2023 April Splash

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Creek Guide – Alsaker spans two decades as educator

When Alisha Alsaker was on her way to earning a degree in education, she had a rare chance to take a journey back in time.

The pilgrimage to the past came when Alsaker was an undergraduate at Washington State University and was assigned as a student-teacher to Sunrise Elementary in Spokane Valley. As a kid, the school became a second home with her mother Kellie Ackerman a fixture among the teachers there.

“I was always hanging around the classroom, helping my mom,” Alsaker said. “I just remember that school community.”

After Alsaker earned her diploma from WSU in 2004, she returned to the Central Valley School District, this time at Progress Elementary as a firstgrade instructor. In her second year, she returned to college to pursue her master’s in Curriculum Development and Instruction.

Alsaker spent 11 years in the classroom at Progress before tackling a new challenge as an instructional coach, helping other teachers learn best practices, . The role brought Alsaker back to her days as a competitive softball player where team goals took precedence.

Then in 2016, Alsaker heard about a new elementary school being built in Liberty Lake. She applied for the job of assistant principal and was hired in May 2017.

“It was a pivotal point in my career,” Alsaker recalls.

When the 2017-18 school year dawned, Alsaker was part of an administrative team with Principal Kim Kyle.

“We got to open up a brandnew school in this amazing community,” Alsaker said. “The job allowed me to understand systems, processes and protocols.”

After three years at Liberty Creek, Alsaker was presented with another opportunity to return to her roots. Progress Elementary needed an interim principal to guide the school through the storms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alsaker accepted the challenge, overseeing the coordination of virtual and, later, a return to inperson education.

“We made the best of a situation that wasn’t great,” she said.

After the 2020-21 school year ended, Alsaker heard that Kyle had accepted a job as CVSD’s director of Special Programs, meaning the principal’s job at Liberty Creek would be open.

“I’d stayed in contact with the teachers there,” Alsaker said. “I wanted to come back to Liberty Creek.”

Alsaker was in the principal’s chair in the fall of 2021 when Liberty Creek welcomed back teachers and students. The return felt like home.

Now in her 20th year of education, Alsaker reflects back on

the reason she went into the field in the first place.

“I’ve always been a learner,” she said. “As I reflect back on my childhood, it was not a single event, rather several moments in life where a teacher, coach, or a colleague of my mom’s influenced my decision to pursue education.

Growing up, Alsaker attended elementary and middle school in the Freeman School District. She was enrolled at Freeman High School for her first two years, then transferred to Central Valley High School where she also tackled Running Start classes at Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College.

Alsaker credits mentors like Katherine (Etman) Curry at Freeman, Tammy Campbell, a principal at Opportunity Elementary, Linda Uphus, former principal at Liberty Lake Elementary and Wanda Swenson at LLES, among her greatest influences. Now, she is influencing a new generation of educators at a K-2 school that includes around 500 students and 75 staff.

Alsaker and her husband Kjell first met while both were students at Freeman Middle School. The couple enjoy traveling together, often out of the country. When not at Liberty Creek, Alsaker can usually be found in the outdoors. Her fitness agenda includes hiking, running and snow skiing.

Q: As a student, you began in a smaller, more rural school district and later were part of a district characterized by more students and a suburban environment. What were your takeaways from both experiences?

A: For me, I am grateful to have experienced both settings as they played an integral part in the person I have become today. My experience at Freeman and Central Valley taught me about community, hard work, longlasting friendships, diversity and opportunity for growth, all of

• APRIL 2023 2 The Splash DOCKSIDE
Photo by Craig Howard Alisha Alsaker was hired as assistant principal of Liberty Creek Elementary before the school opened for the 2017-18 academic year. She has served as principal of the K-2 school since the fall of 2021. See ALSAKER, Page 4
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Spring into new glasses


Continued from page 2

which, I can apply to the work I do on a daily basis. The life lessons I acquired throughout my education are ones I hope every child has the opportunity to experience while on their educational journey.

Q: How did it feel to be assigned as a student-teacher at Sunrise Elementary, the school where your mom established herself as an educator when you were growing up?

A: I was thrilled when I received the news that I would begin my career where my mom previously taught. I felt comfortable as I had established relationships with several of the teachers including my mentor teacher, Wanda Swenson. Mrs. Swenson was kind, patient and allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them. I also remember feeling the pressure to perform at the same level as my mom, as she was well respected throughout the district. As I navigated my teaching experience my mom was my biggest cheerleader, supporter and mentor.

Q: In your own career, what ways have you tried to emulate the positive influence and support you received from teachers while growing up?

A: Growing up, I was fortunate to have many teachers impact my life in a positive way, I often wonder how will I ever repay them and as I think about that, each one of them would say, “pay it forward.” As a leader, I value a sense of belonging and creating positive opportunities for kids, making school memorable and allowing each student to grow and blossom along the way. I want to be able to replicate what I received growing up, which is why I strive to foster an environment that is positive for everyone, a place where staff members feel a sense of accomplishment and everyone is part of a team working on the same goals and expectations that meet the needs of our students.

Q: What appealed to you about being part of the inaugural staff at Liberty Creek Elementary when it opened in the fall of 2017?

A: I remember sitting in my office, when I received the call about becoming the assistant

principal of a brand-new K-2 school in the city of Liberty Lake. I was thrilled to accept this job because it completely aligned with my passion for early literacy and teaching social/emotional learning in the primary grades, not to mention, I would get the opportunity to work with my mom as she finished her career before retiring. As I recall, we had an event at the school in late May where I had the opportunity to meet all of the teachers for the first time and there was something special about this group of individuals who came to be a part of Liberty Creek. These teachers brought a positive feeling and uniqueness to the building. You could feel their energy, joy, laughter and cohesiveness. After that evening, all I could think about was, “I think I landed my dream job.” How lucky am I to have this opportunity to work with an amazing team of dedicated teachers who share the same passion for students and education as I do.

Q: There was a time not too long ago that Liberty Lake Elementary was the only school in Liberty Lake proper. What are some of the benefits of having a layered network of schools that now features LLES, Liberty Creek, Selkirk Middle School and Ridgeline High School?

A: It’s hard to believe how fast the city of Liberty Lake has grown over the years and to think since 2017 we have added Liberty Creek, Selkirk Middle School, and Ridgeline High School. Over the past 20-plus years Liberty Lake Elementary had established a strong sense of community throughout the Liberty Lake area and it was important that we upheld this same level as we added Liberty Creek, Selkirk and Ridgeline. As we phased in Liberty Creek, there was an invisible connection as many of the teachers came from the Kindergarten Center and LLES. For families, having familiar faces and already established relationships only enhanced our sense of community. As we brought on Selkirk and Ridgeline, our four schools became interwoven and have created more diversity within our community. For our students and families, there is a natural progression that flows, creating continuity, connection

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and a sense of community between all the schools.

Q: Having split your career in education between the classroom and administration, what do you miss about being a teacher and what do you enjoy about being a principal?

A: Everything I miss about the classroom, I get to do as the principal but on a larger scale. I spend the bulk of my day visiting classrooms and watching students learn. Not only do I get to connect with kids in the classroom, I have the privilege to be with them during lunch, recess, specialists and most days assisting in valet during dismissal and furthering my connections with families. Another portion of my job that I enjoy is being an instructional leader and supporting our staff when it comes to providing high quality learning and early intervention for young students. Last, I enjoy seeing our community come together to support our students and staff and knowing we have made a positive impact together.

Q: What are some of the programs at Liberty Creek that you are proudest of?

A: When we first opened, Liberty Creek and Liberty Lake introduced our Meet the Masters program. Each year, our students learn about three artists, taught by art docents and create a replica piece of artwork to take home. This entire program is managed by parents and community members. Every fall, our first and second graders participate in our Active4Youth, cross country program. During the season, they learn about the benefits of being active and participate in weekly practices and meets at our local high schools. This is a great event that is well attended by our entire CVSD community. We have Recess Rangers, who are parent volunteers that come in during lunch recess and play games with our students on the playground throughout the week. Our last program I would like to highlight is our PACE program, where we teach and encourage students to demonstrate positive character traits in our schools and community.

