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Spokane Valley

Archive for March 2011

Bring on the sun

I pulled this photo out of our achives just because I felt the need to look at something bright and cheerful. This “Picture Perfect” photo was submitted by Richard Chan in 2008. It was taken at Art on the Glass at the Arbor Crest Winery.

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

Today’s highlights

Clouds cover Mount Spokane as a hiker moves south on the Ben Burr trail on the Moran Prairie last October. SR photo/Christopher Anderson

You'd better hold on to your hats, it's a really windy day out there. Perfect weather to stay in and read the Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger looked at East Valley's Continuous Curriculum School to see how a K-8 school operates. The district is working on plans to close the middle schools and use K-8 schools instead.

The Spokane Valley City Council interviewed four candidates for a vacant city council seat on Tuesday. You can find some biographical information on all five people the council had voted to interview here. Teenagers and toy guns don't mix, as Liberty Lake Police officers learned. One teen reportedly pointed a fake gun at an officer in an unmarked patrol car.

Correspondent Stefanie Pettit has information on Ben Burr, who has a street, trail and park named after him. In a way he's a household name, yet few know who he was.

Coming Thursday

We've got some great stuff coming your way in Thursday's Valley Voice. I talked to all five candidates who are finalists for the seat on the Spokane Valley City Council that was vacated when council woman Rose Dempsey resigned. In addition to that story with their biographical information I'll have a story on their interviews before the City Council on Tuesday.

Things have been a little exciting in Liberty Lake with a self-described gamer pointing a fake but realistic looking gun at a police officer. A teen boy was also questioned after he shot an air soft gun so many times that police only had to follow the trail of pellets to his home.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger will have a story on East Valley School District's plan to do away with middle schools and create K-8 schools. She looked at existing K-8 schools and how they work.

Tonight’s city council meeting

Sorry for the late notice, but there's a few interesting things going on at the Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. First and foremost, the council will be interviewing candidates for one of the vacant council positions. During the rest of the evening the council will approve a procedure and timeline for filling former city councilman Bob McCaslin's seat, discuss the bids received for the construction of Greenacres park and also discuss the Indiana Avenue extension projects, which has hit a bit of a bump in the road.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. See you there.

Five Guys now open!

I drove by the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries location at 10 N. Sullivan Road yesterday afternoon and there's a small “now open” sign out front. The sign on the door says hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to head over there for lunch and tell me what I should order when I drop in. Feel free to share your impressions of the new burger joint (which is also famous for its huge servings of fries) in the comments.

Oops. Wrong pipe.

Scanner traffic says that a sewer installation crew on Boone Avenue between Greenacres Road and Long Road has accidentally severed a 2-inch natural line gas line. Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are on the scene. Additional intersections in the area may be shut down until the leak is fixed.

1:30 p.m. update: Valley Fire is now sending its technical rescue team to the scene. Workers will need to enter a trench to make repairs and the trench may need to be reinforced to make sure it doesn't collapse while someone is in it. Residents near the gas leak have been evacuated from their homes.

Saturday’s highlights

Among construction projects in Spokane Valley, work has started again on the Barker Road sewer project at Laberry Drive in Greenacres. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There was a lot to go over in Saturday's Valley Voice and I've got highlights in case you missed a few things. Road construction season has started already in Spokane Valley, with several road and sewer projects coming up. A few are already underway. The largest and most disruptive project planned (other than the addition of new freeway lanes between Sullivan and Barker) is the installation of a concrete intersection at Indiana and Sullivan.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger was in a humanities class at Central Valley High School recently when World War II veteran Del Spear visited to talk about his experiences on a minesweeper. Spokane Valley City Councilman Dean Grafos recently filed paperwork to run for re-election this November. In related news, the Spokane Valley City Council selected five candidates to interview this week for one of the two vacant council positions.

Coming on Saturday

People in certain neighborhoods have already seen the bright orange “road construction” signs popping up, which means it's time for the annual road construction season story in the Valley Voice. It will run tomorrow, complete with a nice map and information on the estimated start and stop times for each project. Then you'll be able to plot out your traveling routes for the coming months.

Residents in Fairfield will start seeing a new six percent utility tax on their electric bills in July after the city council recently approved the tax. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will have a story on a World War II veteran who recently visited a humanities class at Central Valley High School to talk about his war-time experiences. There will also be another Spokane Valley City Council candidate annoucement.

