you missed it. Otis Orchards Elementary is the only school in the area to be a senior meal site through Valley Meals on Wheels. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in on how it is going and found that several of the seniors have given volunteer applications to Principal Suzanne Savall. The lunches are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent a day last week in a lengthy winter retreat discussing everything from funding street maintenance to a possible city hall site. The Simply Northwest gift shop known for its gift baskets is now under new ownership. An employee purchased the store from founder De Scott.

Residents in Millwood are apparently upset over a recent vote by the city council to shut down and tear out the wading pool that has been in the Millwood City Park since 1954. After hearing from several residents, last week the council agreed to take another look at the plan.

There was some brief excitement last week for Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighters. That generated some advice from assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford - it's a really, really, really bad idea to try and clean up a large gasoline spill by putting a match to it.

Meeting note

Just a quick note to remind everyone that there will be no Spokane Valley City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Council members will be traveling to Olympia to meet with state legislators, so this Tuesday night everyone gets to go home early.

Coming Saturday

We'll have some great entertainment for you in Saturday's Valley Voice. In addition to an arson fire this week, the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to a fireball seen at a local tavern. It turned out that someone had tried to clean up a gasoline spill by lighting it on fire, with predictable bad results. Luckily no one was hurt.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Otis Orchards Elementary recently to see how the latest Valley Meals on Wheels site is doing. It's the first one in a school. I also have a report on the all day winter retreat with the Spokane Valley City Council. They discussed a wide variety of topics, including economic development, finances and street maintenance.

Today’s highlights

Freeman School District Superintendent Sergio Hernandez led efforts to pass two levies and a construction bond, and directed the high school and elementary school construction projects. More than that, he said, “I hope they remember me for caring about people, caring about the students and the staff and working as a team player. The buildings really are a team effort.” SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

After 41 years in education, Freeman School District Superintendent Sergio Hernandez will be hanging up his hard hat in June. He's been wearing that hard hat a lot lately, overseeing the contstruction of a new high school and renovations at the elementary school. He told reporter Lisa Leinberger that he's not sure what he'll do after he retires, but that he still wants to work with kids in some way.

The Spokane Valley City Council took its first step this week in approving a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Reporter Pia Hallenberg spoke to Temple Beth Shalom Rabbi Michael Goldstein about a billboard uring people to boycott Israel.

Bits and pieces

There was some excitement after I left work last night. An armed man robbed the Dollar Tree store at 9211 E. Montgomery at 7:20 p.m. Witnessess said they saw him loitering around the front of the store for quite some time before he did the deed. Click here for more information, including a description.  

Reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner has a story today on why the local bonds failed, including one for the Central Valley School District. Theories include the economy and vote by mail. See more from Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small here.

A bright spot in a gray day

It's been mostly gray and dreary out there, so here's a look back at a bright Picture Perfect photo we published in the Valley Voice on November 4, 2007. Michele Nelson took this shot from the Centennial Trail between Barker and Flora Road.

Picture Perfect is a Spokane Valley scrapbook of people and events that we publish for free. If you would like to submit a photo to be published, send it to Please include the names and ages of everyone in the photo as well as information about where and when it was taken. Be sure to include your name and phone number so we can contact you if we need to.

Coming Thursday

It's been busy in Spokane Valley. Last night a Spokane Valley man allegedly stabbed his brother after the two fought. Now one brother is in jail on an attempted murder charge and the other is in serious condition in the hospital. And this morning the Spokane Valley Fire Department was called out to what is being called a suspicious fire in a vacant building at 13412 E. Nora.

Since it is Wednesday, we also have to take a look at what is coming in the Valley Voice tomorrow. Freeman School District Superintendent Sergio Hernandez recently announced that he will retire in June and reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to him about what he is planning next after his 41 year career in education. I'll have a report on Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting, where a reduced field of five council members efficiently dealt with the business before them.

One item of note to come out of the council meeting is a change in the schedule to appoint a replacement for Rose Dempsey. Things have been bumped back a bit. The council will narrow the field to several finalists on March 22, conduct interviews on March 29 and vote on who to appoint to the vacant seat on April 5. Applications still must be turned in to the city by 4 p.m. on March 4.  

Packed planning commission meeting tomorrow

I'm back at the keyboard after a long day spent with the Spokane Valley City Council in various meetings yesterday. You'll see my story on the regular city council meeting in Thursday's Valley Voice and the story on the council retreat will be in on Saturday.

For those of you that haven't checked the paper yet, some people in Central Valley are unhappy today after yesterday's bond election failed. Several reporters, including the Valley's own Lisa Leinberger, collaborated on a story in today's paper on the various bond and levy elections.

