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It’s now Mayor Dean Grafos

A business man who once actively sought to abolish the City of Spokane Valley now is its mayor.

Councilman Dean Grafos was selected Tuesday night by fellow council members to serve in the largely ceremonial position. He edged Councilman Chuck Hafner in a 4-3 split.

“I’m honored,” Grafos said after the vote. “We have a great city council, city staff and city manager.”

Grafos was a vocal critic of the city, which was created in 2003, and had contributed to unsuccessful disincorportation campaigns. But he jumped into the political arena in 2009 after the final disincorporation effort collapsed and was among a slate of conservative candidates calling themselves “Positive Change” that took control of the city instead.

“If I'm going to be involved in this city, I'm going to make sure it's the best run city in the county,” Grafos said Tuesday night, praising the fiscal leadership and other directions that the council has charted for the city in recent years.

Supporting Grafos' mayoral selection were councilmen Ed Pace, Arne Woodard and Rod Higgins. Hafner picked up support from Ben Wick and Bill Bates.

Woodard was selected to serve as deputy mayor in a 5-2 vote.

Spokane Valley has a city manager that tends to day-to-day operations while the mayor presides over the seven-member city council, which sets policy and priorities.

Grafos said his priorities for the two-year mayoral term include helping bring more jobs to Spokane Valley, continuing the focus on public safety, infrastructure and citizen respect.

Today’s highlights

Jennifer Papich walks through the first section of the haunted pool at Valley Mission Pool. Samantha the doll sits in the corner waiting for visitors. SR photo/Liz Kishimoto

Oh, dear. I nearly managed to get through the day while forgetting to post the highlights from today's Valley Voice. It's a good one, too, with lots of interesting stories. First up is the Valley Mission Haunted Pool that opens tomorrow. The pool has been transformed into a haunted house that will be open the next two weekends. It was freaky enough when it was half-finished in daylight; I'm sure it will be frightfully good.

In keeping with our (unplanned) Halloween theme, reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the new corn maze at the HUB Sports Center. This is the first year for the event, which features a haunted area for the adventurous. There are also plenty of regular mazes for families and those who like to get lost.

Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Chuck Hafner took his turn answering a series of questions we posed to all the candidates. His opponent, Donald Morgan Jr., did not respond. We also have a quick roundup of the races in Rockford, Latah, Fairfield, Spokane County Fired District 9 and the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The city of Spokane Valley is considering whether to change the zoning of a parcel of land sandwiched between the Centennial Trail and Mirabeau Park from park/open space to mixed use. Nothing has been decided yet, but it may be part of a deal to get land needed for the Pines Road overpass above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

Today’s highlights

Keith Arp levels a fence post at the newly constructed Veterans Memorial in front of Valley Fourth Memorial Church. When completed, the memorial will be available 24/7 for community members to pray and meditate for members of the military. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I suggest on this lovely, bright and sunshine filled day that we first spend a little time checking out today's Valley Voice. The congregation of the Valley Fourth Memorial Church plan to dedicate a new veterans memorial on May 29, which of course is the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. It will honor all the local military members who have been killed in action since 9/11.

The Spokane Valley City Councl picked Positive Change architect Chuck Hafner to fill the vacant seat in their ranks, a move that probably doesn't surprise anyone. The Farm Fresh Fruit stand on Argonne just south of Sprague has been having problems with complaints and a feud with a neighbor factors into that.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger was in attendance at the Liberty Lake City Council meeting this week when the council members discussed whether or not to continue having prayer at the beginning of each meeting. And for those of you who followed the exploits of Chicken, Spokane Valley's most famous bird, correspondent Stefanie Pettit has an update on the popular fowl.

Thursday’s highlights

North Palouse Community Food Bank president Sheila Dyer assists a client last Thursday. Although the food bank is open only limited hours, Dyer will let people set up appointments for emergency needs. The food bank serves Fairfield, Rockford, Latah and Waverly. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

We've got items from just about every corner of the Valley in today's Valley Voice. Retired educator Chuck Hafner has thrown his hat in the ring by filing paperwork to run for a Spokane Valley City Council seat in November - but he hasn't decided which one yet. There will be three to chose from; the ones currently filled by Bill Gothmann and Dean Grafos and the seat vacated by Rose Dempsey.

The East Valley School District board voted this week to ask voters to pass at $33.75 million bond on April 26. It would mean improvements to Trentwood, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Skyview and Trent Elementary schools.

The North Palouse Community Food Bank has been quietly serving the communities of Fairfield, Rockford, Latah and Waverly since 2005. It relies on the generosity of residents and community food drives. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the third graders at Pasadena Park Elementary who have made crafts for the Iditarod mushers.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and also to accept a grant to put in sidewalks on 24th between Adams and Sullivan.