Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Valleyfest draws crowds, snubbed by council in late ‘11

01/06/2012

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

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

July
The Spokane Valley City Council put the pedal to the metal, agreeing to drop $40,000 for a study on two-way vs. one-way traffic on Sprague Avenue between University and Argonne roads. The majority of the council was leaning toward letting voters decide the issue once and for all in November.

Much to the chagrin of business and heavy-load haulers, weight restrictions were put on place on the western Sullivan Road Bridge across the Spokane River. While there wasn’t enough money in the bank for replacement work, Steve Worley, Spokane Valley senior engineer, said the move would hopefully be only temporary. “The bridge isn’t currently in danger of collapse,” he said, but nobody really felt any better.

After declaring a fiscal emergency in April and announcing that 25 would receive layoff notices, East Valley School District officials received encouraging news from Olympia and only two part-time instructors would be let go. Mountain View Middle School, however, would be mothballed and would not open in the fall.

Anyone with a computer and an Internet hookup could now enjoy the soothing sounds and vivid images of the Spokane Valley City Council without having to find a parking spot or deal with that large load-bearing beam that blocks views in the council chambers at City Hall. The new SVTV Web Channel made its debut. And there was much rejoicing.

Signatures were submitted and it appeared there were enough to put the issue of whether or not the city of Liberty Lake should switch from its existing strong-mayor form of government to that of a council/city manager configuration such as in Spokane Valley.

They said crime would rise. They said there would be no place to park. They said it was the wrong place, wrong time. And the trees, heavens, the walnut trees! It was all enough for the Spokane Valley City Council – except for Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels, who declared “The NIMBYs should go away” – to support neighbors living around St. John Vianney Parish in voting down Catholic Charities plans for an apartment complex for low-income seniors near the church/school. To whoever is stealing and wrecking all the cool stuff over a Discovery Playground: Knock it off already.

August
Frequent drivers in Spokane Valley would encounter lots of orange cones and heavy machinery two major, multi-week road-improvement projects got underway at Indiana/Sullivan and on Broadway Avenue.

A proposed methadone clinic on Indiana Avenue east of Sullivan raised a few eyebrows. While no one seemed to question that more options for treatment for those addicted to heroin or other painkilling drugs was necessary, some wondered if the site’s proposed location near Spokane Valley Mall was the best possible one.

The Spokane Valley City Council, after some haggling, decided to put a $2.14 million bond issue on the November ballot that would pay for a conversion of one-way west Sprague Avenue and one-way east Appleway Boulevard to two-way arterials between Dishman-Mica and University roads. While considered a “final answer” to the ongoing controversy, many – such as two-way proponent Dick Behm – believed the council was merely concocting a way to kill the issue permanently by asking voters to pay for the work.

Ben Wick and Marilyn Cline would face off in November for the Position 5 City Council seat to be vacated by Bill Gothmann. The incumbent had initially considered a council run but changed his mind in the wake of repeated one-sided votes from the dominant Positive Change camp. Cline was supported by the PC contingent of the council, while Wick was championed by Gothmann.

In a bit of a surprise move, county commissioners voted to put a levy on the November ballot that would relocate the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service from its location near Spokane Industrial Park to a new spot adjacent to the Fair and Expo Center. Commissioner Mark Richard, however, voted against the proposal.

September
Both the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the city of Liberty Lake were celebrating notable anniversaries – their 90th and 10th, respectively – with the usual accompanying pomp and circumstance coupled with reminiscing.

Emylee Tolliver, a mainstay at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, spent a portion of her summer rescuing animals, who had been displaced after a series of devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Mo.

Spokane Valley suffered a loss of heart and conscience when businessman and activist Dick Behm passed away at the age of 80 due to complications from heart bypass surgery.

Debate was heating up in Liberty Lake over whether or not to retain its 6-percent utility tax. The issue would be one that would dog city officials through the election cycle and developing the budget for 2012.

Peggy Doering, Valleyfest director, held the biggest Valleyfest yet which featured a reconfigured parade route.

