Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Change arrives in first half of 2010

12/24/2010

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

(This is the first of a two-part look at all the notable news and events of 2009. Part 2 will appear next week.)

January
Spokane Valley City Manager David Mercier knew going into the new year he had the crosshairs on his back, and the new “Positive Change”-dominated City Council wasted no time in pulling the trigger. Not long after Tom Towey was named mayor in the Jan. 5 meeting, the first held by the new council, Mercier was asked to quit in a 5-2 vote. Council Members Rose Dempsey and Bill Gothmann voted in the minority; it was a scenario they would grow used to over the course of the year.
On the plus side the meeting – and all future council gatherings – was captured on video and broadcast through efforts by Community Minded TV and the Spokane Valley Business Association. The meetings continue to be shown on Comcast channel 14 the following Monday evenings.
Tom Richardson, Millwood city planner, would take up the job of clerk in addition to his other duties in the wake of the passing of Eva Colomb, who held that job for 23 years before succumbing to ovarian cancer at the age of 58.
Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker looked toward the sky as the future of his office, especially in the wake of recent budget cuts. Baker proposed an idea for low-altitude aircraft and aerial photography of homes and businesses to determine assessment value for taxation purposes.
Seven years on, Liberty Lake City Council Member Patrick Jenkins announced his resignation. Jenkins was planning a move to Logan, Utah.
Freeman School District staff and students continued to weather the construction of a new high school building, which was ahead of schedule due to the mild winter weather.
Improvements to Sullivan Road were expected over the summer, with much of the work to be concentrated on the intersections at Sprague and Broadway.

February
Described as “well qualified” and “willing to step up,” Mike Jackson was given the nod by the Spokane Valley City Council to continue on as acting city manager. The plan, however, was to look for a permanent replacement for David Mercier in the coming months.
A movement was underway for Spokane Valley to have a dog park similar to the county park near the state line. An organizational meeting was held at CenterPlace to bark out some ideas.
For those paying for unneeded insurance due to inaccurate flood-plain mapping, it was learned they may soon stop getting soaked. The city of Spokane Valley received word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that new maps would show “base flood elevations” had been readjusted for the Chester Creek area. Dick Behm, Sprague Avenue businessman, had brought the matter to the attention of FEMA.
Citing a need for urgency – and the fact that’s pretty much all they had talked about during the entire tenure of their campaign for office the year before – Positive Change council members urged Spokane Valley city staff members to get cracking on ways to unravel the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan.
The University High School wrestling team defeated Tahoma for its second 4A state championship in school history. Ryan Zumwalt and Jacob Mason won individual medals for the Titans.
The Spokane Valley City Council voted 5-2 (no, it wasn’t Dempsey and Gothmann on the outs this time) to fund a precinct commander position to assist the police chief.

March
Trash talk dominated the Millwood City Council, as it was time for a review of the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System 20-year plan.
Spokane Valley City Council members got the news that no wholesale changes to SARP could be made until 2011 during the annual window when revisions could be made to the comprehensive plan. That is, not without the risk of being sued, said Mike Connelly, city attorney.
The Valley council had its first face-to-face meeting with the Board of Spokane County Commissioners, a gathering that was deemed as a positive one by both parties. One of the main orders of business would be the continued negotiation for ownership of the Appleway right-of-way east of University Road.
Inland Empire Paper Co. was fast approaching its centennial mark as a mainstay on the Spokane River at Millwood.
The West Valley Eagles girls basketball team would have to settle for No. 3 in state after the 2A tournament in Yakima. Still, a loss to Prosser was the only one of WV’s season – and there’s always next year.
While it didn’t exactly rival the Trader Joe’s announcement, there was some excitement over plans for a new Wal-Mart in Spokane Valley near the existing Costco store on Sprague Avenue. Especially giddy were city number-crunchers anticipating a new source of sales tax revenue.

