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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for June 2011

Mobile home fire reported

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews have responded to a mobile home fire in the 800 block of North Bowman near the Sprague and I-90 interchange. The first crews to arrive said there was heavy smoke on all sides. The residents have reportedly evacuated safely.

Police at Sixth and University

Police have surrounded a house in the area of Sixth and University. Spokane Valley Police Department spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said police found a stolen car and what is believed to be a stolen gun outside and believe their suspect is hiding inside the house. Police are currently waiting for the SWAT team to arrive. Traffic in the area is being blocked, so take a detour around the area.

3:44 p.m. update: Northbound and southbound traffic on University is now being shut down near Sixth.

The hills are not burning down

From what I've heard over the scanner, people have been calling 911 over the last two days to report a fire in the hills above Barker and Trent. There's no reason to worry, though. The Spokane Valley Fire Department is conducting wildland fire training up there. The burning will continue through tomorrow, so expect to see a column of smoke in the area occasionally. If people get too enthusiastic about shooting off illegal fireworks this weekend, the firefighters may need that training sooner rather than later.

New Centennial Trail parking area in Spokane Valley

A new 12-space parking lot will open tomorrow at the end of Maringo Drive just east of Farr Road and south of Upriver Drive. The trailhead already had a restroom and drinking fountain, but trail users were parking along residential streets. Centennial Trail trailheads to not require the new Discover Pass (only the trailheads in Riverside State Park do).

Contributions for the parking lot came from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Friends of the Centennial Trail, the Washington State Parks Foundation and Inland Empire Paper. (Inland Empire Paper is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.) If anyone decides to head over there, let me know how it looks.

Today’s highlights

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen ruled in favor of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum in a lawsuit filed by Ichabod’s Tavern, Peters Hardware and Dave’s Bar and Grill over parking lot access for the businesses. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Since none of us blew away during yesterday's little wind storm, I guess it's time to take a look at the Thursday Valley Voice. A Spokane County Superior Court judge has issued a written opinion in a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, saying that three neighboring businesses have no easement rights to the property.

The Liberty Lake Police Department has arrested a familiar face this week in connection to a string of vehicle prowls in the area. Robert L. Hahn was arrested early Monday morning with allegedly stolen property in his pocket and burglary tools in his car. Liberty Lake officers have arrested Hahn several times before, most recently in December.

The Spokane Valley City Council has now seen the proposed development agreement negotiated by city staff and St. John Vianney Church after neighbors withdrew from the discussion. The agreement would limit a low income senior housing facility on the site of a proposed zone change to 40 units, limit the height and require the facility to remain low income senior housing for 75 years. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for July 12.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Spokane Thunder drum corps this week as they finish up weeks of day-long practices to polish their performance. The group will be in a competition Sunday at 7 p.m. at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. If you've never been to a drum corps competition I highly recommend it. They are great to watch and a lot of the time you just have to marvel at their precision. Check Lisa's story for ticket information.

There was a light turnout at last week's candidate fair hosted by the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce. But the few people who attended were able to get their first look at some of the candidates for the Spokane Valley City Council.

Road construction coming

This is just a reminder that the City of Spokane Valley is hosting an open house Thursday night to give the public information on the upcoming Sprague and Sullivan intersection project. The event will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Spokane Valley Mall.

The information presented will include a schedule for the various phases of the project, which will start in late July and last about five weeks. The entire intersection will be replaced with concrete. Sullivan Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction and restrictions on turning onto or from Indiana will change during the project. If you have questions, be sure to stop by.

Coming Thursday

It's hard to believe it is Wednesday already, which of course means it's time for a preview of Thursday's Valley Voice. We've got some interesting stuff coming your way this week. A Spokane County Superior Court judge has recently filed an opinion on a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. I checked out Spokane Valley's first candidate fair last week and the turnout was very light. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Centennial Middle School this week to check out the Spokane Thunder, a local drum corps that has been putting in day-long practices to prepare for a competition this weekend in Spokane.

Fuel gel for decorative firepots being recalled

If you have a decorative firepot that uses pourable fuel gel, take note. According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the product sold under the names NAPAfire and FIREGEL is being recalled after dozens of accidents have been reported. Apparently if the gel is poured into a firepot that is still burning it can ignite and splatter on anything nearby, including people. The product was available at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond and Shopko, as well as online at amazon.com.  The recall applies to product sold between December 2009 and June 2011. The manufacturer is offering full refunds to customers who return the fuel gel to the store where it was purchased. For more information click here.  

Church development plan on tonight’s agenda

The item on the agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting that will probably attract the most interest is a staff report on the a proposed development agreement between the city and St. John Vianney Church. The church requested the rezoning of a parcel of property next to the church so Catholic Charities can build a low income senior housing complex there. The proposal was met by wide disapproval from the neighborhood.

A quick perusal of the proposed agreement shows the developer is willing to increase the amount of time the site would be limited to only low income senior housing to 75 years, plus implementing various design specifications to help the building blend into the neighborhood.

Other items on the agenda include motions on awarding a couple of road projects and a discussion on putting one-way Sprague on the November ballot. If you find any of the topics interesting, head over to City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) at 6 p.m.

