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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for February 2013

Benches stolen from Saltese Cemetery

The caretakers of Saltese Cemetery are looking for missing benches that are similar to these sculpted by Concrete Works, a Spokane Valley company. Photo courtesy of Concrete Works.

Apparently two benches featuring decorative rabbits have turned up missing from the Saltese Cemetery. The benches had been inside a gazebo. The benches had been purchased about 10 years ago as a nod to the wild rabbits that regularly hop throughout the cemetery. Anyone who has information on where the benches are located is asked to call Mary and Bill Cabbage at (509) 926-0895. There is a reward for their return. Click here for more details.

Today’s highlights

Washington State Patrol trooper Jon McKee, left, and Airway Heights police officer Mike Suniga haul their cold bodies out of Liberty Lake on Feb. 22 after taking their 16th polar plunge of the day in support of Special Olympics Washington. SR photo/Dan Pelle

There's a bunch of great stuff in today's Valley Voice. We'll start with a small group of people freezing for the cause - 10 super plungers who dipped into chilly Liberty Lake 24 times in one day to raise money for Special Olympics. One of those plungers was Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus, who raised more than $4,000.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on a group of Centennial Middle School students getting ready to participate in the Inland Northwest Regional Science Bowl. They will answer knowledge questions and have a small car they built haul around a load of salt.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a day-long winter retreat Tuesday and one of the topics of discussion was the lodging tax. They discussed bills governing the lodging tax making their way through the state legislature and whether the city should change the procedure it uses to award the funds.

As for this story out of Liberty Lake, the headline says it all: “Broken-down car stolen by tow truck.” Talk about an unusual theft report.

Park planning meeting

A farm- themed play structure and a splash pad grace Greenacres Park. SR file photo.

The Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a public meeting tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, to talk about updates to its Parks and Recreation Master Plan. People are invited to come and give their input on what new parks or new elements they would like to see. This is your chance to make a pitch for a dog park, an Olympic sized swimming pool or whatever else you think is needed.  

Back at it again

I'm back in front of the computer today after spending all day yesterday at the Spokane Valley City Council's winter retreat. I'll have a story in Thursday's Valley Voice on the discussion about lodging tax and I'll tackle their 2.5 hour discussion about trash in Saturday's Valley Voice. They talked about a few other things, too, and I'll try to work in as much as I can. Just let me say that even the most comfortable chair feels really uncomfortable after eight hours…..

Saturday’s highlights

Tony Ludiker has won five national fiddle championships, played with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony and trained many local musicians. Photo courtesy Tony Ludiker.

Good Monday morning, everyone. We started with snow and now I see sunshine. What's next? While we ponder that, let's take a look at Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Jill Barville talked the national grand champion fiddler Tony Ludiker, a native of Spokane Valley. A fundraiser has been organized for Wednesday to raise money to help Ludiker with medical expenses for his kidney cancer after he found himself out of a job and with no health insurance.

Opportunity Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend with tours, a catered dinner, live entertainment and a special worship service. The church hasn't gone far since it began meeting in what is now the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. You still have time if you would like to attend the festivities; reservations are being accepted through Wednesday.

Reporter Nicole Hensley stopped by to check out an iPad training session for West Valley School District teachers. They discovered a wide variety of apps that can help in the classroom.

The town of Rockford is evaluating what to do next after a proposed law enforcement services levy failed at the polls this month. The town hoped to collect enought money to pay for the town's contract with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Today’s highlights

Ralph and Geraldine Reifenberger live near Fairfield on farmland that has a 97-year-old barn on the property. They have been married for 63 years. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We packed a ton of news into today's Valley Voice, starting with a profile of new Spokane Valley City Councilman Rod Higgins. His background is mostly in the mining industry, but it includes detrours as a seed farmer, mail sorter and a broker.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has two reports from the East Valley School District. One story looks at the aftermath of the district's fifth bond failure. The second looks at the district's plans to take over the former Walker Army Reserve Center off Sullivan Road. The property was declared surplus and isn't costing the district any money to acquire.

The Spokane Valley City Council met to talk about road construction projects in 2013. The Mayor also gave SCOPE an award and key to the city in recognitition of their positive impact on the community.

Correspondent Cindy Hval tops it all off with a Love Story on Fairfield couple Ralph and Geraldine Reifenberger.  

SCOPE honored by Spokane Valley Mayor

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey gave SCOPE a certificate of appreciation and a key to the city at last night's city council meeting as part of his monthly community recognition award program. The director of SCOPE, Rick Scott, was there to receive the award on behalf of the organization's 600 volunteers and crack a couple of jokes. The room was packed with SCOPE volunteers and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich came out for the occasion.

You can see my story on the council meeting in Thursday's Valley Voice, which will include the SCOPE award as well as the council's discussion on this year's road construction projects.  

