Archive for November 2011
The Spokane County Elections Office has certified the November election results. There were no surprises in the final results, but a look at the election statistics reveals some interesting information. The number of ballots returned in Spokane Valley resulted in a 54.73 percent return rate, which may well be the highest in the city's history. That amounts to 26,839 ballots. The return rate was 49.6 percent in the 2009 city council elections.
The run to the polls seems to have been led by the resounding no vote on the city's Proposition 1 to fund converting one-way Sprague and Appleway to two-way streets. There were only 720 “under votes” on that issue, which refers to people who turned in a ballot but didn't select either option on that particular ballot item. In comparison the under votes in Spokane Valley City Council races ranged from 4,772 to 8,579.
But even if the voter turnout in Spokane Valley was the best ever, the city was still trounced by nearly every other jurisdiction that surrounds it. The ballot return rate was 64.9 percent in Newman Lake Fire District 13, 59.70 percent in Liberty Lake, 61.76 percent in Rockford, 64.82 percent in Fire District 8 and a whopping 71.21 percent in Waverly. (The lowest was 43.02 percent in Airway Heights.) The return rate for Spokane County as a whole was 57.04 percent.
The city of Spokane Valley is shutting down some lanes at the intersection of Sprague and Pines for pavement repair work. The southbound curb lane on Pines and the westbound curb lane on Sprague will be closed through Friday. It could cause traffic problems during rush hour.
The Spokane County Library District has announced that it is bringing in two finalists for the executive director position for a public meet and greet Thursday night. The reception will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Fireside Lounge in CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. The reception is open to the public, both those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling (509) 893-8205.
The two finalists are Nancy Ledeboer, director of the Pima County Public Library system in Pima County, Ariz., and Smikahl Vieira, the director of the Benicia Public Library System in Benicia, Calif. The two are vying to replace retiring executive director Mike Wirt. The district operates 10 branches, including locations in Spokane Valley, Millwood, Otis Orchards and Fairfield.
The Spokane Valley City Council has a busy agenda before it Tuesday night and the meeting could go long depending on the amount of discussion on several items that have attracted interest. The meeting is a study session so there will not be a general public comment time. There are a couple action items on the agenda that public comment will be accepted on.
The council is scheduled to vote on the allocation of lodging tax funds, which has generated a lot of debate. A vote is also planned on new planning commission rules of procedure. Several reports are on the agenda, including one on shoreline management and one on the speed limit on Mission between Flora and Barker. The speed limit item is to be discussion only and there won't be a vote on that this week. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) if you want to drop by and listen.
The city of Spokane Valley’s new snowplow is parked next to one of the original plows at the Public Works Facility in the Industrial Park. The old snowplows, purchased from the WSDOT, averaged 2,500 miles each during last year’s snowy winter. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
Here we are again on another lovely Monday morning, which means it is time to look at the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. The city of Spokane Valley is working on breaking in its first brand new snow plow, which was ordered last year but didn't arrive until April. It will be the only white plow truck you see out on the road.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger highlighted the high number of absences at the Liberty Lake City Council, which was brought into focus last week when the council meeting didn't have a quorum for nearly an hour. The Mayor is considering a chance to the council's absentee rule.
The state Public Disclosure Commission has decided not to persue a camplaint filed against former Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline. The complaint was filed in October. Spokane County has wrapped up sewer construction work in the Valley for the season, but residents in the Green Haven neighborhood can expect to see crews back in the spring. Large boulders and old concrete irrigation system conduits slowed work so much that the project wasn't completed in time.
We will have a bunch of good stories for you in the Thursday and Saturday Valley Voice sections, but I won't be here to post links. I will give you a little preview in the form of a picture slide show of some night training done at the Spokane Valley Fire Department's newly refurbished burn tower last week. It was cold and dark, but thankfully it wasn't snowing. You can find the story here tomorrow. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday, everyone. SR photos/J. Bart Rayniak
There is some new information available on the fire at Spur Industries in the Spokane Valley Industrial Park on Tuesday. According to a press relase from Spokane Valley Fire Department Capt. Pat Schaffer, it was a metal shaving collection bag that was on fire on the exterior of the building. Crews determined that the metal shavings were not flammable and were not on fire. A firefighter used a forklift to remove the bag and crews doused the flames with foam, Schaffer said. The cause is under investigation and damage is estimated at $10,000. All photos courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.
A Spokane Valley Police Officer is reporting a car jammed between a utility pole and the building that houses Old Country Buffet at Sprague and Pines. No word on how the driver got there.
12:52 p.m. update: An officer just requested that a structural engineer come by and check the building.
