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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Saving Critters Part Of Summer Job

Otis G provides this feel-good photo & cutline information from the Spokane Valley: “Each year, the City of Spokane Valley Stormwater Utility hires some summer interns to do inventory on our storm drain systems. Last week, Tim Kincaid (who is a current student with the Spokane Community College Water Resources Program) looked in a drywell and found a marmot that had fallen in. It was still alive, so he fished it out and let it go in a field.”

Coyote Rock docks still causing a fuss

Both docks in the Coyote Rocks development in Spokane Valley were damaged this spring from the rising waters of the Spokane River. SR file photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Outdoors writer Rich Landers has an interesting story in today's paper about the ongoing controversy surrounding 30 proposed docks at the Coyote Rock development on the Spokane River. So far there have been fines and a lawsuit. It looks like next week a formal challange will be heard by the Pollution Control Board. And on Sunday a protest rally/river float is planned at noon at Plantes Ferry Park, which is near the development. Read Rich's story for more details.

Name from the past: Roger Crum

Spokane Valley hired an interim deputy city manager this week who may sound a little familiar to the folks in the city just to the west.

Roger Crum.

Crum worked for the City of Spokane for 22 years, was deputy city manager for 11 and city manager for five, ending in mid 1996 when he took the city manager's job in Evanston, Ill.

He was part of a management team — Terry Novak, then Crum, then Bill Pupo — that ran City Hall from the late 1970s to the late 1990s when the city switched from the council-manager form of government to the strong-mayor system.

Apparently his connection to the city of Spokane was not a disqualifier for the Valley job.

Detours ahead

There's some road work going on this week (other than the reconstruction of the Indiana and Sullivan intersection) that will have some impact on how people travel. At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Bowdish Road will be shut down between 17th and 18th for utility work. The work will continue through 6 p.m. Friday. Traffic will be detoured on 16th and 24th to University.

Today crews began work on Sprague Avenue between University and Evergreen. The work is to install fiber optic cable to connect the traffic lights for better synchronization and is expected to last until October. During the project there will be closures of the westbound curb lane on Sprague and the southbound curb lane on University between Appleway and Sprague.

Spokane Valley pedestrian killed by car Tuesday

Sorry for the late start this morning. My computer was having issues. I wanted to mention reporter Mike Prager's story in today's paper on the pedestrian killed by a car yesterday at Glenn and 32nd. He has been identified as Wes Abney, 48. He was apparently in his front yard when an inexperienced driver hit the gas instead of the brake and ran him over.

Methadone clinic public hearing

We ran a story by reporter John Stucke last month about a California company's proposal to open a private-pay methadone clinic in Spokane Valley. The public hearing on their proposal will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Spokane Valley Library, 12004 E. Main.

There is currently one methadone clinic in Spokane County run by the Spokane Regional Health District and it has a lengthy waiting list. Methadone is used to treat people addicted to opiates like heroin or prescription painkillers.

The proposed location is 15812 E. Indiana, which is a commercial building east of Sullivan Road. The facility would be called Spokane Treatment Solutions.

Dead Spokane Valley woman identified

A 29-year-old woman found dead in her home Friday in Spokane Valley has been identified as Lyndsey White by the Spokane County Medical Examiners Office. Police arrived at her home in 2000 block of South Fawn after she didn't go to work Friday and her boyfriend become concerned. Reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner has more details here.

Handcuffed Man Escapes SV Police

The handcuffed driver of a stolen car escaped from custody late Thursday when officers left him unattended as they chased his fleeing passenger, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department. Police are asking for help identifying the man who was was driving a purple Mercury Tracer that had been reported stolen in a residential burglary when Officers Mark Benner and Jason Karnitz spotted him at Pines and Cherry about 11:15 p.m., Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release. The car stopped in the dead end area of a parking lot and the passenger fled on foot. Benner chased after him, and Karntiz handcuffed the driver and told him to stay in the car as he joined the chase, but the officers returned to find the suspect gone. Neither officer knew his name/Meghann M. Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels. More here.

Question: Pretend that you're the public relations person for the Spokane Valley police — their Sgt. Christie Wood or Major Ben Wolfinger, so to speak. How would you spin this one?

