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Spokane Valley

Archive for May 2012

Today’s highlights

Third-graders Audrina Gainey, left, and Stephanie Sawchuk, right, wear ball gowns and munch on a lunch served by parents and teachers May 24, at Sunrise Elementary. The event, called the Fairy Tale Ball, was a time to dress up and practice proper dining etiquette. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

There's a lot to check out in today's Valley Voice, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in. I almost wish I was at Sunrise Elementary when reporter Lisa Leinberger was there last week to check out the third grade Fairy Tale Ball because it sounds like so much fun. The students dressed up in their finest clothes and snacked on food made by their parents.

If you are looking for things to do this weekend, you have a couple of options. The grand opening of Greenacres Park is Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The park has a playgroung area with splash pad and sand box, restrooms, a large picnic shelter and play fields. Saturday is also West Valley Days in Millwood, which includes a parade, carnival and free bike raffle.

The Spokane Valley City Council discussed their second thoughts about accepting the donation of a sculpture in a new entry to be built at Appleway and Thierman next year. Several council members suggested putting the work of art in Balfour Park instead so people can get up close to it.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department will have a replacement levy on the ballot in August. It currently provides 53 percent of their annual budget and there was discussion this week on what would happen if the levy fails. Six of the department's ten stations would close and staff would be cut from 180 to 76.

Meeting on expansion of Balfour Park tonight

The city of Spokane Valley is hosting a community meeting tonight to discuss a traffic study done to examine the impact if the city goes through with plans to purchase land at Sprague and Herald for a new library and expansion of Balfour Park. Traffic engineer Inga Note will be there to discuss how to mitigate those impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. The meeting starts at 6 p .m. at Spokane Valley Fire Station 1, 10319 E. Sprague.

School zone patrols today

The Spokane Valley Police Department is conducting emphasis patrols in school zones today. The special patrols are sponsored by the Spokane Regional Health District. Police are concentrating on schools south of Mission, north of 32nd Avenue, east of Pines Road and west of Sullivan Road. The emphasis is focusing on pedestrians and drivers who don't yield to pedestrians will get a $124 ticket. Pedestrians who cross the street illegally will get at $56 ticket.

The schools included in the emphasis area are: Sunrise Elementary, McDonald Elementary, Evergreen Middle School, Central Valley High School, Adams Elementary, University High School, South Pines Elementary, St. Mary's Catholic School, Progress Elementary, Barker High School, North Pines Middle School and Summit School.

Spokane Valley beaches to be cleaned

Contaminated dirt from the north bank of the Spokane River near Harvard Road is removed by Able Cleanup Technologies to be disposed of at the Graham Road Landfill in 2008. SR file photo.

The Department of Ecology plans to clean up some beaches this summer in Spokane Valley, but they won't begin work until later in the summer when the Spokane River flow is low. Work has already been done in some areas to reduce heavy metals contamination, including at Harvard Road. Work this summer will take place at Barker Road on the north side of the river and on the south side of the river at Islands Lagoon, Myrtle Point and Flora Road. Click here for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

Police Officer Kevin Schmeckpeper rides down stairs while practicing bike handling techniques at the skate park in Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake May 15. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

We are a day late doing the Saturday Valley Voice highlights because of the holiday, but they say some things get better with age, right? Yes, I think I'll go with that. Reporter Lisa Leinberger had a story on Central Valley High School students who got the opportunity to chat with scientists who are simulating manned missions to Mars.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a bit of a wild meeting last week while they were debating a controversial zone change request that would allow high density housing on a chunk of land surrounded by single family homes. They decided to hold off on a final vote, though they did approve all the other zone change requests submitted as part of the annual comprehensive plan amendments.

Genesis Church has a new home. The church, founded in 2010, is now leasing the old Good Shepherd Lutheran Church across from Central Valley High School. A trio of Liberty Lake police officers recently completed special training before they head out on bicycle patrol.

Boat safety emphasis this weekend

Spokane County Sheriff Deputy Jay Bailey checks the boat of anglers before they launch at West Medical Lake in 2011. SR file photo.

If you are planning to head out on a local lake this weekend (like Newman Lake or Liberty Lake), you may run into a Spokane County Sheriff's Office boat safety emphasis patrol. According to a Sheriff's Office press release, deputies will have “zero tolerance” for infractions like boathing under the influence, lack of life jackets and failure to have the mandatory boating education card. They will also be looking for wake violations and noise violations.

