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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley: a city in search of a nickname

A “city without a heart” is what San Francisco-based consultant Michael Freedman called Spokane Valley last Tuesday as he met with elected officials about ways to jump-start withering Sprague Avenue.

No one objected to the statement, at least not when Freedman said it, but when the remark appeared in quotes in a newspaper headline the following day, City Council members let out a yelp.

“City without a Heart?” A city without center-place shopping, maybe, a city easier driven than walked, but calling the Spokane Valley heartless hurt. Moreover, Spokane Valley taxpayers, via the City Council, paid Freedman good money for the assessment, which also suggested heavy doses of tax dollars and private property investments were necessary to pump new blood into Sprague.

Exit 289 had a more affordable idea. Let’s clear up this “city without a heart” business and give the two-year-old town a real nickname. We’ll maybe have a laugh at ourselves and burn some time while the Sprague retailers and city officials decide whether life outside the frying pan is really all that hot.

Around month’s end when the city celebrates its second anniversary, Exit 289 will publish the best nicknames readers suggest. Please get your submissions in no later than March 22.

In the meantime, we thought we’d suggest a few to get the ink flowing and, while we’re at it, hazard a few guesses about slogans our newsmakers might come up with.

We’re not a “the” city like the “The Emerald City” of Seattle, or “The Lilac City” of Spokane. We’re not “the city so nice they named it twice” like Walla Walla.

We expect disincorporation rabble-rouser Sally Jackson might approve this one: “Welcome to Spokane Valley, but not for long, Hon.” “Hon” being a key word in Sal’s vocabulary and one surely uttered as she gathers petition signatures in upcoming weeks.

Conversely, our city supporters might suggest “In for a penny, in for a pound,” or “Welcome to Spokane Valley, there’s no turning back now,” something suggesting that it’s a little late for an annulment.

Valley high schools, which play together much nicer than the grownups in government, could submit a slogan reflecting their more civil rivalries: “Home to the golden throne, the battle of the bone and the stinky sneaker.” Those items are the holy grails of our prep basketball teams.

A high school slogan might not mean much to outsiders, but does anyone really understand what Bellingham’s trying to say with its slogan, which is “Let us surprise you,” or when Tacoma declares itself the “City of Destiny?”

How about “the free parking city,” or “the city of streets running east, not west.” Seriously, has there ever been a city of 80,000 people without a single West Avenue, Road or Boulevard? Spokane Valley has none.

Spokane Valley has some of the best fast food restaurants in the state. We could be “Home of the R burger, the Burger Royal Whammy, Barn Buster and the Super Bacon.” In the alternative, we could be “the Gateway to Heart Disease.” Let’s face it, we may be big on taste, but we’re also big on waist and all the other side effects of meals that come with french fries.

Of course, this area used to be the produce capital of Washington, a cornucopia of green vegetables and myriad apple varieties. We could be the garden city if there weren’t already a Garden City, Wash. We could be “The City of Opportunity,” as the road sign on the northbound side of state Highway 27 says just 18 miles south of town.

We could be whatever we wanted, or we could wait for someone else to tell us who we are.

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