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Volunteers Kathy McAteer, left, along with Kathy and John Malone sort through donated food on Tuesday at Spokane Valley Partners. SR photo/Dan Pelle
I have to begin by apologizing for not blogging much this week. I've been scurrying about trying to work ahead for next week, which includes two days off (yay) and early deadlines (ugh). For now we should celebrate being exactly one week from Thanksgiving by going over some highlights from today's Valley Voice.
Eight Spokane Valley churches have been collecting money to give to the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank to buy turkeys and other items for Thanksgiving baskets that will be handed out to those that need them next week. The churches are collecting money instead of actual turkeys this year because Thrivent Financial has promised to match their donations up to a $1,600 cap.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on several Central Valley High School music students that created the LETEM Play non-profit that distributes donated musical instruments to low-income students. The students have handed out $13,000 worth of instruments and have begun offering music clinics.
The results of the November elections will be certified next week, but the outcome of at least one race is still unknown. There is a tie among two city council candidates in the town of Latah and one race for Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner is very near the threshold that will require an automatic recount. In Spokane Valley challenger Ed Pace has cemented his lead over City Council incumbent Gary Schimmels.
The Spokane Valley City Council debated on whether to request state funding for the Appleway Trail Project or the expansion of Balfour Park. The city's finance committee recommended Appleway Trail, but Balfour Park also has some support.
Good news from the Spokane River Forum: The first school in Spokane County to do so, NEWTECH Skill Center has earned an environmental certification typically given to businesses.
EnviroStars certifies businesses whose practices and policies reduce and properly manage hazardous waste and conserve resources. Because NEWTECH functions like 13 different businesses under one roof, the Department of Health approached NEWTECH with the idea of having the programs which deal with hazardous waste go through the certification process.
The auto technology, collision repair, veterinary science and dental careers programs all earned the EnviroStars certification. Custodian Tim Petty helped oversee the certification process.
Well, you don't see this every day. The word is that Mission Avenue is closed between Argonne and University roads today - so a house can be relocated. It is a rolling closure of lanes in both directions that will last through late afternoon today, so it may be a good idea to use Broadway Avenue instead.
Update: Mission Avenue is now open again, but Felts Road is closed between Mission and Augusta. Use Woodruff or Raymond instead.
The Spokane Valley City Council is going to address the topic of scantily clad baristas at tonight's meeting. At issue has been topless Tuesdays at a local coffee shop, when baristas wear only g-strings and pasties. A proposed ordinance has been prepared that would ban women from exposing more than half their breast in public. There are two things you need to know if you plan to attend tonight's meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. First of all, the meeting is a study session and no public comment will be taken. Secondly, the issue is pretty far down the agenda and won't be discussed first thing.
The council will not take a vote tonight. They need to agree to advance the ordinance to a first reading, at which point public comment would be taken, or ask staff to make changes to the proposed ordinance.
Leslie Malloy and cancer survivor Barb Gady, staff members at Freeman Elementary, hug after posing for a group photo with other Freeman employees in front of a pink tractor from Northwest Farm Credit Services. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland
Welcome to winter. At least, that's what it felt like with this morning's wind. Brrrrrr. With that said, it's time to move on to some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a couple of stories on how local schools are promoting awareness of cancer during October, which is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. East Valley High School social studies teacher Dave Robinson is sporting bright pink hair, beard, mustache and eyebrows after his students collected 54 pounds of candy for the school's annual Fall Festival. His new (temporary) look has gone viral and Robinson has appeared on Good Morning America.
A pink tractor stopped by Freeman Elementary School last week in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on a day when nearly all the staff members wore some sort of pink. The annual pink day started 13 years ago after one staffer was diagnosed with breast cancer.
A hearing was held last week to consider a rezone request for a vacant piece of property owned by Arger Real Estate just east of Evergreen Road immediately northwest of where Alki Avenue ends. The request, if granted, would change the single family zoning to single family-urban. The change would allow multi-family housing such as duplexes, a nursing home or an assisted living center.
Anthony Matthews, 30, an 11-year veteran of the Marine Corps and a student in Spokane Community College’s Natural Resources program, plants foliage to restore the south side of the Spokane River at Stateline on Friday. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland
As we slide through our Thursday (nearly to Friday), lets take a look at some highlights from today's Valley Voice. I stopped by a Spokane River shoreline restoration project last week near Stateline and found volunteers industriously planting 800 trees, shrubs and other plants. In our rocky soil, that's no picnic. The project will help repair damage done by vehicles driving down to the water's edge to launch boats illegally.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with the West Valley, East Valley and Central Valley school districts to check on student enrollment. Some numbers are lower than expected and others are higher. Central Valley is seeing a growth in high school students.
