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Spokane Valley blog

Swearing in ceremony

Spokane Valley City Council members Chuck Hafner, Bill Bates and Rod Higgins will be sworn in during a brief ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave. There will not be a council meeting on Monday, just a short ceremony. The public is welcome to attend. The council's next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7. At the beginning of that meeting the council will vote to appoint a new mayor and deputy mayor.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley City Councilman/Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels is greeted by Latisha Hill, regional business manager for Avista, during a farewell gathering at Spokane Valley City Hall on Tuesday. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

Welcome to Monday, which this week is also known as Christmas Eve Eve. Not that we're counting the days until Christmas or anything. There are, of course, some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. A housing development is being discussed for the former Painted Hills Golf Course. The new owner may lease out the short par-3 course and the driving range, but it looks like various types of housing is the plan for the rest of the site.

Gary Schimmels is leaving the Spokane Valley City Council after serving ever since the city incorporated 10 years ago. He lost his re-election bid in November and now will be focusing on restoring his vintage cars and volunteering at local social service agencies.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a group of Central Valley School District bus drivers who teamed up to collect enough money to send one of their coworkers on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. Bus driver Teri Perry has been receiving treatment for ovarian cancer and her coworkers wanted to give her a special gift. They surprised Perry with the gift last week.

Today’s highlights

After they had their picture taken, twins, Maddie and Erik Cathcart, 2, tell Santa what they want for Christmas at River Park Square on Saturday. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Happy Thursday, everyone. It's almost Christmas, which means we have a couple Christmas-themed stories for you in today's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval interviewed Santa, AKA Jim Burney, who has been donning his red, fur-trimmed suit for 39 years. These days he can be found at River Park Square in downtown Spokane. I hear he's even a Seahawks fan. He even dishes about his favorite reindeer in a quick Q&A.

Correspondent Jill Barville was at the Spokane International Airport for a Fantasy Flight to the North Pole for local children. The 63 children on the flight were nominated by local social service agencies. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on autistic Barker High School student Jonathan Finck, who has his colorful art on display in the school's hallway. His fellow students enjoy watching him work.

The city of Spokane Valley is looking at an annual funding shortfall of $3 million for street preservation projects. The city has been spending about $4 million a year but should be spending $7 million, a recent study of street conditions showed.

Today’s highlights

Al Palm works on his balance and strength, with the help of occupational therapist Emily Querna, left, and his daughter Joelle, on Dec. 2 at his home in northwest Spokane. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I have to start my apologizing for my general inactivity on the blog and Twitter lately. Last week I was waylaid by a lovely flu virus and didn't leave my house for four days. I'm not quite back up to full speed yet, but I'm here. With that said, here are some highlights from today's Valley Voice.

Reporter Mike Prager has a story on Al Palm, who used to run the City Perk coffee shop in the STA Plaza. He is battling a rare diseases that paralyzed him almost overnight and his friends are organizing a benefit auction to raise money for medical equipment and renovations to his house to make it wheelchair accessible.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has some details on the water damage from a frozen pipe that shut down Adams Elementary for two days. She also attended this week's East Valley School Board meeting, where board chair Mike Novakovich had to step in and ask people to be civil to each other. At least one speaker called for the board not to renew the contract of superintendent John Glenewinkel.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted this week to award lodging tax revenue to local agencies that promote tourism. The process has been controversial in recent years, but this year everything went fairly smoothly. The council also approved a new towing ordinance that requires tow truck operators to check if an abandoned car has been reported stolen before towing it.

Today’s highlights

Liberty Lake librarian Dan Pringle sits outside the library Monday with a landscape architect’s plans to turn the land behind him into an outdoor reading garden. The work will begin next spring. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Happy frigid Thursday, everyone. As we all contemplate the further dip in temperatures coming our way this weekend, let's take a look at some highlights from today's Valley Voice. The Liberty Lake Library is making plans to build a reading garden just outside the front door starting in the spring. It will offer shade trees, ornamental plants and plenty of places to sit. People can enjoy a book outdoors or participate in an outdoor program.

The City of Spokane Valley is considering creating a historic preservation program that will allow property owners to take advantage of grants and tax credits available when historic buildings are renovated or updated. If you live north of Spokane Valley inside the Spokane County Fire District 9 boundaries, check out the schedule for Santa's visit to your neighborhood.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a story on the Seasoned Players, who perform radio plays on KYRS FM 88.1 and 92.3. The program airs from 10 to 11 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Today's show is titled “Bingo Ladies Gone Bad.”