A fire is being reported in a business at Euclid and Flora in the Spokane Valley Industrial Park. The initial call reported fire in a sawdust hopper.
11:12 a.m. update: The business is Spur Industries. According to its web site it is involved in metal “welding, machining or fabrication.” Firefighters report the fire is in a hopper filled with metal shavings.
On a winter day that seems more like a spring chinook, here's a snowy look back at the old West Valley High School that was built at Trent and Argonne in 1924. An Albertons store is on the site now and a new high school was built at Vista and Buckeye in the 1960's. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.
I just wanted to remind everyone that there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting Tuesday because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 29. While we're making scheduling notes, I have two more items. City of Spokane Valley offices will be closed on Friday for the holiday. And I will be out of here Wednesday afternoon for a nice, long weekend. So don't expect to see blog activity for a couple of days at the end of the week.
Central Valley defensive coordinator Steve Kent’s intense energy and enthusiasm has sparked his Bears in holding their opponents to just 12 points in their last three games, including two playoff wins. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
Saturday's Valley Voice is packed to the gills with news from the Spokane Valley area. Correspondent Steve Christilaw checked in with the Central Valley High School football team, which has had a successful season. Spokane Valley City Council candidate Ben Wick has clinched a win over competitor Marilyn Cline to take a seat on the council. Wick was ahead by only 20 votes on election night, but he drew further ahead as the vote counting continued.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on last week's Liberty Lake City Council meeting, which operated without a quorum for a while. The Spokane Valley City Council, after much discussion and a close vote, agreed to allow city staff to apply for a grant to build a decant facility to process the waste removed from the city's drywells. The council also unanimously approved the 2012 budget.
Fire District 8, Fire District 13 and the town of Rockford are regrouping after fire levies and bonds failed at the November polls. Each is considering how to move forward after voters rejected their request for money. Commissioners from the Spokane Valley Fire Department heard a presentation on their 2012 budget last week, which includes the construction of a new Station 6.
The Liberty Lake Library is holding a petting zoo tomorrow, but there won't be anything with four feet or fur there. It's a technology petting zoo featuring all the latest gadgets. People can stop by the Library between 10:30 a.m. and noon Saturday to get a hands-on look at Nooks, Kindles, MP3 players and iPads. If you have been thinking of getting one but aren't sure which to get, this is your chance to try them out. If you already have one of them, you can bring it by and learn how to dowload free audio books and ebooks. The Library is located at 23123 E. Mission.
It's an annual tradition to go grocery shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving and find Central Valley School District students there asking for food donations for their annual Fill the Bus food drive. Saturday is the seventh annual drive and 100 students are expected to be in position from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Students will be collecting turkeys, gravy, stuffing, canned vegetables, soups, peanut butter and more. The donations will be passed along to the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank.
Participating stores include the Fred Meyer at Sullivan and Sprague, the Liberty Lake Safeway, the Safeway at Sprague and Evergreen, the Trading Company at Sprague and McDonald and the Albertson's on 32nd Ave. Click here for more details on which schools will be staffing each store.
If you were thinking for applying for vacant seats on the Spokane Valley Planning Commission or the city's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, time is running out. The deadline is Monday for all four vacancies (two on each). None of the positions are paid.
The Planning Commission is in charge of holding public hearings on planning and zoning items and making recommendations to the City Council. The two seats there are both for three year terms that would start Jan. 1. Applicants must live inside the city limits.
The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the City Council on how the lodging tax funds should be distributed. The money is collected to benefit tourism. The two open seats are both for people involved in activities authorized to receive funding for the tax.
Both applications are available on the city's web site or at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Call (509) 720-5102 for more information.
Central Valley sophomore Madie Laws, left, and junior Meaghan Schmidt, right, react as teacher Bill Plesek places a beef heart on a dissecting tray. School districts throughout the region are kicking off a new career and technical program focusing on biomedicine and other scientific areas through a program called Project Lead the Way. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
A recent class at Central Valley High School was not for the faint of heart, since students were dissecting beef hearts. The class is part of a new program to introduce students to science, technology, engineering and math called Project Lead the Way featured in a story in today's Valley Voice by reporter Lisa Leinberger.
The Spokane Valley City Council voted in a split decision to make the speed limit on Indiana east of Sullivan 35 miles per hour as far as the newly completed one-way couplet, which will now have a lower speed limit of 30 mph.
Lisa has another interesting story on early settler Stephen Liberty, who was recently honored with a monument at the new Liberty Lake Arboretum. In other Liberty Lake news, police responded to several shoplifting calls last week.
