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Spokane Valley blog

Archive for March 2013

Spokane Valley man arrested by gang team

Spokane Valley resident Todd A. Sawyer, 27, was arrested at his home in the 7100 block of East Mansfield on Wednesday by the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team, according at a Spokane Valley Police Department press release. Police received information that Sawyer may be in possession of drugs and officers inspected his home, which is allowed under the terms of his probation, the release said. Officers reportedly spotted what they thought was a large amount of methamphetamine and got a search warrant. They seized about half a pound of the drug, the release said.

Sawyer has nine felony convictions for firearm and drug offenses. Sawyer was booked into jail for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Early morning fire injures two

Two people were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries around 1:30 a.m. today after a fire was reported at 4908 E. First in Spokane Valley. Firefighters found “flames coming out of every door and window” when they arrived, according to a Spokane Valley Fire Department press release. A neighbor spotted the flames and called 911. Click here for more details. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Today’s highlights

Taylor Gatts, a University High School senior, launched a nonprofit organization – Kids Against Cancer – for her culminating senior project. Gatts has been raising funds for children’s cancer research, working with children with cancer and even shaved her head to donate her hair to Locks of Love. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Today is Thursday, which means it is time for another round of Valley Voice highlights. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to University High School senior Taylor Gatts about the Kids Against Cancer nonprofit organization that she founded as her senior culminating project. She even shaved her head to donate her hair to Locks of Love to show support for children with cancer.

Children's Book Bank organizer Mike Frucci was recognized by Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey with a community recognition award this week. The book bank donates new and used books to children under the age of six in the Spokane area.

There is a group of women at the Broadway Court Estates independent living center that have been meeting at least once a week to create prayer shawls for a local ministry. They turned out 32 shawls in the first two months. They seem to be having a good time while they do it, laughing and joking while their hands work.

A man being arrested by a Liberty Lake Police officer tried the popular “Officer, these aren't my pants” defense when suspected oxycontin and drug paraphernalia were found in his pockets. He was apparently unable to identify the true owner of the pants, however.

Poppy’s Tavern robbery

Spokane Valley Police Cpl. Jim Wakefield assists the manager of Poppy’s Tavern up onto a sidewalk after she had her hands bound with zip ties and was robbed Wednesday morning by an armed gunman. She freed herself from the ties after about 10 minutes. SR photo/Dan Pelle

For those of you wanting more details on yesterday's armed robbery at Poppy's Tavern in Spokane Valley, reporter Tom Sowa has a story in today's paper. The manager of the bar, who has not been named by police, was reportedly tied up with zip ties before the robber made off with cash and two beers. The same woman was assaulted during a robbery at the bar in 2011. An arrest was made in that case. Click here to read Tom's story.

The future of Spokane Valley parks

If you missed the last public meeting on Spokane Valley's update of its Parks and Recreation Master Plan, you have one more chance. A meeting is scheuled from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. You'll be asked to give input on what amenities should be added to current parks and where future parks should be located. If you have a yearning for a skate park or a dog park, now is the time to give the city your two cents. For more information on the master plan update, call (509) 720-5401.

Saturday’s highlights

Chloe Chalfant, 13, a seventh-grader a East Farms, raises her hand during math class on March 6. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

There was a bunch of news packed into Saturday's Valley Voice. First is a primer on your commuting routes this summer - a story outlining all the road construction projects coming up this year in Spokane Valley. There's also a major project planned in Liberty Lake, the installation of a roundabout at Harvard Road and Mission Ave. Major projects are also coming to Argonne Road, Sullivan Road, Pines Road and Sprague Ave.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger had a story on the SeaPerch team at North Pines Middle School. The two students built an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) and won a regional contest. There are a series of fundraisers planned to send the team to the National Sea Perch Challenge in Indianapolis.

Now that Lisa is back, so is the East Farms Diary. This most recent entry focuses on discipline at the K-8 school. School staff report that older students typically don't mix with younger students and when they do, the older students are on their best behavior.