Got fish?

It seems like all the fast food places are having Lenten fish specials on Fridays these days. But if you want to sit down and eat with your family instead of hitting the drive through, check out the Lenten fish fry tonight at St. Mary's Catholic Church. The Knights of Columbus are hosting the meal every Friday from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. until April 15 at the church, which is at 304 S. Adams Road.

The menu includes baked or fried fish, french fries, clam chowder, cole slaw and garlic bread or rolls. (Yum.) Donations will be accepted at the door. Anyone who comes by for dinner is welcome to stay for the Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m.

Fatal accident update

According to a Washington State Patrol press release, 29-year-old Teri M. Scheele of Spokane was driving the wrong way in the eastbound lanes of I-90 at Barker just after 3 a.m. when she hit a car head on. The driver of the car she hit, identified as 27-year-old Kenneth J. Hardin of Post Falls, was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital where he later died. Another driver was able to avoid being hit by Scheele, but ended up driving into the cable barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes to do it. Scheele was arrested for vehicular homicide, the press release said.

East I-90 closed at Barker Road

The eastbound lanes of I-90 are completely closed at Barker Road and a detour is in place. A three car accident was reported at 3:10 a.m. today and the road has been closed ever since. Initial reports from the Washington State Patrol is that someone may have been driving the wrong way on the freeway. One of the people involved has died.

Traffic is reportedly backed up in the area and I heard on the scanner a few minutes ago that the eastbound Sullivan on ramp was being closed to help relieve the traffic backup. I'll update with more information when I get it. 

7:53 a.m. udpate: It looks like the WSP re-opened the road as I was typing. It will probably take a bit to clear up the backlog of traffic, though.

Today’s highlights

East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel, second from right, listens as EV Executive Director of Operations Brian Wallace presents the fiscal future of the school district and upcoming bond at an informational meeting March 15. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There's a nice fat Valley Voice today to keep you busy over your morning cup of coffee. There are two sides to any story and that is the case with the East Valley School District's upcoming bond election. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has the views from both sides today. Is new construction long overdue or is the timing bad?

The Spokane Valley City Council hit the pause button on awarding a bid for the Indiana Avenue Extension road construction project over concerns about the road's design. The issue has been tabled for two weeks while the council seeks more information. The project was scheduled to start in mid-April.

Those of you who are fans of Geno's Italian Restaurant on Spokane's north side take note - the restaurant is closing on Saturday. Reporter Pia Hallenberg has a story on the end of the popular restaurant. Apparently the crowds are huge this week as everyone goes for one final visit. One woman said she was flying in from Washington, D.C., for her last meal there.

The Liberty Lake Police blotter has news of several arrests in the last week, including one shoplifter who ran out of the Safeway directly towards a detective.

Greenacres Fire Station open house

The brick Greenacres Fire Station opened in November and is now ready for the public to take a look around during an open house scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The station, at 17217 E. Sprague, replaces a manufactured home that was put on the site in 2004.

There will be community safety groups on hand to talk about their work, an ambulance on display and cake and cookies to celebate the second birthday of Mako, the department's accelerant sniffing dog. Kids can go through the Fire Safety House and adults will be able to practice putting out a fire with a fire extinguisher.

It's always fun to be able to take a look inside a facility that isn't usually open to the public unless special arrangements are made. Just one suggestion - don't fill up your car with gas on your way to the open house or Mako will be really, really happy to see you. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Coming Thursday

Tomorrow will bring yet another stellar Valley Voice with a ton of community news. The plans to extend Indiana Avenue east of Sullivan hit a bump in the road when the Spokane Valley City Council narrowly voted to table a motion to award the construction bid for two weeks. Council members and the public have questioned the design of the road and whether there will be continued access to a nearby Centennial Trail trailhead.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger continues her coverage of the East Valley School District bond issue by doing interviews for pro and con stories that will run Thursday. The Liberty Lake Police blotter is a lenghty one, with a couple of unusual arrests in the bunch.

Flags at half staff to honor McCaslin

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey read a proclamation at last night's city council meeting calling for flags at city facilities to be flown at half staff through Sunday in honor of councilman and former senator Bob McCaslin, who died last week. McCaslin was elected to the city council in November 2009 and had served as a state senator since 1981 before resigning for health reasons in January.

