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Today’s highlights

Army veteran Jesse Linn hugs his 9-year-old daughter Erikah Linn after a ceremony honoring veterans on Friday at Freeman High School. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

As we look forward to Friday, it sounds like we can also look forward to some snow this weekend. I'm just glad I won't have to try to drive through any mountain passes anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a testy recent East Valley School Board meeting where one board member walked out in the middle of the meeting. By the time the meeting was over, there were allegations of improper expense reports and disappearing reserve funds.

Lisa also stopped by the Freeman School District for their recent Veteran's Day breakfast. Students at the elementary, middle and high school all got involved by serving food and singing patriotic songs. The Spokane Valley City Council advanced an ordinance to regulate barista attire, a move that was greeting with praise from people in the audience. The issue is scheduled for a final vote at the Nov. 26 meeting.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Chief spent some time at last week's commissioner meeting outlining his response to neighbors concerns about the department's response to a recent fire. There were rumors circulating that it took more than 20 minutes for crews to arrive, but the chief organized a meeting with the neighbors to refute that. The meeting appeared to be well received, he said.

A life remembered

A memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and messages are displayed Wednesday at the site where University High School students McKenzie Mott and Josie Freier were killed in a car accident Saturday night. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Spokane Valley Fire Department fire investigator Rick Freier sat down yesterday to talk about his 15-year-old daughter, Josie Freier, who was killed in a car accident Saturday. The community has rallied around a drive to collect toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, which was her favorite charity. She volunteered with her father every year and loved playing Santa.

According to Rick his daughter, known as Jo Jo, was a strong, passionate person. "She hated bullies," he said. "She stood up to them and chastised them in public." He loves to hear stories from people about how she stood up for them, he said. "She was an amazing kid."

Click here to read today's story on Josie and her friend McKenzie Mott, who was also killed. Toys for Tots donations can be dropped off at any Spokane Valley Fire Department station or any Central Valley school.

Saturday’s highlights

T.J. Williams Jr., the director of photography, frames up a shot with a digital movie camera in Fairfield, on Wednesday, while shooting a feature film assisted by North By Northwest. At right is Adam Miller, the first assistant camera operator. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Oh, it's Monday again. Pardon me while I shake off the weekend cobwebs. As we start the work week there are some Saturday Valley Voice highlights to greet us, as always. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on the safety of Mountain View Middle School in the East Valley School District. Building and fire inspectors recently toured the building to make sure it was safe after parents raised concerns about the partially boarded up building.

The small town of Fairfield hosted a movie crew from North by Northwest last week. Portions of the movie "West of Redemption" starring Billy Zane were filmed there while grain trucks lumbered by on their way from the nearby grain elevators.

Lisa stopped by University High School during the morning on the first day of school when freshmen had the run of the buliding. The school had a special program that morning to help the students acclimate to the school and get to know each other.

The City of Spokane Valley and Spokane County had a joint meeting last week to discuss solid waste options under a new regional plan. The city would like to own the Valley transfer station, but County Commissioners seem to favor a plan that has the County owning and running the facility.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is considering spending a budget surplus on remodeling several fire stations, two of which are decades old. Problems include leaking roofs, failing floors and kitchen cabinets in disrepair.

Today’s highlights

Ted Taylor waves to passing motorists from his fruit stand at 2900 E. Trent Ave. on Monday. SR photo/Dan Pelle

First I'd like to report a missing morning. With that done, it's time for a bunch of good highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Faye's House, which provides a place to stay to people in town for cancer treatment. The house is run by Because There is Hope, a local non-profit. Cancer patients are referred to the home by social service agencies.

Lisa also chatted with Ted Taylor of Northwest Citrus Plus, who has staked out a corner at Trent Avenue and Freya where he sells cases of oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons. Turner used to sell his citrus door to door and has customers that buy their fruit from him year after year.

Correspondent Cindy Hval recently spoke with Jim Zahand, who donated 5,000 books to the Spokane County Library District. The books were from the personal collection of his wife, Diane Zahand, who taught at Pioneer School and Prism School in Spokane Valley.