A Spokane County Superior Court Judge has ruled that the Hollywood Erotic Botique location on East Sprague in Spokane Valley is a public nuisance and in violation of the city's zoning ordinance. The court case is expected to continue, however, since the attorney representing the business owner indicated he was prepared to argue that the city's ordinance was unconstitutional.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department saw a large spike in reported firefighter injuries in 2012, but it is the result of a new focus on reporting every injury, no matter how slight. The number of arsons was also up in 2012, but that blip can be traced to an arson spree last summer than involved fires in dumpsters behind businesses.

Today’s highlights

Jerry Kienbaum talked about collecting snowmobiles for his museum in Greenacres on Monday. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

The top news in today's Valley Voice is reporter Lisa Leinberger's story on the East Valley School District's continuing transition to a K-8 education model. The district has had several meetings lately and heard emotional testimony from parents. On Tuesday they voted unanimously to moved the preschool and other special programs to East Valley Middle School in the fall.

Lisa also has a story on Spokane Valley resident Jerry Kienbaum, who has spent years amassing a collection of vintage snowmobiles. He runs the Northwest Museum of Vintage Snowmobiles.

Spokane County is planning several upgrades to the Argonne Road corridor north of the Spokane Valley city limits over the next few years, replacing pavement and adding sidewalks. The only project scheduled for this year is the replacement of the Bruce Road bridge over Deadman Creeek south of Mount Spokane Park Drive.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent some time Tuesday on how to avoid a bill of over $300,000 when new limits on the number of misdemeanor cases public defenders can handle take effect in October. That amount would be the city's share of seven new attorneys Spokane County might have to hire to help with the load. The increased cost would be charged to the city every year.

Rockford bank robbed

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is looking for the man pictured above, who is suspected of robbing the Bank of Fairfield branch in Rockford just after noon on Monday. According to a Sheriff's Office press release, bank employees told deputies that the man handed over a note demanding money. He could not be located when deputies arrived.

The man reportedly had a trimmed beard and square eye glasses. He was wearing a camouflage hat and blue jeans. Anyone with information on the identity of the man is asked to call Detective Kirk Keyser at (509) 477-6611.  

Thefts at trailheads on the rise

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has issued its annual warning about people leaving valuables in their cars when parking at Centennial Trail trailheads. More people are out and about in the warmer weather, trail users and criminals alike. A Sheriff's Office press release says that numerous thefts have been reported at trailheads and most involve people who have left valuables in plain sight in their cars - IPads, GPS units, purses, brief cases and more.

Either leave those items at home or conceal them in the trunk. If you do conceal items, do it before you arrive so no one watching the trailhead can see what you hide.

East Valley decision on K-8 comes tomorrow

The East Valley School Board has changed its plans as to when it will decide the future of K-8 education in the district. The meeting planned for 6 p.m. tonight to get more public input is still on, but the district has also added a board work session Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and a special meeting to vote on the future of K-8 at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

If you want to give input on the district's ongoing conversion to a K-8 model, tonight is your last chance. There won't be any public comment at tomorrow's work session. All the meetings will take place at the district office, located at 12325 E. Grace Ave.

We will have a story on the district's decision in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Saturday’s highlights

Lucy Tivis, 8, and Jerrol Olson, principal of Ponderosa Elementary in Spokane Valley pose for a photo at the school Wednesday. Lucy nominated Olson to be Principal on Parade, selected by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Good Monday morning, everyone. As usual we have a roundup of highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on Ponderosa Elementary School principal Jerrol Olson, who was named this year's Principal on Parade by the Friendsly Sons of St. Patrick. Olson and the student who nominated him, 8-year-old Lucy Tivis, got to ride in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade.

I caught up with Ed Mertens for a look back at the numerous incorporation efforts he was involved with before the city of Spokane Valley finally incorporated in 2003. Saturday the city held a birthday bash and Mertens planned to attend to celebrate the city's success.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has an update on the Millwood City Council meeting, where the council voted to vacate an alley behind Millwood Presbyterian Church and also tinkered with the public access language in its Shoreline Master Program.

Coming up this week, Spokane Valley Tech will have open houses on Wednesday and Thursday for high school students that will be juniors and seniors in the fall. Students can also get information on free summer classes.

