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Saturday’s highlights

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.  

September road work

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.

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.

Should Spokane Valley buy Painted Hills?

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.

Pines exit, I-90 overpass closed tonight

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.

Coming soon: a new bridge

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.

Spokane Valley incumbent advances

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.  

Last chance to vote

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.

Today’s highlights

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.

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.

Mapping bike and pedestrian improvements in Spokane Valley

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.

Everything is on tonight’s council agenda

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.

Saturday’s highlights

“It's challenging,” said Nancy Beam, 13, of Rathdrum, as she played her violin during Otis Orchards Strings Camp on Tuesday. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

It looks like we're in for another stretch of hot weather this week. While we mentally prepare, let's take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on the Otis Orchards Strings Camp hosted every year by Adagio Strings. The camp brings together musicians of all ages.

The Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department is having a busy summer. They're offering their annual free summer park program at Terrace View Park, Valley Mission Park and Greenacres Park. There are free activities for kids Mondays through Thursdays and Terrace View and Valley Mission also offer free meals for kids 18 and under. Reporter Lisa Leinberger also has a story on swim lessons offered at the Terrace View Pool, Park Road Pool and Valley Mission Pool.

The city of Spokane Valley is pushing forward with a variety of road construction projects, but a couple of projects have been postponed for various issues.  

Today’s highlights

Curt Buyser of Critter Control removes a captured yellow-bellied marmot near the Gonzaga University baseball field earlier this month. SR photo/Dan Pelle

I love Thursday for two reasons: it means it's nearly Friday and it's a Valley Voice day. Today's Voice section is packed with good stuff, so let's move on to some highlights. First up is our primary election coverage. Ballots are being mailed this week. I took a look at city council races in Rockford and Latah and a fire commissioner race in Spokane County Fire District 9. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has information on the candidates runnings for two East Valley School District board seats.

This week the Spokane Valley City Council took a look at several possible locations for a new City Hall. They favored buying the former Crescent building in the old University City Mall even though the building is significantly larger than what they would need for a combined city hall and police precinct. In other city news, the council is considering easing the sign code again to address the number and type of temporary signs and where they can be placed.

Reporter Pia Hallenberg has an interesting story on Curtis Buyser of Critter Control. He's the one you call when you have a skunk in the neighborhood, raccoons setting up house in your attic or marmots burrowing in the bushes.

Today’s highlights

Brett Siddoway, 18, holds up a fishing net full of golf balls he gathered from the aquatic driving range at MeadowWood Golf Course on July 3. Siddoway has been a range hand at the course the last three summers. SR photo/Colin Mulvany

I'm really not sure where the morning went, though I think I had a phone headset on for most of it. Still, it is not too late for some highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger checked in with MeadowWood Golf Course range hand Brett Siddoway. He's in charge of fishing golf balls out of the lake in addition to cleaning golf carts and other tasks. HIs story is being told as part of a summertime series featuring people with unusual jobs.

Lisa also has a report on budget plans in the Central Valley School District. The district is looking at cutting kindergarten and first grade class sizes and offering all-day kindergarten at more schools. Doing so will mean hiring more staff and using portable classrooms.

The Spokane Valley City Council agreed this week to accept partial grant funding for the Appleway Trail. The city has three years to use the grant money, which should be enough time to find additional funding for the project, the council said. In other city news, the city has created a free smartphone app that uses mapping software to find local places to eat, play, shop and stay. You can use it to find local pools, department stores, gas stations and more. Look for it in the Android Play Store in the next few days. It will be available for iphones in a couple of weeks. 

The Spokane County Medical Examiner has identified the man killed in a motorcycle accident in Liberty Lake early on July 4. He is 45-year-old Matthew L. Jones.  

Saturday’s highlights

Ten-year-old Kaylee Martin and her mom Michele Martin browse the book selection at Liberty Lake Library on Tuesday. The library is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. SR photo/Kathy Plonka

Now that we're all back from a lengthy weekend, let's take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the 10th anniversary of the Liberty Lake Library, which started with donated books. The full service library is now planning a special celebration to mark its anniversary.

The Spokane County fire dispatch center is ironing out the bugs in new software that will allow real time tracking of every fire engine in Spokane County once new digital radios go online. The old soflware would not have been compatible with the new radio system, which forced the upgrade. The tracking could reduce response times in some cases as the system automatically dispatches whoever is closest to a call regardless of where they are based.

The Spokane Valley City Council talked a little trash last week as they discussed an ongoing study to determine the cheapest way to dispose of the city's trash over the next decade. Lisa also has a second story on several projects approved in the West Valley School District, including rehavilitating the track at West Valley High School and buying two new school buses.

