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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for July 2011

Scanner traffic gems

I don't know if the Spokane scanner traffic is just more interesting than in Spokane Valley, but I've heard a couple of gems today while in the downtown office.

The first exchange involved an officer who had located a stolen car. Dispatcher: “Is the ignition punched?” Officer: “No, they used the key left in the ash tray.”

The second exchange got some people excited for a few minutes. A woman reported that a stranger was in her house with a gun. Then the dispatcher told officers that the woman was saying that it was a false alarm. “She said she must be dreaming,” said the dispatcher.

13-year-old a top racer

“It’s in my blood,” said Behar, waiting for the start of the Fever 4 race at Stateline Speedway in Stateline, Idaho, on July 20. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

Reporter Allison Boggs has an excellent story in today's paper about 13-year-old racing phenom Nicole Behar of Otis Orchards. She's a fourth generation race car driver already winning races at the Stateline Speedway even though she can't legally drive down the street yet. Allison and photographer Kathy Plonka teamed up to put together a fabulous package on this girl, who will be in the eighth grade this fall. My favorite quote? “I'd rather race than shop.”

Looks like fun

Samuel Randall, 6, watches after he throws a plastic bowling ball at oversize pins at a game booth at Liberty Lake Days on Saturday at Pavillion Park. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It looks like reporter Chelsea Bannach visited the Liberty Lake Days celebration yesterday in Liberty Lake. The people photographed by Jesse Tinsley looked like they were having a good time checking out the car show, playing games and listening to music. Though I don't recall seeing this on the flyer, apparently there was also a talking robot that “roamed the park playfully heckling people.” You can check out her story from today's paper here.

Oh, and for those of you wondering why I'm posting on a Sunday - I work a Sunday shift in our downtown office occasionally. I took Friday off instead, and in the process missed what must have been a really active day on the scanner.

Coming on Saturday

Our commuting lives are going to be disrupted starting Monday. In Saturday's Valley Voice I'll have details on the Sullivan Road and Indiana Avenue intersection, which is going to be partially shut down for six weeks while concrete is laid. The Broadway Avenue Safety Project also starts Monday, which will create lane closures and delays for 10 weeks on Broadway between Park Road and Pines Road.

The Spokane Valley City Council had discussions ranging from speed limits on the new section of Indiana, railroad quiet zones and I-90 signs. Reporter Lisa Leinberger went to one of the recent open houses at the West Valley Outdoor Learning Center. The center isn't usually open to the public. She'll also have the dates of the three open houses left this summer.  

Is anyone in the mood for a little football?

I'm sure some people around here are pining for a some football after the protracted NFL lockout. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office “Regulators” will take on the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department “Enforcers” in the 2011 Charity Bowl at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at West Valley High School, 8301 E. Buckeye. It sounds like the Spokane County Sheriff's Office is getting some help from some Idaho law enforcement agencies as well.

There will be a half time event and a prize drawing. The cost is $5; kids 12 and under are free. Proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity that supports injured service members. Tickets can be purchased at Empire Cycle at 7807 E. Sprague or Colorworks at 45 E. Weile in Spokane. This sounds like it would be fun to watch.

Liberty Lake Days starts tonight

If you are in the mood for a party with a side of classic cars, make plans to check out Liberty Lake Days. The event starts tonight at 7 p.m. with a car cruise through Liberty Lake. The cars will start in the Albertson's parking lot and follow a loop on Liberty Lake Road to Appleway, Madison, Mission and Country Vista Road. Later in the evening the section of Liberty Lake Road between Country Vista and Appleway will be shut down for a street dance.

The event continues in Pavillion Park at Country Vista Drive and Molter Road on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be parking available at Liberty Lake Elementary and a shuttle will run back and forth to the park. The day includes a car show, carnival games, music, vendors, contests and more. There will be valve cover races at noon and car show awards will be given out at 4 p.m.

It sounds like there will be a little something for everyone, so head out there to check things out.

Shred day Saturday

If you're like me and have bags of old bills and other things that need to be shredded sitting in your closet, now is your chance to get things cleared out. Volunteers from three Spokane Valley area SCOPE stations will be manning shredding trucks for residents from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Each person can bring three file boxes full of documents.

Edgecliff SCOPE will have a truck at the Edgecliff Community Center, 6903 E. Fourth. Newman Lake SCOPE will be set up at the Tri-Community Grange located a block north of Trent on Starr Road. Central Valley SCOPE volunteers will be at the WSECU at Pines and Mission next to Applebee's. Second Harvest will be collecting non-perishable food items at the WSECU location only.

Accident closes road in Newman Lake

A car has hit a 7-year-old boy on a bike in the area of Morris Road and Malvern in Liberty Lake. The boy was unconscious when 911 was called, but was reportedly awake when paramedics were treating him. MedStar was launched to take the boy to a local hospital. Sheriff's Deputies have shut down Morris in that area so they can complete their investigation.

