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Spokane Valley

Archive for January 2011

East Valley bond information meetings

The East Valley School District board of directors is considering asking the voters to pass a construction bond this year. A series of informational meetings to discuss the potential bond are being held beginning tonight at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building, 12325 E. Grace. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Otis Orchards Elementary, 22000 E. Wellesley.

The board is scheduled to vote on whether to go out for a bond at the next board meeting on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Administration Building.

The right way to report a pothole

It's confession time. When I wrote up a brief for the Saturday Valley Voice on how to report a pothole in Spokane Valley over the internet, I somehow managed to misspell “Spokane” in the web address. Tired fingers? I don't know. We'll run it again on Thursday, but if you have a giant pothole you're just itching to report, click here. Then click on the “report a problem” link on the left side of the page and select “report a pothole.” Don't forget to be very specific about the pothole's location.

Saturday’s highlights

Bus mechanic Everett Combs holds Eve. Combs is the one who found the stray kitten near the Freeman School District bus barn. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's Monday again, and a chilly one at that. Monday, of course, means highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The feel-good story of the Voice is Lisa Leinberger's tale of the Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty, also known as Eve. She was found and taken in by the Freeman school bus drivers and is now featured in a children's book.

The Spokane Valley City Council is taking steps to appoint a replacement for former council woman Rose Dempsey, who resigned her seat. The Spokane Valley Fire Department was kept busy with fires caused by a candle, an engine block heater and cooking oil.

This week's Inside Our Schools column has a bunch of tidbits, including Central Valley's plans for upcoming renovations, the departure of East Valley Middle School principal Mark Purvine and upcoming East Valley bond information meetings. The Spokane Valley Fire Department also recently recognized two men for giving live saving aid to a hit and run victim.  

Coming on Saturday

''Eve,'' the Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty, is held by Freeman Transportation Supervisor Charlotte Trejbal. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

This week's Saturday Valley Voice is packed. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will check in with the “Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty” that was found and adopted by the school bus drivers in Freeman.

At this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting the council discussed the procedure for filling the vacant council seat that opened up when former council member Rose Dempsey resigned. The plan, which is set to be formally approved next week, anticipates selecting a replacement by the end of March.

Freeman superintendent retiring

Freeman School District superintendent Sergio Hernandez has announced that he will retire when his contract comes up for renewal on June 30. He has led the district since July 2006 and oversaw a successful bond campaign that resulted in a new high school and work on the elementary school and middle school that is currently underway. Hernandez has worked in education for 41 years. He was the superintendent in Tekoa for seven years before arriving in Freeman.

A special school board meeting is planned for Thursday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m. in the middle school library to interview two leadership recruitment firms specializing in school superintendent searches. We'll have more on this process in the Valley Voice as things progress.

Senate candidate arrested

Olympia reporter Jim Camden has a story in today's paper (which is also getting a lot of comments online) about the arrest of Roy Murry in Las Vegas for carrying a concealed weapon this week. Murry is one of the three men the Spokane County Commissioners are considering to replace former Spokane Valley senator Bob McCaslin, who recently retired from the state legislature after 30 years due to health reasons.

According to Jim's story, Murry is disputing the police report and said he won't withdraw his name from consideration for the senate seat. The police report states that Murry was carrying a semi-automatic handgun, two knives, two ammunition clips and loose rounds.

The Commissioners are currently conducting background checks on all three candidates, including state Rep. Matt Shea and GOP legislative district leader Jeff Baxter.

Spokane Valley wildlife

Over the years Spokane Valley has become more and more urban. Sometimes we forget that there really is a lot of wildlife out there if we just look. Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley spotted this beaver swimming in the Spokane River near the Barker Road bridge yestersday. Has anyone seen any signs of beaver activity in that area?

Sunrise Elementary students meet Mako

Spokane Valley Fire Department arson dog Mako poses with fire investigator Rick Freier and a student at the Sunrise Elementary science fair Thursday night. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department. 

It looks like Mako the arson dog had a good time last night at the annual Sunrise Elementary science fair. Spokane Valley Fire Department fire investigator Rick Freier brought his canine partner to the fair for students to meet and it looks like some of the kids were happy to pet him and learn a little about how he works. After a few months on the job Mako has settled in enough to begin making the rounds of local schools. If you are interested in having Freier and Mako visit your school or event to talk about fire safety, call the fire department at 928-1700.

