Latest from The Spokesman-Review
At the last Spokane Valley City Council meeting, Mayor Dean Grafos designated Tuesday Dec. 2 as Giving Tuesday. Grafos said the globally celebrated day is a great opportunity for people to give back to the community. “This is a way for all citizens to join together and give in any way that's reasonable,” Grafos said.
After years of discussions and negotiations over regional garbage disposal, Spokane Valley is going its own way.
City Council members decided unanimously tonight to contract with Sunshine Disposal & Recycling to handle disposal of the Valley’s estimated 45,000 tons of garbage each year. The decision follows years of discussions with Spokane and county officials as the region’s existing solid waste system is set to expire this fall.
“We’re acting in the best longterm interests of our citizens,” said Mayor Dean Grafos.
Spokane County had struck a deal with Spokane, which has controlled the regional system for two decades, to take over the existing transfer stations and had hoped to create a countywide system it would control.
Commissioner Todd Mielke made a last-minute push tonight to persuade council members to postpone a final decision and give the county a chance to beat Sunshine’s rate. Mielke said the city of Spokane was trying to work out a reduced disposal rate at its energy-producing trash incinerators on the West Plains, which would enable the county to offer a tonnage rate nearly $4 lower and could amount to millions of dollars in savings over the next decade.
But Valley leaders rejected the delay request, with some noting that the Valley had openly sought a partnership role in a regional system but was repeatedly offered only an advisory role. They also noted that Sunshine stepped up with a guaranteed rate while the county provided only estimates and contingencies.
Additionally, Sunshine officials said it needs to get started immediately with planned expansion and improvements it is promising in order to be ready by mid-November when the new arrangement takes effect.
For residents, little will change. Waste Management still will handle curbside pick up, but instead of dumping the garbage at county transfer stations they’ll drop their loads at Sunshine’s facility on University Road north of Interstate 90. The garbage then will be loaded for long-haul to regional landfills in Central Washington.
Valley officials estimate the cost of solid waste disposal will be cheaper with Sunshine than under the county system. County officials contend the savings, if any, would be minimal.
Spokane Valley Mall will be transformed into Spokane Valley City Hall for part of Thursday.
Mayor Dean Grafos will kick of the event at noon with his first state of the city address.
Other highlights include demonstrations of the Valley's new smartphone app, and the city's new online permitting system. Sheriff's Office volunteers will be distributing free bike helmets and the countywide animal control service, SCRAPS, will have a cat available for adoption along with information on other pets available. There's also kids activities organized by the city's Parks and Recreation Department.
The event will run until 5 p.m.
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.
Adams Elementary media specialist Julie Custer reads “Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum” to second-graders Oct. 5. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
There are a lot of stories to highlight from today's Valley Voice, so let's get started. We hae city council candidate Q&A stories from Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Today we are highlighting Dean Grafos and John Carroll in Spokane Valley and Shane Brickner and Keith Kopelson in Liberty Lake. The rest of the candidates will be featured in Saturday's Valley Voice.
A complaint has been filed with the PDC against Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline alleging that she is running a hairdressing business out of her home without declaring in on her financial affairs statement. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on how a grant fromTarget allowed Adams Elementary to buy books for its library and volunteers also showed up to redecorate.
The city of Spokane Valley and Spokane County are in the early stages of discussions about turning the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way into a mixed use trail. At one point the city wanted to use the land, which is still owned by the County, to extend Appleway Blvd. to the east.
Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman presented her proposed 2012 budget to the city council this week. It calls for reducing the city's new utility tax to three percent while purchasing a new police car, getting a new records management system for the police department and completing phase two of the city's arboretum.
We've managed to cram a bunch of stories into Thursday's Valley Voice, which will arrive on doorsteps tomorrow morning. We're doing another round of candidate question-and-answer format stories for candidates running for office in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. First up are Dean Grafos and John Carroll in Spokane Valley and Shane Brickner and Keith Kopelson in Liberty Lake. The rest of the candidates will be featured in the Saturday Valley Voice along with summaries of the local ballot issues.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a grant-funded library makeover at Adams Elementary. I will have a story on a complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission against a Spokane Valley City Council candidate. I'll also have a report on several topics discussed at Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. There was so much going on (the meeting didn't end until 10:30 p.m.) that I had to save some of the discussions for Saturday's Valley Voice.
Diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease as a teenager, Cindy Bergdahl has not let her vision impairment stop her from teaching fourth grade at McDonald Elementary School, or competing in triathlons. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
As promised, we brought you a bunch of interesting stories in Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval talked to McDonald Elementary School teacher Cindy Bergdahl, who teaches and competes in triathlon despite being visually impaired.