4:06 p.m. update: Morris Road is now open again.

Check out who is happy today

The featured dog up for adoption this week at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service is all gangly legs and big doggy grin. Millie, a 9-month-old Pit Bull mix, is really still just a pup. Shelter staff says that she is willing to learn, however. She already knows “sit,” loves to play with tennis balls and likes to take a dip in the kiddie pool. She tested well with both cats and dogs. Millie has been at SCRAPS since July 2 and would love a good home.

If you are interested in adopting Millie, her identification number is 3042. 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 Millie at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Today’s highlights

James Clancy, 83, sells produce for bargain price, like these tomatoes for 39 cents a pound at his stand near the corner of Maxwell and Ash in North Spokane. SR photo/Dan Pelle

One of  today's highlights from the Valley Voice is a story about something that isn't in the Valley, but it's such a great read anyone can enjoy it. Reporter Pia Hallenberg talked to James Clancy, who runs Clancy's Produce Stand on West Maxwell in Spokane. Clancy has a heart of gold and seems to enjoy helping those who are down on their luck.

On Tuesday the Spokane Valley City Council voted to reject a zone change requested by St. John Vianney Church so a low income senior housing complex could be built. Primary ballots are being mailed this week, so we asked five questions of the four candidates for City Council Position 6 to help you make a decision on who to vote for. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November primary election. Last week the city had a small celebration to mark the new state law that requires cattle trucks to go through the Port of Entry at Stateline instead of using roads through residential neighborhoods.  

Reporter Lisa Lienberger tracked down some information on Liberty Lake Days, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The event includes a car cruise, a car show, community picnic, carnival games and more. A word of warning - you will want to grab some tissues when you sit down to read Cindy Hval's touching tribute to her father-in-law, who died suddenly last week.

Coming Thursday

We'll have a bunch of interesting things coming your way in the Thursday Valley Voice. Perhaps the biggest news of the week is that last night the Spokane Valley City Council killed a zone change request that was filed by St. John Vianney Church to allow them to build low income senior housing. I'll have the details on that discussion.

Last week the city had a small celebration to celebrate a new state law that requires cattle trucks weighing more than 40,000 to go through the Port of Entry instead of through residential neighborhoods. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has information on the Liberty Lake Days event coming up this weekend in Liberty Lake.

Bike and Pedestrian plan a moving target

A pedestrian shares the sidewalk with bicyclists on Sprague Avenue recently. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I've heard there is interest in when the Spokane Valley City Council will discuss the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program again. They council decided last week that they needed more time to discuss it before it comes to a first reading. The problem is that the scheduled date for that second look has been moving around more than a leaf on a windy day.

The first reading was originally scheduled for August 9. Then the second study session the council requested was briefly scheduled for Oct. 4. Now it seems it is on the agenda for the August 30 council meeting. That meeting is a study session and no public comment will be taken. Of course, that date could always change. I'll keep an eye on the advance agenda in case it moves again.

City Council will be busy tonight

The agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting is a little one the long side. First up will be the first reading of a proposed ordinance on the St. John Vianney rezone request, which will likely attract some public comment.

The council will also consider whether to spend more than $80,000 on a consultant to do preliminary work on establishing quiet zones at the Park Road and Vista Road Union Pacific railroad crossings. A group of citizens approached the council last year with a petition asking for the quiet zones, which require extensive safety barriers in exchange for trains not blowing their whistles at crossings.

Other topics up for discussion include the speed limit on the newly constructed portion of Indiana in Greenacres and a draft ballot ordinance for the one-way Sprague issue. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Do you know this man?

The Liberty Lake Police Department thought they had an easy case on July 15 when Storage Solutions on East Mission reported that someone had broken in and stolen a Honda Motorcycle from a storage unit. The video surveillance system captured crystal clear shots of the man involved and his truck. But the blue Dodge pickup had different license plates on the front and back. “Neither of those belong on the truck,” said police chief Brian Asmus.

So now Asmus is circulating photos of the suspected thief in the hopes that someone will recognize him. Asmus said it appears that the man scoped out the business the day before the theft was reported and may have seen the Honda's owner put the motorcycle in the unit. At one point he entered the storage facility using a gate code that was assigned to local contractor who did some door work at the facility last year. Asmus said it was hoped that the man was a current or former employee, but the business owner did not recognize the man.

Anyone who knows the identity of the man pictured above is asked to call the Liberty Lake Police Department at 755-1140.

Family loses home to arson

A family returned from camping Sunday night to a rude shock. Their rental home had burned in a fire that fire investigators believe was arson. The Spokane Valley Fire Department was called to the 4400 block of East 15th at 3 a.m. Sunday morning. When firefighters arrived they saw fire and heavy smoke coming from the front of the house, said assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. The fire had apparently burned inside for some time before it was noticed since no one was home.

