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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for April 2013

No council meeting tonight

This is just a reminder that there is no Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. It was cancelled in part because this is the fifth Tuesday of the month and also because there really wasn't anything on the agenda. Next week's agenda, however, looks like it should be lively.

Saturday’s highlights

WVHS sprinter-jumper Terrynce Duke runs through block starts Wednesday at the school. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

All I have to say is that Monday came much too early this week. With that said, let's move forward with some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the Central Valley School District's new computer system that allows students and parents to check progress online. The new software also means that teachers don't have to hand schedule students anymore.

The city of Spokane Valley held a public meeting last week to go over a planned stormwater improvement project on 14th Avenue between Carnahan Road and Custer Street. The project is expected to be completed this summer and should end the frequest flooding and erosion after heavy rains.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on West Valley senior Terrynce Duke, who is becoming a standout track athlete after years of playing football and basketball.

University Road at Trent closed Monday

Southbound University Road will be closed between Trent and Fairview in Spokane Valley between 9 a.m. and noon Monday for railroad crossing work. Southbound drivers will have to detour to Pines or Argonne, so plan ahead if that road is part of your normal route.

Drug take back and shred event

The Spokane Valley Police Precinct will be hosting another prescription drug take back and shred event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also drop off over the counter medications, vitamins, ointments and inhalers. Items not accepted include needles, syringes and thermometers. People can bring up to three boxes of documents for shredding, so now is the time to clean out your files. The precinct is located at 12710 E. Sprague.

Arbor Day tree planting in Liberty Lake

The city of Liberty Lake will celebrate Arbor Day with its 11th annual tree planting on Friday. The tree will be planted at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. Everyone is invited!

Special meeting in Fairfield

The Fairfield City Council is having a special meeting at 8 p.m. Friday at City Hall, 218 E. Main St. The sole purpose of the meeting is to discuss closeout options for the East Main Street rehabilitation project. Call City Hall at (509) 283-2414 for more information.

Today’s highlights

East Valley Middle School student Max Thrasher, center, hands a rock to Avista biologist Tim Vore to help weigh down a plastic mesh box containing trout eggs Friday, in the Spokane River at Mirabeau. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Unfortunately it's not Friday yet, but it is Thursday and that means highlights from today's Valley Voice. A big crowd packed the Spokane Valley Library basement meeting room to give their input on what features should be included in the expansion of Balfour Park. The city purchased property across from the old University City Mall last year to expand the park and partner with the Spokane County Library District to place a new library branch there.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger caught up with East Valley Middle School students who are doing a unique science project in the Spokane River. They are placing trout eggs in the river to hatch. When they grow large enough they'll be relocated to Liberty Lake.

Lisa also has a follow up story on the famous crossing guard cat at Broadway Elementary School. The students call him Kudo, but it turns out that his name is really Uno. Uno the cat also has a history in Browne's Addition in Spokane, where he would invite himeself into apartments and receive gifts of tuna from his adoring fans.

Meeting tonight on 14th Ave. stormwater project

The city of Spokane Valley will host a public meeting tonight to discuss a planned stormwater improvement project on 14th Avenue between Custer St. and Carnahan Road. There has been a problem of erosion in the area after rains. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Park Place Assisted Living Center, 511 S. Park Road. There will be time for residents to ask questions.

The planned work include adding curbs, putting in an underground stormwater pipe system and connecting driveways to the edge of the new curb. The work will take place sometime this summer and will last between four to eight weeks.

Rollover wreck snarls I-90

There's a rollover accident currently backing up traffic on eastbound I-90 near the Pines exit. Expect delays until firefighters and WSP troopers clear the scene. Photo courtesy WSDOT traffic camera.

12:15 p.m. update: The Washington State Patrol is reporting that one person is trapped inside that flipped car and another was ejected in the accident.

