For Tony Lazanis, persistence has paid off.
Lazanis, who owns the Eastgate Motel at Trent and University in the Spokane Valley, has come to Olympia dozens of times over the past four years to tell lawmakers why they should allow Spokane County to ban train whistles.
This year a bill that would give the county that relief has cleared both houses of the Legislature and is headed for the desk of Gov. Mike Lowry.
And the state Senate Thursday passed a good-humored resolution praising Lazanis for his role in getting the bill this far for the first time.
Lazanis is a familiar figure to lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate Transportation Committees, which have seen the locomotive whistle bill brought before them for the past four sessions.
Lazanis hopes this will be the year it finally becomes law.
“It would be a great benefit to the community, to the businesses and to the Valley people,” Lazanis said. “We’ve suffered for a long time.”
Lazanis, 64, immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in the mid-1940s, when he was 16 years old. He said he has owned the Eastgate Motel for 35 years.
He said train traffic near the motel began getting unbearable about five years ago, when a railroad merger increased traffic along the line to as many as 100 trains a day. Each train blows its whistle three times starting a quarter of a mile from each railroad crossing.
While the trains will still run, they may be a little quieter after this year, thanks in part to the efforts of Lazanis.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BE IT RESOLVED … The Senate resolution honoring Spokane Valley motel owner reads in part: Whereas, Mr. Lazanis has been engineering a railroad whistle curfew so that his patrons can get a good night’s sleep; and Whereas, Tony’s attempts at a good night’s rest have been derailed in many a legislative session; and Whereas, Tony’s determination to get the legislature back on track has finally been rewarded; Now, therefore be it resolved, that the Senate recognizes that Tony has made the grade, driven the golden spike, and can now spend his time doing the locomotion and chanting “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could…”