Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
2018 Second Half - Year in Review


Managing Editor

This is the second part of a two-part look back at notable news and events of 2018. The first installment appeared last week.

Spokane Valley City Council Member Ben Wick found himself with a little less on his plate after being dropped from two board assignments at the July 3 council meeting. Mayor Rod Higgins announced he was removing Wick from the Spokane Regional Transportation Council board along with the city finance committee. The action wasn’t advertised on the city’s agenda and occurred toward the end of the meeting prior to the July Fourth holiday. Wick seemed more than a little surprised by the decision.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich received the MAGNUS Princeps Award, presented by the National Command and Staff College and the Criminal Justice Commission for Credible Leadership Development. Knezovich received this award in recognition for his work implementing bold initiatives which have created synergy and trust between the citizens of Spokane County and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said Deputy Mark Gregory, sheriff’s spokesman.

A hiker who ended up getting turned around and lost on Mount Spokane on Monday was located by Air 1 early Tuesday. Air 1 directed Search and Rescue to the hiker successfully ending the search. The hiker was provided food, water and although uninjured, medical attention to ensure he was OK, said Deputy Mark Gregory, sheriff’s spokesman.

Winds and fast-moving flames unnerved Northwood neighborhood residents. Spokane Valley Fire Department along with Fire District 9 and city of Spokane Fire units responded, and units quickly arrived on scene and immediately upgraded the response to a full response structure fire (which brings additional units) given the amount of smoke. First arriving units found trees, shrubs and an outbuilding on fire and the fire was moving at a high rate of speed up Beacon Hill toward the northeast.

The Spokane Valley Cycle Celebration was dedicated in memory of the late Myrna Gothmann, wife of the event’s founder, Bill Gothmann. Along with her husband, son Bud, and numerous friends in the cycling community, Myrna was a key member of the organizing committee, attending every meeting, taking minutes, and ensuring everything was organized and carefully prepared.

Spokane Valley Major Crimes detectives arrested 38-year-old Cristina C. Stiles for the 2016 death of her ex-boyfriend, 34-year-old Clifford “Cory” Fowler. Fowler’s body was discovered in his apartment located in the 12900 block of East Mansfield on Feb. 18, 2016, just prior to 9 a.m., said Deputy Mark Gregory, police spokesman. Major Crimes Detectives continued to investigate Fowler’s death, hoping to learn who shot him and why.

Activists gathered at a Spokane Valley City Council meeting for a rally beforehand to protest white supremacism and racism. About 40 attended and packed the council chambers afterward for what, at times, became a bit of raucous meeting. From the dais, Mayor Rod Higgins occasionally had to reel in those in attendance who spoke or yelled out of turn.

Spokane Regional Health District reported of the laboratory confirmation of West Nile virus in two separate mosquito samples from Spokane County. While no cases of WNV have been identified in Spokane County humans, birds or horses, early- to mid-August typically marks the first onset of symptoms in these groups. Identification of WNV-positive mosquitoes in the county provides an opportunity for people to proactively control mosquito populations and prevent exposure to bites.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners appointed John Guarisco to fill a vacancy among its members. Guarisco was selected following interviews with five residents interested in filling the position. He would serve the community by overseeing the affairs of the department as one of five members, said Melanie Rose, department spokeswoman. The vacancy was created in May when Commissioner Joe Dawson resigned due to health concerns. Dawson had served on the board for more than 20 years.

Scott Maclay – a longtime Spokane Valley-area civic challenger, sheriff’s critic, gun rights activist and motorcycle enthusiast – died after a crash in Benewah County, Idaho, near St. Maries.
Maclay had legally changed his name to DumpOzzie Dot Com and is on the general election ballot facing Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich in November. Maclay, who had been a Realtor and recently worked as a respiratory therapist, had been traveling southbound on Idaho State Highway 3 when he lost control of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle on some gravel, hit a guardrail and fell down an embankment, according to the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office.

Linda Thompson, a member of the Spokane Valley City Council, received a Certificate of Municipal Leadership from the Association of Washington Cities.