If we get some sunny weather this weekend I'm sure some boats will be out in the water. Just keep in mind that the water is still really cold. Everyone on a boat must have a life vests and children 12 and younger must wear their life vest unless the boat is docked or anchored. Everyone have fun and stay safe this weekend. 

High school graduation tops today’s Valley Voice

Andrew Croneberger, a U-Hi senior, practices at school during a portrait session May 2. Andrew was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at a very young age. He finds solace in his music and can replicate any song just by listening. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Here it is, as promised - the annual graduation section of the Valley Voice. We've got lists of every graduating senior at schools in the Spokane Valley area, plus a few schools in other areas that also draw students from the Valley. Reporters and correspondents have written stories profiling one notable student from each high school. Some of these teens have really exceptional stories to tell. I can't link to them all, but here's a sampling.

University High School senior Andrew Croneberger is a star student, athlete, musican and composer. He also has Asperger's syndrome. Valley Christian School senior Crystal Heden was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4, but she hasn't let that slow her down. Central Valley High School senior Gaven Deyarmin bears the scars from two near death experiences, but he still managed to excell at basketball, football and track while also bringing home a 3.92 grade-point average. East Valley High School senior Jake Foust already has his own business. Contract Based Education senior Jamal Davis is back on track after being side tracked by alcohol, drugs and some time in jail.  

There are many more great seniors to read about. See them all on the Voices page here.

Here come the graduates

Everyone get ready. The Voices sections tomorrow are our special annual graduation edition. We'll have lists of graduating high school seniors from every high school in the Spokane area, pictures of the valedictorians and profiles of notable students from each school. Every year I am amazed at the accomplishments of our students. So make sure you get a copy of a Voice section tomorrow.

We already have a web site up listing the graduating students where you can leave them messages of congratulations. Check it out here.

Homicide suspect arrested in Spokane Valley

Detective Michael Drapeau, front, and investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office remove evidence from a house at 6704 E. Third Ave., where Shane Smith, 38, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in connection with the homicide of Warren Flinn. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Reporter Meghann Cuniff has a story in today's paper on yesterday's arrest of homicide suspect Shane C. Smith, 38. Smith was arrested at 6704 E. Third. He is suspected of shooting Warren S. Flinn, who died in the hospital several days after he was found with gunshot wounds. Details are slim, but you can check out what we have here.

 

Update: Police believe an argument over cigarettes caused Smith to allegedly shoot Flinn twice in the back of the head. Reporter Thomas Clouse has more details here.

Rockford park trashed by vandals

The Rockford city park was hit hard by vandals sometime late Sunday night, according to a Spokane County Sheriff's Office press release. Nearly every building and fixture in the park was broken and/or spray painted, causing thousands of dollars in damage. City employees spent all of Monday trying to clean up the mess. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233. Click here for more details.

Zone changes on today’s council agenda

The Spokane Valley City Council is scheduled to have a final vote tonight on whether to approve several proposed zoning changes. One of the changes, which would allow a high density apartment complex on vacant land surrounded by single family homes, has been controversial. I expect a fair amount on public comment on this one tonight.

There's really not much else on the agenda tonight other than a first reading on a proposed ordinance to update the building code and a vote on whether to approve a re-negotiated contract with Splash Down. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Road work not done after all

The city of Spokane Valley announced this morning that work at the intersection of Sprague and Custer Road will not be done today as originally thought. The new estimate is that Sprague will be reduced to one lane in each direction for utility and signal work through noon Wednesday. Here's hoping for no rain so they can get the job wrapped up.

Traffic problems coming and going

There will be another traffic hangup popping up starting Tuesday in Spokane Valley, but a second traffic issue will go away. The eastbound lane of Mission at the Flora roundabout will be closed Tuesday through Friday for sidewalk ramp work. Traffic will be detoured down Boone and Long.

Sprague Avenue has been down to one lane in each direction at Custer Road and that project is expected to wrap up by noon Tuesday. Crews have been doing utility and signal upgrades.