No burgers. But I hear there might be cheese.

The City of Spokane Valley will spend some time Friday afternoon celebrating its successful effort to get a new state law passed this year. The City Council had received complaints from residents that heavy cattle trucks coming down from Canada were bypassing the Port of Entry at Stateline and coming through residential areas. The new law requires cattle trucks weighing more than 40,000 pounds to stop at the Port of Entry.

The celebration will be from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. The Spokane Valley legislators who helped get the law passed have been invited to attend, including Senator Jeff Baxter and Representatives Matt Shea and Larry Crouse.

If you want to head over to the gathering, RSVP to Carolbelle Branch at 720-5411. After all, they have to make sure they have enough cheese.

Traffic issues this week

The utility work going in the Montgomery, University and Grace area has expanded to include Pines Road at Grace. The roads are down to one lane at various times and flaggers are in place to direct traffic. The affected streets are: Van Marter Road from Montgomery drive to Marietta, Montgomery from Van Marter to University, University from Montgomery to Grace, Grace from University to Bowdish and Bowdish between the offset Grace intersections.

The Indiana Avenue Extension project east of Sullivan is also still ongoing and the intersection of Mission and Flora is still shut down for the installation of a roundabout.

STCU opens a new Valley branch

Spokane Teachers Credit Union just broke ground for its 15th area branch, near University High School.

The new branch, at 13211 E. 32nd, will be open later this year, according to a press release.

It will be the second STCU branch in Spokane Valley.

Baker Construction & Development is contractor for the 3,496-square-foot branch, which is designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council standards for LEED Gold certification for sustainable building and development practices.

Designed by Nystrom+Olson Architecture, the building will have craftsman-style elements.

The release noted Spokane Valley's population of 91,836 is anticipated to grow by roughly 16,000 in the next 20 years.

Missing: 2 Large Earthworms

The Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley appears to be as popular with vandals as it is with children. Parks and Recreation staff noticed yesterday that one of two larger-than-life inchworms in the Secret Garden area of the playground had been stolen (the yellow one) and the other damaged. The city is sounding the alarm and is asking that anyone with information on the whereabouts of the inchworm call Crime Check at 456-2233. Last year a giant rainbow trout was wrenched out of the concrete, but not stolen. It hasn't yet been put back as staff search for a permanent way to install it so it can't be removed again. Also last year three giant fiberglass Eagle eggs were torn out of the ground and stolen/Nina Culver, Spokane Valley Blog. More here.

Question: What could a person do with a larger-than-life inchworm, like the ones above?

Missing: one inchworm

Photo courtesy of the City of Spokane Valley.

The Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley appears to be as popular with vandals as it is with children. Parks and Recreation staff noticed yesterday that one of two larger-than-life inchworms in the Secret Garden area of the playground had been stolen (the yellow one) and the other damaged. The city is sounding the alarm and is asking that anyone with information on the whereabouts of the inchworm call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Last year a giant rainbow trout was wrenched out of the concrete, but not stolen. It hasn't yet been put back as staff search for a permanent way to install it so it can't be removed again. Also last year three giant fiberglass Eagle eggs were torn out of the ground and stolen. Residents reported seeing them alongside the road and they were recovered, but they haven't been reinstalled yet either. And only a few weeks ago a park ambassador reporting seeing a 20-something male trying to break a piece off the bronze mountain man sculpture just outside the playground.

If you are ever driving by and see something suspicious or see someone in the park after dark, you're encouraged to call police.

Part of Bowdish shut down tomorrow

Bowdish Road just south of Sprague will be down to only one lane tomorrow for utility work from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be flaggers there to direct traffic, but plan on delays if you can't detour around the area. Also, the utility work on Montgomery Drive, University, Grace and Bowdish is continuing. Traffic is also down to one lane in that area.  

New Centennial Trail parking area in Spokane Valley

A new 12-space parking lot will open tomorrow at the end of Maringo Drive just east of Farr Road and south of Upriver Drive. The trailhead already had a restroom and drinking fountain, but trail users were parking along residential streets. Centennial Trail trailheads to not require the new Discover Pass (only the trailheads in Riverside State Park do).

