Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
2018 first half

12/28/2018

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

This is the first half of a two-part look back at the newsworthy events and happenings of 2018. The second half will appear next week.

January
The year started off with Mayor Rod Higgins being reappointed as mayor for the city of Spokane Valley with the same voting bloc picking Pamela Haley to be deputy mayor, replacing Council Member Arne Woodard.

A pair of ordinances that would give Spokane Valley officials a few more tools to deal with nuisance properties and unfit dwellings would go before the City Council.

While Democrats in the state Legislature had supported enacting a capital gains tax to fund public education in the past, they weren’t itching to pass one during the current legislative session now that they controlled both the statehouse and governorship.

A sharp spike in influenza was noted by health officials in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, who urged that citizens get vaccinated.

The Spokane Valley City Council awarded $322,000 for tourism promotion.

Spokane Valley council members confirmed Mayor Rod Higgins’ appointments of Danielle Kaschmitter  and Michael C. Phillips to the Planning Commission.

The marble walls of the Washington state Capitol reverberated with the roar of drums and voices, as Native American activists poured into Olympia to sound the bell on a number of political topics.

February
Avista Stadium celebrated its 60th anniversary and earned a No. 31 ranking on Stadium Journey’s list of the top 100 stadium experiences in the United States and Canada for 2017.

While the state Legislature wrangles with how to deal with the continuing need to fund education, local school districts were asking once again for voters to do their part on the Feb. 13 special election ballot – all levies and a Central Valley School District bond passed.

Spokane Valley Investigative Unit detectives, assisted by the SWAT team, three K-9 units, police officers and Spokane County sheriff’s deputies served search warrants at the Red Top Motel, 7217 E. Trent Ave.

State economists projected that over a billion dollars in additional tax revenue will be flowing into government accounts over the next several years, impacting upcoming talks in the Legislature over the supplemental budget.

March
Inland Northwest Community Foundation announced that it sold the HUB Sports Center building in Liberty Lake back to the nonprofit organization that has been operating the multipurpose facility and its programs since 2007.

In votes with veto-proof wide margins, in a surprise move, state Legislators made themselves exempt from public records disclosure laws. The legislation, SB 6617, was passed through both the Senate and House in a three-day sprint with no public hearing as an “emergency” measure following a January court ruling found the Legislature subject to state public disclosure laws. Gov. Jay Inslee, however, vetoed the bill.

There was no lack of hardware coming back to the Spokane Valley area, as a trio of local teams finished in first, second and third place in their respective divisions. Most of the attention, naturally enough, was on the Central Valley girls basketball team, who were looking to finish its 4A season with no losses and redemption from last year’s stumble in the state finals at the Tacoma Dome. The Freeman boys finished in second place, while the East Valley girls ended up third in state.

Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers announced earlier this week the approval of a $9 million TIGER grant through the Department of Transportation for Spokane Valley’s Barker Road/Burlington Northern Santa Fe Grade Separation project.

On the final day of the legislative session, lawmakers approved a last-minute supplemental budget deal that funnels roughly $1 billion to K-12 public education and a $400 million one-time reduction in state property taxes.

Spokane Valley Fire Department units responded to a reported commercial structure fire at 15000 E. Euclid Ave.

It’s been a headache for motorists for decades. Traffic is currently stopped about three hours a day for trains. And it’s been more than just a little bit dangerous to navigate at times. But by in the next few years, that could all be over. The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously agreed to move forward with improving the Barker Road/Trent Avenue intersection, which has always been further complicated by railroad crossing just south of the intersection.

April
The Central Valley girls basketball team was crowned national champions after defeating Hamilton Heights of Tennessee 66-61 in the GEICO Nationals title game.

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Spokane Chapters welcomed the community to a flag-raising ceremony at Spokane Valley City Hall in honor of Vietnam Veterans Day.

The National High School Coaches Association announced on Monday that Freddie Rehkow, head coach at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, Washington, as its 2017-18 National High School Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year. Rehkow led his team to its second Washington Class 4A title in the last three years while going 81-1.

While some are looking to the bright side of a pending sale of Avista to an Ontario-based firm, the majority who spoke at a public hearing Monday said the local utility is doing just fine as it is, thanks.

Around 75 people attended a public hearing before the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at Spokane Valley City Hall to voice opinions on the proposed $5.3 billion sale to Hydro One Ltd. of Toronto.

May
Lori Cook was reappointed to continue serving on the Hotel/Motel Commission at Tuesday night’s Spokane Valley City Council.
She has served as a commissioner since March 2017 when she was appointed to complete a vacated term. Cook would serve a new three-year term from June 1 through May 31, 2021. Cook is the general manager of the Residence Inn in Spokane Valley, 15915 E. Indiana. She has volunteered with a number of community organizations including Skal International (Tourism Professionals), Visit Spokane, Greater Spokane Inc., the Professional Women’s Network group and others.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Regional Air Support Unit and its partners announced the new addition of a Bell UH-1H helicopter to its fleet. Named Rescue 3, the helicopter will primarily be used for Search and Rescue, Fire Support/Suppression and greatly expand the capabilities of the ASU, said Deputy Mark Gregory, sheriff’s spokesman.

Things look to be pretty sleepy in the Spokane Valley area come primary election time in August. However, Democratic incumbent Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell had no less than 29 challengers – 14 of them listing themselves as preferring the Republican Party.
Closer to home, Republican 5th Congressional District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a mere four challengers – the most prominent of whom is Democrat Lisa Brown. But, other than those races, only two (or less) candidates filed for local offices for each position. The top two vote-getters in each race, regardless of party affiliation, would move on to the November general election.


June
Mayor Rod Higgins delivered his State of the City address at CenterPlace.

A canister containing the remains of a common pesticide that is used to spray fruit trees was delivered in a load of garbage at the North County Transfer Station. When the garbage was compressed on the tipping floor, the container ruptured, mixed with another hazardous household chemical and released a toxic cloud.

Women Helping Women Fund announced it raised over $317,000 at their Annual Benefit Luncheon which will be invested in 17 different local programs in our community this year. The size of each grant ranges from $10,000 to $29,500. The Benefit Luncheon held at the Spokane Convention Center.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department board of commissioners accepted the resignation Tuesday of Joe Dawson, a mainstay member of the board for two decades. The board had until the end of August to appoint a replacement. Dawson’s six-year term expires Dec. 31, 2021. In his resignation letter, Dawson stated, “All good things must come to an end” and that his resignation comes after 20-plus years with “a great deal of regret.”

Spokane Valley Major Crimes detectives arrested 27-year-old Skye M. Metcalf, charging her with second-degree murder of her 6-month-old child.

After 15 years, the city of Spokane Valley said sayonara to Spokane County hearing examiner services. In a unanimous decision, the Spokane Valley City Council agreed to submit a 180-day notice to the county stating the city would be seeking a new hearing examiner contract elsewhere.

Ben Wick, a member of the Spokane Valley City Council, received an Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership from the Association of Washington Cities.

A dangerous intersection was one step closer to being made safer.The city of Spokane Valley received a $1.68 million grant from the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board to help fund improvements to a 1.3-mile section of north Barker Road between the Spokane River and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe at-grade railroad crossing adjacent to Trent Avenue.

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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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Phone: (509) 924-2440