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After they had their picture taken, twins, Maddie and Erik Cathcart, 2, tell Santa what they want for Christmas at River Park Square on Saturday. SR photo/Colin Mulvany
Happy Thursday, everyone. It's almost Christmas, which means we have a couple Christmas-themed stories for you in today's Valley Voice. Correspondent Cindy Hval interviewed Santa, AKA Jim Burney, who has been donning his red, fur-trimmed suit for 39 years. These days he can be found at River Park Square in downtown Spokane. I hear he's even a Seahawks fan. He even dishes about his favorite reindeer in a quick Q&A.
Correspondent Jill Barville was at the Spokane International Airport for a Fantasy Flight to the North Pole for local children. The 63 children on the flight were nominated by local social service agencies. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on autistic Barker High School student Jonathan Finck, who has his colorful art on display in the school's hallway. His fellow students enjoy watching him work.
The city of Spokane Valley is looking at an annual funding shortfall of $3 million for street preservation projects. The city has been spending about $4 million a year but should be spending $7 million, a recent study of street conditions showed.
Ashlee Zack, 13, thumbs through a book about Facebook at North Pines Middle School library. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Good morning and happy Thursday. As usual we have some interesting highlights from today's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger stopped by North Pines Middle School, which recently got a $5,000 grant to buy new library books. The librarian was happily able to replace "DOS for Dummies" with a book on the history of Facebook.
The Spokane Valley City Council got its first look at a preliminary list of proposed street preservation projects for 2013. The list is fairly extensive and calls for 17 different sections of road to get a grind and overlay or just an overlay of new pavement.
Spokane Valley Fire Department Commissioner Monte Nesbitt has announced his immediate resignation due to health reasons. He fell ill last week and was diagnosed with stress-induced cardiomyopathy after several days of tests.
For those of you looking for an update on Miss Chicken, correspondent Stefanie Pettit has a column today about her most recent visit with her feathered friend.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger visited a English language development class at North Pines Middle School attended by young immigrants from all over the world. The students were presenting photo stories and some talked about where they came from.
Some Millwood residents upset about a recent 14 percent water rate increase visited the Millwood City Council meeting to complain about the rate hike. Correspondent Valerie Putnam reported their concerns about paying too much for water this year.
Spokane Valley pools are open now and we have details about open swim times and swim lessons. The Spokane Valley Fire Department renamed several fire stations last week and the names of one or two might surprise you.
Linda Crowe, pastor of Veradale United Church of Christ for the past 17 years, is shown outside the church on Tuesday. She is retiring. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Apparently we're back to rainy and cool Mondays now. While you enjoy your morning coffee, we've got a bunch of stories from Saturday's Valley Voice to highlight. The Rev. Linda Crowe has been the pastor at the Veradale United Church of Christ for 17 years. She retired Sunday and it was an emotional experience for Crowe and her congregation.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on East Valley High School student Emily Harris, who won a statewide art competition. Her painting, titled "My Childhood," will hang in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Olympia.
The Liberty Lake City Council has an opening after Susan Schuler announced her resignation so she can move to New Zealand with her husband. Anyone interested in applying for the seat needs to do so by 4 p.m. on May 31. The Spokane Valley City Council had a discussion last week on what projects to fund with the street preservation money they recently set aside. There was some debate over which roads should be done first.
In other road construction news, the Sprague Avenue reconstruction project between Evergreen and Sullivan started today. The project will be completed in four phases to limit traffic impacts. Access to businesses will be maintained. The project should be done by mid-August.
Correspondent Juli Bergstrom Wasson has details on Wags to Riches dog grooming, which opened in Spokane Valley last fall. It's not just a place to go if Fido needs a bath and a trim. Owner Virginia Patton has nearly completed the requirements that will earn her the title of master groomer and she likes to do creative trimmming styles.
The packet for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting isn't an inch thick, which bodes well for the length of the meeting. The council is set to award the bid for the Evergreen Road construction project between 16th and 32nd. There will also be discussions on what road projects to spend this year's street preservation money on and a possible change to the lease signed by Splash Down. It's a study session, so there won't be any public comment except on the lone action item to award the Evergreen bid. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.