Saturday’s highlights

Linda Crowe, pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ for the past 17 years, is shown outside the church on Tuesday. She is retiring. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Apparently we're back to rainy and cool Mondays now. While you enjoy your morning coffee, we've got a bunch of stories from Saturday's Valley Voice to highlight. The Rev. Linda Crowe has been the pastor at the Veradale United Church of Christ for 17 years. She retired Sunday and it was an emotional experience for Crowe and her congregation.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on East Valley High School student Emily Harris, who won a statewide art competition. Her painting, titled “My Childhood,” will hang in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Olympia.

The Liberty Lake City Council has an opening after Susan Schuler announced her resignation so she can move to New Zealand with her husband. Anyone interested in applying for the seat needs to do so by 4 p.m. on May 31. The Spokane Valley City Council had a discussion last week on what projects to fund with the street preservation money they recently set aside. There was some debate over which roads should be done first.

In other road construction news, the Sprague Avenue reconstruction project between Evergreen and Sullivan started today. The project will be completed in four phases to limit traffic impacts. Access to businesses will be maintained. The project should be done by mid-August.

Correspondent Juli Bergstrom Wasson has details on Wags to Riches dog grooming, which opened in Spokane Valley last fall. It's not just a place to go if Fido needs a bath and a trim. Owner Virginia Patton has nearly completed the requirements that will earn her the title of master groomer and she likes to do creative trimmming styles.

Edgecliff SCOPE breakfast

The volunteers of Edgecliff SCOPE will be putting on a fundraising breakfast Sunday morning from 8 to 11 a.m. at the VFW, 212 S. David. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and beverages. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 6-10. Kids five and under are free.

The meal benefits Edgecliff SCOPE and Inland Northwest Honor Flight, so head over there with the family Sunday morning if you don't feel liking cooking. Honor Flight sends World War II veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.

Driver brandishes gun; more mayhem

It has been a busy couple of days for police in Spokane Valley. On Wednesday a driver called police to report that another driver had nearly run him off the road and waved a handgun in the air near Trent and Argonne. Officers were able to located the other driver and arrested Jarred Woods, 30, for three counts of intimidation with a firearm. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

On Monday police responded to a forgery call at a pharmacy in the 15700 block of East Broadway Road and ended up arresting two people for a combined 11 felonies. The two had allegedly forged prescriptions for Oxycodone. Nicole Wright, 27, and Coby Adams, 33, were both arrested on multiple charges of prescription fraud and second-degree possession of stolen property. Meghann has more details here.

Today’s highlights

A dock sits below the Coyote Rock development May 8 in Spokane Valley. The Shoreline Master Program draft goals and policies includes a requirement that residential developments with more than two homes have community rather than individual docks. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

We have a nice, sunny Thursday before us, but there is still time to take a look at some highlights from today's Valley Voice. The Spokane Valley Planning Commission had a rather lengthy meeting last week to go over the draft goals and policies for the city's Shoreline Master Program update. Among the items they discussed were the policies addressing gravel mining pits and docks.

The Spokane Valley City Council also met and they approved awarding the bid for resurfacing and reconstruction work on Evergreen Road from 16th to 32nd and on 32nd between Highway 27 and Best Road. Vera Water and Power will be installing a new water line as well. Construction should start in about a month.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger spoke to 8-year-old Ansel LaPier recently. The Liberty Lake resident recently won a national award for a short film that he wrote, filmed and acted in. Correspondent Cindy Hval, who is always an expert on the emotions that make mothers tick, has a touching column today about her recent Mother's Day celebration.

Meeting on Terrace View Park tonight

If you have some ideas about what play equipment should be installed in Terrace View Park, the city of Spokane Valley would like to hear from you. A community meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. today at McDonald Elementary School, 1512 S. McDonald, to get input on what equipment to install. The upgrades should be complete by September.

Sex offender moves near Opportunity Elementary

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office sent out a notification yesterday that level 3 sex offender Joseph R. Wheeler, 34, has moved to the 1300 block of South Robie Road near Opportunity Elementary School. A level 3 offender is considered the most likely to reoffend. Wheeler was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2004. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details (and a photo) here.  

