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Coming on Saturday

We have a few interesting things coming up in Saturday's Valley Voice. Some members of the Spokane Valley City Council had some harsh words this week for a draft version of the goals and policies to be included in the city's Shoreline Master Program. The plan would regulate all shoreline areas in the city.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Pumpkin Patch community garden in Millwood to see how things are growing. It's a little early in the season for any pumpkins, though. In that same vein, a new farmers market has opened in the Ponderosa neighborhood and we'll have information on that for anyone who wants to stop by and browse.

Today’s highlights

Flaggers direct traffic on Bowdish Road just south of Sprague, July 11,while utility work is completed in the area. There have been several cases so far this year where utility workers have severed natural gas lines in Spokane Valley in residential neighborhoods. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There's a ton of news to catch up on in today's Valley Voice. Let's begin with a little primer on what you should do if there is an outdoor natural gas leak in your neighborhood. It's something that has happened a lot this year as construction crews dug up gas lines. According to the experts, you should leave the area if you can smell the gas inside your home. But if your windows are shut and you can't smell any gas, you should be fine.

Some Spokane Valley City Council members took aim at the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program this week. In the end they decided there were too many questions to advance it to a first reading, so there will be another study session held on the plan. It hasn't been scheduled yet, but I'll be sure and let everyone know when the date is set.

You can also get your first look at the cash being donated to city council candidates, who has the money and who it is coming from. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on this week's discussion on the new utility tax at the Liberty Lake City Council meeting. She also checked in with three local churches who sent volunteers to Central Valley School District schools last weekend to do landscaping and other projects.

And if there are any fans of Chicken out there, correspondent Stefanie Pettit has another update. Apparently Miss Chicken is now a mother. I just love reading about that bird. 

Coming Thursday

A few Spokane Valley City Council members panned the proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan during Tuesday's meeting. After a lot of questions and debate, the council decided they needed another study session on the subject before they vote on whether to move it to a first reading. There will be a full report in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Also Thursday will be a report on the campaign fundraising so far in the races for the four open City Council seats. You'll find out who has the most cash and who is making the largest donations. There have been a flurry of broken gas pipes in Spokane Valley this year, most caused by a construction crew of some sort. Tomorrow I'll have a primer on what you should do if there is an outdoor gas leak in your neighborhood. 

Packed agenda tonight

The agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting is quite lengthy and we'll probably be there a while. It's a study session, so no votes are scheduled and there won't be any public comment taken. People are always invited to come and listen, however. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. 

Items on the agenda include a discussion on what type of sign to use at gateway areas of the city, the city's shoreline goals and policies, the speed limit on Indiana Avenue, a bike lane striping project and the city's Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. Of course, if you'd rather stay home in comfort you can now watch the meetings live on the internet. Just go to the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org and click on SVTV.

Saturday’s highlights

The yellow mate to this green fiberglass inchworm was stolen from Discovery Playground. The inchworms had been installed this spring in the Secret Garden area of the playground. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Those promised thuderstorms never materialized Saturday, so here's your chance to catch up on some of the stories from Saturday's Valley Voice if you were out and about. Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department employees are frustrated with the fascination that vandals seem to have with the larger-than-life features in the new Discovery Playground. Last week someone made of with a 5 foot long yellow inchworm, so keep your eyes open for it.

The Newman Lake SCOPE volunteers keep busy protecting their neighborhood from crime, but they can always use a few more helping hands. As reporter Lisa Leinberger writes, they have a lot of different programs running that people can help with.

The Spokane Valley City Council took another step closer to putting the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot, agreeing to spend between $40,000 and $60,000 on a detailed traffic study. The city has already spent about $40,000 on a preliminary traffic study. The issue must be decided by Aug. 16, which is the deadline to add items to the ballot.  

Coming on Saturday

I hear we are expecting thunderstorms tomorrow, so it sounds like a good day to stay inside and read the Saturday Valley Voice. I blogged about the inchworm stolen from Discovery Park the other day and in the Voice I'll have a story with more details, including what the Parks Department plans to do to stem the rash of vandalism and thefts.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Newman Lake SCOPE group, who are looking for more volunteers to swell their ranks. Since I was out and about last week on the day I usually get the weekly call details from the Spokane Valley Fire Department I have two weeks of information for you tomorrow. There were a lot of fires, including two mobile homes destroyed and numerous illegal fires.

