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Travel: Scenes from an Airport

    After I’ve run the security gauntlet, after I’ve shown my ID, after I’ve exposed the contents of my bag to whoever is manning the scanner, after I’ve emptied my pockets and made my way through, the world shrinks to the faces and voices I hear in the airport. 

 

    An airport is a collection of every kind of human and there is no better place for watching people. The strangers in the crowd are rich, poor, kind, crude, happy and unhappy. They are young. They are old. They sprint down the concourse or they ride in chairs pushed by others. We all hurry and we all wait. We move forward and stand in line. Some speak languages I don’t understand, but at that moment we all have one thing in common: We are all trying to get from here to there.

 

    I stop to buy some fruit for breakfast and beside me a man sits hunched over the bar, his overnight bag at his feet. His face is strained and his mind is far away and I wonder if more than his drink is on the rocks.

 

    As I walk past the “spa” another man stares off into the distance as he massages the neck of one more anonymous passenger who’s bought a little time in the chair. He is a robot with strong, warm, hands.

 

    I find an empty gate and stop to charge my phone before I depart. A few rows away a pilot, his luggage piled beside him, is talking on the phone and after a few minutes I realize he’s talking to his wife and they are discussing the terms of their upcoming divorce. His voice is thick with anger and pain and, embarrassed to have stumbled into the scene, I unplug my phone and move on.

    When my flight is called, people immediately crowd the gate, jockeying for position too early, dragging heavy bags behind them, anxious to get on the plane as quickly as possible before all the overhead bin space is filled. One couple works as a team. She edges forward, slipping between people who are distracted by last-minute emails or texts, their attention on their iPhones instead of what is going on around them. Once she’s in place she motions for him and he slides in beside her. Another mans silently gauges the diligence of the gate agent and I see him decide to slip into the priority line, hoping the harried agent won’t notice. She doesn’t.

 

    On the plane two elderly women, their white hair permed, pink scalp showing between the tight curls, settle into their seats and, delighted to have an empty seat between them, forget we haven’t even taken off. They drop the middle seat-back tray and set up the picnic they’ve brought along, just like they’re on a train. They pull out sandwiches brought from home, wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked into folded paper plates, then settle back into their seats. Moments later the flight attendant comes by, sees what they’ve done, and gently—like she’s speaking to her own grandmother—tells them the tray must be up for takeoff. They’re embarrassed and hurriedly put everything away but something in me responds to their sweetness, their homemade picnic and the gentle way they do as their told.  

 

    Once all passengers are on board, just before they close the doors, a woman tries to switch to an empty seat a few rows up but it’s in an upgrade section and the flight attendants won’t let her. “It wouldn’t be fair to those who paid extra to sit there,” they tell her. The woman goes back into her assigned seat, with a few less inches of legroom, and turns away to look out the window.

 

    Sometime during the flight we pass over the Rockies and the air becomes rough. The man across the aisle smooths his palms over his knees again and again in a soothing motion. His face shows nothing but his hands keep moving until the worst is over. I wonder what he would do if I reached out and covered his hand with mine, the way I would do with one of my children.

    

    The women eat their picnic.

    

    When we land everyone jumps up and starts dragging bags out of the bins, piling them into the aisles and around their feet, anxious to get away, to be part of the prisoner exchange that happens each time a plane rolls up to a gate. 

    

    It’s like a movie. All hours of the day, in airports around the world, the scenes are repeated as passengers file in and passengers file out. Each of us carries more than a bag, more than a boarding pass. We all bear the invisible weight of a story. 

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

North Idaho Crime Outpaces Boise

Sheriff Ben Wolfinger patrols the streets during recent Coeur d'Alene 4th of July activities. (SR file photo)

North Idaho has the highest crime rate in the state, eclipsing the Boise area, according to the state’s latest crime statistics. It’s a trend that’s been growing in recent years. The Boise area had a much higher crime rate than the Panhandle as recently as 2008, but since then, North Idaho’s rate has surged as the state’s overall crime rates have dropped. “Our guys are working hard and they’re doing a good job, but it’s just trying to keep up is the hard part,” said Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger. One factor: Kootenai County is becoming part of a Spokane-North Idaho metropolitan area, rather than an isolated, more rural area with a seasonal influx of visitors/Betsy Z. Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you feel less safe today in Kootenai County than you did 10 years ago?

Life in the Lilac City

 

    It was almost midnight by the time my delayed flight landed in Spokane. I followed the stream of weary passengers through the terminal and met my husband at the door.  

    We drove silently home in the dark .The window was open and I caught a whisper of fragrance in the soft air but, exhausted, I tipped my head back against the seat and closed my eyes and let it go. 

 

    By the time we were home I was fighting sleep, thinking only of getting into bed. But, as I waited while my husband unlocked the back door I noticed the same sweet scent that had drifted through the car earlier and this time I immediately knew what it was. Lilacs. It was too dark to see but I realized that during the week I’d been away Spokane’s bounty of lilacs had bloomed. My lilacs had bloomed. Spring was here at last and its heady perfume was everywhere.

    I was home.

