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Spokane Valley

Archive for January 2012

City Council meeting tonight

Tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting doesn't look terribly busy, but there are some interesting items on the agenda for discussion. There will be a presentation on Spokane River trails and improvements as well as discussions on a proposed street preservation project on Evergreen from 16th to 32nd and on 32nd from Evergreen to Best Road. The council will also discuss whether or not to add several capital projects to the 2012 budget. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Spokane Valley Police looking for missing woman

The Spokane Valley Police Department is looking for a missing developmentally disabled woman who is considered vulnerable. Brandie L. Hardin, 26, has been missing for several days. She was last seen at the Red Robin in downtown Spokane at 7 p.m. Thursday. She is white, about 5'4” tall, about 170 pounds with brown eyes and red hair. She was wearing jeans, a red coat and a striped black and grey long-sleeved shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233. Click here for more details.

Liberty Lake special meeting Tuesday

The Liberty Lake City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday night to select a person to fill the seat on the council vacated by the resignation of councilman Ryan Romney. Candidates for the position will be interviewed before the council appoints someone to the seat. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Saturday’s highlights

West Valley boys basketball guards Jordan Gassman, left, and Dylan Ellsworth have led the Eagles to a 15-1 start. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

We had some interesting stories in Saturday's Valley Voice, so here's your chance to take another look if you missed them. Spokane Valley had a public meeting to discuss construction options for the west Sullivan Bridge and which might work best for commuters and businesses.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to Terri Crum, who puts together snack packs for homeless and at-risk students at Opportunity Elementary School. The packs ensure that kids won't go hungry over the weekend. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a a story on Jordan Gassman and Dylan Ellsworth, both guards on the basketball team at West Valley High School.

Eastpoint Church near Sprague and Sullivan just finished its fourth expansion and now has a 1,000 seat auditorium for Sunday services, concerts, dinner theater and more.

Valley Fire open house Saturday

The Spokane Valley Fire Department will have an open house Saturday at Station 3 at 2218 N. Harvard Road. The department is renaming all of its stations and is looking for suggestions on what to name the station. The Liberty Lake Station? Harvard Road Station? Bring your suggestions from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be station tours and refreshments. Mako the arson dog is also expected to be there.

Spokane Valley sex offender arrested

A Spokane Valley sex offender was arrested today at his home near the Central Valley Kindergarten Center for alleged possession child pornography. Detectives with the Spokane Police Special Victims Unit served a search warrant in the 1400 block of North Hodges and arrested Christopher M. Ebner, 37. He has prior convictions for third degree rape of a child and possession of depictions of minors enganged in sexually explicit conduct. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

Today’s highlights

Troy Robertson, a 1979 Central Valley High School graduate, is on the upcoming season of the CBS hit show “Survivor.” Photo courtesy Troy Robertson

There are several really cool stories in today's Valley Voice for your reading pleasure. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has information on the Fab 14 - the 14 area high school seniors competing to be this year's Lilac queen and princesses. There are some Valley girls in the bunch - Hannah Allen of University High School, Syndee Scofield of Central Valley High School and Hailey Ann Murray of West Valley High School.

Reporter Pia Hallenberg has a story on 1979 Central Valley High School graduate Troy Robertson, who is being featured in the new season of “Survivor.” The new season begins on Feb. 15 on CBS. The Spokane Valley Fire Department recently released information on 2011 response times. The department met the standard for almost every type of call. I also have a little more information on last week's armed robbery arrest in Liberty Lake.

Spokane Valley Police arrest man after struggle

Spokane Valley Police arrested Daniel W. De Long, 43, Tuesday night after his former roommate called police to say De Long was threatening him with a knife. According to a police department press release, De Long struggled with officers when they tried to restrain him. He was arrested for second degree domestic violence assault, obstructing law enforcement and resisting arrest. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

Photos of Newman Lake home destroyed in fire

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The Spokane Valley Fire Department provided the photos above of the Newman Lake home at 12611 N. East Newman Lake Drive completely destroyed by fire just after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Valley Fire assisted Newman Lake Fire District 13 with the fire under a mutual aid agreement. The fire is still under investigation.

Look out, mice

Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley was wandering around Spokane Valley yesterday when he spotted this red-tailed hawk looking for it's lunch. The bird was perched in a tree along Trent Avenue near Evergreen Road. Apparently there were several hawks in the field on the south side of Trent looking for their next meal.