Coming soon to a park near you

Every summer the City of Spokane Valley shows free movies in Mirabeau Park. You have until Tuesday to vote on which ones you would like shown this summer. There are two categories: family choice and teen choice. Viewing dates are July 23 and August 20 (pray for no rain).

The options for family choice are: “Despicable Me,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Megamind,” “Secretariat” and “Toy Story 3.” The options for teen choice are: “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” “Labyrinth,” “The Last Airbender,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and “The Sorcerer's Apprentice.” If the teen girls get out the vote, I'm betting that “Eclipse” will win that second categoy.

You can either vote in person at CenterPlace (2426 N. Discovery Place) or online here. If you don't like any of the choices, you can write in your favorite movie. The deadline is Tuesday, so don't waste any time.

Today’s highlights

Valley Lilac Festival candidates back row, left to right: Porscha Smith, University; Christa Gentili, The Oaks Christian Academy; and Brianna Bogart, Valley Christian. Front row, left to right: Katie Mandler, Gonzaga Prep, and Kaleigh Fox, Central Valley. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Well, it's Thursday again and time for some more Valley Voice highlights. Five of the 14 Lilac Princesses live in the Valley area. They attend University High School, Valley Christian, Central Valley High School, Gonzaga Prep and The Oaks Christian Academy. Today's Valley Voice includes interviews with all five. The Lilac Queen and her court will be selected Sunday.

As expected, the Spokane Valley City Council voted this week to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan and relplace it with mixed use zoning. Today's story includes a lot of public comment from both sides of the issue.

We also have a look at a pet cemetery in Colbert and a deal with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office that saved the budgets of some small southern Spokane County towns.

Coming Thursday

The Valley Voice is going to look a little purple on Thursday. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has interviews with all the Lilac Princesses who live in the Valley. There are girls from Valley Christian, University High School and Central Valley High School. The princesses from Gonzaga Prep and the Oaks Classical Christian Academy are also Valley residents.

The Spokane Valley City Council faced a packed room last night as people came out to comment on the emergency amendment to eliminate the City Center zone from the Sprauge/Appleway Revitalization Plan. They voted to approve the amendment four to one. Councilman Bill Gothmann voted against it and councilman Bob McCaslin was absent.

Some of the small towns in southern Spokane County got a bit of sticker shock this year when it came time to negotiate their law enforcment contract with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. But a deal was struck and the towns will have smaller increases this year. 

Check back tomorrow for some links.

Falco’s open for business

The phones have been abuzz this morning with rumors that Falco's in Spokane Valley was closing. This is thanks to an ad in today's paper (page A2 if you want to look). The problem is, the ad says its a “going out for business sale” (emphasis mine). Grant Falco wrote on his Facebook page that the ad was just a play on words and the longtime Valley business is there to stay. “This was our simple way of trying to create a little buzz,” he wrote.  I'd say it worked.

Talking trash

There's nothing particularly fascinating about trash, but it's something that has to be dealt with. Reporter John Craig has a story in today's paper about the ongoing dispute between local governments about what happens next for the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System. There are arguments over who will own and operate the Waste to Engergy Plant, who will have a say in the decision making and how much customers will be charged to dispose of waste.

A Solid Waste Summit is scheduled for Feb. 2 and 3. Elected representatives from every jurisdiction in Spokane County are expected to attend, including the Spokane Valley city council members. Spokane Valley could have a key role to play in what happens depending on what the council members decide to do. It doesn't sound like this issue will go away any time soon, so take a look at John's story to learn more about the issue.

East Farms business burns

This truck may have caused a fire this morning at 25170 E. Kildea. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department put out a fire at Premier Lumber on Kildea just off Starr Road in the wee hours of the morning today. A Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy called in the fire at 12:10 a.m. and when firefighters arrived flames were coming from a sawdust hopper and an enclosed area that housed a large truck, according to a press release from assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

The truck was burned and parts of the building were also damaged, though an official estimate of damages isn't available yet. It is thought that the fire started in the truck's engine compartment and may have been sparked by an engine block heater, Clifford said.

Otis Orchards feeling the pain

A car hit a utility pole in Otis Orchards at 4:30 a.m. today and wiped out power and internet for hundreds of residents. Avista was able to restore power within about 90 minutes, but the internet problems are taking a bit longer to fix. Read more details in a story by reporter Tom Sowa.

