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Today’s highlights

The shoreline reinforcement project at a Newman Lake cabin stops the shore from disappearing under it, as seen Tuesday. The Spokane County Conservation District secured a grant to lay “bio logs” of coconut husks wrapped in netting and plant willow trees and other waterside species to create a root matrix that will stabilize the shoreline. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

There are some good stories in today's Valley Voice on everything from erosion control to an entry in the East Farms Diary. A property owner on Newman Lake has teamed up with the Spokane County Conservation District for an erosion control project on their shrinking beach. The addition of power boats to the lake has led to larger wakes, which has washed away 30 feet of beach in the last 15 years.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger spent the day at East Farms STEAM Magnet School recently as students made presentations on projects they have been working on this trimester. Their efforts ranged from watermelon plants to a helicopter mockup.

Half of the Liberty Lake Police Department is now wearing body cameras and recording all their interactions with the public. Wearing the cameras is voluntary and five members of the department have signed on, including the police chief.

The Spokane Valley City Council doesn't seem very happy with changes to the lodging tax rules. A new state law removes the final decision making on who is awarded money and how much from the city council and gives it to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. The council has no power to change the awards set by the committee.

Today’s highlights

During curling practice at the Riverfront Park Ice Palace, Josh Engle throws a stone. For the first time in 30-some years, Spokane has a curling league. The new league is full of new curlers, with 80 percent of participants having never curled before. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Welcome back. I hope everyone had a nice holiday. It's Thursday again, which means some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson has announced plans to retire in March. The chief has overseen international accreditation, a regional ambulance contract and the construction of three fire stations and an administration building during his eight years leading the department.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has another entry in the East Farms Diary. She has been a regular visitor at the school as the students focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math. This story is about the fourth-grade students' efforts at launching businesses selling various products.

Repoter Pia Hallenberg has an interesting story on the new Lilac City Curling Club. Curling is popular in Canada, but most of us only see it on television during the Olympics. The group is starting up a curling league even though many players don't have any experience. They're in it for the fun.

Today’s highlights

Debbie Johnson, World Relief Spokane Citizenship and Naturalization Program manager, left, works with Veniamin Avdeyev and Ana Mpawanayo, rear, as they take a civics test on Nov. 29 in Spokane. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Now is a good time to check out today's Valley Voice while we wait to see if the weatherman is right and snow is on the way. The Spokane Valley City Council appears to be ready to vote on a contract with the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service for animal control services as soon as the contract language is finalized. This would end a year of debate over whether the city should stick with SCRAPS or contract with SpokAnimal.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a couple of good stories. She wrote about people who take citizenship classes through World Relief Spokane. The classes help them prepare for their naturalization test so they can become citizens.Lisa also has another entry in the East Farms Diary. She has been spending days at the East Farms STEAM Magnet School as the kids focus on science, technology, math, engineering and art.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners picked former Central Valley School District superindendent Mike Pearson to fill a vacancy on the board of commissioners. He will be sworn in at the next commissioner's meeting.

Saturday’s highlights

Tyler Saunders, left, a senior from Mead High School, gets tips on how to safely mount a new cutting tool on a large milling machine from veteran machinist Cal Christen at Spokane Community College on Friday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Welcome to another Monday morning. We've got several highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently spend another day at the East Farms STEAM Magnet School for an entry for her ongoing East Farms Diary. The school, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, had a day of hands on activities where students could do everything from making a clay pot to throwing a football.

Lisa also met up with students taking classes through the new Spokane Valley Tech skills center that is still under construction. The center is bringing together the Central Valley, West Valley, East Valley and Freeman school districts. The program is also open to students from other districts.

Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson recently signed up to be tested on a driving simulator that the city's insurance company brought to town. It tested the reactions of city employees to bad weather, failed brakes, blown tires and other scenarios.

Saturday’s highlights

Central Valley High senior Alex Moore poses for a photo on Tuesday in Spokane Valley. Moore will receive the YWCA Young Woman of Achievement Award later this month. She excels in math and science and competes for her school’s cross country team. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Sorry this edition of Saturday's Valley Voice highlights is late. My computer didn't want to speak to the network for most of the morning. But now I'm up and running again, so here we go. A new Wal-Mart store is opening on the west end of Spokane Valley on Wednesday. While the ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. may be a bit early for some, the grand opening promotions and samples will continue all weekend.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has the third entry in her East Farms Diary. She has been spending time at the East Farms STEAM Magnet School that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. This week's story checks in with volunteers at the school and what they contribute.