Kaiser Trentwood’s cleanup plan

The cleanup plan for Kaiser’s Trentwood plant, seen here Tuesday, is estimated to cost $16 million. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

A public meeting on Kaiser Trentwood's cleanup plan is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Trent Elementary School, 3303 N. Pines Road. The Department of Ecology is overseeing cleanup of the Spokane Valley site next to the Spokane River, which is contaminated by hydrocarbons and PCBs dating back to the 1940's. The company is proposing spending $16 million over the next 30 years in addition to the $12 million already spent to clean up oil and monitor groundwater. Read reporter Becky Kramer's full story here.

Central Valley levy forum tonight

The Central Valley School District will host the first of four public forums tonight on its school programs and operations levy on the Feb. 14 ballot. The forum is at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Central Valley High School, 821 S. Sullivan Road. The three-year $27 million levy, if passed, will replace one that expires in December. There will be a chance for residents to ask questions.

Addtional forums are scheduled for Jan. 31 at Opportunity Elementary (1109 S. Wilbur Road), Feb. 2 at Liberty Lake Elementary (23606 E. Boone) and Feb. 9 at University High School (12420 E. 32nd). For more information, click here.

No Valley council meeting tonight

This is just a reminder that there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. Most council members are in Olympia this week for the City Legislative Action Conference, which includes meetings with legislators. The next scheduled meeting is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31.

Fire destroys Newman Lake home

A home at at 12611 N. East Newman Lake Drive was destroyed by fire shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. The three people inside when the fire began were able to evacuate safety, said Spokane Valley Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. Valley Fire sent two trucks, a battalion chief and a fire investigator to the scene under a mutual aid agreement with Newman Lake Fire District 13. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Check here for updates throughout the day. 

U-hi principal search forum tonight

A community forum to discuss the qualifications wanted for the new University High School principal will take place tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the school library, 12420 E. 32nd Ave. Those attending will have the chance to fill out a questionnaire about what characteristics they want the new principal to have and what challenges are facing the school.

Current princopal Daryl Hart has announced that he will retire at the end of the school year.

Old Country Buffet now closed

Reporter Tom Sowa has information here on the closure of the last Old Country Buffet locations in the region in Spokane on North Division and in Spokane Valley at Sprague and Pines. The parent company declared bankruptcy last week and both restaurants shut down on Thursday. This, of course, leaves the strip mall at Sprague and Pines almost entirely vacant.

Saturday’s highlights

Alysia Brewer, rear center, leads a Zumba exercise class at Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley Tuesday. SR photo/Christopher Anderson

It's Monday morning again, though a slipperty one, and therefore time to take a look at Saturday's Valley Voice. The first phase of the Ponderosa Ridge development south of 44th Avenue just outside the Spokane Valley city limits has been given the go-ahead by Spokane County Commissioners. The Ponderosa Neighborhood Association has decided not to file a legal appeal, but plan to keep pushing their concerns that there aren't enough roads out of the neighborhood if an evacuation is required.

Churches are apparently expanding to include popular Zumba exercise classes. Correspondent Jill Barville checked in with three Spokane Valley churches about the classes they offer.  Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on University High School assistant coach Dave Orndorff. This year he is coaching two of his sons and his nephew.

The County Library will help you learn Russian

The Spokane County Library District now has an interesting online program that will provide free online language courses in 38 languages such as Russian, Spanish and Mandarin. There will also be English as a Second Language (ESL) assistance. The language classes will be provided by Seattle-based Livemocha and will be accessible to district residents with a Spokane County Library District card. People who live outside the district but have a district card will not be able to access the service.

The District serves Spokane Valley, Millwood, Otis Orchards and Fairfield. You can find the program here.

Spokane Valley to do a full city plow

The city of Spokane Valley announced early this morning (really early this morning) that they were going to start a full city plow at 6 a.m. today. Plowing every street in the city usually takes two days, unless it snows a lot more and crews have to start over. The side streets are in terrible shape and I've heard people have been getting stuck in some areas. The city is asking people to park off the street if possible so plows have a clear shot.

Where to check for school closures

It has been snowing steadily all day and if this keeps up, local school districts might start shutting their doors. You will be able to find any school closures or delays announced tonight or in the morning here. I'm sure lots of students will be crossing their fingers and hoping for a snow day.

Today’s highlights

Tom Towey was recently elected to his second term as mayor of Spokane Valley. Since the city has a city manager form of government, the job is mostly ceremonial, but it keeps Towey busy. Towey was first elected mayor two years ago during his first meeting as a council member. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Dust the snow off your boots and settle in for a look at today's Valley Voice. Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey was just re-elected to a second term as mayor. He recently took a look back at his first two years in office and looks ahead to the city's future.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger was at the recent Liberty Lake City Council meeting where new mayor Steve Peterson talked more about his plan to use land the city owns to expand the city's farmers market. The council also discussed the policy governing absences by council members. The council is also planning a special meeting for Jan. 31 to select a new council member.