Contributions for the parking lot came from the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Friends of the Centennial Trail, the Washington State Parks Foundation and Inland Empire Paper. (Inland Empire Paper is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.) If anyone decides to head over there, let me know how it looks.

Applebee’s on hiatus for a few days

You may remember that the Spokane Valley Applebee's restaurant at Mission and Pines held an auction last week to sell off the sports memorabilia lining the walls. They're apparently doing a little more than redecorating. I drove by this morning and the restaurant was closed, but workers were busy all over. A sign next to Pines promises the grand re-opening of a better than ever restaurant on Thursday. So I guess that's the day to trek on over and see the results.

Coming on Saturday

If you can tear yourself away from Hoopfest or the Ironman this weekend, we will have a nice Valley Voice coming out on Saturday. As promised I will have more details about the truck weight restrictions on the Sullivan Road bridge. Some companies aren't worried about the limits but others are scrambling to figure out how to work around the problem.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger will have information on two awards the University High School drama department recently received. Greenacres residents are probably happy to see that construction on the long-awaited Greenacres park has begun. The park isn't expected to be ready for use this year, though.

Spokane Valley Perkins closed

KHQ is reporting this morning that the Spokane Valley Perkins restaurant at Mission and Argonne has closed. Apparently the restaurant's franchise agreement expired and the owners said it was too expensive to renew it. The location is just down the street from the Marie Callender's restaurant that closed last week. This means that 14 employees are now out of work. Click here for more details.

Weight restrictions on Sullivan bridge

The City of Spokane Valley sent out a press release shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday announcing new weight restrictions on the southbound lanes of the Sullivan Road Bridge. There are actually two bridges there and the one that carries southbound traffic is the oldest and in poor condition. Cracks and other problems have been seen and a new bridge is not likely soon.

Reporter John Craig put together a brief for today's paper and I will be following up with more details in Saturday's Valley Voice. Standard semis are limted to 36 tons and a “pup truck” of two trailers (usually of gravel) separated by a long tow bar is limted to 45.5 tons. Click here for a complete list of the various styles of trucks and their weight limits.

Cool auction coming on Thursday

Marianne Guenther Bornhoft is helping organize an auction of items from Applebee’s in Spokane Valley. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I'm sure many people in the Spokane Valley area have eaten at the Applebee's Restaurant at Mission and Pines at least once or twice. Part of the dining experience is gazing up at the walls at all the cool stuff hanging there - vintage signs, sports memorabilia, uniforms and more. And probably you've seen something you really liked and muttered about how you would like that hanging on your own wall. Well, now's your chance.

Columnist Doug Clark has a great story today about an auction coming up at Applebee's Thursday night that will see all that good stuff sold to raise money for a local charity that helps families in crisis. The bidding starts at 7 p.m. Thursday and is expected to go on for hours. There's no word on whether the bar will be open or not, but maybe if you've got the family checkbook it would be a good idea if it's not. Check out Doug's full story here.

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.

Traffic issues this week

There will be a few new road and lane closures this week in Spokane Valley, mostly for utility work. There is a series of projects that will slow traffic between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. today through Friday. The affected roads are Van Marter from Montgomery Drive onto Marietta, Montgomery from Van Marter to University, University from Montgomery to Grace and Grace between University and Bowdish.

While I was out and about this morning I also noticed that the northbound curb lane on Evergreen in closed between Desmet and Mission. I'm not sure how long that will last, but there was a deep hole dug in the road.  

Road closures ahead

Greenacres residents will notice today that the intersection of Mission and Flora is now closed for the installation of a new roundabout. The closure is part of the project to extend Indiana Avenue east to that intersection. Detours are available along Boone, Arc and Baldwin. The detour route has been changed from earlier plans because recent heavy rains have slowed the repaving of several streets torn up for sewer installation. The detour routes are in residential areas, so people are urged to drive slowly and carefully.

The sidewalk work on Broadway from Moore to Flora is also continuing this week, so expect narrowed lanes and delays during the day through Friday.

Numerica Credit Union main office named after Dennis Cutter

The retirement party last week for Numerica Credit Union President & CEO Dennis Cutter came with an additional bit of flattery.