Applebee’s on hiatus for a few days

You may remember that the Spokane Valley Applebee's restaurant at Mission and Pines held an auction last week to sell off the sports memorabilia lining the walls. They're apparently doing a little more than redecorating. I drove by this morning and the restaurant was closed, but workers were busy all over. A sign next to Pines promises the grand re-opening of a better than ever restaurant on Thursday. So I guess that's the day to trek on over and see the results.

Keeping the kids entertained

If you haven't been by the Spokane Valley Mall lately, you might not have noticed that Regal Cinemas is offering its summer movies again. The theater shows a double feature of kid-friendly movies every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. for only $1. The movies change each week. This week the featured movies are “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” and “Megamind.” Next week kids can settle in and watch “Alpha and Omega” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” The movies will continue through Aug. 18. Click here for a complete schedule.
  

Free meals for kids start today

It can be hard for families who get free or reduced price meals through the school districts to provide enough food for kids during the summer when they are home. So every year local school districts open up federally funded Summer Food Program free meal sites for all children under age 18.

Beginning today Central Valley School District will serve free meals Mondays through Thursdays (closed on the Fourth of July) at Broadway Elementary, 11016 E. Broadway. Breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. and lunch is from noon to 12:45 p.m. 

The West Valley School District is also opening a meal site today at West Valley High School, 8301 E. Buckeye. Their schedule is also Mondays through Thursdays. Breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals are also available at Centennial Middle School, 925 N. Ella, the same days and times.

The East Valley School district already has several meal locations up and running. Meals are served Mondays through Thursdays at varying times. Locations include a couple of apartment complexes, the Valley YMCA, Trent Elementary, East Valley High School, Valley Mission Park, Terrace View Park, Edgecliff Park and Otis Orchards Elementary.

Click here for a complete list of summer meal locations and times.

Saturday’s highlights

A Central Pre-Mix truck heads south on Sullivan Road over the Spokane River on Thursday. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

We had a nice, sunny weekend just in time for Hoopfest and Ironman, but now it's time to get back to work. We can start out our Monday by checking out the Valley Voice stories from Saturday. The City of Spokane Valley has imposed weight restrictions on the Sullivan Road bridge that carries southbound traffic because the bridge is deteriorating. It appears that Central-Pre Mix and Inland Asphalt, both with facilities just north of the bridge, will be the most impacted.

High school football teams from Eastern Washington and North Idaho recently gathered for the Border League Football Camp. Correspondent Steve Christilaw spoke to coaches about how the camp benefits their teams.

The eight acre Greenacres Park at Boone and Long is finally under construction and will be complete this fall, but likely not early enough to be used this year. Next summer, however, families will be able to take advantage of play fields, a play ground, a splash pad and picnic shelter.  

Coming on Saturday

If you can tear yourself away from Hoopfest or the Ironman this weekend, we will have a nice Valley Voice coming out on Saturday. As promised I will have more details about the truck weight restrictions on the Sullivan Road bridge. Some companies aren't worried about the limits but others are scrambling to figure out how to work around the problem.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger will have information on two awards the University High School drama department recently received. Greenacres residents are probably happy to see that construction on the long-awaited Greenacres park has begun. The park isn't expected to be ready for use this year, though.

Work crews hit natural gas line

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to a call for a broken natural gas line at Montgomery and Van Marter. There has been utility work going on in the area and apparently a backhoe hit the gas line.

1 p.m. update: A one inch line has been broken. Traffic is being rerouted around the area until Avista crews can get the break fixed.

Spokane Valley Perkins closed

KHQ is reporting this morning that the Spokane Valley Perkins restaurant at Mission and Argonne has closed. Apparently the restaurant's franchise agreement expired and the owners said it was too expensive to renew it. The location is just down the street from the Marie Callender's restaurant that closed last week. This means that 14 employees are now out of work. Click here for more details.

You ain’t nothing but a hound dog

A sunny Friday morning is a good time to quote Elvis, don't you think? And it is a hound dog mix that is the featured adoptable dog of the week at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. As an added bonus, his name is Watson. How fun would it be to poke your head out your back door and say “Watson, I need you!” According to shelter staff, Watson walks well on a leash, knows “sit” and gets along well with cats and dogs. He is reportedly fond of having his ears rubbed and playing on the grass.

If you are interested in adopting Watson, his identification number is 2517. 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 Watson at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Wanted man nabbed by police K-9

After a chase, Kevin Hodgson, 39, is arrested on the east side of Spalding Auto Parts wrecking yard in Spokane Valley on Thursday. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

We apparently had a photographer at the right place at the right time yesterday. Spokane Valley Police officers were chasing a man who allegedly stole a car and headed north on University until he got to I-90, then he got out and ran across the freeway and hid in the Spaulding Auto Parts wrecking yard. Spokesman-Review photographer Colin Mulvany was able to get a picture of police arresting Kevin Hodgson, 39.

Police were apparently chasing Hodgson because he was wanted on a warrant. He was arrested on the warrant as well as on charges of second degree robbery, second degree assault and attempting to elude police.

