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Spokane Valley

Archive for October 2011

Saturday’s highlights

The Central Valley High School Marching Band and Color Guard rehearses Tuesday for the Northwest Association for Performing Arts Championhips to be held Saturday in Hillsboro, Ore. The band made history by winning first place at the University of Oregon Festival of Bands at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., last weekend. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

The Central Valley High School Marching Band and Color Guard have had “Unflagging success“ according to a story by Lisa Leinberger in Saturday's Valley Voice. The band recently won first place in the University of Oregonal festival of Bands after putting in hundreds of hours of practice. Lisa also has an education column packed with news about local schools, including a production of “Beauty and the Beast” at University High School.

Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich wrote an obituary on Spokane Valley “institution” Harry Larned. He was a co-founder of the Sports Creel and a former Spokane County Commissioner and Spokane Valley Fire Department Commissioner.

The Spokane Valley City Council disagreed over allocations recommended by the Lodging Tax Committee. There was also discussion of accepting a second round of applications for the lodging tax money. No decisions were made; a vote is scheduled for the Nov. 15 meeting.

City of Spokane Valley staff members hosted a developer's forum last week to share improvements being made to the permitting process and to get suggestions for further improvement. There was a surprisingly good turnout for the 7:30 a.m. meeting and the crowd was friendly enough to crack a few jokes.  

Brush fire in Dishman Hills

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to a report of a brush fire in Dishman Hills behind Savage Land Pizza. The first crews coming into the area are reporting a column of smoke.

3 p.m. update: Crews report a 50x50 slow moving fire. 

Haunted house tonight

If you know someone between the ages of 5 and 12 who enjoys a bit of a scare, check out the haunted house tonight at The Cottages at Sullivan Park (411 S. Adams Road). The haunted house will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is two non-perishable food items for the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Kids are encouraged to wear a costume.

House destroyed in fire

A home in the 7200 block of east Sixth was destroyed by fire early this morning. Spokane Valley Fire Department crews were dispatched at 4:12 a.m. A neighbor heard a popping noise, went outside and saw flames through a window in the home, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

The 53-year-old man living in the home was able to escape with minor injuries. Firefighters rescued two dogs and a cat is missing. Another cat died in the fire, Clifford said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The home is a total loss. “It was totally gutted,” said Clifford. 

The resident did not have renters insurance and the homeowner did not have insurance either, he said. The Red Cross is assisting the resident. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Section of Balfour Road closed

The city of Spokane Valley has announced that Balfour Road between 13th and 14th is closed to all traffic until Nov. 4 for utility work. Make sure you detour around that area until it reopens. Also, there is some landscaping work going on at the new roundabout at Flora and Mission that is affecting traffic flow. Even though the weather is getting colder some road construction projects are still ongoing, so keep an eye out for work crews. 

Today’s highlights

Spokane Chiefs, from left, Collin Valcourt, Mac Engel and Tanner Mort prepare lunch Oct. 18 at the House of Charity in Spokane. The hockey players spent parts of three days volunteering and interacting with homeless people. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We've got a little bit of everything in today's Valley Voice. Reporter Pia Hallenberg went along when the Spokane Chiefs hockey team visited the House of Charity recently to visit, give away hats and serve lunch. The team got a warm reception from the shelter's clients.

The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously approved the city's new Bike and Pedestrain Master Program on Tuesday, which was a bit of a surprise since it has been so heavily scrutinized. There's also an update of several other actions the council took, but the meeting was so long I couldn't fit everything in. Expect to see another story on the council meeting in Saturday's Valley Voice.

Correspondent Jill Barville has a great story on grandparents who raise their grandchildren and the unique challenges they face. I also checked in at the open house held Monday to present the Urbran Growth Area boundary adjustment alternatives that are being considered. Several areas in Spokane Valley are being considered for addition to the boundaries, which allow denser development. This will be on ongoing issue over the next several months.

Developer’s Forum Thursday

Make sure you set your alarm clock tonight if you want to head over to Spokane Valley City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) to check out the Developer's Forum from 7:30 to 9 a.m. While the discussion is designed for developers, anyone is welcome to come and listen in on the conversation. City staff will be talking about changes to the permitting process and the city's emphasis on customer service and asking for input.

Fire reported in nursing home

Multiple Spokane Valley Fire Department crews have responded to a report of a bathroom full of smoke in a nursing home in the area Mission and Union. Police are being asked to close Mission, so avoid that area for a bit.  

