Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Managing of marijuana flares up in 2014

12/26/2015

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

This is the first of a two-part look back at the newsworthy events and happenings in Spokane Valley in 2014. Part 2 will appear next week.


January
While the state of Washington was dealing with the 3,700 applications for marijuana business licenses, the city of Spokane Valley was slowly moving forward on how to deal with legalized pot on a local basis.
Spokane County was dealing with a larger-than-expected influx of flu-related cases at local hospitals.
Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey, in one of his last acts in office, swore in Bill Bates, elected to Towey’s Position 7 on the City Council. Ed Pace, also new to the council, was sworn in Jan. 7.
The majority of the City Council named Dean Grafos as the new mayor of Spokane Valley. Grafos was nominated by new Council Member Ed Pace, and supported by fellow councilmen Arne Woodard, Rod Higgins and Grafos himself. The other nominee, Chuck Hafner, received votes from himself and fellow Council Members Ben Wick and Bill Bates.
Al French was named the newest chairman of the Board of Spokane County Commissioners.
Gary Schimmels – a former deputy mayor, city councilman since Spokane Valley’s incorporation, and longtime area businessman and civic leader -- passed away at the age of 75.
Leonard Christian – the unanimous choice of Spokane County commissioners to replace 4th District Rep. Larry Crouse last week – was sworn in ready to begin work in Olympia.
The Spokane Valley City Council OK’d the transfer of property at Balfour Park to the Spokane County Library District, pending voter approval of the library’s construction.
Preston Maher, 16, was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide stemming from a 2013 collision that took the life of two University High School classmates, 15-year-old Josie Freier and 16-year-old McKenzie Mott.
The Liberty Lake City Council adopted a six-month moratorium prohibiting the sale of marijuana.

February
Spokane Valley Fire Department Fire Marshal Clifton Mehaffey arrested 23-year-old Jennifer S. Na for her role in an incident that had initially been reported a “hate crime” at Coffee Break in the 1600 block of North Barker Road. Na was booked into jail on charges of second-degree arson.
Seattle Seahawks fans swamped Avista Stadium for the chance to be a part of the “official Spokane 12s picture” in anticipation of the team’s Super Bowl win. The photo of the fans on the baseball field, in formation of a number 12, was taken by a photographer in a helicopter.
Wanting to make sure areas near potential future schools, libraries and trails are safely out of smoke’s way, the Spokane Valley City Council pass interim regulations regarding the sitting of marijuana production and retail facilities.
Commissioners of the Spokane Valley Fire Department decided two fire stations – located at University and Otis Orchards – would receive much-needed renovations.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released the names of the deputies involved in a fatal shooting incident at Sullivan and Indiana on Feb. 11, and one of the officers was Brian Hirzel, who fired the shot that killed a Spokane Valley pastor in 2010.
With a new board makeup in place following the November 2013 election, the controversial K-8 model in the East Valley School District – still in its infancy – appeared to be on borrowed time.
Free Press Publishing Co. of Cheney – the company that publishes the Spokane Valley News Herald – assumed full ownership of The Ritzville Adams County Journal.
The Spokane Valley City Council expressed reluctance over joining a regional solid waste system ran by Spokane County in November. The council also adopted a policy to not use electronic messaging such as texts or e-mails during meetings.

March
Economic forecasts predicted recreational marijuana business would bring millions to the state, and a fight was underway at the state Legislature how the proceeds would be spent. Meanwhile, cities in Washington were vying for their share.
Washington’s fires marijuana retail license was issued, but legislators were still trying to reconcile the medical and recreational pot markets before stores opened over the summer.
While not in the 2014 budget, the Spokane Valley City Council was set to appropriate $423,000 to hire more police officers and restructure the department to more effectively respond during the greatest hours of need.
The community came together to bury an unidentified female who was found deceased in the Spokane River in January.
The 2013 Legislature came to an end without agreed-upon funding for education.
The Spokane Valley City Council appeared poised to allow the production side of recreational marijuana within 1,000 feet of municipal walking trails. The legal selling of pot, however, would not receive a similar blessing.
The state Department of Health continued to advise residents north of Spokane Valley to boil their drinking water due to potential E. coli bacteria contamination.
The Washington Department of Ecology proposed to remove Appleway Chevrolet from its Hazardous Sites list.

April
The Spokane County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an interim zoning ordinance that established additional setbacks for structures that would be engaged in the production and/or processing of recreational marijuana in rural, resource and mineral lands in unincorporated Spokane County.
The city of Spokane Valley sought grant funding for several pedestrian and bike projects and would provide a 5-percent city match if approved.
A Spokane County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was doing better after being attacked by a pit bull terrier.
Sprague Avenue between Vista and Park roads got an overdue facelift.
Not enough voters were interested in paying for a pair of new libraries and a remodel in the Spokane Valley area. Votes only reached 54 percent – a 60-percent supermajority was required – for the $22 million measure to pass. That meant there would be no new library at Sprague and Balfour, delaying any new development in that area.
The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously agreed to ease up on rules on where recreational marijuana producers could set up shop in city limits.

May
Six bids from hopefuls looking to remodel Spokane Valley Fire’s University and Otis Orchards stations were opened, with the lowest $152,000 less than its closest rival.
The city of Spokane Valley received good news, as Moody’s Investment Services announced that it had upgraded the city’s bond rating from A1 to Aa 3. The decision was based on “the city’s low debt burden, sizeable tax base and its healthy financial performance.”
The Spokane Valley City Council got quite an earful from Greenacres residents who were less than happy over a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that would allow for a an apartment complex in the area.
Construction work on Argonne and Sprague was scheduled to begin in mid-May and continue through July. Council members said they were conflicted on how to proceed but ultimately nixed the proposal.
Spokane Valley Mayor Dean Grafos said the city has its “ducks in order” during a State of the City address given at Spokane Valley Mall.
Lori Barlow, senior planner for the city of Spokane Valley, received a Planner of the Year-Merit Award from the Inland Empire Section of the American Planning Association.
Leonard Christian, 4th District representative appointed by county commissioners, would face a challenge by former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite and Bob McCaslin, son of the former state Sen. Bob McCaslin.
Despite the protests of Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke, the Spokane Valley City Council agreed to let Sunshine Disposal and Recycling take over the transfer of solid waste for the city in November. That mean a regional partnership, organized by the county, would not include the Valley.
The Spokane Valley Police officer that hit a teenager on a bike was identified as Deputy Joseph Bodman. The 15-year-old was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later died.

June
Kristin Thompson was name the newest member of the Spokane County Library District board of directors, appointed by county commissioners.
The Central Valley School District gained two new elementary principals, Lindsay Ehlers at Greenacres Elementary and Josh Wolcott at University Elementary.
The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service completed its move from Flora Road to 6815 E. Trent. An open house and dedication was set for June 21.
A proposal to expand sand volleyball courts at Browns Park in the southern portion of Spokane Valley was considered. Potential for tourism for regional tournaments was touted as a reason to proceed to look for grant funding.

 

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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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