Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Power shift shuffles council in 2016

12/30/2016

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

This is the first half of a two-part look back at the newsworthy events and happenings in 2016. The second half will appear next week.

January
Board members of the Spokane County Library District advised the Spokane Valley City Council that they were ready to move on after a second defeat at the polls. A new main library branch had been longed hoped for at the corner of Herald Road and Sprague Avenue, but Nancy Ledebeoer, executive director of SCLD, said, “Voters don’t want to pay more for a new building.”

Voter verification cards were mailed to wrong addresses, and the Spokane County Elections Office scrambled to rectify the error.
Rod Higgins was named by the City Council to be the sixth mayor of Spokane Valley since incorporation in 2003. Higgins first came to be on the council in 2013 after members reached a stalemate on how to fill the position of resigning Council Member Brenda Grassel, winning the spot in a coin toss.

Public hearings would be held to give residents to weigh in on the pros and cons of the proposed Tesoro Savage Petroleum Terminal proposed for Vancouver, Wash.

The new Spokane Valley City Council flexed its muscles in a 5-4 vote, resolving that the municipality is not a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. The losing faction on the vote decried the move as “bigotry in disguise.”

State Sen. Mike Padden, 4th District, made no secret his desire to investigate the Department of Corrections for its “management failure” in the release of some 3,200 prisoners ahead of time.
It was announced that the West Valley High School Band would be headed to the Big Apple to perform during the 2016 Veterans Day Parade. Money would be raised to make the New York trip in November.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department set a state record for achieving a 66.7-percent cardiac-survival rate in 2015.

 

February
Public restrooms -- along with who’s using them and what’s going on inside – became the focus of the Spokane Valley City Council. Five of seven members passed a resolution stating they were not in favor  of rules in Washington state that allow access of public bathrooms and locker rooms to be based upon gender identity.
Maintenance-and-operations efforts for both the East Valley School District and Spokane County Fire District 9 would continue unabated as voters approved levies for both jurisdictions.

The quick action of two Spokane Valley Police officers – Derek McNall and Clay Hilton – was credited in saving the life of an infant who was not breathing.

To the surprise of many – including three members of the City Council who said they were not in the loop – the majority of the council asked for the resignation of Spokane Valley City Manager Mike Jackson. The move came after a 45-minute, closed-to-the-public executive session at the Feb. 23 council meeting.

The Board of Spokane County Commissioners welcomed appointee Nancy McLaughlin, former Spokane city councilwoman, as its newest member. McLaughlin replaced Todd Mielke, who resigned to run Greater Spokane Inc.

The Spokane Valley Herald welcomed former Spokesman-Review cartoonist Milt Priggee to its opinion page.

March
A series of fires, believed to be arson, were keeping Spokane Valley Fire Department crews busy. The fires were located in the general area between McDonald and University roads, north of Valleyway and south of Mission Avenue.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported that the first confirmed case of the Zika virus was reported in Spokane County.
Modern Electric Water Co. Assistant General Manager Joe M. Morgan was promoted to the general manager position.
Young and undefeated, the Central Valley girls basketball team took the 4A state title in basketball. The team took the crown with a 57-48 win over Snohomish at the Tacoma Dome.

Spokane Valley SWAT team members successfully rescued two young juvenile children after their father barricaded himself inside a residence in the 14300 block of East Rich.

The new Newman Lake Fire Station was opened with the support of the community and the East Valley High School band. There were snacks, tours and even a “hose-uncoupling” ceremony.

 

April
Less than a week after announcing her re-election bid, 5th District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers spent an hour chatting with Valley folks about everything from chemtrails to her chances of becoming a vice-presidential candidate for either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump: “It’s not happening,” she said.

State Sen. Mike Padden, 4th District, expressed disappointment that House Democrats would not advance his felony impaired-driving bill for the fifth time in a row.

With the Spokane River running fast and cold, the river was closed in the area of Sullivan Road Bridge.

Liberty Lake community members turned out by the dozens to take part in the ceremonial “push in” of Engine 3 at Spokane Valley Fire Station 3, 2218 N. Harvard Road.

Spokane Valley Police and SWAT team members served a search warrant at a “nuisance house” in the 4500 block of East Second Avenue. The search warrant resulted in four arrests and over 20 people inside detained.

The city of Spokane Valley officially cut ties with former Manager Mike Jackson, cutting a $411,115.66 settlement check in exchange for his resignation.

Within a few days of each other, both Spokane Valley City Council Members Dean Grafos and Chuck Hafner announced they would be leaving the governing body. Both cited an inability to work with the new council majority made up of Mayor Rod Higgins, Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard and Council Members Ed Pace and Sam Wood.\

May
Spokane Valley moved closer to having a new city hall after the construction contract was awarded to Meridian Construct Inc. to the tune of $10.6 million.

In a unanimous vote, the Spokane Regional Health District board passed a resolution to become the sixth jurisdiction in the state to restrict vaping in public.

The Spokane Valley City Council quickly and quietly quashed any further action toward an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the majority’s request for Mike Jackson’s resignation the previous February. Interim Council Member Bill Gothmann made a motion to proceed, but no other member seconded the motion.

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Mark “Cole” Speer was terminated after an internal investigation determined he had “inappropriate conduct” involving an over-18-year-old Central Valley High School female student while serving as the school’s resource deputy.

Deputy City Manager Mark Calhoun was named acting city manager, and the search began someone to hire a new skipper for Spokane Valley.

Bill Bates ended his tenure on the City Council after fighting cancer since 2014. The remaining four council members would be tasked with filling his post – interim Council Member Bill Gothmann was not interested in continuing in that role – along with those of Chuck Hafner and Dean Grafos, who resigned a month earlier.

The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 95th anniversary.

June
The Spokane Valley Fire Department rescued an injured hiker in the Dishman Hills area. The 26-year-old man fell about 30 feet while hiking in the East Pond area.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Commander Capt. Mark Werner was selected to serve as Spokane Valley’s new police chief. Werner took over for retiring Chief Rick VanLeuven, who served nine years in the role.

The Central Valley School District board of directors voted to approve a revised plan to implement construction projects.
Spokane Valley’s first dog park opened at the northwest corner of Mission and Bowdish.

New appointees Jonathan “Caleb” Collier and Pamela Haley were sworn in by the Spokane Valley City Council. The newcomers would serve until fall 2017, when their seats would be up for election.

 

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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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