Spokane Valley now has its own fleet of snowplows to take over where Spokane County left off last winter.
A half-dozen used trucks, purchased from the Washington Department of Transportation for $109,600, are being inspected and serviced by the city’s street-maintenance contractor, Poe Asphalt Paving in Post Falls.
The big, mint-green diesels will get Spokane Valley logos but no new paint.
They’re part of the city’s short-term plan to replace the snowplowing contract that Spokane County has canceled. The city will pay Poe to operate the trucks and provide additional equipment while officials seek proposals for a long-term contract.
The state-surplus rigs will be “more than capable” of meeting the city’s needs, said John Cushman, equipment manager for Poe. He noted the trucks and their 12-foot-wide blades are designed for heavy-duty service at highway speeds.
“I think it was a really good acquisition for the city just because they’re built so strong,” Cushman said. “And the trucks have been well taken care of.”
In municipal use, the 1995-vintage trucks with around 92,000 miles on their odometers could easily last five years, he said. “Shoot, they could last 20 years if the city wanted to put the money into repairing instead of replacing them.”
Eventually, maintenance work will be done at the city’s new 1.6-acre maintenance yard at 11720 E. First Ave., which the city is leasing from Waste Management for about $50,000 a year. But the yard is being upgraded and isn’t ready yet, so Poe is preparing the plow trucks at its Post Falls facility.
City and company officials are negotiating an agreement for Poe to operate the city’s plowing program.
The deal calls for the company to continue maintaining the city-owned trucks and for it to provide front-end loaders and other equipment, including road graders that cost more than $300,000 apiece.
The six-truck, two-grader lineup closely matches what Spokane County provided.
Cemetery Association holds ceremony for unclaimed remains
Five former Cheney residents have come home to rest.
On Friday, the Cheney Cemetery Association held a ceremony to remember Florrie Christine Elrod, a former teacher at what was then Eastern Washington State College, who died in 1972; Clarence Parmalee, 57, a shoemaker who died in 1946; George E. Craig, 80, an EWSC educator who passed away in 1949; and his wife, Mary Craig, 78, who died in 1947.
The four have been waiting to be claimed since they were cremated at Jerue Funeral Home. Ball and Dodd Funeral Home took over the files when Jerue closed and recently contacted the Cheney Cemetery Association to turn over the ashes.
“They’ve been cared for very appropriately,” said Rollin Hoyle, funeral director and manager of Ball and Dodd.
Hoyle said that times have changed in the last several decades with regard to how funeral homes handle ashes. Today, when a family approaches him to have a family member cremated, arrangements are made right away for the ashes. But in the past, many families took ashes home to be displayed in an urn on the mantel, or the family may have assumed the ashes had been disposed of by the funeral home. People moved away, and it was hard to get in touch with them. Today, families may choose to scatter the ashes of a loved one or place them permanently in cemeteries.
Hoyle said that when the Cheney Cemetery Association was contacted by Ball and Dodd, the association began researching the history of the people right away.
“They were really good about saying, ‘They are still our people,’ ” Hoyle said.
Chuck Kriege, president of the association, said he was surprised to find out about these Cheney residents. He and board members Barbara Curtis, Helen Boots, John Boots, Tom Mustard and Kathy Babb started to find out more about the residents.
“Some of them Helen knew by name,” Kriege said.
Boots said she remembered “Miss Elrod” for the elaborate plays she would stage.
“Those costumes were out of this world,” Boots said.
Parmalee was a shoemaker in Cheney who also worked at Galena Airfield.
Boots said Mary Craig was a great friend of her grandmother.
There was a fifth person, William Cooil, who was going to be memorialized on Friday, but Curtis found his great-grandson at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
Cooil died in 1933 at the age of 91. He worked a homestead near Tacoma and once left for the gold rush in Alaska.
The four remaining Cheney pioneers were to be buried in a plot donated by the family of another Cheney resident, William Parker.