Neighbors reported seeing a dark colored car drive away with its lights off, said Clifford. The department's arson dog, Mako, was brought in to sniff for accelerants. “He found several spots inside the home,” Clifford said. Anyone with information on the arson is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.

The damage to the home is estimated to be at least $100,000. The home was insured, but the family of two adults and three children who were renting the house did not have renters insurance.  

Saturday’s highlights

Doug and Teresa Sadler work in the raised beds that the Pumpkin Patch Community Garden grows for the Second Harvest Food Bank. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here we are on a slightly damp Monday morning, starting another work week. If you missed taking a look at Saturday's Valley Voice I've got a few highlights for you. Business is, well, blooming at the Pumpkin Patch community garden in Millwood, according to reporter Lisa Leinberger. Residents can rent a raised bed to raise vegetables and there's a section of the garden earmarked for the food bank. Last year more than 500 pounds of food was donated.

Another local market has sprung up in the Ponderosa neighborhood. Correspondent Valerie Putnam had some details on the Ponderosa Market at 4120 S. Bowdish. It's open on Tuesdays, which means it doesn't conflict with the Millwood Market on Wednesdays or the Liberty Lake Market on Saturdays.

The Spokane Valley City Council had its first look at the draft goals and policies for the Shoreline Master Program last week. The goals and policies set the direction of the shoreline regulations that must be included in the state mandated plan. Some council members objected to portions of the draft document. The discussion will continue.

Coming on Saturday

We have a few interesting things coming up in Saturday's Valley Voice. Some members of the Spokane Valley City Council had some harsh words this week for a draft version of the goals and policies to be included in the city's Shoreline Master Program. The plan would regulate all shoreline areas in the city.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Pumpkin Patch community garden in Millwood to see how things are growing. It's a little early in the season for any pumpkins, though. In that same vein, a new farmers market has opened in the Ponderosa neighborhood and we'll have information on that for anyone who wants to stop by and browse.

Things to do, places to be

If you are still looking for something to do this weekend, there are a couple of options to consider. The City of Spokane Valley will host its first free outdoor summer movie showing in Mirabeau Park on Saturday. Earlier this year residents were able to vote on which movies they wanted shown. The animated PG film “Despicable Me” will show at 9:15 p.m. Saturday. The city's Parks and Recreation Department will have some activities in the park starting an hour before showtime, so head over there early and make a night of it.

Another option is taking a drive Saturday (the weather is supposed to be nice) down to Latah for the fifth annual “Cruzin the Palouse to Latah” car and truck show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Cruzin Inland Northwest Car Club, formerly known as the Cruzin Corvettes. In addition to classic cars and trucks there will also be carnival games, balloon fights, barbecue, raffles, a beer garden and more. The Latah Post Office is even getting in on the fun by offering Indianapolis 500 stamps and a special postmark. Latah is about 35 miles south of Spokane Valley on Highway 27.

So there are your choices, though you can do both if you're feeling ambitious.

Vandals hit Trentwood Elementary

The Spokane Valley Police Department is reporting that someone broke off 80 sprinkler heads at Trentwood Elementary sometime over the weekend. The damage was discovered Monday morning and was limited to the front of the school. The school is in a residential neighborhood, so police are hoping that someone noticed something. Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.  

New car impound law for DUI arrests

If you needed yet another good reason not to drink and drive, take note of the new mandatory impound law that takes effect at midnight. The Washington State Patrol sent out a press release reminding people that the law now states that if someone is arrested for driving under the influence their car must be impounded and held for at least 12 hours. That means no more having a sober friend drive it home or having a family member come and pick it up. The car must be towed. The 12-hour hold is to prevent someone from getting back in their car and driving before they sober up. The only exception to the mandatory tow law is for commercial or farm transport vehicles.

So there you go. Yet another excellent reason not to drive home from the bar after you've had a few.

No burgers. But I hear there might be cheese.

The City of Spokane Valley will spend some time Friday afternoon celebrating its successful effort to get a new state law passed this year. The City Council had received complaints from residents that heavy cattle trucks coming down from Canada were bypassing the Port of Entry at Stateline and coming through residential areas. The new law requires cattle trucks weighing more than 40,000 pounds to stop at the Port of Entry.

The celebration will be from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. The Spokane Valley legislators who helped get the law passed have been invited to attend, including Senator Jeff Baxter and Representatives Matt Shea and Larry Crouse.

If you want to head over to the gathering, RSVP to Carolbelle Branch at 720-5411. After all, they have to make sure they have enough cheese.

Today’s highlights

Flaggers direct traffic on Bowdish Road just south of Sprague, July 11,while utility work is completed in the area. There have been several cases so far this year where utility workers have severed natural gas lines in Spokane Valley in residential neighborhoods. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There's a ton of news to catch up on in today's Valley Voice. Let's begin with a little primer on what you should do if there is an outdoor natural gas leak in your neighborhood. It's something that has happened a lot this year as construction crews dug up gas lines. According to the experts, you should leave the area if you can smell the gas inside your home. But if your windows are shut and you can't smell any gas, you should be fine.