The Spokane Valley City Council discussed several things at their meeting, including the city's snow plan, the Shoreline Master Program and putting a gateway sign at Appleway and Thierman. Everyone seems to like the idea of a sign, but the estimated $115,000 to $122,000 cost for a sign and landscaping is proving hard to swallow for some council members.  

EV after-school activities canceled

The East Valley School District has canceled all after-school activities today because of the snow.

“Some of our streets and hills are getting nasty,” said Executive Director of Operations Brian Wallace.

He said the district has not made any decisions about tomorrow.

Weather problems

I'm going to put this post up and keep adding to it throughout the afternoon as I hear things on the scanner. Right now there is a semi jack knifed on the Argonne Hill near Bigelow Gulch and it's blocking the road. Check back frequently for more updates.

1:42 p.m. update: There's some sort of accident or slide off on I-90 at Evergreen.

2:20 p.m. update: An accident was reported on eastbound I-90 just east of Pines Road.

2:40 p.m. update: There's an accident at Wellesley and Harvard.

2:56 p.m.: Sorry about the spotty updates. My scanner hasn't worked properly since I moved. I'm having a hard time hearing things.

Armed robbery next to Liberty Lake police station

As it turns out, if you rob a place next door to the police station, it really doesn't take police long to arrive at all.

A man armed with a rifle reportedly locked an employee and resident of Guardian Angel Homes in Liberty Lake in a room after stealing a bag of narcotics at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. The assisted living facility is located across the street from the Liberty Lake Police Department.

Liberty Lake police officer Mike Thomas and two Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded within one minute, according to a press release from Police Chief Brian Asmus. They spotted a man walking in a field nearby and saw him throw something under a parked car, Asmus said. The man, identified as 28-year-old Timothy J. Martinez of Spokane, was quickly arrested. A bag of medication and what appeared to be an assault rifle with a laser sight was found under the car. The rifle turned out to be an Airsoft Rifle that had been modified to look more realistic, Asmus said.

Click here for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

Students from Orchard Center Elementary School march down a street near the school Friday, during a celebration of Martin Luther King Day. The students made signs and performed a skit at an assembly. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley.

It's a windy Tuesday morning out there as we come off a three day weekend and prepare for the first big snowstorm of the winter. But before we look forward to that, it's time to look back to Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Orchard Center Elementary last week while the students put on a skit on Martin Luther King Jr. and had their own march near the school.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted somewhat reluctantly last week to approve the renewal of the city's street maintenance contract. The contract, which includes some snow plowing duties, has been the topic of discussion for several weeks.

The Spokane Valley Public Works Department held a community meeting last week to talk about this summer's planned reconstruction project on Sprague Ave. between Evergreen and Sullivan Road. The project should start around mid-May and last somehwere between 10-12 weeks.

The congregation of the Veradale United Church of Christ recently voted to become an “open and affirming” congregation. They crafted a statement that welcomes all people, including gays and lesbians.

Liberty Lake needs a new council member

If you've had a desire to serve on the Liberty Lake City Council, now is your chance. The city will be accepting applications for the seat vacated by the resignation of Ryan Romney until Jan. 25. The term expires at the end of 2013. Applicants must have lived in Liberty Lake for at least a year and be a registered voter. The applications are available online here. The completed forms must be mailed to City Hall at 22710 E. Country Vista Drive, delivered to City Hall in person, or faxed to (509) 755-6713. Call (509) 755-6728 for more information.

Spokane Valley man involved in Idaho crash

Spokane Valley resident Nathan A. Littlejohn, 28, was involved in a crash on Highway 53 near Hauser, Idaho, early this morning. According to an Idaho State Patrol press release, Littlejohn was heading east on the highway and made a left turn in front of an coming car at 6:32 a.m. Littlejohn struck a Jeep Wranger driven by Hayden resident Gerald R. Cooper Jr., 54, which caused Cooper's Jeep to flip, the press release said. It took troopers more than three hours to clear the road. Cooper was taken to Kootenai Medical Center; Littlejohn was not injured.

CenterPlace open house tonight

If you are planning an upcoming event, tonight is your chance to check out the CenterPlace event center, located at 2426 N. Discovery Place. There will be a free open house tonight from 4 to 7 p.m. People can take a tour of the building, which includes meeting rooms, a 100 seat auditorium and a Great Room that seats up to 500 people. Local caterers will have samples of their food. If you've never been to the building before, now is your chance. SR file photo.