West Valley meeting change

If you were planning to go to the West Valley School District board meeting tomorrow, make a note. The meeting date and time has been changed to Monday, Jan., 31, at 7 p.m. in the District Conference Center, 8818 E. Grace. The change was made because of a scheduling conflict.

Men recognized for saving hit and run victim

Two men were recently recognized for their livesaving efforts by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. They are pictured here along with the Engine 7 crew that responded to the call. Pictured from left to right are Firefighter Holin Honeyfield, Cpt. Tim Cruger, Paramedic Rich Bruce, Steve Stermer, Heith Carlton and Fire Chief Mike Thompson. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

At yesterday's Spokane Valley Fire Commissioners meeting Outstanding Citizen awards were given to two men who stopped and gave life saving treatment to a hit and run victim in the early morning hours of Jan. 1. A Spokane Valley Police Department press release identified the victim as Cody Washburn, 18. He was hit by a car on Fourth between Adams and Progress while walking home and was left in the street.

The two men, Steve Stermer and Heith Carlton, found Washburn lying in the street and called 911. They used their coats to cover him until firefighters from Station 7 arrived to treat him. Washburn suffered a broken back and severe hypothermia. Paramedic Rich Bruce nominated the two for the award. “I firmly believe their actions saved a young man's life,” Bruce wrote in his nomination.

The driver in the crash left a license plate at the scene of the accident and was later arrested and charged with felony hit and run.

Meetings tomorrow

Tuesday nights have certainly been interesting lately and that should continue tomorrow. The Spokane Valley City Council will meet and the top item on the agenda is the second reading and final vote on the proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to eliminate the City Center zone of SARP and replace it with Mixed Use Avenue zoning. There was a ton of public comment at last week's meeting and there will probably be more tomorrow. The council will also discuss the procedure to replace council woman Rose Dempsey, who resigned last week. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

The East Valley school board will meet tomorrow as well. Their meetings have been lively recently as parents and community members have packed in to comment about the district's proposed re-visioning plan. The issue isn't on the agenda, but more people might wander in to have their say. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the District Administration Center, 12325 E. Grace.

Saturday’s highlights

Central Valley’s Tyler Chamberlain (24) blasts past University’s Justin Donahue during a game Jan. 11. SR photo/Dan Pelle

There's a lot of good stuff from Saturday's Valley Voice to check out if you missed it over the weekend. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a nice look at Central Valley High School basketball player Tyler Chamberlain, who is having a healthy season and is excelling. There's a brief update on Mako the arson dog in this week's Spokane Valley Fire Department update.

Jeanne Erickson, the owner of Tune Tales Music, is offering music education classes for young children through the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department. Kids love to sing and dance and they don't even care if they're moving with the beat.

Spokane Valley city councilman Dean Grafos has suggested a couple of projects; adding flashing crossing beacons at Bowdish Middle School and creating a city entry on donated land at Appleway and Thierman. You can also take a look at the often commented on opinion column written by Spokane Valley Planning Commission chairman John Carroll, which got some attention at last week's council meeting.

Dump hunger this weekend

Most of us probably have a few stray items in our cupboards that we can part with. Maybe you bought something to use in a particular recipie that you never made. Or maybe you hit a really good sale and have more of something than you really need.

Several local business are teaming up with Second Harvest to attempt to fill a dump truck with donated food in a “Dump Hunger” campaign. A dump truck will be in place this weekend at the Albertsons at Trent and Argonne accepting donations. The truck will be there from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The truck holds 225,000 pounds of food, so fill those bags and bring them over.

If you can't make it over there this weekend, there will be food collection bins at all local Albertsons, Les Schwab and Western States Equipment locations through Feb. 7.

Coming on Saturday

Jeanne Erickson uses zebra finger puppets to teach singing and pitch development during her music class at CenterPlace on Wednesday. She uses musical games and movement to introduce children to music and music theory. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak 

Another Saturday, another wonderful Valley Voice. The owner of Tune Tales Music is offering classes through the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department to teach young children about music theory and musical instruments. It also gives kids a chance to move around and have a little fun.

After some belt tightening last year, some on the Spokane Valley City Council are considering whether to spend some money on a city entry at Appleway and Thierman and flashing school crossing beacons at area middle schools. Those of you who read my Thursday story on the large amount of public comment at Tuesday's city council meeting can take a look at a Vocal Point column by Spokane Valley Planning Commission chairman John Carroll. It is the same as the email that has been circulating around that some people found fault with. You can read it and see what you think.