Senior Jake Hochberg leads an experienced pitching staff at Central Valley. Hochberg has split a pair of decisions in CV’s first four games. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
It's Monday and it's not raining. Everyone cross your fingers that this will last at least a little while. Meanwhile, it's time to take a look at Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a profile on Gene Sementi, who is stepping up to become West Valley's superintendent. He has worked with the district for many years as a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent.
The Spokane Valley City Council discussed how much of the city's year-end balance to commit to street preservation on Tuesday. It was a split decision, with four of the seven council members favoring taking $2 million. That would leave $26 million, which the council has previously identified as the minimum amount it wants left over.
Correspondent Steve Christilaw spoke to the coach of the Central Valley High School baseball team, who is dealing with a soggy start to his season. The field is soaking wet and pitchers haven't been able to get much practice time on the mound.
The agenda for tonight's Spokane Valley City Council meeting is so full, I won't be the least bit surprised to be sitting there for more than four hours. There are a couple of items that are sure to generate a lot of discussion, including a vote on awarding the second round of lodging tax money. The first round didn't see any going to Valleyfest, a first since the city incorporated. A majority of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee members have recommended against giving Valleyfest any fuding in the second round as well, but the council has the final say.
The council is also set to have a discussion on how to pay for the estimated annual $11 million shortfall in street preservation funding. The shortfall has continued to grow in recent years as funding hasn't kept up. Several council members have said openly that they don't believe it is possible to fund the entire shortfall.
Karen Fournier, left, and Jane Murphy of Hearth Homes stand in the living room of the newest transitional home the group will open in Spokane Valley, Thursday. Hearth Homes runs a series of homes for women with children. Fournier is the group’s executive director, and Murphy is the development director. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Saturday's Valley Voice is chock full of news from the area and makes an excellent read over coffee (or lunch). Reporter Lisa Leinberger spoke to the founder of Hearth Homes, Karen Fournier. She runs several homes for homeless women with children and is getting ready for a ribbon cutting on another house.
The Spokane Valley City Council had its annual winter retreat last week and spent hours discussing various issues facing the city. They discussed how to pay for street preservation projects, economic development and the possible acquisition of land in partnership with the Spokane County Library District.
Correspondent Valerie Putnam attended the Millwood City Council meeting where the council discussed the possible need to raise water rates. Last week the Spokane Valley Fire Department managed to put out a chicken coop fire before any of the chickens were hurt.
Betsy Blake, Cathy Lobe, center, and Jan Stripes, rear, work on producing homemade placemats for Meals on Wheels at Lobe’s home in northwest Spokane on Feb. 1. SR photo/Dan Pelle
At the top of today's Valley Voice is news that residents along south Evergreen will have their street fully repaved this summer after a new water line is installed underneath it. This week the Spokane Valley City Council approved using city money to repave the road.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on the Liberty Lake City Council meeting, where council members voted to not change their attendance policy. It was the topic of some discussion last year after a couple of council members had accumulated several absences.
Rainey Coffin has a story on a group of retired home economists who make placemats for the local Meals on Wheels organization. Longtime correspondent and Master Gardener Pat Munts wrote a story on a Spokane Valley couple who are making every effort to make sure a hummingbird survives the winter.
Steve Munts takes notes as an evaluator suggests that in the event of a wildfire, flammable material such as paper inside the home should be moved away from doors and windows before occupants evacuate, to prevent its heating up and igniting inside the house. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak
There was a lot to read in Saturday's Valley Voice, so all is forgiven if you didn't get a chance to read it all. The Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District 8 have teamed up to hire a wildland fire inspector to help homeowners prepare their homes for wildfires. They are doing inspections of homes in forested areas to point out what measures people can take that may save their homes.
The Spokane Valley City Council again discussed street preservation and how to pay for it, but no conclusions were reached. They also discussed several other projects that have come up, including improving the Mission Aveneue trailhead in Greenacres, and what money might be available to pay for them. The council intends to discuss both issues in more depth at the day-long budget workshop scheduled for June 14.
In related news, planning commission chairman John Carroll has announced his intention to run for Dean Grafos' council seat this fall, setting up the first contested election so far. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on a $250 prize available to North Pines Middle School students who follow a series of clues to find a blue piggy bank named Piggy H.
Two Spokane Valley churches, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Christ Lutheran, have voted to combine to form a new church named Advent Lutheran Church. The original plan was to combine three congregations into one, but the majority of the members of Holy Trinity Lutheran did not vote to approve the plan.