Spokane Valley Mayor to run for State Rep

Yesterday Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey announced that he plans to run for the Washington State House of Representatives 4th District seat currently held by longtime Republican legislator Larry Crouse. Crouse is considering retiring, which would leave the seat open. But Towey isn't alone in his interest: current Spokane council member Nancy McLaughlin has indicated she may move to Spokane Valley to run for the seat and former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite has also expressed interest. The election isn't until November 2014, but it looks like things are heating up already. Click here to read today's story. SR file photo.

Dozens turn out for Balfour Park meeting

The basement meeting room at the Spokane Valley Library was packed last night as people told the city and the Spokane County Library District what they would like to see in an expanded Balfour Park. The city is partnering with the library district to expand the park and build a library on land across from the old University City Mall. Everyone seemed pretty excited about a new park. People were turned loose with markers to draw what they wanted to see in the park on maps of the site. There was nearly unanimous support for features like a farmers market, walking paths, a veterans memorial, a picnic shelter and a reading garden. Check out my story in Thursday's Valley Voice for full details.

Balfour Park meeting tonight

The city of Spokane Valley will put on a community meeting tonight to get input on the expansion of Balfour Park and the proposed new Spokane County Library District branch planned for the site at Sprague Ave. and Herald Road. After a presentation, those attending will be asked to get into small groups and brainstorm ideas on what features should be included in the park.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. tonight at the Spokane Valley Library, 10024 E. Main.

Saturday’s highlights

John Rice, 15, acts out an improvisation scene with Tori Heischel during a creative writing exercise designed to show how characters influence story on Tuesday at RiverCity Leadership Academy in the West Valley School District. RiverCity will close at the end of the school year. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Good Monday morning, everyone. You may have noticed that I ducked out of the office on Friday and didn't post on the blog, but I'm back now with some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Anyone who drives down Sullivan Road will notice that a construction project has begun north of the Spokane River to Trent. Over the next six weeks or so northbound and southbound traffic will be limited to one lane each direction, so be prepared if you need to head that way.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger had a story on West Valley's RiverCity Academy, which is closing for good at the end of the current school year. Enrollment at the project-based school is down to 17 and the students will go to other alternative schools in the area.

Lisa also had a story on a driving tour of the Lake Saltese area organized by the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. The tour, which was held over the weekend, visited several historical sites in the area. The former Lake Saltese was drained in 1894 to create the Morrison Ranch.

A big crowd turned out for last week's meeting on whether or not there should be an I-90 overpass at University Road. Several neighborhood residents were there to speak out against doing such a project while others were in favor of at least a pedestrian/cyclist overpass. Right now no construction project is planned, the city is doing a study on whether an overpass is needed.

Today’s highlights

Circus worker Daniel Green laces up the big tent Monday in the parking lot of the Spokane Valley Mall. The Shrine Circus, in its 59th year in Spokane, opens today. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

We've got some great stuff for you in today's Valley Voice. Fans of Rusty's Produce on East Sprague take note: Rusty is back. He's something of a Spokane Valley institution, having run his fruit stand since 1984. When his tent didn't go up last year, customers wondered what had happened. Now Rusty Keele is back under the tent after being treated for cancer last year.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a tent of a different sort - a circus tent. The El Katif Shriners are bringing the Zerbini Family Circus to the Spokane Valley Mall this week. Circus performances have already begun and will continue through Sunday. Check her story for times. The performances include tigers, horses, elephants, clowns and acrobatic acts.

Lisa also has a story on the Eagle for a Day program at West Valley High School. Students at the school spend a day hosting eighth graders from Centennial Middle School and West Valley City School. The program gives middle schoolers a chance to get a first look at the school before they arrive for classes.

This week the Spokane Valley City Council discussed plans to expand Balfour Park and build a Spokane County Library District branch on land across from the old University City Mall. There is a public meeting scheduled to get input on what people want to see in the new park on Monday.

Vacant house burns again

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to the fourth fire to break out in a vacant house at 806 N. Park Road Wednesday night just after 8:30 p.m. The first crews on the scene found 30-foot high flames shooting out of the roof and heavy fire in the front and the back of the house, said Assistant Fire Marshall Bill Clifford in a press release.