 

    The next morning I walked out to the corner of the backyard where my lilacs grow, to the source of the sweet fragrance of the night before. Heavy purple blossoms pulled at the limbs making an arch of blooms over my grandmother’s old wrought iron bench. I sat there a few minutes breathing, basking in the scented air, perfectly content to be tucked into a quiet corner of my own.

 

    That evening as I walked through Manito Park, my little dog dancing at the end of his leash, I heard voices coming from the lilac garden. I turned and stepped onto the path that threads through tall trees and shrubs covered in flowers. Some were the same dark purple that grow in my yard. Others were much lighter, some where white. All around me men, women and children were stopping to admire each one. They looked closely at the cascade of tiny flowers that make each blossom and then leaned in, almost burying their faces into the bloom. I counted at least five picnics and suspected there were others in more hidden places in the garden. A couple sat on a blanket, sharing a meal. A man sat cross-legged in front of an open pizza box, reading while he ate. A family with young children stretched out on the grass while the children played, squealing and laughing while they chased one another.

    I felt as though I’d stepped into a painting or wandered into an elaborately staged play. It was perfect. People of all ages drawn to a beautiful public place and celebrating something that happens only once a year.

 

    Somehow, it always comes back to this park. When Spokane frustrates me, when I grow tired of the politics of city government or exasperated by some perceived lack of progress; when I think I cannot be truly happy here, some small thing I see as I walk through Manito Park saves me. I soften and forgive. In the winter it is the sound of children laughing as they fly down the sledding hill. In the fall it is the color of the leaves. In the summer it is the pool of cool air that settles over Duncan Gardens each evening and the splendor of the rose garden at the top of the hill. In the spring it is this abundance of lilacs.

 

    For all its failings, and every city has them, this 90-acre oasis in the middle of a residential area is one of Spokane’s greatest achievements. For more than 100 years it’s been drawing people to stroll the winding paths bordered by tall trees, to watch the ducks glide along the mirrored surface of the pond, to stop and smell the flowers. For a city of its size, Spokane is rich in parks and Manito is the crown jewel.

    My little dog and I walked home. With the scent of lilacs still lingering in my hair, I thought about the power beauty holds over us. How an ordinary green tree can shower us with fragrance and color and change, for a while anyway, the way we see the world. 

    

 

 

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

Supreme Court decision prompts more restitution from Greg Jeffreys

A recently filed U.S. Supreme Court opinion has federal prosecutors asking for about $2 million more in restitution from jailed Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys, who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud in a series of real estate schemes.

Sentencing documents filed ahead of a scheduled hearing in June had originally asked Jeffreys - who admitted in November to duping individual investors and banks on projects including condominiums, units in the downtown Ridpath Tower and a military facility off Highway 2 - to pay back $10.3 million. But a decision rendered in Washington, D.C., earlier this month in the case of a convicted mortgage fraudster out of Wisconsin prompted prosecutors to revise that amount closer to $12 million.

The unanimous decision in Robers v. United States, decided in a lightning-fast (for the court) 10 weeks after oral argument, overturned restitution guidelines set forth by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to prosecutors. While the Wisconsin court ruled Benjamin Robers, a man who bought two houses using fraudulent loan applications, must pay the difference between the amount the bank lent and how much the properties sold for after foreclosure, the Ninth Circuit had calculated restitution based on the value of forfeited properties at the time they were seized. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in February 2013 to settle the dispute in the way the two courts calculated restitution.

The decision affirming the Wisconsin court's practice increases the amount Jeffreys owes banks and investors on three properties that were foreclosed upon, prosecutors say in documents filed last week. This includes units in the downtown Ridpath tower.

Jeffreys' ex-wife, Kimberly Jeffreys, also pleaded guilty in February to a charge of fraud in dealings surrounding the military facility. She is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced in July for her role in the scheme, facing a potential six-month sentence and restitution of close to $160,000.

Shannon Stiltner, a woman who lived with Greg Jeffreys in Las Vegas and pleaded guilty in November to deliberately ignoring signs her boyfriend was swindling investors, is serving her seven-month sentence at a federal detention center in Seattle. Stiltner has been ordered to pay $58,000 in restitution and is scheduled for release in August.

Prosecutors have not filed requests to change Kimberly Jeffreys' or Shannon Stiltner's restitution amounts.

National Arbor Day: Plant a tree!

Photo: Seedlings grown at Arbor Day Farm are ready to be sent to new Arbor Day Foundation members 

     I call the Hawthorn tree outside the window my “weather tree.” If it has leaves, it is summer. If the leaves are wet, it is raining. If it has berries, it is fall. If there is snow on the branches, it is winter. If the limbs are edged with tiny green buds, it is spring. 

    Countless times each day as I work, I glance up at the tree, noticing the way the birds are dancing in the branches or the wind has set it in motion. March can’t make up its mind, but April starts the short season of spring in the Northwest. Flowers bloom, trees, like my Hawthorn, bud out, grass begins to grow again, sending pale green blades up through the dead leaves and other detritus of the previous fall and winter. Tulips wake up and jonquils bloom. April stirs a body. It makes you want to go out and plant things. Like a tree.