You'll also get a second report from this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. They had a lengthy discussion on putting the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. Nothing has been finalized yet, but they took a couple steps forward.

Today’s highlights

Mariah, a 10-year old Australian shepherd, enjoys a romp at the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park at Interstate 90 near the Idaho state line on July 3. The off-leash park has been open for five years and is open year-round. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It looks like today is a Valley Voice Thursday with a chance of sprinkles. I'll be thinking of this day fondly when it ramps up to above 90 degrees next week. We've got some great stuff for you today, including reporter Lisa Leinberger's recent visit to the Patricia Simont Laughing Dog Park at Stateline. The off-leash dog park is a hit in the canine world and I swear the dogs in the pictures are laughing.

Correspondent Cindy Hval has a humerous tale to share about how she got lost in the woods - in a gated community at Shelley Lake in Spokane Valley. A large group of people turned out for the Spokane Valley City Council meeting this week to voice their opinion during a public hearing on a proposed development agreement with St. John Vianney Catholic Church. The church wants to rezone a piece of property so Catholic Charities can use it to build a low income senior housing complex.

Another public hearing was held last week, this one before the city's Planning Commission to get input on the city's proposed Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. The hearing was well attended and nearly everyone liked the plan.  

The Liberty Lake Police Department had a busy week. The town may have been visited by the Bad Hair Bandit, a man was caught stealing dirt from a construction site and police recommended charges be filed on five teenagers for several related crimes.

Zone change public hearing tonight

I'm expecting a bit a crowd to be at the Spokane Valley City Council meeting tonight for the public hearing on the St. John Vianney zone change request. The church asked that a piece of property to the south of the church be rezoned so Catholic Charities could build a low income senior housing complex on it. The plan has drawn the ire of many neighbors. City staff has negotiated a development agreement that would limit what can be done with the property. Tonight's hearing is on the agreement and the zone change request.

The other hot topic of the evening will be a motion on whether or not to put the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. There will be public comment taken before the vote, so this is your chance to put in your two cents.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. If you can't make it, though, you can always take advantage of the city's new live web streaming of the council meetings. Just go to the city's web site at www.spokanevalley.org and click on the SVTV link. You can also watch a video of the meeting later at your leisure.

Saturday’s highlights

Theresa Ray sorts through bananas for Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. She works at NOVA services and volunteers at the food bank. She also brings NOVA clients with her for job training. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that at least part of that time was spent checking out Saturday's Valley Voice. But if you didn't, I've got links to some of the stories we brought you. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with Spokane Valley Partners, which houses nearly a dozen agencies and groups under one roof to help low income residents. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reports that Millwood has changed course and will open the wading pool once someone is hired to staff it. I'm sure lots of children in the area will be happy to hear that.

The developer of the Coyote Rocks development along the Spokane River and the Department of Ecology are arguing over the ordinary high water mark of the river. The newest phase of the development may be in jeapordy if the Spokane Valley hearing examiner sides with the DOE. That decision won't come for a couple weeks. The Spokane Valley City Council spent some time last week discussing sign codes and landscape regulations and some changes may be coming on those.

Coming on Saturday

Some cooler weather should arrive with your Saturday Valley Voice this week (thank goodness). A hearing was held last week on the Trailside portion of the Coyote Rock development along the Spokane River near Plantes Ferry Park. There is a dispute between the developer and the Department of Ecology on where the river's ordinary high water mark is east of the Centennial Trail foot bridge. If the hearing examiner agrees with the DOE, the developer's attorney says it may kill the project.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently visited Spokane Valley Partners to check out their programs and see what is new. I'll also have the second round of reporting from Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. The council spent some time discussing sign codes and landscaping regulations. Some changes to those rules might start going through the amendment process soon.

Today’s highlights

Two year colon cancer survivor Susie Leonard Weller is celebrating life and challenging herself post-colostomy by participating in her first triathlon-the Valley Girl Triathlon. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here I am with your usual dose of Thursday Valley Voice highlights, even if it is (much) later than normal. But there's no law against reading the daily paper with dinner instead of breakfast, right? Correspondent Jill Barville recently talked with Susie Leonard Weller, who is preparing to participate in the Valley Girl Triathlon Sunday in Liberty Lake. It is the colon cancer survivor's first triathlon.

