Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
New council elected in 2019

01/03/2020

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

This is the second part of a two-part review of the notable stories and events of 2019. The first part appeared last week.

July
Spokane Valley Police responded to multiple reports of two fires west of Carnahan near 16th Avenue. Witnesses stated a female, later identified as 28-year-old Angel M. Garton, was walking around and starting the fires. Spokane Valley Fire quickly extinguished the small fires, which caused minimal damage. Garton was booked into jail for two counts of second-degree arson.
The Spokane Valley City Council is now facing what many other communities are also trying to deal with: the best way to handle the homeless.

The city received numerous complaints of camping in public spaces and occupied recreational vehicles parked indefinitely on streets in front of homes.

Spokane Valley Fire Department conducted a five-year comparison of all calls for service received. The comparison study was presented to the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s Board of Commissioners during the regularly scheduled public meeting. The numbers show an increasing trend for calls for service.

The Spokane Valley Fire to a smoke investigation in the Mirabeau Point Park area. Responding firefighters on Rescue 8 and Ladder 8 upgraded the response to a brush fire, bringing in additional fire engines from SVFD, Fire District 8 and the Department of Natural Resources including two Fire Boss airplanes.


August
Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney and County Engineer Chad Coles announced that the Glenrose-Carnahan Roundabout project has been completed.

According to Kuney, as this area has grown, it became clear that the county needed to improve the intersections. County Engineer Chad Coles said the much-needed improvement was constructed with the help of a federal safety grant and thanked the project contractor National Native American Construction for completing the job.

It came down to the top two in each Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake city council races in the August primary. Incumbents in both cities had to be feeling pretty good. Also happy are supporters of Spokane County public safety and library measures – but there are still votes left to count.

One male was detained and a second male was transported to a hospital with possible life-threatening injuries after a stabbing incident on East Skyview. Major Crimes detectives, after further investigation, arrested 26-year-old Christopher K. Lane-Propstra.
The iconic Shogun Restaurant arrived in Spokane Valley. The restaurant relocated to 20 N. Raymond Road, the former site of the The Roadhouse, in early February if all goes to plans. The restaurant features a lounge and sushi counter – much like the former location on Third Avenue in downtown Spokane that burned down last year.

Spokane Regional Health District’s Board of Health selected Amelia Clark as the next administrative officer for the health district. Clark had been a consultant for Health Consulting Strategies in Muncie, Ind., and joined the health district on Sept. 16.
The West Plains was looking to get a gun range if the Spokane Gun Club’s efforts work in their favor. But not everyone was thrilled with the idea. Located in Spokane Valley since 1892, the gun club continued to operate at its current location on borrowed time after selling the property to the Central Valley School District in September 2018 for $4.5 million. The club has been looking for a replacement site since.

September
Spokane Valley Police responded to a reported armed robbery in the west side parking lot of Browns Park. The suspects fled the scene in a sedan, described as a white or silver 4-door Chrysler 200 with a shattered rear window. No one was injured, but the victim’s reported hearing what they believed was a gunshot as the suspects drove away.

The Spokane Indians broke the team’s single-season attendance record with 200,273 fans attending 38 home games, including a sellout crowd of 6,859 in the season finale. It was the third-consecutive season that the Indians set a new attendance record and the first time surpassing 200K as a short-season affiliate.
Spokane Valley Investigative Unit detectives charged two adult males for multiple misdemeanor violations for intentionally damaging/removing political signs on private property near 24th and Sullivan in Spokane Valley. In late August, SVIU detectives began investigating a report of damage to multiple Spokane Valley City Council candidates’ political signs, which were placed on private property.

Following a victory for ratepayers at the Court of Appeals, Attorney General Bob Ferguson today urged the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to require Avista Corp. to refund customers up to $41 million for rates that violated state law.

An Eastern Washington journalist with ties to the area entered into an agreement to acquire Free Press Publishing. Roger Harnack, currently of Sunnyside, acquired the media company from longtime owner Bill Ifft of Medical Lake. Free Press Publishing includes the Cheney Free Press, Davenport Times, Fairchild Extra, Ritzville-Adams County Journal, Spokane Valley Times Herald and West Plains Extra.

October
State regulators approved nearly $1.5 million in grant funds over two years for rail safety upgrades, including improvements at oil train crossings. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved $1,483,456 in Grade Crossing Protective Fund grants between 2017 and 2019. The grants were awarded for safety improvements at crossings along crude oil routes, pedestrian and driver safety improvements, and upgraded signals and warning devices to reduce injuries and fatalities at rail crossings throughout the state.

The city of Spokane Valley was awarded $25,000 by the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board to complete an economic development study for the Appleway Trail project.