Q: What do you think are some of the keys to helping students and teachers for that matter deal

with the deficits that came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Looking back on the pandemic, our current second graders seemed to be most impacted as our Kindergarten and first graders had not yet entered the school system. As we slowly brought back each grade in the fall of 2020, we knew small class sizes were going to be key, not only because of social distancing, but to better meet the needs of our students academically, socially and emotionally. As educators, we knew creating trusting relationships was of utmost importance before anything else. As a school working with all young children, our students had limited interaction when it came to socializing and playing with sameaged peers during the pandemic. Therefore, we had to designate time towards socializing with one another, learning how to regulate emotions and practice problemsolving skills. As educators, we had to dig deep when it came to learning recovery by providing specific targeted instruction in the classroom to address any loss of learning from the pandemic. In the end, we all came out stronger educators and our students are beginning to thrive and accelerate in their learning.

Q: Finally, how do you think Alisha Alsaker, the teacher and administrator, would have supported Alisha Alsaker, the student?

A: If I were to write a recipe for myself as a child with the knowledge I have today, here are the ingredients: Know and understand that each child grows and blooms on their own timeline. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Surround yourself with the people who believe in you and support you along your journey. Good things take time to develop, be patient. Life isn’t about the destination but rather the path you took to get there. All things happen for the right reason, at the right time. It’s OK to make mistakes along the way – it’s part of the learning process. Perseverance, hard work and intrinsic motivation have to come from within yourself. Last but not least, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Gandhi

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Safety Awareness Channel

Police Report - Feb. 2023

Splash news sources

Total incidents generated by Officers and emergency calls for service last month 527

Page 2 of 2

Suspicious Vehicles 36

*The above numbers are as of 3/01/2023

February 01st, 2023 – February 28th, 2023

Traffic Collisions/Hit & Runs / Injury Collisions 10

Citations (Traffic/Criminal/ Non-Criminal) 22

February 2023 Incident Map:

DUI (Driving Under Influence) 1

Thefts / Vehicle Prowls / Vehicle Theft / Burglaries 24

Page 2 of 2

February 01st, 2023 – February 28th, 2023

Malicious Mischief 2

Argument / Assault DV / Simple Assault / Assault w/a Weapon 17

February 2023 Incident Map:

Parking Violations 0

DUI, 2/03/23: Officers responded to the 25000 block of Hawkstone Loop for a report of a Hit and Run Collision. As officers arrived on scene, they noticed several vehicle skid marks in the area where it appeared a vehicle had run off the roadway, but the vehicle was not in the area. After a short search, a vehicle was found parked in the middle of the roadway on Hawkstone Loop with the engine still running and an adult male in the driver’s seat. There was damage to the front of the vehicle, but the male did not appear to be injured. Officers

noticed signs of intoxication from the driver and asked if he would perform field testing. The male refused and was placed in custody for the DUI. He was transported to the WSP port of entry for further testing where he consented to provide two breath samples of .245 and .247 (three times the legal limit). The male was further processed and transported to the Spokane County Jail for the DUI offense.

Stolen/Recovered Vehicles , 2/9/23 and 2/18/23: Officers received two separate FLOCK hits around Appleway Avenue and Liberty Lake Road that resulted in two stolen vehicles being recovered with arrests made on the adult drivers. Both

vehicles that were recovered were also taken to the Liberty Lake Police Department for further processing as drugs and various other paraphernalia was located inside. Warrants for the vehicles were obtained and the suspects were charged with the possession of the stolen vehicle along with referrals made for the drug offenses.

Possession of Stolen Property , 2/20/23: Officers responded to the 1300 block of N. Liberty Lake Road regarding a FLOCK camera hit on a stolen plate. Officers were able to locate the vehicle with the stolen plate in the business parking lot. While waiting for the owners to return, they learned of a theft that had just occurred in that same business and two adult males ran from the store. Officers were able to stop and detain one of the males without incident, while the other male resisted and was taken into custody after a short scuffle. One of the males admitted to being the owner of the vehicle with the stolen plate and he was arrested/ further processed for that theft. The male who resisted was determined to have stolen property from the business and was further processed for the theft along with resisting arrest charges. Both males were transported to the Spokane County Jail for their offenses.

Please call 911 immediately for emergency assistance when needed and call Crime Check if you see something you feel may need our attention. If you don’t hear back from CrimeCheck in a timely manner, please call, and request officer assistance.

Stay well and be safe!

• APRIL 2023 6 The Splash Introducing
91 cases 23 Arrests or Referrals to Prosecutors 35 Crime Check-55 officer created reports.

The Lookout

Topics announced for new City Academy starting April 13

Liberty Lake’s City Hall is inviting area residents to learn about how their local government works by attending the City Academy series that will kick off on Thursday, April 13.

This eight-part weekly series will offer residents a deepdive understanding into the city government’s operations and the services that are provided to local residents. Information at each weekly session will be presented by topic experts from the city’s staff as well as leaders from local partnering organizations.

The series will be offered on Thursday nights from April 13 through June 1 at the Council Chambers of Liberty Lake City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive in Liberty Lake. Each of the free

presentations will start at 6 p.m. and will be about 60 to 90 minutes.

The weekly schedule for the series is as follows:

• April 13: Form of Government, presented by Mayor Cris Kaminskas and City Administrator Mark McAvoy

• April 20: Sources of Revenue, presented by city administrator Mark McAvoy and Finance Director Kyle Dixon

• April 27: Land Use and Zoning, presented by members of the city’s Planning and Engineering Department

• May 4: Strategic Plan & Budget, presented by City Administrator Mark McAvoy and Finance Director Kyle Dixon

• May 11: Fire/Emergency

Management Services and 911, presented by Chief Frank Soto Jr. of the Spokane Valley Fire Department and Communications & Media Manager Kelly Conley of Spokane Regional Emergency Communications

• May 18: Law Enforcement and 911, presented by Chief Damon Simmons of the Liberty Lake Police Department and Communications & Media Manager Kelly Conley of Spokane Regional Emergency Communications

• May 25: Utilities, with presenter to be determined

• June 1: Streets, Parks, and Solid Waste, presented by city Operations and Maintenance Director Jen Camp and a staff member from Waste Management.

April 2023

The eight-part series will be followed by a recognition ceremony on Thursday, June 8, at the Council Chambers starting at 6 p.m. Registration information for the City Academy series is available on the homepage of the City of Liberty Lake’s website at www. libertylakewa.gov. Space is limited.

Participants are encouraged to attend each installment of the series. City administrator Mike McAvoy says the series will offer a useful background for anyone who may be interested in running for local elected office or applying to serve on a city board or commission.

For questions about the City Academy series, please contact Liberty Lake City Administrator Mark McAvoy at 281-677-1883 or mmcavoy@libertylakewa.gov.

Holthaus promoted to sergeant at Liberty Lake Police Department

Master Police Officer Mark Holthaus is now the fourth sergeant on the Liberty Lake Police Department, following his promotion on March 1.

Holthaus joined the Liberty

Lake Police Department in 2017 and has been a familiar presence at Ridgeline High School as the school resource office for most of his time with the local department.

Before coming to Liberty Lake, Holthaus worked with the Washington State Patrol, the Lakewood Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. He was also on active duty in the U.S. Army for seven years, plus five years in the Army Reserves.