A University High School student has come forward to say she reported to the school in the spring that teacher Michael Cronin had touched her inappropriately. Central Valley School District has launched in investigation into the allegation. This comes after Cronin was put on paid administrative leave in August while the district checked into recent criminal convictions.
Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich wrote about longtime Spokane Valley resident Joe Custer, who led Vera Water and Power and was heavily involved in the community. We also have an analysis of Spokane Valley City Council campaign ad claims that the city's budget was increasing 7 percent a year until the new council took over.
We've got a few good stories coming your way in Saturday's Valley Voice, so look for it on your porch in the morning. I have a follow up story on University High School teacher Michael Cronin. A student has come forward to say she complained to school officials about Cronin's behavior this year and the Central Valley School District has launched a new investigation. I have also put together an ad watch story that looks at claims made in some Spokane Valley City Council candidate advertisements.
Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich has put together an feature obituary on Joe Custer, longtime Vera Water and Power CEO and community activist. Custer passed away a couple of weeks ago.
Bubba Ferguson, Tyler Zandhuisen, Chris Lewis, Kaleb Allen, Aaron Danneker and Loren Vanden Berg muscle up a hide-a-bed couch from the banks of the Spokane River near South Riverton and Desmet during the Seventh Annual Spokane River Clean-Up in 2009. SR file photo.
It has been a busy week in Spokane Valley and we've got the news for you in today's Valley Voice. If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity this weekend, check out the ninth annual Spokane River Clean-Up, This year several sites in the Valley have been selected to be a part of the clean up day, which is organized by the Friends of the Falls. You could also choose to help restore the hillside at the Mirabeau Park trailhead in a project organized by the Spokane River Forum.
Spokane Valley city councilman Dean Grafos paid a visit to the Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners meeting this week to talk about response time delays at Station 1 caused by the one-way segment of Sprague Avenue.
During this week's City Council meeting, the council members had a long discussion before voting on how much funding to allocate to social service and economic development agencies that applied for grants.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Adams Elementary last week when the school was visited by Ronald McDonald. The elementary schools in the Central Valley School District collected 1,150 pounds of pop tops, which will provide 30 night at the Ronald McDonald House. The house provides housing for families of children undergoing medical treatment.
Among construction projects in Spokane Valley, work has started again on the Barker Road sewer project at Laberry Drive in Greenacres. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
There was a lot to go over in Saturday's Valley Voice and I've got highlights in case you missed a few things. Road construction season has started already in Spokane Valley, with several road and sewer projects coming up. A few are already underway. The largest and most disruptive project planned (other than the addition of new freeway lanes between Sullivan and Barker) is the installation of a concrete intersection at Indiana and Sullivan.
Reporter Lisa Lienberger was in a humanities class at Central Valley High School recently when World War II veteran Del Spear visited to talk about his experiences on a minesweeper. Spokane Valley City Councilman Dean Grafos recently filed paperwork to run for re-election this November. In related news, the Spokane Valley City Council selected five candidates to interview this week for one of the two vacant council positions.
Central Valley’s Tyler Chamberlain (24) blasts past University’s Justin Donahue during a game Jan. 11. SR photo/Dan Pelle
There's a lot of good stuff from Saturday's Valley Voice to check out if you missed it over the weekend. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a nice look at Central Valley High School basketball player Tyler Chamberlain, who is having a healthy season and is excelling. There's a brief update on Mako the arson dog in this week's Spokane Valley Fire Department update.
Jeanne Erickson, the owner of Tune Tales Music, is offering music education classes for young children through the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department. Kids love to sing and dance and they don't even care if they're moving with the beat.
Spokane Valley city councilman Dean Grafos has suggested a couple of projects; adding flashing crossing beacons at Bowdish Middle School and creating a city entry on donated land at Appleway and Thierman. You can also take a look at the often commented on opinion column written by Spokane Valley Planning Commission chairman John Carroll, which got some attention at last week's council meeting.
We've got a bunch of good stuff coming up in Saturday's Valley Voice. The Liberty Lake city council passed their 2011 budget this week. A lot of proposed cuts were washed away at the last minute thanks to some revenue changes. The golf pro is back, the library will be open as usual and the police department is getting a new car.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department is preparing to award a construction contract to build a new administration building next to Station 8 on Wilbur and do some repair and remodeling work at the training tower at Sullivan and Marietta. Spokane Valley city councilman Dean Grafos has been advocating building a city hall on land the city owns near CenterPlace and a preliminary evaluation suggests it would be feasible.
One scheduling note for next week: the Central Valley School District board meeting usually held on the fourth Monday of the month has been cancelled.