During the event, a sign on the credit union headquarters building was revealed. It said: Dennis A. Cutter Administration Building.

Cutter is completing 40 years of working for Numerica, nearly all of them as CEO. The party was attended by roughly 150 past and present employees, and guests.

Board President Dave Shriver presented the unveiling by saying, “It’s fitting that this building, with its sturdy foundation, be named after the person who was the foundation of Numerica’s success over the last 40 years.”

“I never would have imagined this. I had no idea. I’m speechless,” Cutter said. 

The building and credit union main office is at 10618 E. Sprague in Spokane Valley.

Photo of Dennis Cutter, courtesy of Numerica Credit Union.

More traffic issues

The City of Spokane Valley has announced other temporary traffic shutdowns for this week. Today the eastbound curb lane on Broadway at Dyer road will be closed until 5 p.m., as will the southbound lane of Dyer just south of Broadway. The closures should only last for today.

The eastbound curb lane of Sharp Ave. between Evergreen and Bannon will be closed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day this week. The work should be completed on Friday.

This is the time of year when roads start getting dug up for small and large projects alike, so such short-term closures will become more frequent. Make sure to keep your speed down and stay well clear of the workers.

Police support Special Olympics

A team of local law enforcement members will gather in Liberty Lake Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. to begin their leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run that will go throughout Washington and end at the 2011 Washington State Special Olympics Summer Games in King County on June 3. According to a Spokane County Sheriff's Office press release, officers will carry the torch through Liberty Lake, Millwood and Spokane Valley and Spokane. Be extra vigilant when driving area roads tomorrow and keep an eye out for the torch runners.

Traffic issues

There are a few small projects happening on Spokane Valley streets this week that will create occasional traffic problems. The southbound curb lane on Argonne Road will be closed just north of Knox Avenue on Wednesday, so expect congestion as people try to merge into one lane. Sidewalk repair work will be happening on Broadway between Moore and Flora through Friday. Expect narrowed lanes and some delays.

Then, of course, there are the multiple street closures in Greenacres for sewer installation work. The project to extend Indiana Avenue to the intersection of Mission and Flora is also ongoing.

Spokane Valley arsonist sentenced to 10 years in prison

Arsonist Anthony W. Sotin was sentenced to 10 years in prison today in a Federal courtroom after the judge gave him a lecture and said he'd like to send him to prison longer, given his lengthy criminal history and previous conviction for arson. He is 42 years old and his first brush with the law was at age 14. Sotin pleaded guilty to lighting his own car on fire on Jan. 12 and a burning a commerical building in the 13400 block of East Nora on Feb. 9. Reporter Tom Clouse has the full story here.

Saturday’s highlights

Ramon Alvarado Estrada and Frank Quates of Pointwest Landscape in Coeur d’Alene plant Ponderosa pines at the Spokane River access next to the Barker Bridge on May 12. The city of Spokane Valley regraded the site, and the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club provided $3,500 for improvements that included planting native trees, plants and shrubs. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

It was a good thing we had a few days of nice weather last week before the rain moved back in. It gave the City of Spokane Valley and the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club just enough time to make improvements to the Spokane River access next to the Barker Bridge. They had been waiting for good weather so soil didn't get washed into the river during the project. The city graded the slope and moved some bollards down closer to the water, while the group of river users planted grass, trees and other native vegetation.

That was just one of the stories in Saturday's Valley Voice that you may have missed. Reporter Lisa Leinberger also listened in on one of the meetings between parents and East Valley school board members about upcoming changes and how to make it easier for students. Lisa also has background information on Joanne Comer, who has been selected as the new principal of Liberty Lake Elementary School.

Meanwhile, the Spokane Valley Fire Department took advantage of the good weather to hold trench rescue training for firefighters. Of course, the training probably would have continued no matter what the weather, but doing it in the rain would have been miserable.

Spokane Valley legislators push bill on unmarked patrol cars

Republican legislators Matt Shea and Larry Crouse have brought forward a bill in the State Legislature to make it illegal for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office to park unmarked patrol cars on private property. This has been something pushed for by the family of Wayne Scott Creach, who was shot last August after a confrontation with a uniformed sheriff's deputy in an unmarked car. Reporter Tom Clouse has more details here.