Saturday’s highlights

During auditions for “I Hate Hamlet,” fight coordinator Brian Rempel, left, and Ignite! Community Theatre’s artistic director, Scott Finlayson cross swords, while Richard Donnelly waits to audition for the role of John Barrymore. “I Hate Hamlet” opens April 12. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

I'm bringing everyone the highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice a day late this week. I took yesterday off to spend a little quality time with my comfy recliner and my lap cat.

The city of Spokane Valley hosted a public meeting last week to talk about a proposed stormwater project planned for this summer in the Valleyview neighborhood. There has been problems with runoff on the west side of Dickey Road washing out some areas and flooding a street. The city plans to install underground piping to take the runoff down the street to a swale it will built on land it owns on 11th Avenue.

Correspondent Jill Barville wrote a story on the new home of Ignite! Community Theatre. The group is now putting on performances in the Spokane Valley Partners building. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that the city of Millwood is on solid financial footing thanks to increases in water rates and not spending as much as budgeted in some areas.

Reporter Nicole Hensley reports that the Central Valley School District is looking as new textbooks for history, civics, psychology and sociology classes. The books the district currently uses haven't been updated since the 1990's. Some students and their parents are helping evaluate possible textbooks.

Do you sew?

If sitting in front of your sewing machine is your happy place, you might want to check out the event going on Saturday in Fairfield. The Top Stitch is putting on a show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center on Main Street. There will be fabrics by the yard, patterns, books and project kits available. Sewing machine tune ups will be avaiable for $25.

To reach Community Center, head south on Highway 27 from Spokane Valley. Once you get to Fairfield, take a left on Main Street and head up the hill to the center.

The other side of the story

This afternoon I got a call from a woman who didn't give her name. She said she grew up in the Millwood house that was donated to the Spokane Valley Fire Department for a training burn this week. Her family sold the house last summer and it is the new owner that donated it to the department for training. She talked of her experiences growing up there and playing in the neighborhood. Her childhood pets are buried in the back yard. She said she was sad to see the house burn Tuesday but is glad that firefighters were able to get some useful training out of it.

How old is too old?

Two teenage boys were cited for racing their cars up Sullivan Road Tuesday even though one driver said the 48-year-old witness was “too old” and shouldn't be believed, according to a Spokane Valley Police Department press release.

The witness called police at 12:40 p.m. to report seeing two cars speeding north on Sullivan and that one cut him off and nearly made him crash near the I-90 overpass. The two ran through a stop sign at Wellesley and entered the East Valley High School parking lot, the witness reported.

The school resource officer contacted the two boys. One of the drivers had an instructional permit and the other had an intermediate license that prohibits passengers under the age of 20. Both cars had passengers, police said.

One driver was cited for reckless driving and no valid operator's license. The other was cited for racing and violation of an intermediate license restriction.

Today’s highlights

A firefighter with the Spokane Valley Fire Department hauls a hose Tuesday through the front yard of a house at 9621 E. Empire Ave. that was donated to the department for a training exercise. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Today is Thursday, so join me in celebrating the fact that it is almost Friday and there's a new Valley Voice to look over. I have to single out SR photographer Tyler Tjomsland for taking a great photo of a traning fire in Millwood. The house was donated to the Spokane Valley Fire Department, which spent Tuesday training in it before they burned it to the ground.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a trio of stories today, one of them looking at the fifth failure of an East Valley School District construction bond. Superintendent John Glenewinkel said the bond lacked parental support and the district will look at whether to try again with a trimmed down version.

Nicole also talked to 89-year-old Newman Lake resident Lee Hutchison, who travels four times a week by bus to volunteer at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She was recently named employee of the month in recognition of her tireless work.

Theater Arts of Children is getting ready to stage a production of “The Three Musketeers.” Nicole spoke to some of the actors preparing for opening night.

Bettman Road project meeting tonight

The city of Spokane Valley is hosting a public meeting tonight to talk about a planned stormwater project along the east side of Bittman Road and Dickey Street between 11th and 14th Avenues this summer. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Park Place Assisted Living, 511 S. Park Road. The project calls for swales, installing underground pipes and possibly removing some landscaping in the public right of way. Call (509) 720-5013 for more details on the project.

Burning it down

I spent some time shivering in the cold this morning watching the Spokane Valley Fire Department doing training fires in a donated house near Empire Ave. and Woodruff Road in Millwood. The training is mainly for the benefit of eight recruits going through the department's training academy. I spoke to one who called himself the “oldest recruit,” a 51-year-old former KXLY radio DJ. Expect to see heavy smoke and some flames from the house later this afternoon. I'm told they plan to burn it to the ground starting at about 2 p.m. Look for my story and photos by SR photographer Tyler Tjomsland in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Saturday’s highlights

Liam Kennedy, left, and Jaden Conwell, both 8 years old and students at Adams Elementary, read pen pal letters from schoolchildren in Ghana, Wednesday. The most recent letters included talk of Christmas activities. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I'd wish everyone a good Monday morning, but it's no longer morning. At least it's still Monday! Once again we have some Saturday Valley Voice highlights to mention. The Spokane Valley Police Department saw great success on emphasis patrols for vehicle prowling and garage burglaries at the end of 2012. The department is currently looking for a way to keep that success going within current staffing. The effort took four officers off patrol and reassigned them for a month.