Spokane Valley Bike and Ped plan final vote tonight

The proposed Spokane Valley Bike and Pedestrian Master Program is up before the Spokane Valley City Council tonight for for its final yes or no vote. The plan has been discussed frequently by the council and edited by council members but still faces some opposition. Public comment will be taken before the vote. If you want to have your say, head to City Hall at 11707 E. Sprague at 6 p.m. for the meeting.

Last week's council meeting lasted until 10:30 p.m. and this week's looks like it might be even longer. There is a ton of items on the agenda, including two public hearings, a final vote on the 2012 property tax levy, the first reading of the proposed 2012 budget, a proposed resolution setting the city's fees, a report on manufactured home zoning and much, much more. The Bike and Pedestrian plan is near the top of the agenda, though, so you won't have to wait around all night to see what happens with that issue.  

New school zone speed limit signs are up

Spokane Valley recently installed flashing school zone speed limit signs at  Chester Elementary (3525 S. Pines) and Orchard Center Elementary (7519 E. Buckeye). The new signs have flashing beacons to remind drivers to go 20 miles per hour when the speed limit is in effect, usually when students are arriving at or leaving the school. The signs were partially paid for by a grant from the Wasington Traffic Safety Commission. Watch for the signs and for children when you drive by.

Urban Growth Area open house

A regional review of the Urban Growth Area is under way and there are discussions about changing the boundaries in the Spokane Valley area. An open house is being held tonight so people can get information on what areas are impacted. The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E.Sprague. Other open houses are scheduled for the Geiger area and north Spokane County later in the week. Visit for more information.

Saturday’s highlights

Dracula (Michael Ashton Toth) was found lurking around the Dracula Blood Drive at Central Valley High School on Oct. 17. More than 80 students, faculty and community members participated and received a $3-off coupon to CV's”Dracula” for donating. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

We brought you news from nearly every corner of the Spokane Valley area in Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has information on Central Valley High School's upcoming performances of “Dracula.” The star of the show turned up at a blood drive at the school recently.

We also have a bunch of election stories. Lisa put together a Q&A with the candidates for Liberty Lake Mayor. There are also stories on the Marilyn Cline/Ben Wick Spokane Valley City Council contest and the council race between Dee Dee Loberg and Arne Woodard (though Woodard didn't respond to multiple requests for answers to the questions).

Lisa also had a story on the levy discussions going on in the East Valley School District. The district is considering running a levy in February to pay for things like music programs, libraries, counselors, sports programs, AP classes and more.

The Spokane Valley City Council heard a report last week on the Parks and Recreation Department's policies on allowing car shows in city parks. They also discussed city entrance signs and where to put them.

Pumpkin carving contest

If you have a great idea for a jack-o-lantern design, you might want to head south tomorrow for a pumpkin carving contest in Fairfield. Just bring your own cleaned out pumpkin and carving tools to the Fairfield Community Center on Main Street at 6 p.m.

Prizes will be given for the scariest, funniest and most creative pumpkins. All ages are welcome to participate. There will also be refreshments. To get to Fairfield, head south from Spokane Valley on Highway 27. Take a left on Main Street when you get to Fairfield.

It’s a haunting

There are a bunch of things going on this weekend, so let's start by taking a look at the annual Valley Mission Haunted Pool. (Don't worry, the pool has been drained. You won't get wet.) Organizers promise “spirits, ghosts and all manner of creepy crawlies” who will frighten “anyone brave enough to visit.” But if you're one of those people who don't care for clowns, you should probably stay out of the Creepy Clown Tunnel.

The haunted pool is designed for those age 12 and up, but younger children will be allowed if they are accompanied by a parent. The grand opening is tonight. Hours are from 7:30 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday as well as Oct. 28-29. Admission is $3 per person or $2 per person with a can of food for the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Valley Mission Park is at 11123 E. Misson.

Overturned car near Evergreen exit

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to reports of a car on its top in a grassy area next to I-90 at the westbound Evergreen exit.

1:37 p.m. update: I can't see very much on the DOT traffic camera feed, but crews are on the scene.

3:10 p.m. update: The driver in that crash has been arrested for driving under the influence and may also be charged with vehicular assault, according to a press release from the Washington State Patrol. The passenger was injured and taken to the hospital.

Friday update: The WSP is now saying that both people were out of the car when emergency crews arrived and they are not sure which of the two is the driver. The charge of DUI is still up in the air.

Who is this man?