Finally, you can learn what happens when you combine a faulty heater with a freshly shampood carpet and keep up to date on the travelings of Mako, the Spokane Valley Fire Department arson dog.

Freeway a sheet of ice

That rain falling out there has turned I-90 and most other roads into a sheet of ice. On my way into the office most people were being sensible and driving slowly, except one man who zipped who past me in the left lane. A few seconds later he was sliding sideways across four lanes of traffic, narrowly missing several cars. He only stopped, facing the wrong way, when he hit the concrete barrier that marks the edge of that section of freeway.

I saw numerous cars on the side of the freeway that were sideways or facing the wrong way. The DOT freeway cameras show numerous blockages, including a sideways semi near Park Road. Since I got in the office the scanner has had a continuous stream of accidents and slide offs. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has even put out a press release asking people not to drive right now. Everyone please be very careful out there.

11:30 a.m. update: The scanner has calmed down considerably and things seem to be getting better out there. The Washington State Patrol is reporting that they responded to 45 accidents between 7:45 and 9:45 a.m. in Spokane and Lincoln Counties.

Thieves rob Redeemer Lutheran Church

Someone stole thousands of dollars in electronic equipment from Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3606 S. Schafer Road, this week. The theft was discovered Wednesday. Since there was no sign of forced entry, Spokane Valley Police believe someone may have hidden inside the church Tuesday night when it was locked up. Click here for more on the story. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Slip sliding away

A state trooper checks out a slide off in the median near Barker Road this morning on I-90. Snow was falling heavily in North Idaho and eastern Spokane Valley Thursday morning. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

There have been a steady stream of accidents all day on the scanner. Even though the dusting of snow doesn't look like much, it is proving to be quite slippery. There have been numerous accidents on the freeway, a car plowed into a fence this morning at 32nd and Pierce and earlier someone slipped and fell on the ice at Fourth and Bowdish and broke a kneecap. Everyone use extra caution out there.

Today’s highlights

Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small answers a question from a member of the Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club about the upcoming CV bond levy at a Jan. 12 meeting. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Pour your coffee and settle in, it's time to take a look at some highlights of today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger interviewed Central Valley School District superintendent Ben Small to get all the information you ever wanted to know about the district's upcoming bond, including a full list of what schools will benefit. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a story on a program called Safety Net, which helps youth who are aging out of the foster care system.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted Tuesday to advance an emergency ordinance to remove the City Center zone from SARP to a second reading. There was a lot of public comment on the issue that was almost evenly split. I didn't have enough space to include them all, but there's a representative sample in there. On a related note, check out my story in today's main paper about council woman Rose Dempsey's resignation.  

McCaslin recovering after leg amputated

Olympia reporter Jim Camden is reporting that Spokane Valley city councilman and former state senator Bob McCaslin had a leg amputated yesterday after being hospitalized with circulatory problems since last week. The hospital says he is in satisfactory condition. Click here for more information and here for a previous story with details on his recent health issues.

Coming Thursday

We've got a new batch of great stories coming your way in the Thursday Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger interviewed Central Valley School District superintendent Ben Small for a Q&A story about the upcoming bond issue. I'll have a story on the lengthy and sometimes sharply worded Spokane Valley city council meeting Tuesday. A lot of people commented both for and against a proposed emergency amendment to replace the City Center zone of the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan with mixed use zoning.

Correspondent Cindy Hval will have an intertesting story on a program called Safety Net, which provides assistance to youth “aging out” of the foster care system.

Commissioners to fill McCaslin’s senate seat by March

Spokane County Commissioners said yesterday that they will do background checks and have requested more information on the three men up for consideration to fill Bob McCaslin's vacant senate seat. He resigned Jan. 5 for health reasons.

The 4th legislative district precinct committee officers met over the weekend and voted to forward three names to the commissioners: Rep. Matt Shea and district leaders Jeff Baxter and Roy Murry.

Read John Craig's story for more information on the three men and the appointment process.

Valley councilwoman Dempsey resigns

Spokane Valley City councilwoman Rose Dempsey announced Wednesday morning that she is resigning her seat on the council effective Friday.
Her decision comes after a contentious council meeting Tuesday night where she was in the minority opposing a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. Four new council members who all ran on a platform opposing the plan were elected to the council in November 2009.
Dempsey said she will not take her seat next Tuesday when the amendment is up for the final vote. “I won’t be there when they vote that piece of crap in,” she said. “They have no intention of compromising on anything. They’re going to do what they’re doing to do.”

