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Spokane Valley blog

Posts tagged: Spokane Valley City Council

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.

Valley Council urged to enforce gender-only restrooms

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After discovering that a cross-dressing man was using a women's restroom at a recent conference, Wendy McElroy headed to Spokane Valley City Hall last night to express concern over the lack of enforcement.

“A woman's restroom is our only sole private area,” she told council members during the public comment portion of Tuesday night's meeting.

“Society has provided men and women with individual designated places to relieve him or herself in private in the form of restrooms clearly marked `men” and `women.' ”

She also expressed concern over sexual attacks and wondered if women need to begin arming themselves before using public restrooms.

Council members thanked McElroy for her comments and several audience members applauded but Washington is among a handful of states that have extended civil rights protection to transgendered individuals.

The state's Human Rights Commission has concluded “transgender employees should be permitted to use the restroom that is consistent with the individual's gender identity,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Few courts, however, have weighed in on the issue.

Welcome to the land of free parking

Don't be surprised if you see Spokane Valley boasting about the abundance of free parking in future advertisements and other marketing materials.

City leaders, pleased with the response they've received from the “Friendliest Permitting in Washington” marketing campaign, are looking to broaden community promotion efforts.The next step likely will be to expand the economic development push to a regional audience in hopes of improving business recruitment.

But council members also discussed the possibility of introducing new themes that some might construe as a way of differentiating the suburban Spokane Valley from nearby Spokane, the state's second-largest city.

“Can we add something about good roads and free parking,” Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard asked.

Other council members quickly endorsed the idea, though no budget for the effort was mentioned. The current promotion is part of a $200,000 marketing effort.

Valley leaders discussing police staffing, economic development and city hall options

Spokane Valley's city leaders are meeting in a daylong workshop today to set goals and priorities for the year ahead and figure out how to run a growing community with tax revenue that has yet to return to 2007 levels.

Among the topics on the agenda is police staffing, potential city hall relocation and economic development. The workshop session can be viewed by webcast on the city's homepage.

Key to the challenges is tax revenue to pay for the growing community's services. The city council is controlled by anti-tax conservatives who contend the best way to rebuild the city's treasury is through fostering greater economic development, which they believe will pay off over time.

The city's discretionary spending account, known as the general fund, is $36.8 million for the current year. It was $37.1 million in 2007, which was before the housing bubble burst and the national economy tanked. It fell to as low as $35.2 million in 2009.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Saturday’s highlights

Chris Sheppard dons only one costume on Halloween, a robe, crown and sweatshirt reading “Queen of Halloween.” Indeed, her house dominates the neighborhood, with hundreds of whimsical items for the holiday. Sheppard is shown at her home on Bettman Road in Spokane Valley, on Wednesday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Saturday's Valley Voice was packed full of stories (and quite a few election advertisements), so lets get right to the highlights. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by the home of the Queen of Halloween, aka Chris Sheppard. Her home turns into a festival of the orange and spooky every year and this year is no different. She starts decorating the inside of her home in August but waits until September to start putting in the skeleton crawling out of its grave in the yard.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on the University High School girls soccer team, which is rallying after losing one of its star players in a car crash recently. The team had a small ceremony at their recent home game. The Spokane Valley Lodging Tax Advisory Commission recently met to make recommendations for 2014 funding to agencies that promote tourism.

We also had a ton of election coverage Saturday since ballots have now been delivered. Correspondent Valerie Putnam tackled the Millwood Mayor race between Kevin Freeman and Dennis Hamlin while Lisa covered the East Valley School District school board and Liberty Lake City Council. There was also a candidate forum last week featuring those running for Spokane Valley City Council.

Today’s highlights

Jennifer Papich walks through the first section of the haunted pool at Valley Mission Pool. Samantha the doll sits in the corner waiting for visitors. SR photo/Liz Kishimoto

Oh, dear. I nearly managed to get through the day while forgetting to post the highlights from today's Valley Voice. It's a good one, too, with lots of interesting stories. First up is the Valley Mission Haunted Pool that opens tomorrow. The pool has been transformed into a haunted house that will be open the next two weekends. It was freaky enough when it was half-finished in daylight; I'm sure it will be frightfully good.

In keeping with our (unplanned) Halloween theme, reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the new corn maze at the HUB Sports Center. This is the first year for the event, which features a haunted area for the adventurous. There are also plenty of regular mazes for families and those who like to get lost.

Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Chuck Hafner took his turn answering a series of questions we posed to all the candidates. His opponent, Donald Morgan Jr., did not respond. We also have a quick roundup of the races in Rockford, Latah, Fairfield, Spokane County Fired District 9 and the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The city of Spokane Valley is considering whether to change the zoning of a parcel of land sandwiched between the Centennial Trail and Mirabeau Park from park/open space to mixed use. Nothing has been decided yet, but it may be part of a deal to get land needed for the Pines Road overpass above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

Meet the Spokane Valley candidates tonight

Tonight is the Spokane Valley City Council candidate forum sponsored by the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce. The event begin at 6:30 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. Expect to see the candidates there answering questions about their views on issues facing the city. Ballots will begin arriving in mailboxes any day now, so this is your chance to figure out who you want to vote for.

Saturday’s highlights

McKenzie Mott's jersey was retired during an assembly held in honor of her and fellow classmate Josie Freier at University High School on Friday. The two were killed in a car accident on Saturday, October 5, 2013. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

It's Monday again. Monday seems to come around much too quickly, but at least it means we have a Saturday Valley Voice to go over. This weekend correspondent Jill Barville wrote a column based on her perspective as a parent with a student at University High School, where students are struggling to cope with the death of two students killed in a car accident. An assembly was heldto remember Josie Freier and McKenzie Mott on Friday and hundreds of toys were collected in their honor for the Toys for Tots charity.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by North Pines Middle School for a seventh-grade class that was studying the laws of motion. They were running experiments to learn whether balls of the same size but different weight behaved differently when rolled down a ramp.

Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Gary Schimmels and challenger Ed Pace answered some questions about their views on Spokane Valley issues. Ballots will be mailed this week and this story is one of a series featuring City Council candidates.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report from Millwood, where the city councilvoted to accept a loan to fund a water line replacement project. Residents have also reported increased vandalism and Mayor Dan Mork indidated he would ask for extra police patrols.

Today’s highlights

Jayden Immonen, 12, left, and seventh-grade classmate Garrett Black, 13, center, and eighth-grader Lauren Green, 13, work on a poster for friend Logan Becker, a seventh-grader at North Pines Middle School battling cancer, on Oct. 4 at the school. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

It's Thursday, which means two things. It's nearly Friday (thank goodness) and it's time for some Valley Voice highlights. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by North Pines Middle school on a day when nearly everyone was wearing purple in honor of one of their classmates. Logan Becker, a seventh-grader, is fighting cancer and students came up with the idea of wearing purple to show their support.

We also have the second installment in a series of question and answer format stories featuring candidates for Spokane Valley City Council. Appointed incumbent Rod Higgins is facing off against challenger Linda Thompson for Position 1.

The Spokane Valley City Council took care of a few housekeeping items on Tuesday, including moving the 2014 budget forward to a final vote and awarding a contract for a series of street preservation projects in the spring.

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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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