Spokane Valley Police are looking for help in identifying a man involved in a hit and run collision in the Albertson's parking lot at 32nd and Highway 27 earlier this year. The man (pictured above) was wearing a red t-shirt and shorts and has a shaved head, according to Detective Dave Thornburg. He was driving a silver 4-door compact SUV with a covered spare tire on the back. Anyone with information on the identity of the man is asked to call Thornburg at 477-2710. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Today’s highlights

Adams Elementary media specialist Julie Custer reads “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum” to second-graders Oct. 5. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There are a lot of stories to highlight from today's Valley Voice, so let's get started. We hae city council candidate Q&A stories from Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Today we are highlighting Dean Grafos and John Carroll in Spokane Valley and Shane Brickner and Keith Kopelson in Liberty Lake. The rest of the candidates will be featured in Saturday's Valley Voice.

A complaint has been filed with the PDC against Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline alleging that she is running a hairdressing business out of her home without declaring in on her financial affairs statement. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on how a grant fromTarget allowed Adams Elementary to buy books for its library and volunteers also showed up to redecorate.

The city of Spokane Valley and Spokane County are in the early stages of discussions about turning the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way into a mixed use trail. At one point the city wanted to use the land, which is still owned by the County, to extend Appleway Blvd. to the east.

Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman presented her proposed 2012 budget to the city council this week. It calls for reducing the city's new utility tax to three percent while purchasing a new police car, getting a new records management system for the police department and completing phase two of the city's arboretum.

Coming Thursday

We've managed to cram a bunch of stories into Thursday's Valley Voice, which will arrive on doorsteps tomorrow morning. We're doing another round of candidate question-and-answer format stories for candidates running for office in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. First up are Dean Grafos and John Carroll in Spokane Valley and Shane Brickner and Keith Kopelson in Liberty Lake. The rest of the candidates will be featured in the Saturday Valley Voice along with summaries of the local ballot issues.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a grant-funded library makeover at Adams Elementary. I will have a story on a complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission against a Spokane Valley City Council candidate. I'll also have a report on several topics discussed at Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. There was so much going on (the meeting didn't end until 10:30 p.m.) that I had to save some of the discussions for Saturday's Valley Voice.

East Valley special meeting Wednesday

The East Valley School District board of directors will have a special meeting Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at East Valley High School, 15711 E. Wellesley. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the district's upcoming levy. No official board vote has been held yet to set the date for a levy election, but it is expected to be in 2012.

Busy SV council meeting tonight

The list of reports on tonight's Spokane Valley City Council agenda looks long enough to ensure that we'll be in the council chambers until Wednesday. The many topics up for discussion tonight include entry signs, car shows in city parks, the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way, speed limits, code compliance, the sign code and helmet safety. If one of those strikes your interest, head over to City Hall at 11707 E. Sprague at 6 p.m. to listen in on the discussion. Tonight is a study session, so no public comment will be taken.  

District 13 special meeting

Spokane County Fire District 13 in Newman Lake is having a special public meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to give out information about the district's bond on the November ballot. The district is asking for $2.2 million to build a new Station 1. The meeting tonight is at the old Station 1, 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive. If you have any questions about the bond, head on over and ask some questions.

My crispy backyard

Here's what my backyard looked like this morning after my neighbor's garage burned down. There used to be a fence there.

Saturday’s highlights

Diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease as a teenager, Cindy Bergdahl has not let her vision impairment stop her from teaching fourth grade at McDonald Elementary School, or competing in triathlons. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

As promised, we brought you a bunch of interesting stories in Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval talked to McDonald Elementary School teacher Cindy Bergdahl, who teaches and competes in triathlon despite being visually impaired.

A University High School student has come forward to say she reported to the school in the spring that teacher Michael Cronin had touched her inappropriately. Central Valley School District has launched in investigation into the allegation. This comes after Cronin was put on paid administrative leave in August while the district checked into recent criminal convictions.

Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich wrote about longtime Spokane Valley resident Joe Custer, who led Vera Water and Power and was heavily involved in the community. We also have an analysis of Spokane Valley City Council campaign ad claims that the city's budget was increasing 7 percent a year until the new council took over.

Coming Saturday

We've got a few good stories coming your way in Saturday's Valley Voice, so look for it on your porch in the morning. I have a follow up story on University High School teacher Michael Cronin. A student has come forward to say she complained to school officials about Cronin's behavior this year and the Central Valley School District has launched a new investigation. I have also put together an ad watch story that looks at claims made in some Spokane Valley City Council candidate advertisements.

Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich has put together an feature obituary on Joe Custer, longtime Vera Water and Power CEO and community activist. Custer passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Loves long walks on the beach and belly rubs

I couldn't help myself; I just had to post a picture of this week's featured animal. Bolt has been at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service shelter for a few weeks now. He's a 2-year-old neutered Lab mix. Shelter staff say he's good on a leash, likes to go for walks and loves belly rubs. He appears to get along with both cats and dogs. He does have a non-contagious skin condition that will need treatment.

If you are interested in adopting Bolt, his identification number is 4517. 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 Bolt at 2421 N. Flora Road or call (509) 477-2532 for more information. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

House fire on Grace

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are responding to a house fire near Grace and Kari Lane. The 911 caller reported smoke in a basement laundry room and said everyone was evacuating.

Today’s highlights

The Evergreen Railroad Modelers HO layout is built on a 25-foot-by-60-foot area with 18 bridges, a dozen tunnels, a large city and rail yard, three main lines, mountains, small towns and a computer system that allows the operator to run the trains with realistic sounds for steam and diesels. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

The November election is getting closer and our candidate coverage continues in today's Valley Voice with a story by Lisa Leinberger on the recent Rally in the Valley debate this week. Candidates for Liberty Lake Mayor and Liberty Lake City Council answered questions from students on current issues facing the city.

Lisa also checked out a few new towns - Bakersville, New City and Cobbleton. The cities are part of a huge model railroad layout created by the Evergreen Railroad Modelers. The cities are very detailed, right down to the cars in parking lots and shrubs dotting the hillsides.

The Spokane Valley City Council tackled several issues this week. The agreed to send a letter to Spokane County expressing their displeasure at being asked to subsidize the city of Spokane in a regional animal shelter plan after Spokane said it would only join the effort if their costs don't go up. They also had a split vote approving the first reading of the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program.

This week's Liberty Lake police blotter includes a report on a citizen coming to the rescue of a police officer fighting with a suspect.

Woman being rescued from home

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are on the scene of a possible kitchen fire in the area of Jackson and Woodward Road. The 911 caller said an elderly woman inside the home had fallen and couldn't get out and that her daughter was trying to rescue her.

10:34 a.m. update: Crews say everyone is out of the home and the fire has been put out.

Bike and Pedestrian plan on tonight’s agenda

The proposed Bike and Pedesrian Master Program is back on the Spokane Valley City Council agenda tonight, but there is a difference. All other discussions have been held during study sessions. Tonight the first reading of the proposed ordinance is up for discussion, so public comment will be allowed.

There are a few other interesting items on the agenda, including a public hearing on the proposed 2012 budget and a proposed ordinance on the 2012 property tax rate. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Elections guide out today

Ballots will begin arriving in the mail at the end of next week, so we've published our annual elections guide today. There's a special section in today's paper that includes every contested race in Spokane County and North Idaho as well as information on the state and local ballot issues. If you haven't had a chance to grab a paper yet, click here for all our election coverage.

Putting out the elections guide doesn't mean the end of our coverage, however. We'll continue to write stories and next week we plan to have some question and answer format stories for the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake races. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will also have a story in Thursday's Valley Voice on last night's debate among Liberty Lake candidates. In the Spokane Valley races, only the challangers showed up so there was no debate. All three of the current city council members seeking to serve a new term failed to show up, though councilman Dean Grafos did submit a written statement.

Road work on Sullivan Road

There is a bit more work going on near the Sullivan and Indiana intersection this week. The work will be going on between Mission and the Sullivan Road bridge. Sullivan will be reduced to one lane in each direction starting at 7 p.m. today and continuing through Thursday morning. After that there will be intermittent lane closures through Sunday. Some turn lanes may also be closed at times.

Workers will be pouring concrete and striping the road, but rain may slow the work down. Keep watch for flaggers who will be directing traffic through the area.

Saturday’s highlights

Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin hands out “Stickman Knows” tattoos, reflective stickers and wristbands at Otis Orchards Elementary School as a part of International Walk to School Day on Wednesday. The school has improved the safety of children walking and biking to school and being picked up by parents after school. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

The big news from Saturday's Valley Voice is University High School teacher Michael Cronin being put on paid administrative leave and sentenced to serve nearly a year in jail. I first wrote about him in 2009 after he was put on leave while the Central Valley School District investigated allegations that he had inappropriately touched a female student and a female staff member while allegedly drunk at school. His alcohol related arrests have continued to mount, which led to the jail time. There's also an update on the results of a state investigation into the 2009 allegations that was recently completed.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger went to University Elementary School last week to check out a new nutrition and cooking program being offered to students. She also has a bunch of school news in her Inside Our Schools column this week.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam attended last week's Millwood City Council meeting, where the council voted to move forward with two road construction projects. Grave Avenue and Laura Road will be widened and the intersection of Empire Ave. and Fowler Road will be improved.  

