October 16, 1997 in City

Commish Flush With Excitement Over Trail Toilet

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

Who better to commemorate a spanking new restroom than a county commissioner named John?

Who better to assess the public’s pressing toilet needs than a rugged mountaineer who has endured untold deprivations atop the world’s tallest peaks?

On many an ice-bound morning, Spokane’s John Roskelley probably awoke shivering in the high-altitude air only to wish: “Ah, if only there were a concrete vandal-resistant commode waiting for me just a step or two outside the ol’ pup tent.”

How true, agrees Roskelley, suddenly launching into a yarn about climbing K-2 in Pakistan and having to compete with ornery Sherpa guides for places to heed nature’s unforgiving call.

Sometimes “you’re so limited where you can do this stuff,” says the commissioner, shaking his head at the grim memory of life in the sometimes not-so-accommodating outdoors.

Well, relief has arrived for Centennial Trail bladders.

No longer must trekkers fantasize about modern conveniences as they hop cross-legged for the bushes near Barker Road.

Wednesday afternoon, Commissioner Roskelley proudly cut a blue ribbon to open the most indestructible-looking water closet I have ever seen.

There have been some strange sights in my career, but this really takes the urinal cake.

Proving there is a God of Journalism, Roskelley was one of three Johns who led a most moving ceremony in the Spokane Valley.

John Rascoff was there to represent the Centennial Trail. That he is also a lawyer makes him a bona fide expert in the field of effluence.

John White is president of CXT, the company that manufactures these $8,500, bomb-proof outhouses. The bottom line is that the restroom is a wonderful gift to the county at not one penny of taxpayer expense, thanks to CXT.

This is “the John event of the year,” exclaims White, handing Roskelley a large symbolic gold “key to the biffy.”

An Englishman, White repeatedly referred to his heavy duty toilet as a “biffy.” The crowd of 32 people gathered before the new restroom seemed unfamiliar with the word, but laughed politely anyway.

Even so, “Three Johns and a Biffy” would make a very good title should this bizarre toilet ceremony ever become a Movie of the Week.

Many of my snootier brethren and cistern in the news biz believe covering a toilet is too piddling to merit serious concern. That just goes to show how out-of-touch they are.

I say forget the Bill Clinton trailer park scandals. This is the kind of practical below-the-belt news every voter will gladly get behind.

This is some biffy, folks.

The brown steel reinforced concrete shack replaces several wood privies along the trail that were burned or destroyed by dull-witted vandals.

According to White, his structure is built to withstand a hurricane, earthquake or avalanche. In the event of nuclear war, the Barker Road rest stop will be the safest place in the county.

I only hope I get there first. This is not what anyone would call a commodious commode.

There’s no running water. Or even a flush. It’s just four close walls and a very Spartan throne.

Of course, this is the freebie version. You can bet if the state Department of Corrections ordered one of these babies at taxpayer expense it would come with a law library and cable TV.

But it’s certainly a worthy port in a storm for a hiker in dire need.

“This is really the first toilet facility built specifically for the Centennial Trail,” says Roskelley, beaming. “This is probably one of the more important christenings I get to do.”

Well, that should tell us a lot about where Roskelley’s political career is headed.

, DataTimes


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