We're going to be bringing you a couple of interesting stories in tomorrow's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has some background information on Stephen Liberty, one of the region's early settlers. A monument was recently dedicated in his honor at the new Liberty Lake arboretum. Lisa also will have a story on a few broken hearts at Central Valley High School. No, not that kind. It's the kind of hearts that get dissected on a lab table in science class.
A couple of lengthy discussions dominated last night's Spokane Valley City council meeting, which lasted until 10 p.m. even though several items on the agenda were postponed. Thursday's Valley Voice will have a report on the vote to change the speed limit on Indiana east of Sullivan. I'll have a report on the other discussions and votes in Saturday's Valley Voice.
The Spokane County Elections Office just released another vote total, putting Ben Wick in the lead against challenger Marilyn Cline in the race for Spokane Valley City Council Position 6 by 360 votes. The County has 1,000 ballots left to count and about 400 of those are from Spokane Valley residents. It is statistically unlikely that Cline could collect enough of those votes to win the seat. Another vote count is scheduled to be released tomorrow at 5 p.m.
Newman Lake Fire District 13 will have a special commissioner meeting tonight at 6 p.m. One of the biggest items on the agenda will be the failure of the construction bond at the polls this month and what steps the district should take next. It looks like there will be some discussion about the 2012 levy as well. The meeting will be held at Station 1 at 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive.
As the vote counting continues and Ben Wick keeps increasing his lead over fellow Spokane Valley City Council candidant Marilyn Cline, it now seems safe to say that Wick will replace retiring councilman Bill Gothmann. In the most recent vote count released Monday night, Wick now holds a 354 vote lead over Cline, who campaigned with the Positive Change candidates. On election night Wick's lead was only 20 votes and it has grown steadily since. Wick's election means he will be the only non-Positive Change council member for the city.
In the other city council races, the Postive Change candidates have maintained their election night leads. Dean Grafos, Arne Woodard and Chuck Hafner won new terms on the council. The closest race there was between Woodard and Dee Dee Loberg, who collected 47 percent of the vote.
Another ballot tally is scheduled to be released tonight at 5 p.m. Only 5,000 Spokane County ballots remain to be counted.
The District 4 state legislature representatives will host a public meeting tonight to discuss the budget cuts proposed by Governor Chris Gregoire. The meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Spokane Valley Library, 12004 E. Main. Feel free to stop by and give your state legislators your opinion on the cuts.
Ponderosa Elementary fifth-graders Isaiah Gessner, left, and Nick Griep, center, listen to Marine Corps veteran Rex Walter describe his experiences serving his country in the early 1950s. Ponderosa student ambassadors brought veterans from Broadway Court Estates to their school for a Veterans Day assembly Tuesday. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
More election results topped Saturday's Valley Voice as votes continue to be counted. Reporter Lisa Leinberger reported the results for Liberty Lake City Council, mayor and Proposition 1. The proposition to switch to a city administrator form of government failed and former mayor Steve Peterson is poised to retake leadership of the city.
Fire levies and bonds in the areas around Spokane Valley mostly did not do well. A construction bond in Fire District 13 failed, as did an M&O levy in Fire District 8 and replacement fire levy in Rockford. The only success story was the small town of Spangle, which passed a fire levy and a police levy.
Lisa also wrote a story on her trips to Veteran's Day celebrations at West Valley High School and Ponderosa Elementary School. Recently the owners of Savage Land Pizza sued Spokane County Water District 3 because of a dispute over the installation of a new water main. The East Valley School District board of directors has voted to put a replacement levy on the Feb. 14 ballot.
Sorry for the long pause between posts, but it's deadline day here at Valley Office central and my keyboard has been humming. I've been working on a story on the bond and levy results for Spokane Valley area towns and fire districts for Saturday's Valley Voice, so look for that. There will be another release of vote totals by the Spokane County Elections Office tonight around 6 p.m. I'll try to blog that if I can, but I may not be near a computer. Since tomorrow is Veteran's Day and the County offices are closed, I wouldn't expect another vote total to be released until next week. So I'll either be back here later tonight or on Monday.
The Positive Change group on the Spokane Valley City Council appear to be maintaining their control of the council, with incumbents Dean Grafos, Arne Woodard and Chuck Hafner in the lead. The race between Ben Wick and Marilyn Cline to replace Bill Gothmann, however, is still too close to call. More votes will continue to be counted over the next week or two.
Correspondent Cindy Hval has a touching story featuring a local couple whose grandson, Marine Lance Cpl. Garrett Gamble, has been honored at the Veterans Memorial at Valley Fourth Memorial Church. The church dedicated the 24-hour, lighted memorial earlier this year.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with an eighth grade class at Horizon Middle School that recently had a chance to chat on the phone with an astronaut on the International Space Station. The Liberty Lake Police Department recently responded to several 911 calls from citizens who saw a man drag a woman across Appleway Blvd. and force her into a car.