Fairfield does St. Patrick’s Day

If you are looking for a way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, turn your eyes to the south. The town of Fairfield will host its annual St. Paddy's Day feed Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center, 304 E. Main St. The menu features Reuben sandwiches, corned beef, cabbage, baby reds and salad. The cost is $15 and the proceeds benefit the town's annual Flag Day celebration.

To reach Fairfield, head south from Spokane Valley on Highway 27. Turn left on Main Street when you arrive in town.

Open house tonight for Argonne Road work

Spokane County engineers will host an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Pasadena Park Elementary School, 8508 E. Upriver Drive, to discuss upcoming projects on or near the Argonne Road corridor north of the Spokane Valley city limits. Projects to be discussed include a sidewalk at Pasadena Park Elementary, the Argonne Road grade separation project for the Centennial trail, work on the Argonne/Upriver Drive intersection and the reconstruction of Argonne Road from Wellesley to Bigelow Gulch.

Additional upcoming projects are the Bruce Road preservation project from Stoneman Road to Peone Road and the Bruce Road reconstruction project from Peone Road to Day-Mount Spokane Road.

People will be asked to give their input on the projects, some of which are contingent on getting grant funding.   

Today’s highlights

Former Spokane Valley Mayor Mike DeVleming pauses during an interview on March 8, at Vera Water and Power. DeVleming was Spokane Valley’s first mayor and led the new city council in marathon meetings as they put the city together from the ground up. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

There is a lot of news packed into today's Valley Voice, so let's get going. The city of Spokane Valley is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend and there's a story on the city's early history that includes the city's first mayor and a current city councilman who spent his evenings and weekends trying to get incorporation on the balllot.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a very lengthy East Valley School District meeting on K-8 education this week. Parents and teachers packed the meeting room and many gave their opinions on how the district should proceed.

The Spokane Valley City Council had several highlights this week. They appointed a new planning commissioner, signed a new City Hall lease that will save the city more than $73,000 the first year and awarded the first street preservation contract of the season.

There was also a big turn out for the city's public meeting on the proposed Appleway Trail that would run between University Road and Evergreen along the old Milwaukee Railroad right of way. The trail received an enthusiastic response.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a story on the recent Celebrating Salish Conference, which brought together people involved in keeping the Salish language alive. The language is spoken by several Native American tribes, including the Kalispel Tribe.

No coin toss this time

Last night the Spokane Valley City Council selected a new planning commissioner - land surveyor Michael Phillips. He was one of two people to apply for the vacant seat. The vote was nearly unanimous, so City Manager Mike Jackson didn't have to get out another coin to decide the issue. There were be more details on the selection in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Also in Thursday's Valley Voice, reporter Lisa Leinberger will have a report on last night's extremely lengthy East Valley School District meeting to discuss the future of K-8 schools. Lisa said the room was packed with parents, some of whom were quite emotional.

Saturday’s highlights

Jayne Singleton, director of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, is ready to open the Grand Coulee Dam and Ice Floods exhibit. The box hanging from the ceiling denotes one cubic yard. Grand Coulee Dam contains around 12 million cubic yards of concrete. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I'm fairly certain it's Monday morning (hello, second cup of coffee), so let's look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Nichol Hensley has a story on a new exhibit at the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum that focuses on the Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt.

Last week Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey gave his annual State of the City speech. He compared the city to the Gonzaga University men's basketball team in that they both focus on recruiting and the basics. Citizens can be proud of the city, he said.

There's a big celebration Saturday of the 10th anniversary of the incorporation of Spokane Valley. The bash at CenterPlace will feature some history from the Spokane Valley Heritage museum and local Native American tribes as well as carnival games and birthday cake.

In sports, correspondent Steve Christilaw takes a look at this year's Central Valley High School boys soccer team. There is a strong group of freshmen this year.

Low battery warning

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is coming out with its semi-annual warning to change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend when the time changes. Daylight saving time starts on Sunday and replacing the batteries whenever the time changes is an easy way to remember the task.

A working smoke alarm reduces a person's chance of dying in a fire by half, according to a Valley Fire press release. They recommend installing smoke detectors on every level of the home and outside bedrooms. Detectors should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working correctly. Detectors that are more than 10 years old should be replaced.

