Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
SARP slain in first half of 2011

12/30/2011

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

(This is the first of a two-part look at the notable news and stories from 2011. The second installment will appear next week.)

January
New Year’s was anything but celebratory as Spokane Valley mourned the passing of Richard Munson, former mayor and member of the initial City Council elected in 2002. Munson, 68, died Jan. 1 from complications related to leukemia.
A divisive plan to realign the East Valley School District drew a large, mostly critical crowd at a meeting before the EVSD board of directors. Under the proposal, schools would be reorganized into a “P/K-8” alignment, or preschool/kindergarten through eighth grade. The move would result in the eventual closure of Mountain View Middle School.
Spokane Valley City Council Member Dean Grafos summarized it thusly: “The city center has moved on.” With that, the majority of the council voted in favor of deleting the city center section of the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan, which was done through the passage of an “emergency ordinance” to the city’s comprehensive plan.
Sen. Bob McCaslin – after 30 years in Olympia representing Spokane Valley’s 4th District – announced his adios to the state Capitol and would retire for health reasons. McCaslin announced, however, that he would remain on the Spokane Valley City Council.
Newest county Commissioner Al French joined Todd Mielke and Mark Richard at the dais, where he was unanimously named as board chairman for 2011. The former Spokane City Council member defeated Bonnie Mager in the 2010 general election.
Spokane Valley was treated to a rarity – an outdoor hockey game. The Spokane Chiefs decimated the Kootenay Ice 11-2 before a sold-out crowd of 7,075 for the first-ever Western Hockey League outdoor game. Liberty Lake’s own Tyler Johnson, drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning, was the Chiefs’ scoring leader during the 2010-11 season.
Former state representative and judge Mike Padden was left scratching his head after he was passed over by the Spokane County Republican Party as a possible choice to replace Bob McCaslin in the state Senate. Instead, Spokane County commissioners were submitted the names of (not surprisingly) current Rep. Matt Shea along with relative unknowns Jeff Baxter and Roy Murry. How very strange…
Spokane Valley City Council Member Rose Dempsey took her ball and went home, resigning from the council 11 months before completing her first term in office. Dempsey cited an inability to come to agreement on many issues with the “Positive Change” majority of the council along with health concerns.
Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker announced he would not file criminal charges against sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel, who shot and killed Pastor Wayne Scott Creach on his Plant Farm property on Aug. 25, 2010. According to Tucker, “the facts of the case” did not warrant Hirzel, who parked his unmarked car in Creach’s parking lot at night, being charged. Creach, armed with a handgun, confronted the officer before the shooting.

February
The Spokane Valley City Council took its first steps to fill the vacancy of Rose Dempsey. A new appointee would have to be at the dais by the end of March.
A Central Valley School District construction bond, which would have raised $69.6 million, only garnered 46 percent of the vote. If approved, the bond would have paid for modernization efforts at several schools.
He may have been the No. 2 pick of the Republican Party, but Jeff Baxter was No. 1 with Spokane County commissioners. Baxter, a local businessman and former write-in candidate for the West Valley School District board of directors, would be sent to Olympia as the replacement for Bob McCaslin.
It’s never too soon to announce a mayoral campaign, and with that in mind Steve Peterson – Liberty Lake’s first chief administrative head – said he would seek the job for a four-year term beginning in 2012.
Speaking of elections, Chuck Hafner – the man who coined the term “positive change” and all its local ramifications – announced he would try for a seat on the Spokane Valley City Council in the fall.
The on-again, off-again Spokane County Jail vote would get pushed back to the August primary or November general election at the earliest. County Commissioners wanted to discuss their possible options a bit further as well as coordinate a public-education campaign on the issue.
Sergio Hernandez announced he would retire as superintendent of the Freeman School District in at the completion of the 2010-11 academic year.

March
Work began on a new administration building for the Spokane Valley Fire Department, which would be located adjacent to Station 8 at 2120 N. Wilbur Road.
The Freeman Scotties girls basketball team netted its second consecutive state 1A title in Yakima. The team only had one loss the entire season and defeated Lynden Christian 49-32 to take home the state hardware.
Ten hopefuls vied for a spot on the Spokane Valley City Council to replace Rose Dempsey.
The Spokane Valley City Council decided it wouldn’t cluck around and took its first crack at new rules to loosen restrictions on raising chickens within municipal borders. Strutting bird lovers rejoiced.
Former state senator and current Spokane Valley City Council member Bob McCaslin passed away after months of battling illness at the age of 84. He was elected senator in 1980 and to the City Council in 2009, defeating Richard Munson.
The Spokane Valley Board of Fire Commissioners drafted a letter in support of the replacement of the western Sullivan Road Bridge over the Spokane River. The bridge had been deemed “structurally deficient” and weight restrictions needed to be put in place.
Ken Thompson, finance director for the city of Spokane Valley, announced he would retire in June after serving in his post since 2003.