Tonight's updated Spokane Valley City Council elections results show that candidate Ben Wick has lengthened his lead from 20 votes to 105 votes over competitor Marilyn Cline. Results in the other races are largely unchanged. Dean Grafos how has 56.3 percent of the vote compared to 42.6 percent for challenger John Carroll. Arne Woodard now has 51.7 percent of the vote and maintains a slight lead over Dee Dee Loberg.
I've been browsing the Spokane County Elections Office web site and noticed something interesting. Thousands of Spokane Valley residents who returned their ballots did not vote in one or more of the city council races. The County keeps track of the number of under votes, which refers to the people who did not vote for any candidate in a particular race.
The under votes for each race (as of Tuesday) are as follows: Dean Grafos/John Carroll, 2,723; Arne Woodard/Dee Dee Loberg, 3,094; Ben Wick/Marilyn Cline, 2.967. A total of 5,172 people did not mark the ballot for Chuck Hafner, who was unopposed on the ballot. In the too-close-to-call Wick/Cline race, those votes could have made the difference.
What seemed to bring people to the polls was Spokane Valley Proposition 1 to determine the fate of one-way Sprague. There were only 435 under votes on that issue.
As of today Spokane Valley voters have returned 26,621 ballots and more will be coming in over the next few days. It looks like just over 17,000 of those have been counted so far. Enough ballots remain to be counted that the results of the Woodard/Loberg race, which has Woodard winning with 51 percent of the vote, could change.
Last night I didn't mention the scores of other election results, including the races in Liberty Lake. Former mayor Steve Peterson is making a comeback by trouncing opponent Josh Beckett with 74 percent of the vote. Council candidate Shane Brickner captured 664 votes to Keith Kopelson's 559. Liberty Lake's Proposition 1 to shift to a city manager form of government was soundly defeated.
In Millwood Brian Ellingson and Glenn Bailey were ahead, if only barely. Ellingson has 20 more votes than Mike Ellis and Bailey was ahead of David Kopp by 21 votes. In Rockford Clinton Stevenson was only ahead of Steve Christman by five votes.
In Newman Lake Fire District 13 challenger Kathleen Small has 140 more votes than incumbent commissioner Clayton Andersen Sr. The vote for a bond to pay for a new station gathered 330 votes against and 326 votes of approval. The M&O levy in Fire District 8 is winning by 41 votes.
Several of the close races, including Spokane Valley City Council Position 6, will be decided by the 40,000 votes left to count. Another batch of ballots will be counted today and the new results should be available late this afternoon. Click here for more details.
The first numbers are in for Spokane Valley. Proposition 1, which would have changed Sprague and Appleway back to two-way streets, is losing with an overwhelming 82 percent no vote. The incumbents seem to be carrying the night, but the race between Ben Wick and Marilyn Cline is a toss up. Both candidates have just over 49 percent of the vote. Only 20 votes separate the two. Late arriving ballots will decide that race.
Councilman Dean Grafos seems to have won re-election with 55 percent of the vote. Incumbent Arne Woodard collected 51.6 percent of the vote for a smaller lead over challenger Dee Dee Loberg. Chuck Hafner, who was unopposed on the ballot, got 95 percent of the vote. His write-in challenger received 554 votes.
The levy in Spokane County Fire District 8 is also close. So far the yes votes total 50.3 percent of the vote. The bond for a new fire station in Newman Lake Fire District 12 is failing with a 50.3 percent no vote.
While we wait for election results I thought I'd throw a few tidbits out there. As of today, there have been 114,332 ballots returned in Spokane County. Just over 21,000 of those belong to Spokane Valley voters, which accounts for 42.9 percent of the registered voters in the city. Other jurisdictions are tallying higher percentages. Millwood is at 45.32 percent. Fire District 8, which has a levy on the ballot, is at 48.28 percent and Fire District 13, which is trying to pass a bond, has 47.81 percent. Liberty Lake is trailing behind at 41.97 percent. A complete list is available here.
However, all those numbers are likely to go up a bit as ballots postmarked by today straggle in over the next few days. Now we just have to wait and see how everyone voted.
Aw, nuts! With winter fast approaching, a squirrel gathers acorns Monday in Corbin Park. SR photo/Colin Mulvany. (I'm posting this photo just because it's so darn cute.)
I'll be hanging around later tonight to get the Spokane Valley City Council election results when they are released at 8 p.m. I will post them on the blog when I get them, along with the results from the Newman Lake Fire bond, the Fire District 8 levy and the one-way Sprague issue. Until then, does anyone have any guesses on who will win?