Some Spokane Valley City Council members took aim at the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program this week. In the end they decided there were too many questions to advance it to a first reading, so there will be another study session held on the plan. It hasn't been scheduled yet, but I'll be sure and let everyone know when the date is set.

You can also get your first look at the cash being donated to city council candidates, who has the money and who it is coming from. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on this week's discussion on the new utility tax at the Liberty Lake City Council meeting. She also checked in with three local churches who sent volunteers to Central Valley School District schools last weekend to do landscaping and other projects.

And if there are any fans of Chicken out there, correspondent Stefanie Pettit has another update. Apparently Miss Chicken is now a mother. I just love reading about that bird. 

Coming Thursday

A few Spokane Valley City Council members panned the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan during Tuesday's meeting. After a lot of questions and debate, the council decided they needed another study session on the subject before they vote on whether to move it to a first reading. There will be a full report in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Also Thursday will be a report on the campaign fundraising so far in the races for the four open City Council seats. You'll find out who has the most cash and who is making the largest donations. There have been a flurry of broken gas pipes in Spokane Valley this year, most caused by a construction crew of some sort. Tomorrow I'll have a primer on what you should do if there is an outdoor gas leak in your neighborhood. 

Special Newman Lake Fire meeting Thursday

The Newman Lake Fire District commissioners have announced a special meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Station 1, 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss financing options for the new Station 1 the district is trying to build. There will also be a discussion on setting a date for a public meeting to be held later to discuss the building project. So if you have any interest in hearing details about the plan, head over there tomorrow of the meeting.

Drivers nabbed for not yielding to pedestrians

The Spokane Valley Police Department conducted a pedestrian emphasis for five hours yesterday at the intersections of Valleyway and Mullan/Argonne. They gave out 110 tickets (at $124 a pop) to drivers who failed to yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk, according to Detective David Thornburg. Officers handed out 30 tickets for other traffic violations as well, including four for driving with a suspended driver's license.

Thornburg wrote in an email that a citizen had stopped to complain to officers about the emphasis, only to witness a person in a wheelchair nearly get hit by a car while trying to cross the road in the marked crosswalk.

The emphasis patrol was part of a regional push to promote safety awareness. You can find out more information at www.stickmanknows.org.

Millwood pool now open

The Millwood wading pool is open for business as of today. The pool will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays with the exception of a lunch break from 2 to 2:30 p.m. There is only limited staffing available, so the pool could close with no notice if no one is available.

The Millwood City Council held a special meeting last week to amend the 2011 budget to allocate funds to open the pool for the rest of the season. The Friends of Millwood are still trying to raise the $8,000 needed to renovate the 57-year-old pool.

Donations can be sent to the Spokane Parks Foundation at PO Box 2021, Spokane WA 99210. Indicate on the check that the donation is for the Millwood wading pool. You can also make donations in person at the Corner Door Fountain and Books, 3301 N. Argonne, and Kids Are Us Child Care at 2819 N. Argonne.

Packed agenda tonight

The agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting is quite lengthy and we'll probably be there a while. It's a study session, so no votes are scheduled and there won't be any public comment taken. People are always invited to come and listen, however. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. 

Items on the agenda include a discussion on what type of sign to use at gateway areas of the city, the city's shoreline goals and policies, the speed limit on Indiana Avenue, a bike lane striping project and the city's Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. Of course, if you'd rather stay home in comfort you can now watch the meetings live on the internet. Just go to the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org and click on SVTV.

Traffic issues this week

The utility work going in the Montgomery, University and Grace area has expanded to include Pines Road at Grace. The roads are down to one lane at various times and flaggers are in place to direct traffic. The affected streets are: Van Marter Road from Montgomery drive to Marietta, Montgomery from Van Marter to University, University from Montgomery to Grace, Grace from University to Bowdish and Bowdish between the offset Grace intersections.

The Indiana Avenue Extension project east of Sullivan is also still ongoing and the intersection of Mission and Flora is still shut down for the installation of a roundabout.

Saturday’s highlights

The yellow mate to this green fiberglass inchworm was stolen from Discovery Playground. The inchworms had been installed this spring in the Secret Garden area of the playground. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Those promised thuderstorms never materialized Saturday, so here's your chance to catch up on some of the stories from Saturday's Valley Voice if you were out and about. Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department employees are frustrated with the fascination that vandals seem to have with the larger-than-life features in the new Discovery Playground. Last week someone made of with a 5 foot long yellow inchworm, so keep your eyes open for it.

The Newman Lake SCOPE volunteers keep busy protecting their neighborhood from crime, but they can always use a few more helping hands. As reporter Lisa Leinberger writes, they have a lot of different programs running that people can help with.

The Spokane Valley City Council took another step closer to putting the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot, agreeing to spend between $40,000 and $60,000 on a detailed traffic study. The city has already spent about $40,000 on a preliminary traffic study. The issue must be decided by Aug. 16, which is the deadline to add items to the ballot.  