The Spokane Valley City Council approved a flat property tax for 2014 this week, though one council member argued that the city should consider taking the allowed 1 percent increase because of all the projects coming up.
Instead of playing "Where's Waldo?", today we have a game of "Where's the moose?" in Spokane Valley. The moose was spotted near City Hall on Sprague Avenue shortly before 9 a.m., then he was reported near Sprague and University Road. He jumped a fence to get away from police and is still wandering around somewhere. If you spot this critter, call Crime Check at 456-2233. Do not approach the moose, however. They can be a bit cranky. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Police Department.
Jennifer Papich walks through the first section of the haunted pool at Valley Mission Pool. Samantha the doll sits in the corner waiting for visitors. SR photo/Liz Kishimoto
Oh, dear. I nearly managed to get through the day while forgetting to post the highlights from today's Valley Voice. It's a good one, too, with lots of interesting stories. First up is the Valley Mission Haunted Pool that opens tomorrow. The pool has been transformed into a haunted house that will be open the next two weekends. It was freaky enough when it was half-finished in daylight; I'm sure it will be frightfully good.
In keeping with our (unplanned) Halloween theme, reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the new corn maze at the HUB Sports Center. This is the first year for the event, which features a haunted area for the adventurous. There are also plenty of regular mazes for families and those who like to get lost.
Spokane Valley City Council incumbent Chuck Hafner took his turn answering a series of questions we posed to all the candidates. His opponent, Donald Morgan Jr., did not respond. We also have a quick roundup of the races in Rockford, Latah, Fairfield, Spokane County Fired District 9 and the Spokane Valley Fire Department.
The city of Spokane Valley is considering whether to change the zoning of a parcel of land sandwiched between the Centennial Trail and Mirabeau Park from park/open space to mixed use. Nothing has been decided yet, but it may be part of a deal to get land needed for the Pines Road overpass above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.
Dave Black of Black Realty Inc. submitted the winning bid in today's trustee auction of Painted Hills Golf Course at the Spokane County Courthouse, purchasing the 9-hole golf course for $1.1 million dollars. Black said he has no firm plans for the Spokane Valley property yet. The course has been shuttered all year after the previous owners filed for bankruptcy. Click here for more details.
Yesterday the Spokane Valley City Council decided to move ahead with an ordinance to regulate the attire of baristas advertising topless Tuesdays and Thursdays. On those days the baristas wear nothing more than pasties and g-strings. No specifics were discussed during Thursday's special meeting and one council member told the packed audience that creating a new law would take time. Click here to read today's story on the issue.
Tiffany Allen, who has Down Syndrome, sits beside the formal dress she will wear as she vies for homecoming princess at East Valley High School. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Hold on to your hat, and your Saturday Valley Voice, so it doesn't blow away on this very breezy Monday. We had a couple of stories about teenagers doing well to start off with. Reporter Lisa Leinberger wrote about East Valley High School junior Tiffany Allen who has been nominated for homecoming royalty. Allen, who has Down syndrome, is getting a lot of support from her fellow students.
Teenager Micaela Halpin won second place in the recent video and photo contests run by the city of Spokane Valley in celebration of the city's 10th anniversary. Halpin's winning entries and the entries of the other winners can be seen at www.spokanevalley10.com.
A recent dog attack in the small town of Latah is illustrating the problem that many small towns are having with animal control. Many of the towns contract with SpokAnimal, which doesn't have any enforcement powers outside of the Spokane city limits. Now the towns are looking to the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service for help.
With a crowd spilling into the hallway, hundreds of citizens showed up at Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting to voice their concern about the XXXtreme Espresso stand on Sprague Avenue near Pines Road. SR photo/Colin Mulvany
Many of the 200 or so people who packed into City Hall for last night's Spokane Valley City Council meeting were there to complain about a new business in town, XXXtreme Espresso. The baristas wear bikinis most days, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays they are topless, wearing only pasties. This is what led numerous people to mention nipples (and other parts of the body) in their comments to the council.
But among the comments about concern for the activity taking place in the view of children was another message: take immediate action or we'll kick you out of office. Three of the current council members are up for election on the November ballot. Resident Dan Ross said he would campaign against anyone "who does not stand up for my children." "As you can see, I have a few friends," he said. "We are not afraid to take those positions away from you."
Reporter Jody-Lawrence Turner has a story today on the issue. Click here to read more.
Update: The City Council has called a special meeting for 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Items on the agenda include solid waste and potential regulations on public nudity. Public comment will not be taken.
