Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Year in Review Part 2

01/08/2010

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

(This is the second of a two-part look back at all the Spokane Valley notable news and events in 2009. Part 1 appeared last week.)

 

July
Despite a “screw-up” that resulted in a budgetary overrun of nearly a half-million dollars, the Spokane Valley City Council moved forward with Discovery Playground, a “universal park” for children of all abilities to be built at Mirabeau Point.

Summertime not only means robins in the morning and mosquitoes at night in Spokane Valley, but scruffy, cardboard-sign-wielding individuals posted at nearly every freeway interchange. A special committee was appointed to look into the panhandling issue.

Work continued on renovations and other improvements in the Freeman School District, even though the final completion wouldn’t happen until 2010.
Efforts continued to build a snow-removal fleet in Spokane Valley in time for winter. While it looked as if used trucks could be acquired from the state Department of Transportation and a storage facility secured from Waste Management, there was still the matter of finding manpower to do the actual work.

Despite vandalism at the former Pratt Elementary – which had been converted into the Edgecliff Community Center – volunteers worked nonstop in order to restore senior meals to the location.

Roadwork on Bigelow Gulch continued over the hot summer months, with flaggers out in force to direct traffic. Motorists were advised to expect delays – a common theme during the summer months – as work wouldn’t be finished until November, at the earliest. Meanwhile, many area residents were not happy with the urbanization of their rustic way of life and the eventual increase in traffic.

City Council candidates braved the heat – and soupy ice-cream – at a forum put on by the Republicans of Spokane County. The event was held at Mirabeau Point Park.

August
The end was in site for the end of the refurbishment of Argonne Road through Millwood. The renovation work – which caused more than one commuter to be late for work since it began in May – would be celebrated with a community gathering set for Aug. 29 called “Taking Back Our Street.”
Ian Robertson, in a 4-2 vote (Gary Schimmels and Rose Dempsey said no), was appointed to fill a spot on the Spokane Valley City Council vacated by Steve Taylor. Robertson, a member of the Planning Commission since incorporation, was chosen – according to Mayor Richard Munson –in part due to his “electability” to the council in November.

Spokane County voters agreed to continue to pay a sales tax designed to bolster public safety, resulting in the passage of a one-tenth of 1-percent tax by 61 percent. The tax, in existence since 2004, amounted to an extra penny on a $10 purchase and has raised about $7 million a year.

The Liberty Lake City Council took steps to move forward with a resolution to establish a protocol agreement to guide developing within the Tax Increment Financing area north of Interstate 90. The city was in partnership with Spokane County to guide growth of the land.

Resurfacing work on Sprague Avenue resulted in drivers navigating many coned-off zones through several areas east of Argonne. Intersections at Pines, McDonald and Evergreen were the most impacted.

Icy stares from the Spokane Valley City Council greeted representatives from Greater Spokane Inc. when they requested a $65,000 contribution for recruitments efforts to bring new business to the city. Mayor Richard Munson said he had been less than pleased with the results GSI had brought so far.


September
New City Council-appointee Ian Robertson would face challenges from Dean Grafos, Ed Foote and Edward Pace in the November general election. Should Robertson be upended in the race, the new council member would take office as soon as the election results were certified.

Police were targeting several areas of known criminal activity in Spokane Valley, reported Chief Rick Van Leuven. The Valley’s top cop had been asked by the council to elaborate on what his department was doing to counter crime in some of the more troublesome city locations.

The latest disincorporation effort – once again orchestrated by area malcontent Sally Jackson – wheezed its last dying breath after an early September gathering when it was revealed that not nearly enough of the required 24,000 signatures required to get the matter moved forward to a ballot had been collected. The group’s gaze then settled on the upcoming election, vowing to support candidates running against the current slate of incumbents.

The Spokane Valley City Council agreed to hold off implementing the mucho controversial Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan until Oct. 15. The reason, according to council members, is that the document had not been made available on the city’s Web site since approval in June.

Elephant ears. The Tilt-O-Whirl. Rodeo clowns. And a 47-year-old clinically insane killer. Which one of these things does not belong at Family Day at the Spokane County Interstate Fair? Philip Arnold Paul’s escape from the custody of Eastern State Hospital officials caused a high-profile, highly expensive manhunt by law enforcement, a dip in fair attendance for the remainder of event and a firestorm of blame that eventually resulted in the resignation of ESH’s top official.

Valley Christian School and the community were stunned by the death of Andrew Swank on the football field during a game against Lacrosse-Washtucna following a head injury. Swank’s life was remembered and honored at a series of events in the following days and weeks.