Seattle punk band’s anthem to bikini baristas set to music video

Turns out Spokane and Spokane Valley aren't the only cities dealing with barely clad bikini baristas.

They've become such a fixture that Seattle-based punk band Quickie has turned its anthem to bikini baristas into a music video, complete with plenty of examples of the kind of skimpy, barely-there attire that the Spokane Valley City Council has deemed too revealing to be considered appropriate clothing. The City of Spokane rejected a similar proposal, though Spokane County commissioners are still considering a crackdown of their own.

Although the music video was shot on location at Seattle's Cowgirls Espresso, the band gives a shout out to the spread of bikini barista stands throughout the Northwest.

Saturday’s highlights

East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel, right, helps Summer Romney and Liam Nowles unload 400 pounds of flour at the district’s warehouse on Tuesday. Wheat from the East Valley Community Garden was ground into flour for use in school lunches. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a nice, restful holiday weekend. We're back at it again to day, so let's go over some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The city of Spokane Valley approved new rules regulating the attire of baristas. The rules are aimed at a coffee shop near City Hall that advertised topless Tuesdays and Thursdays, when baristas wore no more than G-strings and pasties. The crowd attending last week's council meeting was largely pleased by the decision, though a couple of people did testify against the new rules.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story following up on the wheat harvest from the East Valley Farm and Community Garden earlier this year. The farm, which supplies fresh produce to East Valley School District kitchens, had a good year for wheat. The district recently took delivery of 400 pounds of low-gluten flour. Also in East Valley, three new school board members were sworn in during the most recent school board meeting. A crowd turned out for the event. New board member Mike Novakovich was elected board president.

Lisa also has a story on Central Valley High School teacher Carolyn Schafer, who headed up an effort to ship 140 quilts to send t0 a co-worker's Army unit stationed in Afghanistan. Members of the community rallied to make enough quilts, which were shipped last week.

Happy Thanksgiving

I'd like to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I'll be out of the office Thursday and Friday, so you'll be on your own in terms of Thursday's Valley Voice. You can still check it out here, though. There will be a story on outgoing Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey and a story on Central Valley High School's drama department. Early deadlines, however, forced us to push off the story on the city council's vote to enact a barista nudity ordinance to Saturday's Valley Voice. In the meantime, may your turkey be juicy and your pumpkin pie have lots of whipped cream.

Saturday’s highlights

A group of middle schoolers sign University of Minnesota Duluth cross country runner Sam River’s arm after she signed notebooks and posters for them on Thursday at Pasadena Park Elementary School in Spokane Valley. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Happy Monday before Thanksgiving, everyone. Let's mark the beginning of what is a short work week for most people with a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Pasadena Park Elementary last week when the students received a visit from about 80 athletes in town for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. The kids appeared to be inspired by the visit and topped off the experience by running around the playground with the visiting athletes.

Kids and kids at heart will be disappointed to learn that this year's Spokane Valley Christmas tree lighting has been cancelled. The annual event is run by the Spokane Valley Rotary. The tree was damaged last year and after the person in charge of organizing the event moved away suddenly the tree was not fixed in time. The club president promises that the tradition will be back up and running next year, however.

Despite the ongoing angst in some cities about the use of police body cameras, the city of Liberty Lake just approved a new contract with its police officers that requires the use of body cameras. Six people in the 10 man department have been wearing the cameras on a voluntary basis for several months and the footage they recorded has already proven itself useful many times.

Today’s highlights

Volunteers Kathy McAteer, left, along with Kathy and John Malone sort through donated food on Tuesday at Spokane Valley Partners. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I have to begin by apologizing for not blogging much this week. I've been scurrying about trying to work ahead for next week, which includes two days off (yay) and early deadlines (ugh). For now we should celebrate being exactly one week from Thanksgiving by going over some highlights from today's Valley Voice.

Eight Spokane Valley churches have been collecting money to give to the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank to buy turkeys and other items for Thanksgiving baskets that will be handed out to those that need them next week. The churches are collecting money instead of actual turkeys this year because Thrivent Financial has promised to match their donations up to a $1,600 cap.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on several Central Valley High School music students that created the LETEM Play non-profit that distributes donated musical instruments to low-income students. The students have handed out $13,000 worth of instruments and have begun offering music clinics.

The results of the November elections will be certified next week, but the outcome of at least one race is still unknown. There is a tie among two city council candidates in the town of Latah and one race for Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner is very near the threshold that will require an automatic recount. In Spokane Valley challenger Ed Pace has cemented his lead over City Council incumbent Gary Schimmels.

