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Councilman Gothmann announces re-election run

Last week Spokane Valley city councilman Bill Gothmann filed his candidate registration paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission. He will run for re-election to his council seat in the November elections. He is the first council member to announce a re-election campaign. Read here for more details.

Today’s highlights

East Valley Superintendent John Glenewinkel applauds members of the Mountain View Middle School Band during a perfomance before the Jan. 25 school board meeting. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

You may need two cups of coffee this morning in order to have enough time to read everything in today's Valley Voice. East Valley School District superintendent John Glenewinkel recently spent some time answering reporter Lisa Leinberger's questions about the proposed re-visioning plan for the district and how that relates to a possible construction bond.

The Spokane Valley City Council met this week to approve the procedure for filling the vacant council seat and to hear a report on the full-width paving program that goes with the installation of sewer lines by Spokane County. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a nice story on Healing Hearts Northwest, a group of local doctors and nurses who travel to Rwanda to perform needed heart surgeries. The group has two fundraisers coming up this month to help pay for the next trip.

The Liberty Lake City Council welcomed a new parks and open spaces superintendent during its meeting this week. Also in Liberty Lake, a resident spotted a garage burglar who's description matches that of the man police arrested for similar crimes in Liberty Lake in December.

Want to be on the city council?

Probably more than a few people have sat in the audience during a city council meeting or read about a meeting in the paper and grouched that they could do it better. Well, here's your chance. The City of Spokane Valley is now officially accepting applications from residents interested in filling the council seat vacated by Rose Dempsey when she resigned. You have until 4 p.m. on March 4 to turn it in.

The seat is open to anyone who has lived in the Spokane Valley city limits for at least a year and is a registered voter. Applications are available here or at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Applications must be mailed or hand-delivered. A vote to appoint a new council member is tentatively set for the March 29 council meeting. Click here for a complete schedule and description of the process. 

Whoever is appointed will serve the remainder of Dempsey's term, which expires in November. The person appointed could then run for re-election if he or she chooses.

Coming Thursday

A lof ot questions and concerns have been floating around out there on the re-visioning plan proposed by the East Valley School District. In Thursday's Valley Voice, reporter Lisa Leinberger has a lengthy Q&A with East Valley superintendent John Glenewinkel that should answer a lot of questions about the how and why.

The Liberty Lake Police Department has been kept hopping lately. Four garage burglaries and vehicle prowls were reported in one night recently. One of the residents spotted a man near his garage. The description of the man and his car match those of the man police arrested in December for similar crimes in Liberty Lake, according to police chief Brian Asmus. A distressing number of the cars and garages that have been burglarized were unlocked, so everyone please remember to lock up. Also remember to bring your valuables inside at night.

The Spokane Valley City Council had a brief meeting Tuesday and formally adopted the procedure to fill the vacant city council seat. The plan is to have a new council member on the dias by the end of March.

Council meeting tonight

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with the Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight. I'm just posting it because it's so darn cool. Spokesman-Review photographer Dan Pelle took this awesome shot of icy gondolas over the Spokane River yesterday in Riverfront Park. He put together a slide show of several other photos just like it, so take a look.

Now, on to business. Tonight's city council meeting looks fairly short. The only items of consequence on the agenda are a vote on the motion to formally approve the process for appointing a new council member and a presentation on the sewer paveback program. This is the last year for the Septic Tank Elimination Program and two areas are slated to get sewered this summer.

Saturday’s highlights

Bus mechanic Everett Combs holds Eve. Combs is the one who found the stray kitten near the Freeman School District bus barn. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It's Monday again, and a chilly one at that. Monday, of course, means highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The feel-good story of the Voice is Lisa Leinberger's tale of the Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty, also known as Eve. She was found and taken in by the Freeman school bus drivers and is now featured in a children's book.

The Spokane Valley City Council is taking steps to appoint a replacement for former council woman Rose Dempsey, who resigned her seat. The Spokane Valley Fire Department was kept busy with fires caused by a candle, an engine block heater and cooking oil.

