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Spokane Valley

Archive for January 2013

Spokane Valley news

New Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Chief Bryan Collins. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

In case you missed today's paper, there are a couple of good Spokane Valley stories in there. The Spokane Valley Fire Department picked a new fire chief Monday, Bryan Collins of California. The board of commissioners and two panels of community members interviewed the top six candidates last week. There was one internal candidate in the top six as well as someone from the Spokane Fire Department.

Reporter Mike Prager got a look inside the former Harley Davidson dealership on East Trent in Spokane Valley Monday that will be the new home of SCRAPS. Elected officials from Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County were there to unveil the building and talk about the remodeling work to be done this year. The County hopes to have the new regional shelter up and running by Jan. 1, 2014.

Helpful links for special election

Some voters may have a ballot in their mailbox by now since there's a special election coming up.

There are three propositions for the city of Spokane, but four more issues are out there for residents in other areas of Spokane County.

The Spokesman-Review “Elections Center” went live last week and we have related coverage and information regarding this year's measures including:

  • Rockford's proposition to contract with Spokane County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement.
  • East Valley School District's $65 million bond to build a new performing arts center, athletics facility and renovate buildings.
  • Orchard Prairie School District's replacement levy to help fund field trips, jobs and sending students to other districts.
  • Newman Lake Fire and Rescue's replacement levy to fund medical training for volunteer firefighters.

Ballots are due by Feb. 12. You can drop your ballot off at a local library and once that's done, you can track your ballot online

Saturday’s highlights

A kitten cries for attention after a staffer at SCRAPS placed adoption papers and a pet license on its cage Tuesday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

What is it about Monday mornings and fresh snow? Mondays also mean highlights from the Saturday Valley Voice, so here we go. Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story with some details about upcoming changes at SCRAPS as well as a look back at the organization's history. Can you guess what the most popular cat name is?

The Ambulance Service Board, which includes the Spokane Valley Fire Department as well as most fire departments and districts in Spokane County, has negotiated a contract extension with AMR that includes a $100 reduction in the base cost of an ambulance trip starting in February.

A Liberty Lake Police Officer had an interesting day last week when a fleeing suspect rammed his patrol car. The officer was unhurt, but the brand new police car was damaged. The suspect was arrested the next day in Spokane.

Nicole also has a story on a group of pickleball players that are looking for new blood. The majority of the players are seniors, but all ages are welcome.

Top names for Spokane pets

Is your cat's name Missy or Smokey? If so, they're a statistic.

Spokane Regional Animal Protection Services dug up the top names for dogs and cats out of their data they've been collecting for the past couple of years and if you thought there were a lot of dogs named Buddy, you were right. 

When you adopt a pet, you may fill out a licensing form which includes a space for a name. That's where this information comes from.

When S.C.R.A.P.S. combines with the city of Spokane's animal control, we'll be able to take a bigger look at what names are the most popular in the entire county. This only covers unincorporated Spokane County, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. 

New home for regional animal control

Regional animal control is expected to find a new home at the former Schumate Harley-Davidson building, according to a Spokane Regional Animal Protection Service news release.

The building, located at 6815 E. Trent, will be retrofitted to handle animal control for all of Spokane County.

Spokane City Council voted to switch to country services for their animal control, breaking off their ties to SpokAnimal after three decades of contracts.

S.C.R.A.P.S. will begin their 20-year contract with the city of Spokane beginning in 2014. They’ll take over animal licensing and combine their data with the city’s as well.

The new contract does not increase local taxes and the city of Spokane will pay the county $561,000 per year, according to prior reports.

A news conference is being held later today to talk about the site and host a tour for public officials and local media outlets.

Correction: Our original blog post named the building as Latus Harley-Davidson based on information from Spokane County news releases. 

Wanted: Pickleball players

A local pickleball group is looking for new players to join them during the week.

If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s a Washington sport invented in 1965 in Bainbridge Island. The game is like tennis, but also similar to ping pong.

The group is mostly seniors, but the game is open to players of all ages.

We have a story appearing in Saturday’s Spokane Valley Voice featuring some of the players you'll meet Sunday including Sunny Lynne Gray who is the group's ambassador (above).

If you don’t know how to play, they’re hosting a clinic Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. It costs $5 to play, which covers the cost of a paddle. Prospective players should bring a notepad to write notes because they’ll be learning a lot about the rules.