Click here to read the full story.

Robbery reported on Woodruff

A resident in the 3900 block of South Woodruff just called police to report that two men wearing ski masks pointed a gun at him and demanded cash when he pulled into his garage. He told dispatch that two white men got into a dark colored passenger car and headed south on Woodruff. Officers are heading into the area.

Bond information meeting tonight

If you're looking for something to do tonight and the zoning discussion at the Spokane Valley City Council meeting isn't your cup of tea, the Central Valley School District will host a bond information meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at North Pines Middle School, 701 N. Pines Road. A $69.6 million bond is on the Feb. 8 ballot and if it passes it will be used to pay for a long list of school expansion and remodeling projects. Check the district's web site for more details on the bond.

New senior meal site in Otis Orchards

Valley Meals on Wheels has opened a new senior meals site in Otis Orchards. The meal will be served at 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at Otis Orchards Elementary (22000 E. Wellesley). The first meal will be served today. Senior citizens who attend the meals will be welcome to stay after and play games with or read to students. The suggested donation is $3.50 per person but no one will be turned away if they cannot pay.

Saturday’s highlights

U-High sophomores Emerald Charbonneau and Megan Randles, both 16, shiver in 10 degree temperatures while waiting for a ride after school recently. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak 

Declaring yourself not cold while you shiver in 10 degree weather is a teenage thing. Teens venturing out in clothing best suited for 60 degree weather is nothing new and reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to some of those teens during a recent cold snap to find out just what they're thinking.

East Valley High School graduate Tyler Jolley is now a senior at Eastern Washington University and played a role in the recent football championship. A public memorial service is coming up Saturday for former SCRAPS animal behaviorist Patricia Simonet, who died recently of cancer.

Schedule notes

The City of Spokane Valley offices will not be open Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Similarly, I won't be around to post any interesting tidbits, so come back and check in on Tuesday.

We do have something to look forward to over the weekend. The Spokane Valley City Council will have a discussion Tuesday on the proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalizaton Plan and replace it with Mixed Use Avenue zoning. It has been a hot topic of discussion and there will likely be a large crowd. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. See you there!

Coming on Saturday

Patricia Simonet hugs Adam the dog at Spokane Regional Animal Protection Services (SCRAPS) on , December 6, 2005. SR photo/Holly Pickett

We've got a mixture of fun and sadness coming your way in the Saturday Valley Voice. Animal lovers are mourning the loss of Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviorist who worked at SCRAPS and was known for discovering dog laughter. She died of cancer last month and a public memorial service is set for Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. at the Spokane Buddhist Temple.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger will take a look at just what teenagers are thinking when they leave the house in snowy, bitter weather with no coats and wildly inappropriate clothing or footwear. I saw a teenager wearing shorts last week on a day when the temperature was struggling to top 10 degrees. Brrrr!

The Liberty Lake crime blotter should make an appearance after being held over from Thursday. The garage burglar may be back in town, so luck up tight. Also, Valley Meals on Wheels will begin serving lunch in Otis Orchards next week.


Filling McCaslin’s Senate seat a trial

There is apparently a bit of a storm brewing around the appointment of a replacement for Spokane Valley City Councilman Bob McCaslin, who resigned his seat in the State Senate earlier this month for health reasons. Olympia reporter Jim Camden has an interesting report this morning on delays in the nominating process. There are a couple of unexpected names on the list of people who would like to fill the Senate seat: former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite, who worked on McCaslin's first senate campaign, and Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman.

Planning Commission meeting tonight

The Spokane Valley Planning Commission will host its first meeting with two new comissioners at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Only one item is on the agenda: a public hearing on a proposed code text amendment to tweak the definition of adult entertainment retail businesses. You can find the current meeting agenda and attached documents on the city's web site here.

Today’s highlights

Bill Jones and  his cat, Jasmine, are reunited at home after she was missing for 10 days. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Apparently I was right when I posted yesterday that we had so much good stuff coming up for today's Valley Voice that we couldn't fit it all in. The Liberty Lake police blotter is MIA from today's Voice, so look for it on Saturday.

