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Spokane Valley blog

Posts tagged: Spokane County

Valley goes with Sunshine over Spokane County

It’s official.

After years of discussions and negotiations over regional garbage disposal, Spokane Valley is going its own way.

City Council members decided unanimously tonight to contract with Sunshine Disposal & Recycling to handle disposal of the Valley’s estimated 45,000 tons of garbage each year. The decision follows years of discussions with Spokane and county officials as the region’s existing solid waste system is set to expire this fall.

“We’re acting in the best longterm interests of our citizens,” said Mayor Dean Grafos.

Spokane County had struck a deal with Spokane, which has controlled the regional system for two decades, to take over the existing transfer stations and had hoped to create a countywide system it would control.

Commissioner Todd Mielke made a last-minute push tonight to persuade council members to postpone a final decision and give the county a chance to beat Sunshine’s rate. Mielke said the city of Spokane was trying to work out a reduced disposal rate at its energy-producing trash incinerators on the West Plains, which would enable the county to offer a tonnage rate nearly $4 lower and could amount to millions of dollars in savings over the next decade.

But Valley leaders rejected the delay request, with some noting that the Valley had openly sought a partnership role in a regional system but was repeatedly offered only an advisory role. They also noted that Sunshine stepped up with a guaranteed rate while the county provided only estimates and contingencies.

Additionally, Sunshine officials said it needs to get started immediately with planned expansion and improvements it is promising in order to be ready by mid-November when the new arrangement takes effect.

For residents, little will change. Waste Management still will handle curbside pick up, but instead of dumping the garbage at county transfer stations they’ll drop their loads at Sunshine’s facility on University Road north of Interstate 90. The garbage then will be loaded for long-haul to regional landfills in Central Washington.

Valley officials estimate the cost of solid waste disposal will be cheaper with Sunshine than under the county system. County officials contend the savings, if any, would be minimal.

Saturday’s highlights

T.J. Williams Jr., the director of photography, frames up a shot with a digital movie camera in Fairfield, on Wednesday, while shooting a feature film assisted by North By Northwest. At right is Adam Miller, the first assistant camera operator. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Oh, it's Monday again. Pardon me while I shake off the weekend cobwebs. As we start the work week there are some Saturday Valley Voice highlights to greet us, as always. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on the safety of Mountain View Middle School in the East Valley School District. Building and fire inspectors recently toured the building to make sure it was safe after parents raised concerns about the partially boarded up building.

The small town of Fairfield hosted a movie crew from North by Northwest last week. Portions of the movie “West of Redemption” starring Billy Zane were filmed there while grain trucks lumbered by on their way from the nearby grain elevators.

Lisa stopped by University High School during the morning on the first day of school when freshmen had the run of the buliding. The school had a special program that morning to help the students acclimate to the school and get to know each other.

The City of Spokane Valley and Spokane County had a joint meeting last week to discuss solid waste options under a new regional plan. The city would like to own the Valley transfer station, but County Commissioners seem to favor a plan that has the County owning and running the facility.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is considering spending a budget surplus on remodeling several fire stations, two of which are decades old. Problems include leaking roofs, failing floors and kitchen cabinets in disrepair.

Today’s highlights

Kelly Hamill tries to detect the faint aroma of vanilla found in the bark of a mature ponderosa pine during a class for teachers at the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Tuesday. Hamill was among the elementary schoolteachers taking a class about how to use the popular park for educational purposes. SR photo Jesse Tinsley

Happy Thursday, everyone. We're another step closer to Friday. We've got some good highlights from today's Valley Voice, including more details on the replacement of the west Sullivan Bridge over the Spokane River. The bridge that carries southbound traffic was built in 1951 and has been rated structurally deficient. Construction should begin in early 2014.

Reporter Pia Hallenberged tagged along on a recent field trip for teachers in the Dishman Hills Natural Area. The teachers were learning how to incorporate plants, animals and geology of the area into their classrooms.

The eastern edge of Spokane County has a lot of what is known as no man's land - areas not served by a fire district. Residents living in those areas can't count on a fire department coming to their rescue if their house catches on fire, though in some cases the firefighters come anyway. A recent fire in a no man's land area north of Otis Orchards drew a response from three surrounding fire districts.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger dropped by a special Zombie Day at the Spokane Valley Library recently. The library has been having various events for kids all summer and in this one they put on makeup to make themselves look like zombies, ate zombie treats and learned about zombie books.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Tech students run though the large room that used to be a Rite-Aid during a sports medicine class taught by Keith Eggleston on Wednesday. Eggleston was teaching the students how to analyze body movements and make corrections for injury prevention and efficiency. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Welcome to a blistering hot Monday. If you start hearing a lot of noise tonight and tomorrow, that's me whining about the lack of air conditioning in my house. But I'm nice and cool for now and ready with some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice.