Now then, on to business. The Spokane Valley Planning Comission is meeting tomorrow night at 6 p.m. in City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) and the agenda is packed with items that may draw some interest. There will be more discussion on adult retail entertainment plus a public hearing on possible changes to the city code regarding the keeping of chickens. There will also be a study session on the annual Comprehensive Plan amendments. The comp plan can only be amended once a year and this year the entire Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan is up for elimination.

Spokane Valley council retreat tomorrow

Tuesday is nothing but meetings, meetings and more meetings. The East Valley School District board of directors will meet at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the District Administration Center, 12325 E. Grace. The board may vote on whether to put a bond on a ballot this spring.

The Spokane Valley City Council will have its annual winter retreat tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. The meeting is open to the public. The agenda includes contracts, economic development, city hall options, law enforcement goals, the budget and more. The council will follow that up with their regular council meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. That agenda includes a motion on a sewer paveback agreement with Spokane County and a vote on who to appoint to committees that former council woman Rose Dempsey served on.

Of course this non-stop Spokane Valley meeting schedule means that I will be off the grid tomorrow. I'll be too busy taking notes until my arm is sore to do any blog posting. But I'll be back on Wednesday.

Saturday’s highlights

Christ Lutheran Church has hired certified teacher Holly Moro to assist in Homework Helpers, an after-school program. Here, she helps Summit sixth-grader Lauren Walker (back to camera) with a math problem as first-graders Kate Walker, left, and Taylor Looker watch. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Monday again. Why does it come so soon? At any rate, it's time for the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Christ Lutheran Church on Broadway has started a Homework Helpers club to offer free tutoring after school every Tuesday. Kids seem eager to come and it's not just the cookies that has them coming in the door.

Students at Centennial Middle School used their Sprit Week to raise money for a classmate with a medical issue. Spokane Valley city councilman Bill Gothmann has filed paperwork to run for re-election in November. He's the first candidate to announce his campaign.

In case you missed it, reporter John Craig had a story Saturday on the process underway to fill the senate seat of Bob McCaslin, who is also a Spokane Valley city council member. McCaslin is reportedly upset about the candidates that were selected for consideration.  

Also, just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day to mail your ballots in the Central Valley bond election.

Councilman Gothmann announces re-election run

Last week Spokane Valley city councilman Bill Gothmann filed his candidate registration paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission. He will run for re-election to his council seat in the November elections. He is the first council member to announce a re-election campaign. Read here for more details.

Grab your fork

In the mood for pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage but don't want to cook? A breakfast will be served Sunday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Otis Orchards to benefit Valley Meals on Wheels. The Knights of Columbus are hosting the meal, which is by donation. Head to the church (4521 N. Arden) between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday for a bite to eat.

Coming on Saturday

The Valley Voice will be the thing to read tomorrow to find out what's going on in the Valley. Christ Lutheran Church has started a new Homework Helpers ministry after school on Tuesdays. Students at Centennial Middle School used their Spirit Week to raise nearly $2,800 for the medical bills of one of their own. And there will be a little something on an announcement of some sort, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. You'll need to check here tomorrow or grab a copy of the Valley Voice to find out more.

Rockford City Council retreat

The Rockford City Council is planning a special meeting Monday for a council reatreat. Items on the tentative agenda include capital improvements, water and sewer lagoon funds, the project list for next year's Community Development Block Grant funds, water issues, city contracts and the drainage issues in the town park.

The meeting is open to the public. It will begin at 6 p.m. Monday at Fire District 8's Station 82, 12100 E. Palouse Highway.

Ranching in Newman Lake

We haven't had a historic photo for a while, so here's a look back at the ranching culture that used to be so prevalent in the Valley area. This haying picture was taken on the James Day Ranch at Newman Lake circa early 1920s. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. See anyone you recognize?

Avoid Sprague and Sullivan

Two accidents were just reported. A car hit a bus at Sprague and Sullivan and a car hit a cement truck on Sullivan two blocks south of Sprague. Plan to avoid that area while things get cleaned up.

Got crab?

Tomorrow is the last day to buy tickets for the fourth annual West Valley Track and Field Crab Feed fundraiser featuring fresh Dungeness crab flown in from the Oregon coast. The meal is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 11, from 6-7 p.m. at West Valley High School, 8301 E. Buckeye. The menu will also include bread, beans, salad and beverages.

Call the high school at 922-5488 for tickets, which are $27.50 per person. The annual event raises money for new equipment and other expenses.