Presented by Girl Scouts Troop 2360; $5 admission.

u April 3-7 – Spring break in Central Valley School District

u April 13 – City Academy series begins; 7 p.m. at City Hall

u April 22 – Spring Clean Up (Town Square Park)


u June 10 – Winter Glow Spectacular Golf Tournament at Liberty Lake Golf Course

u June 10 – Ridgeline High School graduation

u June 16-17 – Friends of the Library Summer Book Sale at Library

u June 17 – Kiwanis Yard Sale (citywide)

u June


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At Liberty Lake Municipal Library: | Storytime at the Library: Mondays-Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. with stories, songs, and dancing; playtime follows at 11:00-11:30 a.m. | Lego Club: Every other Friday, 4 to 5 p.m. | Friends of the Library meetings: 4th Thursday of the month at 12 noon. April u April 1 – Easter Egg Hunt at Orchard Park at 11 a.m.
19 – Summer Reading Show featuring Eric Herman, presented by Liberty Lake Municipal Library at Ridgeline High School Auditorium, 7 p.m. u June 20 – Central Valley School District school year ends May u May 12-14, 18-21, 25-28 “Clue: The Musical” at Theatre Arts Center. Performance and ticket info at www.tacatthelake.com. u May 20 – Farmers Market, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 14 at Town Square Park. Food, crafts and more! u May 21 – Windermere Marathon (www.windermeremarathon.com) u May 26-30 – Memorial Day Weekend Rotary Luminary Tribute at Pavillion Park u May 29 – Memorial Day Rotary Pancake Breakfast & Ceremony at Pavillion Park: Breakfast 8 to 10:30 a.m. Ceremony at 9 a.m. Springtime is Blossoming with Community Activities in Liberty Lake! Download the full poster at: www.libertylakewa.gov/237/Community-Events

The Current, a monthly publication for the Valley, offers visual storytelling, eye-catching ads and community coverage readers have come to rely on. This free newspaper is available at more than 150 high-traffic places around the Valley, including the following locations:


Anytime Fitness

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Brother’s Pizza

News and Notes

we meet next, we’ll have a good idea of what’s moving forward,” McAvoy said of the timetable for budgets and legislation approval.

the proposal.

• The city’s new podcast, “The Liberty Lake Deep Dive,” will premiere this month with two installments. “This will be an opportunity for people to find out about the people of Liberty Lake as well as the programs and services in the area,” said Communications Specialist David Goehner.

• The city will debut its first City Academy on April 13 for residents interested in learning more about their municipal government. The academy will run for eight weeks through June 1 with weekly classes consisting of 60 to 90 minutes. City staff, the mayor and representative of the city’s partner agencies will serve as presenters.

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The Current, a monthly publication for the Valley, offers visual storytelling, eye-catching ads and community coverage readers have come to rely on. This free newspaper is available at more than 150 high-traffic places around the Valley, including the following locations:

McDonald’s Providence Medical Park

Rockwood Clinic

Yoke’s Fresh Market

Wohuld you like to carry The Current in your place of business? Contact us at circulation@valleycurrent.com.

Wick Enterprizes

Publishing House

• Tom Sahlberg, Dan Dunne and Jed Spencer represented the City Council at the Homeless Action Open House hosted by the city of Spokane Valley last month. The discussion featured ideas on addressing the need for more affordable housing in the area and other ways to stem the tide of homelessness. “This is a challenge for the entire region,” Dunne said.

• Mayor Cris Kaminskas attended the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. last month. “What I’m really looking forward to is how federal decisions are affecting us locally,” Kaminskas said.

• Dunne, who represents Liberty Lake on the Spokane Transit Authority board, noted that the new Central City Line in Spokane will make its debut in July. The 6-mile route will run from Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College with connections in downtown Spokane, the University District and Gonzaga University. Dunne also offered a reminder that students are eligible for free STA bus passes.

• Thanks to a program sponsored by the Friends of the Library, 117 complimentary Spokane Symphony tickets (out of 120 available) were provided to local residents.

• The city’s Parks and Arts Commission is working with students from Spokane Valley Tech on the installation of a Story Walk at Orchard Park similar to the one in place at Rocky Hill Park.

• City Council, the mayor and department directors attended a special meeting on March 4 to brainstorm development of the city’s next five-year strategic plan. Attendees were divided into three groups to discuss a variety of topics related to the plan, including societal trends, political factors, residential needs, economic climate and more. History mapping and future mapping as well as a fiveyear vision were discussed.

• A workshop took place on March 7 to discuss the potential formation of a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) that would implement a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund transportation infrastructure improvements. As of July 2022, 110 cities in Washington had established TBDs. Legislation passed last year increased the maximum TBD sales tax authority from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent while authorizing renewals of up to 10 years with voter approval.

• Council unanimously approved an increase to the city’s master credit card limit from $40,000 to $60,000 to accommodate financial policy changes.

• By a vote of 4-3, council approved a master site agreement with Avista for an electric vehicle DC fast charging installation at Trailhead Golf Course.

of business? Contact us at circulation@valleycurrent.com.

“Honoring local communities and encouraging citizen involvement”



• City Administrator Mark McAvoy gave a report on the state legislative session at the March 21 council meeting. “By the time

• Susan Meyer and Karl Otterstrom represented STA at a council presentation on March 7, providing an overview of the “Connect 2035” strategic plan. STA is requesting council feedback on

• The April 4 council meeting has been cancelled due to Spring Break. Council will reconvene on April 18.

• APRIL 2023 8 The Splash NEWS
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free copy of “Honoring local communities and encouraging citizen involvement” GREATER SPOKANE VALLEY A VALLEY-WIDE COMMUNITY NEWSMAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2 017 FREE GREATER SPOKANE VALLEY & SV’S NEW COUNCILMAN NAMESAKES Page 14 COUPLE FINDS VALENTINE’S PEARL Page 22 Albertsons Anytime Fitness Arby’s Barnes and Noble Barney’s Harvest Foods Brother’s Pizza Bruttles Gourmet Candy Shop Carl’s Jr Dairy Queen Dishman Dodge Hallett’s Maket and Cafe HICO Village Library Longhorn BBQ Maverick McDonald’s Providence Medical Park Rockwood Clinic Yoke’s Fresh Market Wohuld you like to carry The Current in your place
up a

City ramps up community engagement efforts

Mark Saba traces his penchant for civic participation to a father who served as a volunteer firefighter and president of the local Lions Club.

“I saw my dad always stepping up as a volunteer,” Saba says.

Many in Liberty Lake know Saba as the face of Winter Glow, the annual display of lights and holiday cheer at Orchard Park. He also serves on the city’s Salary Commission and, last year, became an inaugural member of Liberty Lake’s Community Engagement Commission (CEC). In between, Saba can be found driving his golf cart, picking up garbage on the street and sidewalk.

“I’ve always been involved in stuff,” Saba said.

Formation of the CEC was approved by City Council in September 2021 with the first meeting coming the following March. Saba says the group – which serves in an advisory role to council with a goal of rallying interest and engagement in municipal government – has made encouraging strides in its first year.

“Our meetings are very positive, very informative,” Saba said. “Whenever there is a subject brought up, everyone has a point to make. The input and dialogue in our group is unbelievable.”

One of the projects the CEC has been discussing with the city’s Communications Specialist David Goehner is a podcast that will debut this month. The plan is to offer installments of 15 minutes each twice a month featuring a spotlight on a variety of community topics.

“It’s not going to be just about city staff and services, it’s going to be about the different communities in Liberty Lake, what’s going on in Legacy Ridge, Rocky Hill and Orchard Park,” Goehner said. “We’ll also focus on what’s happening in Liberty Lake – things like Memorial Day activities, summer movies, the Farmers Market and Winter Glow.”

Like the CEC, Goehner is a relatively new addition to the city’s investment in civic engagement. Hired last year, he brought a

background as a reporter as well as experience in public relations and advertising.

“I’ve only been here for the start of the process but I have heard from people who have been here for longer who say that more things are happening,” Goehner said.

Mayor Cris Kaminskas said the idea of engaging residents was a priority she established when first taking office. As a council member and later mayor, Kaminskas has been a fixture at the city’s Farmers Market booth, chatting with passersby and answering questions.

“It’s just about getting people to pay attention to what’s going on,” Kaminskas said. “We also want to reach the people we don’t normally reach.”