Residents on both sides of the southeastern Spokane Valley city limits had some tough questions and comments for Spokane County representatives presenting information on their plan to restore wetlands in the Saltese Flats. The flats are located just outside Spokane Valley east of Barker Road. The area used to be a lake before it was drained for farming and ranching in the late 1800's.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by the new summer school classes being offered by Spokane Valley Tech. The free 13 day sessions cover everything from cosmetology to fire science to biomedical science. Students who attend the entire session can get credits. Lisa also has a story the new name for Contract Based Education - Dishman Hills High School.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw talked to The Pearl Snaps, a Spokane Valley blugrass band that recently competed in the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest and Festival in Weiser, Idaho. The group has several performances lined up this summer and has put together a CD.

Saltese Flats meeting tonight

Spokane County will host a public meeting tonight to talk about their planned wetland restoration project in the Saltese Flats. The meeting will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Real Life Ministries, 1831 S. Barker Road. This project doesn't involved any treated wastewater being piped in, it's the redirection of natural runoff. You can find more information on the project online at www.spokanecounty.org/salteseflats.

Today’s highlights

Good news! It's almost Friday. The arrival of Thursday, of course, means from Valley Voice highlights. This week photographer Colin Mulvany took some fabulous photos of high-angle rope rescue training put on by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. Deputy Chief Andy Hail volunteered to be “rescued” from a water tower and be lowered 200 feet to the ground in a gurney.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on West Valley High School student Tonya Lewis. Her iPod photo titled “Pathway to Happiness” won first place in the landscape category of the Photographic Society of America's international photo contest.

Spokane County recently submitted a 100-year flood plain map of the Saltese Flats area to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so the county can move forward with a project to rechannel runoff from Mica Peak to restore wetlands. The County submitted the map without the participation of the city of Spokane Valley, which is involved because any floodwaters from the flats would end up inside city limits. The city has concerns about some of the data included in the county's analysis.

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.   

A jail near you?

In case you missed it, here's Mike Prager's story today about the sites under consideration for a new Spokane County Jail. One of the proposed locations that apparently is near the top of the list is property the County owns north of Euclid Ave. and east of Tschirley Road. The land is inside the Spokane Valley City limits. Reportedly the County Commissioners are looking at proposed sites again so they can consider a new potential site near the Spokane Airport, but the Spokane Valley spot is still in the mix. There's a public hearing on the issue today at 5:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Public Works Building at 1026 W. Broadway. Read Mike's story for more details.

Saturday’s highlights

The city of Spokane Valley’s new snowplow is parked next to one of the original plows at the Public Works Facility in the Industrial Park. The old snowplows, purchased from the WSDOT, averaged 2,500 miles each during last year’s snowy winter. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here we are again on another lovely Monday morning, which means it is time to look at the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. The city of Spokane Valley is working on breaking in its first brand new snow plow, which was ordered last year but didn't arrive until April. It will be the only white plow truck you see out on the road.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger highlighted the high number of absences at the Liberty Lake City Council, which was brought into focus last week when the council meeting didn't have a quorum for nearly an hour. The Mayor is considering a chance to the council's absentee rule.

The state Public Disclosure Commission has decided not to persue a camplaint filed against former Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline. The complaint was filed in October. Spokane County has wrapped up sewer construction work in the Valley for the season, but residents in the Green Haven neighborhood can expect to see crews back in the spring. Large boulders and old concrete irrigation system conduits slowed work so much that the project wasn't completed in time.

Today’s highlights

Spokane Chiefs, from left, Collin Valcourt, Mac Engel and Tanner Mort prepare lunch Oct. 18 at the House of Charity in Spokane. The hockey players spent parts of three days volunteering and interacting with homeless people. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We've got a little bit of everything in today's Valley Voice. Reporter Pia Hallenberg went along when the Spokane Chiefs hockey team visited the House of Charity recently to visit, give away hats and serve lunch. The team got a warm reception from the shelter's clients.

The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously approved the city's new Bike and Pedestrain Master Program on Tuesday, which was a bit of a surprise since it has been so heavily scrutinized. There's also an update of several other actions the council took, but the meeting was so long I couldn't fit everything in. Expect to see another story on the council meeting in Saturday's Valley Voice.

Correspondent Jill Barville has a great story on grandparents who raise their grandchildren and the unique challenges they face. I also checked in at the open house held Monday to present the Urbran Growth Area boundary adjustment alternatives that are being considered. Several areas in Spokane Valley are being considered for addition to the boundaries, which allow denser development. This will be on ongoing issue over the next several months.