Saturday’s highlights

Photos and flowers are seen in the Pines Cemetery’s Mausoleum on Wednesday. Fairmount Memorial Association has acquired the Pines Cemetery and South Pines Cemetery. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

The wet weather returned again today, but we have some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice to keep us entertained while we stay dry. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on Pines Cemetery and South Pines Cemetery being purchased by the Fairmount Memorial Association. The Pines Cemetery has been run by the Opportunity Cemetery Association since 1910. The South Pines Cemetery opened in 2007.

The city of Spokane Valley is considering new regulations on shoreline development as part of its state mandated update of the Shoreline Master Program. Last week the city council and the city's planning commission had a joint meeting to go over the draft regulations. A public hearing and an open house will be held in July.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on longtime East Valley cross country and track and field coach Dave McCarty. He has been with the district as a teacher and a coach for 36 years. He was also a star athlete in the district as a student.

Today’s highlights

Greenacres Middle School eighth-grader Zach Windhorst salutes Friday after performing with teacher Dana Hilpert and her dog Murphy. SR photo/Dan Pelle

Welcome to wet and rainy Thursday. Today is a good day to stay inside and have that second cup of coffee while checking out highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by Greenacres Middle School on the last day of school to check out their annual talent show. The singers, dancers and one dog strutted their stuff in the gym.

The Spokane Valley City Council had their annual day-long budget workshop this week. The city is looking for expenses and revenues to both increase a little more than 4 percent in 2014, but there is a long list of capital projects wanting attention. First among them is the replacement of the west Sullivan Road bridge.

St. Mary's Catholic Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week with a special Mass and potluck dinner Friday night. Current and former church members are invited to attend.

Lisa has another great story on two Central Valley High School students who created a bench using truck tailgates and tire rims. It was such a success that Greg Van Doren and Cory Jones are looking into starting a business to sell similar items.

Spokane Valley Council budget retreat

This is just a reminder that the Spokane Valley City Council will host their annual budget workshop Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave. The public is welcome to attend the meeting, which will focus on planning and the 2014 budget. I plan to be there, so don't expect any activity on the blog tomorrow.

Today’s highlights

The shoreline reinforcement project at a Newman Lake cabin stops the shore from disappearing under it, as seen Tuesday. The Spokane County Conservation District secured a grant to lay “bio logs” of coconut husks wrapped in netting and plant willow trees and other waterside species to create a root matrix that will stabilize the shoreline. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

There are some good stories in today's Valley Voice on everything from erosion control to an entry in the East Farms Diary. A property owner on Newman Lake has teamed up with the Spokane County Conservation District for an erosion control project on their shrinking beach. The addition of power boats to the lake has led to larger wakes, which has washed away 30 feet of beach in the last 15 years.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger spent the day at East Farms STEAM Magnet School recently as students made presentations on projects they have been working on this trimester. Their efforts ranged from watermelon plants to a helicopter mockup.

Half of the Liberty Lake Police Department is now wearing body cameras and recording all their interactions with the public. Wearing the cameras is voluntary and five members of the department have signed on, including the police chief.

The Spokane Valley City Council doesn't seem very happy with changes to the lodging tax rules. A new state law removes the final decision making on who is awarded money and how much from the city council and gives it to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. The council has no power to change the awards set by the committee.

Saturday’s highlights

Gretchen DeRusha, left, models one of her own wigs for the five Locks of Love donors in a fourth-grade class Thursday at South Pines Elementary. DeRusha, a cancer patient in remission, is a retired school district speech and language pathologist and she presented the girls with certificates for their generosity. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

Good Monday morning, everyone. It's time to put out noses to the grindstone again and also time to take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Kids, take notice. Spokane Valley pools open for the season this weekend and Splash Down begins daily operations this week.

Last week Ponderosa resident Chris Desborough returned from a 500 mile bike ride to Canada and back to raise money for Spokane County Fire District 8. A team of firefighters and paramedics saved his life in 2010 when his heart stopped beating and he's had a defibrillator and pacemaker in his chest ever since. He was back at work the day after his five day marathon ride, though he said he wasn't sitting down much.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger recently talked to a group of students at South Pines Elementary who donated their hair through the Locks of Love program. One of the girls was inspired to donate because of a neighbor who was diagnosed with cancer. Several of her friends have also donated.

SCRAPS will host an open house at 10 a.m. Saturday at what will be the new regional animal shelter once remodeling is complete. The building is located at 6815 E. Trent. There will be animals avaiable for adoption as well as entertainment, face painting, raffles and more.

Sullivan Road closure rescheduled

The closure of Sullivan Road between Kiernan and Trent that was supposed to start tonight has been rescheduled. The section of road will now be closed overnight Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for paving work. A detour route will be set up on Euclid Ave. and Flora Road.