Fire investigators attempted to determine what, exactly, had caused an explosion and fire at the Valley Mission Professional Building at 12509 E. Mission. No one was injured, and the spectacular blaze was extinguished within a half hour.

October
The Liberty Lake City Council agreed it would have to solicit a consultant to help navigate through the choppy waters of a potential governmental transition in early 2012.

Orvella Kendall stepped out of the ether and ran a low-key write-in campaign against otherwise unchallenged Spokane Valley City Council Member Chuck Hafner. Kendall, however, was a no-show at a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum at CenterPlace.
Longtime Spokane Valley resident and civic leader Joe Custer passed away at the age of 88. The former general manager of Vera Water and Power was active in a number of causes, including the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Central Valley School District.

The Spokane Valley City Council finally unlatched the kickstand to the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Program after a series of public meetings and tinkering. Largely, any declarative language like “shall” was replaced with “should” and “will” with “would.” It was finally a plan the majority of the council was happy with – for the most part, anyway.

As the slog through the Liberty Lake budget process continued, some council members were warming to the idea of reducing the city’s utility tax. The council adopted a 6-percent utility tax a year earlier in anticipation of a $700,000 budget deficit.

November
Voters were not in a giving mood – not with their tax dollars, anyway – as they rejected proposals for a new regional animal shelter for the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and a two-way conversion of Sprague Avenue and Appleway Boulevard between Argonne and University roads.

Ben Wick would have to wait a while before learning for sure he would be the next new member of the Spokane Valley City Council after a narrow win over Marilyn Cline, endorsed by the Positive Change council majority. Incumbents Arne Woodard and Dean Grafos also bested DeeDee Loberg and John Carroll, respectively, for council seats.

What was once old was again new in Liberty Lake, as Steve Peterson cruised to a win over Council Member Josh Beckett to be the latest mayor. Voters also decided to stick with the existing strong-mayor form of leadership in LL.

In a bit of a surprise, the bridge over the Spokane River at Appleway and west of Stateline Village, Idaho, was reopened to traffic. After two construction seasons – and frustrating many a motorist – the bridge opened ahead of schedule and under budget.

After one win and a loss in its previous two elections, the East Valley School District hoped voters’ mood would be positive on the February 2012 special election ballot. EVSD would join the Central Valley School District in looking to pass maintenance-and-operations levies.


December

After over a decade of planning, millions of dollars in capital costs and more than just a little wrangling with the Department of Ecology, Spokane Valley finally opened its new regional sewage treatment plant at Trent and Freya.

The Spokane Valley City Council – much to the chagrin of, well, just about everybody – voted not give Valleyfest $50,000 in lodging tax receipts collected from city hotel stays. The late-summer, early-fall weekend gathering had received funding in all the other years the tax dollars had been made available, but council members said they would open a new round of dole-outs in the spring. That, Valleyfest organizers said, may be too late to mount a serviceable marketing campaign.

In passing its $136.8 million budget, Spokane County commissioners dissolved the longstanding Boundary Review Board and its staff. Commissioners said the board’s job had been more or less supplanted by the comprehensive plan and that municipal annexations are now, more or less, a foregone conclusion.

After a series of twists and turns, the Spokane Valley City Council agreed to a series of speed-limit changes to Indiana and Mission avenues east of Sullivan Road. Drivers can now go 35 mph to the new couplet, and then 30 mph to Flora Road.

The Liberty Lake City Council agreed to reduce its year-old utility tax, taking it down 50-percent going into 2012. There had been a 6-percent tax on electricity, gas, cable and garbage and the new amount would be 3 percent.

West Valley and Freeman school districts would hitch their wagons to the February levy vote train.

Incumbent Steven Neill and newcomer Lewis Higgins would be the newest members of the Spokane Valley Planning Commission.

A most deserving Chuck Stocker was named the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.


Print Advertising - contact:
Paisha Schleufer
Account executive - Spokane Valley News Herald
Cell: 509-723-5137
Office: 509-924-2440
e-mail: vnh@onemain.com
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
2011 Valley News Articles Archive
2010 Valley News Articles Archive