Urban Growth Area open house

A regional review of the Urban Growth Area is under way and there are discussions about changing the boundaries in the Spokane Valley area. An open house is being held tonight so people can get information on what areas are impacted. The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E.Sprague. Other open houses are scheduled for the Geiger area and north Spokane County later in the week. Visit www.spokanecounty.org/bp for more information.

Today’s highlights

Freeman Elementary kindergarten teacher Angie Smith greets new students and their parents during the open house and kindergarten orientation, Sept. 1. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

In today's Valley Voice we visit with Freeman Elementary students, who are attending classes in a newly renovated school. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to parents and the principal about the new building. A new multipurpose building is also complete, but the new gym won't be done until November.

Residents in the Green Haven neighborhood are finding that remnants of the past are slowing down plans for the future. Sewer construction has hit a bump in the road in the form of giant boulders washed in during a long ago flood event and huge concrete siphons that were part of the Valley's old irrigation system. Other sewer projects, however, are going well and are either essentially complete or will be by mid-October.

The Spokane Valley City Council discussed the proposed 2012 budget this week. A couple of council members were talking about cutting proposed pay increases for non-union staff. No vote has happened yet, though. There are still two public hearings to be held before the budget moves forward.

Coming Thursday

We've got some good stories coming your way in Thursday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger headed down to check out the new Freeman Elementary School, which opened for the first time this week. I'll have an update on the sewer construction work out in the Greenacres area. Problems have cropped up in some areas, delaying the work. Other areas, though, are repaved and doing fine.

The Spokane Valley City Council discussed the proposed 2012 budget at this week's council meeting. The City Manager called it “enviable” because the city has a balanced budget and healthy reserves.

Today’s highlights

Spokane County owns the abandoned Great Northern right of way, which crosses under Trent Avenue east of Argonne Road in Millwood. It may be used for a commuter bicycle trail. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

For those of us who melt in high temperatures, let's start the day with an appeal to Mother Nature for a nice cold front. After that, let's take a look at today's Valley Voice. The old Great Northern railroad has been largely ignored for years, but now is being sought by Spokane Valley, Millwood, Spokane County and Avista. Spokane Valley and Millwood want it for a prosed Spokane Valley-Millwood Trail that would run from Spokane Community College to Liberty Lake. Spokane County wants to put in a pipe to carry treated wastewater and Avista want to use a section of it for a high-voltage electric line. Reporter John Craig's story includes details on all the plans, plus a map of the proposed trail.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has been visiting local SCOPE stations this summer and this week she is profiling Trentwood SCOPE. It's somewhat unique because it is housed in an apartment and only has four volunteers. The four are extremely dedicated, though, and accomplish a lot. The Newman Lake Fire District is in the final stages of deciding how much to ask voters for in a bond on the November ballot to build a new Station 1. The estimated cost to build the station is $2.2 million. My story has a report from a special meeting this week and there's another meeting planned for next week for a final vote.

People who have been paying attention to vehicle prowling reports in Liberty Lake may remember that police there have arrested the same person twice after catching him in the act. But last week Liberty Lake officers arrested a duo for vehicle prowling who were also caught in the act and in posession of stolen property.

Coming Thursday

The Valley Voice will be full of news you can use on Thursday. Reporter John Craig will have a story on the old Great Northern Railroad right of way that is suddenly popular. Spokane Valley and Millwood want to use it as a trail. Avista Utilities wants to put in electrical transmission lines. And Spokane County wants to lay pipe under it for treated wastewater.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger is continuing her tour of Spokane Valley area SCOPE stations. This week she checked in with Trentwood SCOPE. Since there was no Spokane Valley City Council meeting this week, I took the opportunity to head out to Newman Lake to attend a special meeting of the Newman Lake Fire District. Fire commissioners have been discussing for months (well, years actually) plans to build a new Station 1. The meeting was called to present the public with three different funding options and get input on which plan people preferred.

In Liberty Lake there were two arrests for vehicle prowling and it wasn't anyone known to be a repeat offender for that crime in Liberty Lake.

Talking trash

There's nothing particularly fascinating about trash, but it's something that has to be dealt with. Reporter John Craig has a story in today's paper about the ongoing dispute between local governments about what happens next for the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System. There are arguments over who will own and operate the Waste to Engergy Plant, who will have a say in the decision making and how much customers will be charged to dispose of waste.

A Solid Waste Summit is scheduled for Feb. 2 and 3. Elected representatives from every jurisdiction in Spokane County are expected to attend, including the Spokane Valley city council members. Spokane Valley could have a key role to play in what happens depending on what the council members decide to do. It doesn't sound like this issue will go away any time soon, so take a look at John's story to learn more about the issue.

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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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