Today’s highlights

Wayne McKnight, the athletic director at West Valley High School, stands under the historic entryway that was salvaged from the old building and built into the new West Valley campus May 16. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

I'm sorry I'm so late in posting some highlights from today's Valley Voice, but I spent all morning out at a mock crash at East Valley High School and have been furiously typing ever since. (Look for that story in Saturday's Valley Voice.) For today we have a nice package from reporter Lisa Leinberger, who profiled three retiring school teachers.

The featured teachers are: Wayne McKnight of West Valley High School, who has been with the district for 39 years and is now the athletic director; Marla Pflanz of East Valley High School, who founded the Strolling Strings during her 35 year career; and Kim Wellington of Central Valley High School, who started out teaching shop 35 years ago.

The city of Spokane Valley took in a $3 million budget surplus at the end of 2012. Sales tax revenue was up and expenses were down. No decision has been made yet what to do with the money and the city's finance director said he doesn't expect a repeat of the windfall at the end of this year.

Portion of Sullivan Road shutting down

The section of Sullivan Road between Kiernan and Trent will be closed completely between 9 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Crews will be doing a grind and overlay of the pavement in that section and the road is too narrow to do the work while cars use the road. A detour route will be available via Flora Road and Euclid Ave. If you need to be out and about on those nights, plan on taking another route.

Appleway Trail meeting tonight

This is just a reminder that there is a public meeting tonight on the draft master plan for the Appleway Trail proposed for the old Milwaukee Railroad right of way south of Sprague Ave. The vacant land is owned by Spokane County, which has agreed to let the city develop a trail on the property. The trail would run from University Road to Evergreen Road.

The city collected comments at a previous public meeting where people identified what kind of amenities they would like, such as benches, play areas, trees and possibly community gardens. Those comments have been used to create the draft plan that will be presented tonight from 4 to 6 p.m. at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

Three robberies appear connected

Spokane Valley Police believe that three recent robberies of Spokane Valley businesses are related based on the similiar descriptions of the suspects. A convenience store at 722 N. Park Road was robbed at 10 p.m. on May 13 by two men, one described as a white male and the other as possiblty a hispanic male, according to a police press release. They wore hoodies with the hoods up, bandanas over their faces, baseball caps and gloves.

Piece of Mind at First and Pines was robbed at 10 p.m. on May 16. There were three men involved and two of them matched the description of the two men in the first robbery, police say. A convenience store at 411 N. Pines was robbed just after midnight today (Tuesday) by two men matching the same description. Weapons were displayed in all three robberies, according to police.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of $3,000 to anyone who gives information that leads to an arrest in the case. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Anyone with information is asked to call the tipeline at (800) 222-TIPS. Photo courtesy the Spokane Valley Police Department

Valley shoppers alert: Value Village relocating to new, larger space

Savers Inc., based in Bellevue, will move the current Value Village in Spokane Valley later this year into the building that once housed the Old Country Buffet.

Currently at 13112 E. Sprague Ave., the discount and vintage-item retail store will reopen after remodeling is completed at 12205 E. Sprague Ave., at the corner of Pines Road.

A company spokesman said the opening will be "between Aug. 1 and the end of September."

In January 2012 the Valley Old Country Gourmet estaurant closed its doors following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Value Village Inc. is a subsidiary of privately held Savers Inc. The company operates more than 220 Value Village locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Bike to Work Week breakfast

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

A pancake breakfast to celebrate Bike to Work Week is planned for 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place. If you plan to attend by bike, CenterPlace is right next to the Mirabeau Point trailhead on the Centennial Trail. And I'm sure no one would mind if you arrived by car. The breakfast is free, so stop in to support our cycling community.

Spokane Valley sign dedication

This is just a reminder that the city of Spokane Valley will officially dedicate their new gateway sign during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The new welcome sign and landscaping are on a triangle of land at the intersection of Thierman Road and Appleway Blvd. that was donated to the city by Spokane County. Mayor Tom Towey will speak briefly during the ceremony. Attendees can park in the Display House parking lot just west of the sign.

Traffic impacts

There is definitely more road work going on and some new projects have joined the ranks in Spokane Valley in Liberty Lake. Traffic is down to one lane in each direction on Pines Road between Sprague and Broadway for signal conduit work, which is slowing traffic. That will continue Monday through Thursday until July.

Of course, Sullivan Road construction is ongoing between the Spokane River and Trent. Traffic there is also down to one lane in each direction, so expect slow going. Knox is shut down just west of Vista for utility work. A detour is in place for the project, which should be done sometime tomorrow.

New this week is a partial shutdown of the Harvard Road bridge over I-90 in Liberty Lake. Work starts today to repair the bridge joints and will continue through Thursday. The bridge will be limited to single lane alternating traffic directed by flaggers, so expect a wait if you have to go through that area.