Train blocking Pines Road

The Washington State Patrol says a Union Pacific train is blocking Pines Road at Indiana. The train has a broken brake line and there is no estimate as to when the train will be fixed and moved. The road is completely blocked, so plan on taking another north-south route.

Update: WSP advises the train is now clear.

Today’s highlights

A volunteer assesses Kole LeGrant’s reading skills at Central Valley Kindergarten Center on Monday. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

Happy chilly Thursday morning, everyone. Today's Valley Voice is full of good stories to keep you occupied as you sip that morning cup of coffee. The city of Spokane Valley may be considering entering a partnership with the Spokane County Library District to buy 8 acres of vacant land that could be used to build a new Spokane Valley library branch and expand a nearby city park. The land, located at Sprague and Herald, is owned by the Pring Corporation. The company is refusing to split up the land and the district only needs four acres for its project.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on retired teachers and educators who volunteer three times a year to administer reading assessment tests to students at the Central Valley Kindergarten Center. The Liberty Lake Police Department has plans to test a personal video camera over the next month. The small camera attaches to the officer's shirt and records audio and video. The department is considering outfitting all its officers with the cameras if the test goes well.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a touching Front Porch column that any parent of older children can identify with. Children grow up, move out and move on, leaving the parent in their car clutching the keys and wondering why it's so quiet all of the sudden.

Sprague Ave. open house tonight

Anyone interested in learning more about the Sprague Avenue reconstruction project is invited to attend an open house tonight from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Veradale United Church of Christ, 611 N. Progress Road. The project, scheduled for this summer, will rebuild Sprague between Sullivan Road and Evergreen. It is going to cause problems for motorists, but part of the discussion tonight will probably be on how to mitigate the impact as much as possible. Head over for the meeting if you would like to give input to city staff or get more details.

Towey remains Spokane Valley mayor

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey, left, chats with city councilmen Dean Grafos, center, and Gary Schimmels before a City Council meeting Dec. 28, 2010. SR file photo.

The Spokane Valley City Council made a unanimous decision last night to re-elect Mayor Tom Towey to a second term. Towey was the only one nominated for the position, just as Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels retained his position as the only nominee. At one point last year Towey told me that he thought someone else should have a chance to be Mayor, but more recently he said that the council members he had encouraged to consider being mayor were not interested and that he was willing to serve as mayor again if nominated.

Since Spokane Valley has a city manager form of government, the role of mayor is largely ceremonial but it is a role that Towey has seemed to enjoy. The council elects a mayor from within their ranks every two years.

2-alarm fire ruled accidental

Yesterday's 2-alarm fire at Industrial Systems and Fabrication (5217 E. Broadway) was accidentally caused, according to a press release from Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Marshal Kevin Miller. The business does metal fabrication and was doing grinding yesterday afternoon that caused sparks to smolder for hours before igniting the fire. The fire began about two hours after employees left for the day, Miller said. The estimated damage is at least $150,000. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Spokane Valley mayor elected tonight

The Spokane Valley City Council will elect a new mayor at tonight's council meeting, or they could decide to vote in Mayor Tom Towey for a second term. The city has a city manager form of government and the position of mayor is largely ceremonial. The mayor runs the council meetings and represents the city at public events.

Tonight's meeting will also include a vote on the city's street maintenance contract, which has been the subject of lengthy debate at several previous meetings. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

2-alarm fire under investigation

The cause of last night's 2-alarm fire at Industrial Systems and Fabrication at 5217 E. Broadway is still under investigation. The first Spokane Valley Fire Department crews on scene found heavy smoke and it was upgraded to a second alarm a few minutes later. The fire started in the garage bay area and took 35 firefighters to extinguish. Click here for more details.

West Valley budget workshop

The West Valley School District will host a budget workshop for the community from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Millwood Early Childhood Center, 8818 E. Grace. The superintendent and deputy superintendent will give a brief presentation on the budget, including levies, and then take questions from the audience. Space is limited. People are asked to call Sue Shields at (509) 340-7204 for reservations.

Saturday’s highlights

“He scored very high on his behavioral test,” said Jackie Bell, development coordinator for SCRAPS, about Astro, the terrier mix at the facility in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

It feels a little odd to be at work on a Monday after the last couple of weeks, but here we are for the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. (And we have next Monday off, too. Cool.) The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) is feeling its way forward after a new regional shelter failed at the ballot box in November. A new location is still the plan, but where and when that might happen is yet to be determined.

I checked in with Advent Lutheran Church, which was created by the combination of Good Shepherd Lutheran and Christ Lutheran in May. The new church seems to be doing well as members consider what they want their church to be.