Kaminskas points to the example of a citizen who was upset with a Carpet One store going in on Country Vista Drive. When she reached out to the resident and referred to the city’s development code and allowable commercial uses within various development zones, the conflict was resolved.

“Most things I encounter are from a standpoint of people just not understanding how things work or the background,” the mayor said.

One of the mechanisms the city is employing to better inform the public is a new City Academy that will kick off April 13 and run through June 1. The program will consist of one 60-to-90-minute class each week for eight weeks. Capacity for the academy is 20 per session.

Kaminskas observed the success

of a similar program offered by the Liberty Lake Police Department and brought up the idea as an introductory course to local government. City Administrator Mark McAvoy has been a catalyst in establishing the inaugural academy.

“This falls into the overarching umbrella of community engagement,” said McAvoy. “It will go through the government structure and how it provides services, allocates funds and makes decisions.”

Presenters will include city staff, the mayor and representatives from some of the city’s partner agencies like the Spokane Valley Fire Department and Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District. McAvoy said the academy may be a training ground for future council and commission members.

As for the CEC, McAvoy said the group “will be really instrumental” in the city’s quest to help citizens feel part of their local government.

“With this group, it’s getting them focused on things that add value and are achievable,” McAvoy said.

The city made another investment recently in the campaign to enlist citizen interest. In February, council approved a two-year contract with ZenCity, a community engagement platform for local governments. The agreement – at a cost of $12,000 per year – states that ZenCity will provide “a community engagement interface to share essential project context and invite resident collaboration and input.”

Former City Council Member Dg Garcia provided input back in 2021 that generated new momentum on the community engagement front. Before she was appointed to council, Garcia spoke out as a citizen, encouraging City Hall to “make us, as residents, matter.” The public comments caught hold with council members like Annie Kurtz who later that year proposed the idea for the CEC.

“If you want citizens to be involved, you have to go out and engage them,” said Garcia, who served as an appointee to City Council and is now part of the Planning Commission. “You can’t operate in a silo.”

Garcia applauds the work of McAvoy in coordinating projects like the City Academy.

“Even the mere mention of it is a success story,” she said. “That tells me he’s been listening to what people are saying in the public arena.”

Kurtz said Garcia’s comments two years ago “got the ball rolling” on the discussion to form the CEC. Despite some input around the dais to continue the conversation but refrain from establishing a formal commission, Kurtz felt it was important to stay the course.

“My approach was a little more assertive,” she said. “It felt like the only real effective and legitimate way to do this in a way that would give this group any leverage.”

Kurtz hosted Zoom meetings in late 2021 for interested residents before the CEC held its first meeting. Garcia also took part. Kurtz is enthused about employing technology again through ZenCity “to dispel a lot of frustration and questions.”

“It’s user-friendly, userintuitive,” she said.

Bringing on staff like Goehner and McAvoy has helped the city connect more effectively with its constituents, Kurtz said.

“It’s like everything kind of lined up,” she said.

With a background in social work and experience with outreach in college, Kurtz says the work of community engagement is a good fit.

“How do you engage different people in different ways when everyone is busy?” Kurtz said. “I don’t feel like governments function effectively if they don’t engage with residents. We want to address any lack of transparency or lack of trust.”

The Splash APRIL 2023 • 9 NEWS
File photo Liberty Lake City Hall will host the inaugural City Academy from April 13 to June 1. The program is open to all residents and will cover a wide range of topics involving municipal government.

Gee Expansion

“Look, that’s Tim. He’s been here since the beginning. And look at how young mom and dad was then! Wow.” Ryan Gee looks at an original advertisement from 1983 with fellow Gee employees.

Ryan Gee is now the CEO of Gee Auto Companies, but forty years ago the business was started by his father George Gee. Forty years ago George and Theresa Gee placed an ad in the local newspaper with all of their employee’s pictures on it


at the time connecting you to ‘the People Behind Your Pontiac’.

Back then the company was just a single car dealership lot on Sprague Ave in Spokane Valley. The slogan was simple: “See Gee.” Their advertisement stated, “A new dedication to quality and value - with a seasoned team of experienced automobile people to make your Pontiac ownership a pure pleasure from beginning to end.”

The special advert is on display in the main Gee store on Liberty Lake auto row. Longtime employees who were in the original picture look on it and reminisce over the past forty years.

“I began in July of ’89 as a lot attendant,” Ken Tuttle, a 34-year employee who is pictured on the advertisement shares. “I moved up. I was a lot of hard work, being there when they needed me. I’ve done everything in this store except for finance. I’ve worked in parts, in detail, as an advisor, and now as a service director. I’ve sold cars, worked as part manager. Everything.” When asked why he has continued in this line of work he replied, “Because of the Gee’s. They are fantastic to work for. Everything that I have right now for myself and my family is because of them. I’m loyal to them. They are fantastic people.”

This sentiment is shared by the group of gentlemen standing around joking and having a familiar

comradery with Ryan.

Other employees that are pictured in the ad from forty years ago include Rod McCallum, a 37year employee, Dales Morris a 33year employee, and James Santoro, a 27-year employee. Rod shares, “It’s been a great experience!” Dales who started as a lot employee has enjoyed his many years with the company and shares that even after forty years and the tremendous growth the company has seen, there is no “corporate vibe”; it’s still a very family-oriented company.

History of the Gee Auto Company

The story begins when George and Theresa made the move from Montana to a big city so that George could pursue his degree in banking. The “big city” they landed in was Spokane in 1972. At that time they had just forty dollars to his name and despite his best effort of becoming employed with a bank, he was told that he needed to gain experience through sales first.

At the time there was a stigma of being a car salesman and George was not keen at first of becoming a salesman. The owner of a local Ford dealership, McCullum Ford, told George that he should come and work for him as a leasing consultant, which unbeknownst to George was just a fancy way of saying car salesman.

George then began his career in the automobile industry. In

1983 after assessing that there was a need for a Pontiac dealership in Spokane, the McCullum Ford owner approached George and suggested that they partner together in opening a Spokane Valley location. The Argonne George Gee Pontiac auto dealership lot officially opened in June of 1983.

“Unfortunately, my dad’s partner passed away unexpectedly in 1990 and his widow knew that her husbands dream was for my dad to solely have that store. So my dad started working to buy a loan and buy the store completely. My mom, who was working as a nurse at the time, quit and came to work at the store.” Ryan explains about the start of the growth of the George Gee Auto Company.

After many years on the corner of Sprague and Argonne in the Spokane Valley, they were looking to expand and grow and decide to take a chance and move out to the fields of Liberty Lake. At the turn of the millennium, they moved to their current home in Liberty Lake on Auto Row. “Liberty Lake was new. There wasn’t a lot out here.

I remember that we moved out here and people thought we were crazy. And our view was that we were between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and we built the first store on that road. We were the only

• APRIL 2023 10 The Splash


building there.”

Prior to the business moving location in 2000, Ryan had approached his dad in 1988 about coming back to work for the Gee company and said to his dad, “Look, you are probably the best sales guy I’ve ever met in my life, (and he still is by the way), I think if I started in parts and service that would be a good place to start. I eventually went through all the departments, sales, finance, sales management, and general management.”

Ryan became president of the company in 2002 and is a current 25-year employee. Starting with the opening of the second Gee dealership in Coeur d’Alene in 2006 many locations have been opened since then.

To date the company owns 35 stores across multiple states and employees over 2,200 employees. The original store remains the main hub in Liberty Lake.

Liberty Lake Refresh with addition of Mercedes Benz service center

The Liberty Lake store will be undergoing a refresh within the near future for the current Kia store and will be working on plans this year.

The land that is currently vacant between the Gee store and Best Western will house the new Mercedes Benz service center. Gee will be bringing in additional technicians to service the vehicles. The company partners with the local community colleges in addition to teaching current employees that can be promoted to the role of technicians.

The company has career openings and can be viewed on their website at Geeauto.com.

Employee Longevity

“This business for me honestly, has felt like a big family for me since I was a kid. It still feels that way. We focus on families of our employees. It’s a core value of ours.”