    April also brings Arbor Day and countless tiny tree seedlings packaged to be given away to school children across the country, always with the same exhortation: Plant trees! 

    Last fall I visited Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, and the sight of tables full of plastic tubes filled with miniature Blue Spruce, White Pine and other species being packed to ship out to new Arbor Day Foundation members, brought back the excitement of being a child given the gift of a tree, and the way we felt important as we planted the spindly seedlings in the back yard. 

    I walked the grounds of the teaching farm, through the Hazelnut grove, through the orchard, sampling heirloom apples, and I was reminded of the importance of trees in my own history. 

    My grandfather was a naturalist and often pulled one of his tree-identification books from the bookshelf to show me an illustration. He kept a mental inventory of beautiful or rare trees he discovered as he drove the back roads of the deep south. I remember him pulling over and stopping the car to show me a tall Dawn Redwood in the neighborhood. He pointed to the tangled branches of the Monkey Puzzle tree in the yard of a grand old house at the edge of town. When the majestic Ginkgo trees at the small private college with which he was affiliated turned to gold, he took me to see them, waiting patiently while I gathered a handful of delicate heart and fan-shaped leaves that had fallen. One year he gave me a small Ginkgo. I planted it, moved it twice, and then finally left it behind as I moved away forever. As far as I know it is still there, an unmarked legacy to a man who loved nature and loved me.

    When I moved west to Spokane I immediately visited the city’s “tree garden,” the 56 acres of trees and shrubs at Finch Arboretum just west of downtown. I still go there sometimes. It is an excellent place to wander. 

    While I was at Arbor Day Farm, my daughter and son-in-law were in the process of buying their first home. I decided I would give them an Arbor Day Foundation membership as a housewarming gift so they could plant the 10 free trees that come with the membership in their new backyard. My son, another nature-lover who grew up to be the kind of man my grandfather would approve of, spent the winter studying the history and properties of that most majestic tree, the Douglas Fir. I decided he needed a membership as well and I know he will happily plant his ten tiny firs on the property surrounding his mountain cabin. I am intrigued by the foundation’s work on sustainable hazelnut farming as a way to provide nutrition and combat the effects of climate change. Joining that charter will give me three hazelnut bushes of my own.

    I still have a box of old photos that belonged to my grandparents and there are one or two faded, unmarked, photographs of trees that must have caught his eye for one reason or another. Looking at them I remember they were taken before cell phone cameras, that he didn’t just drive by and snap a photo the way I do now. He would have had to make a trip with a camera. Then the film or slide would have to be developed. This wasn’t a whim. It was a compulsion.

    I thought of that when I came across an old Arbor Day poster. It stated “Trees prevent wind erosion. They save moisture and protect crops.” True. But it was what was written after that that grabbed my attention and resonated in me. “Trees,” the poster declared, “contribute to human comfort and happiness.” And they do. 

    Beyond the indisputable environmental impact, there is an intimate connection between trees and the human spirit. Looking up at the constantly-changing sky through the branches of a tree, feeling the texture of the bark against our fingertips, breathing in the organic perfume of a living thing, we’re moved in subtle ways we don’t always stop to recognize. 

    Sometimes, like the Hawthorn outside my window, they simply remind us that there is a rhythm to life, a cycle of seasons that come and go and come again.

Note: National Arbor day is the last Friday in April but each state can set its own day. In Spokane, Arbor Day events will be held on Saturday, April 26.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

Spokane: A raging river is no place to play

    Like so many others in Spokane, in the spring I go down to pay my respects to the river. Fed by snowmelt and rain, the Spokane River swells and grows and becomes, seemingly overnight, a powerful monster roaring through the canyon it has chewed through solid basalt. 

 

    This dramatic sight draws people of all ages and the spectacle takes your breath away. Water spills over the falls, churns, boils and foams sending curtains of fine mist, droplets of water that ride the wind, coating the bridges, paths and spectators before it rushes on, making its way to fill the aquifer that quenches this thirsty land.

 

    This year, with so much snow and rain falling so late in the season, the river is at its wildest, just under flood stage. We were there on Saturday afternoon and we walked along the path to the viewing platform at the base of the Monroe Street Bridge. That is one of my favorite places to see the falls and feel the incredible power. The land drops away at the edge of the rail, the ground vibrates and the sound makes conversation difficult. We stood for a few minutes admiring the view and taking photos before we strolled up another block to the Post Street Bridge. 

 

    From there I noticed a group of boys on bicycles ride down to the place we’d just been. Gathering at the rail, they were roughhousing as boys of that age do, pushing, punching, shadowboxing as they peered down at the water. Suddenly, one of the boys climbed up and dropped over the rail in one fluid motion, landing on the deceptively thin layer of spongy soil covering the slick rocks abutting the concrete arch of the big bridge. He moved to the edge of the steep slope that plunges down to the raging water. 

 

    My heart slammed against my ribs and I heard myself make an instinctive, involuntary, sound like a frightened animal. I was terrified he would slip at any minute. The ground was still soaked from days of rain and there was nothing to reach out and grab if he lost his footing. And the river, always dangerous, is completely unforgiving at this stage. Whatever falls into it is quickly gone forever. 

