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Spokane Valley blog

Perhaps they should form a joint task force

As state regulators prepare to start issuing marijuana licenses, some towns and cities are struggling with the idea that pot soon could be legally sold for recreational purposes in their communities.

Liberty Lake wants a timeout and last week adopted a six-month moratorium, as reported in Tuesday's edition of The Spokesman-Review. Rockford and Fairfield already had moratoriums in place.

Spokane Valley may explore imposing additional restrictions on pot shops wanting to operate within city limits there.

Although voters statewide, and in Spokane County, overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana use among adults, there were pockets of opposition in mostly rural parts of Eastern Washington.

Exceptions include Liberty Lake and Fairfield, where about 55 percent of voters in each community opposed legalization. Deer Park voters also opposed the ballot measure, 867 to 783.

Spokane Valley voters narrowly approved the ballot measure: 20,340 to 20,042 (50.4 percent).

Here's how other cities in Spokane County voted: Spokane, 60 percent in favor; Medical Lake: 653 to 573 in favor; Millwood, 523 to 414 in favor; Rockford, 142 to 84 in favor; Waverly, 28 to 24 in favor; and Cheney, 1,913 to 1,521 in favor.

The above map was put together by reporter Jim Camden in 2012 using final numbers from the Nov. 6 general election.

Voting closes Friday for movies at Mirabeau

Friday is the deadline for helping choose which two movies will be shown at Mirabeau Park this summer.

Online selections can be made here (scroll down the page to find the voting link). Spokane Valley wants to know your top two choices, but advises it can show just one Disney movie so you may want to avoid making both of your picks from that filmmaker.

Here's the list of choices: Mary Poppins, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Despicable Me 2, Frozen, The Lego Movie, Planes, E.T., Thor, Wizard of Oz, Monsters University, The Smurfs 2.

The online ballot shows which films are from Disney. The top two choices will be shown in Mirabeau Meadows Park on July 25 and Aug. 15.

Spokane Valley City Council takes Tuesday off

Now there's no excuse to miss the State of the Union address, nor the potentially Eastern Washington-centric GOP response.

The Spokane Valley City Council has cancelled its Tuesday evening (Jan. 28) meeting, which otherwise would have been getting under way about the same time President Barack Obama is set to begin addressing the nation.

Following the State of the Union address, the nationally televised Republican response will be given by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane.

Both addresses are set to be carried by all major TV networks. The State of the Union is set to begin at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

The Spokane Valley City Council is scheduled to next meet on Feb. 4.

Memorial service set for Gary Schimmels

A memorial service for civic leader Gary Schimmels is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 4521 N. Arden Road in Otis Orchards.

Schimmels, a former Spokane Valley deputy mayor and longtime councilman, died unexpectedly Wednesday at his home. He was 75.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions be made in Schimmels' name to Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services (SCRAPS), 2521 N. Flora Road, Spokane Valley, WA 99216.

A luncheon is planned at the church following the memorial.

A time for mourning

Spokane Valley is mourning the loss of two icons.

Former Spokane Valley Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels died unexpectedly this morning at his home. Schimmels, 75, had served on the city council since Spokane Valley's inception but lost his re-election bid in November to Ed Pace, who now holds the seat.

Last week, the Valley lost one of its most noted historians, author Florence Boutwell, who died Thursday at 94. Boutwell wrote a series of historical books chronicling the Spokane Valley's early days and growth into an agricultural hub. Her research laid much of the groundwork for development of the Spokane Valley museum.

A breaking news story about Schimmels' death can be found here, and look for full articles about the former deputy mayor and about Boutwell in Thursday's print edition of The Spokesman-Review.

It’s now Mayor Dean Grafos

A business man who once actively sought to abolish the City of Spokane Valley now is its mayor.

Councilman Dean Grafos was selected Tuesday night by fellow council members to serve in the largely ceremonial position. He edged Councilman Chuck Hafner in a 4-3 split.

“I’m honored,” Grafos said after the vote. “We have a great city council, city staff and city manager.”

Grafos was a vocal critic of the city, which was created in 2003, and had contributed to unsuccessful disincorportation campaigns. But he jumped into the political arena in 2009 after the final disincorporation effort collapsed and was among a slate of conservative candidates calling themselves “Positive Change” that took control of the city instead.

“If I'm going to be involved in this city, I'm going to make sure it's the best run city in the county,” Grafos said Tuesday night, praising the fiscal leadership and other directions that the council has charted for the city in recent years.

Supporting Grafos' mayoral selection were councilmen Ed Pace, Arne Woodard and Rod Higgins. Hafner picked up support from Ben Wick and Bill Bates.

Woodard was selected to serve as deputy mayor in a 5-2 vote.

Spokane Valley has a city manager that tends to day-to-day operations while the mayor presides over the seven-member city council, which sets policy and priorities.

Grafos said his priorities for the two-year mayoral term include helping bring more jobs to Spokane Valley, continuing the focus on public safety, infrastructure and citizen respect.

Changes are coming

Some changes are coming to this blog. I am going to be temporarily taking over the night police beat here at The Spokesman-Review, so I'll be stepping away from the blog and my coverage of the City of Spokane Valley. Editor Dave Wasson will be covering the city in my absence, so expect to see him post occasionally here. I'll still be tweeting at www.twitter.com/ninaculver, but the content will be breaking news related. I may pop up in the Valley from time to time, so you'll just have to keep an eye on the blog to see what is happening. The plan is for the switch to last until April, so everyone keep out of trouble while I'm gone.  

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.

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About this blog

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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