Reporter Lisa Lienberger headed down to the Fairfield Library lately for a special storytime in Salish. It's part of the special summer activities being hosted by the Spokane County Library District.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent nearly two hours Tuesday talking about economic development. The council was discussing what the city can do immediately to help boost business and what can be done in the long term. Construction is coming to the Sullivan and Indiana intersection in August. There will be traffic flowing through during construction, but turning options will be limited. It sounds like it will be a bit messy, so start planning alternative routes now.

Labor coalition declines to back Verner or Condon

The race for Spokane mayor is getting more interesting.

The Spokane Regional Labor Council has released the list of candidates it supports for the August primary and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner isn't on the list.

That's a bit of a surprise given her recent support for a labor-backed change to contracting rules giving the city wider lattitude to pass over low bidders on contracts when a low bidder has had recent problems following labor, environmental or other laws. (Verner, however, surprised some union leaders when she said she would push to amend the rules.)

The council, which is the regional organization for the AFL-CIO, also declined to back any of Verner's opponents, including her main challenger, David Condon. That's not a surprise, given Condon's promise to be a tougher negotiator with unions and his calls for pay freezes at City Hall.

Verner's relationship with unions at City Hall has been mixed and grew strained as she worked to win contract concessions in the last two budget cycles. Most the city's bargaining groups eventually agreed to contracts or contract changes that allowed them to avoid layoffs.

Unions play a large role in city politics, just as the business and development community do. The decision means the main local labor group won't be working for a Spokane mayoral candidate, at least through the primary, an outcome that likely benefits Condon — especially since he already enjoys a big fund-raising advantage.

Beth Thew, secretary-treasurer of the council, said she wouldn't be surprised if the council reconsiders the race after the primary. Candidates were interviewed on June 28 and a group made up of representatives of local AFL-CIO-affiliated unions voted on the endorsements. To win backing, a candidate needed two-thirds support from the group, Thew said.

“If there are any questions that need clarification or anything like that, we will wait to hold off on our endorsements,” she said. “We want to make sure that when we move forward with our endorsement that everybody is comfortable and can stand behind it.”

To see the list of candidates endorsed by the labor council for the August primary, continue reading this post.

Coming Thursday

It may be hot outside but we've managed to put together a cool Valley Voice for Thursday. The Spokane County Library District's summer program recently brough in a Salish speaker from the Colville Tribe for a children's storytime in Fairfield. Reporter Lisa Leinberger headed down there to check out the program.

The Spokane Valley City Council talked economic development for nearly two hours this week and I'll have a report on their discussion. You can also get your first detailed look at the upcoming construction on the Indiana and Sullivan intersection, including which parts of the intersection will be closed when. The project is set to start Aug. 1.

Don't look for me to post links to the stories until late tomorrow, though. I'll be away from the computer most of the day and I'll be around in the late afternoon to do some posting. That is, unless I melt first.

New way to watch SV City Council meetings

It's finally here. You can see the Spokane Valley City Council meetings live without leaving your living room. The City has a new link on it's web site labeled “SVTV.” Click on that and you can watch live web streaming of the city council meeting every Tuesday at 6 p.m. But even better is the archive. Each meeting (going back to April 5) is archived. You can either watch the video or listen to an MP3 audio version. The documents for each council meeting are also there. When you pull up video of a meeting, an agenda will pop up. You can either watch the whole thing beginning to end or click on the agenda item you want to listen to and it will go right to that spot. For those of you not on a first name basis with the council members or city staff members, a nice label pops up with each person's name and title as they talk.

Tonight is the first night of the live web streaming. So if you really want to hear the discussion on economic development or the discussion on sign codes and landscaping regulations, settle down in front of your computer and listen in. I'll be the one sitting in in the front row.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley Fire Marshall Kevin Miller looks at a 1,300-pound steel girder that was recovered from one of the towers at the World Trade Center. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Well, I hope everyone had a nice, long weekend. I just have one question. Is it too early in the season to start complaining about the heat? Some kids in Millwood probably are complaining about it. In Saturday's Valley Voice correspondent Valerie Putnam reported that efforts to repair the city's wading pool aren't moving very fast and the pool is still dry. Whether it will open at all this year is still being debated.