Weight restrictions on Sullivan bridge

The City of Spokane Valley sent out a press release shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday announcing new weight restrictions on the southbound lanes of the Sullivan Road Bridge. There are actually two bridges there and the one that carries southbound traffic is the oldest and in poor condition. Cracks and other problems have been seen and a new bridge is not likely soon.

Reporter John Craig put together a brief for today's paper and I will be following up with more details in Saturday's Valley Voice. Standard semis are limted to 36 tons and a “pup truck” of two trailers (usually of gravel) separated by a long tow bar is limted to 45.5 tons. Click here for a complete list of the various styles of trucks and their weight limits.

Today’s highlights

Mountain View Middle School fitness and health teacher Cathy Inouye high-fives student Brendan Schuller as the last bus leaves on the last day of school on Friday in Newman Lake. The school is closing after 32 years. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Wecome to another rainy Thursday. I think the sunshine we had the last couple days was all just an illusion. But that's okay, because we have plenty of stories in today's Valley Voice to keep you busy. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has two great stories on the cover today. The first is about the last day of school at East Valley's Mountain View Middle School, which has closed for good. It was an emotional day for students and teachers alike. They tried to have a happy last day, but tears flowed when it came time to say goodbye and get on the buses for the last time.

In the second story she talks to new Contract Based Education graduate Johnny Martinez, whose controversial artwork was vandalized during the school's graduation celebration. Some pieces were completely destroyed while others were only slightly damaged. One piece is missing.

Today we also have the full story on the new scenic byway between Rockford and Tekoa. The Liberty Lake City Council met this week and voted not to change its invocation policy and not to put the city manager form of government on the November ballot.

Coming Thursday

Mountain View Middle School social studies teacher, Lisa Nunlist (center) and athletic director, Angie Bordwell (right) wave goodbye as the last buses depart on the last day of school, June 17, 2011 in Newman Lake, Wash. The school is closing after 32 years. SR photo/Dan Pelle

For Thursday's Valley Voice reporter Lisa Leinberger visited Mountain View Middle School on the last day of school before the building closed for good. Her story will be in the Voice and photographer Dan Pelle put together an online slideshow here. She will also have a story on some recent vandalism at Contract Based Education, a West Valley alternative school.

There will be a report on the Liberty Lake City Council meeting where there were votes on whether to put a goverment change on the November ballot and whether to change the council's procedure for invocations. My story on the Highway 27 scenic byway between Rockford and Tekoa will run tomorrow - this time, all of it. The ending was missing in Saturday's Valley Voice so we are rerunning it. We will also have last week's Liberty Lake crime blotter, which we were not able to fit in on Saturday.

It’s all about walkers and bikers tomorrow

If you regularly walk or pedal around Spokane Valley, you might want to check out Thursday night's City of Spokane Valley Planning Commission meeting. On the agenda is the city's draft bike and pedestrian master plan. The plan includes a map and list of recommended improvements, including paths and bike lanes. The plan has gotten a fair amount of attention from local bicycling groups, so there may be a bit of a crowd at the meeting. After the Planning Commission makes a recomendation on whether to accept or reject the plan it will go before the City Council for a final decision. Thursday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Meet your Spokane Valley candidates

Just a reminder that the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce is hosting a candidate forum Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. Each candidate that attends will have a table and those that registered in advance will be given microphone time to introduce themselves. All Spokane County election candidates have been invited, including those for state legislature and Spokane Valley City Council. The event is going to be pretty informal, so feel free to drop in at any time. With ballots scheduled to hit the mail on July 29, the primary election is fast approaching.

Cool auction coming on Thursday

Marianne Guenther Bornhoft is helping organize an auction of items from Applebee’s in Spokane Valley. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I'm sure many people in the Spokane Valley area have eaten at the Applebee's Restaurant at Mission and Pines at least once or twice. Part of the dining experience is gazing up at the walls at all the cool stuff hanging there - vintage signs, sports memorabilia, uniforms and more. And probably you've seen something you really liked and muttered about how you would like that hanging on your own wall. Well, now's your chance.

Columnist Doug Clark has a great story today about an auction coming up at Applebee's Thursday night that will see all that good stuff sold to raise money for a local charity that helps families in crisis. The bidding starts at 7 p.m. Thursday and is expected to go on for hours. There's no word on whether the bar will be open or not, but maybe if you've got the family checkbook it would be a good idea if it's not. Check out Doug's full story here.

Tuesday meetings

Several members of the Spokane Valley City Council are attending the annual Association of Washington Cities conference this week, so there will not be a city council meeting tonight. But the Liberty Lake City Council has a couple of interesting things on their agenda tonight. They are set to have a workshop discussion on the central business district, vote on amending the council's rules of procedure regarding the invocation and vote on a resolution to put the city's form of government on the November ballot. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Saturday’s highlights

Washington State governor Christine Gregoire has declared State Highway 27 from Tekeo to Rockford as a scenic highway at the urging of Rockford Mayor Micki Harnois. This picture was taken south of Fairfield, looking north. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Let's just start by saying “Oops.” Somehow the ending of my story on Highway 27 from Rockford to Tekoa never got on the page. We got a bunch of calls about this over the weekend. We'll rerun the story (the whole story) in Thursday's Valley Voice. But you can also read the full stoy here.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to the Earth Science Teacher of the Year Dorinda Belcher, who works at North Pines Middle School. She also has a news-packed education column, so check that out to see what is going on in the various school districts. The Spokane Valley City Council spent a day last week talking about the 2012 budget. No decisions were made, but they went through each department's budget.

