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Car Prowler Posts Video Of Loot

Spokane Valley police say a video posted by a car prowling suspect on his Facebook page that features suspected stolen loot will be used as evidence against him. “It'd be kind of silly for us not to,” said Sgt. John Nowels.  The video, posted two days before his arrest, shows Nathan John Calvert in a vehicle he describes as a Jeep. He focused on a large amount of property in the back and passenger seat and said he hasn’t “really figured out what I’m going to do yet.” Police believe it's the same stolen Jeep that contained about 100 items of stolen property when Calvert, 28, was arrested Friday after an attorney caught him in his truck and held him until police arrived. Police also suspect Calvert used stolen equipment to film and post the video, which they learned of from The Spokesman-Review/Meghann M. Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels. More here.

Question: A candidate for “Stupid Criminal Tricks”?

A “green” credit union

SR reporter Mike Prager has a story today on Spokane Teacher Credit Union's new “green” branch in Spokane Valley. It has a free charging station for electric cars, solar panels and a roof that reflects heat. The new branch on 32nd opened this week.

STCU’s Valley branch offers Valley’s first auto charging station

Spokane Valley's first 240-volt charging station for electric cars.

Spokane Teachers Credit Union gets into the game, announcing its new South Valley location will feature an electric car charging station.

The Valley branch, at 13211 E. 32nd, will offer a  240-volt charging station for electric cars. It's called the first charging station in Spokane Valley.

That station goes live on Monday Dec. 12.

A release from STCU notes the charge station, paired with two parking spaces reserved for electric cars or chargeable hybrids, is one of a number of green features in the new branch. Others include:

  • Panels that at times will generate a surplus of power.
  • A rooftop and parking lot that reflect heat, rather than absorbing it.
  • A shower for employees who walk or pedal to work. (It's also situated on a bus route.)
  • Lights and a heating system that are highly energy efficient.
  • A no-smoking policy that includes the parking lot.

Spokane's Nystrom+Olson Architecture designed the 3,496-square-foot branch to meet U.S. Green Building Council standards for LEED Gold certification for sustainable building and development practices.

Christmas tree lightings tonight

Hundreds of Spokane Valley residents turned out for the second annual Christmas tree lighting at University City Mall in 2004. The event had several musical performances, a Santa visit and the tree lighting. SR file photo.

Both Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake are having Christmas tree lighting ceremonies tonight, so bundle up the kids tonight and head out to one of the celebrations. Spokane Valley's annual ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the University City parking lot at University and Sprague. The lighting will be at 6 p.m. Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey will speak and there are usually singers performing Christmas music. The event is hosted by the Spokane Valley Rotary.

Liberty Lake's annual ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. The night is packed with free events, including crafts, carriage rides, choir music and pictures with Santa. The evening ends at 8 p.m.

Only 24 more days until Christmas!

Election results certified

The Spokane County Elections Office has certified the November election results. There were no surprises in the final results, but a look at the election statistics reveals some interesting information. The number of ballots returned in Spokane Valley resulted in a 54.73 percent return rate, which may well be the highest in the city's history. That amounts to 26,839 ballots. The return rate was 49.6 percent in the 2009 city council elections.

The run to the polls seems to have been led by the resounding no vote on the city's Proposition 1 to fund converting one-way Sprague and Appleway to two-way streets. There were only 720 “under votes” on that issue, which refers to people who turned in a ballot but didn't select either option on that particular ballot item. In comparison the under votes in Spokane Valley City Council races ranged from 4,772 to 8,579.

But even if the voter turnout in Spokane Valley was the best ever, the city was still trounced by nearly every other jurisdiction that surrounds it. The ballot return rate was 64.9 percent in Newman Lake Fire District 13, 59.70 percent in Liberty Lake, 61.76 percent in Rockford, 64.82 percent in Fire District 8 and a whopping 71.21 percent in Waverly. (The lowest was 43.02 percent in Airway Heights.) The return rate for Spokane County as a whole was 57.04 percent.

Lane closures at Sprague and Pines

The city of Spokane Valley is shutting down some lanes at the intersection of Sprague and Pines for pavement repair work. The southbound curb lane on Pines and the westbound curb lane on Sprague will be closed through Friday. It could cause traffic problems during rush hour.

Saturday’s highlights

The city of Spokane Valley’s new snowplow is parked next to one of the original plows at the Public Works Facility in the Industrial Park. The old snowplows, purchased from the WSDOT, averaged 2,500 miles each during last year’s snowy winter. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Here we are again on another lovely Monday morning, which means it is time to look at the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. The city of Spokane Valley is working on breaking in its first brand new snow plow, which was ordered last year but didn't arrive until April. It will be the only white plow truck you see out on the road.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger highlighted the high number of absences at the Liberty Lake City Council, which was brought into focus last week when the council meeting didn't have a quorum for nearly an hour. The Mayor is considering a chance to the council's absentee rule.