Street preservation in Spokane Valley

The packet for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting isn't an inch thick, which bodes well for the length of the meeting. The council is set to award the bid for the Evergreen Road construction project between 16th and 32nd. There will also be discussions on what road projects to spend this year's street preservation money on and a possible change to the lease signed by Splash Down. It's a study session, so there won't be any public comment except on the lone action item to award the Evergreen bid. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Newman Lake resident kills intruder

A 911 operator heard gunshots over an open line at about 1 a.m. Sunday when a Newman Lake homeowner reportedly shot an intruder, according to a Spokane County Sheriff's Office press release. Deputies found a the man lying at the top of a set of stairs inside the home, the release said. The man will be identified after an autopsy is completed today. An investigation is ongoing; click here for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

A dock sits below the Coyote Rock development Tuesday. The Washington state Court of Appeals ruled that docks installed at the development were illegal. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

We have a ton of good stories for you in Saturday's Valley Voice, so let's get right to it. The Washington State Court of Appeals recently ruled that the docks at the Coyote Rock development are illegal after a lawsuit filed by the Department of Ecology, but the court didn't examine one of the issues presented by the DOE and the environmental groups that joined the lawsuit.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a great story on students at Summit School, who sent their teacher light-hearted threats in iambic pentameter to convince him to allow them to put on a shortened, clown-based version of “Hamlet.” Lisa also reported on vandalism of the sheds at the East Valley community garden. Police quickly arrested the group of teens responsible, but students were left to clean up the mess.

A goup of Girl Scouts has come through in a big way for the town of Millwood. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reported on their successful effort to raise enough money to repair the town's wading pool. The Spokane Valley City Council seems willing to explore contracting with SpokAnimal for animal control services instead of SCRAPS. City staff is still in the information collecting stage.  

Hitchhiker gets his wish

A Spokane Valley police officer granted the wish of a hitchhiker at Sprague and Vista late Wednesday who wanted a ride downtown after learning the man was considered an armed career criminal and had a baggie of methamphetamine in his backpack. David C. Cooke, 51, denied ownership of the baggie of drugs, but the officer still gave him a ride downtown - to the Spokane County Jail. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has more details here.

More shoreline discussions tonight

Spokane Valley kayaker Steve Bailey surfs the “Sullivan Hole” on the upper Spokane River in August 2011. The wave is a Spokane low water play spot for whitewater enthusiasts. SR file photo.

The Spokane Valley Planning Commission will continue its discussion on the proposed goals and policies for the Shoreline Master Program update tonight at 6 p.m. The attorneys hired by the city to counsel the city on the update of the shoreline regulations will be in attendance. There won't be a public hearing tonight, but people can come and listen to the discussion. The meeting is at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Today’s highlights

A camera mounted near the roofline (upper right) of a Central Valley School District bus is part of a system that will record when motorists pass the bus when the stop arm is deployed as part of a trial run of the new technology. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It's another Thursday, which means it is time for some Valley Voice highlights. All drivers have to keep an eye out for school buses, but now some of them will be keeping an eye on you. The Central Valley School District is particpating in a test program and has installed cameras on three school buses. The cameras will record drivers who illegally pass a bus while it is stopped with its red lights flashing. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the program here.

The Spokane Valley Planning Commission held a special meeting this week to talk about members recusing themselves, the Open Public Meetings Act and the public records act. A facilitator called in to lead the meeting suggested several additions to the commission's policies and procedures.

The Spokane Valley City Council also had a meeting, where neighbors asked council members to reject a zone change that would allow an apartment complex in their single family home neighborhood. Reporter Pia Hallenberg recently talked to three Spokane Valley sisters who stared the Spokane Garden Expo, and it all started when they began planting their yard for their cats. The Expo is this weekend and will include 60 plant vendors and more than 300 businesses.

Friday auction benefits Valleyfest

Hot air balloons lift off from CenterPlace Event Center at dawn as part of Balloons Over Valleyfest in 2011. A balloon named “Spuds,” operated by Stephanie Hughes, of Spokane, is being filled as another lifts off toward the east. SR file photo.

According to an email I received from Valleyfest yesterday, time is running out to buy tickets for the dinner and auction Friday that benefits Valleyfest. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, and will be catered by Red Rock Catering. The items up for bid include a cruise, a Cessna 182 flight, a vation house, Mariners tickets, wine baskets, an international time share and gift certificates to local restaurants. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling (509) 922-3299 or visiting www.valleyfest.org.

Spokane Valley robber strikes again

Police believe that a man who robbed the Spokane Valley Safeway on East Sprague last week may be the same man who robbed the Shadle Safeway on Monday. He is described as a white man with short hair and a medium build in his 30s. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that helps solve the robberies. Reporter Meghann Cuniff has surveillance photos of the suspect and more details here.