April
Spokane County commissioners announced they had different plans in moving forward with a new corrections facility, and any vote on a new jail wouldn’t come until 2012 at the earliest. It had been expected an election would come in August or November 2011.
Local residents and service agencies rallied support for Japan in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Realtor Arne Woodard was sworn in as the newest member of the Spokane Valley City Council, which appointed him in a 4-1 vote to replace Rose Dempsey. The council then had the task of finding a replacement for the late Bob McCaslin. Eight – including Ben Wick, DeeDee Loberg and Chuck Hafner – were in the running for the vacant seat.
Meanwhile, empty seats were hard to come by at City Hall as residents living near and around St. John Vianney Parish – who must have gotten a good deal on green signs in bulk – amassed to protest Catholic Charities’ plans to construct an apartment complex for low-income senior citizens.
East Valley school officials reviewed election returns glumly as it was clear a $33.75 million capital facilities bond was headed for defeat in a special election, with only a dismal 38.65 percent voting yes.
SARP had been a pretty loaded four-letter word (well, acronym technically) to the majority of the Spokane Valley City Council. But after April 26, it was no more. The council, in a 5-1 vote – Bill Gothmann voted against the move – squashed the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan like so much roadkill. A giddy Brenda Grassel declared: “Spokane Valley is open for business.”

May
In the aftermath of its bond failure, the East Valley School District revealed that it would close Mountain View Middle School and lay off 25 to help balance the books for the 2011-12 school year. The move was part of a “fiscal emergency” due to state budget cuts.
Garbage day was changing in Spokane Valley, and everyone had to adjust to a new schedule that saw most having to haul their cans out on Friday instead of Wednesday.
Steven Neill – No. 1 fanboy of the “Positive Change” dominant City Council – was appointed as the newest member of the city Planning Commission. He would fill out the remainder of Arne Woodard’s term through the end of 2011. Woodard had been appointed to the council a month earlier.
Patrick K. Gibson was arrested in Stanwood, Wash., on a first-degree murder charge for the slaying of 48-year-old Brian Cole, who was the owner of Cole’s furniture store, in a robbery gone wrong in November 1992.
Chuck Hafner was sworn in as the replacement of his friend Bob McCaslin on the Spokane Valley City Council. Hafner, along with newest appointee Arne Woodard, would have to run for office in November to be confirmed by voters.
Students were stunned to learn that Alpine College, in a classy move, had closed its doors with only a note on a locked door as a heads up. It was hoped that the majority of those attending the school could transfer elsewhere.

June
Longtime University High School baseball coach Don Ressa announced he would be retiring from the Titans program. He has been a fixture of the school for 40 years.
The city of Liberty Lake could see its way of governing shaken up in the fall as Mayor Wendy Van Orman announced she would not run for re-election, former Mayor Steve Peterson was looking for a return to the job and there was a petition drive for a ballot question that could see the existing strong mayor/council be done away with in favor of a council/city manager system such as in the city of Spokane Valley. Grab some popcorn, it could get interesting.
A very deserving Spokane Valley Fire Chief Mike Thompson was honored as Washington state’s top Fire Chief of the Year by the State Fire Chiefs Association.
Now that SARP was dead and drawing flies, the Spokane Valley City Council decided it was time to take a poke at another long-simmering topic: the direction of Sprague and Applweay between Dishman-Mica and University roads. It was possible, however, that the sharp stick would be handed to Spokane Valley voters for a fall vote to let them decide the couplet’s fate.
With Council Member Bill Gothmann saying he’d had enough, four candidates – Ben Wick, John Baldwin, Lewis Higgins and Marilyn Cline – would look to replace him at the dais. Planning Commission Chairman John Carroll challenged Dean Grafos for his council spot, and Arne Woodard would be up against DeeDee Loberg. Chuck Hafner, it appeared, would have a free ride through the November election.
Cary Driskell – one of the early proponents for Spokane Valley incorporation – was tapped as the newest city attorney, replacing Mike Connelly.

 

 

 

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