The state Public Disclosure Commission has decided not to persue a camplaint filed against former Spokane Valley City Council candidate Marilyn Cline. The complaint was filed in October. Spokane County has wrapped up sewer construction work in the Valley for the season, but residents in the Green Haven neighborhood can expect to see crews back in the spring. Large boulders and old concrete irrigation system conduits slowed work so much that the project wasn't completed in time.

Car not where it belongs

A Spokane Valley Police Officer is reporting a car jammed between a utility pole and the building that houses Old Country Buffet at Sprague and Pines. No word on how the driver got there.

12:52 p.m. update: An officer just requested that a structural engineer come by and check the building.

Deadline near for city spots

If you were thinking for applying for vacant seats on the Spokane Valley Planning Commission or the city's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, time is running out. The deadline is Monday for all four vacancies (two on each). None of the positions are paid.

The Planning Commission is in charge of holding public hearings on planning and zoning items and making recommendations to the City Council. The two seats there are both for three year terms that would start Jan. 1. Applicants must live inside the city limits.

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the City Council on how the lodging tax funds should be distributed. The money is collected to benefit tourism. The two open seats are both for people involved in activities authorized to receive funding for the tax.

Both applications are available on the city's web site or at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. Call (509) 720-5102 for more information.

Spokane Valley man injured in Post Falls

The Idaho State Patrol reports that 29-year-old Spokane Valley resident Luis M. Schiaffini-Pineiro was injured in a car crash on I-90 in Post Falls late last night. An ISP press release says he was driving east in a Mazda pickup “at a speed too fast for icy road conditions” when he lost control, went off the road to the right and rolled his car “numerous” times. The accident ocurred at 10:26 p.m. Schiaffini-Pineiro was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

Walmart announces it will finally break ground on new E. Sprague store

We asked recently when Walmart would get around to breaking ground on a new store in Spokane Valley.

In March 2010 the company first announced it had plans for the store, west of the Costco at 5200 E. Sprague.  Our first story said: 

Walmart says it will square off with Costco Wholesale Corp. in the Spokane Valley.
The Bentonville, Ark., retail behemoth announced Thursday it will build a 151,000-square-foot retail center on a parcel of land due west of Costco’s store at 5601 E. Sprague Ave.
Jennifer Spall, the Bentonville company's director of public affairs and government relations, said: “Walmart plans to break ground this November on its new full-service store in Spokane Valley. A specific ground-breaking date has not yet been set.  Construction will be completed approximately 12 to 14 months after ground-breaking.”

Section of Balfour Road closed

The city of Spokane Valley has announced that Balfour Road between 13th and 14th is closed to all traffic until Nov. 4 for utility work. Make sure you detour around that area until it reopens. Also, there is some landscaping work going on at the new roundabout at Flora and Mission that is affecting traffic flow. Even though the weather is getting colder some road construction projects are still ongoing, so keep an eye out for work crews. 

Today’s highlights

Spokane Chiefs, from left, Collin Valcourt, Mac Engel and Tanner Mort prepare lunch Oct. 18 at the House of Charity in Spokane. The hockey players spent parts of three days volunteering and interacting with homeless people. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We've got a little bit of everything in today's Valley Voice. Reporter Pia Hallenberg went along when the Spokane Chiefs hockey team visited the House of Charity recently to visit, give away hats and serve lunch. The team got a warm reception from the shelter's clients.

The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously approved the city's new Bike and Pedestrain Master Program on Tuesday, which was a bit of a surprise since it has been so heavily scrutinized. There's also an update of several other actions the council took, but the meeting was so long I couldn't fit everything in. Expect to see another story on the council meeting in Saturday's Valley Voice.

Correspondent Jill Barville has a great story on grandparents who raise their grandchildren and the unique challenges they face. I also checked in at the open house held Monday to present the Urbran Growth Area boundary adjustment alternatives that are being considered. Several areas in Spokane Valley are being considered for addition to the boundaries, which allow denser development. This will be on ongoing issue over the next several months.

Still Entertaining Crowds At 90

Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole. The names roll off his tongue with ease. Local musician Bruce Davis has worked with them all. And at 90, he’s still performing every week with his band, Variety Pak.
From his home in Spokane Valley, Davis reflected on a lifetime of making music. His trombone sits on a stand near his chair, and a mandolin and guitar hang over the fireplace. At 5 he discovered an E-flat alto horn in the hall closet. “It belonged to my dad,” Davis recalled. “But I never heard him play it. By the time Dad came home that night, I was able to play a tune.”He was also hopelessly hooked on horns/Cindy Hval, SR. More here. (SR photo by Christopher Anderson)

Question: What era do you think produced the best music?