This week's Inside Our Schools column has a bunch of tidbits, including Central Valley's plans for upcoming renovations, the departure of East Valley Middle School principal Mark Purvine and upcoming East Valley bond information meetings. The Spokane Valley Fire Department also recently recognized two men for giving live saving aid to a hit and run victim.  

Coming on Saturday

''Eve,'' the Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty, is held by Freeman Transportation Supervisor Charlotte Trejbal. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

This week's Saturday Valley Voice is packed. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will check in with the "Itty Bitty School Bus Kitty" that was found and adopted by the school bus drivers in Freeman.

At this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting the council discussed the procedure for filling the vacant council seat that opened up when former council member Rose Dempsey resigned. The plan, which is set to be formally approved next week, anticipates selecting a replacement by the end of March.

Today’s highlights

Valley Lilac Festival candidates back row, left to right: Porscha Smith, University; Christa Gentili, The Oaks Christian Academy; and Brianna Bogart, Valley Christian. Front row, left to right: Katie Mandler, Gonzaga Prep, and Kaleigh Fox, Central Valley. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

Well, it's Thursday again and time for some more Valley Voice highlights. Five of the 14 Lilac Princesses live in the Valley area. They attend University High School, Valley Christian, Central Valley High School, Gonzaga Prep and The Oaks Christian Academy. Today's Valley Voice includes interviews with all five. The Lilac Queen and her court will be selected Sunday.

As expected, the Spokane Valley City Council voted this week to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan and relplace it with mixed use zoning. Today's story includes a lot of public comment from both sides of the issue.

We also have a look at a pet cemetery in Colbert and a deal with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office that saved the budgets of some small southern Spokane County towns.

Coming Thursday

The Valley Voice is going to look a little purple on Thursday. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has interviews with all the Lilac Princesses who live in the Valley. There are girls from Valley Christian, University High School and Central Valley High School. The princesses from Gonzaga Prep and the Oaks Classical Christian Academy are also Valley residents.

The Spokane Valley City Council faced a packed room last night as people came out to comment on the emergency amendment to eliminate the City Center zone from the Sprauge/Appleway Revitalization Plan. They voted to approve the amendment four to one. Councilman Bill Gothmann voted against it and councilman Bob McCaslin was absent.

Some of the small towns in southern Spokane County got a bit of sticker shock this year when it came time to negotiate their law enforcment contract with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. But a deal was struck and the towns will have smaller increases this year. 

Check back tomorrow for some links.

Meetings tomorrow

Tuesday nights have certainly been interesting lately and that should continue tomorrow. The Spokane Valley City Council will meet and the top item on the agenda is the second reading and final vote on the proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to eliminate the City Center zone of SARP and replace it with Mixed Use Avenue zoning. There was a ton of public comment at last week's meeting and there will probably be more tomorrow. The council will also discuss the procedure to replace council woman Rose Dempsey, who resigned last week. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

The East Valley school board will meet tomorrow as well. Their meetings have been lively recently as parents and community members have packed in to comment about the district's proposed re-visioning plan. The issue isn't on the agenda, but more people might wander in to have their say. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the District Administration Center, 12325 E. Grace.

Saturday’s highlights

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.

Coming on Saturday

Jeanne Erickson uses zebra finger puppets to teach singing and pitch development during her music class at CenterPlace on Wednesday. She uses musical games and movement to introduce children to music and music theory. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak 

Another Saturday, another wonderful Valley Voice. The owner of Tune Tales Music is offering classes through the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department to teach young children about music theory and musical instruments. It also gives kids a chance to move around and have a little fun.

After some belt tightening last year, some on the Spokane Valley City Council are considering whether to spend some money on a city entry at Appleway and Thierman and flashing school crossing beacons at area middle schools. Those of you who read my Thursday story on the large amount of public comment at Tuesday's city council meeting can take a look at a Vocal Point column by Spokane Valley Planning Commission chairman John Carroll. It is the same as the email that has been circulating around that some people found fault with. You can read it and see what you think.

Finally, you can learn what happens when you combine a faulty heater with a freshly shampood carpet and keep up to date on the travelings of Mako, the Spokane Valley Fire Department arson dog.