The Spokane Valley City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether or not to try to buy the Painted Hills Golf Course at a trustee's sale in September. The course was put on the auction block after its owners filed for bankruptcy.

The Spokane Valley FIre Department just accepted a settlement relating to the botched design of the new Edgecliff Fire Station. The department will received $50,000 in damages from the architect and the civil engineer hired by the architect to work on the project.

Brush fire hot spot burns again

The Spokane Valley Fire Department responded yet again to a brush fire in the hills north of Mansfield Ave. on Tuesday. The wooded area between Pines Road and Mirabeau Parkway has been a frequent spot for brush fires started by children and transient campers the last several years.

Tuesday's fire was started by an unattended camp fire. Two transients admitted having a camp fire and said when they returned from a swim in the Spokane River it had spread to surrounding dry grass, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. There is currently a burn ban in place in Spokane County and camp fires are not allowed. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Classic Camaro toasted in fire

The Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to three fires overnight, two of which were accidental and another was the result of our hot, dry weather. The first was reported in the 100 block of South Green Ridge Drive in Liberty Lake just before 9 p.m. yesterday. A burn ban is in place that prohibits all outdoor fires (except in approved portable stoves), but the homeowners apparently didn't know about the ban and lit an outdoor fire. It spread to nearby dry grass and trees. It was put out before it spread to any homes, said Assistant Fire Marshall Bill Clifford.

The second fire was reported by police at 3:10 a.m. today at 8001 E. Upriver Drive. The officers responded to an alarm and spotted smoke and flames. The kitchen fire was put out and investigators determined that the fire was started by an electrical wire failre in a floor joist, Clifford said. The flames caused $75,000 in damage and a cat died of smoke inhalation.

A classic 1969 Camaro caused the third fire this morning just after 6:30 a.m. in the 1000 block of North Pierce Road and was also consumed by it. The homeowner was picking raspberries when he smelled smoke coming from his shop, Clifford said. The fire was caused by an electrical short in the car's battery.

The weather is supposed to be cooler this weekend, but more wind is expected and everything is as dry as a bone. Everyone be careful out there. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

“Pit crew” CPR

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I saw an interesting demonstration yesterday of the new "pit crew" style of CPR courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department. They had a team of paramedics showing the new style, where everyone has a specific job and they rotate positions every two minutes. One does the chest compressions while others feel for a pulse, breathe for the patient, insert an IV, hold the IV bag and prepare the AED for an electric jolt. It's designed to start CPR sooner and avoid having rescuers get tired while doing chest compressions. Another chage is to wait for several minutes after a pulse returns to make sure the patient is stable for transport.  

Update: The video should be working now.

Saturday’s highlights

Ellin Schafer, 15, above, and her mother, Carolyn, assemble a quilt at their home in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. Carolyn Schafer is organizing a quilting drive for the members of Mason Flemmer’s unit. Flemmer, the orchestra teacher at Central Valley, is being deployed for the third time to Afghanistan. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

I invite everyone to take a look at today's Garfield comic strip. That sums up my approach to Mondays very well. With that said, it's time to take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the efforts by students and staff at Central Valley High School to create 140 quilts for the 455th Engineer Company in Afghanistan. CV orchestra teacher Mason Flemmer is part of the unit.The volunteers still need donations of material to make the quilts, volunteers to put them together and cash to ship them.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on new volleyball coaches at Central Valley High School and University High School. Both are from out of the area and have a good coaching track record. Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report from Millwood, where the council recently voted to restrict parking on portion of Stout Road and Grace Ave. Residents have complained that employees from local businesses are parking there.

Being buzzed by a bee ended badly for one man recently when he and his tractor rolled down an embankment after he swatted at the insect. The man was seriously injured, but he also had the unfortunate luck to land on a dead porcupine. That call for help was one of hundreds responded to by Spokane Valley Fire Department crews in the last two weeks.

Today’s highlights

Good news! It's almost Friday. The arrival of Thursday, of course, means from Valley Voice highlights. This week photographer Colin Mulvany took some fabulous photos of high-angle rope rescue training put on by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. Deputy Chief Andy Hail volunteered to be "rescued" from a water tower and be lowered 200 feet to the ground in a gurney.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on West Valley High School student Tonya Lewis. Her iPod photo titled "Pathway to Happiness" won first place in the landscape category of the Photographic Society of America's international photo contest.