An open pickleball game starts at 4 p.m. They’re located at 19619 E. Cataldo Ave. at the HUB Sports Center.

Suspicious person follows Greenacres student

The Spokane Valley Police Department is reporting that a suspicious person followed a Greenacres Middle School student home on Wednesday afternoon. The student's mother called police to report the incident on Thursday. She told police that her daughter was walking home from a bus stop in the area of Eighth and Hodges when a car started following her, according to a police press release.

The car matched the girl's speed and the driver watched her until she entered her home, the press release said. The car was described as a silver four-door newer Honda-type car. The driver is described only as having dark hair. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Spokane River public access hearing tonight

This is just a reminder that the Spokane Valley Planning Commission is having a public hearing tonight on a draft public access plan for the Spokane River. The plan is part of the city's state-mandated update of its Shoreline Master Program. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.

Today’s highlights

The Lilac Festival Royalty Coronation is scheduled for Sunday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Good Thursday morning, everyone. I got my wish. It's supposed to be above freezing today! As we wait for our mini heat wave, we've got a few highlights from today's Valley Voice to go over.

Ballots for the Feb. 12 election will begin arriving in the mail this weekend and there are several Spokane Valley area issues on the ballot. Reporter Nicole Hensley outlines the East Valley School District construction bond and the Orchard Prairie School Distict levy. There are also details on the Rockford law enforcement services levy and the Newman Lake Fire and Rescue EMS levy renewal.

Nicole also has collected information on the 14 members of this year's Lilac Royal Court. One of the girls will be selected the Lilac Queen on Sunday. There are students from Central Valley High School, Freeman High School, and West Valley High School in the mix.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a story on the Millwood History Enthusiasts group that meets weekly to collect information on Millwood's history, including photos, recorded interviews or written stories.

A Q&A with the Lilac Court

These 14 women embody leadership and community service to earn a Lilac crown and about $18,000 in scholarship funds.

Each year a Lilac queen is chosen along with her court of princesses. It’s a tradition in Spokane, so we talked to each girl about what they’d like to see in Spokane.

Their Q&A will be featured in the Spokane Valley Voice tomorrow in print, but you can read how they answered at our picture story here.

Here’s the questions we asked them. How would you have answered?

1. What is on your Spokane wish list?

2. What teacher inspired you and why?

3. What is at the top of your bucket list?

4. How would you describe yourself in one word?

(The Lilac Festival Royalty Coronation is scheduled for Sunday. One of these women will be crowned queen and more will recieve scholarship funds. | SR photo: Jesse Tinsely)

High school student rediscovers family’s dark past

Reporters described the star witness of a Spokane murder trial, Lena Malito, as a pretty Italian woman clad in black, according to Spokane Daily Chronicle archives.

When she spoke from the witness stand, she had such a low tone in her voice, reports said, the prosecutor could not hear her.

On Labor Day 1932, her ex-husband died, Peter Malito, after being reportedly shot by Charles Potestio, a man she would later marry after he was acquitted.

The trial went on for several days in December. Spectators were turned away when the additional 50 seats were filled up at the courtroom at Spokane County Superior Court. Some jurors were sent home when they said they opposed capital punishment.

Potestio claimed self defense throughout the trial because Malito and his friend Mauro were stalking him at local hotels and saying they were “going to get him,” reports said.

Though the trial was over 80 years ago, Lena’s descendants live on and are scrambling to piece together what happened. The trial was heavily publicized in local papers and called an Italian romance.

We spoke with 14-year-old Joselynn Tensley who stumbled upon this forgotten history while working on a school project at Central Valley High School. Her great-great grandmother was Lena Malito.

In Saturday’s Spokesman-Review Valley Voice, you’ll read more about her search and what they learned about their family that had been swept under the rug over the years.

(Lena Malito portrait appeared in numerous issues of the Spokesman-Review and Spokane Daily Chronicle during the 1932 murder trial. | The Spokesman-Review photo archive)

Today’s highlights

Central Valley High School’s marching band practices on Saturday at Eastern Washington University’s Jim Thorpe fieldhouse in Cheney, for a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform in the Presidential Inauguration Parade. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Sorry I'm so late with the highlights from today's Valley Voice. Let's just chalk it up to being one of those days. But we do have some great stuff for you. Reporter Nicole Hensley stopped by to chat with the Central Valley High School marching band before they left for their trip tp play in a parade at the inauguration of President Obama. The band is one of only 14 high school groups selected to march in the parade.

