September 4, 2008 in Voices

Rail work restricts traffic on Hwy. 902

Jeslyn Lemke Staff writer

Highway 902 near Airway Heights will be down to one lane for the next two months as construction workers build railroad crossing signals for the new Geiger Spur Airway Heights rail line. They are also building a pullout lane for bigger vehicles to use when the train rolls by.

The lane restrictions are from 7 to 9 a.m. and then from 3 to 6 p.m. to avoid the bulk of highway traffic. Flaggers will be there to guide drivers.

“That’s about the only time you’re going to see any stops interfering traffic,” said Andrew Wood, the Department of Transportation’s deputy rail and marine director.

Half the track already has been put in for the new 3.5-mile stretch of rail line.

The new line is being built to replace a line that runs through Fairchild Air Force Base, after the base declined to renew its lease with Spokane County.

The new line runs from the Palouse River Coulee City Railroad by Craig Road to the Geiger Spur, by McFarlane Road.

“If all goes well and the weather continues to hold, we’re hopeful the project may even be completed this year,” Wood said. “It’s certainly going to be completed by next spring.”

New business tackles your to-do list

There’s a new fix-it-man in town and he’s willing to drive right up to your doorstep (literally) to do the job.

Meet Tony Norlen, a 48-year-old Seattle native who moved to Spokane 17 years ago, and recently armed his ’86 green pickup truck with enough supplies to tackle mowing, raking, snow removal, tree-trimming and lots more.

He does trips anywhere in Cheney, Airway Heights and Medical Lake and said he’s done work for about 175 people since he opened in April.

“It just snowballed into a really busy business,” said Norlen, who sometimes works seven days a week with regular customers and newcomers.

He charges $18 for every hour he’s at a home, with a $10 minimum for lawn mowing. For $25 plus the dump fee, he’ll haul yard waste and other debris to the local dump.

He said his main customers are the elderly and single, divorced or widowed women. Many customers have larger farms they just can’t maintain by themselves.

“I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of leaves to rake in the fall,” he said.

Norlen used to work as a heavy equipment operator for Moon Rock gravel pits off Grove Road. When business became alarmingly slow last year he realized he’d either have to sell his home near Badger Lake or begin his own business.

“I like being my own boss and being independent,” Norlen said. Contact him at 235-1360.

Support group helps people with diabetes

Lots of people deal with diabetes and a support group has formed in Medical Lake to share their successes and struggles.

So far this year, a physical therapist has visited to share about exercise, a pharmaceutical representative came to talk about diabetes-safe products and other volunteers have come down to share.

The next meeting is Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. in the St John’s Lutheran Church.

Director Joanna Williams started the group when she discovered she had diabetes. She’d just lost a leg to cancer treatment. Swamped in medical bills and using a wheelchair, Williams found herself unable to get out to diabetes support groups in Spokane. They also charged a fee.

“Being disabled, I’m on a severely limited income. I didn’t feel I could be spending money to travel (and attend),” Williams said.

At the Medical Lake meetings, attendance is free, she said, and people who don’t have diabetes are still welcome.

“Bring your problem. We’ll talk about it,” Williams said with a laugh. For more information, contact Williams at 299-6615.

Contact correspondent Jeslyn Lemke by e-mail at

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