 

    I looked for my husband but he was out of sight. I raised my phone to call 911, sure that if I took my eyes off the boy he would be gone when I looked up, but at that moment one of his friends must have called him back because he turned and just as quickly hopped back to safety.

 

    “Oh, you stupid boy.” I whispered. “You stupid, lucky, boy.”  

 

    The group stayed another few minutes—long enough for me to snap a photo—and then hopped back on their bicycles and moved on, off to swagger and impress one another in other ways, I suppose. 

 

    I finally walked away but I was still trembling.

 

    I keep replaying the scene in my mind, thinking how one wrong step could have changed everything, but I doubt the boy has given it a second thought. 

 

    I know this is nothing new. 

 

    When my children were that age they laughed at my constant worry. They thought I was simply overprotective, but the truth is, I was unhinged. They had no idea how many dangers there were outside our door and I suppose I believed if I could think of it and warn them against it (whatever it was) I could somehow protect them. New fears would hit me in the middle of the night. What if… What if… What if…

 

    At that age—adolescence and early adulthood—we are vulnerable because we have not yet developed an awareness of just how fragile we truly are. Age, experience, and exposure to the shocking misfortune of others gradually brings on the understanding that at any given moment any of us is fair game to tragedy. Terrible things can happen when we least expect it.  

   

    Eventually, wisdom—and with it a greater chance of survival—comes with the understanding that the reckless make themselves better targets. So most of us grow cautious, careful. Some of us become worried mothers and fathers, nagging our children to take care.

 

    Perhaps one day, when he is a man and he’s watching a teenage son drive away, the same lucky boy will remember the day the river didn’t get him and he’ll call out,  “Hey, don’t do anything stupid!”

 

    But his boy will not look back, and the words will roll off his back like the clean, cool, spray from a waterfall. 

    

     Note: The group of boys mentioned in this column appears in the photo above.

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Suspected drunken driver crashes near off-duty deputy’s home

A man suspected of drunken driving had his keys confiscated by an off-duty Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy who witnessed the man trying to drive over some boulders near Liberty Park, according to court documents.

Wayne Pederson crashed his Toyota pickup near a trailhead at the park just south of Interstate 90 in Central Spokane earlier this week. A sheriff's deputy who was home at the time of the crash left his home to find Pederson trying to drive over a boulder that was blocking the trail, he told investigating officers.

Pederson then fell out of his truck, according to court documents. The deputy took Pederson's keys and called law enforcement, who arrived and conducted a sobriety test. The investigating officer listed Pederson's level of impairment as “obvious.”

Pederson refused a breathalyzer and blood draw at the scene, according to court documents.

Clark: A Massacre That Didn’t Happen

February 12 in a still-snow-buried Spokane passed quieter than the Denver Broncos locker room after Super Bowl XLVIII. Did you notice? Did you care? I did. I’ll admit I even held my breath a time or two as the Big Day approached because, well … You never know. Which is the point, naturally. Nobody can know – especially the boobs who put out that titillating and trashy online tale last fall that began like this: “The next mass shooting will take place on February 12, 2014, in Spokane, Washington.” Remember? I forgive you if you don’t. Memory loss, I’m convinced, is an unavoidable side effect of our so-called Information Age. Day-by-day. Hour-by-hour. Minute-by-minute/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Thoughts?

Stiltner receives 7-month sentence

The woman who lived with jailed Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys and was implicated in his schemes to defraud real estate investors was sentenced to seven months in prison last week after pleading guilty to concealing plots through ignorance and conspiracy.

Shannon Stiltner was also ordered to pay more than $58,000 in restitution to two defrauded investors by a federal judge at a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court on Feb. 10. Jeffreys was originally slated to be sentenced last week as well, but that hearing was stayed as attorneys continue to stipulate the amount the former real estate developer owes, which may total in the millions.

In court documents asking U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson to accept the seven-month sentence, Stiltner said Jeffreys swept her off her feet after a failed marriage, guiding her drug-addicted daughter to sobriety.

“(Jeffreys') actions established a deep and powerful trust between him and Shannon,” Stiltner's attorney, John McEntire, wrote.

That trust kept her from questioning Jeffreys' business deals, even after news reports began to indicate something was wrong, McEntire said.

Stiltner's sentence ends one chapter of a legal saga that has been ongoing since Jeffreys' arrest more than a year ago. Jeffreys' wife, Kimberly, continues her legal fight with a trial tentatively scheduled for April. Greg Jeffreys sentencing, at which dozens of witnesses are expected to testify about his alleged debts, will take place in March.

 

Sentencing delayed for jailed developer Greg Jeffreys

The sentencing of jailed developer Greg Jeffreys, who pleaded guilty to fraud and contempt charges in November, will take a little longer than planned, in part to accommodate the dozens of witnesses the former Ridpath Hotel investor plans to call on his behalf.

A U.S. District Court judge this week delayed a hearing, expected to last at least two days, at which Jeffreys is expected to dispute the amount owed numerous debtors listed in court filings. Scheduled for February, the sentencing and a decision on how much Jeffreys owes in restitution will not come until later in March.