The Spokane Valley City Council debated on whether to request state funding for the Appleway Trail Project or the expansion of Balfour Park. The city's finance committee recommended Appleway Trail, but Balfour Park also has some support.

Saturday’s highlights

A hair-raising experience. Daisy Daines grimaces while stylist Shawna Indahl bleaches his hair on Wednesday, at Paul Mitchell the School in Spokane Valley. Six Central Valley High School students pledged to bleach their hair if their classmates donated more than $10,000 to the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Students raised $12,600 and the six had their hair done. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Here we are at Monday again. Bring on the extra coffee! While you are enjoying that second or third cup, check out some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked with six Central Valley High School students that pledged to bleach their hair blond if their fellow students raised more than $10,000 for the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. The students, all boys, followed through after the school raised $12,600 and collected 26,500 pounds of food.

A group of residents at Broadway Court Estates recently shipped of 1,000 children's books they collected to establish a library in Africa. They are the most recent group to participate in the African Library Project. Their books are going to a school in Botswana. The effort was led by a mother and daughter, both retired educators, who had previously established two libraries in Malawi through the non-profit program.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that the city of Millwood's 2014 budget is in the black for the first time in years. The city is even planning several capital projects next year, including a sidewalk on Buckeye Avenue.

Today’s highlights

Army veteran Jesse Linn hugs his 9-year-old daughter Erikah Linn after a ceremony honoring veterans on Friday at Freeman High School. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

As we look forward to Friday, it sounds like we can also look forward to some snow this weekend. I'm just glad I won't have to try to drive through any mountain passes anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a testy recent East Valley School Board meeting where one board member walked out in the middle of the meeting. By the time the meeting was over, there were allegations of improper expense reports and disappearing reserve funds.

Lisa also stopped by the Freeman School District for their recent Veteran's Day breakfast. Students at the elementary, middle and high school all got involved by serving food and singing patriotic songs. The Spokane Valley City Council advanced an ordinance to regulate barista attire, a move that was greeting with praise from people in the audience. The issue is scheduled for a final vote at the Nov. 26 meeting.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Chief spent some time at last week's commissioner meeting outlining his response to neighbors concerns about the department's response to a recent fire. There were rumors circulating that it took more than 20 minutes for crews to arrive, but the chief organized a meeting with the neighbors to refute that. The meeting appeared to be well received, he said.

Felts Road closure

Well, you don't see this every day. The word is that Mission Avenue is closed between Argonne and University roads today - so a house can be relocated. It is a rolling closure of lanes in both directions that will last through late afternoon today, so it may be a good idea to use Broadway Avenue instead.

Update: Mission Avenue is now open again, but Felts Road is closed between Mission and Augusta. Use Woodruff or Raymond instead.

Saturday’s highlights

Central Valley High senior Chris Pittella, center, works the anchor position during the taping of CV’s weekly sports show on Monday. The show airs Thursdays at 10:35 p.m. on KAYU. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

I am here at my keyboard even though many people have today off in observance of Veteran's Day. On the plus side, though, there wasn't as much traffic heading into downtown this morning. As usual there are highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice to present. We caught up on updated election results in the Spokane Valley City Council and East Valley School Board. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the newcomers that seem to be winning all the seats on the school board, which could lead to changes in the district. Newcomer Ed Pace is ahead of incumbent Gary Schimmels in a Spokane Valley City Council race. Change could be coming to the city as well if Pace and his supporters form an ultra-conservative voting block.

Lisa also has a story on Central Valley High School students that help put together the “This Week in High School Sports” show that airs on KAYU Fox 28. The students learn the skills they need to put the television show together, skills that can be useful in future careers.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report on a special Millwood City Council meeting last week, where the council voted on its first contract for the Buckeye Avenue water main replacement project tentatively planned for next year.

Today’s highlights

Third-graders from McDonald Elementary listen to the national anthem while waiting to sing near the truck carrying the Capitol Christmas Tree on Tuesday outside the INB Performing Arts Center. The tree is starting a regional tour before heading to Washington, D.C. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Happy wet and windy Thursday, everyone. While we're inside staying dry we can take a look at some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger went to the Spokane stop of the Capitol Christmas Tree, which will be put on display in Washington, D.C., for a singing performance by the McDonald Elementary School third graders. The kids had a week's notice before their performance of patriotic songs.

On Election night Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Gary Schimmels was three votes ahead of challenger Ed Pace and we have their reactions to the initial results. More votes have been counted since then, however, and we'll have another update in Saturday's Valley Voice.

The Spokane Valley Library will be closed next week as new carpet is installed by the front door and the desks are reconfigured. Books can still be put in the drop box, but the doors will be locked Monday through next Saturday, Nov. 16. Parents will have to bring their kids to other library branches for story time or miss out.