Bob MCaslin Jr. was there to accept a copy of the proclomation and joked that he had never come to a council meeting before because he was afraid someone would ask him to run for office. McCaslin's memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd.

Looking back

Now that spring has officially arrived and crocuses are valiantly blooming, it's time to think about planting and growing. Farms were once the core of the Spokane Valley area. This photo takes a look back at Bert and Ruth Porter’s Veradale Farm circa 1940. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.

Valley office phone issues

Our phone and computer network in the Valley office crashed hard yesterday and we're still having some issues. If E.T. wanted to phone home and was in our office, he would probably get a busy signal. Reporter Lisa Leinberger is having the most trouble, so anyone wanting to reach her can call 927-2165 for now. Her email address is And if anyone tries to call me and it goes straight to voice mail, try my cell phone at 998-2246.

Gothmann won’t seek re-election after all

In this 2005 photo from The Spokesman-Review archives, Bill Gothmann is sworn in as a city council member with his wife, Myrna, at his side.

Spokane Valley City Councilman Bill Gothmann announced yesterday that he won't seek re-election when his term expires at the end of the year. He filed paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission last month to launch his re-election campaign, but said after a vacation with his wife he decided he would rather retire to spend more time with her and his family. “At the end of my life I want to turn around and say I spent a lot of time with my family,” he said.

Gothmann had only collected a few campaign contributions since announcing his candidacy. “We will be returning 100 percent of that,” he said. “Any money I did spend has come out of my own pocket.”

As of right now no one has filed paperwork to run for Gothmann's seat, though Chuck Hafner filed to run for city council last month without specifying which seat he was running for.

Valley council meeting tomorrow

Sorry about the interruption in the flow of blog posts. It's really hard to blog without an internet connection. Tomorrow's Spokane Valley City Council meeting has quite a few things that will be of interest to the community. The council will meet in executive session at 5 p.m. to discuss the applicants for the council seat vacated by the resignation of Rose Dempsey. During the regular meeting at 6 p.m., the council will vote on which candidates to interview during the March 29 council meeting.

The council is also expected to give final approval to proposed ordinances that will loosen rules on keeping backyard chickens and tighten rules that apply to adult retail businesses. A vote is also scheduled on the Indiana Avenue Extension project.

The council will hear a report on several proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments, but there will be no vote on any of them this week. One amendment would kill the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan and another would allow St. John Vianney Catholic Church to rezone land next to the church for the purpose of putting in low income senior housing.

See you tomorrow at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. 

Now then, where was I?

University High School senior Lauren Archibald was part of the No. 1 doubles team that won the district championship and advanced to regionals last year. U-Hi shared the GSL girls tennis title last year and returns several key players. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Well, I managed to make it back to work today after unplugging from the blog and twitter for a week. I'd like to give a hat tip (as Huckleberries blog master D.F. Oliveria would say) to fellow reporter Lisa Leinberger, who kept the blog from being a vacant white space while I was gone.

Now it's time to get back to the Monday routine, which means a recap of what you may have missed in Saturday's Valley Voice. Lisa has written a story about West Valley School District teachers getting training on new web site software that lets them post online and allows students to listen to a class they may have missed.

Correspondent Cindy Hval took a look at the 2011 Inland Northwest Homeschool Conference, which will be held this weekend in the Valley. Correspondent Steve Christilaw talked to the tennis coach at University High School about the challanges of practicing indoors because of the weather and what the team looks like this year.

McCaslin memorial March 27

Scott Maben reported in this morning's paper that a memorial service for Sen. Bob McCaslin will be held at 2 p.m. March 27 at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd Ave.

McCaslin spent 30 years in the Washington state senate and had been serving on the Spokane Valley city council since 2010. He stepped down from his seat in the senate in January because of ill health.

He was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, a graduate of Washington State University, worked for Kaiser Aluminum and later owned a real estate firm.

McCaslin died Sunday. He was 84.

You can read Olympia reporter Jim Camden's obituary about McCaslin here.

Jumpers for Japan

Kids and grownups throughout the area can participate in Jumpers for Japan, a shoot-a-thon to raise money for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami relief fund March 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Hub Sports Center, 19619 E. Cataldo.