The Spokane Valley City Council selected five candidates to interview for a vacant city council position. Those selected include former state legislative candidate Amy Biviano, current city planning commissioners Kevin Anderson and Rod Higgins, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council executive director Linda Thompson and real estate appraiser Samuel Wood.

Former Spokane Valley Fire Department Capt. Jon Sprague argued before the department's Civil Service Commission this week that he was improperly fired in October. He was fired from the department after refusing to stop sending religious emails to a group of fellow firefighters using the department's email system.

Nicole has a second story out of Central Valley High School on the school's world geography class that will be going away at the end of the school year. Students presented information and food from countries around the world that they had researched.

CV marching band ready for takeoff

It’s almost time for the Central Valley High School marching band to take flight for their Washington D.C. dreams.

They leave Thursday for their date with the presidential inauguration parade next week. They’ll march right by the White House along with musicians from each state in the union which includes 14 other bands.

They practiced over the weekend along with their Color Guard who will be waving their decorated flags. Lindsey Kridler has never been to the East Coast before so this trip will be a first for her. She’s looking forward to the museums and tours at the Capitol.

“We’re all very excited about it, working very hard at practices and getting ready,” Kridler said last week at Eastern Washington University’s Fieldhouse.

Because it’s an off season for marching band, all the gym space at CVHS was checked out, band director Eric Parker said. The Fieldhouse was the biggest venue they could get into at the last minute.

A more in-depth version of this story will appear in Thursday’s Spokane Valley Voice and will include an analysis of the repertoire from the band director and thoughts from students on tomorrow’s trip.

(Coordination is key to the perfect flag wave for a Central Valley High School Color Guard member. Lindsey Kridler practices her skills Friday for next week's presidential inauguration parade. Photo Nicole Hensley)

CV students study the world

World geography courses will no longer be offered to students at Central Valley High School starting next year.

The state is changing their curriculum to encompass world history instead, teacher Krista Larsen said, but this does not affect her job at the school.

That means last week’s “World’s Fair” project was the last time students got a chance to highlight a country of their choice for a parade of students interested in seeing their peers’ work and the samples of food they brought in.

One student chose Brazil and to really make her presentation stand out, she brought in a preserved piranha from a friend’s trip to the Amazon. She says the eyes are fake, but the rest of it is quite real.

In Thursday’s Spokane Valley Voice, you’ll read more about the students’ presentations last week including why Larsen wants her students to learn about the world outside of the Pacific Northwest.

(On loan to CVHS student Hannah Van Matre, the above piranha was preserved, dried as a tourism souvenir. She used it to display the Brazilian wildlife in her presentation. Photo Nicole Hensley)

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side, of course. Why this particular chicken decided he needed to cross I-90 near Argonne this morning is a mystery, however. It took a SCRAPS animal control officer, four WSP troopers and a DOT employee about 45 minutes to capture the wayward bird during this morning's commute. He seemed intent on evading capture. Maybe he was on his way to visit a girlfriend?

Whatever the rooster's intent, he's now locked up at the SCRAPS shelter waiting for his owner to claim him. “We hope the owner comes and gets him soon,” said SCRAPS animal protection operations manager Nicole Montano in a press release. “He is really a beautiful bird and we'd like to get him back home as soon as possible.”

If you know where this bird belongs, call SCRAPS at (509) 477-2984. Photo courtesy of SCRAPS.

Vacant house burns

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Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to a report of smoke and flames seen coming from a home at 8815 E. Broadway at 7 a.m. today. It was quickly upgraded to a working fire. The flames caused extensive damage to the home, according to Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford.

Neighbors told firefighters that the house had been vacant for about a month but the owner had been inside doing repairs recently, Clifford said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and a a dollar estimate for damages is not yet available. Broadway Ave. was shut down while firefighters worked. Photos courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Pines Road partial shutdown Wednesday

This is just a reminder that the center lanes of Pines Road will be closed Wednesday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for work on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Montgomery Drive. The southbound curb lane on Pines Road is also tentatively planned for a shutdown Saturday through Monday. That's the intersection with the I-90 on and off ramps, so you might want to find another route for the day. 