The Idaho State Patrol reports that 29-year-old Spokane Valley resident Luis M. Schiaffini-Pineiro was injured in a car crash on I-90 in Post Falls late last night. An ISP press release says he was driving east in a Mazda pickup “at a speed too fast for icy road conditions” when he lost control, went off the road to the right and rolled his car “numerous” times. The accident ocurred at 10:26 p.m. Schiaffini-Pineiro was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.
This isn't strictly a Spokane Valley issue, but there has been widespread interest in the proposed budget cuts at the Spokane Regional Health District. Staff and program cuts are included in the $2 million reduction. The special meeting will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the District's first floor auditorium at 1101 W. College. A vote on the budget could take place at the special meeting or at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 1.
Centennial Middle School eighth grader Darby Howat accepts Rachel’s Challenge after the all-school assembly on Wednesday. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
No, you didn't imagine it. I wasn't around on Friday to update the blog. That will be happening frequently on Fridays between now and the end of the year. But I'm back now and I'll start today by bringing you the updates from Saturday's Valley Voice.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger had a couple of interesting stories. The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum will honor Maggie Rail at its annual Heritage Program luncheon this weekend. Rail has a web site that lists who is buried in more than 400 cemeteries in Spokane County and other locations, which is a boon to those researching their family history. Lisa also stopped by Centennial Middle School as students promised to participate in Rachel's Challenge, which focuses on how students treat each other.
Last week the Spokane Valley City Council heard a comprehensive report on the feasibility of putting quiet zones or wayside horns at the many railroad crossings in the city. The Spokane Valley Fire Department has dealt with a fatal motorcycle crash and two major house fires recently. City of Liberty Lake department heads used last week's council meeting to discuss what they accomplished in 2010 and what they hope to do in 2011 if the budget allows.
Trail developer Mark Pinch stops to enjoy the view from the top of the 552-acre Saltese Uplands, an area of Liberty Lake that was recently purchased through Spokane County’s Conservation Futures program. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
One of the highlights in today's Valley Voice is a story by correspondent Jill Barville on the new Saltese Uplands natural area. Spokane County is working to buy the 552 acre property south of Liberty Lake off Henry Road as part of the Conservation Futures program. A trailhead will be built on Henry Road next year and hikers and bikers will be able to enjoy a network of seven miles of trails.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on enrollment in the Central Valley, West Valley, East Valley and Freeman school districts. Most of them have larger numbers of students, but enrollment at East Valley's Continuous Curriculum School took a huge jump. This week the Spokane Valley City Council debated the need for a facility to precess water and debris removed from the city's numerous drywells. A decision on whether to apply for a grant for the project will likely be made at the Nov. 15 council meeting.
Reporter Pia Hallenberg has a touching story on Libby McGrory, who has battled breast cancer four times. She recently participated in a 200-mile fundraising bike ride called the “Tour de Pink” in California.
The Valley crew has been hard at work this week getting everything ready for Thursday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in the local school districts (East Valley, West Valley, Central Valley and Freeman) to see how district enrollment is doing. We'll have a story on the new Saltese natural area and a report on Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. There was a lengthy discussion on stormwater projects that are eligible for grant money. There were a bunch of other topics covered, but those will have to wait until Saturday's Valley Voice. Don't forget to pick up your paper in the morning to check out the stories.
Tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting looks calmer and hopefully shorter than the last couple of weeks. There are only ten items on the agenda, including a vote on a survey contract for the Sullivan bridge replacement and the comprehensive plan amendment docket. There will also be report on a Convention Center update, stormwater grants, economic development and railroad quiet zones. If one of those topics attracts your interested, head to City Hall at 11707 E. Sprague at 6 p.m. tonight. The meeting is a study session, so the only public comment taken will be on the two items up for a vote.
The fire reported early Monday morning at 619 N. Vista was in a vacant home that had been empty for several months, according to a press release from Spokane Valley Fire Department Capt. Pat Schaffer. When firefigthers arrived the fire had spread from the house to several nearby trees. Damage to the home is estimated at $100,000 and the cause is still under investigation.
Schaffer reports that the fire department did have several problems responding to the fire. The house is about 200 feet from the road and isn't visible from the street, he said. The driveway to the home also was not marked. The department urges everyone to make sure their address is clearly visible.
Reporter Meghann Cuniff has an interesting update on the wrong-way driver who caused a head on collision on I-90 near Liberty Lake in the early morning hours on Sunday. The three people in the car he hit were injured. The driver appeared to be drunk and was arrested by the Washington State Patrol for vehicular assault. Click here for more details.