In his request for the continuance, Jeffreys and his attorney cite an extensive witness list - including bankers, assessors and family members - as part of the reason for the needed delay. In total, Jeffreys plans to call more than 30 people to testify about his debts and character. Some of those he plans to call were involved in leasing deals at the Ridpath, Spokane's historic hotel whose revitalization was impeded by Jeffreys' legal woes.

Jeffreys was indicted in January 2013 on multiple federal counts of bank and wire fraud, money laundering and theft tied to real estate dealings and developments that never materialized. Jeffreys and his wife, Kimberly, were implicated in a plot to steal federal government money when constructing a military entrance processing station off Highway 2. Employee Shannon Stiltner, who allegedly shared a casino suite with Jeffreys in Las Vegas, also pleaded guilty in November to concealing knowledge of a Ponzi scheme.

Stiltner's sentencing is still set for February.

 

Jacob M. Hess Day

Mayor Condon will declare Monday as Sergeant Jacob M. Hess Day in honor of the fallen Marine who attended North Central High School. Full proclamation:

“WHEREAS, the City of Spokane seeks to honor all veterans who serve to protect the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States, especially those Spokane natives who embody the virtues that our community holds dear; and

WHEREAS, Sergeant Jacob M. Hess gave his life for our country while supporting combat operations in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan while assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and


 

Travel news: “Dancing with the Stars:At Sea” Alaska cruises from Seattle

    When Holland America Line launched “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” in 2013, the dance-themed cruises, featuring up-close-and-personal access to the performers and celebrities of the long running ABC show, were an immediate hit. The cruise program was so popular it will return in 2014. 

 

 

    While all 15 of Holland America’s ships will include some elements of “Dancing With the Stars” programming, with free dance lessons from the ship’s dance professionals and a dance-off competition to compete for a chance to be one of the 15 ship champions to sail on the 2014 Champions Caribbean cruise, the good news for Northwest “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” fans is that four of the six special 2014 theme cruises featuring dancers and celebrities from the popular show will be 7-day Alaska cruises sailing out of Seattle, WA and Vancouver, B.C.  

 

 

    The ms Zuiderdam will sail June 14 and June 21 from Vancouver, BC.

 

    The ms Westerdam will sail from Seattle, WA., on July 26 and Aug. 2,

 

    These “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises will feature special performances, dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers and meet-and-greet and photo opportunities with the celebs. At this time, DWTS dancers scheduled to sail on all six theme cruises are professional dancers Tristan MacManus and Kym Johnson, with television personality Carson Kressley and actress Sabrina Bryan.

 

    The Dec 6, 2014 Champions Cruise will bring the 15 winning guests (one from each ship) from the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” competitions currently being held on all ships in the Holland America fleet through Oct. 22, 2014, for a final dance competition and the chance to be named Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. 

 

 

For more information about Holland America “Dancing with the Stars at Sea” cruises go to www.hollandamerica.com or contact your travel agent.

Note: I was on the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” cruise on the ms Veendam last spring, sailing from Quebec City to Boston.  You can read about that voyage here.

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

Spokane eliminates bicycle-pedestrian coordinator job

CYCLING — I've just learned that the city of Spokane is eliminating its Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position.

As of Dec. 21, Grant Wencel, who's held the postion for more than four years, will be terminated and the job will go dark.

Here is a reaction from Bradley Bleck, who's been closely involved with the recent advances in bicycling routes and status in city transportation planning:

As someone who has served on the (Bicycling Advisory Board) for nearly seven years as a volunteer and member, who worked to help bring a bike/ped coordinator to the city, I can only see it as a significant step in the wrong direction, one that will make both recreational and utilitarian cycling in the city much less a priority. 

Object of Affection: Gina Freuen’s Portrait of Memories

   I suppose you could argue that an artist, especially someone from a family of artists, would naturally be sentimental about artwork. But ceramic artist Gina Freuen’s love for a particular painting is more about the memories within it than the work itself.

   “The painting was done by my mother when she was 33 years old and I was 5.  Mom is 90 now.  It is a painting of my great Aunt Maggie sitting in a rocking chair, with a curio cupboard behind her, book shelves and a window that looks out at a path that leads away from the house,” Freuen says. “ My mother painted this painting with naive skills.  The rocker floats and the feet sit lower than the chair, but it shows the skills she was developing in becoming a wonderful painter in her mature years.  

   Freuen rescued the painting from her parents’ garage sale many years ago as they prepared to retire and move to the Oregon Coast.

   “They had visions of a new, fun, retirement life and all of this old stuff had to go,” she says.

   To Freuen,  the history of four generations of women in her family is captured by her mother’s brush strokes and she couldn’t let it slip out of her hands. She brought it home with several other special pieces.

   “My Great Aunt Maggie lived in the original homestead up in Almira, Washington.  Our trips up there as children were looked forward to for weeks,” she says. “The path leading to the house (is) imprinted on my mind.  When I picture the house, I picture the path.  I picture      Great Aunt Maggie standing at the door.” 

   The house still stands and now Maggie’s daughter, Eileen, lives there. The curio in the painting is still there. The bookshelves are still there. The path is still there.

   But the painting holds a deeper significance in Freuen’s eyes.