Election night

If you would prefer to attend an election night celebration rather than be poised over your laptop or a television screen, there are a couple of options in Spokane Valley tonight. Spokane Valley City Council incumbents Chuck Hafner and Gary Schimmels will be joined by candidate Bill Bates at a gathering at the Eagles Lodge in Greenacres on Sprague Avenue. Appointed incumbent Rod Higgins and candidate Ed Pace will be holding a gathering at McDonald Elementary School. They should both begin at 7 p.m. and election results are scheduled to be released by the Spokane County Elections Office at 8 p.m.

If you would rather stay home, however, check our web site at www.spokesman.com for election results.

Saturday’s highlights

Oh, dear. It's coming. This morning on the way in to work I saw a truck sporting a cap of about an inch of snow. While we contemplate the arrival of snow flakes, we can check out some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on student enrollment in the Central Valley School District. Many more students are projected in the coming years and eventually the district will have to consider a third high school.

Election Day is tomorrow, so don't forget to mail in your ballot or drop your ballot off at any library. (Look for a ballot drop box by the book return.) The Spokane Valley City Council candidates got some late donations from PAC's last month, allowing a last minute advertising push. Tomorrow we will find out the results, or at least get a look at the first count. The race to watch is between established incumbent Gary Schimmels, who has served on the council since the city formed, and his well-funded challenger, Ed Pace.

Lisa also spoke to the new Miss Washington, Allyson Rowe, who started the Miss Washington competition as Miss Spokane Valley. She will compete in next year's Miss USA pageant.

Today’s highlights

Hugh Grim watches from the top of a Fairbury farm windmill tower as his son, Jim, keeps a hand on a guide-line as they use a crane to lift the windmill to the top of its tower Tuesday at the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Happy Halloween! Just remember to limit your sugar intake and everything will be fine. Meanwhile, we can take a look at some highlights from today's Valley Voice in between sugar breaks. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a “new” 1930s windmill that was just installed behind the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. The Valley was once full of such windmills, which pumped water for farmers. The windmill has made previous appearances at the museum's annual farm show.

The Rev. Craig Goodwin of Millwood Presbyterian Church was recently diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He is currently balancing his pastoral duties with an aggressive chemotherapy schedule that has him in the hospital for five days every three weeks. He said his diagnosis has given him a new perspective when dealing with people struggling with their own health issues.

The Spokane Valley City Council is moving forward with a proposed ordinance that would regulate the attire of bikini baristas at a business near City Hall who routinely go topless on certain days of the week, wearing only pasties and g-strings. The new law would mandate that their breasts be at least half covered. The proposal is sure to generate plenty of public comment at future council meetings as the ordinance moves through the approval process.

Bikini baristas on the agenda

The Spokane Valley City Council is going to address the topic of scantily clad baristas at tonight's meeting. At issue has been topless Tuesdays at a local coffee shop, when baristas wear only g-strings and pasties. A proposed ordinance has been prepared that would ban women from exposing more than half their breast in public. There are two things you need to know if you plan to attend tonight's meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. First of all, the meeting is a study session and no public comment will be taken. Secondly, the issue is pretty far down the agenda and won't be discussed first thing.

The council will not take a vote tonight. They need to agree to advance the ordinance to a first reading, at which point public comment would be taken, or ask staff to make changes to the proposed ordinance.

Saturday’s highlights

Leslie Malloy and cancer survivor Barb Gady, staff members at Freeman Elementary, hug after posing for a group photo with other Freeman employees in front of a pink tractor from Northwest Farm Credit Services. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Welcome to winter. At least, that's what it felt like with this morning's wind. Brrrrrr. With that said, it's time to move on to some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a couple of stories on how local schools are promoting awareness of cancer during October, which is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. East Valley High School social studies teacher Dave Robinson is sporting bright pink hair, beard, mustache and eyebrows after his students collected 54 pounds of candy for the school's annual Fall Festival. His new (temporary) look has gone viral and Robinson has appeared on Good Morning America.

A pink tractor stopped by Freeman Elementary School last week in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on a day when nearly all the staff members wore some sort of pink. The annual pink day started 13 years ago after one staffer was diagnosed with breast cancer.

A hearing was held last week to consider a rezone request for a vacant piece of property owned by Arger Real Estate just east of Evergreen Road immediately northwest of where Alki Avenue ends. The request, if granted, would change the single family zoning to single family-urban. The change would allow multi-family housing such as duplexes, a nursing home or an assisted living center.

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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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