Today’s highlights

East Valley Superintendent John Glenewinkel applauds members of the Mountain View Middle School Band during a perfomance before the Jan. 25 school board meeting. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

You may need two cups of coffee this morning in order to have enough time to read everything in today's Valley Voice. East Valley School District superintendent John Glenewinkel recently spent some time answering reporter Lisa Leinberger's questions about the proposed re-visioning plan for the district and how that relates to a possible construction bond.

The Spokane Valley City Council met this week to approve the procedure for filling the vacant council seat and to hear a report on the full-width paving program that goes with the installation of sewer lines by Spokane County. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a nice story on Healing Hearts Northwest, a group of local doctors and nurses who travel to Rwanda to perform needed heart surgeries. The group has two fundraisers coming up this month to help pay for the next trip.

The Liberty Lake City Council welcomed a new parks and open spaces superintendent during its meeting this week. Also in Liberty Lake, a resident spotted a garage burglar who's description matches that of the man police arrested for similar crimes in Liberty Lake in December.

Want to be on the city council?

Probably more than a few people have sat in the audience during a city council meeting or read about a meeting in the paper and grouched that they could do it better. Well, here's your chance. The City of Spokane Valley is now officially accepting applications from residents interested in filling the council seat vacated by Rose Dempsey when she resigned. You have until 4 p.m. on March 4 to turn it in.

The seat is open to anyone who has lived in the Spokane Valley city limits for at least a year and is a registered voter. Applications are available here or at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Applications must be mailed or hand-delivered. A vote to appoint a new council member is tentatively set for the March 29 council meeting. Click here for a complete schedule and description of the process. 

Whoever is appointed will serve the remainder of Dempsey's term, which expires in November. The person appointed could then run for re-election if he or she chooses.

Coming Thursday

A lof ot questions and concerns have been floating around out there on the re-visioning plan proposed by the East Valley School District. In Thursday's Valley Voice, reporter Lisa Leinberger has a lengthy Q&A with East Valley superintendent John Glenewinkel that should answer a lot of questions about the how and why.

The Liberty Lake Police Department has been kept hopping lately. Four garage burglaries and vehicle prowls were reported in one night recently. One of the residents spotted a man near his garage. The description of the man and his car match those of the man police arrested in December for similar crimes in Liberty Lake, according to police chief Brian Asmus. A distressing number of the cars and garages that have been burglarized were unlocked, so everyone please remember to lock up. Also remember to bring your valuables inside at night.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a brief meeting Tuesday and formally adopted the procedure to fill the vacant city council seat. The plan is to have a new council member on the dias by the end of March.

WSP looking for a few good Troopers

The Washington State Patrol is now accepting applications for slots in the 99th Trooper Basic Training Class.  Each applicant must go through four phases of testing before being accepted as a cadet. The first phase includes two written tests and a physical fitness evaluation. The next Phase One test in Spokane is scheduled for Feb. 10 at the WSP District 4 office, 6403 W. Rowand Road. People interested in testing must first submit an application here. Call Trooper Tina Wallman at (509) 342-3570 for more information.

Furry hitchhiker on her way home

A truck driver who arrived at the Spokane Valley Target warehouse this week with a shipment from Albany, Ore., didn't realize he had an unauthorized passenger in the back. When he opened the door to unload, a cat dashed out and hid from workers, who called SCRAPS for help.

The cat was caught and taken to SCRAPS, which contacted the Albany Herald in the hopes of finding the owner, according to SCRAPS press release. Against all odds the owner was located and today the cat is leaving town for the trip back to Albany. This time, she gets to ride in front. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Council meeting tonight

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with the Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. I'm just posting it because it's so darn cool. Spokesman-Review photographer Dan Pelle took this awesome shot of icy gondolas over the Spokane River yesterday in Riverfront Park. He put together a slide show of several other photos just like it, so take a look.

Now, on to business. Tonight's city council meeting looks fairly short. The only items of consequence on the agenda are a vote on the motion to formally approve the process for appointing a new council member and a presentation on the sewer paveback program. This is the last year for the Septic Tank Elimination Program and two areas are slated to get sewered this summer.

Dump hunger update

A group of local businesses have a really big goal - fill a dump truck with 225,000 pounds of food and donate it to Second Harvest. Their food drive ends Feb. 7 and they have managed to collect enough food and money to total 218,314 pounds (every dollar is considered the equivalent of five pounds of food). So there's still time if you would like to help fill the truck. Donations can be dropped off at all local Albertsons, Les Schwab and Western States Equipment locations.

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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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