Today’s highlights

Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small answers a question from a member of the Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club about the upcoming CV bond levy at a Jan. 12 meeting. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Pour your coffee and settle in, it's time to take a look at some highlights of today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger interviewed Central Valley School District superintendent Ben Small to get all the information you ever wanted to know about the district's upcoming bond, including a full list of what schools will benefit. Correspondent Cindy Hval has a story on a program called Safety Net, which helps youth who are aging out of the foster care system.

The Spokane Valley City Council voted Tuesday to advance an emergency ordinance to remove the City Center zone from SARP to a second reading. There was a lot of public comment on the issue that was almost evenly split. I didn't have enough space to include them all, but there's a representative sample in there. On a related note, check out my story in today's main paper about council woman Rose Dempsey's resignation.  

Coming Thursday

We've got a new batch of great stories coming your way in the Thursday Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger interviewed Central Valley School District superintendent Ben Small for a Q&A story about the upcoming bond issue. I'll have a story on the lengthy and sometimes sharply worded Spokane Valley city council meeting Tuesday. A lot of people commented both for and against a proposed emergency amendment to replace the City Center zone of the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan with mixed use zoning.

Correspondent Cindy Hval will have an intertesting story on a program called Safety Net, which provides assistance to youth "aging out" of the foster care system.

Valley councilwoman Dempsey resigns

Spokane Valley City councilwoman Rose Dempsey announced Wednesday morning that she is resigning her seat on the council effective Friday.
Her decision comes after a contentious council meeting Tuesday night where she was in the minority opposing a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. Four new council members who all ran on a platform opposing the plan were elected to the council in November 2009.
Dempsey said she will not take her seat next Tuesday when the amendment is up for the final vote. “I won’t be there when they vote that piece of crap in,” she said. “They have no intention of compromising on anything. They’re going to do what they’re doing to do.”

Click here to read the full story.

Schedule notes

The City of Spokane Valley offices will not be open Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Similarly, I won't be around to post any interesting tidbits, so come back and check in on Tuesday.

We do have something to look forward to over the weekend. The Spokane Valley City Council will have a discussion Tuesday on the proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalizaton Plan and replace it with Mixed Use Avenue zoning. It has been a hot topic of discussion and there will likely be a large crowd. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. See you there!

Agenda change next week

If you marked your calendar for the council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11, to share your views on a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to remove the City Center zone from SARP, get out your eraser. The city has put out its agenda and packet for the meeting and the emergency ordinance isn't on it. A quick look at the advance agenda shows the first reading has been moved to the Jan. 18 meeting, with the final vote still scheduled for Jan. 25.

Tueday's meeting is not a study session, so people can still give their opinion on the issue during the public comment period. With that item off the agenda, what little is left should be wrapped up quickly enough that I can get home in time to watch NCIS. The council is set to consider a proposed petty cash resolution, a motion on the parks and recreation maintenance contract and a letter of support for the Appleway Courts Senior Housing project.

Today’s highlights

Ponderosa Elementary School principal Jerrol Olson "high fives" Mrs. Heckema's 1st grade class as they walk by the "open concept" media center on their way to lunch, while a class is in session. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here we are in 2011 and we've still got great things to read in the Valley Voice. Today reporter Lisa Leinberger writes about the upcoming Central Valley School District bond issue that will modernize many of the schools, including Ponderosa Elementary. It can be difficult for teachers to hold class in a building with no interior walls and not nearly enough electrical outlets.

A majority of the Spokane Valley City Council indicated they wanted to move ahead with an emergency comprehensive plan amendment to eliminate the City Center zone from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan despite the planning commission's recommendation that the amendment be rejected.

Former Spokane Valley councilman Steve Taylor wrote a touching tribute to former Spokane Valley mayor Rich Munson, who died on New Year's Day. A public memorial service for Munson is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at CenterPlace.

In the main paper reporter Meghann Cuniff has a short report on two burglars who were chased by a business owner and then tracked down by a police K9 called Maximus.