Spokane County recently submitted a 100-year flood plain map of the Saltese Flats area to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so the county can move forward with a project to rechannel runoff from Mica Peak to restore wetlands. The County submitted the map without the participation of the city of Spokane Valley, which is involved because any floodwaters from the flats would end up inside city limits. The city has concerns about some of the data included in the county's analysis.

Wildland fire training without the fire

Firefighter Tom Carleton of Spokane Valley’s Ladder 10 walks through a charred hillside during a wildland fire training session in June 2012 in Spokane Valley. SR file photo.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department will do wildland fire training this week at the same location where they trained last year, but this time they won't be practicing putting out a fire. Instead they'll be digging fire lines and practicing fire shelter deployment, hose lays and truck operations.

Residents near the hill that is north of Wellesley Ave. and east of Argonne Road should expect to see a lot of firefighters coming and going, but there won't be any smoke or flames to deal with. The training is expected to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Saturday’s highlights

Spokane Valley firefighter Paul Turcotte carries an enlarged photograph that represents a shooting victim as rescue crews participate in a mass casualty training exercise Wednesday at the department’s old administration building. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Good Monday morning, everyone. As another week starts, we've got some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The Spokane Valley Fire Department has started using a new triage system for mass casualty events and tested it in training last week. Pediatric patients are now evaluated differently and colored tags are tied onto vitctim's limbs to identify their condition.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger has details on the new home of the Liberty Lake Community Theatre. The group started five years ago and has been bouncing from location to locations, even rehearsing in  private homes.

Correspondent Jennifer LaRue has a story on Martina Whelshula, executive director of the youth rehabilitation facility Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations in Spokane Valley. she was recently named a health champion by the Washington State Public Health Association.

Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report from Millwood, where finishing touches are being put on a plan to install a sidewalk on the north side of Buckeye Ave. between Argonne and Vista roads. The project will be completed before school starts in the fall.

Vacant house burns again

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to the fourth fire to break out in a vacant house at 806 N. Park Road Wednesday night just after 8:30 p.m. The first crews on the scene found 30-foot high flames shooting out of the roof and heavy fire in the front and the back of the house, said Assistant Fire Marshall Bill Clifford in a press release.

It appears to be an arson fire, Clifford said. The home has been vacant for several years and fire crews have responded to three other fires there. The home is now a total loss, he said. Anyone with information on how the fire started is asked to call the department at 928-1700. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Saturday’s highlights

Rick Kelley is closing Kelley’s Thrift in Fairfield after 39 years in business. It’s the only grocery store between Tekoa and Spokane. When he was a student at Liberty High School he worked there as a box boy. In 1973, Kelley took over the business from his father. SR photo/Dan Pelle

It's such a wonderful day out that I'll forgive it for being Monday. But if it's Monday's it is also time for some Valley Voice highlights from Satuday. Kelley's Thrift, a longtime fixture in Fairfield, is closing its doors soon. The grocery store is the one only available to residents in the area. Owner Rick Kelley says too many people are doing their shopping in Spokane and Spokane Valley and he can't afford to keep the doors open.

The Contract Based Education alternative school run by the West Valley School District is looking for a new name. Several options are being considered, but one option that seems to be rising to the top is Dishman Hills High School.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners voted last week to purchase iPads for themselves, but made several suggestions with an eye toward lowering the cost.

Early morning fire injures two

Two people were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries around 1:30 a.m. today after a fire was reported at 4908 E. First in Spokane Valley. Firefighters found "flames coming out of every door and window" when they arrived, according to a Spokane Valley Fire Department press release. A neighbor spotted the flames and called 911. Click here for more details. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Saturday’s highlights

Chloe Chalfant, 13, a seventh-grader a East Farms, raises her hand during math class on March 6. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

There was a bunch of news packed into Saturday's Valley Voice. First is a primer on your commuting routes this summer - a story outlining all the road construction projects coming up this year in Spokane Valley. There's also a major project planned in Liberty Lake, the installation of a roundabout at Harvard Road and Mission Ave. Major projects are also coming to Argonne Road, Sullivan Road, Pines Road and Sprague Ave.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger had a story on the SeaPerch team at North Pines Middle School. The two students built an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) and won a regional contest. There are a series of fundraisers planned to send the team to the National Sea Perch Challenge in Indianapolis.