Also, for those of you wondering what happened to the Liberty Lake police blotter, it didn't fit and will also run in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Coming on Saturday

We've got more great stuff coming up in Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to a science teacher at North Pines Middle School after she was recenlty named the Washington State Science Teacher of the Year. You'll have my long-awaited report on the day-long Spokane Valley City Council budget retreat held Tuesday. The discussion ranged from possible budget cuts in 2012 to prioritizing capital projects.

The section of Highway 27 from Rockford to Tekoa has been delcared a scenic byway, as has Highway 278 from Rockford to the Idaho state line. We'll look at how that may benefit the area. We'll also have the Liberty Lake crime blotter. The town has been suffering a rash of car prowls lately, so everybody lock your cars and hide your valuables.  

No more teachers, no more books…

As the school year comes to a close, families are invited to attend a 50's Family Night celebration at Jenny's Cafe tonight at 9425 E. Sprague. Anyone who drops by between 5 and 7 p.m. will be able to get a burger, fries, pop and an ice cream sundae for $6.99. People are also invited to bring their classic cars for an impromptu car show. So drop by to celebrate. Who knows, maybe you'll run into your teacher.

Garage sale nirvana continues

Each of the last two weekends has featured a major community yard sale, which have been a delight for bargain shoppers. A lot of people love them because you never know what treasures you might find. It appears that this weekend is no different. The small town of Fairfield will host its community yard sale Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Maps of participating locations will be available at local businesses.

To reach Fairfield, just head south on Highway 27 from Spokane Valley. You can't miss it. Here's hoping for fair skies and good bargains.

Van on fire on Broadway

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to a cargo van on fire on Broadway just east of Fancher. The van is reportedly partially full of insulation. Expect traffic problems in the area.

Part of Vista Road shut down

It appears that Vista Road between Broadway and Cataldo is shut down for utility work. The road is expected to be closed today and possibly tomorrow as well. Traffic will be routed around the construction via Bessie. Just keep in mind that is it constuction season and these short term road closures will be popping up here and there all the time.

Today’s highlights

Cleve Penberthy, Contract Based Education principal and longtime West Valley School District educator and administrator, is retiring after 40 years in education. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I apologize for the lateness in posting links from today's Valley Voice. My computer went a little bonkers this morning. It now seems to be cured, but I have no idea why. I'm not going to argue, though. So, on to the highlights. Every spring we highlight notable retiring educators from the large Spokane Valley school districts - East Valley, West Valley and Central Valley. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has those stories in today's Valley Voice, including Contract Based Education princpal Cleve Penberthy. He's retiring after 40 years in education and I think he will be sorely missed. He was an oustanding advocate for his students. The other educators featured are East Valley teacher and librarian Linda Carper and Central Valley business teacher Sherry Johnson.

Kids will be happy to learn that Spokane Valley pools are opening this weekend. Splash Down is already open, but it only opens the doors if the weather is nice. I put together an introduction to the three newest candidates for a Spokane Valley City Council seat - John Baldwin, Marilyn Cline and Lewis Higgins. The City Council also had quite the debate this week on whether to let voters decided the fate of the one-way stretch of Sprague.

Coming Thursday

We'll have another full Valley Voice for you tomorrow, including two stories on the upcoming November 2011 elections. Reporter Lisa Leinberger tackled the Liberty Lake City Council and school board candidates while I put together information on the Spokane Valley City Council and small town candidates. It looks like the Spokane County Elections Office may have to have some sort of special filing period, however. Several seats up for election did not draw a single candidate.

Spokane Valley pools are opening this weekend and Splash Down is already open (weather permitting). The Spokane Valley City Council discussed one-way Sprague during this week's council meeting. (You will have to wait until Saturday to read my report on the day-long budget reatreat held Tuesday.) Every spring we like to highlight several retiring school district employees and this is the week that those notable people will be recognized for their work.

House fire in Liberty Lake

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to a house fire yesterday afternoon in Liberty Lake. The fire in the 1200 block of South Liberty Drive was reported at 4:34 p.m. It appears the fire started in the engine compartment of a car parked in front of the garage, according to a press release from assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. The fire spread to surrounding bushes and trees before being noticed by a neighbor, who also knocked on the front door to alert the family inside the home. One adult and two small children were able to escape unharmed. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Principal candidates to speak tonight

Right, then, where were we before I spent nearly 10 hours in Spokane Valley City Council meetings yesterday? The Central Valley School District is working to fill its last principal vacancy. Tonight a community forum will be held at the district's administration building, 19307 E. Cataldo, to introduce the finalists for principal of the Kindergarten Center. Former principal Joanne Comer was selected to be the new principal of Liberty Lake Elementary. The forum will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Each candidate will speak about his or her qualifications and answer questions from the audience. Those who attend the forum will have the chance to fill out written comment cards on the candidates, which will be used during the selection process.