The “Heart of the Valley” would remain hidden for the time being.
The sculpture – created by Cheney-based artist Richard Warrington – was donated by the Spokane Valley Arts Council with the thought of placing it on “gateway property” near Interstate 90 and Appleway Boulevard near the city’s welcome sign. But some council members believed the piece – which is 12-feet high and depicts a red wave representing the heart of the Valley surrounded by silver waves representing its people – would be more appropriately placed at the city’s actual “heart” near City Hall at an expanded Balfour Park, at Herald Road and Sprague Avenue.

The Spokane Indians Baseball Club announced that fans broke the single-season team attendance record for the second-straight year. The Indians welcomed 198,423 fans to Avista Stadium over 38 home games in 2018, breaking the overall attendance record of 196,653 fans set in 2017.

It was a prevalent theme during the past couple of months, so the Spokane Valley City Council responded that it would reaffirm a resolution denouncing discrimination in the municipality. While a similar resolution was passed in March of 2017, the issue had been simmering since August after Mayor Rod Higgins had participated in an event held by Northwest Grassroots and hosted by James Allsup, who has been criticized for white nationalist leanings. Since then, activists – largely led by Indivisible Progressives – have dominated council public comment sessions demanding the council pass a second resolution denouncing white nationalism.

Spokane Valley firefighters responded to a commercial structure fire at Trentwood Elementary School. Initial calls to dispatch reported a portable building on fire. This information combined with black smoke seen from Trent and Sullivan prompted a full commercial fire response.

Ben Wick, a member of the Spokane Valley City Council, was appointed to the Washington Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board by Gov. Jay Inslee. FMSIB is a statewide board that facilitates freight movement between and among local, national and international markets to enhance trade opportunities. The board is also charged with finding solutions that lessen the impact of the movement of freight on local communities. Wick is one of two city representatives on the board and was nominated by the Association of Washington Cities to serve.

It doesn’t look like Democrats will be making much headway in the Spokane Valley area anytime soon. Press-shy 4th District incumbent Reps. Matt Shea and Bob McCaslin rolled to wins in the general election. Shea had about 58.3 percent of the yes votes over challenger Ted Cummings. McCaslin, who serves with Shea as a Republican in the state Legislature, 61.5 percent of the votes over Mary May. Shea was first elected in 2008, while McCaslin joined him in 2014. In other election news, the East Valley School District saw support for its capital-improvement levy at just over 55 percent.

Incumbent Republican Spokane County Commissioners Mary Kuney and Al French would be back in January after defeating challengers Rob Chase and Robbie Katherine Anthony, respectively.

Michael Baumgartner would take over as county treasurer from Chase after defeating David Green with 57 percent of the vote.
Tim Fitzgerald, currently serving as county clerk, would keep his job after fending off a challenge from Michael Kirk, who earned 42 percent of the vote.

The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously approved hiring a lobbyist to go after federal funding for several hoped for rail-crossing improvements. The council approved a contract with Cardinal Infrastructure LLC for $78,000 per year. The idea was for the firm to go to Washington, D.C., and pitch the city’s needs for funds to grade-separate problematic rail crossings along the Trent Avenue corridor, mainly at Pines and Park roads. Funding has already been secured for improvements at Barker Road. The council also approved its budget for 2019, which includes continuing a $26 million contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for police service. There was also money set aside for road preservation and improvements to Browns Park.

The Central Valley School District came up with the name for its newest high school: Ridgeline. The name was picked from a pool of over 430 name and mascot ideas over the last several weeks. A 14-member naming committee reviewed all the options, forwarded its recommendation and the CVSD school board made its final decision Nov. 26. Ridgeline High School was ultimately chosen because it best fits the geographic characteristics of the area. The school will be located between Country Vista Drive and Sprague Avenue, purchased from the Spokane Gun Club.

Ellen “Lynn” Schindler – a former 4th District state representative of Spokane Valley – passed away Dec. 4 at the age of 74. Schindler, a Republican, served in the Legislature for 10 years.

State regulators today denied Canada-based Hydro One Limited’s proposed acquisition of Spokane-based Avista Corporation, finding the proposed merger does not serve the public interest. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission determined the proposed merger agreement does not adequately protect Avista or its customers from political and financial risk, nor does it provide a net benefit to customers as required by state law.

An article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Dec. 17 erroneously stated that the Spokane Valley City Council would vote on a proposal to split Washington into a new state. There is no such proposal or vote planned, city officials say.

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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.

E-mail: vnh@onemain.com
Phone: (509) 924-2440