From Phil Champlin, executive director of the Hub: “Check and cash donations are due at the door to participate to shoot jump shots. Times to shoot are open.
Each participant will need to allow twenty minutes to complete shooting 50 jump shots.
There will be food, music, skills contests and prizes. Our goal is for each child or adult to request $20 from
each person they ask to donate, however any amount of donation will be much appreciated.”

For more information, call the Hub at (509) 927-0602 or visit their website here.

Did someone say pancakes?

The Edgecliff SCOPE office will present a community pancake feed Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon at VFW Post 1435, 212 S. David St.

The breakfast will include pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and coffee. Adults can get breakfast for $5. Children 10 and younger will be admitted for $2.50.

For more information, call the Edgecliff SCOPE office at (509) 477-6345.

Saturday’s highlights

Our Saturday edition of the Valley Voice included a story about a special therapy dog at Barker High School, a couple of Valley firefighters who competed in the annual Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, and a story about an autistic teen who has found a way to communicate through art.

You can find a complete listing of Saturday's Voices stories here.

Where’s my tropical drink?

The City of Spokane Valley will not be having a meeting next week on March 15. Several council members will be attending a congressional conference in Washington, D.C. Since that will leave me with some free time on my hands, I've decided to take a week off from the computer.

Fellow Valley Voice reporter Lisa Leinberger has promised to check in on the blog occassionally and post some story links, but there will be much less posting next week. If you have an event you would like put on the blog, send her an email at

Look for me to come back full of energy on March 21.  

Street closures next week

Several roads are scheduled to be closed beginning next week as Spokane County goes back into neighborhoods to finish up a couple of sewer projects from last year. The neighborhoods affected are south Greenacres and Corbin.

The streets to be closed are: Missoin Avenue from Flora Road to Barker Road; Boone Avenue from Long Road to Greenacres Road; Barker Road from Bow Avenue to Sprague Avenue; and about 400 feet of Bowe Avenue just to the West of Barker Road. The streets will be closed, but local traffic will be allowed in.

The times, they are a changin’

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has sent out is annual reminder for everyone to change the batteries in their smoke detectors this weekend when Daylight Saving Time kicks in. Batteries need to be changed once a year and residents should test their smoke detectors at least once a month. And no, that doesn't mean you burn some food to test it. Use the test button. So on Saturday night set your clocks ahead one hour and change those batteries.

Coming on Saturday

Saturday's Valley Voice is going to be packed with news from all corners of the Valley again. It will make for some good morning reading with your coffee and scrambled eggs. The Spokane Valley City Council heard a report on the planned Indiana Avenue extension project that will connect Indiana to the intersection of Mission and Flora. Construction is expected to start in mid-April.

The Millwood City Council voted to have a citizen's advisory committee study the wading pool issue. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with a therapy dog named Adams at Barker High School. A team from the Spokane Valley Fire Department recently competed in the annual stair climb competition in Seattle. The team took first place and one firefighter came in third overall.

Big planning commission meeting tonight

Tonight the Spokane Valley Planning Commission will pick up where it left off two weeks ago and continue a public hearing on the proposed annual comprehensive plan amendments. Apparently the last meeting was so full of citizens wanting to give public comment that the commission couldn't fit it all into one night.

One of the main items proposed is to kill off the entire Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. St. John Vianney Catholic Church wants to have a parcel it owns at 503 N. Walnut rezoned from low density residential to medium density residential. Tthe church would like to build a 40 unit senior housing complex there.

The Hultman Family Trust owns property on the southeast corner of Progress Road and Sprague Ave. and is asking to have it rezoned from mixed use avenue to neighborhood center.

The hearing will begin tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Today’s highlights

The HUB Sports Center hosted the Apex Awareness Volleyball Tournament for Kira’s Kloset, March 5 and 6, and 16 teams from throughout the Inland Northwest traveled to play. The facility has five full-size basketball courts that can be converted into 10 volleyball courts. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

With all that rain that's coming down out there, now is a good time to get a cup of coffee and check out the stories from today's Valley Voice. This week the Spokane Valley City Council advanced two ordinances. One will loosen the rules on chickens in residential areas and the other will toughen language that applies to adult retail businesses. Both are now scheduled for a final vote during the March 22 council meeting.