   “As mother moved into her Alzheimer years she lost her ability to paint, so having one of her early paintings is very important to me.  She has never recognized the painting as one she values because she only sees skills that needed to be better,”Freuen says. “It could be said that memories are the most important to us not objects; this painting holds my most cherished memories.”  

     “If my house were to catch fire, I would grab it and run.”

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spokane listed among ‘best cities for conservatives’

Conservatives in Spokane, take heart. Your U.S. senators, governor and roughly half your city council may be Democrats or liberals, but you live in the 12th best city for conservatives.

This according to Estately, a web site for  house shopping that claims to have some 976,000 MLS listings. True, the web site only lists 13 cities, so Spokane almost didn't make the baker's dozen topped by Oklahoma City. But it did manage to make the grade, even if it seems like the authors were a bit selective in the conservative points they picked.

Washington state  is divided in half like a McDonald’s McDLT. The west side is the left side, the rainy and wet side, the urban side filled with Seattle liberals. On the east side of the Cascade Mountains is the state’s Republican stronghold, a population of ranchers, farmers, and others actively trying to create a separate state independent from Western Washington. Spokane is the metropolitan center for Eastern Washington, as well as the Inland Northwest. It’s the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis and the most conservative large city in the Pacific Northwest.

 Among the “famous locals” they list Bing Crosby, Craig T. Nelson, John Stockton and Ryne Sandberg.

In order to enhance Spokane's Red Cred, they also say the percent voting for President Obama in 2012 was 45.6 percent, parenthetically adding that's a Spokane County total. And that's true, as far as it goes. The county total has some deeply red precincts from Spokane Valley, Mead, the suburbs and the exurbs. The actual vote for Obama in the City of Spokane was 56 percent.

Revel 77 celebrates one-year anniversary on Sunday

Revel 77 is celebrating its first anniversary on Sunday.

The specialty coffee shop on Spokane’s South Hill will be giving out door prizes of coffee and coffee-related gear throughout the day. Espresso shots over ice cream, or affogatos, will be on sale for a dollar. And there will be live music by Hannah Siglin and Blake Baxter.

Revel 77 is located at 3223 E. 57th Ave. It is open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For additional hours of operation and other information, visit its website at www.revel77.com. Or, find the coffee shop on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Revel77, or on Twitter @Revel77.

And stay tuned: Beer and wine are slated to be sold at the coffee shop in mid November.

 

 

Council Balks At Barista Coverup

Spokane City Council members Monday night rejected a proposal aimed at scantily clad baristas. The 4-2 vote against modifying unlawful public exposure laws brings an end to a passionate public debate that blurred political parties, gender and business. Council President Ben Stuckart joined council members Mike Allen, Steve Salvatori and Jon Snyder in voting no. Councilwoman Amber Waldref was absent. Council members Mike Fagan and Nancy McLaughlin sought to force female baristas to wear more clothing, at least as much as you would see in a newspaper advertisement for lingerie, as Fagan described the proposal. “Is decency in our community an ongoing issue that needs to be considered?” Fagan asked/Mike Prager, SR. More here. (SR file photo: Jessica Etchart, 23, right and Niquy Kunkel, 25, left, work to prepare drinks for customers during an afternoon rush on Tuesday at XXXtreme Espresso in Spokane)

Question: Did Spokane City Council make the right call?

Shopping: Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market this weekend

 

This weekend, starting Friday at 4pm, the Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market will bring vintage fun to the Five Mile Prairie Grange. 

 

Once again the mother and daughter team of Gladys and Celia Hanning will fill the historic grange with antiques, music and good food. In addition to the more than 30 dealers joining Gladys and Celia, Kayleen Jeffery of Vintage Mamma & Friends will be bringing her special biscotti to the market along with other good food and Haley & Ashlee from Accoustic Vibrations provide music.  

 

The annual Mad Hatter Flea Market has become one of Spokane’s favorite fall vintage events and the perfect place to score all those great finds to jumpstart the season for decorating and entertaining.

 

Happy treasure hunting!

Mag Uses Tragedy To Trash Spokane

‘There are three kinds of lies,” Mark Twain once observed. “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Twain might not have originated the sentiment, but the logic contained is still spot on. Manipulating data to bolster a lame or false conclusion has started wars, fostered bad government and sparked a million saloon brawls. Now you can add trashing Spokane’s reputation to the list. That’s the result of an online Atlantic magazine story that purportedly uses statistical analysis to conclude that …“The next mass shooting will take place on February 12, 2014, in Spokane, Washington.” That’s actually the opening sentence to this rancid piece of speculative crap. The story is wrong on several levels, but its thoughtless timing tops the list/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Would you be angry if a national magazine speculated that your town would be the next site of a mass killing?

Spokane’s Bradley Falls Just Short

Although Cami Bradley did not win “America’s Got Talent,” she earned a world of fans. The $1 million and headline show in Las Vegas went to Kenichi Ebina, a dancer who grew up in Japan. But Bradley is flying home to Spokane with the experience of a lifetime and a promising career on the horizon. On the results show of the talent competition Wednesday night, Bradley sang “Not Over You” with Gavin DeGraw over dueling pianos. Then they stepped away from the piano to harmonize face to face. They also shared a moment on stage – a hug. “He was really impressed with me because I was really prepared when I came to the rehearsal,” Bradley said. Being on the talent show changed Bradley – giving her room to grow as an artist and build her courage/Nicole Hensley, SR. More here.