The company also encourages educational growth and promotion from within for their employees.

Many employees are double-digit year holders who make working for the GEE Auto Companies a life long career. In today’s world staying for over ten years is rare, and shows a company’s commitment to working with their employees.

“This year we won one of the top 100 places to work in both Washington and Oregon state. We are also one of the top greenest companies in the state of Oregon, which I’m really proud about considering we’re a car dealership. And that’s not a one-time thing; we’ve been a perennial winner of those awards.”

“We really focus on our team and we measure our employee engagement.” Ryan works towards building a welcoming environment for his employees through many different avenues. “My goal is that people don’t feel like this is just a job, it’s a career. That’s our best day.”

Gee Auto Companies offerings and community give back

The Gee auto store has now been in Liberty Lake for twenty-three years and has seen Liberty Lake grow up. Many of the Liberty Lake employees live within city limits.

“We have focused on wanting to be an active participant of the community. Both in the boarder

community and then localized in Liberty Lake proper. We have tried to do that. We started the Community Cancer Fund 501c3 and we’re coming up on its 10th anniversary. We originally focused on the direct impact a family with cancer is dealing with.” Ryan began the non-profit with two of his friends ten years ago. They have helped and sponsored the building of local Ronald McDonald houses for families with a children admitted to a local hospital.

‘I AM’ is the slogan that represents the Community Cancer Fund and employees are encouraged to show their support

by wearing special shirts on Fridays. Originally, the shirts were just worn by the team members of the Liberty Lake store, but the movement has since grown to companywide participation.

An annual celebrity golf tournament and concert series is held in July at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Over the course of the weekend in 2022, over $6 million was raised to help regional cancer patients. Visit their website at communitycancerfund.org for more information on how to donate or for more information.

Celebration of 40 years Legacy

As the Gee family celebrates forty years in the automotive industry, Ryan is reminiscent of the past. “I think a lot about legacy. Legacy with my mom and dad and me too. What mattered to them when they started this? The family and community piece of this is a core to them and we’ve kept that idea even though we’ve gotten bigger. I feel like their vision. They had a great vision as to the impact we could make in the community whether it be with our employees or customers and we’ve done that. And as we go into other communities, we do that. So that is the hope.”

The Gee Auto Company will celebrate the forty-year celebration throughout the summer with employee recognition and customer appreciation.

The Splash APRIL 2023 • 11
Photo by Ashley Humbird Pictured left to right is Rod McCallum, Dales Morris, Ken Tuttle, and Ryan Gee.

3 Ninjas lays roots in Liberty Lake

The popular Asian fusion restaurant 3 Ninjas opened a second brick and mortar location in Liberty Lake last spring in an area of new development, bringing their unique tacos, bowls and wraps to the community near the Idaho border.

Michael Anderson, Tymen Hofmann and Steve Kitchens, who at one time all used to work at local restaurants together, launched 3 Ninjas with a food truck in 2014. “We bounced around quite a bit,” Anderson said. “We learned a few spots that were good for us. We were able to build up a following.”

Their food truck also became a staple at local events, including the Night Market at Kendall Yards near downtown Spokane. Then the trio was approached by Greenstone Homes, the developer of Kendall Yards, to see if they were interested in a small space in one of their buildings. They opened in 2018 at 1198 W. Summit Parkway in a 315 square foot space that meant they could only do take-out.

“We have pretty limited seating,” Hofmann said of the Kendall Yards location. “It would be better with seating.”

The restaurant has become known for its tacos, which don’t resemble the street tacos that many food trucks are known for. Instead, they offer tacos with a twist. A top seller is the Bulgogi taco, with Korean style marinated


steak, candied jalapeno, crunchy wontons and Siracha aioli. There’s also the Mai-Mahi taco, the Thai lemongrass taco and the Aloha taco with Teriyaki chicken, roasted red pepper pineapple salsa and smokey sour cream.

“We always wanted to be unique,” Hofmann said. “You can do so many fun things, so why not do that.”

The orange chicken bowl is also popular, as is the Bulgogi bowl with Szechwan slaw and pickled carrots. In addition to wraps like steak and cheese wrap and the Thai peanut wrap there are sandwiches like the steak Banh Mi sandwich, the Cubano sandwich with pineapple brown sugar glazed ham and the Po’Boy with crunchy Cajun shrimp.

There are also several vegetarian

options, including a Veginator wrap. Tofu can be substituted in some dishes to make them vegetarian.

A couple of years ago, during the height of the pandemic, the trio was again approached by Greenstone to see if they were interested in opening up a second location in Liberty Lake at the site of a new development going in at Harvard Road and Indiana Avenue. This time, Greenstone promised 1,500 square feet and indoor seating.

It was a tough decision to commit to a new location while many restaurants were struggling, but they decided to take a leap of faith. “A lot of restaurants were closing and we’re talking about opening one,” Anderson said.

The Liberty Lake restaurant has a good amount of indoor seating, plus

a patio to use in warm weather and a large roll up door on the side of the building to open up the inside space. “We’ve got more space than we know what to do with,” Hofmann said.

The company has a dozen employees if you count the three owners, all of whom work behind the counter. “We’re all full-time employees,” Hofmann said.

The location is still working to gain a strong foothold, particularly since it is located on the side of the building at 21802 E. Indiana Avenue and isn’t readily visible to cars approaching from Harvard Road. “There isn’t all the foot traffic,” Hofmann said. “We don’t have visibility. We’re still kind of in the corner.”

But as the new development, including residences, gets built around them, the foot traffic will come, Anderson said. “It’s kind of nice,” he said of the slow start. “We get to work out the kinks. It’s almost a soft open.”

Still, the location does a steady business, mostly centered on the lunchtime crowd. “Some days are hit and miss, but generally we’re doing well,” Anderson said.

A few years down the road if things are still going well, a third location isn’t out of the question, perhaps in the new Greenstone development at the old Kaiser Aluminum plant in Mead, Hofmann said. He said they enjoy having Greenstone as landlords because of how committed they are to providing 3 Ninjas with whatever is needed.

“They’re fantastic to work with,” Hofmann said. “They’re just really flexible.

The Liberty Lake 3 Ninjas is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. It’s menu is available on Door Dash and Uber Eats.

3 Ninjas also serves No-Li beers and bottles of hot sauce the business makes itself. They sell a mango habanero hot sauce, a smokey jalapeno sauce and their hottest sauce, a habanero Jamaican style pepper sauce dubbed Sweet Melissa. “Come check us out,” Hofmann said. “We’re fast, we’re efficient, our food is great.”

• APRIL 2023 12 The Splash
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Tymen Hofmann (left) and Michael Anderson (right) founders of 3 Ninjas
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SVFD Report – Feb.


Splash news sources

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to a total of 131 emergency calls in the greater Liberty Lake area in February 2023. •

The Eagle Rock team is excited to announce the opening of our Phase II development. Having served eastern Washington and northern Idaho for over five years now, always striving for excellence in everything we do, we look forward to the next five years and beyond. You can be assured we will continue with exceptional digital surveillance security, extrawide drive aisles, and superior customer service. Eagle Rock wants to be your storage facility for your boat, RV, or any of your toys. Or if you just need a little extra garage space, we have you covered. We have unit sizes 12 x 24 to 18 x 50, and all units have electricity available and come with extra wide and high doors. We also have easily accessible outside parking. Give us a call or come visit and let us show you around.


Conveniently located between Coeur d’ Alene, Id and Spokane, Wa on Beck Road one mile north of I-90.

(Idaho Exit 1)


Of note:

• Emergency Medical Services were 79.39% of all SVFD incidents.

• Fire Suppression (fire and Building Alarms) was 10.69% of all SVFD incidents.

• Tech Rescue was 2.29 % of all SVFD incidents.

Please remember:

• Spring is coming. Mountain snow will be melting. Be careful near our rivers and bodies of water.

• Be careful with portable heaters. Keep flammable items away from them and turn them off when not in the room.