Longtime Spokane Valley fixture Sally Jackson is back on the baseball field as a coach. She and her husband Ron both coached for many years before Ron died in April. Correspondent Steve Christilaw spoke to her about going back on the field.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has finally received a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center towers. The department is preparing an installation ceremony for Sept. 11. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with Edgecliff SCOPE and spoke to volunteers about how they are working to improve their neighborhood. The Spokane Valley City Council had a lengthy discussion on whether to put the one-way Sprague issue on the November ballot. No final decision has been made yet, but the council did agree to move forward with a traffic study that will allow a cost estimate for the work to be prepared.

Coming on Saturday

We'll have a great Valley Voice on Saturday to help everyone kick off their Fourth of July weekend on a proper note. The Spokane Valley Fire Department is creating plans for a ceremony to dedicate a piece of steel beam that was recovered after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. I'll have information on how the public can be involved in that.

There will be an update on the Millwood wading pool and reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Edgecliff SCOPE to see what the group of volunteers is up to. The Spokane Valley City Council had a discussion this week on whether to pay for a traffic study in preparation for putting the issue of one-way Sprague on the November ballot. The decided to move forward with the study and the vote on whether to put the issue on the ballot must be made by Aug. 15.

I won't post my story links on Monday as usual because of the holiday. I'll see you back here Tuesday morning.

Today’s highlights

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen ruled in favor of the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum in a lawsuit filed by Ichabod’s Tavern, Peters Hardware and Dave’s Bar and Grill over parking lot access for the businesses. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Since none of us blew away during yesterday's little wind storm, I guess it's time to take a look at the Thursday Valley Voice. A Spokane County Superior Court judge has issued a written opinion in a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, saying that three neighboring businesses have no easement rights to the property.

The Liberty Lake Police Department has arrested a familiar face this week in connection to a string of vehicle prowls in the area. Robert L. Hahn was arrested early Monday morning with allegedly stolen property in his pocket and burglary tools in his car. Liberty Lake officers have arrested Hahn several times before, most recently in December.

The Spokane Valley City Council has now seen the proposed development agreement negotiated by city staff and St. John Vianney Church after neighbors withdrew from the discussion. The agreement would limit a low income senior housing facility on the site of a proposed zone change to 40 units, limit the height and require the facility to remain low income senior housing for 75 years. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for July 12.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the Spokane Thunder drum corps this week as they finish up weeks of day-long practices to polish their performance. The group will be in a competition Sunday at 7 p.m. at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. If you've never been to a drum corps competition I highly recommend it. They are great to watch and a lot of the time you just have to marvel at their precision. Check Lisa's story for ticket information.

There was a light turnout at last week's candidate fair hosted by the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce. But the few people who attended were able to get their first look at some of the candidates for the Spokane Valley City Council.

Coming Thursday

It's hard to believe it is Wednesday already, which of course means it's time for a preview of Thursday's Valley Voice. We've got some interesting stuff coming your way this week. A Spokane County Superior Court judge has recently filed an opinion on a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. I checked out Spokane Valley's first candidate fair last week and the turnout was very light. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Centennial Middle School this week to check out the Spokane Thunder, a local drum corps that has been putting in day-long practices to prepare for a competition this weekend in Spokane.

Church development plan on tonight’s agenda

The item on the agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting that will probably attract the most interest is a staff report on the a proposed development agreement between the city and St. John Vianney Church. The church requested the rezoning of a parcel of property next to the church so Catholic Charities can build a low income senior housing complex there. The proposal was met by wide disapproval from the neighborhood.

A quick perusal of the proposed agreement shows the developer is willing to increase the amount of time the site would be limited to only low income senior housing to 75 years, plus implementing various design specifications to help the building blend into the neighborhood.

Other items on the agenda include motions on awarding a couple of road projects and a discussion on putting one-way Sprague on the November ballot. If you find any of the topics interesting, head over to City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) at 6 p.m.