Question: Do you expect Cami Bradley to become a big-time recording artist?

Bikini Baristas Risk City Cover-Up

As we get ready to say so long to the summer of  2013, a burning question comes to mind. Whatever happened to Mike Fagan’s war on the bikini barista babe biz? To recap July’s hysteria … Complaints from constituents about some near-naked coffee sellers had the Spokane city councilman in a froth and vowing to create an ordinance designed to nip any over-fleshed enterprises in the bud. I’m such an optimist. I figured the sheer silliness of this nonissue would eventually dawn on Fagan, who is a smart guy and would wisely drop the whole matter with a red-faced “never mind.” There I go again, giving Spokane government more credit than it deserves. Fagan, as I discovered Wednesday, not only has refused to let this rubbish go, but his new “Unlawful Public Exposure” ordinance is almost ready for Prime Time/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Does Coeur d'Alene still have a bikini barista coffee hut — on Government Way, north of Appleway?

2nd Male Arrested In Vet’s Killing

Demetruis Glenn, far right, is forcibly redirected by authorities Monday after turning to try to view onlookers who were hollering words of support for him near the county’s juvenile jail. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)

The father of one of the teens implicated in last week’s beating death of a decorated World War II veteran thanked God for his son’s peaceful capture, saying the family had met with Spokane police and prayed for his safety. “I hope they find out what really happened,” said Steven Kinard, whose 16-year-old son Kenan Adams-Kinard was found by police hiding in a friend’s basement in the 500 block of West Montgomery Avenue early Monday and taken into custody. “Kenan’s a good kid,” the father added, calling Belton’s death a “tragedy.” The younger Kinard and Demetruis Glenn, also 16, are accused of killing 88-year-old Delbert Belton in a Wednesday robbery outside the Eagles Lodge in north Spokane/Kip Hill, SR. More here.

Thoughts?

Sons Of Norway Liquidates Hall

Auctioneer Jeff Owens, left talked with Chris Garras of Spokane before auctioning off the contests of the Sons of Norway Lodge and Banquet Hall in Spokane on Saturday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

 

To step into the Spokane Sons of Norway banquet hall is to step back in time. The rich, red walls and the dark beams across the ceiling are reminiscent of a Viking ship. Paintings and maps of ancient Norway dot the walls. But after this week, nothing will remain in the lodge the fraternal order has called home since 1979. The space will be gutted to make room for a pediatric clinic. The club hosted a complete liquidation auction Saturday, selling all but the most valuable furnishings in the lodge. Sons of Norway Cultural Director Anne Molstead said declining membership and increasing costs made it impossible for the club to continue at 6710 N. Country Homes Blvd. It costs about $7,000 a month just to maintain the space, she said/Kaitlin Gillespie, SR. More here.

Question: Any of you ever belong to a Sons of Norway lodge?

Use of Force and Snowmageddon: A tale of Spokane’s savings account

Snowmageddon 2008 and Spokane's Use of Force Commission don't have much in common.

One was the harshest winter in a generation that paralyzed Spokane, and the other aims to reform the Spokane Police Department. 

But both are tied together by one of the city's savings accounts.

Earlier this month, we wrote about Mayor David Condon's 2014 budget proposal, in which he proposed adding 25 new officers to the force by paying off an old street bond with funds primarily from the contigency reserve. At that time, we said the fund was “intended to be saved for emergencies, such as 'Snowmageddon' in 2008, Ice Storm '96 and the eruption of Mount St. Helens.”

Which is true. That's the intent of the fund. But at last week's Finance Committee meeting, city Finance Director Gavin Cooley detailed how the fund has been used in the last ten years. Only one of the five times it's been dipped into could be described as an emergency, as most people would define it. (Of course, city leaders could make a case for the other four.)

In 2003, they dipped into the fund for a $1 million withdrawal, which went towards paying for early retirements for some of the city's workers. 

In 2008, $500,000 was taken out for the apocalyptic Snowmageddon, which dumped 100 inches of snow on us, snarling traffic, shutting the city down and cursing the lives of every person to lift a snow shovel that dreaded winter. 

In 2009, another $400,000 was taken out for more early retirements.

In 2011, the city used $336,000 to purchase JustWare, a fancy new computer program used to integrate our region's criminal justice system.

And earlier this year, $1.112 million of contingency reserve funding was used to implement some recommendations from the Use of Force Commission, which we wrote about today.

So, obviously, the fund isn't used simply to combat the excesses of Mother Nature. She just isn't that punishing in the Inland Northwest. And that's why the city is reviewing how it uses this fund. 

But for the time being, the city is using it for one time purposes, which go toward budget reduction, police accountability or snow plows. We can all agree on that last one.

The Sweetest Season: Summer in the Northwest

    I haven’t set the kitchen table in weeks.