Tuesday meetings

Tomorrow I will spend most of the day in a room with the Spokane Valley City Council and you're invited to tag along. The city's annual budget retreat will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, room 213. The public is invited to attend, but no public comment will be taken. The council will discuss the 2012 budget as well as priorities for capital projects.

After a short break, the council will then convene for its normal weekly city council meeting at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. On the agenda there are a couple of committee appointments and discussion of the Sprague one-way versus two-way issue.

Since I'll be in both of those meetings, don't expect any blog postings tomorrow. But after a good night's sleep I'll be back and ready to go on Wednesday morning.

If city council debates aren't exactly your cup of tea, the East Valley School District board of directors also meets Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in the administration center at 12325 E. Grace. Near the top of the agenda is a public hearing on the closure of Mountain View Middle School.

West Valley budget meeting

The West Valley School District will host another special meeting tonight to get community input on what programs to cut and what programs to keep. The district is anticipating a fair-sized cut in the funds it receives from the State. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at West Valley High School, 8301 E. Buckeye Ave. This will be the last special meeting to discuss the budget, so if you haven't had a chance to have your say yet, head on over.

Marie Callender’s shut down

Some people may have noticed that the Marie Callender’s restaurant on North Argonne has suddenly closed its doors. According to an Associated Press story, the national chain that owns the restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today. Four local Perkins restaurants (including one in Spokane Valley) operated by the same company are apparently going to remain open. Click here for the full story. 

Traffic issues this week

There will be a few new road and lane closures this week in Spokane Valley, mostly for utility work. There is a series of projects that will slow traffic between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. today through Friday. The affected roads are Van Marter from Montgomery Drive onto Marietta, Montgomery from Van Marter to University, University from Montgomery to Grace and Grace between University and Bowdish.

While I was out and about this morning I also noticed that the northbound curb lane on Evergreen in closed between Desmet and Mission. I'm not sure how long that will last, but there was a deep hole dug in the road.  

Saturday’s highlights

Jessica Sharpe can still find the energy to laugh while talking about the horrific car wreck on Easter that left her with extensive injuries. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I see the rain is back in town, and of course it waited until after I watered my lawn. Typical. But since we're back to our normal weather that leaves plenty of time to check out the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. A group of 100 or so golfers descend on Liberty Lake every Monday to play golf. They call themselves the Over the Hill Gang. Correspondent Steve Christilaw checked in with the gang to see what keeps them ticking.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to Central Valley High School grad Jessica Sharpe, who is recovering after being injuried in a terrible head-on crash on I-90 on Easter. The list of bones she broke is lengthy and she's in the midst of a long, painful recovery, but she has kept her positive attitude.  

A hearing was held last week on a proposed new subdivision in Spokane Valley and neighbors are objecting that the project is too dense for their neighborhood. The preliminary plans call for 41 homes on 9.5 acres west of Evergreen Road and just north of Wellesley. The Spokane Valley Hearing Examiner is expected to rule in a couple of weeks on whether or not the project can move ahead.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has determined that a faulty electrical outlet caused the 2 alarm fire at the Whimsical Pig Apartments last week. It caused more than $100,000 in damage.

Coming on Saturday

I know there's a lot going on this weekend, but I hope you still take some time Saturday morning to read the Valley Voice. We'll have a report on the Millwood City Council meeting, including the decision to accept a grant to purchase new playground equipment for the City Park. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to a Spokane Valley woman who survived a horrible accident on I-90. The list of her injuries is enough to turn your stomach. We also talked to some local golfers and I attended a hearing this week about a proposed development in the East Valley area of Spokane Valley. Neighbors are complaining that the project is too dense.

What to do, what to do

There is certainly plenty going on in the Spokane Valley area tomorrow, most notably the Fairfield Flag Day celebration and the Liberty Lake Community Yard Sale. But what to do on Sunday? You're in luck. The McIntosh Grange in Rockford will put on an early Father's Day breakfast on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Grange hosts monthly breakfasts and this will be the last one until the fall. The cost is $4 for adults and $2 for kids.

Sunday's menu includes waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, fruit and beverages. Sounds yummy. And who wouldn't like to have someone else cook? The grange is located at First and Lake Street in Rockford. To reach it, head south on Highway 27 from Spokane Valley until you reach Rockford. Turn left on Emma, then right on First. Lake Street is a couple blocks down.

Liberty Lake yard sale tomorrow

Shoppers, grab your wallets and your walking shoes. The annual Liberty Lake Community Yard Sale is Saturday. This year there are 178 registered locations to visit all over town. There have been excellent deals to be found in years past. There will be food and other vendors in Pavillion Park at Molter Road and Country Vista Drive for when you need a break from browsing.

Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A map of participating locations is available online here if you want to plan your route ahead of time. You will not be able to drive up to a sale and park. You need to plan on parking on the fringes and walking in to the sales. Be a kind parker - don't park in front of fire hydrants or driveways. Have fun! 

More city council candidates file

It's turning into a free for all for the Spokane Valley City Council seat being vacated by councilman Bill Gothmann in November. Ben Wick had previously announced he was running for the seat. Today's he's been joined by longtime SCOPE volunteer John Baldwin, retired executive director of the International Association of Mine Safety Professionals Lewis Higgins and longtime Central Valley SCOPE volunteer Marilyn Cline.