Tuesday meetings

Several members of the Spokane Valley City Council are attending the annual Association of Washington Cities conference this week, so there will not be a city council meeting tonight. But the Liberty Lake City Council has a couple of interesting things on their agenda tonight. They are set to have a workshop discussion on the central business district, vote on amending the council's rules of procedure regarding the invocation and vote on a resolution to put the city's form of government on the November ballot. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive.

Saturday’s highlights

Washington State governor Christine Gregoire has declared State Highway 27 from Tekeo to Rockford as a scenic highway at the urging of Rockford Mayor Micki Harnois. This picture was taken south of Fairfield, looking north. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Let's just start by saying “Oops.” Somehow the ending of my story on Highway 27 from Rockford to Tekoa never got on the page. We got a bunch of calls about this over the weekend. We'll rerun the story (the whole story) in Thursday's Valley Voice. But you can also read the full stoy here.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to the Earth Science Teacher of the Year Dorinda Belcher, who works at North Pines Middle School. She also has a news-packed education column, so check that out to see what is going on in the various school districts. The Spokane Valley City Council spent a day last week talking about the 2012 budget. No decisions were made, but they went through each department's budget.

Also, for those of you wondering what happened to the Liberty Lake police blotter, it didn't fit and will also run in Thursday's Valley Voice.

Coming on Saturday

We've got more great stuff coming up in Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to a science teacher at North Pines Middle School after she was recenlty named the Washington State Science Teacher of the Year. You'll have my long-awaited report on the day-long Spokane Valley City Council budget retreat held Tuesday. The discussion ranged from possible budget cuts in 2012 to prioritizing capital projects.

The section of Highway 27 from Rockford to Tekoa has been delcared a scenic byway, as has Highway 278 from Rockford to the Idaho state line. We'll look at how that may benefit the area. We'll also have the Liberty Lake crime blotter. The town has been suffering a rash of car prowls lately, so everybody lock your cars and hide your valuables.  

Today’s highlights

Cleve Penberthy, Contract Based Education principal and longtime West Valley School District educator and administrator, is retiring after 40 years in education. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I apologize for the lateness in posting links from today's Valley Voice. My computer went a little bonkers this morning. It now seems to be cured, but I have no idea why. I'm not going to argue, though. So, on to the highlights. Every spring we highlight notable retiring educators from the large Spokane Valley school districts - East Valley, West Valley and Central Valley. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has those stories in today's Valley Voice, including Contract Based Education princpal Cleve Penberthy. He's retiring after 40 years in education and I think he will be sorely missed. He was an oustanding advocate for his students. The other educators featured are East Valley teacher and librarian Linda Carper and Central Valley business teacher Sherry Johnson.

Kids will be happy to learn that Spokane Valley pools are opening this weekend. Splash Down is already open, but it only opens the doors if the weather is nice. I put together an introduction to the three newest candidates for a Spokane Valley City Council seat - John Baldwin, Marilyn Cline and Lewis Higgins. The City Council also had quite the debate this week on whether to let voters decided the fate of the one-way stretch of Sprague.

Coming Thursday

We'll have another full Valley Voice for you tomorrow, including two stories on the upcoming November 2011 elections. Reporter Lisa Leinberger tackled the Liberty Lake City Council and school board candidates while I put together information on the Spokane Valley City Council and small town candidates. It looks like the Spokane County Elections Office may have to have some sort of special filing period, however. Several seats up for election did not draw a single candidate.

Spokane Valley pools are opening this weekend and Splash Down is already open (weather permitting). The Spokane Valley City Council discussed one-way Sprague during this week's council meeting. (You will have to wait until Saturday to read my report on the day-long budget reatreat held Tuesday.) Every spring we like to highlight several retiring school district employees and this is the week that those notable people will be recognized for their work.

Tuesday meetings

Tomorrow I will spend most of the day in a room with the Spokane Valley City Council and you're invited to tag along. The city's annual budget retreat will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, room 213. The public is invited to attend, but no public comment will be taken. The council will discuss the 2012 budget as well as priorities for capital projects.

After a short break, the council will then convene for its normal weekly city council meeting at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. On the agenda there are a couple of committee appointments and discussion of the Sprague one-way versus two-way issue.