Developer’s Forum Thursday

Make sure you set your alarm clock tonight if you want to head over to Spokane Valley City Hall (11707 E. Sprague) to check out the Developer's Forum from 7:30 to 9 a.m. While the discussion is designed for developers, anyone is welcome to come and listen in on the conversation. City staff will be talking about changes to the permitting process and the city's emphasis on customer service and asking for input.

New school zone speed limit signs are up

Spokane Valley recently installed flashing school zone speed limit signs at  Chester Elementary (3525 S. Pines) and Orchard Center Elementary (7519 E. Buckeye). The new signs have flashing beacons to remind drivers to go 20 miles per hour when the speed limit is in effect, usually when students are arriving at or leaving the school. The signs were partially paid for by a grant from the Wasington Traffic Safety Commission. Watch for the signs and for children when you drive by.

Urban Growth Area open house

A regional review of the Urban Growth Area is under way and there are discussions about changing the boundaries in the Spokane Valley area. An open house is being held tonight so people can get information on what areas are impacted. The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E.Sprague. Other open houses are scheduled for the Geiger area and north Spokane County later in the week. Visit www.spokanecounty.org/bp for more information.

It’s a haunting

There are a bunch of things going on this weekend, so let's start by taking a look at the annual Valley Mission Haunted Pool. (Don't worry, the pool has been drained. You won't get wet.) Organizers promise “spirits, ghosts and all manner of creepy crawlies” who will frighten “anyone brave enough to visit.” But if you're one of those people who don't care for clowns, you should probably stay out of the Creepy Clown Tunnel.

The haunted pool is designed for those age 12 and up, but younger children will be allowed if they are accompanied by a parent. The grand opening is tonight. Hours are from 7:30 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday as well as Oct. 28-29. Admission is $3 per person or $2 per person with a can of food for the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Valley Mission Park is at 11123 E. Misson.

Saturday’s highlights

Diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease as a teenager, Cindy Bergdahl has not let her vision impairment stop her from teaching fourth grade at McDonald Elementary School, or competing in triathlons. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

As promised, we brought you a bunch of interesting stories in Saturday's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval talked to McDonald Elementary School teacher Cindy Bergdahl, who teaches and competes in triathlon despite being visually impaired.

A University High School student has come forward to say she reported to the school in the spring that teacher Michael Cronin had touched her inappropriately. Central Valley School District has launched in investigation into the allegation. This comes after Cronin was put on paid administrative leave in August while the district checked into recent criminal convictions.

Former SR reporter Mike Vlahovich wrote about longtime Spokane Valley resident Joe Custer, who led Vera Water and Power and was heavily involved in the community. We also have an analysis of Spokane Valley City Council campaign ad claims that the city's budget was increasing 7 percent a year until the new council took over.

Elections guide out today

Ballots will begin arriving in the mail at the end of next week, so we've published our annual elections guide today. There's a special section in today's paper that includes every contested race in Spokane County and North Idaho as well as information on the state and local ballot issues. If you haven't had a chance to grab a paper yet, click here for all our election coverage.

Putting out the elections guide doesn't mean the end of our coverage, however. We'll continue to write stories and next week we plan to have some question and answer format stories for the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake races. Reporter Lisa Leinberger will also have a story in Thursday's Valley Voice on last night's debate among Liberty Lake candidates. In the Spokane Valley races, only the challangers showed up so there was no debate. All three of the current city council members seeking to serve a new term failed to show up, though councilman Dean Grafos did submit a written statement.

Candidate debate on Monday

First of all, I'm sorry I've been neglecting the blog this week. Between a really lovely cold and scrambling to get voter's guide information done, it just slipped to the side. You can look for our comprehensive voter's guide in Tuesday's paper.

Along those same lines, a candidate debate is planned for 5 p.m. Monday at Central Valley High School, 821 S. Sullivan Road. The debate was supposed to be for all candidates running for Spokane Valley City Council, Liberty Lake Mayor, Liberty Lake City Council and Sate Senate District 4, but we received word today that none of the Spokane Valley candidates have committed to coming. The debate is being hosted by the CVHS government classes. 

The event opens with a meet and greet with the candidates, followed by an opening speech by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. After the candidates have answered questions, the students will have a debate on various local and state ballot issues.

Park Road open house

If you live or work in the vicinity of Park Road between Indiana and Broadway, head over to an open house Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Woodard Elementary, 7401 E. Mission. The meeting will be hosted by the city of Spokane Valley's Public Works Department, which is planning to reconstruct Park Road.

Current plans call for the intersections of Park/Broadway and Park/Mission to be redone in concrete, add a right turn lane from westbound Broadway to northbound Park and restripe Park to a single lane in each direction with a center turn lane and bike lanes. Sidewalk and stormwater improvements will also be a part of the project.