Correspondent Val Putnam attended the Millwood City Council meeting, where new council members were sworn in and a water plan was discussed. Correspondent Jennifer LaRue interviewed a youg rapper, Aubrey Major of West Valley High School. She writes her own songs and has already performed some concerts.

Get your ducks in a row

Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley was wandering the Spokane Valley area this morning looking for a bit of color when he found these ducks having a swimmingly good time at Boulder Beach. He calls the photo “Double date.”

Bridge repairs to start Monday

The western half of the Sullivan Road bridge is scheduled for temporary repairs and eventual replacement. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

If you regularly use Sullivan Road to cross the Spokane River, you might want to replan your route or plan for the drive to take a little longer. Temporary repairs to the west Sullivan bridge that carries southbound traffic are scheduled to start on Monday. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction at 6 a.m. Around noon the southbound traffic will be shifted to the east bridge that usually carries northbound traffic. Once that shift occurs, the weight restrictions that have applied to southbound traffic will no longer be required. The work is scheduled to last until the end of February.

Human remains identified

The skeletal remains found near Henry Road in Liberty Lake Saturday by a dog walker have been identified as Greenacres resident Christopher R. Milam, 51.
Milam was reported missing by his wife on April 23. She told police they had argued the previous day and Milam walked away while she slept, according to a May press release from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. She reported that he had been drinking and she hid all the car keys so he could not drive, the release said.
The couple had recently moved to the 19800 block of East First Court from Texas. An autopsy showed that Milam died of a single gunshot wound to the chest and police found a gun near the body. The death is still under investigation, said Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus. “We are not ruling it a suicide yet,” he said.
Investigators are still checking the gun and will be speaking with family members, Asmus said.  

High speed chase leads to arrest

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has details on this morning's high speed chase in Spokane Valley that had a part of Sprague near Willow shut down for a while. Joshua G. Garvin, 27, reportedly drove the wrong way down the one-way section of Sprague and hit a police car before he was stopped. He was arrested on multiple charges. Click here for more details.

Today’s highlights

We've got some great reads in today's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a powerful story on the Santos family, who were involved in a collision with a drunk driver last summer. The family has been supported by the community as they slowly recover.

Recently retired Spokane Valley City Council member Bill Gothmann recently took a look back at his work with the city that dates back to before incorporation. He talked about his accomplishments and frustrations, but said overall that he has no regrets.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended the first Liberty Lake City Council meeting with new mayor Steve Peterson. It was a well attended, festive meeting with the swearing in of Peterson and two new council members. It was announced during the meeting that councilman Ryan Romney has resigned. The city is now accepting applications for a replacement to finish his term.  

Pick the summer movies at Mirabeau

The city of Spokane Valley has again opened voting for residents to select which movies are shown during the free outdoor movie series at Mirabeau Park this summer. People can visit the city's web site and pick their top three choices from the list or suggest another move that is rated no higher than PG-13. The votes will be tabulated in March. The showings are scheduled for July 21 and Aug. 18.

Here are the choices: Cars 2, Dolphin Tale, Happy Feet 2, Hugo, Kung Fu Panda - The Kaboom of Doom, Puss in Boots, The Muppets, The Smurfs, Soul Surfer and The Zoo Keeper. Voting ends Feb. 3. If you would rather cast your vote by phone, call (509) 720-5408.

Human remains found in Liberty Lake

A man walking his dogs stumbled on a human skeleton Saturday in the 20000 block of Henry Road in Liberty Lake. The clothed skeleton was partially hidden by rocks and brush and a semiautomatic pistol was found nearby, Police Chief Brian Asmus said.

The deceased man has not been identified. An autopsy showed the cause of death as a single gunshot wound to the chest, Asmus said. Click here for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

Greenacres Liquor Store manager Natalie Murphy and owner Keith Peterson are confident that their location and loyal customers will enable them to successfully compete against big-box stores when state-run stores close and liquor sales are privatized. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

If it's a Tuesday morning in a holiday week, it's time for the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. Liquor stores from Millwood to Liberty Lake to Greenacres are considering whether to stay open under the new rules in place under the intitiative that passed to remove the state from the liquor business. Everyone seems unsure how things will work under the new rules, but some are determined to stay open. Others are planning to close.

Repoter Lisa Leinberger talked to University High School principal Daryl Hart, who plans to retire this year. He has been at the school for eight years, topping off a 38 year career in education. The Spokane Valley City Council discussed the city's snow plowing policy and whether the rules about plowing the residential streets on the Valley floor should be changed.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on the girls basketball team at West Valley High School. It's a young team, but coach Loren Carlon appears confident that the team will rebuild.

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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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