SV council to talk critters, zoning changes

It's been pretty quiet today and it looks like a pretty quiet meeting tonight for the Spokane Valley City Council. The council is set to discuss animal control again as they work to decide whether or not to go forward with a new regional animal shelter. Tonight is also the first reading of an ordinance with this year's comprehensive plan amendments. One or two of the proposed zoning changes is controversial, so there may be some public comment to go along with it. Tonight is a formal meeting, so there will also be time for public comment on items that aren't on the agenda. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Road work on Sprague Avenue, University Road

There will be some road work on Sprague Avenue near the new Wal-Mart under construction on the west end of town. Sprague is reduced to one lane westbound and one lane eastbout at Custer Road beginning today and going through May 19 for utility and signal work. Expect delays if you are driving through the area. Reporter Mike Prager has more information on this project here (scroll down to second item).

There is also some road work underway on University Road between Sprague Avenue to 16th Avenue beginning today. There will be curb lane closures on and off through Friday for signal upgrades. There will be flaggers and signs to direct traffic.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, there will be resurfacing work on Farr Road between Appleway Blvd. and Sprague Avenue from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday. There will be flaggers and signs on site.

Saturday’s highlights

Some of Holy Trinity’s congregation went to a newly formed church, leaving Holy Trinity with about 50 members. The church also left the ELCA synod and joined an smaller denomination, LCMC. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It looks like we get a sunny Monday morning for a change. We can take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice while I mull the wisdom of working a regular shift the day after working the night shift. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the new University High School principal (and former engineer) Alan Robbins. He has strong roots just next door in Montana and will start his new job on July 1.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church has been through a lot of change in the last year. The congregation nearly merged with two others, but the final vote failed. Nearly half the congregation left and the pastor quit. In moving forward the congregation decided to switch denominations.

The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce said last week that it wasn't being forced out of its location on East Sprague. There was some confusion about initial statements that the Chamber was moving because the building was being sold.

All about fire

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and the Spokane Valley Fire Department are teaming up to offer a free “Burn Dry Firewood” event Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Valley Fire Station 1, 10319 E. Sprague. There will be demonstrations on building a better fire, firewood splitting and building a wood shed. There will be activities for kids and free hot dogs (while supplies last). Kids (and kids at heart) will also be able to check out a fire truck up close. Reporter Mike Prager has more details here.  

Today’s highlights

The Central Valley High School Drama Department is presenting “Alice in Wonderland” today through Tuesday at 7:30 each night. Elaborate costumes and sets are featured in the production. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

First of all, I'm sorry for not being on the blog much this week. It's been busy around here. But since it's Thursday I do have some Valley Voice highlights for you. The Spokane Valley Planning Commission is having a special meeting with a facilitator Monday to “improve organizational harmony” by discussing rules and procedures. There has been a lot of discussion over a recent vote by the majority of the commission not to excuse a commissioner who recused herself from the shoreline dicussions to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

There are some fabulous pictures to go along with reporter Lisa Leinberger's story on the Central Valley High School production of “Alice in Wonderland.” The drama opens today and will run through Tuesday. If you are in the mood for something different, the drama department at West Valley High School will present “Much Ado About Nothing” today, Friday and Saturday. Of course, you can always attend both.

The Spokane Valley City Council had some discussions this week on significantly extending the time that building applications and building permits are valid. Many on the council seemed pleased by the change, which will come back for a formal vote at a later meeting. 

Spokane Valley street sweep underway

A city-wide street sweep is underway in Spokane Valley. The task to clean up debris to ensure storm drains continue to function is expected to last until mid-June. For the first time residents can track where street sweeping is taking place with a new status map on the city's web page. It shows what areas have been completed and which areas are currently being swept. The cost for the city-wide sweep is being partially funded by a $50,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Spokane Valley stabbing

A Spokane Valley woman was arrested for first degree assault Monday night after allegedly stabbing another woman several time in the back of the head, according to Spokane Valley Police. The altercation took place in the Summit School parking lot at Sixth and McDonald around 10 p.m.. Police used a K9 to track Cody Gray, 19, to her nearby home. Witnesses told police they also heard gunshots; shell casings were found in the parking lot but no gun was found, police said. Click here for more details.

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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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