More than 200 people filled Spokane Valley City Council chambers and packed the hallways Tuesday to ask elected officials to force lingerie-clad baristas at nearby XXXtreme Espresso to cover up or move to a location out of the sight of children. Protesters said they think the laws pertaining to adult entertainment venues should apply to the drive-thru coffee stand in the 11700 block of East Sprague Avenue. “We’re here to support our concern for the community,” said Valley resident Dena Tucker. “We’ve chosen to live in a family-oriented community. We want our community to stay a safe place for our children. We are petitioning our City Council to address our concerns and the city codes.” The stand came to the forefront of community awareness when a sign recently posted out front read: “Topless Tuesdays and Thursdays.” On those days, the baristas wear star-shaped pasties/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR. More here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: Part of crowd that attended Spokane Valley City Council meeting to protest XXXtreme Espresso)
Question: Would you contact your elected city officials if XXXtreme Espresso tried to locate in your North Idaho community?
I dropped by the Spokane County Courthouse today for the previously postponed trustee's auction of the Painted Hills Golf Course only to find that it has been postponed. Again. The new date is October 4, though at this point I wonder if that is the auction date or the postponement date. So once again we wait and see what might happen.
In case you were anxiously awaiting the news of who bought the Painted Hills Golf Course: the trustee's sale that was supposed to take place today at the Spokane County Courthouse has been postponed until next Friday. The course is being auctioned off after the owners filed for bankruptcy last year. I guess we'll all have to tune in next week to find out what happens.
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.
David Schultz, second from left, talks with incoming sixth-grader Brandon Hawvermale, 11, and his parents Keith, left, and Amanda, at Centennial Middle School during an open house on Tuesday. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
I've been zipping all over the county during a very busy week, so my apologizes for not posting this earlier today. There must be some rule of journalism that says that every jurisdiction must scheduled a special meeting during the same holiday week. But on to the highlights from today's Valley Voice.
The City of Spokane Valley will not participate in next week's auction to purchase the Painted Hills Golf Course. The property is being auctioned off in a trustee's sale on the steps of the Spokane County Courthouse to satisfy bankruptcy debts. The city council narrowly voted Tuesday not to try to buy the course after several residents spoke against it, including one person who said he represented a group trying to buy and preserve the golf course.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Centennial Middle School this week for a meet and greet session before the first day of school. Students picked up their schedules, met their teachers and tried to get their lockers open.
Recently some Newman Lake residents invited Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke to come take a tour of the lake and look at areas that have been severely eroded. Reporter Mike Prager was along for the ride as well as homeowners asked for new regulations to help save their beaches and homes.
The Spokane Valley City Council narrowly voted Tuesday not to participate in the auction of Painted Hills Golf Course next week to satisfy bankruptcy debts. Several people attended last night's council meeting to ask the city to stay out of it and one said he represents a group trying to buy the property and keep it as a golf course. Check Thursday's Valley Voice for more details on their decision.
Otis Orchards School principal Suzanne Savall hugs cousins Devon Nelson, 7,left, and Zachary Hughes, 7, as they return for second grade on the first day of school Thursday. Kindergarten teacher Stacey Brinkley awaits arrivals at left. SR photo/Dan Pelle
Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone enjoyed a nice, extended weekend. Let's celebrate our shorter work week with a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The Positive Change coalition that swept into power at Spokane Valley City Hall in 2009 is fracturing, with some supporting incumbent Gary Schimmels in this year's election and some supporting his challenger, Ed Pace. It's shaping up to be the race to watch in November.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by the Otis Orchards School in the East Valley School District for the first day of school last week. This is the final year of the district's transition to schools that combine kindergarteners through eighth graders under one roof. Lisa also has a brief look at the school year budgets for the East Valley, West Valley and Central Valley school districts.
The YWCA is preparing to open a new confidentail domestic violence shelter in Spokane Valley this month. They're looking for donations from the community to provide basic household items like pots and pans. This shelter will be able to house three single women and three or four women with children at a time.
Yes, next week really is September. For now road construction season is still in full swing and there are some projects coming up that might mess with your commute. Eighth Avenue will be closed just east of Wilbur Court begining at 8 a.m. Tuesday for utility work. Traffic will be detoured via Sixth Avenue or 10th Avenue. The road will reopen at 3:30 p.m.
Spokane County will be doing some chip seal work on Dishman-Mica Road next week. Crews will be working from the southern Spokane Valley city limits to Madison Road on Wednesday and from Madison Road to Highway 27 on Thursday. Expect to see lane closures and flaggers.