Now that Lisa is back, so is the East Farms Diary. This most recent entry focuses on discipline at the K-8 school. School staff report that older students typically don't mix with younger students and when they do, the older students are on their best behavior.

A Spokane County Superior Court Judge has ruled that the Hollywood Erotic Botique location on East Sprague in Spokane Valley is a public nuisance and in violation of the city's zoning ordinance. The court case is expected to continue, however, since the attorney representing the business owner indicated he was prepared to argue that the city's ordinance was unconstitutional.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department saw a large spike in reported firefighter injuries in 2012, but it is the result of a new focus on reporting every injury, no matter how slight. The number of arsons was also up in 2012, but that blip can be traced to an arson spree last summer than involved fires in dumpsters behind businesses.

Low battery warning

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is coming out with its semi-annual warning to change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend when the time changes. Daylight saving time starts on Sunday and replacing the batteries whenever the time changes is an easy way to remember the task.

A working smoke alarm reduces a person's chance of dying in a fire by half, according to a Valley Fire press release. They recommend installing smoke detectors on every level of the home and outside bedrooms. Detectors should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working correctly. Detectors that are more than 10 years old should be replaced.

Today’s highlights

A firefighter with the Spokane Valley Fire Department hauls a hose Tuesday through the front yard of a house at 9621 E. Empire Ave. that was donated to the department for a training exercise. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Today is Thursday, so join me in celebrating the fact that it is almost Friday and there's a new Valley Voice to look over. I have to single out SR photographer Tyler Tjomsland for taking a great photo of a traning fire in Millwood. The house was donated to the Spokane Valley Fire Department, which spent Tuesday training in it before they burned it to the ground.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a trio of stories today, one of them looking at the fifth failure of an East Valley School District construction bond. Superintendent John Glenewinkel said the bond lacked parental support and the district will look at whether to try again with a trimmed down version.

Nicole also talked to 89-year-old Newman Lake resident Lee Hutchison, who travels four times a week by bus to volunteer at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She was recently named employee of the month in recognition of her tireless work.

Theater Arts of Children is getting ready to stage a production of "The Three Musketeers." Nicole spoke to some of the actors preparing for opening night.

Burning it down

I spent some time shivering in the cold this morning watching the Spokane Valley Fire Department doing training fires in a donated house near Empire Ave. and Woodruff Road in Millwood. The training is mainly for the benefit of eight recruits going through the department's training academy. I spoke to one who called himself the "oldest recruit," a 51-year-old former KXLY radio DJ. Expect to see heavy smoke and some flames from the house later this afternoon. I'm told they plan to burn it to the ground starting at about 2 p.m. Look for my story and photos by SR photographer Tyler Tjomsland in Thursday's Valley Voice.

A firefighter balancing act

I was cleaning out my email today and found this photo sent to me on Monday. I was struck by how precariously the top firefighter is balanced as he cuts a hole in the roof of a home in the 21000 block of East Wellesley. It's a little hard to see in this small size, but his right foot is supported by the head of an axe driven into the roof. His left foot is on the metal ladder and a fellow firefighter is helping support him. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.)

The four people in the home got out without injury. The fire caused about $50,000 in damage, largely because the firefighters were forced to cut into the roof. The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Spokane Valley news

New Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Chief Bryan Collins. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

In case you missed today's paper, there are a couple of good Spokane Valley stories in there. The Spokane Valley Fire Department picked a new fire chief Monday, Bryan Collins of California. The board of commissioners and two panels of community members interviewed the top six candidates last week. There was one internal candidate in the top six as well as someone from the Spokane Fire Department.