On to business. Supporters of the East Valley “re-visioning” plan had their say at this week's board meeting, supporting the plan to close middle schools and put grades pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade in one building. Changes may be in store for Evergreen Middle School, which is due for renovation if the a Central Valley School District bond passes in February. A severe shortage of electrical outlets forces the school to “daisy chain” electrical cords together, which any firefighter can tell you isn't a good idea.

Students at Central Valley High School recently gave a rousing sendoff to orchestra teacher Mason Flemmer, who is deploying to Afghanistan with his Army Reserve unit. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a touching story about a man's search for his lost cat that thankfully ended well.

And after yesterday's snow dump and today's great melt, there's a short story on what to do if Waste Management misses you on trash pickup day. Waste Management serves Spokane Valley and most areas of unincorporated Spokane County. 

Coming Thursday

We have so many stories for Thursday's Valley Voice I'm not sure if we can fit them all in. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will score a trifecta, writing all three of the cover stories. She takes another look at the Central Valley construction bond issue by visiting Evergreen Middle School, which is scheduled for renovation if the bond passes. The East Valley School District board met again this week. Supporters of the district's “re-visioning” plan to combine grades pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade in the same building controlled the microphone this time.

An assembly was held recently at Central Valley High School to recognize the school's orchestra teacher, who is deploying to Afghanistan with the Army Reserves. The Spokane Valley City Council held a mostly uneventful meeting with a light agenda. Meanwhile, the Liberty Lake Police Chief believes a prolific garage buglar is back in town and up to his old tricks after being arrested last month.

Liberty students going home early

The Liberty School District in south Spokane County has announced that all students are being sent home right now (11:15 a.m.). Bus routes will run normally. All after school practices have been cancelled.

Winter driving

The scanner is strangely quiet this morning. There doesn't seem to be a lot of accidents at the moment, but the hills are a bit dicey. If you were planning to head into Spokane, you might want to find a route other than I-90. The westbound lanes look like a parking lot west of Havana because of a major accident near the Maple exit. Other than that, just be careful out there.

11 a.m. update: The roads are a lot worse now than they were at 7 a.m. Roads and parking lots that were plowed early this morning now look like they haven't seen a plow blade in days. And you end up doing more sliding than steering on corners. I heard something on the scanner about a semi backing down on hill it couldn't make it up, possibly on Forker Road. At least I-90 is flowing smoothly again. For now.

Mayhem roundup

Police and Sheriff's Deputies in Spokane Valley and points south have been busy in the last few days. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has written up several items of interest to check out. A Spokane Valley man was arrested Saturday when police investigating a domestic violence report found the wanted felon in possession of a semi-automatic in his jacket and several loaded magazines in his pocket.

A traffic stop in Rockford on Monday resulted in two arrests. One woman was arrested for driving with a suspended license and her passenger was arrested for possession of a controlled substance after the deputy found Oxycodone and another drug in the car.

An incoherent woman could not tell a deputy why the car she was in was in a snowbank near Highway 27 and Elder just after 3 a.m. this morning. It turned out the car was stolen. The car's owner, a Spokane Valley resident, said the woman didn't have permission to have the car. She was arrested for being in possession of a stolen vehicle.

East Valley board meeting tonight

Differing opinions have been swirling in the East Valley School District about the district's “re-visioning” plan that would combine elementary schools and middle schools in a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade model. The school board is meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the district's administration center at 12325 E. Grace. The “re-visioning” plan is not on the agenda, but there is a public comment period during which parents can make their opinions known. The last board meeting got a bit contentious and that may also be the case during tonight's meeting.

Name a fire station

Okay, everyone, time to put on your thinking caps. The Spokane Valley Fire Department is looking for a new name for Station 5, located at 15510 E. Marietta. It's just off Sullivan on the southern edge of the Industrial Park.

The department has launched a program to rename all of its fire stations, since not many people know without looking at a map where, say, Station 6 is. The first to be renamed was the fomer Station 10 on Sprague near Flora, which is now called the Greenacres Fire Station. The goal is to name each station something that indicates what neighborhood or area of town it is in.

So what shoud it be? Something obvious like the Sullivan Fire Station? Or maybe something that refers to its location near the Industrial Park? It's all up to you. (The photo of Station 5 is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department) 

Update: There is some sort of conflict with the planned meeting to get public input, which has been cancelled. Come up with your station name ideas and when the meeting is rescheduled I'll post an update.