• With a nationwide increase in dangerous incidents involving devices that use lithium-ion batteries, the Spokane Valley Fire Department wants to remind our citizens to use, store and dispose of these types of batteries safely.

February 1, 2023:

Spokane Valley, Wash. - The Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) has officially hired 16 new Firefighters. The new recruits begin their Fire Academy this week, Wednesday, February 1, 6 a.m.

“This recruit academy will help SVFD move closer to being fully staffed and able to meet the increasing demands for our services. With emergency incidents reaching over 23,000 in 2022 and our fire district population growing by 9%, these new Firefighters are crucial to maintaining our high quality of service for our citizens.” - Spokane Valley Fire Chief Frank Soto Jr.

Recruits from around the region,

will go through an intense 18-week academy, where they will be pushed to the limits physically and mentally. The academy will be split into 3 stages (crawl, walk, run), which will equip and prepare them for a career in the fire service. They will be tested regularly throughout their training for textbook knowledge, apparatus knowledge, physical fitness, and fire fighting skill level.

Training over the 18 weeks will include:

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) wear and confidence

• Radio communication

• Hose handling

• Ladders

• Health and fitness education

• Wildland fire fighting

• Forcible entry

• Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

• Fire behavior

• Firefighter survivability

• Search and victim removal

• Fire and life safety

• Hazardous materials (HazMat) awareness and operations

• Vehicle extrication

• Night operations

• And more

All recruits must pass exams throughout the training on skills learned. After graduation, our newest firefighters will be rotated through different station assignments and will be on probation for 1 year. This will be the first of two recruit academies scheduled for 2023, with the second set for later this summer.

SVFD would like to welcome our new recruits and wish them a very successful Fire Academy!

SVFD can hire new Firefighters with funding provided by the Maintenance and Operations Levy voted on every 4 years.

Media Release February 6, 2023: Spokane Valley, WA - The Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) has replaced a previously used fire fighting foam with a new safer foam in an effort to improve the health of our firefighters, community and environment.

In 2018, Washington State passed the Fire fighting Agents and Equipment Law that prohibited the use of class b AFFF (aqueous film-

• APRIL 2023 14 The Splash
Services 104 • Building Alarm 12 • Cares 4 • Vehicle collisions 3 • Fires 2 • Service Calls 2
Hazardous Materials 2
Emergency Medical
cancelled enroute 2
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forming foam), a type of fire fighting foam that contains PFASs (poly or per-fluorinated alkyl substances) for training purposes by fire departments.

While the previous foam was still allowed by the state to be used in emergency response calls involving flammable liquids, the Spokane Valley Fire Department made the decision to replace all our class b the foam with the new safer fire fighting foam without PFASs.

“This was the right decision, to remove the harmful foam for the safety of our firefighters, our citizens and our environment.” – Spokane Valley Fire Chief Frank Soto Jr.

February 10, 2023:

Spokane Valley, WA – This week, the Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) is conducting Paramedic and EMT training for all SVFD Paramedics and EMT’s, with the focus on infant/pediatric choking and CPR. Training includes use of the Handtevy mobile app as well as SVFD’s new advanced simulation training mannequin and new iSimulate training Zoll

cardiac monitor.

Unlike in adults, cardiac arrest is rare in children. Every year, 2,000 children of all ages in the United States die from cardiac arrest. Last year, (2022) SVFD responded to 9 cardiac arrest calls here locally involving children between the ages of 0-12. Most cardiac arrests in children begin with a foreign object in an airway or a blocked airway.

Early and effective high-quality CPR can double or triple the chance of survival in both adults and children. It is important for parents to know the signs of distress, so they provide immediate CPR while 911 is called.

February 22, 2023:

Spokane Valley, WA - The Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) is currently installing a new alerting system in all ten of the fire stations across our department.

The Phoenix G2 is a new, state of the art automated dispatch system that includes lights, speakers, reader boards and monitors displaying information throughout each fire station.

The new system will share information with SVFD crews faster and more accurately, reducing response times to each incident by an estimated 15 seconds to 1 minute.

The Phoenix G2 also has lights and speakers that gradually increase in volume and intensity, reducing the impact on Firefighters over their careers.

“This new system will make a significant difference in the long run, by cutting call response times, while addressing the safety of our most important resource, our firefighters.” – Division Chief Jeff Bordwell – Spokane Valley Fire Department

Spokane Valley Fire is only the second fire department in Washington to integrate this new system. Installation is schedules to be completed by March.

Major Incidents:

Car Collision – February 21, 2023

– E Country Vista Dr/N Legacy Ridge Dr

SVFD responded to a possible car collision and a vehicle smoking

without any occupants. Crews found a car in a ditch and no occupants in the area.

Alarm System – February 25, 2023 – 24900 block of E Hawkstone Loop

SVFD Crews responded to a call for a building smoke pull station alarming. Crews investigated the area and found a broken sprinkler. Maintenance was called and reported on scene to the location of the broken sprinkler. A fire watch was put in place and crews returned in service.

CC – Call Cancelled – February 26, 2023 – 23100 block of E Mission Ave

SVFD was dispatched to a fire alarm activation. The SO also arrived on scene and spoke to staff. It turned out to be a false alarm. A resident had lit a candle and there was no fire hazard present.

Alarm System – February 28,1300 block of N Liberty Lake Rd

SVFD crews responded to a commercial fire alarm at Safeway. Crews investigated the alarm and established a fire watch.

Student of the Month Citizen of the Month

In the land of Falcons, Brock Brito soars. The senior maintains a 4.0 grade point average and has been named valedictorian of the inaugural graduating senior class at Ridgeline High School in Liberty Lake. “It’s definitely an incredible experience being able to start a completely new school culture,” Brock said. A member of Ridgeline’s Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble and the Ridgeline Regiment Marching Band, Brock is also on the varsity tennis team and was named Ridgeline’s Male Greater Spokane League Spring Student Athlete in 2022. Brock is a member of the Congressional Youth Advisory Committee for Washington’s 5th District and is a 2022 graduate of Youth Leadership Spokane. Brock is a 2023 Spokane Scholar for Social Studies and recently won the 3A state championship with the Ridgeline Knowledge Bowl team. He plans to study physics at Georgia Tech this fall.

Athlete of the Month

Not many high school gymnasts can say they qualified for state in four events – uneven bars, floor exercise, vault and balance beam. Kyley Schneckloth is one who can. The Central Valley senior placed 21st in the all-around standings at the State 4A Gymnastics Competition in late February at Sammamish High School, vaulting the Bears to a sixthplace team finish. Schneckloth was part of a CV squad that was runnerup to Mead in the Greater Spokane League regular season and placed fourth at regionals. The senior was named to the All GSL First Team in floor exercise. She is part of the Running Start program at Spokane Community College and maintains a 3.93 grade point average. Schneckloth has been part of the CV cheerleading squad for the past two years. She will begin attending Grand Canyon University in the fall.

Just over 15 years ago, Jessica Kovac went shopping at the Albertson’s in Liberty Lake for sack lunches. The grocery trip turned into a nonprofit outreach cause called Blessings Under the Bridge that received an Agora Award for Best Small Nonprofit and has been featured in People magazine, on the Lifetime Channel and the Rachel Ray Show. When she started delivering food to people in downtown Spokane experiencing homelessness, Kovac was working at Hay J’s Bistro in Liberty Lake. Support from the community served as a springboard for the cause. “I wanted it to be special,” Kovac said of the effort. Kovac recently transformed her nonprofit into Blessings Beyond the Bridge that provides meals at the Trent Resource and Assistance Center and offers programs like the first biometric fingerprint locker system and Reach and Revive, helping people restore their identity.

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About and for Liberty Lake seniors

Liberty Lake honors Veterans with banners

The weather is finally warming up in the Inland Northwest, and Memorial Day is just around the corner; with it comes family get togethers, BBQs, campfires, and a time to enjoy the great outdoors. The start to the summer has long been seen as Memorial Day, a holiday that has its roots in the aftermath of the American Civil War, when communities across the country began holding commemorations for the soldiers who had died in the conflict.