Since I'll be in both of those meetings, don't expect any blog postings tomorrow. But after a good night's sleep I'll be back and ready to go on Wednesday morning.

If city council debates aren't exactly your cup of tea, the East Valley School District board of directors also meets Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in the administration center at 12325 E. Grace. Near the top of the agenda is a public hearing on the closure of Mountain View Middle School.

More city council candidates file

It's turning into a free for all for the Spokane Valley City Council seat being vacated by councilman Bill Gothmann in November. Ben Wick had previously announced he was running for the seat. Today's he's been joined by longtime SCOPE volunteer John Baldwin, retired executive director of the International Association of Mine Safety Professionals Lewis Higgins and longtime Central Valley SCOPE volunteer Marilyn Cline.

That means that the only person running for City Council unopposed (so far) is newly appointed councilman Chuck Hafner. But that may change by the end of the day tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Election interest picking up

Here we are halfway through Thursday and a ton of new people have filed for various offices up for election in November. Yesterday morning the pickings were slim, but not any more. Two new people have filed to run for Spokane Valley City Council, both for the seat that will be vacated by Bill Gothmann. The first is a familiar name - John Baldwin. He's a longtime SCOPE volunteer who applied for both of the vacant seats on the City Council this year. The other person, Lewis Higgins, isn't familiar to me. We've also gotten some filings for the East Valley and West Valley school boards now and the Liberty Lake City Council is beginning to look like a horse race, with numerous people trying for the win. Check out the Spokane County Elections Office website here for a current list.

But there is a little problem. The deadline for the Saturday Valley Voice is today and the deadline for candidate filings is Friday at 4 p.m. So we'll have the stories on what candidates have filed for each seat in next Thursday's Valley Voice.  

Today’s highlights

“I like to see them all go down,” Spokane Valley Police Lt. Matt Lyons said, concerning the Spokane Valley crime rate. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I have to say I sure could get used to this nice, sunny weather. But before we start our day it's time to check out the highlights from today's Valley Voice. The 2010 crime rates are in for Spokane Valley and the numbers show that violent crimes are down while property crimes are up. The city is following the same trends as Spokane County and other cities in the county. The Spokane Valley Police Department is also facing a growing population and increased calls for service with the same number of officers it had in 2003.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended a recent West Valley School District meeting that was all about the budget. People are being asked to let the district know what programs can be cut and which should be saved. Some of the things on the chopping block are the golf program, C squad sports teams and intramural sports. Another public meeting is scheduled for Monday.

The Newman Lake Fire District is moving closer to building a new Station 1 at land the district owns at Starr and Moffat roads. The old Station 1 is too small and doesn't meet current regulations. A public meeting was held this week to get input and more meetings are planned. The commissioners must decided whether to ask voters for a construction bond.

Spokane Valley City Council woman Brenda Grassel recently sent a letter to Spokane Home Builders Association members asking for input on the city's permitting process, but she did it a little differently than usual. The letter invited people to send in their comments to SHBA executive officer Joel White so he could forward them as anonymous.

Elections shaping up

My newest form of entertainment this week is constantly checking the Spokane County Elections Office website to see who has filed for the many offices up for election this fall. So far there's little competition in many of the Spokane Valley area races on the ballot, including small town city councils and school board races. So far not a single person has filed for any of the East Valley or West Valley School District seats. But it's only early Wednesday. I expect some people are waiting until the last minute (just before 4 p.m. Friday) while they wait to see the lay of the land.

In the Spokane Valley City Council races so far we have all the candidates that had prevously announced by filing their Public Disclosure Commission candidate registration forms - Dean Grafos, Ben Wick, DeeDee Loberg, Chuck Hafner, John Carroll and Arne Woodard. Is anyone else out there planning to file for one of the spots on the dias?

It's been a few minutes. Time to go hit refresh again…

No City Council meeting today

The Spokane Valley City Council voted last week to give themselves the night off today, so there will not be a council meeting tonight. Looking ahead to next week, however, reveals a doozy of a schedule. The council will hold its annual budget retreat June 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CenterPlace (2426 N. Discovery Place). After a brief breather (too brief to give my hand time to recover), the council will reconvene in City Hall for their usual meeting at 6 p.m. Maybe I had better start upping my caffeine intake now.