Spokane Valley Finance Director Ken Thompson has announced that he will retire in June. He will be the fourth department head to leave the city in a little over a year. The city plans to replace him as soon as possible and applications will also be accepted soon for the city attorney position.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger headed out to the Valley HUB recently to see how the non-profit is doing. Business is up and there's enough money to pay the bills, but the issue of ownership of the building is still out there. Regular correspondent Stefanie Pettit has a touching column about her long time friend and mother figure who recently died. 

If you are handy in the kitchen and looking for a steady opportunity to volunteer, Shalom Ministries in downtown Spokane is looking for a volunteer chef to cook breakfast four times a week and dinner once a week for low income people. Reporter Pia Hallenberg has a nice feature in today's Voice on current volunteer chef John “Gus” Olsen, who is retiring.

And the winners are…

The votes are in and the winners of the competition to decide which free movies are shown in Mirabeau Park this summer have been announced. “Despicable Me” will be shown at 9:15 p.m. on July 23 and the winner in the teen choice category is “The Sorcerer's Apprentice,” which will be shown at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 20. All I can say is, the teenage girls must have stayed home and not voted. I thought for sure if that demographic got out the vote we would all be watching the latest in the “Twilight” series.

The City of Spokane Valley hosts the movies and will provide an hour of free activities before showtime each night. So mark your calendar now and get that picnic hamper out of the garage. It's time to dream of warm summer nights in the park.

Coming Thursday

Wednesday may be known as Hump Day to some, but around here it is known as Preview the Thursday Valley Voice Day. So, here we go. The Spokane Valley City Council had a lengthy meeting Tuesday night. A ton of people flocked to City Hall to comment on proposed ordinances to loosen the rules on chickens in residential zones and tighten the rules on adult retail businesses. The council also voted to buy a piece of property on the edge of the Industrial Park to serve as the city's maintenance facility. There was a lot more discussion on other topics, but I couldn't fit it all in one story. Expect to see a second story on the other issues in the Saturday Valley Voice.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently checked in to see how the Valley HUB is doing. Business is aparently booming, so she'll have the details on that. There will also be a story on upcoming staffing changes at the City of Spokane Valley.

Tenth application found for vacant council seat

The Spokane Valley City Council was informed Tuesday that a tenth application for the vacant city council seat had been discovered. The application period ended at 4 p.m. Friday, but this week staff found another application that had been misplaced in the wrong staff member's mailbox. The error was discovered after the applicant called the city to ask why he did not appear on the list of those who had applied for the position.

The tenth applicant is Clyde Cordero, 51. Cordero ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary in August 2010 for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who went on to win re-election. He works as an ad salesman for an online publisher. In his application Cordero wrote that the city needs a clear vision for the future and he wants to encourage neighborhood associations and community policing programs.

The council will vote on March 22 on which of the 10 candidates they would like to interview. The interviews will take place at the March 29 council meeting and the final vote on who to appoint to the vacant seat is set for April 5.  

Attic fire reported in Greenacres

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is responding to an attic fire in the 2400 block of North Long Road. The caller said she lit a fire in the fireplace and then noticed smoke coming from the roof.

Full agenda for tonight’s council meeting

The Sullivan bridge was dedicated in a ceremony on Nov. 9, 1951. The above picture looks northwewstward toward Trentwood. Many valley, county and state officials attended the ceremony opening the $200,000 bridge to traffic. This is the section that carries southbound traffic today and is in need of replacement. Photo Archive/The Spokesman-Review.

I'm guessing tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting will run long since the agenda is packed. The council is scheduled to vote on whether or not to purchase land on the southern edge of the Spokane Valley Industrial Park for a street maintenance facility. Tonight is also the first reading of two ordinances, one of which would loosen restrictions on chickens in back yards and the other would toughen city code language that applies to adult retail businesses. So far the public comment on the new chicken rules has been overwhelmingly in favor, but the Mayor says the city is beginning to get emails against allowing more chickens.

The council will also hear reports on allowing livestock in mixed use areas, the planned extension of Indiana Avenue east of Sullivan and the Sullivan Road bridge replacement project.

Nine apply for city council seat

Interest is apparently high in the Spokane Valley City Council seat vacated by the resignation of councilwoman Rose Dempsey. Nine people have applied for it and all have been involved in the city in one way or another, with eight of the nine previously applying or running for a seat on the council or the planning commission.