Preview of coming attractions

Here's a little something to get you in the mood for that foot of snow we're supposed to get beginning Tuesday night. (Can't you just hear all the kids praying for a snow day on Wednesday?) This shot of crystals of new snow frozen onto icicles hanging from an Otis Orchards home was taken recently by Spokesman-Review photographer Bart Rayniak. Now the only thing left to do is make sure the snow shovel is ready and the supply of hot chocolate is stocked up.  

Saturday’s highlights

Karl Felgenhauer, president of the nonprofit Fairfield Care, stands in a one-bedroom apartment at the newly reopened senior facility. “We started with nothing,” he said, “but we're here to stay.” SR photo/Bart Rayniak

Well now, how about those Eagles? If you were too busy Saturday basking in the glow of a national championship win, I've got some links to Valley Voice stories you can get caught up on. The East Valley School District board was forced to move its meeting when upset parents didn't leave the meeting room when the meeting was recessed. The furor is surrounding the district's plan to move to a pre K-8 school system.

The old Fairfield Good Samaritan is now under the ownership of the community non-profit organization Fairfield Care and is open to seniors looking for independent living apartments. Assisted living units will be open in the Spring once the appropriate licenses are in place.

Weather caused a scary momemt for some Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighers when their truck slid backwards down an icy hill as they were on their way to a call. The town of Millwood is considering chlorinating the town's water and the council also voted to remove parking restrictions on Laura Road between Frederick and Buckeye.

Coming on Saturday

We'll have a few good stories in the Saturday Valley Voice to go with your morning cup of coffee. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a follow up on a contentious East Valley School District board meeting, where some parents were upset about the district's plan undo the traditional elementary school, middle school, high school model.

A group of resdients in Fairfield have banded together to form a non-profit to take over the facility that was formerly the Fairfield Good Samaritan nursing home and assisted living center. Fairfield Care has had a limited opening and more will be added as licenses are approved.

A crew of firefighters from Spokane Valley Fire had a scare last week when the engine they were riding in was forced to stop on a slippery hill and began to slide backwards. Luckily it went into the ditch, not off the edge of the embankment.

Burglary 101

Lesson number one for the successful burglar: Don't break into a business when two police officers are watching you.

Lesson number two: Don't do anything criminal when there is a nice blanket of fresh snow to perfectly preserve your footprints.

Lesson number three: Don't tell the police you can't get out of the car because your seat belt is broken. That won't work. And then you'll have to buy a new seat belt.

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has a little something on a man who did not know those three things before, but he knows them now.

Agenda change next week

If you marked your calendar for the council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11, to share your views on a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from SARP, get out your eraser. The city has put out its agenda and packet for the meeting and the emergency ordinance isn't on it. A quick look at the advance agenda shows the first reading has been moved to the Jan. 18 meeting, with the final vote still scheduled for Jan. 25.

Tueday's meeting is not a study session, so people can still give their opinion on the issue during the public comment period. With that item off the agenda, what little is left should be wrapped up quickly enough that I can get home in time to watch NCIS. The council is set to consider a proposed petty cash resolution, a motion on the parks and recreation maintenance contract and a letter of support for the Appleway Courts Senior Housing project.

Something other than snow

Yes, snow is nice to look at and this week the trees are looking particularly pretty with their snow covered branches. But sometimes you get tired of gray skies and white snow, so here's a repeat of a Picture Perfect photo we ran last August. This Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly was spotted in the Newman Lake garden of Sidney and Anna Erickson.

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.


Today’s highlights

Ponderosa Elementary School principal Jerrol Olson “high fives” Mrs. Heckema's 1st grade class as they walk by the “open concept” media center on their way to lunch, while a class is in session. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here we are in 2011 and we've still got great things to read in the Valley Voice. Today reporter Lisa Leinberger writes about the upcoming Central Valley School District bond issue that will modernize many of the schools, including Ponderosa Elementary. It can be difficult for teachers to hold class in a building with no interior walls and not nearly enough electrical outlets.

A majority of the Spokane Valley City Council indicated they wanted to move ahead with an emergency comprehensive plan amendment to eliminate the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan despite the planning commission's recommendation that the amendment be rejected.

Former Spokane Valley councilman Steve Taylor wrote a touching tribute to former Spokane Valley mayor Rich Munson, who died on New Year's Day. A public memorial service for Munson is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at CenterPlace.

In the main paper reporter Meghann Cuniff has a short report on two burglars who were chased by a business owner and then tracked down by a police K9 called Maximus.