The open house is being held to get public input on the city's plans. Funding is not yet available and a timeline for construction has not been set.

Road work still going on

I realized there is still a lot of road work going on even though it's nearly October when I stumbled across a closed lane on Sprague Ave. at McDonald Road this morning. A check of this week's traffic update from the city of Spokane Valley shows a lot going on.

Work on Broadway is happening this week between Pines Road and University Road. There will be traffic lane and sidewalk closures during the week, so be prepared for delays if you drive this route. The intersection of 11th and Herald road will be closed until 5:30 p.m. today for storm water work. Detours will be in place and the intersection should reopen tomorrow. Evergreen Road between 16h and 24th will be completely closed Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drivers are asked to use McDonald Road instead. And of course crews are still hard at work on the I-90 widening project east of Sullivan.

Remember to watch for work crews and keep your speed down when going through work zones.

Honeywell doubling the capacity for copper and tin at Spokane Valley site

Honeywell Inc. announced this week it's doubling the refining and casting capacity for high-purity copper and tin at its Spokane Valley production center.

The increase in capacity is a response to growing demand in the semiconductor industry, a Honeywell press release said.
Demand for copper material has grown, in particular for high-purity copper used in some semiconductors.
Memory manufacturers are also pushing demand as they switch from aluminum to copper.  Copper and tin for advanced chip packaging applications is also on the upswing, said the company.
The first phase of expansion will be complete in the first quarter of next year, while the second phase is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.
Spokesman Peter Dalpe noted the expansion is solely in capacity; no additional workers are being added.  The plant, at Euclid and Sullivan Road, already is being run full-time, Dalpe said.
In 2010 the plant had about 300 workers.

Focused Fitness expanding, will add a gym to its new office in Spokane Valley

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A Spokane Valley childhood health and fitness publisher, Focused Fitness, is expanding its operations and will move into a 18,000-square-foot building next spring.

That new building will include offices and a 4,200-square-foot gym where staff can give hands-on training for health educators using its fitness tools.

Started 10 years ago by owners Karen Cowan and Ron Malm, the company develops and produces youth-focused health and fitness materials used by school districts and youth centers.

The new building and gym will allow staff workers to provide training to customers using the Focused Fitness programs. The company will also offer open-enrollment sessions to give potential customers a chance to examine program options first-hand.

For several years the firm has worked from its office at 2406 S. Dishman Mica Road.

The new building, expected to be ready in March 2012, is down the street at 2426 S. Dishman Mica Road. The two-story, $1.7 million facility is being built by F2 Enterprises, a property company also owned by Cowan and Malm.

Sullivan Bridge taking center stage

The Spokane Valley City Council is looking at potential fixes of the southbound bridge of Sullivan Road. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

Reporter Mike Prager has a story today on structurally deficient bridges, including the span over the Spokane River that carries southbound traffic on Sullivan Road. The bridge has been deteriorating for years and this year the city of Spokane Valley imposed weight restrictions to help prolong the life of the bridge until the city can get enough money to build a new one. The Spokane Valley City Council is scheduled to discuss an option during Tuesday's council meeting that would temporarily reinforce the bridge so the weight restrictions can be lifted.

Longtime Valley businesman Dick Behm has died

Dick Behm, a fixture in Spokane Valley, died Monday. His family has owned businesses in the Valley for generations, including Behm's Creamery. He was a member of the Spokane Valley Business Association and this year he was named the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce volunteer of the year. He was also a regular at Spokane Valley City Council meetings and was never shy about getting up to the podium and expressing his opinions.

There's a story here and it will also run in the Valley Voice tomorrow. The funeral is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3606 S. Shaffer Road.

STA route changes start Sunday

An STA bus travels through Cheney in March 2010. SR file photo.

If you are still not sure how the Spokane Transit Authority route changes will affect you, check out reporter Mike Prager's story today that lays out what is being cut and what changes are being made. The No. 95 Millwood route is being eliminated and several others are changing.

The No. 90 Sprague bus will now turn around at the Valley Tranit Center on University Road. The No. 174 Liberty Lake Express will now stop at the Mirabeau Park and Ride lot. Several other routes in Spokane Valley and being redesigned.

Spokane Valley woman injured in weekend accident

The Idaho State Patrol reported late yesterday that Spokane Valley resident Chelsey M. Bucko, 24, was injured in an accident at 9 p.m. at Highway 95 and Rockford Bay Road. She was driving west on Rockford Bay and another driver was going north on Highway 95. An ISP press release reported that Bucko pulled out in front of the other woman, causing the two cars to crash. Bucko's 1992 Jeep Cherokee bust into flames after the impact and the highway was shut down for an hour. The driver of the other car and her passenger, both from Silverdale, Wash., were also injured. All three were taken to Kootenai Medical Center.

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.”