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Spokane Valley blog

Posts tagged: Spokane Valley

Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight

The Spokane Valley City Council his holding its regular meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave. On the agenda are items dealing with the comprehensive plan update, the 2015 property tax ordinance and an informational update on the Fife marijuana ban. In July, the City Council adopted some restrictions to where marijuana businesses may be operated. For more details see tonight's agenda - note that this is an informational agenda item only.

Sullivan Bridge project kickoff

The replacement of the Sullivan Bridge begins on Sept. 25 and the public is invited to stop by for a project orientation at 3:30 p.m. Spokane Valley Mayor Dean Grafos will be there together with other city dignitaries and project staff. The $15 million project is expected to be finished in 2016. Read more about it here. 

To sign up for traffic alerts and project updates from Spokane Valley visit the city's website and click on “follow us.” 

Valley Fest took flight

This weekend marked another wonderful Valley Fest celebration - the 25th to be exact. Check out photographer Dan Pelle's slide show from the festive weekend here. And share your favorite Valley Fest memories in the comments below. 

Zombie breakfast not a dead affair

I attended the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce “Zombie Breakfast” this morning at Mirabeau Park Hotel and got a chance to say hello to the new president and CEO of the chamber, Katherine Morgan. John Guarisco said that Morgan was selected from a group of 20 highly qualified applicants. 

“It was very difficult,” Guarisco said, “but she was the one person who was just a bundle of passion for Spokane Valley.”

 

Hello Spokane Valley

- I'm your new designated reporter and I am looking to have some fun with this blog, too. I just spent a good hour visiting with Carolbelle Branch at City Hall, and she helped me come up with a list of people and places to visit as I get a sense of my new beat. 

I will be taking the blog on the road in Spokane Valley on a regular basis - hopefully once a week - and I encourage you to come out and meet with me. The easiest way to keep track of me is to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter; I will be posting invites there as I go. Story ideas are always welcome at piah@spokesman.com 

More about those business licenses issued to new pot lounge

Spokane Valley officials are concerned that some readers may have mistakenly inferred the city is sanctioning marijuana use at a new members-only social club because it issued business licenses to the establishment.

The Lounge, located in the former Ringo's casino at Sprague and Bowdish, is getting around state prohibitions on public marijuana use by operating as a private club. Owners acknowledged in a July 26 article that they're operating in a legal gray area but believe they've cobbled together a legally defensible business model.

City spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch says the only business licenses the Valley has issued to the Lounge are for its social club and its consulting service, which is how the company refers to its on-site medical marijuana dispensary. Branch said the licenses in no way reflect the city's sanctioning of marijuana use on the premises, noting that regulatory power rests with other agencies.

The establishment is blending Washington's newfound tolerance for recreational marijuana with the more loosely regulated medical marijuana and the built-in loopholes that private social clubs have long enjoyed in this state. The result is a mix of regulatory jurisdictions, many of which are still trying to sort out the state's largely untested laws and how to enforce them.

Either way, as noted in the original article, law enforcement has pledged to take a zero tolerance approach to impaired driving regardless of whether it's drugs or alcohol

Valley imposes more restrictions on pot retailers

Valley leaders unanimously adopted new restrictions on recreational marijuana retailers tonight despite warnings from pot entrepreneurs that it could doom the fledgling industry's success here.

The local restrictions go beyond the existing state prohibitions on marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and libraries. In the Valley, retail operations also are now prohibited within 1,000 feet of the Centennial Trial and planned Appleway Trail, as well as any land earmarked for future schools, parks or libraries. A late addition to the ordinance also prohibits retail operations near Spokane Valley City Hall or city-owed property that could be used for parks or city operations in the future.

Several people urged the council to reject the additional restrictions, with some prospective retailers warning that they may have to consider a lawsuit against the city if the additional restrictions prevent them from finding suitable locations to open their stores.

Crystal Orcutt called the restrictions hypocritical because no other industry faces the same types of restrictions. Orcutt noted that there's an adult products emporium across the street from city hall and several bars and cocktail lounges nearby, both of which she suggested pose greater threats to the health of the community.

“The zoning restrictions that are being suggested here tonight are too restrictive,” she said.

The proposal was approved unanimously without comment by council members.

 

 

 

City eases its own pot restrictions

Spokane Valley eased restrictions tonight on where recreational marijuana can be grown and packaged.

The move is designed to open industrial sites north of the Spokane River along the city’s eastern edge that were excluded when Spokane Valley imposed a 1,000-foot buffer around the Centennial Trail. Retail marijuana stores are still prohibited within the buffers.

Commercial real estate agents, industrial property owners and would-be marijuana producers told council members the river is a better buffer than an arbitrary 1,000 feet, and that opening up the industrial sites even to limited production and processing will bring new companies and jobs to the city.

The council unanimously approved the change.

More than 30 companies have applied to the state for production and processing licenses in Spokane Valley, while 43 more have applied for retail licenses. The state will allow just three retail operations in the city, but there’s no geographical limit on the number of licensed producers and processors.

Spokane Valley might be lightening up (just a bit) on pot

Just a month after banning marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of recreational trails, Spokane Valley appears to be reconsidering the move after commercial real estate brokers, landlords and pot entrepreneurs warned it's driving away potential new jobs.

Industrial property north of the Spokane River, where several potential pot processing operations are hoping to locate, was rendered off limits by the city's interim zoning restrictions adopted in February because the southern property line is barely within 1,000 feet of the Centennial Trail on the other side of the Spokane River. Landowners suggested the river is its own natural buffer zone between the trail and the potential marijuana operations.

City Council members agreed.

“I think we need to use some common sense,” said Councilman Bill Bates.

The required buffer around recreational trails in Spokane Valley is in addition to the state-mandated buffer zones around parks and schools.

Mayor Dean Grafos wants a proposed amendment drafted that would impose the local buffer restrictions on retail operations only, which effectively would clear the way for the industrial property north of the river.

The proposal likely will be considered next month.

But some council members don't want people getting the wrong idea.

“I still don't like marijuana (and) … wish we could just ban it,” said Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard. “But I think the intent of what we were trying to do was prevent families from being accosted by it, and I think the river becomes a pretty good barrier.”

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.

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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