The nine are: SCOPE volunteer John Baldwin, self-employed carpenter Joseph Collins, actor Ronald Lippincott, community activist DeeDee Loberg, distribution specialist Steven Neill, architect George Watson, IT administrator Ben Wick, customer service representative Jennie Willardson and Spokane Valley Planning Commissioner Arne Woodard. Click here for today's story.

In other news, reporter Meghann Cuniff has a couple of crime reports from the weekend. A Spokane Valley woman was cited for hit and run after striking a pedestrian at Pines and Broadway on Saturday. Also on Saturday, a theft was discovered at Valley Landmark Mission, 9021 E. Boone. Someone broke into a room inside the church where electronics were stored and made off with a laptop and camcorder, among other items.

Power outage in University City area

A car just hit and knocked over a power pole at Broadway and University, which has turned off the lights in an large area around University City. Traffic lights are out as well, so use caution. Remember that all intersections become four way stops.

10:47 a.m. update: The lights are back on.

Saturday’s highlights

This picture of Ronda Emerson was taken on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in August. It is the family's favorite photo of her, and is the screensaver on the computer at the Otis Grill. Photo courtesy the Emerson family.

It's time for the Monday morning roundup up of the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Saturday was the funeral for The Otis Grill co-owner Ronda Emerson, who died in a snowmobiling accident in Montana. She was well known in the community and restaurant regulars are mourning her loss.

Parents looking for child care have a new option. An hourly drop-in child care center called Recess Time has opened in Spokane Valley. It offers care for children age 12 months to 12 years old. For those interested in high school theater, Central Valley High School is getting ready for performances of “The Sound of Music.” Opening night is March 10.

The City of Liberty Lake plans to start construction on phase one of its arboretum project as soon as the weather warms. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has the details on how they expect to pay for the project.

Possible home invasion burglary reported

Spokane Valley Police are responding to the 14500 block of East 20th on a report from a man who said he surprised a man and a woman as they were rummaging through his closet. The man reportedly had a gun. The two ran when the homeowner appeared.

8:50 a.m. update: Police are looking for what has been described as a gold Honda civic in connection with the incident.

Is it spring yet?

A certain groundhog promised me spring, but I'm still waiting. So I found something to keep us going through the long, dark, snowy days of winter. Reader Mike Saeger sent in this “Picture Perfect” submission in 2008, which he called a “sure sign” of spring. It was taken at his mother-in-law’s pond between Valleyford and Mica.

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

Coming on Saturday

Firefighters from the Spokane Valley Fire Department faced heavy smoke and flames in a fire at the Manor Vale Apartments at 10101 E. Main on March 1. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The hills behind Central Valley High School are apparently alive with the sound of music. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to Central Valley High School students who are part of the cast for the classic musical “The Sound of Music” that will soon take the stage. Her story will be in Saturday's Valley Voice.

The community of Otis Orchards is in mourning after the accidental death of Ronda Emerson, the well-known co-owner of The Otis Grill. I spoke to her husband and a few others at the restaurant this week to paint a picture of a fearless, adventurous woman who was willing to help anyone in need.

The Liberty Lake City Council recently voted to spend some money on the first phase of the long-planned arboretum. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will have the details on that. And, last but not least, the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to two major fires last week.

Fetch, girl, fetch!

This shepherd mix looks like she would love a nice game of fetch with that ball, and maybe you are the one to give it to her. Haley is up for adoption at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. Shelter staff estimate she's between one and two years old. She likes to play and apparently likes to romp in water. She needs a lot of exercise and would fit right in with an active family.

Haley would prefer a home without cats and she should be leashed when being introduced to other dogs, the shelter staff says. If you are intersted in adopting her, her identification number is 0766. 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 Haley at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Thursday’s highlights

Greenacres Middle School students jam the seventh-grade hallway at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday as they pass between classes. The school is at maximum capacity with 756 students. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Take a look at today's Valley Voice for news on what is happening in the Spokane Valley area. We've got a little bit of everything today - schools, fire department and the city council.

Since the Central Valley School District bond failed, the natural question that comes up is “Now what?” Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to Superintendent Ben Small, who is considering his options and plans to make recommendations to the school board at the March 14 meeting.