Other big projects are still underway as well: Argonne Road is down to one lane in each direction from Wellesley to Bigelow Gulch, Bruce Road is closed from Stoneman to Day-Mount Spokane Road and a roundabout is being constructed at Mission Avenue and Harvard Road in Liberty Lake.
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.
Golf carts sit locked behind a fence at Painted Hills Golf Course back in March. SR file photo.
It looks like there will be a vote at next Tuesday's Spokane Valley City Council meeting on whether the city should attempt to buy the Painted Hills Golf Course during a trustee's auction on the steps of the Spokane County Courthouse in September. A small group of neighbors have been pleading with the city to buy the course and reopen it, but the parks director has said it would make a great community park. So what do you think? Should the city buy it? And if so, should it remain a golf course?
Public comment on the possible purchase will be accepted before the vote next week. If you'd like to put in your two cents, show up at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.
Take note if you're going to be driving in Spokane Valley tonight: Pines Road will be closed between Mission Avenue and Indiana Avenue while crews pave the I-90 overpass. The closure is scheduled to being at 7 p.m. tonight and could last through 7 a.m. Friday. The eastbound I-90 on and off ramps at Pines Road will also be closed. Drivers should plan to use Evergreen Road or Argonne Road to cross the freeway tonight.
Last night Spokane Valley City Manager Mike Jackson announced that the city will be able to move ahead with the replacement of the west Sullivan Road bridge over the Spokane River. The city has been trying to come up with enough money to tear down the 1951 bridge and build a new one since 2008. The bottom line: the project should go out to bid this fall and construction should start in early 2014. I'll have more details in Thursday's Valley Voice. SR file photo.
Incumbent Spokane Valley City Council member Gary Schimmels sailed through the primary election and will appear on the general election ballot in November along with opponent Ed Pace. Schimmels collected 34 percent of the vote while Pace garnered 36 percent. There are still some ballots to be counted, but the percentages aren't expected to change much.
It will be a tight race and the key to winning may be attracting the 28 percent of voters who cast their ballot for Loberg. While Loberg may be out of the running this year, don't count her out. "I'll just do it again in a couple years," she said. "I think I have what the city needs. I'm just going to work harder to show people who I am and what I do."
Look for a story on the election results in tomorrow's Valley Voice.
Attention procrastinators: Today is your last chance to vote in the primary election. Ballots must be postmarked by today or dropped off before 8 p.m. at any ballot drop box located at local libraries. Many people didn't get a ballot, which only includes races with more than three candidates. But there are contested races in Spokane Valley, East Valley School District, Latah, Rockford and Spokane County Fire District 9.
Apparently many people who have gotten a ballot haven't returned it. The small town of Latah is leading with way with 45 percent of ballots already returned. Rockford comes in second with a 28 percent return rate. Other return rates are in the teens: only 16 percent of ballots have been returned for the Spokane Valley City Council races. The numbers are 13 percent in the East Valley School District and 15 percent for Fire District 9.
The first vote tally will be released at 8 p.m. today. It usually takes two weeks to count ballots and certify the results.
Dana Eberly, of Spokane Valley, heats a glass tube with a special torch setup before bending it. She said plastic signs took over in the 1970s, but neon came back in the 1980s. Now LED lights are popular. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
It's Thursday, it's cool and it might rain later. And to top if all off, we have some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has an interesting story on Spokane Valley resident Dana Eberly, who makes and repairs neon signs. It's an exacting process to create the glass tubes.
The fate of the Painted Hills Golf Course has been determined after its owners declared bankruptcy last year: it will be sold in a trustee's sale on the steps of the Spokane County Courthouse next month. A group of residents have asked the city of Spokane Valley to buy the course so it won't be developed, but that doesn't look likely at this point.
The city is looking at the feasibility - and price tag - of adding sewer to a large swath of vacant industrial land near the eastern edge of the city. Early research shows an estimated cost of $10.2 million, but the project can be split in three phases and done over time.
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.
Check this map showing bike and pedestrian improvements accomplished since the City Of Spokane Valley adopted a Bike and Pedestrian Master Program (BPMP). Mike Basinger, their Senior planner, said "in many instances, the adopted BPMP has strengthened the City's ability to leverage grant dollars to develop bike and pedestrian facilities."
The program will continue to guide the planning, development and management of existing and future bike and pedestrian facilities.
Take a look for yourself to see the work they've done over the last two years.
Well, it's not everything, but it sure is a lot. There are going to be a ton of interesting discussions at tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting. Topcis include a draft plan for the expansion of Balfour Park, adding sewer lines to vacant industrial land, the Spokane County Saltse Flats wetlands restoration project and landscaping Appleway Blvd. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.