It appears to be an arson fire, Clifford said. The home has been vacant for several years and fire crews have responded to three other fires there. The home is now a total loss, he said. Anyone with information on how the fire started is asked to call the department at 928-1700. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

I-90 overpass at University Road?

The city of Spokane Valley is doing a study on whether it should put in some sort of I-90 orverpass at University Road. Residents are invited to come to a public meeting tonight to discuss whether an overpass is needed and if it should serve pedestrians, cyclists, cars or all three. Any such project would be years away, but this is your chance to speak up about whether an overpass is needed or not.

The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Spokane Valley Fire Department Administration Building, located at 2120 N. Wilbur Road next to Fire Station 8.

Food for library fines

If you have library fines piling up, the Spokane County Library District will reduce the amount you owe in exchange for donations of non-perishable food items for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Anytime through Saturday you can bring your donations to any library banch, including the ones in Spokane Valley, Otis Orchards, Fairfield and on Argonne Road. The library will forgive $1 in fines for each donated item up to a maximum of $10. So raid your cupboards and head to your local library, though you might want to check the living room for any overdue books you might have first.  

Saturday’s highlights

Central Valley High School biology teacher Phil Plesek, center, talks about DNA with a group of Evergreen Middle School eighth-graders Wednesday at Spokane Valley Tech. Eighth-graders from Spokane Valley schools have been taking tours of the tech education center where career and science-oriented classes are available. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Good Monday morning everyone. I'm fairly certain it's still spring, but that wind is making for a chilly day today. While we wait for it to warm back up again, we can take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story about Evergreen Middle School students who visited Spokane Valley Tech to learn about the career and technical education classes and programs it offers.There's an open house coming up this week for students who are interested in attending.

Newman Lake Fire and Rescue is looking at using volunteers and a temporary help to replace a retiring deputy chief. The issue will likely be discussed again during the district's regular fire commissioner meeting tonight. Spokane County Fire District 8 got some input from citizens last week after hosting a series of public meetings on the district's strategic plan. Residents offered suggestions on how the district can improve as well as identifying what the district does well. 

The Millwood City Council approved its draft Shoreline Master Program, according to a story by correspondent Valerie Putnam. The council made changes to the section that governs public shoreline access on private land. The council also awarded contracts for an irrigation project and resurfacing the city tennis courts.  

Plan your driving route

There will be a bunch of road construction projects underway next week that could affect your normal driving route, so you might want to start planning alternate routes. There will be sidewalk work on 24th Avenue between Adams and Sullivan between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. The project will continue through mid-May.

Park Road will be down to one lane just south of Valleway on Tuesday only. Utility work will be underway from 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Work will continue on Pines Road near Alki. Signal work will create northbound curb lane closures on Sullivan bewtween Sprague and I-90 beginning Monday.The work will be done between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.  

Today’s highlights

John Loucks, a board member with the Christian Conference Center, walks through a sanctuary overlooking Liberty Lake, near the historic Zephyr Lodge. The property may be put up for sale. SR photo/Dan Pelle

You can't go wrong with a cute cat and we've got one for you in today's Valley Voice. The students and staff at Broadway Elementary call the black and white cat Kudo, though apparently that isn't really his name. The cat lives near the school and appears twice a day to help the crossing guards as children cross the busy street. He's often out there waiting before the crossing guards get there.

The historic Zephyr Lodge on the shore of Liberty Lake may go up for sale soon. It's owned by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and there isn't enough money to run and maintain the 52 acre property that also includes a softball field, volleyball court, trails and and outdoor chapel.

The city of Spokane Valley is prepariing to adopt new maximum exemption levels that will reduce the number of proposed building projects that have to go through a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review. The new maximum will sharply increse the number of multi-family units allowed before a SEPA review is triggered.

Road work is here

It must be spring, because road work is starting in Spokane Valley. Yesterday I drove down Pines Road and stormwater improvement work has begun near Alki. Yesterday crews were working in the southbound lanes and traffic was down to one lane. After the work is complete, the giant puddle that forms in the northbound lanes whenever it rains should be a thing of the past.