Preparing for the Stinky Sneaker rivalry game

It’s almost time for a victor to be declared in Tuesday’s Stinky Sneaker rivalry game between Central Valley and University High School.

This year’s theme: Shoempa Loompa, which is a play on the mythical people from the book Charlie and Chocolate Factory.

Because the theme must be tied to the coveted trophy, a sneaker, thus the Shoempa Loompa, according to students presenting at Monday’s Central Valley School District board meeting.

You’ll recognize the Central Valley H.S. fans by their blue t-shirts and the cheer leaders who are reportedly dressing up as Shoempa Loompas.

The girls’ basketball game begins at 5 p.m. at their Spokane Arena and the boys’ team begins at 7:15 p.m. For pricing information, check here.

Interesting to note: music will be provided at the game by members of the Central Valley marching band and once the game is over, some of their instruments will be packed away for a nearly 2,500 mile long drive to Washington D.C. where they’ll be picked up once again for a parade that happens only once a year.

In Thursday’s paper, look for a story on the marching band’s last weekend of practices leading up to their flight to Washington D.C. for the President Obama’s inauguration day parade.

Spokane man accused of stealing $113,271 in workers’ comp

A Spokane man is accused of workers’ compensation fraud, stealing about $113,271 in benefits while operating his own business after claiming a workplace injury, according to a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries news release.

Doyle R. Wheeler, 36, claims a pickup truck backed into him at his workplace, Toby’s Body and Fender, in 2008 and he was unable to work due to those injuries. He collected benefits from 2008 to 2011, but those benefits stopped while the Department of Labor & Industries investigated Wheeler.

The Spokesman Review's Valley Voice featured Wheeler in a 2011 story about his pen making business where Wheeler said he started his business after being unable to work.

Investigators mentioned that story in their news release adding he was succeeding at his businesses while receiving those benefits.

Video taken during the investigation shows no sign of injury after the accident, the news release said. Wheeler would arrive to his physical therapy appointments with the apperance of a sagging shoulder and stiff movements, but would move with ease shortly after he left the appointment, the release added.

They suspect he operated the following businesses while receiving benefits: The Pensmith, Ammo Head Design and Ammo Head Hydrographics.

Wheeler was arraigned in Spokane County Superior Court last week and faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. The court could also order him to repay those benefits collected through fraud.

Wheeler declined to speak with The Spokesman-Review, but his attorney, Phillip Wetzel, said Wheeler is looking for his day in court and is confident he’ll be vindicated.

The manager of L&I's fraud prevention and compliance program, Elizabeth Smart, said this type of fraud damaged their system and steals from taxpayers, employers and injured workers who deserve benefits, the news release said. 

According to court records filed in 2012, Wheeler faces suits from Razor Capital LLC for money owed. In 2010, he filed for injuctive relief against the Freedom Debt Center. A prior version of this story mentioned a bankruptcy case out of Deer Park of $1,282,433 that was not related to Wheeler.


(Photo above: In a February 2011 photo Doyle Wheeler holds a display box of pens he created. Wheeler uses spent bullet casings, deer antlers and other materials to create pens and knives. )

Saturday’s highlights

Greenacres Elementary School science teacher, Shelly Mahn, works with fifth-grader Ian Rusbuldt during a physical and chemical changes assignment Friday. The school has received a second School of Distinction award from the Center for Educational Effectiveness. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Well, that was a nice bit of freezing rain we had this morning. It was coating my windshield faster than I could scrape it off. Now it's time to go over some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on Greenacres Elementary School being named a School of Distinction for its improving test scores. The teachers use a new math curriculum and interactive whiteboards to help students learn.

The city of Spokane Valley hosted a public meeting to talk about the replacement of the west Sullivan Bridge. They also outlined several construction projects that will take place this spring and summer, including the expansion of Sullivan Park and the grind and overlay of Sullivan Road north of the Spokane River.

River access was also the topic of discussion at the Spokane Valley Planning Commission meeting last week. The commission is reviewing a draft public access plan that is part of the city's state-mandated update of its Shoreline Master Program.

