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Donated suits keep needy kids in the swim

Sun., June 22, 2008

When Spokane’s outdoor pools opened for the season last week, there likely were hundreds of children wearing swimsuits donated through a popular program of the Spokane Parks Foundation.0

Swimmers without a lined suit are not allowed into the water at city pools.

Two years ago the foundation gave away 200 swimsuits. Last year, the need grew to 600. The foundation expects to give away 700 suits to needy children this year.

The foundation has given away hundreds of suits, and the executive director expects she will need an additional 200 to make it through the summer season. The city’s community centers are passing out the suits.

Executive Director Toni Nersesian said the reason for the increased need is simple: “People are going broke.”

To encourage swimsuit donations, the Spokane Parks Foundation is teaming up with the Garland Theater to collect swimsuit donations during the Garland’s free morning movie. People who show up for the 9:30 a.m. screening of “The Game Plan” can hand over the suits or cash donations to volunteers.

The swimsuit giveaway is just one way the Parks Foundation helps children from low-income families.

The foundation also provides scholarships for swim lessons and city day camps, and needs cash donations to help pay for those programs.

New swimsuits for children can be dropped off at the Northeast, West Central, East Central and Peaceful Valley community centers or at the Spokane Parks Foundation office, 315 W. Mission Ave. The suits or cash donations also may be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 2021, Spokane, WA 99210. A donation form is available online at

Mike Prager

Post Falls to host its own fireworks show

Post Falls will celebrate its own kind of independence this Fourth of July, breaking free from its bigger neighbors to the east and west and launching its first community fireworks show.

While Coeur d’Alene and Spokane sponsor large fireworks displays, Post Falls has never taken on the challenge.

“I think some people feel Post Falls is big enough for fireworks of its own,” said city Parks Director Dave Fair.

The Fourth of July fireworks show at Q’emiln Park is the brainchild of Stateline Speedway owner Joe Doellefeld, who said he thought it a fitting way to add to a planned performance by Post Falls sister city’s Herborn Band.

The German band’s performance will cap a day of food, children’s activities and other entertainment. The 30-member ensemble will play from 6 p.m. until the fireworks show at dusk.

If it’s successful, Doellefeld said, the fireworks show could become an annual event.

“What I didn’t want to do is copy what Coeur d’Alene does,” he said. “It’s time for us to stand on our own feet.”

Amy Cannata

Businessman eases off disincorporation effort

A Spokane Valley developer and businessman has backed away from a threat to lead a third drive to disincorporate the city.

Rob Gragg, of Crown West Realty, said he was persuaded in meetings with Mayor Rich Munson and city Community Development Director Kathy McClung to work with them on his goal of making the city more “business friendly.”

“It was the first time I had spent one-on-one time with the mayor, and I was very impressed with him,” said Gragg, who is vice president for asset management at Crown West, which owns the Spokane Business and Industrial Park at Trent and Sullivan.

Gragg promised to abandon threats of disincorporation.

“I’m certainly willing to give everybody time to try and make this thing work,” he said.

His complaints involve difficulties in obtaining building permits as well as pressure to improve fire safety at the industrial park, which is a former World War II naval supply depot.

Munson said he “made it pretty clear” to Gragg that “I didn’t feel threatened by any attempt by him or anybody else to disincorporate.” Others have been unable to get “even half the number of signatures they need to get it on the ballot,” Munson said.

State law requires City Council consent or a petition signed by a majority of registered voters to place disincorporation on a ballot. Spokane Valley’s critics fell far short of the necessary signatures in 2003 and 2005.

John Craig

Hayden Canyon annexation faces fight

Opponents of the proposed 618-acre Hayden Canyon development north of Hayden are vowing to take their fight to the Hayden City Council after the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended annexation of the property.

The City Council has the ultimate authority to annex Hayden Canyon, annex it with conditions or deny the annexation request.

The Hayden Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-1 on June 16 to annex Hayden Canyon, with most commissioners reasoning that they would prefer to control how the site is developed rather than leave it up to Kootenai County.

Plans call for a 1,800-home development. The developer has agreed to set aside land for open space and donate property for a school, park and police station.

Developer Glen Lanker told the planning commission that, if the property isn’t annexed by Hayden, he would move forward with developing it under county regulations.

“We’re not sure what an alternate scenario looks like with the county, but some of these commitments and agreements may not be part of that,” Lanker said.

Amy Cannata


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