Council to discuss City Center

There are only six items on the agenda for the Spokane Valley City Council meeting on Tuesday, but item number three is a doozy. The council will get their first chance to discuss a proposed emergency comprehensive plan amendment to cut the City Center from the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan. The planning commission has recommended denying the emergency amendment, which was initiated at the request of a land owner who wants to put in a used car lot at University City.

The commission did not hold back in giving its opinion, saying the proposed amendment was "processed too quickly and without sufficient public input" and that the commission believes SARP and the City Center Zone "has not been given enough time to develop" and that "a lack of vision and indecisiveness for a City Center is contributing to economic problems."

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, is a study session, so no public comment will be taken. The issue is scheduled to be considered at the Jan. 11 and Jan. 25 council meetings, where public comments will be accepted.

The Liberty Lake City Council is also scheduled to meet on Tuesday and has a similarly brief agenda. The only items on the table are the monthly staff reports and the 2011 standing committee appointments. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey and his Pekinese, "Buddy", get ready to ride Wed. evening, Aug. 18, 2010, along with Spokane Valley Cyclists For the Broadway Safety Project in a "Pedal with the Politicians", to look first hand at bike lanes and safety issues in the Spokane Valley. Councilman Bill Gothman (blue helmet) also participated in the ride. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

In Saturday's Valley Voice, Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey takes a look back at his first year at the helm of the city, with its challanges and disagreements. There's a report from last week's council meeting where three council members reversed themselves on what items they wanted to support at the Washington State Legislature.

The Liberty Lake Police Department will soon get two new police cars to replace cars that have extremely high mileage and aren't reliable any more. The department will also be able to install a fence that will block off access to the rear of the police station where officers enter and exit. Correspondent Sandra Babcock has a nice column about a wildlife experience she had in Yellowstone National Park a few years ago and the lessons she learned from it.

Spokane Valley council meeting tonight

The Spokane Valley City Council will be back on the dias tonight after a week off for the holiday. The agenda looks pretty short and uneventful. The outgoing planning commission members will be recognized, there's a vote scheduled on some small changes to the city's governance manual and there will be discussion on a recent complaint about a false alarm fine. Looking ahead, most of the January meetings look fairly light, too, but that can change quickly. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

What’s on tap

There are some interesting meetings coming up next week. The Spokane Valley City Council will meet at its usual time at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. There are several proposed motions on the agenda, including approval of several street maintenance contracts. The council will also vote on the purchase of broadcasting equipment and changes to the Spokane County Jail and Gieger interlocal agreements.

But the votes that might generate the most discussion are the ones to dole out lodging tax money to local organizations and the selection of two new planning commission members. Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels has recommended that one of those new members be Bill Bates, the mayor’s half brother. Click here for my story on the issue.

The City of Liberty Lake has scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive, to discuss the 2011 budget. Recent discussions on the budget have been somewhat heated and this week one council member got up and walked out of the meeting in frustration. Proposals to cut library hours and shut the golf course down for the winter have been generating most of the angst. The council must pass the budget by the end of the year. 

Council meetings Tuesday

Both Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake are back in the swing of things with council meetings Tuesday night. The Spokane Valley meeting will include a proposed resolution amending the master fee schedule, a report on lodging tax proposals, a report on railroad crossing quiet zones, information on jail interlocal agreements and an update on the regional animal control facility. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

The Liberty Lake city council is scheduled to select an official newspaper and have the final public hearing on the proposed 2011 budget. There has been a lot of talk about cutting library hours and shutting the city’s golf course during the winter, which has generated a negative response in the community. The council is scheduled to vote on the budget after the hearing. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Next week

All of the Spokane Valley City Council regulars (including me) will have to find something else to do on Tuesday nights for the next two weeks. There’s no meeting next week because of Thanksgiving and on Nov. 30 there is no meeting because several council members will be out of town attending a conference. The trade off, though, is that the agenda for the Dec. 7 meeting looks long enough to make the meeting last until 2011.

Blogging may be light next week. I’ll have two days off at the end of the week and we have early deadlines because of the holiday. I’m also supposed to report for jury duty on Monday, but I’m hoping they’ll send me away when they find out what I do for a living like they usually do.