Candidate debate on Monday

First of all, I'm sorry I've been neglecting the blog this week. Between a really lovely cold and scrambling to get voter's guide information done, it just slipped to the side. You can look for our comprehensive voter's guide in Tuesday's paper.

Along those same lines, a candidate debate is planned for 5 p.m. Monday at Central Valley High School, 821 S. Sullivan Road. The debate was supposed to be for all candidates running for Spokane Valley City Council, Liberty Lake Mayor, Liberty Lake City Council and Sate Senate District 4, but we received word today that none of the Spokane Valley candidates have committed to coming. The debate is being hosted by the CVHS government classes. 

The event opens with a meet and greet with the candidates, followed by an opening speech by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. After the candidates have answered questions, the students will have a debate on various local and state ballot issues.

Today’s highlights

A team of students gather around a picnic table and bench they built during their East Valley High School construction class on Friday in Spokane Valley. SR. photo/Dan Pelle

We've got a bunch of news coming your way in today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with East Valley High School students who are building picnic tables and benches as part of a competition.

Neighbors have come forward to say that Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline has been running a haircutting business in her home without reporting the income on the state financial affairs statement as required. I also checked the state and local records and found out that Cline doesn't have all the necessary licenses to operate a business in her home.

The city of Spokane Valley is working to apply for a $10 million grant to complete the funding package to replace the Sullivan Road bridge that carries southbound traffic, which is failing. The City Council candidates gathered last week for their first debate, which had a few sparks. It looks like one more debate is coming up next week. I'll have more details on that later.

Arson and murder suspects arrested

In two separate incidents yesterday, police arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of setting multiple arson fires and a 22-year-old man suspected in a triple murder outside Lodge Grass, Mont., on the Crow Indian Reservation.

Sheldon B. Chase was arrested during a traffic stop near the Spokane Valley Mall only a few hours after local law enforcement received a wanted flyer for the murder suspect. Click here for more details.

Crews from the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to two arson fires between midnight and 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Three dumpsters were reported on fire behind a strip mall on the northwest corner of Sprague and Evergreen at 12:41 a.m. They were quickly put out and there was little damage. A caller reported at 9 a.m. that bushes were set on fire near the Numerica Credit Union at 14610 E. Sprague just a few blocks away.

The 15-year-old admitted setting the fires and also admitted to stealing a bicycle in Liberty Lake, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. He will be charged with four counts of second degree arson and one count of third degree theft. Anyone in Liberty Lake missing a 10-speed bike can call the Fire Department at 928-1700 to describe it.

Tommorrow is Walk to School Day

Everyone grab your walking shoes and umbrellas - tomorrow is International Walk to School Day. Anyone can participate simply by walking to school, but one Valley school in particular will be observing the day. Otis Orchards Elementary has made recent impovements at the school to make walking safer for students. Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin will be at the school to share information on the “Stickman Knows” program aimed at pedestrian safety. Check out the Spokane County Health Department's web page here for more information.

Historic Millwood photo

Last week I wrote a post about the 100th anniversary of the Inland Empire Paper Company mill in Millwood, so this seemed like a good time to pull out a historic photo of the mill. This photo, courtesy the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, shows the mill at its present location in Millwood in the 1940s. Don't you just love all those old cars? 

Saturday’s highlights

Electricians have begun to rewire the Valley Mission Professional Building after an explosion and fire rocked the building Sept. 19. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Two weeks after an explosion and fire heavily damaged the Valley Mission Professional Building, the six medical offices housed in the building are picking themselves up and moving forward. A story in Saturday's Valley Voice outlined what each office is doing and where they are seeing patients.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked out new murals on the walls of the common room at Spokane Valley High School. Artist Jena Ponti painted the walls over summer break to give students a surprise when they restarted school. Lisa also had information on the West Valley teachers union's concerns about buget cuts.

With a month to go before the general election, Spokane Valley City Council candidates are busy raising and spending money. Check out the story for more details. Correspondent Cindy Hval had a story on Widows Might, a ministry program that provides assistance to widows of all ages that recently earned non-profit status.

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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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