Anthony W. Sotin, who was arrested last month on two counts of arson and one count of wire fraud, was in Federal court this week to accept a plea deal that has him pleading guilty to two arson charges in exchange for a reduced sentence of 10 years in prison.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has been reducing their response times and plans to reduce them even more in the next five years. They've got several different options they're looking at to accomplish this. And the Spokane Valley City Council discussed concerns over the process to update the city's Shoreline Master Program, which the city inherited from Spokane County when it incorporated.

Spokane Valley man arrested after crash in Idaho

The Idaho State Patrol reported late last night that they arrested Spokane Valley resident Lloyd J. Brown, 52, Wednesday on a variety of charges after the Ford Taurus he was driving was involved in a spectacular crash on I-90 as it passes through Osburn, Idaho. According to an ISP press release Brown was driving east at milepost 57 when he missed a curve. He drove into the median, over a guardrail and was launched in the air over Third Avenue before the car landed upside down below the freeway.

Brown was arrested for aggravated driving under the influence, possession of methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia, the press release said. Both Brown and his passenger, a 21-year-old Spokane Valley resident, were injured and taken to Shoshone Medical Center.

A check of the Spokesman-Review archives shows that Brown was sentenced to 120 months in prison in 2002 after pleading guilty to two counts of manufacture of a controlled substance. He was arrested twice in 2001 in connection to meth labs found in the 13300 block of East Mission and the 16400 block of East Valleyway.

In other news, Spokane Valley resident Jeffrey S. Brown, 40, who was previously accused of abusing his dog, was charged with felony assault on a child for allegedly abusing his 4-year-old stepson. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

Coming Thursday

We've been working hard on Thursday's Valley Voice for the last couple of days, so here's a preview of what you'll find tomorrow. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to the Central Valley School District about what is next now that the bond has failed at the polls. The district has been struggling with overcrowding and old buildings.

Response times are trending down at the Spokane Valley Fire Department and they are looking at what they can do to reduce them further over the next five years. It's all part of the accreditation process the department is going through and if they're successful they'll be the first department in Eastern Washington to be accredited. There are only six in Western Washington out of a total of 200 worldwide.

Also this week suspected arsonist Anthony W. Sotin was in Federal Court to plead guilty to two arson charges. He was arrested last month and indicted by a Federal grand jury.

The law in Spokane Valley

A search through the archives has turned up this historical photo of Patrolman Murphy of the Washington State Patrol circa the 1940s. It's interesting to see how much the uniforms have changed over the years (not to mention the cars). This photo was taken between 60 and  70 years ago, but there are probably people out there who might have known Patrolman Murphy. Anyone have memories to share? Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.

Bits and pieces

I'm still trying to get caught up from yesterday and wanted to post some links to news items in yesterday's paper in case you missed them. Police say a theft ring has been targeting vacant homes for sale in Spokane Valley and stealing kitchen appliances. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for anyone who provides information that results in arrests. Call (800) 222-TIPS or click here. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details on her Sirens & Gavels blog.

Meghann also had a story on Terence M. Washington, who police say is suspected of drugging a woman and impersonating a police officer. Police are searching for more women who may have been drugged by Washington. Anyone who had contact with him should call Det. Kirk Keyser at (509) 477-3786. There's also a mug shot of Washington here.

Apartment fire this morning

Deadlines have kept me from blogging much today, but I did get some pictures from the Spokane Valley Fire Department from a fire at the Manor Vale Apartments this morning at 10101 E. Main. The fire was called in at about 9:30 a.m. and firefighters found heavy smoke and flames when they arrived, according to assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

Two apartments were heavily damaged and residents in two adjoining apartments may be allowed back inside once the air quality improves, Clifford said. No one was injured and crews managed to save a cat. The fire was likely caused by combustible items placed too close to a heater, Clifford said. Photo courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Hungry? Have some pancakes.

In honor of National Pancake Day, all IHOP locations will be dishing up a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes today until 10 p.m. to all comers in exchange for a donation to Children's Miracle Network hospitals. It's a national effort, but the money donated here will stay local - going to programs at Providence Holy Family Hospital, Providence Mt. Carmel Hospital, Providence Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, Providence St. Joseph's, St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Kootenai Medical Center and Inland Northwest Health Services.

Valley IHOP locations are at the Spokane Valley Mall and on East Sprague near Costco. So grab the maple syrup and dig in.

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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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