The 5.1-mile trail, which has its last section expected to be completed in the spring of 2020, could be used as a catalyst to spur new businesses and job growth along the Sprague Avenue corridor.

Building repairs to the Spokane Valley City Hall council chamber east wall are underway as of last week with plans to be completed by Thanksgiving. The Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday approved the allocation of $400,000 for the emergency repairs to the building, which were expected to be completed by the end of November.

A commercial structure fire was under preliminary investigation.
Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane Fire Department firefighters responded at 11:27 p.m. for a report of a commercial structure fire in the 5500 block of East Mallon. A 9-1-1 caller from the area reported black and grey smoke coming from a commercial building, said Julie Happy, spokeswoman for the department.

The Spokane Valley City Council was poised to pass an anti-camping law – specifically in three areas -- as the best way to handle a complicated homeless situation. Over the past several months, the city had received numerous complaints of camping in public spaces and occupied recreational vehicles parked indefinitely on streets in front of homes.

Spokane Valley Fire Department units responded to a report of a hazardous materials release from a semi-trailer at the weigh station on the Washington/Idaho border. A total of 16 apparatus and support vehicles responded, said George Hedebeck, department spokesman.

November
Reports of vandalism, graffiti and other public safety concerns had handed the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department the unenviable task of restricting access to city parks -- with the cooperation of law enforcement – during non-daylight hours.
If ever there was a lesson in getting out to vote, look no further than the race between Brandi Peetz and Michelle Rasmussen for Spokane Valley City Council. As of Election Night, Rasmussen had just a four-vote edge over the incumbent. Eventually Peetz pulled ahead and secured the win. Meanwhile, in Liberty Lake, it appeared Steve Peterson will not serve another term as mayor as current Council Member Steve Brickner leads with nearly 56 percent of the vote. Brickner has been on the council since 2011.
Spokane County’s Regional Water Reclamation Facility garnered top-performing status from the Washington State Department of Ecology and on Oct. 29 was presented with the 2018 Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance Award.
The Sears store at Spokane Valley Mall was slated for closure in February 2020.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department was ready to go financially for 2020. Spokane Valley Fire Director of Finance Angela Golden brought forward the budget to the board of commissioners for a first viewing Oct. 7 and again for final approval Oct. 28. After the presentation, the board voted to pass the proposed 2020 program budget.

Efforts were ongoing to try to rectify an issue with water quality in the Liberty Lake area that was discovered last week. The Liberty Lake Sewer & Water District 1 is advising all water customers to boil their drinking water after recent investigative samples showed the presence of E. coli in the water. The district is a separate governmental entity from the city of Liberty Lake.

A pair of threats at two Spokane Valley high schools raised concerns last Friday.

Spokane Valley school resource deputies investigated a threat written on a bathroom wall at Central Valley High School. The discovery of the threat immediately prompted school officials to place the high school on lockdown and a short while later dismiss classes for the day as a precaution to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Staff members of the Utilities and Transportation Commission reached a partial settlement with Avista on the company’s request to increase electric and natural gas rates for its customers in Washington.


December
Spokane Valley sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a male firing a handgun from his moving vehicle. The suspect vehicle was located near Mission and Greenacres, but the suspect ignored the deputies attempting to pull him over and continued driving to his home.

Eventually, he was safely disarmed and taken into custody.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the first major action of his office’s Honest Fees Initiative. Global technology company CenturyLink will pay $6.1 million to the state of Washington according to a court order to resolve the Attorney General’s lawsuit regarding a range of unfair and deceptive conduct. CenturyLink added additional charges to customer bills without accurately disclosing those fees, impacting 650,000 Washingtonians. CenturyLink also failed to provide discounts that their sales agents had promised to about 16,000 Washingtonians.

The Christmas spirit took a downturn in the West Valley School District as the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office West Valley school resource deputy charged the father of a child involved in a fight with other students at Centennial Middle School.

It’s been a long career, but West Valley’s superintendent, Gene Sementi, decided to step down after 31 years. Sementi’s resignation was accepted at the Dec. 11 school board meeting. Current Assistant Superintendent Kyle Rydell, hired in July, will take over the job in July.

Former County Commissioner Todd Mielke has a new gig.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich announced that Todd Mielke would be joining the sheriff’s office as the chief administrative officer.

Mielke served more than 11 years serving as a county commissioner. More recently, he led transformational changes as the CEO of Greater Spokane Inc. In his new role, Mielke will be responsible for the overall direction and oversight of the administrative, financial, risk management and government affairs services for the entire sheriff’s office. Additionally, he will be involved with special projects and initiatives for the department.

 
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