Cliff House now open on the weekends

 The rebuilt Cliff House retains the Italianate/Mission-style exterior architecture of the original mansion, built in 1924. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak.

The historic Cliff House at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars has been rebuilt after being heavily damaged in a fire in December 2009. The facility will be open to the public on the weekends in January for those who want to stop in an take a look at the restoration. Reporter Mike Prager has a nice story on the building's rebirth and if you click here you can also see several photos shot by photographer J. Bart Rayniak.

McCaslin to keep council seat

Spokane Valley City Councilman Bob McCaslin confirmed at last night's meeting that he will keep his council seat even as he resigns from the Washington State Senate for health reasons. He said he has been diagnosed with a bone morrow disorder that prevents him from producing enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Myelodysplastic syndrome is also known as pre-leukemia. Click here for a story by Olympia reporter Jim Camdem that I contributed a little to.

Summer days will come again

Here's a little somthing to help you remember warm summer days as we struggle through lingering snow and arctic temperatures - a historic photo of the Liberty Lake Dance Pavilion circa 1953. Anyone out there have any memories of the Pavillion? The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.

McCaslin to leave Senate

Washington State Senator and Spokane Valley City Councilman Bob McCaslin has reportedly announced that he is resigning his Senate seat for health reasons. McCaslin has had several heath issues and hospitalizations in the last year. The Spokesman-Review reporter in Olympia, Jim Camden, is working on getting more details. McCaslin was first elected in 1981.

Memorial service set for former Spokane Valley mayor

A public memorial service for former Spokane Valley mayor Rich Munson will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, according to an email from city councilman Bill Gothmann. Munson, 68, died on New Year's Day from complications of leukemia.

Current mayor Tom Towey announced today that the City of Spokane Valley will fly its flags at half staff Tuesday through Sunday in Munson's honor. Towey will read a proclamation declaring the observance at Tuesday's city council meeting.

Towey said he had no idea Munson was so ill. “Rich was a visionary,” he said. “We need more visionaries like him in our community.”

Council to discuss City Center

There are only six items on the agenda for the Spokane Valley City Council meeting on Tuesday, but item number three is a doozy. The council will get their first chance to discuss a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to cut the City Center from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. The planning commission has recommended denying the emergency amendment, which was initiated at the request of a land owner who wants to put in a used car lot at University City.

The commission did not hold back in giving its opinion, saying the proposed amendment was “processed too quickly and without sufficient public input” and that the commission believes SARP and the City Center Zone “has not been given enough time to develop” and that “a lack of vision and indecisiveness for a City Center is contributing to economic problems.”

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, is a study session, so no public comment will be taken. The issue is scheduled to be considered at the Jan. 11 and Jan. 25 council meetings, where public comments will be accepted.

The Liberty Lake City Council is also scheduled to meet on Tuesday and has a similarly brief agenda. The only items on the table are the monthly staff reports and the 2011 standing committee appointments. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey and his Pekinese, “Buddy”, get ready to ride Wed. evening, Aug. 18, 2010, along with Spokane Valley Cyclists For the Broadway Safety Project in a “Pedal with the Politicians”, to look first hand at bike lanes and safety issues in the Spokane Valley. Councilman Bill Gothman (blue helmet) also participated in the ride. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

In Saturday's Valley Voice, Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey takes a look back at his first year at the helm of the city, with its challanges and disagreements. There's a report from last week's council meeting where three council members reversed themselves on what items they wanted to support at the Washington State Legislature.

The Liberty Lake Police Department will soon get two new police cars to replace cars that have extremely high mileage and aren't reliable any more. The department will also be able to install a fence that will block off access to the rear of the police station where officers enter and exit. Correspondent Sandra Babcock has a nice column about a wildlife experience she had in Yellowstone National Park a few years ago and the lessons she learned from it.

Funeral pending for former Spokane Valley mayor

Spokane Valley Mayor Rich Munson approaches the podium to speak at a press conference at the state line Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. A press conference was called by government and law enforcement officials and human rights organizers in Washington and Idaho to speak to the recent distribution of racist flyers. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Former Spokane Valley mayor Rich Munson died on New Year's Day from complications of leukemia, only a year after he left office. He had been heavily involved in the city since incorporation and was very passionate about his time on the council and as mayor. Reporter Rebecca Nappi spoke to family members and colleagues for a story in today's paper. Funeral arrangements are pending and more information may be available later today. 

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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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