Coming on Saturday

I hear we are expecting thunderstorms tomorrow, so it sounds like a good day to stay inside and read the Saturday Valley Voice. I blogged about the inchworm stolen from Discovery Park the other day and in the Voice I'll have a story with more details, including what the Parks Department plans to do to stem the rash of vandalism and thefts.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Newman Lake SCOPE group, who are looking for more volunteers to swell their ranks. Since I was out and about last week on the day I usually get the weekly call details from the Spokane Valley Fire Department I have two weeks of information for you tomorrow. There were a lot of fires, including two mobile homes destroyed and numerous illegal fires.

You'll also get a second report from this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. They had a lengthy discussion on putting the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. Nothing has been finalized yet, but they took a couple steps forward.

Sex offender moves to Spokane Valley

The Spokane Valley Sheriff's Office has announced that level three sex offender David R. Rickard, 50, has registered a new address in the 7300 block of East Seventh in Spokane Valley. A level three offender is considered to have the most potential to commit similar crimes in the future. Rickard was convicted of first degree burglary with a sexual motivation in Stevens County in 1995. He is not currently wanted by police and is not under Department of Corrections supervision.

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details on Rickard's history here.

Sex offender notices are sent out when an offender moves or is released from prison. The Sheriff's Office maintains a web site where people can search to see if there is a registered sex offender living in their area.

Outdoor Learning Center open house today

I meant to post this earlier, but our web site was busy having a hiccup. The West Valley School District has an Outdoor Learning Center that provides hands-on education to children. There are plants and live animals including reptiles, birds and snakes. The center is rarely open to the public, but there are several open houses planed during July and August that will give people a chance to check it out.

The first such open house is today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center, 8706 E. Upriver Drive. But if you can't make it on such short notice, there's another open house next Friday (July 22) at the same time and another on Saturday, July 30, also from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Meeting the animals is fun for children and adults alike, so try to include a visit in your summer schedule. You can check them out on the web here.

Freeman School District Board Member Diane Woodman passes away

A prayer service for Diane Woodman, a Freeman School Board member since 2005, will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 4521 N. Arden Road.

Funeral services will be held at St. Joseph's Saturday at 11 a.m.

Woodman passed away July 3 after a brief battle with cancer.

She retired as a school librarian in 2007 from Otis Orchards Elementary School in the East Valley School District. She began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher in 1975 at Trent Elementary School in Central Valley and left for a brief time to work at Microsoft for a year.

Woodman was featured by the Spokesman-Review in a story about her retirement from teaching. She said during her career, the students hadn't changed much.

“They still love recess,” she said. “They still love to tell you about their weekend. Kids in general haven't changed. They want love and attention.”

Missing: one inchworm

Photo courtesy of the City of Spokane Valley.

The Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley appears to be as popular with vandals as it is with children. Parks and Recreation staff noticed yesterday that one of two larger-than-life inchworms in the Secret Garden area of the playground had been stolen (the yellow one) and the other damaged. The city is sounding the alarm and is asking that anyone with information on the whereabouts of the inchworm call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Last year a giant rainbow trout was wrenched out of the concrete, but not stolen. It hasn't yet been put back as staff search for a permanent way to install it so it can't be removed again. Also last year three giant fiberglass Eagle eggs were torn out of the ground and stolen. Residents reported seeing them alongside the road and they were recovered, but they haven't been reinstalled yet either. And only a few weeks ago a park ambassador reporting seeing a 20-something male trying to break a piece off the bronze mountain man sculpture just outside the playground.

If you are ever driving by and see something suspicious or see someone in the park after dark, you're encouraged to call police.

Today’s highlights

Mariah, a 10-year old Australian shepherd, enjoys a romp at the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park at Interstate 90 near the Idaho state line on July 3. The off-leash park has been open for five years and is open year-round. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It looks like today is a Valley Voice Thursday with a chance of sprinkles. I'll be thinking of this day fondly when it ramps up to above 90 degrees next week. We've got some great stuff for you today, including reporter Lisa Leinberger's recent visit to the Patricia Simont Laughing Dog Park at Stateline. The off-leash dog park is a hit in the canine world and I swear the dogs in the pictures are laughing.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a humerous tale to share about how she got lost in the woods - in a gated community at Shelley Lake in Spokane Valley. A large group of people turned out for the Spokane Valley City Council meeting this week to voice their opinion during a public hearing on a proposed development agreement with St. John Vianney Catholic Church. The church wants to rezone a piece of property so Catholic Charities can use it to build a low income senior housing complex.

Another public hearing was held last week, this one before the city's Planning Commission to get input on the city's proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. The hearing was well attended and nearly everyone liked the plan.  

The Liberty Lake Police Department had a busy week. The town may have been visited by the Bad Hair Bandit, a man was caught stealing dirt from a construction site and police recommended charges be filed on five teenagers for several related crimes.