That means that the only person running for City Council unopposed (so far) is newly appointed councilman Chuck Hafner. But that may change by the end of the day tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Fairfield Flag Day

Classic cars, marching bands and floats make their way along East Main Street during the annual Flag Day parade in Fairfield on June 12, 2010. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

For the 101st time, the small town of Fairfield will host a Flag Day celebration this weekend. The community made a big to-do last year for the 100th celebration, but things are a bit more toned down this year. Things start at 7 a.m. Saturday with late registration for the Flag Flyin' Fun Run in the Lower Park (the run starts at 8) and the fireman's breakfast in the Community Center on Main (which continues until 9:30 a.m.)

The kids parade down Main Street starts at 10:30 a.m. and the grand parade will follow at 11 a.m. Lunch will be available in the Community Center after the parade. Parents can bring the kids to Thiel Park where there will be music, a bouncing castle, food, vendors and crafts all day. Adults can visit the beer garden that will open at 11:30 a.m. and keep serving up the suds until dark.

It sounds like there will be something for everyone on Saturday. Fairfield is easy to find. Just head south on Highway 27 until you hit Fairfield. The challange will probably be in finding a place to park.

Election interest picking up

Here we are halfway through Thursday and a ton of new people have filed for various offices up for election in November. Yesterday morning the pickings were slim, but not any more. Two new people have filed to run for Spokane Valley City Council, both for the seat that will be vacated by Bill Gothmann. The first is a familiar name - John Baldwin. He's a longtime SCOPE volunteer who applied for both of the vacant seats on the City Council this year. The other person, Lewis Higgins, isn't familiar to me. We've also gotten some filings for the East Valley and West Valley school boards now and the Liberty Lake City Council is beginning to look like a horse race, with numerous people trying for the win. Check out the Spokane County Elections Office website here for a current list.

But there is a little problem. The deadline for the Saturday Valley Voice is today and the deadline for candidate filings is Friday at 4 p.m. So we'll have the stories on what candidates have filed for each seat in next Thursday's Valley Voice.  

Freeman says goodbye to superintendent

Freeman School District superintendent Sergio Hernandez pauses in what will be the new lobby area of the elementary school during a tour on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Under his leadership, the district sucessfully passed two levies and a construction bond. Hernandez has also directed the high school and elementary school construction projects.SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

A retirement reception is being held today in Freeman in honor of retiring school district superintendent Sergio Hernandez. The public is invited to attend the event, which will be from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. in the Middle School Library (on Jackson Road just west of Highway 27).

Hernandez has been with the district since July 2006 and has overseen the construction of the new high school and the current elementary school construction. He is being replaced next month by Randy Russell, the principal of Coeur d'Alene High School.

Today’s highlights

“I like to see them all go down,” Spokane Valley Police Lt. Matt Lyons said, concerning the Spokane Valley crime rate. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I have to say I sure could get used to this nice, sunny weather. But before we start our day it's time to check out the highlights from today's Valley Voice. The 2010 crime rates are in for Spokane Valley and the numbers show that violent crimes are down while property crimes are up. The city is following the same trends as Spokane County and other cities in the county. The Spokane Valley Police Department is also facing a growing population and increased calls for service with the same number of officers it had in 2003.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended a recent West Valley School District meeting that was all about the budget. People are being asked to let the district know what programs can be cut and which should be saved. Some of the things on the chopping block are the golf program, C squad sports teams and intramural sports. Another public meeting is scheduled for Monday.

The Newman Lake Fire District is moving closer to building a new Station 1 at land the district owns at Starr and Moffat roads. The old Station 1 is too small and doesn't meet current regulations. A public meeting was held this week to get input and more meetings are planned. The commissioners must decided whether to ask voters for a construction bond.

Spokane Valley City Council woman Brenda Grassel recently sent a letter to Spokane Home Builders Association members asking for input on the city's permitting process, but she did it a little differently than usual. The letter invited people to send in their comments to SHBA executive officer Joel White so he could forward them as anonymous.

Coming Thursday

It has been a fairly quiet day today at Valley Voice headquarters, but we'll have a bunch of stuff for you in the paper tomorrow. I headed out to Newman Lake this week for a special meeting to get public input on a planned new fire station. The Newman Lake Fire District commissioners are considering asking voters for a small construction bond to replace the aging, too-small Station 1.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended a special West Valley School District meeting this week. The district is trying to get input from the public on which programs it can cut and which it should save. I checked in with the Spokane Valley Police Department on the most recent crime numbers recently. Some types of crimes are up; some are down.

So check in tomorrow and check out the stories I've mentioned as well as a few more.

Elections shaping up

My newest form of entertainment this week is constantly checking the Spokane County Elections Office website to see who has filed for the many offices up for election this fall. So far there's little competition in many of the Spokane Valley area races on the ballot, including small town city councils and school board races. So far not a single person has filed for any of the East Valley or West Valley School District seats. But it's only early Wednesday. I expect some people are waiting until the last minute (just before 4 p.m. Friday) while they wait to see the lay of the land.

In the Spokane Valley City Council races so far we have all the candidates that had prevously announced by filing their Public Disclosure Commission candidate registration forms - Dean Grafos, Ben Wick, DeeDee Loberg, Chuck Hafner, John Carroll and Arne Woodard. Is anyone else out there planning to file for one of the spots on the dias?