Lisa also has a story on Central Valley High School senior Alex Moore, who will recieve the Young Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA next week. Her list of achievements in school and in the community is quite lengthy.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that the City of Millwood is facing a deficit in 2013. More meetings and public hearings are planned to discuss the issue. Their neighbor, the City of Spokane Valley, voted last week to not take the allowed 1 percent property tax increase.

Saturday’s highlights

Fourth-grader Tyler Burghard, 10, right, tapes plastic into the lid of a pizza box to build a solar oven Wednesday at East Farms Elementary in Otis Orchards. The STEAM Magnet program gives students a chance to participate in a variety of projects and subjects, and the school is becoming a magnet school with the STEAM program as a theme. In the background is fellow student Hayden Ohl. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It's another sunny and smokey Monday morning, which means it's time to look over some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has another entry in the East Farms Diary. She is spending some time this year visiting the East Farms STEAM Magnet School in the East Valley School District. Last week when she was there students were participating in a variety of projects, including taking apart a gas engine, building a solar oven or making root beer with dry ice.

There is some sad news from the Edgecliff neighborhood. The Edgecliff Senior Center has closed, eliminating the nighborhood's last gathering place. The volunteer run organization ran out of funding. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton ruled last week that the voter registration of Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner Monte Nesbitt will be cancelled because he doesn't live at the Spokane Valley address he used to register to vote. Fire commissioners are required to live in the district they represent and Nesbitt now lives in Cheney.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted last week on the allocation of money to economic development and social service agencies. The organizations selected are either located in Spokane Valley and/or serve Spokane Valley residents.

Saturday’s highlights

Machines operated by Piersol Construction scrape dirt from the Flora Road landing along the Spokane River on Thursday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

It's another sunny Monday morning, so enjoy the sun while we still have it. A look at the calendar shows that October is just around the corner. Meanwhile, we have some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has her first entry in the East Farms Diary. She will be spending time at the East Farms STEAM Magnet School in East Valley as it transitions from an elementary school and wrote about her first day in class. She gave blog readers a preview last week.

The Department of Ecology is working on several Spokane River beach cleanups to remove and/or cap sites contaminated by heavy metals flowing in from upstream. Right now they're working on Flora Road and a spot near Barker Road is next.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that the city of Millwood made changes to its medical marijuana dispensary license rules. Correspondent Steve Christilaw spoke to 1962 Central Valley High School graduate Bob Keppel, who was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame for his achievements in track.

East Farms Diary: Seventh Grade

In tomorrow’s Valley Voice there will be a story about the seventh graders from East Farms as they spend a day in school.

For the next school year, I’ll be spending two days a month at East Farms STEM Magnet School, formerly East Farms Elementary School, in the East Valley School District.

We chose East Farms for a couple of reasons. The district is transitioning from a K-5 elementary school system to K-8 community schools. Middle-school students spend their mornings at their community schools and travel to East Valley Middle School, soon to be the Middle Level Learning Center, to have lunch and take their physical education and enrichment classes such as music and art. The second reason is East Farms’ move to become a STEAM magnet school this year. All students, with the exception of the kindergarten classes, will begin taking classes to enhance their appreciation for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

For my first outing to East Farms, I decided to spend the day with the 55 seventh graders. These students are the first to experience life as middle schoolers in a community school. Two years ago, they were fifth graders, expecting to attend Mountain View Middle School for their sixth grade year. The district decided that year to change the way it taught its middle school students, keeping them at their neighborhood elementary schools through the eighth grade and closing Mountain View permanently. East Valley Middle School will become the Middle Level Learning Center next year, where seventh and eighth graders participate in enrichment or exploratory classes. Next year, they will be the first eighth graders at East Farms.

While I discuss in the story some generalities of the day, I found myself very interested in the work the students were doing in the classrooms of East Farms, and with far more notes in my notebook to include in one story for the paper, I thought I would share some of that here on the blog.