October
The city of Spokane Valley turned to a reliable contractor, Poe Asphalt Paving Inc., to man snow-removal equipment for the coming winter. The announcement came just a week before the existing contract with Spokane County was to expire. County commissioners voted to sever the contract the previous December.

The city of Millwood mourned the loss of Eva Colomb, who passed away at 58 after a decade-long battle with ovarian cancer. “She was woven into the fabric of this city,” said Millwood Mayor Dan Mork.

A marketing proposal for the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan was presented to the Spokane Valley City Council by representatives from Greater Spokane Inc. Meanwhile – if council candidates running on the “Positive Change” ticket in November had their way – there would likely no longer be a SARP to market come 2010.

According to a performance audit carried out by the International City/County Management Association – carried out to the tune of $126,500 – Spokane Valley was receiving “exemplary” service from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The report, council members reiterated, was not done as a preliminary step toward forming a new police department in the city.

In a separate review, the city of Spokane Valley also learned its contract with Spokane County District Court also made the most sense at this time. City officials still worried, however, that county budget woes could result in decreased service and new contract could not be forged with an alternate provider until 2015.

A series of bike routes were being developed between area cities that would be greatly beneficial to commuters who were looking to leave their gas-burning vehicles at home in the near future. North-south routes were getting the heaviest amount of scrutiny.

November
Incumbents on the Spokane Valley City Council fell like dominoes to the wave of “Positive Change” candidates in the November general election. Sen. Bob McCaslin unseated Mayor Rich Munson, newcomer Brenda Grassel upended Diana Wilhite and Sprague Avenue businessman Dean Grafos bested council-appointee Ian Robertson. With unchallenged Tom Towey taking over Dick Denenny’s spot, and Gary Schimmels also without an opponent, the stage was set for an interesting 2010. For his part, Grafos said he would do whatever was necessary to get the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan reversed: “It’s special-interest zoning that’s going to hurt retail development.”

Three Spokane Valley sites – although all considered longshots – were on the second “essential public facilities” list for a proposed new Spokane County corrections facility. One of which, on East Appleway in Liberty Lake, was hotly protested due to its proximity to an apartment complex. Local jurisdictions cannot deny an EPF, however modifications can be made prior to final approval.

It was announced that city officials were hoping to have Barker Road Bridge reconstruction completed by the following spring. There would be greater room for pedestrians and bike lanes also added.

Spokane Valley snowplows hit the streets for the first time with only a few hiccups. Information on the schedule for snow removal is on the city’s Web site at www.spokanevalley.org under “SnowInfo.”

December
Liberty Lake finalized its budget for 2010 – Spokane Valley did it weeks earlier – with special line items for law enforcement, business signage and a city-sponsored arboretum.

The Lynden Lions were crowned state 2A football champions after defeating previously unbeaten West Valley 16-6 in Tacoma. Despite having the ball on long, sustained drives – mainly in the first half – the Eagles couldn’t find their way into the end zone. WV’s trip to state was the first one since 1984.

County commissioners approved a budget that was $13 million less than the year before and included the layoffs of 149.6 workers. CEO Marshal Farnell said the budget was “historical” in that there had never been such drastic cuts during his tenure at Spokane County.

The Spokane Valley City Council agreed to distribute $440,000 in lodging tax money, including $5,000 to the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.
Spokane Valley Partners workers were scrambling to be ready for Christmas donation efforts after burst pipes after freezing weather flooded the basement, damaging offices and equipment.

The iconic Cliff House of Latah Creek Wineries was damaged in an early-morning fire that was caused by a malfunctioning electrical strip in a downstairs office. Winery owners said they planned to rebuild the structure.

Spokane Valley City Council founders Rich Munson, Diana Wilhite and Dick Denenny said their final goodbyes, and new council members were sworn in in a separate ceremony attended by civic officials like county Commissioner Bonnie Mager and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. Council Member Gary Schimmels, the remaining member of the “Original Seven” council, said the new group was “ready to go to work.”

 
TheSpokane Valley News Herald
is the City of Spokane Valley, Washington's official Newspaper. The City Council of the City of Spokane Valley, Washington named the Spokane Valley News Herald as the city's "official" newspaper. The designation means the Spokane Valley News Herald will publish the city's legal notices on a contract basis for one year.

E-mail: vnh@onemain.com
Phone: (509) 924-2440
2009 Valley News Articles Archive
2008 Valley News Articles Archive