It's been a few minutes. Time to go hit refresh again…

Plans afoot for a new fire station in Newman Lake

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I took a drive out to Newman Lake last night for a special community meeting to get input on plans to build an new fire station on land the Newman Lake Fire District owns at Starr and Moffat. There was a good turn out. The old Station 1 on West Newman Lake Road is old and too small. The fire engines barely fit inside and on one support column you can see where repeated hits from the engine side mirrors have gouged chuncks out of the concrete. I'll have more details in a story in Thursday's Valley Voice, but until then you can look at a few pictures of the current station that I took on my cell phone.

No City Council meeting today

The Spokane Valley City Council voted last week to give themselves the night off today, so there will not be a council meeting tonight. Looking ahead to next week, however, reveals a doozy of a schedule. The council will hold its annual budget retreat June 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CenterPlace (2426 N. Discovery Place). After a brief breather (too brief to give my hand time to recover), the council will reconvene in City Hall for their usual meeting at 6 p.m. Maybe I had better start upping my caffeine intake now.

Whimsical Pig burns in two alarm fire

The poor Whimsical Pig. The apartment complex with the unique name has been a magnet for trouble lately. Nearly two weeks ago an allegedly drunk driver plowed into the complex, hitting a fence, a truck and a carport. The damage from that is still evident. And last night the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to a two alarm fire at the complex.

The call came in at 6:45 p.m. and an AMR ambulance crew nearby reported seeing flames going up three floors, said Capt. Pat Schaffer in a press release. The first crew on the scene found a fire on a balcony that had gone up the outside of the building and into the attic.

No one was injured but two apartments were heavily damaged and several others were filled with smoke. Electrical issues caused by the fire forced the temporary relocation of residents of 10 apartments. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the damage is estimated at more than $100,000, Schaffer said.  

Idaho visitors gone wild

For the second time in a week an Idaho resident has been arrested for pleasuring himself in public in Spokane Valley. Is it a full moon or something? Why the sudden migration? Anyway, a Post Falls man was arrested Sunday while masturbating in the Spokane Valley Mall parking lot. His escapades were caught on tape and the man was quickly tracked down. And last week a Rathdrum man was arrested after he was caught with his pants down in a coffee shop drive through. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

New fire station in Newman Lake

Spokane County Fire District 13 in Newman Lake will host a special meeting tonight to get input from residents on plans to build a new fire station in the volunteer district. A presentation will be given on the construction plans and discussion will follow. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Station 1, 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive.

Road closures ahead

Greenacres residents will notice today that the intersection of Mission and Flora is now closed for the installation of a new roundabout. The closure is part of the project to extend Indiana Avenue east to that intersection. Detours are available along Boone, Arc and Baldwin. The detour route has been changed from earlier plans because recent heavy rains have slowed the repaving of several streets torn up for sewer installation. The detour routes are in residential areas, so people are urged to drive slowly and carefully.

The sidewalk work on Broadway from Moore to Flora is also continuing this week, so expect narrowed lanes and delays during the day through Friday.

Saturday’s highlights

Residents along Walnut Road are voicing their opposition to a rezone request by St. John Vianney to build low-income senior housing on its property. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's a fine and lovely Monday morning out there - at least until the clouds move in later - so let's take a look at a few highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. St. John Vianney Church and its neighbors are no longer in discussions about a zoning request that would allow the construction of a low income senior housing complex, but the rezone is still moving through the process. Correspondent Mike Vlahovich has a story on retiring high school track and field coach Howard Dolphin. He worked at East Valley High School for many years, then moved on to West Valley High School.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger has a look at the huge new sign at Liberty High School in Spangle. It celebrates academic and musical achievements as well as sports awards. Those who follow the actions of the Spokane Valley City Council will recognize the names of the latest people to throw their hat in the ring for the November 2011 elections. DeeDee Loberg has filed to run against appointee Arne Woodard and Ben Wick has filed to run for the seat held by Bill Gothmann, who has said he will not run for re-election.

On a side note, this week is the official filing week for all positions that will be on the ballot. Candidates must file through the Spokane County Elections Office by the end of the day Friday. We have a list of all positions up for election this fall here.

Coming on Saturday

If you can tear yourself away from tomorrow's (hopefully) sunny weather, we'll have a few interesting stories for you in the Valley Voice. You will finally get to see that story I promised you by Lisa Leinberger on the new Liberty High School sign that celebrates academic and musical achievements in addition to sports wins. Anyone who has driving down Walnut Road near St. John Vianney Church lately has seen all the green signs sprouting on lawns. A request has been made to rezone a parcel of land to put in a low income senior housing complex and the neighbors are in an uproar. I'll have an update on where the zoning dispute is and what is next in the process. I'll also have a story on two new candidates for Spokane Valley City Council in the November elections. Have a great weekend!