A Spokane Valley Fire Department engine rear-ended on the freeway at the end of December has made the trip back to the factory to see if it is totalled or not. The impact crushed part of the back bumper, popped welded joints and cracked the truck body, but the condition of the frame is unknown. The engine cost about $500,000 when it was purchased several years ago.

Today’s highlights

Role call: Shauna Cozza, 7, gives a humorous monologue about the existence of fairies Monday as she auditions for a part in the upcoming Theater Arts for Children production of “The Three Musketeers,” at the TAC headquarters in Spokane Valley. TAC will host a silent auction and buffet Saturday. The Star Tacs, the theater’s improv group, will perform. Tickets for the fundraiser are $30 per person or $50 per couple and are available by calling (509) 995-6718 or by sending an email to The theater is at 2114 N. Pines Road, Suite 3S. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I'm not sure where the morning went. I was so busy working on stories for Saturday's Valley Voice I forgot to write up some highlights from today's Valley Voice. I blame the sleep deprivation.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted this week to approve a 20-year contract with the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) for animal control services. City staff said the county hopes to have a new regional shelter complete by the beginning of 2014. The city of Spokane is expected to vote on a contract with SCRAPS later this month.

New Valley Voice reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on the crud going around local schools that is resulting in a high number of absences. There's been a short term reporting change in the newsroom and Nicole will be working for the Valley Voice for a couple months while Lisa Leinberger tries her hand at the night cops beat.

It seems as though New Year's Eve and New Years Day were busy for local law enforcement and the city of Liberty Lake is no different. Officers there responded to quite a few calls on New Year's Day, ranging from a bar brawl to a 13-year-old boy arrested for assaulting his mother.

Sullivan Bridge meeting tonight

The city of Spokane Valley will host a public meeting tonight to discuss plans to replace the west Sullivan Bridge that currently carries southbound traffic over the Spokane River. The meeting will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. There will be presentations at 4 and 6:30 p.m.; city staff will be available for questions and input in between.

Tonight's topics include plans to replace the bridge and get the final $4 million in funding needed for the project. There will also be discussions on plans to modify the storm drains on both bridges and to resurface Sullivan Road from Florat Pit Road to Trent Avenue.

Clear out those fire hydrants

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has sent out a plea to Spokane Valley area residents to clear snow from around fire hydrants. Snow plows and snow blowers are building up berms around the hydrants that can slow firefighters if they have to hook up to a hydrant to fight a fire. So take a look around your home and if you see a hydrant, shovel it out. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Saturday’s highlights

Roger Lynn, transitional pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ, sits in his office at the church on Wednesday. He is recovering from blood clots in his lungs, which caused an emergency stay in the hospital over the holidays. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I managed to dig my car out and make it to work this morning to bring you some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. But first, I must apologize for my sporadic posting this last couple of weeks. Between the time off for the holidays and early deadlines I wasn't able to post much and last week I had to make a last minute trip to Montana to bring my daughter back to college. But everything should go back to normal now, so let's get going.

When the Rev. Roger Lynn of the Veradale United Church of Christ got sick before Christmas, he took the unusual step of sending out mass emails and Facebook posts about his condition from his ICU hospital bed. Lynn, who is now back to work, spoke to me about why he was so forthcoming about his health issues.

People who drive the west end of Spokane Valley have probably noticed that the brand new Spokane Valley Fire Station 6 near the I-90 Sprague off ramp is finished and open for business. I spent several hours there last week hoping to go along on a call, but it was a quiet day. I was able to chat with the crew about how they like the new station and they told me they have had lots of people stop in to take a tour.

In a separate story are details about how the fire department's carbon monoxide detectors saved the day again. The detectors are attached to each first aid kit and firefighters were recently able to save six people from carbon monoxide poisoning when they arrived to help someone with flu-like symptoms and their alarm sounded. This is the second such save in recent weeks.

Vera gets power restored in southeast Valley

A power outage that left an estimated 1,300 customers of Vera Power & Light in southeastern Spokane Valley without electricity today for nearly two hours was the result of equipment failure at a substation, officials said.
Power was restored by 1:25 p.m., a utility spokeswoman said.
Vera is a publicly owned utility providing water and electricity to about 10,000 customers in Spokane Valley.

The utility, which fielded several calls from residents worried about the frigid temperatures, credited its work crews for quickly finding the problem and getting it fixed.

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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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