In 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order designating May 30th as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. This day became known as Decoration Day and was later renamed Memorial Day.

Today we recognize Memorial Day to pay tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country; it is a reminder of the cost of freedom and the sacrifices that have been made to secure and defend it. Observing Memorial Day also provides an opportunity to reflect on the values of service, duty, and sacrifice that are integral to the United States Armed Forces and to honor those who have served and continue to serve.

Don Walker, the founder and chairman of the Hometown Heroes committee and Liberty Lake resident, has created a lasting driveby memorial for the residents and visitors of Liberty Lake. Hometown Heroes is a non-profit that organizes banners of veterans and service men and women to be placed on lampposts lining the main stretch of Appleway Blvd.

While Don was visiting a grandson in Omaha, NE, he drove through a suburb called Gretna and could not help but see the banners with veterans adorning them with a flag hanging alongside them. After

returning home to Liberty Lake, he reached out to the city council in Gretna for information on how the process of creating, hanging, and selecting recipients is accomplished.

Don reached out to the Liberty Lake Rotary group since they frequently work with local veterans and put together a presentation for the city council in hopes that they could work towards having a similar display in Liberty Lake.

After presenting to the Liberty Lake city council, both the city and Avista Corp. who owns the lampposts, joined the project to help raise banners alongside Appleway Blvd honoring local veterans, local residents’ family members both active duty and retired, posthumous recognitions, killed-in-action servicemembers, POWs, and most other service personal.

2022 was the first year that the banners and flags were displayed in Liberty Lake. The idea was to begin this year, but the with Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall display making its way to Liberty Lake in the fall of 2022, a small selection of

service members were displayed since members who had served in Vietnam where both being honored on a banner lining the street, and having their name on the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall. Avista Corp. played an important part in putting up all the banners quickly so that they were up just in time for the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall.

The process to select which service member is displayed on a banner goes through an application process. The application is available through Hometownheros.com, where an application can be printed, completed, and sent back in with a sponsorship fee to the committee. Potential sponsors can visit city hall and retrieve a hard copy of the application. Once an honoree has been selected, their flag will be displayed for two years, after which time the sponsors of the application will receive the banner of their service member.

Applications are being accepted now through April 7th and once closed the Liberty Lake Hometown Heroes committee will begin the

selection process.

Once the selection process is complete, the banners will be installed before Memorial Day on Monday May 30th and will remain on display for proud residents to view until after the holiday formally recognizing veterans, Veterans Day, in November.

Don, who served in the Army in the early 70’s, had a banner up last fall and will again this spring. Alongside Don’s banner is his brother’s banner, who served and gave his life during the Vietnam war. “My brother Rich was in Vietnam. He was my older brother. He was killed in Vietnam. So that inspires all of this. He was a Silver Star winner and he had a large impact on both my life and my families lives. He was part of the inspiration and the continuing commitment.”

In addition to Don’s work on the Liberty Lake Hometown Heroes committee, he is part of a team that serves and helps connect veterans to needed services. Veterans Help Net is an organization that provides support to current and retired service members and veterans. They help get servicemembers connected to GI Bill support, provide resources for veterans dealing with medical issues that could have been caused by serving a tour during wars the United States participated in and provide information on pensions that might be available to qualifying individuals.

“When we were putting the banners up, six-man crews came out from Avista with big trucks, we went into Yokes to buy them all lunch and one of the daughters of a banner recipient came up to us and gave us hugs crying. All these people are going to be seeing their family members on the banner and knowing that we put up flags with every one, was just very impactful.”

To kick off the banner raising, a special event will be held at Ridgeline High School on Saturday, May 20 at 10am. Each honoree will be introduced or presented and families and/or sponsors will be given a chance to take pictures with the banners. This event is open to the public and free of charge.

Find out more information by visiting their website at hometownheros.com, and stay up to date on recent activity by following their face book page, Hometown Heroes.

• APRIL 2023 18 The Splash Brought to you by
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Contributed photo Service crews hanging and displaying banners in the fall of 2022. Kick off for the banner raising will be May 20, 2023.










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U-Hi state champions pace winter sports honor roll

When the 2022-23 wrestling season began, University High senior Q’veli Quintanilla had a goal of competing at Mat Classic in Tacoma with his younger brother and Titan teammate Czar.

Then Q’veli tore his ACL in December and the road to state become muddled at best.

U-Hi coach Ryan Montang saw the bond between the brothers early in the season when Q’veli and Czar – a freshman – both captured gold at the prestigious Tri-State tournament in Coeur d’Alene.

“It really first shone through there,” Montang said. “They knew each other’s goals and were really cheering for each other.”

After the injury, Q’vali tackled rehabilitation until the district tournament with an eye toward state.

“It was a challenging season,” he said. “I debated not wrestling at state but I knew I wouldn’t have this opportunity again. I just wanted to compete one last time, especially with my little brother.”

Q’vali won his first district match and took an injury default for the rest of the bracket. He advanced to state with a strategy of “getting matches done as quickly as possible.”

“I don’t think many wrestlers could have done what he did,” said Montang. “It’s just a testament to how good he is.”

Q’vali brought an impressive resume to Tacoma that included state titles his freshman and junior year as well as two national

championships. Only a pandemic his sophomore season prevented a chance at four consecutive firstplace medals. He is also a threetime All GSL Wrestler of the Year.

Czar also moved on to state with a perfect record in the GSL like his brother. Being a first-year wrestler in the high school arena never presented a hurdle for the confident freshman.

“Even last summer, I had confidence going into this season,” Czar said.

The championship pedigree runs in the Quintanilla family. Czar and Q’veli’s older brothers Izaec and Clai were elite wrestlers at North Central High before competing at the University of Wisconsin and Fresno State, respectively.

Q’veli started his prep career at Gonzaga Prep, then transferred to U-Hi as a junior.

“I’d say University High School changed me into a better person,” he said.

In Tacoma, the Quintanilla brothers soared to the top of the podium. Czar won state at 106 pounds while Q’vali overcame his knee injury to capture first at 145.

“After winning state I went right to my brother and family,” Czar said. “It’s probably the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Q’veli said seeing his brother secure a state title “ranked right up there with winning nationals twice.”

Sponsor ed By: www.hubsportscenter.org
Contributed photos
See CHAMPIONS, Page 24
Czar Quintanilla, a freshman at University High School, won state at 106 pounds last month. His brother, Q’veli Quintanilla, a U-Hi senior captured first at 145 pounds despite wrestling with a torn ACL.
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Continued from page 21

“The biggest thing for me was getting Czar to that point of knowing he could win state,” Q’veli said.

Q’Veli, who is part of the Advanced Athlete program that produces many Team USA Olympic athletes, had surgery on his knee in late March. He will

continue his wrestling career at Utah Valley State.

The following is a roundup of outstanding achievements among Greater Spokane Valley athletes and teams during the 2022-23 winter sports season:

Central Valley

Girls’ basketball – Autumn Agnew, senior – All GSL 3A/4A First Team; Eden Sander,

Robert Gamble

4/24/1927 - 12/27/2022

Robert Gamble, of Liberty Lake, passed away peacefully on December 27th surrounded by his family. He was 95 years old. Bob was born on April 24th, 1927 to George and Maree Gamble in Rainier Oregon. Bob served in the US Navy at the end of WWII, bringing GI’s home from the Asian Pacific. Bob met the love of his life, Barbara, while working in Portland Oregon. They were married for 65 years. He and Barbara moved to Liberty Lake in 1962 and built their family home where they lived for 45 years. Bob and Barbara were active in Liberty Lake Community Church while raising their three children. Bob worked as the

General Manager for Boise Cascade Corrugated Container division in Spokane Valley for 30 years. After retirement from Boise Cascade, Bob found great pleasure working parttime at the Plant Farm, Ace Hardware, and Ziggy’s. Bob was also active in the Liberty Lake community. Giving back to his community was very important to him. He was elected to and served as the sewer commissioner for 6 years. He volunteered his time to many charitable organizations including Spokane Corps of Retired Executives, Friends of Pavilion Park, Liberty Lake Library, Meals on Wheels and was a member of Kiwanis for many years. He spent much of his free time gardening, traveling, and visiting his children and grandchildren.