Today’s highlights

Capt. Mark Hill, right, and firefighter Brad Huffman stand by their truck Tuesday. They are part of the crew that will staff the new Greenacres Fire Station at 17214 E. Sprague. Jesse Tinsley/SR photo.

There’s so much to check out in today’s Valley Voice that you might as well pour a cup of coffee and get comfortable. The Spokane Valley City Council voted to make some speed limit changes, Spokane Valley Fire started operating out of the new Greenacres Fire Station this week and the Liberty Lake City Council approved a one percent property tax increase.

Students from Central Valley schools will be at the Safeway on East Sprague, the Fred Meyer at Sprague and Sullivan, the Liberty Lake Albertson’s and the Albertson’s on 32nd for their annual “Fill the Bus” food drive Saturday to benefit the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. For those of you following the exploits of “Chicken,” check out the update on efforts to catch the free range bird and relocate her to a new home. Regular correspondent Stefanie Petit has been keeping readers updated about the bird ever since it began roosting under her porch a year ago.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is I won’t be in the office to post tomorrow, but I will be working Sunday so you will be able to see your Saturday highlights a day earlier than normal.

We have a bunch of good stories coming up in the Valley Voice on Saturday. There was a fairly contentious East Valley school board meeting this week as parents try to understand the district’s proposed new school configuration plan. Spokane Valley Partners is in need of volunteers to help sort the donations from several large food drives in preparation for Thanksgiving. A group of residents in the neighborhood near Orchard Center Elementary in West Valley are asking the city of Spokane Valley to spend money to create quiet zones on some Union Pacific railroad crossings.

Looking even further ahead, there’s an interesting agenda on tap for the Spokane Valley City Council meeting on Tuesday. Expect to see a proposed resolution amending speed limits, discussion on the city’s snow removal plan and a report on amendments to the ordinance covering adult retail establishments. The city of Liberty Lake hasn’t released their agenda for Tuesday yet, but expect them to be discussing possible budget cuts for 2011, including cutting library hours and closing the city golf course during the winter.

Tuesday’s meeting

There are a few things of note on the agenda for the Nov. 9 Spokane Valley City Council meeting. The council will hear a report on suggestions by city staff to adjust some fees the city charges. Staff is suggesting several new fees as well as recommending that others be lowered. An information only report on a school speed zone request from the Central Valley School District will be presented to the council, but not discussed. The district would like a 20 mph school zone on Alki for North Pines Middle School and on Pines Road for South Pines Elementary School. As always the city has posted the agenda for the meeting and all the attached documents on its web site. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.

McCaslin: Won’t run for Senate in 2012

State Sen. Bob McCaslin plans to serve out his current term in the Legislature, then quit. Not to just lie around the house and do nothing…he says he wants to devote time to his other elective job, that of Spokane Valley city councilman.

He told S-R colleague Nina Culver Tuesday he’s not planning on stepping away from the council position.

McCaslin told Culver he thought about resigning the Senate seat earlier this year when he had heart problems that knocked him out of Olympia for much of the session, but decided not to. That cogitating may have been the start of the rumor that he was going to step down and trigger a series of domino-style openings and appointments.

Taylor leaving Valley Council

Steve Taylor, who has been on the Spokane Valley City Council as long as there has been a city council in the Valley, is calling it quits.

Taylor announced Wednesday he’s resigning at the end of the month to take a job as city administrator in Connell, Wash.

That creates an opening on the council that will require a little extra work for County Elections.

They’ll need to hold a special filing period for candidates who want to compete for that seat in the November election. It’s too late to get on the August primary.

One other problem seems to be lurking out there…

Candidate alert: Possible hot council race in Spokane Valley

Spokane Valley residents who were worried about a dirth of interesting council races this year can rejoice.

State Sen. Bob McCaslin filed Friday afternoon against incumbent Rich Munson for the No. 5 Council Position. Munson currently serves as Spokane Valley mayor, although that position is chosen by the council, not the voters.

McCaslin is a Republican legislator who has served in the Senate for 28 years. Munson has been on the council since initial election after incorporation.

Filing closes at 5 p.m. We’ll update the list then.