Coming Thursday

It's time to take a look at the stories we've got coming for you in Thursday's Valley Voice. There was a public hearing before the Spokane Valley City Council this week on a proposed developers agreement between the city and St. John Vianney Church, which has applied to rezone a piece of property to the south of the church so Catholic Charities can build a low income senior housing complex. Plenty of people spoke against the agreement, but several also spoke in favor of it.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently visited with some happy dogs out at the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park at Stateline. The Liberty Lake Police Department recently had a good week, clearing up several related crimes by recommending various criminal charges against five teenagers. They also dealt with a wayward gardner who wanted potting soil for his pots and decided to take some from a construction site.

There will also be a report from last week's public hearing before the Planning Commission on the city's proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. People were overwhelmingly in favor of it and it received a unanimous nod of approval from the commission.

Mobile home destroyed in early morning fire

This Spokane Valley mobile home was destroyed by fire early in the morning of July 13, 2011. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Several people called 911 this morning shortly after 4 a.m. to report a mobile home on fire in the 4900 block of East Fourth Ave. One of the calls was from the 79-year-old resident, who was sleeping on his couch and awoke because of the heat of the fire, said Spokane Valley Fire Department assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. He tried to put out the fire without success and went to a neighbor's to call for help.

About 25 firefighters responded, but the mobile home was in flames and couldn't be saved. The damage is so extensive that the cause of the fire is undetermined, Clifford said. The mobile home was insured and the man is being assisted by Red Cross. He suffered minor smoke inhalation but was otherwise uninjured.

Freeman talking money

The Freeman School District board of directors are having a study session tonight to talk about the district's 2012 budget. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the District Office conference room at 15001 S. Jackson Road. Since it's a work session there won't be any public comment, but people can still stop by and listen to the discussion.

Zone change public hearing tonight

I'm expecting a bit a crowd to be at the Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight for the public hearing on the St. John Vianney zone change request. The church asked that a piece of property to the south of the church be rezoned so Catholic Charities could build a low income senior housing complex on it. The plan has drawn the ire of many neighbors. City staff has negotiated a development agreement that would limit what can be done with the property. Tonight's hearing is on the agreement and the zone change request.

The other hot topic of the evening will be a motion on whether or not to put the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. There will be public comment taken before the vote, so this is your chance to put in your two cents.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. If you can't make it, though, you can always take advantage of the city's new live web streaming of the council meetings. Just go to the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org and click on the SVTV link. You can also watch a video of the meeting later at your leisure.

Small town post offices

Town Council member and resident historian Evelyn Heinevetter has printed signs in support of the town’s post office building, to the left, in Waverly. Waverly is among about 2,500 small and rural towns with post offices targeted for closure by the USPS. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Reporter John Stucke has a great story today about the U.S. Postal Service's plan to close the post office in the small town of Waverly south of Spokane Valley and how the residents are fighting to keep it. In a small town a post office can almost serve as a community center. That's where you run into your neighbors and stop to chat. That's where you post flyers and notices. In some towns, like Waverly, it's pretty much the only business around. But the Postal Service is trying to save money by shutting down thousands of such small post offices. Read John's full story here.

Part of Bowdish shut down tomorrow

Bowdish Road just south of Sprague will be down to only one lane tomorrow for utility work from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be flaggers there to direct traffic, but plan on delays if you can't detour around the area. Also, the utility work on Montgomery Drive, University, Grace and Bowdish is continuing. Traffic is also down to one lane in that area.  

Saturday’s highlights

Theresa Ray sorts through bananas for Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. She works at NOVA services and volunteers at the food bank. She also brings NOVA clients with her for job training. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that at least part of that time was spent checking out Saturday's Valley Voice. But if you didn't, I've got links to some of the stories we brought you. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with Spokane Valley Partners, which houses nearly a dozen agencies and groups under one roof to help low income residents. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that Millwood has changed course and will open the wading pool once someone is hired to staff it. I'm sure lots of children in the area will be happy to hear that.

The developer of the Coyote Rocks development along the Spokane River and the Department of Ecology are arguing over the ordinary high water mark of the river. The newest phase of the development may be in jeapordy if the Spokane Valley hearing examiner sides with the DOE. That decision won't come for a couple weeks. The Spokane Valley City Council spent some time last week discussing sign codes and landscape regulations and some changes may be coming on those.

Coming on Saturday

Some cooler weather should arrive with your Saturday Valley Voice this week (thank goodness). A hearing was held last week on the Trailside portion of the Coyote Rock development along the Spokane River near Plantes Ferry Park. There is a dispute between the developer and the Department of Ecology on where the river's ordinary high water mark is east of the Centennial Trail foot bridge. If the hearing examiner agrees with the DOE, the developer's attorney says it may kill the project.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently visited Spokane Valley Partners to check out their programs and see what is new. I'll also have the second round of reporting from Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. The council spent some time discussing sign codes and landscaping regulations. Some changes to those rules might start going through the amendment process soon.