Today’s highlights

Golf carts at Painted Hills Golf Course sit locked behind a fence. SR photo/Dan Pelle

There are some good stories in today's Valley Voice, topped by one that should put a few rumors zipping around to rest. The gates of Painted Hills Golf Course are chained shut as the owners go through the bankruptcy process. There are reportedly several interested buyers, but there's no way to tell yet when, or if, the course will reopen.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a profile on East Valley High School junior Rachael Coleck, who fills the dual roles of cheerleader and wrestler. She talks about how she deals with being a girl involved in a male dominated sport. The Spokane Valley City Council spent some time this week talking about whether they should adjust their sign code and if street parking on the one-way section of Sprague Ave. is a good idea.

The Washington State Court of Appeals has upheld the decision of a Spokane County Superior Court Judge throwing out a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum by several neighboring business owners. The lawsuit was filed when the museum fenced in their parking lot for outdoor exhibits, which meant that customers of nearby businesses could no longer use the lot as a shortcut.

State of the City speeches today

Mayor Tom Towey will give his annual State of the City speech twice today. The first run through is at noon in the second floor community room at the Spokane Valley Mall. The second round is at 6 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

There will be time for questions after each speech and the entire program is scheduled to last an hour, so you can pop over on your lunch hour if you want. Mayor Towey will be speaking about the city's focus on bringing new businesses to town and on improving city services.

If you can't make it to either one but are still interested in what the Mayor has to say, the presentation will be recorded and posted on the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org

Sign code changes?

Among the topics on tonight's Spokane Valley City Council agenda is a discussion on the city's sign code, which was last changed in 2011. Recently several business owners have complained to the city that the sign regulations are negatively impacting their business. The council will discuss whether further changes to the sign code are necessary.

There are a couple of other interesting topics on the agenda, including the proposed Spokane River Public Access Plan that is being considered as part of the city's Shoreline Master Program update. The council will also talk about grant opportunities and a renegotiated City Hall lease.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

New Appleway Trail coming

The stretch of undeveloped land south of Sprague Avenue frontage, east of University Road, is an old railroad right-of-way that the city of Spokane Valley would like to turn into a community trail for use by pedestrians and bicyclists. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Reporter Mike Prager has some information in his Getting There column today on the proposed Appleway Trail through the heart of Spokane Valley. The city is holding a meeting next Monday to get input on the trail, which would follow the old Milwaukee Railroad right of way between University Road and Evergreen. A section of the trail has already been built from Tschirley Road to the eastern city limits. Read his story here for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

At It’s a Soccer Life in Spokane Valley, the Spokane Shadow U13 team practices Monday. The soccer center has an enclosed turf field and a smaller futsal pitch. Weekdays at the center are usually filled with practices and weekends are packed with league play from morning until night. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It's a sunny if somewhat nippy Monday morning out there, so lets take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Jill Barville checked out a new indoor soccer facility in the Spokane Valley Industrial Park called It's A Soccer Life. The business opened in January and hosts games and practices for area teams.

The city of Spokane Valley got some input on the future of parks in the city during a public meeting last week looking for input on the city's proposed Parks and Recreation Master Plan. A recent survey showed that local residents are most interested in urban trails, splash pads, outdoor aquatic facilities and indoor recreation facilities.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on the newest West Valley School District board member Adam Mortensen, a 1997 West Valley High School graduate. Richard Chan, husband of longtime Front Porch columnist Deborah Chan, has a column about how he has been dealing with his wife's cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent more than two hours talking about the future of trash in the city during their daylong winter retreat last week. They have teamed up with Spokane County to do a study on the costs of various disposal options in the future.  

Family Room Tour

Award winning musician and author Jim Gill will present a free performance of his Family Room Tour at 11 a.m. Saturday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. Gill plays the banjo and creates musical games that encourage the audience to clap, sing, dance and even sneeze along.

Gill is a child development specialist and focuses on connections between music, literacy and early childhood development. The performance is free, so this should be a good way to get the kids out of the house and get them moving.

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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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