Reporter Mike Prager got a look inside the former Harley Davidson dealership on East Trent in Spokane Valley Monday that will be the new home of SCRAPS. Elected officials from Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County were there to unveil the building and talk about the remodeling work to be done this year. The County hopes to have the new regional shelter up and running by Jan. 1, 2014.

Saturday’s highlights

A kitten cries for attention after a staffer at SCRAPS placed adoption papers and a pet license on its cage Tuesday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

What is it about Monday mornings and fresh snow? Mondays also mean highlights from the Saturday Valley Voice, so here we go. Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story with some details about upcoming changes at SCRAPS as well as a look back at the organization's history. Can you guess what the most popular cat name is?

The Ambulance Service Board, which includes the Spokane Valley Fire Department as well as most fire departments and districts in Spokane County, has negotiated a contract extension with AMR that includes a $100 reduction in the base cost of an ambulance trip starting in February.

A Liberty Lake Police Officer had an interesting day last week when a fleeing suspect rammed his patrol car. The officer was unhurt, but the brand new police car was damaged. The suspect was arrested the next day in Spokane.

Nicole also has a story on a group of pickleball players that are looking for new blood. The majority of the players are seniors, but all ages are welcome.

Today’s highlights

Central Valley High School’s marching band practices on Saturday at Eastern Washington University’s Jim Thorpe fieldhouse in Cheney, for a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform in the Presidential Inauguration Parade. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

Sorry I'm so late with the highlights from today's Valley Voice. Let's just chalk it up to being one of those days. But we do have some great stuff for you. Reporter Nicole Hensley stopped by to chat with the Central Valley High School marching band before they left for their trip tp play in a parade at the inauguration of President Obama. The band is one of only 14 high school groups selected to march in the parade.

The Spokane Valley City Council selected five candidates to interview for a vacant city council position. Those selected include former state legislative candidate Amy Biviano, current city planning commissioners Kevin Anderson and Rod Higgins, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council executive director Linda Thompson and real estate appraiser Samuel Wood.

Former Spokane Valley Fire Department Capt. Jon Sprague argued before the department's Civil Service Commission this week that he was improperly fired in October. He was fired from the department after refusing to stop sending religious emails to a group of fellow firefighters using the department's email system.

Nicole has a second story out of Central Valley High School on the school's world geography class that will be going away at the end of the school year. Students presented information and food from countries around the world that they had researched.

Vacant house burns

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Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to a report of smoke and flames seen coming from a home at 8815 E. Broadway at 7 a.m. today. It was quickly upgraded to a working fire. The flames caused extensive damage to the home, according to Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford.

Neighbors told firefighters that the house had been vacant for about a month but the owner had been inside doing repairs recently, Clifford said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and a a dollar estimate for damages is not yet available. Broadway Ave. was shut down while firefighters worked. Photos courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Saturday’s highlights

Greenacres Elementary School science teacher, Shelly Mahn, works with fifth-grader Ian Rusbuldt during a physical and chemical changes assignment Friday. The school has received a second School of Distinction award from the Center for Educational Effectiveness. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Well, that was a nice bit of freezing rain we had this morning. It was coating my windshield faster than I could scrape it off. Now it's time to go over some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Nicole Hensley has a story on Greenacres Elementary School being named a School of Distinction for its improving test scores. The teachers use a new math curriculum and interactive whiteboards to help students learn.

The city of Spokane Valley hosted a public meeting to talk about the replacement of the west Sullivan Bridge. They also outlined several construction projects that will take place this spring and summer, including the expansion of Sullivan Park and the grind and overlay of Sullivan Road north of the Spokane River.

River access was also the topic of discussion at the Spokane Valley Planning Commission meeting last week. The commission is reviewing a draft public access plan that is part of the city's state-mandated update of its Shoreline Master Program.

A Spokane Valley Fire Department engine rear-ended on the freeway at the end of December has made the trip back to the factory to see if it is totalled or not. The impact crushed part of the back bumper, popped welded joints and cracked the truck body, but the condition of the frame is unknown. The engine cost about $500,000 when it was purchased several years ago.