    Each morning I wake up, pour a cup of coffee, open the back door and step out onto my patio. Usually it is cool enough to wear a robe or the heavy man’s denim work shirt I sometimes slip over my gown when I'm too impatient.

     Lunch might be a salad while I work at the big table on the patio or idle in the shaded corner of my backyard. Dinner is eaten late, on the patio again, just as the sun slips behind the trees on the horizon. After the meal I leash the dog and walk to Manito Park to take a stroll around the gardens, where it is always at least five degrees cooler and the air is thick with the heady perfume of flowers. Then, at night, after the dishes are done and the dog and the cats have been fed, I slip out the back door again for a few more minutes. I sit on the glider, pushing myself back and forth with my toes against concrete that still holds the warmth of the sun, and I mark the end of another day.

    This time of year, my living area is always turned inside out. I eat, read, relax, work and daydream outdoors. When my children were all still at home, before we moved out of the big house in the country and into the cottage in town, I set up a daybed on the patio. During the day they would sprawl over it, reading for hours, surrounded by newspaper comics, crossword puzzles, Barbie dolls, Breyer horses and empty Popsicle wrappers. At night, after dinner, after the last bit of daylight had faded, my youngest and I would lie down together on the summer bed. Often her sisters and her brother would join us and we would lie there like puppies in a basket, gazing up, watching the stars come out and the Milky Way spread like spilled paint across the black night sky. We pointed out the Big Dipper and called out when shooting stars streaked across overhead. We counted satellites. Sometimes we spotted the flash of the Space Station’s solar panels as it orbited, and once an owl startled us as it flew low and silently over the backyard.

    Eventually the others would wander off and the youngest would drift off to sleep in my arms. But I would always lie there a bit longer, breathing the shampoo-and-green-grass fragrance of her hair, reluctant to let her go.

    Finally, around midnight, I would rouse her and help her stumble up to her bed and then climb into my own.

    Anyone who has ever lived where the humidity chases the temperature up the thermometer and the mid-summer air—day or night—is as uncomfortable and heavy as a damp blanket, will understand the way I delight in the season here. I grew up in the South. Summer could be long and cruel. But here in the Northwest, where the season is short and sweet, mornings are deliciously cool, afternoons are hot and bright and the twilight is long and slow and luxurious.

    I can’t bear to waste a minute so I take my cup of coffee out to meet the sun and I’m there to watch the moon rise. And one by one these beautiful days go by while I sit and watch, and think of children whose hair smelled of green grass and lavender shampoo.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Spokane Airport Expands Rewards

Item: Spokane Airport offering patrons air mile rewards: Airlines, hotels also sign on to program/Mike Prager, SR.

More Info: Frequent fliers in the Inland Northwest can now bump up their airline mileage accounts by joining Spokane International Airport’s new customer rewards program. Airport officials last week announced that enrolled participants will receive air miles for money they spend on parking and retail purchases at the airport. In addition, the rewards will apply to dining and lodging at the Ramada Spokane Airport and Wingate by Wyndham hotels. Other restaurants and businesses outside the airport could be added to the program, officials said. The new rewards program follows a series of changes intended to improve what airport officials call the “customer experience.”

Question: Are you adept at using frequent flyer/rewards programs to get free stuff?

Outside Magazine names Spokane in Best Towns

Cindy Hval, photo

Population: 209,525
Median Household Income: $41,466
Median Home Price: $165,500
Unemployment: 8.8 percent
Votes: 1,668

Mochaccino-sipping Seattleites may call it Spokompton for its perceived crime, but the city is about as dangerous as Bend and safer than Colorado Springs.

Set on the eastern edge of Washington, where the desert meets the Rockies, Spokane lives up to its motto: “Near nature and near perfect.” Within minutes of downtown, you can paddle past moose on the Little Spokane River, climb 5.13 sport routes in Deep Creek Canyon, or hike the Spokane River Gorge.

“You can be in the river three minutes from your office,” says Jeanna Hofmeister, who works at the visitors bureau, “and have no idea that you’re just outside downtown.”

There are also five ski resorts within a two-hour drive. Read more. Outside Magazine

Apparently, they haven't heard Spokane is “just a drive-through to the airport! “Shhh!

House Majority Leader grabs a Spokane cup o’ joe

A member of U.S. House of Representatives leadership grabbed some java to go at a Spokane-area Dutch Bros. Coffee this morning. And it wasn't who you might think.

Franchise owner and state Republican lawmaker Kevin Parker hosted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at one of his drive-thru espresso stands this morning, tweeting out “Look who stopped by our coffee stand this morning.” Accompanying the pic was a shot of both men grinning in front of a drive-thru window, ties not included.

Parker said Cantor was in town to attend an area fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday night. While there, Parker talked to Cantor about the business he started, and the Virginia Republican expressed some interest in seeing one of the stands before he left from the airport Friday morning.

Cantor, who graduated from Columbia University in New York with a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development in 1989, worked at his family's real estate firm for a decade in the '90s while beginning his political career in the Virginia State House of Delegates. Parker was surprised and impressed by Cantor's private sector acumen.

“He's a pretty big business guy,” Parker said Friday afternoon.