Work is starting today on the Sullivan Road corridor between Sprague Ave. and I-90 and on Sprague between Sullivan and Evergreen Road. Crews will be working to install traffic management cameras and link the traffic signals together. The westbound Sprague curb lane and the northbound Sullivan curb lane are closed, so there may be more congestion than usual. The project is expect to last through mid-May and access to businesses will remain open.

Saturday’s highlights

Michelle Schimmels, special education teacher at McDonald Elementary School, works with first-grade student Cooper Brummett during recess March 29. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Good Monday morning everyone. Let's start off the week by taking a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story in McDonald Elementary School special education teacher Michelle Schimmels, who recently received a Meritorious Service Award from the Central Valley School District after seven different people nominated her. She works with high needs children and was lauded for having a way of understanding what the children need.

Community gardens are booming in Liberty Lake. The city recently finished adding 12 raised garden beds to its garden at the arboretum. There are also 11 raised beds at Rocky Hill Park and demand has been high. The city provides everything except the seeds.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a special meeting last week with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. They used their time to lobby for help in getting the final bit of funding to replace the west Sullivan Bridge and to ask about moving the Bridging the Valley railroad overpass projects back to the forefront.

Thursday’s highlights

Making a scene: Quinn Johnson, who plays Bobby Strong, and Shelby Horton, who plays Hope, in the University High School drama department production of “Urinetown” perform a scene during a dress rehearsal March 29 at U-Hi. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

I was driving home yesterday when I realized I hadn't posted highlights from that day's Valley Voice. Whoops. So here we are with an entry in the “better late than never” category. The city of Spokane Valley is looking at changes to several law enforcement related contracts it has with Spokane County. Both jurisdictions are interested in making changes that will save the city money.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the University High School production of “Urinetown” that opens on April 11. She also has a story on the National Geographic Bee at Pacific Lutheran University that will include several local students, including two from Spokane Valley.

Lisa did triple duty and also has a story on longtime Inland Northwest Blood Center volunteer Ernie Dieterich, who died recently. If you donated blood at the organizations' mobile donor coach, you might have seen him. He would drive the coach, hand out juice and do whatever else was needed.

Reward offered for Otis Orchards vandals

Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest is offering a reward for information leading the arrest and conviction of vandals who damaged more than 15 cars in Otis Orchards this week. Stometime between Monday night and Tueday morning, more than a dozen vehicles on or near Wellesley Avenue between Campbell Road and the Idaho state line had their windows broken out.

Anyone will information on the vandalism spree is asked to call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (800) 222-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

Liberty Lake council meeting postponed

This is just a reminder that the Liberty Lake City Council meeting orginally scheduled for today has been postponed to Tuesday, April 9. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

But don't despair. Tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting is good to go. The highlight of the meeting should be a report on gang enforcement and property crimes as well as a discussion on proposed changes to the city's law enforcement contract. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

Pines Road in 1908

Take a look at this picture showing Pines Road (facing south) just north of what is now Sprague Ave. in 1908. You can click here to see a picture of the same view today taken by SR photographer Jesse Tinsley as part of his weekly Then and Now feature. What a difference 95 years makes.

Saturday’s highlights

Rick Kelley is closing Kelley’s Thrift in Fairfield after 39 years in business. It’s the only grocery store between Tekoa and Spokane. When he was a student at Liberty High School he worked there as a box boy. In 1973, Kelley took over the business from his father. SR photo/Dan Pelle

It's such a wonderful day out that I'll forgive it for being Monday. But if it's Monday's it is also time for some Valley Voice highlights from Satuday. Kelley's Thrift, a longtime fixture in Fairfield, is closing its doors soon. The grocery store is the one only available to residents in the area. Owner Rick Kelley says too many people are doing their shopping in Spokane and Spokane Valley and he can't afford to keep the doors open.

The Contract Based Education alternative school run by the West Valley School District is looking for a new name. Several options are being considered, but one option that seems to be rising to the top is Dishman Hills High School.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners voted last week to purchase iPads for themselves, but made several suggestions with an eye toward lowering the cost.

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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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