Clear out those fire hydrants

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has sent out a plea to Spokane Valley area residents to clear snow from around fire hydrants. Snow plows and snow blowers are building up berms around the hydrants that can slow firefighters if they have to hook up to a hydrant to fight a fire. So take a look around your home and if you see a hydrant, shovel it out. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Saturday’s highlights

Roger Lynn, transitional pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ, sits in his office at the church on Wednesday. He is recovering from blood clots in his lungs, which caused an emergency stay in the hospital over the holidays. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I managed to dig my car out and make it to work this morning to bring you some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. But first, I must apologize for my sporadic posting this last couple of weeks. Between the time off for the holidays and early deadlines I wasn't able to post much and last week I had to make a last minute trip to Montana to bring my daughter back to college. But everything should go back to normal now, so let's get going.

When the Rev. Roger Lynn of the Veradale United Church of Christ got sick before Christmas, he took the unusual step of sending out mass emails and Facebook posts about his condition from his ICU hospital bed. Lynn, who is now back to work, spoke to me about why he was so forthcoming about his health issues.

People who drive the west end of Spokane Valley have probably noticed that the brand new Spokane Valley Fire Station 6 near the I-90 Sprague off ramp is finished and open for business. I spent several hours there last week hoping to go along on a call, but it was a quiet day. I was able to chat with the crew about how they like the new station and they told me they have had lots of people stop in to take a tour.

In a separate story are details about how the fire department's carbon monoxide detectors saved the day again. The detectors are attached to each first aid kit and firefighters were recently able to save six people from carbon monoxide poisoning when they arrived to help someone with flu-like symptoms and their alarm sounded. This is the second such save in recent weeks.

Saturday’s highlights

Firefighters build steps to get a horse out of a pool in the 17000 block of East Montgomery on Dec. 18. The horse was not injured when it fell through the pool cover. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Good morning on this last day of 2012. We have some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice in case you missed them. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on Spokane Valley Heritage Museum volunteer Peggy Taylor. The museum recently threw a surprise 89th birthday party for the longtime volunteer.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department performed a unique rescue recently when a horse broke through the cover of a swimming pool. Fire crews and citizens built makeshift steps so the horse could climb out of the shallow end.

The city of Liberty Lake has decided to stick with SCRAPS for animal control services after considering switching to SpokAnimal. The city council recently approved a new contract and included funds for the contract in the 2013 budget.

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.

Firefighters rescue trapped horse from Spokane Valley pool

A wandering horse named “Missy” found itself trapped inside a swimming pool this morning after it was set loose from yesterday’s strong winds that knocked over its fencing, according to a Spokane Valley Fire Department news release.

The homeowners woke up to find their neighbor’s horse inside their backyard pool in the 17600 block of east Montgomery Avenue, according to the news release. They believe Missy got into their backyard last night and stepped right into the pool.

Firefighters built a series of steps so the horse could walk out of the shallow end, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford, who suspects the 15-year-old mare avoided drowning or hypothermia because her hooves tore through the winterized cover draining the water.

The horse’s owners stood by to keep Missy calm while firefighters worked to free her. Using the constructed steps, she stepped out of the pool and reportedly only suffered minor injuries.

The owners led their horse back to her stable for food, water and of course, some rest.

Santa making his rounds in Spokane Valley

Given the events in the news today, kids (and parents) may need a bit of holiday cheer. Spokane Valley Fire Department crews will be helping Santa make his rounds in several Spokane Valley neighborhoods over the next week. While the firefighters will do their best to keep Santa on schedule, sometimes the sleigh breaks down or Rudolph gets sick. He usually starts his rounds at 6 p.m. 

Tonight Santa will be in the area south of 16th Avenue, north of 32nd Avenue, east of Dishman-Mica Road and west of Pines Road. Saturday: the area south of 16th Avenue, north of 32nd Avenue, east of Evergreen Road and west of Chapman Road (Saltese area). Sunday: the area south of Wellesley Ave., north of Trent, east of Evergreen and west of Flora Road. Friday, Dec. 21: the area south of Euclid Ave., north of Mission Ave., east of Flora Road and west of Harvard Road.

Additional dates and locations may be scheduled, but that's all there is for right now.

On another note, I'll be away from the blog next week and won't be around to post. Happy holidays, everyone.