Get ready for West Valley Days

The annual West Valley Days festivities put on by West Valley SCOPE will happen Saturday in Millwood City Park. It's a fun event with a small town feel and you don't even have to drive very far to get there. As always the event starts with a parade at 11 a.m. that will travel west on Grace and north on Stout until it reaches the park on Frederick. The events in the park (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) include carnival games, prizes, a DJ, food, silent auction and more. As always there will be a free bike raffle. This year there are eight bikes of various sizes abilable and drawings will be at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Children must be present to win. The weather is supposed to be nice, so pack up the kids and head over.   

It’s time to get outside

I hear that Mother Nature intends to smile on us this weekend and send some warmer temperatures and sunshine to soothe our rain and hail battered psyches. That's great, because it's just in time for National Trails Day on Saturday. The Washington Trails Association is celebrating the day by putting on several work parties across the state to improve trails. Residents here can head out to the Iller Creek Trail in the Ponderosa/Tower Mountain area.

The work will include reconstructing the trail around an eroded section and other maintenance. If you'd like to spend some time helping out tomorrow, click here to register for the work party and get driving directions. The work party begins at 8:30 a.m.

Community yard sale in Rockford

If you are in the market for good deals, check out the annual community yard sale Friday and Saturday in Rockford. Residents will be having individual yard sales all over town. People who don't want to use their yards or live outside the city limits will set up shop in the park on First Street to sell their wares. It might be worth a drive down Highway 27 at some point to check things out and see what is available. People can pick up a map showing all the sale locations at local businesses or City Hall (during Friday business hours). The sale will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Here's hoping there's no rain!

Jobs coming to Spokane Valley

It was announced yesterday that Pyrotek would be moving a manufacturing line from Mexico to Spokane Valley and hiring 20 skilled workers. That is good news in a time when most businesses are doing the opposite and moving their manufacturing plants to other countries for the cheap labor. Governor Chris Gregoire was so excited to hear the announcement that she issued a statement calling it  “great news for the Inland Northwest.” Reporter Tom Sowa has more details here, including how to apply for one of the openings.

Today’s highlights

Doug Scott closes the gate to a pasture at his Mica/Valleyford farm off Jackson Road. The three-story barn was built on what began as the California Ranch in the 1870s. It was used as a way station for the Kentuck Trail. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There are so many good stories in today's Valley Voice I don't know where to begin. People living near Saltese Flats have probably noticed a whole bunch of water pooling up on the land that was once a lake before it was drained for farming more than a century ago. But Spokane County officials haven't started their plan of flooding the flats with treated wastewater. It's just Mother Nature at work, as reporter John Craig outlines in his story.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to Horizon Middle School students who are working to clean up nearby Browns Park. Spokane Valley Fire Department arson dog Mako visited the Spokane Valley City Council meeting this week to provide a chance of pace. In other fire department news, Fire Chief Mike Thompson was just named the Washington State 2011 Fire Chief of the Year.

In addition to being a sucker for pictures of cute critters, I also love historic red barns. We've got a great picture of one today to accompany a Landmarks column by correspondent Stefanie Pettit. She wrote about a barn near Mica that was built in the 1800s on what was then the California Ranch. It served as a way station on the Kentuck Trail and is still in use today.

And if you read correspondent Cindy Hval's touching story on a Mother's Day luncheon for birth mothers who gave their children up for adoption I recommend grabbing a couple of tissues first.

Alert readers may have noticed that yesterday I mentioned a story about a new sign at Liberty High School. It was in the North/South Voice today, but won't appear in the Valley Voice until Saturday. So now we all have something to look forward to.

Coming Thursday

We've got another great batch of stories coming your way in Thursday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger went to Spangle to check out the new sign in front of Liberty High School that lists all the school's academic and music competition wins in addition to sports championships. She also talked to students from Horizon Middle School who are helping clean up Browns Park at Pines and 32nd.

Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson was just named the 2011 Fire Chief of the Year.  The fire department's arson dog, Mako, visited the Spokane Valley City Council meeting this week to give a change of pace to the gathering. So check out your paper tomorrow and start reading.

Reading program kicks off today

After looking at the weather outside you wouldn't think that it was already summer, but it is. Sort of. Today is the start of the Spokane County Library District's Youth Summer Reading Program, which has the theme of “One World, Many Stories” this year. Each library in the district, which includes the Spokane Valley, Argonne, Otis Orchards and Fairfield branches, will hold various fun events for kids and teens during the summer.

There will be book recommendations available for all reading levels and kids can keep track of how much they read. Some of the events look like fun, like the West Valley Outdoor Learning Center bringing live birds to the libraries or learning about medieval knights. There are tons of things going on, so check here for a schedule.

Special meeting tonight in Liberty Lake

The Liberty Lake City Council has announced that it will have a special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. The meeting is to discuss the city's form of government and whether the city should change the way it operates. It could be an interesting discussion.

More traffic issues

The City of Spokane Valley has announced other temporary traffic shutdowns for this week. Today the eastbound curb lane on Broadway at Dyer road will be closed until 5 p.m., as will the southbound lane of Dyer just south of Broadway. The closures should only last for today.

The eastbound curb lane of Sharp Ave. between Evergreen and Bannon will be closed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day this week. The work should be completed on Friday.

This is the time of year when roads start getting dug up for small and large projects alike, so such short-term closures will become more frequent. Make sure to keep your speed down and stay well clear of the workers.

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About this blog

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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