Eat burgers for a good cause

Ron's Drive-Inn at 12502 E. Sprague is a Spokane Valley institution. Families have been stopping by for juicy hamburgers since 1958. On Saturday the restaurant will be hosting a Hot Rod Show and burger eating contest to benefit Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels.

The show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and any boys (or men) who haven't gotten their summer haircuts yet can get a free buzz cut from Great Clips. The burger eating contest starts at 2 p.m. and costs $25 to enter on the day of the event ($20 in advance). So come by, grab a napkin and dig in. Contestants will have five minutes to chow down on as many burgers as they can. They'll come away with a full stomach and a limited edition t-shirt. Cash prizes will be awarded.

Teen not missing in Spokane River after all

Last night the Spokane Valley Fire Department's swift water rescue team and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office helicopter spent hours scouring the Spokane River after a group of teens reported that a friend was missing after he fell in the river east of Harvard. The teen wasn't wearing a life vest and after hours of fruitless searching crews had to abandon the search when it got dark. But word has come this morning that the teen was safe at home the whole time. Click here for the report from this morning's paper and here for the update.

Today’s highlights

Two year colon cancer survivor Susie Leonard Weller is celebrating life and challenging herself post-colostomy by participating in her first triathlon-the Valley Girl Triathlon. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here I am with your usual dose of Thursday Valley Voice highlights, even if it is (much) later than normal. But there's no law against reading the daily paper with dinner instead of breakfast, right? Correspondent Jill Barville recently talked with Susie Leonard Weller, who is preparing to participate in the Valley Girl Triathlon Sunday in Liberty Lake. It is the colon cancer survivor's first triathlon.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger headed down to the Fairfield Library lately for a special storytime in Salish. It's part of the special summer activities being hosted by the Spokane County Library District.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent nearly two hours Tuesday talking about economic development. The council was discussing what the city can do immediately to help boost business and what can be done in the long term. Construction is coming to the Sullivan and Indiana intersection in August. There will be traffic flowing through during construction, but turning options will be limited. It sounds like it will be a bit messy, so start planning alternative routes now.

Propane truck on fire

A caller has reported that a propane truck is on fire in the area of  Fruithill Road and Upriver Drive. The first Spokane Valley Fire Department crew on the scene reports the cab of the truck is “fully involved.” It sounds like Sheriff's Deputies are planning to shut down traffic in the area. One deputy told the dispatcher “This thing looks like it's burning down to the ground.”

4:05 p.m. update: Firefighters report the flames are out, but it sounds like it's going to take time to clean up the mess.

4:17 p.m. update: Fruithill Road is completely shut down north of Upriver, so avoid that area for a bit.

5:34 p.m. update: The road is now open.

Coming Thursday

It may be hot outside but we've managed to put together a cool Valley Voice for Thursday. The Spokane County Library District's summer program recently brough in a Salish speaker from the Colville Tribe for a children's storytime in Fairfield. Reporter Lisa Leinberger headed down there to check out the program.

The Spokane Valley City Council talked economic development for nearly two hours this week and I'll have a report on their discussion. You can also get your first detailed look at the upcoming construction on the Indiana and Sullivan intersection, including which parts of the intersection will be closed when. The project is set to start Aug. 1.

Don't look for me to post links to the stories until late tomorrow, though. I'll be away from the computer most of the day and I'll be around in the late afternoon to do some posting. That is, unless I melt first.

Bike and Pedestrian plan hearing Thursday

This is just a reminder that there will be a public hearing on the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan before the City of Spokane Valley Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Thursday. Part of the plan includes a map of suggested future bike lanes and trails. This is your last chance to make suggestions on what you think the City should do to make the city better for cyclists and pedestrians. The meeting is in City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

SV Fire Department rolls out new web site

I spent some time late yesterday poking around the Spokane Valley Fire Department's new web site and came away pretty impressed. The old one was rather clunky and not very useful, but this one has tons of bells and whistles. My favorite is the listing of recent calls. The home page comes up with a brief mention of the most recent five calls. But if you click on the link right below that, you'll get all the calls for the last 96 hours. Each entry lists the date, time, type of call, which engines responded and an approximate address (it lists cross streets, not the exact house or business address). If you click on the address a map will pop up showing that location. And if you click on one of the engines that responded, it will give you a picture of that apparatus. It can come in handy if you want to check and see why there were a couple of fire trucks on your street.

There are also press releases, photos from fire scenes, meeting minutes, newsletters and a calendar of upcoming events. Mako the arson dog has his own page. You can even bring up a web cam that is pointed at the new administration building construction site so you can check on its progress. I encourage everyone to visit the site and start clicking on links.

