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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Schoolhouse deal falls through

Randy Koch, of Competitive Edge Racing School, signals to student drivers on the track at Stateline Speedway. 
 (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Randy Koch, of Competitive Edge Racing School, signals to student drivers on the track at Stateline Speedway. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

A plan to move the historical Lone Fir Schoolhouse, in the works for two years, has come to an end.

The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum has been notified that the owner of the one-room schoolhouse, Jennifer Johnson, of Jennifer’s Greenacres Auto Sales, is no longer willing to donate the building.

“We’re deeply saddened and disappointed,” said museum director Jayne Singleton. “A lot of energy and effort went into the project thus far.”

Johnson did not return calls seeking comment.

The site on East Sprague Avenue where the schoolhouse stands was previously owned by Bell RV, which made the initial pledge to donate the structure. When the site changed hands last fall, the museum was told it could still have the historical building.

The Lone Fir Schoolhouse was built in 1894 in the Saltese Meadows area. It was moved to its current location in the late 1940s.

“It became the first kindergarten in the Central Valley School District,” Singleton said. It stopped being used as a school sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Similar one-room schoolhouses once dotted the Valley, but Lone Fir is the last of its kind.

The museum was notified by Johnson in April that the building was in the way of expansion plans and needed to be moved immediately, a feat officials couldn’t accomplish. Catlow Moving, which had agreed to relocate the building, is in the midst of a six-month job in Las Vegas, Singleton said.

“Something like this doesn’t happen in short order,” she said. At the end of May, the museum was notified by letter that the deal was off. Johnson wrote that the school was impeding expansion plans and she would relocate it to a different spot on the property.

“I truly love this building and now have plans to use it myself,” she wrote. “I am rescinding the proposed gift of the said building.”

Singleton said she has been unable to get in contact with Johnson since.

Still, Singleton said she is glad Johnson is renovating the building, not tearing it down. Nina Culver

Racing school teaches thrills

Competitive Edge Racing School owners Randy and Jeneane Koch opened their stock car racing school in Western Washington. They later moved it to Yakima, and then to Stateline Speedway in Post Falls five years ago to take advantage of better climate and proximity to a major airport.

Randy Koch is a former professional race car driver whose goal was once to race the Indy 500. But after a serious crash in 1992, he decided it was time to pursue operating a racing school instead.

Now the couple teach hundreds of students each year, with options ranging from short thrill rides around the track to racing introductions to a weekend amateur racing series where the school provides the car, mechanics and fuel. Individual instruction is also available. All options include classroom time reviewing the basics.

Driving 10 laps around the track runs $99. A two-session, 50-lap class costs $399. The full 14-race series is $6,500. And there are other options, including corporate racing events.

“The majority are here for the fun of it,” Randy Koch said. “We call it the ‘Bucket List,’ after the movie.”

Watch a video of a racing class at blogs/video.

Amy Cannata

Leave Valley police alone, group urges council

Don’t tinker with Spokane Valley’s police service, a group of residents told the Spokane Valley City Council last week.

A proposed study of the city’s law enforcement contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office would be a waste of money in hard economic times, residents said.

With up to $16,500 in travel expenses, the study could cost $126,500.

Several speakers said they feared the study would be aimed at forming a city-operated police department to replace the one provided by the Sheriff’s Office under contract.

An outline of the study, to be performed by the International City/County Management Association, says its “primary objective” is to provide “an unbiased review” of the merits of keeping the city-county police contract “versus establishing an independent police department.”

Residents are satisfied with the service they’re getting, Marilyn Cline told the council.

The council had been scheduled to act on the contract, but the issue was postponed until Tuesday.

In the public forum portion of last Tuesday’s meeting, residents praised the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and Spokane Valley Police Chief Rick Van Leuven.

Earlier, in an interview, Valley Mayor Rich Munson said the contract was drafted hastily, without a detailed study. He thinks it’s prudent to take a more careful look at a contract that accounts for a third or more of the city budget.

John Craig

Developer wants to buy, restore Hutton Building The property owner who restored Spokane’s American Legion Building five years ago is about to take on a new project: the historic listing and restoration of the Hutton Building, one of the city’s most honored landmarks.

Developer Steve Schmautz said recently that he is negotiating to purchase the Hutton Building, 9 N. Washington St., from owner Rob Brewster, but he declined to provide details of his plans.

Schmautz appeared before the Spokane City-County Historic Landmarks Commission seeking a listing of the Hutton Building on the Spokane Register of Historic Places. The commission on a unanimous vote approved the nomination, which now goes to the Spokane City Council. A council vote has not been scheduled.

That vote is being delayed until the sale closes, said Linda Yeomans, a historic preservation consultant who is working with Schmautz on the register listing.

The Hutton Building was erected with four stories in 1907 and became the Spokane home of successful Coeur d’Alene mining investors Levi and May Awkright Hutton, who made the Hutton Building’s fourth-floor penthouse their home when the project was finished. The building was expanded to seven stories in 1910.

As social and political figures, the Huttons used their wealth to push for a variety of progressive reforms. Both orphans, the Huttons’ enduring legacy is found in the model Hutton Settlement orphanage, which was completed in 1918 and which continues to operate today.

The Hutton Building is already on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing property in the East Downtown Historic District on the national register.

Mike Prager

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