Reporter Nicole Hensley came up with a couple of great stories. Fourth graders at Adams Elementary have been sending letters to pen pals in Ghana. The students also raise money to help pay for school improvements for their pen pals, such as tables in the cafeteria and used computers. Central Valley High School basketball score keeper Bill Pierce has been inducted into the school's Hall of Fame for his three decades of service to the school.

Nichole also has a report on how the city of Liberty Lake allocated its lodging tax money.

Today’s highlights

Liberty Lake Police Officer Jeff Jones. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Another Thursday means more Valley Voice highlights to look over. The Spokane Valley City Council had to turn to a coin toss this week in selecting a new council member after three tie votes. Rod Higgins, who has served on the city's planning commission for the last year, won the toss and was sworn in as the newest council member.

There's a new police officer on patrol in Liberty Lake. Officer Jeff Jones joined the police department in January after working as a Pend Oreille County sheriff's deputy for eight years. He's adjusting to a busier pace and a much shorter distance between calls.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on a flyer the Citizens for Responsible Taxation has sent out opposing the East Valley School District bond. The school district says the information on the flyer is incorrect. The group has opposed school bonds and levys throughout the county in recent years.

A coin toss decides it

The appointment of a new Spokane Valley City Council member took an unusual twist last night when the six remaining council members had three tie votes in a row. They decided the issue with a coin toss. The new council member is Rod Higgins, who has served on the city's planning commission for the last year. Check out my story in tomorrow's Valley Voice for more details.

And the winner is…

….to be determined at tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. Tonight the council's first order of business will be to appoint a new council member to fill the vacancy created by the resignation by council woman Brenda Grassel when she moved outside the city limits. Interviews of the top finalists were held during last week's meeting. The newest council member will be immediately sworn in and put to work. The action begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.

Saturday’s highlights

Christina Humrich, Kaylie Maresh, Sarah Wu, Rachael Radavich and Janne Kaschnitter participate during class time in Company Ballet School’s old dance studio on Jan 23. An additional dance space is under construction. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We managed to pack a bunch of news into Saturday's Valley Voice, so let's get on to some highlights. Neighbors in the area of Sprague Ave. and Hodges Road are unhappy with a proposed development called Covey Glen North that would put 46 homes on 8.57 acres. They voiced their displeasure at a hearing before the Spokane Valley Hearing Examiner last week.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a story on the expansion of the Company Ballet School in Millwood. The school is adding new space that will be used to offer classes to adults and children. Reporter Nicole Hensley takes a look at a series of Spokane Valley history talks being offered by the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum and the Spokane Valley Library. The first talk is set for Wednesday.

Nicole also has information on a new Spokane County Library District plan to give every middle school student a library card that can be used online or at the library.

Wilma Turner, the owner of Iron Horse Kennel in Newman Lake, has appealed the decision by SCRAPS to not renew her commercial kennel license after repeated inspection failures. A hearing was held last week and there could be a recommendation as soon as this week. The Spokane County Commissioners will have the final say.

A firefighter balancing act

I was cleaning out my email today and found this photo sent to me on Monday. I was struck by how precariously the top firefighter is balanced as he cuts a hole in the roof of a home in the 21000 block of East Wellesley. It's a little hard to see in this small size, but his right foot is supported by the head of an axe driven into the roof. His left foot is on the metal ladder and a fellow firefighter is helping support him. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.)

The four people in the home got out without injury. The fire caused about $50,000 in damage, largely because the firefighters were forced to cut into the roof. The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Thursday’s highlights

Brett Rountree is overcome with emotion as she is announced as the 2013 Lilac queen on Sunday at the Bing Crosby Theater. Emily Staker, left, and Katie Heitkemper, right, look on. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Let's file this in the “better late than never” category. I wasn't able to post links to Thursday's Valley Voice because I was in hearings all morning and writing all afternoon. So, let's move on.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on the new Lilac Queen, Central Valley High School senior Brett Rountree. She spoke about what's next for her in her new role and her plans to study chemical engineering at Washington State University.

The Spokane Valley City Council interviewed five candidates for a vacant council position Tuesday. They talked about why they wanted to serve on the council and what they believed the city's most important issues are.

The Spokane Valley Planning Commission held a public hearing last week on the city's draft public access plan for the Spokane River. The plan is part of a state-mandated update of the city's Shoreline Master Program. There were several people in attendance at the hearing, but no one spoke out about the plan.

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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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Nina Culver Nina Culver covers city of Spokane Valley, Spokane Valley Fire Department, Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, Spokane County Fire District 8, Liberty Lake Police Department and the small towns of Fairfield and Rockford.

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