Fire season has begun

Okay, everybody, based on the scanner traffic today people don't seem to understand that it's fire season now. We've had several days of very warm weather and wind and any firefighter will tell you that those conditions dry out grasses and other fuels very quickly. I've heard brush fire calls all over Spokane County today. Remember that burn bans are now in place on all Department of Natural Resources lands and residents in Spokane Valley are also banned from lighting anything other than an approved camp fire. Everyone be careful out there and remember not to toss burning cigarettes out your car window.

New way to watch SV City Council meetings

It's finally here. You can see the Spokane Valley City Council meetings live without leaving your living room. The City has a new link on it's web site labeled “SVTV.” Click on that and you can watch live web streaming of the city council meeting every Tuesday at 6 p.m. But even better is the archive. Each meeting (going back to April 5) is archived. You can either watch the video or listen to an MP3 audio version. The documents for each council meeting are also there. When you pull up video of a meeting, an agenda will pop up. You can either watch the whole thing beginning to end or click on the agenda item you want to listen to and it will go right to that spot. For those of you not on a first name basis with the council members or city staff members, a nice label pops up with each person's name and title as they talk.

Tonight is the first night of the live web streaming. So if you really want to hear the discussion on economic development or the discussion on sign codes and landscaping regulations, settle down in front of your computer and listen in. I'll be the one sitting in in the front row.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Fire Marshall Kevin Miller looks at a 1,300-pound steel girder that was recovered from one of the towers at the World Trade Center. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Well, I hope everyone had a nice, long weekend. I just have one question. Is it too early in the season to start complaining about the heat? Some kids in Millwood probably are complaining about it. In Saturday's Valley Voice correspondent Valerie Putnam reported that efforts to repair the city's wading pool aren't moving very fast and the pool is still dry. Whether it will open at all this year is still being debated.

Longtime Spokane Valley fixture Sally Jackson is back on the baseball field as a coach. She and her husband Ron both coached for many years before Ron died in April. Correspondent Steve Christilaw spoke to her about going back on the field.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has finally received a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center towers. The department is preparing an installation ceremony for Sept. 11. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with Edgecliff SCOPE and spoke to volunteers about how they are working to improve their neighborhood. The Spokane Valley City Council had a lengthy discussion on whether to put the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. No final decision has been made yet, but the council did agree to move forward with a traffic study that will allow a cost estimate for the work to be prepared.

Coming on Saturday

We'll have a great Valley Voice on Saturday to help everyone kick off their Fourth of July weekend on a proper note. The Spokane Valley Fire Department is creating plans for a ceremony to dedicate a piece of steel beam that was recovered after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. I'll have information on how the public can be involved in that.

There will be an update on the Millwood wading pool and reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Edgecliff SCOPE to see what the group of volunteers is up to. The Spokane Valley City Council had a discussion this week on whether to pay for a traffic study in preparation for putting the issue of one-way Sprague on the November ballot. The decided to move forward with the study and the vote on whether to put the issue on the ballot must be made by Aug. 15.

I won't post my story links on Monday as usual because of the holiday. I'll see you back here Tuesday morning.

Liberty Lake Fourth of July

I'm posting about the Liberty Lake Fourth of July celebration today for two reasons. Some events are happening Saturday and Sunday, plus I won't be here on the Fourth. I plan to be sitting by a barbecue having a burger.

Saturday night at dusk the Friends of the Pavillion Park will host a free showing of the movie “The Lion King” (G) in Pavillion Park. On Sunday night the film “October Sky” (PG) will show at dusk. Concessions will be available during both movies, so just bring a blanket to sit on.

The real fun begins on Monday. The Alpine Shores neighborhood will have their annual parade on Alpine Drive and Shoreline Drive starting at 11 a.m. Free games and other events will follow in Alpine Shores Park on Shoreline Drive. The popular local group Men in the Making will start a concert in Pavillion Park at 7:30 p.m. Monday, followed by fireworks at 10 p.m. Concessions will again be available in the park during the event.

Here's a few notes on driving and parking. Molter Road and Country Vista Drive near the park will be shut down beginning at 6:30 p.m. Your best bet is to park in the Liberty Lake Elementary School parking lot and ride a shuttle to Pavillion Park. It will start running at 5 p.m. Have a safe Fourth! 

Regional gang website up and running

The Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council and the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcment Team have come together to launch a new website, www.stopspokanegangs.org. I browsed the site a bit and there is a lot of information. There are pictures showing the difference between gang graffiti and tagger graffiti, plus tips on how to remove graffiti. You can find information about gangs in the area as well as submit an anonymous tip on suspicious activities and then track the status of the tip. It's worth taking a look. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more here.

No arrest after police surround house for hours

I mentioned yesterday that police were surrounding a house in the area of University and Sixth. They were there for hours before they discovered that their suspect was not at home. They were hoping to find Michael G. Grant, 37, who is a suspect in several theft cases and also has warrants out for his arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm and being in possession of a stolen firearm. Stolen property was found in the house and in a car parked outside. Reporter Chelsea Bannach has more details here.

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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 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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