April
Millwood City Council members were driving themselves half-crazy attempting to deal with the problems of speeding motorists detouring in neighborhood streets. Suggestions included everything from speed bumps and/or dips to increased enforcement.
Spokane County officials were told more could be done to make sure suspects were processed through the court system in a more timely manner. The suggestions came from a Utah-based consultant that was also advising on a new proposed corrections center for the county.
Turns out some things are too good to be true. After it was revealed there was a possibility the Spokane Valley Fire Department could move into a new headquarters at the old Army Reserve center at Spokane Industrial Park, it was learned that the East Valley School District had first dibs on the structure under a federal grant program.
The Spokane Valley News Herald staff celebrated its 90th birthday the way most old-timers do: cake, balloons and yelling at kids to get off our lawn.
After a mild winter, Spokane Valley city officials were trying to get better prepared how to handle next winter’s snows. Council members were supportive of keeping the current arrangement with existing contractors, but adding a full-time mechanic and other tweaks.
West Valley-area residents were sprucing up the ol’ pumpkin patch near Argonne Road and the Spokane River to create a new community garden. No one was more excited to hear the news than the abundant deer that happen to live in the area.
Central Valley School District administrators were sharpening their pencils and cracking books to figure out ways to implement an ambitious building program that could take decades. Voter support, likely in 2011, would be key for bond funding.
No more noshing before meetings: That was the new rule implemented by the Spokane Valley City Council, who put an end to city-funded snacks for itself and staff on Tuesdays.
There was a bumpy road ahead for expanding a three-lane configuration for Broadway Avenue west of Pines. Some City Council members, local residents, weren’t fond of the idea. Some bike enthusiasts, however, said they would continue to champion the plan, which would include lanes for foot-pedaled transport.

May
It wasn’t exactly the shot in the arm that gets folks excited over at the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce office: According to a recent update of a 4-year-old study conducted by ECONorthwest, things will likely get worse before they get better on Sprague Avenue. Development would likely be slow, less than 40,000 square feet per year of commercial space, according to the Portland, Ore., firm.
Peggy Doering, Valleyfest organizer, was given the key to the city and special recognition with a Citizen Citation by the Washington Recreation & Park Association.
In attempting to determine a worthwhile replacement for David Mercier, former city manager, some City Council members expressed an unusual strategy: He or she would not necessarily need city management experience. It was a bit like if the Cleveland Cavaliers tried to fill the gap left by Lebron James by recruiting a pro hockey player.
Bob McCaslin was admitted to Spokane Valley Hospital and Medical Center for a serious infection following heart surgery. McCaslin serves double-duty on the Spokane Valley City Council and as a senator in the state Legislature.
The bridge over the Spokane River at Appleway Road and west of Stateline Village, Idaho, would be closed until spring/summer 2012. The bridge, built in 1939, was nearing the end of its life, and Spokane County engineers said it was time for the expanse to be reconstructed.

June
While nothing was official, it appeared the Spokane Valley City Council would continue to support televising meetings over cable television. That support, however, would likely only be on a month-to-month basis for the foreseeable future.
A couple of Spokane Valley-area Democratic Davids emerged to attempt to knock out the GOP Goliath of Cathy McMorris Rodgers for the 5th District congressional seat. Clyde Cordero had the official party backing, but there was some buzz about former television weatherman Daryl Romeyn.
Spokane County Commissioners Mark Richard and Todd Mielke voiced their support for a site near the Interstate 90 exit to Medical Lake for a new corrections facility. Commissioner Bonnie Mager disagreed, saying a location at the county courthouse complex, coupled with a community corrections center, made more sense. A public bond vote on the issue was planned for April 2011.
The reconstructed Barker Road Bridge was finally reopened after what seemed like 764 years with little to no fanfare.
Spokane Valley Fire commissioners were considering the idea of slowly beginning the process of renaming the district’s stations with actual names, the first being the new Greenacres Fire Station. There were still proponents – such as Board Chairman Bill Anderson – who had a soft spot for the old numerical system.
It was announced that work at Freeman High School would be done in August, in time for the opening of the new school year.

 
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.

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