Everyone who knew Bob knew how devoted he was to his wife and family. Bob touched many lives in the Liberty Lake community. Bob is survived by his children Anne McTee (Strohm), Celia Lindor (Karl), and John Gamble (Sarah), Eight Grandchildren and six Great Grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins and an abundance of friends. We will miss him more than words can say.

Celebration of Life service for Bob will be 1:00pm April 15th at Liberty Lake Church, 704 S Gary Rd, Liberty Lake, WA. Contributions in memory of Bob can be made to Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels, Liberty Lake Library, or Liberty Lake Kiwanis. See pictures, share your memories of Bob or RSVP at https://everloved.com/life-of/george-robert-gamble/

Help protect our lake

sophomore – First Team

Boys’ basketball – Daniel Crowley, senior – All GSL Honorable Mention

Gymnastics – Sixth in 4A state team competition; Mikah Baggot, senior – All GSL First Team, balance beam, Second Team, all-around, floor exercise; Kyley Schneckloth, senior – First Team, floor exercise; Kylie Morias, sophomore – Second Team, uneven bars; Schneckcloth, Baggot and Makenzie Moll (state qualifiers)

Wrestling – Blaine Beard, junior – All GSL First Team (fourth at state); Bayden Beard, sophomore – aFirst Team (seventh at state); Danner Smith, junior – First Team (seventh at state)

East Valley

Boys’ basketball – Luke Holecek, senior – All GSL 2A First Team; Coleton Hansen, senior – Second Team

Wrestling – Orlando Morales, senior – GSL 2A Wrestler of the Year (seventh at state); Devin Pierce, junior – First Team (third place at state); Alonzo Vargas, senior – First Team (fifth at state); Tyler Conrath, senior – Second Team; Owen Spendlove, senior –Second Team


Girls’ basketball – Second at District; Sixth at 1A State; Academic 1A State Champions; Jaycee Goldsmith – First Team All Northeast 1A League; Stephanie Chadduck – All League Second Team; Taylee Phelps – All League Second Team and Defensive Player of the Year

Boys’ basketball – Northeast 1A League, District Champions and 1A State Qualifiers; Boen Phelps –All League First Team and MVP; Gabe Schulhauser – All League First Team; Tanner Goldsmith – All League Second Team

Wrestling – Chase Smith – All League First Team, District and Regional Champion, Third at State; Jonah Orndorff and Hunter Hawk – State Qualifiers


Boys’ Wrestling – Tyson Ramsey, junior – 3A/4A All-GSL First Team (third at state)

Girls’ Wrestling -- Hailee Argaw, freshman, All-GSL First

Team Gymnastics – 3A Academic State Champions; Bella DeLaRosa, junior, First Team vault, First Team balance beam, Second Team all-around; Julianne Stevenson, sophomore, First Team balance beam


Girls’ basketball – Elianna Ramirez, senior – All GSL 3A/4A First Team; Julianna Jeross, junior –All GSL Honorable Mention Boys basketball – Tyler Nelson, senior – All GSL Second Team; Shane Skidmore, junior – Second Team; Gabe Heimbigner, junior –Honorable Mention

Boys’ Wrestling – Fifth in 3A state competition; Q’veli Quintanilla, senior – All GSL 3A/4A Co-Wrestler of the Year (first at state); Czar Quintanilla, freshman – First Team (first at state); Samuel Thomas, sophomore (second at state) – First Team; Cooley Conrad, junior – First Team; Amadis Sans, sophomore – Second Team (seventh at state); Taylor Daines, junior – Second Team (fifth at state); Xzavier Elgee Sanders, senior – Second Team; Nicholas Alexander, senior – Second Team (seventh at state)

Girls Wrestling – Libby Roberts, sophomore – All GSL 3A/4A Wrestler of the Year (first at state); Olivia Vignere, sophomore – First Team

Gymnastics – Maya Meeks, senior – First Team uneven bars; Isabella Lefler, junior – Second Team vault; Michelle Hess – 3A/4A GSL Assistant Coach of the Year West Valley

Girls’ basketball – Chloe Deharo, junior – GSL 2A Player of the Year

Boys’ basketball – Second place in 2A GSL, state qualifier; Ben Fried, junior – All GSL 2A First Team; Grady Walker, junior – First Team; Ryan Schroder, senior –Second Team; Jay Humphrey – 2A GSL Coach of the Year

Wrestling – Logan Utecht, junior – All GSL First Team (second at state); Andrew Royston, sophomore – First Team; Logan Leeson, freshman – First Team Gymnastics – Brenna Vasicek, sophomore – First Team vault (state qualifier)

• APRIL 2023 24 The Splash Please call 922-5443 and ask for the Lake Manager www.libertylake.org
 Shoreline and/or Stormwater Permit(s) may be required for your project. ere are regulations governing development activities across the entire Liberty Lake watershed. Shoreline* • Landscaping • Dock/Boat lifts • Modi cation of any existing vegetation • Anything within 50 ft. of OHWM Stormwater* • Landscaping • Paving/Brick work • Additions • Outbuildings *including, but not limited to

Calling All Local Graduates

The Splash APRIL 2023 • 25 We are dedicated to equipping and encouraging homeschooling families in Washington and Idaho. We accomplish this in a number of ways; • For students we have classes, field trips, special events, tutoring, and hands-on learning. • For parents we have workshops, a curriculum store, coffee shop, classes. • For families we have community. NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS Email hi@achievetodayhrc.com to schedule a tour! We are found at 22425 E Appleway Ave, Liberty Lake, WA 99019, Door 13 www.achievetodayhrc.com Achieve Today Homeschool Resource Center YOUR LOCAL ROOFER Free Estimates 509-838-8633 www.spokaneroofing.com Protecting what matters most. No attorney-client relationship is created by this ad, or your use of this ad. Neither your receipt of information from this ad, nor your use of this ad to contact Tate Law Offices, PLLC (hereinafter “the Firm”) or one of its lawyers creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the Firm. You will become a client of the Firm only if you sign an engagement agreement setting forth the scope of the Firm’s engagement, the fee arrangement, and other relevant matters. As a matter of policy, the Firm does not accept a new client without first investigating for possible conflicts of interests and obtaining a signed engagement letter. (509) 994-1599 • www.tate-lawoffices.com 23403 E Mission Ave, Suite 103, Liberty Lake, WA 99019 • Estate Planning • Probate and Trust Administration • Long-Term Care Planning • Free Initial Consultation
The Splash is featuring Liberty Lake high school graduates in the June issue. This invitation extends to all graduating seniors who live in the community, regardless of where they attend high school. In order to participate, simply submit a photo with the following information to danica@libertylakesplash.com: Graduate’s name, high school, parents’ names and plans after graduation Information must be received by Monday, May 15th. Contact 509-242-7752 or danica@libertylakesplash.com with any questions.

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EDITOR/PUBLISHER Ben Wick ben@libertylakesplash.com

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Nina Culver, Craig Howard, Ashley Humbird, Ross Schneidmiller,

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Announcements, obituaries, letters to the editor and story ideas are encouraged. Submit them in writing to editor@libertylakesplash.com. Submissions should be received by the 15th of the month for best chance of publication in the following month’s Splash.


Liberty Lake residents receive a complimentary copy each month. Subscriptions for U.S. postal addresses outside of the 99019 ZIP code cost $12 for 12 issues. Send a check and subscription address to P.O. Box 363, Liberty Lake, WA 99019. Subscriptions must be received by the 15th of the month in order for the subscription to begin with the issue printed the end of that month.

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Of note: This thank you message was produced by The Splash’s advertising team, which works its tail off on behalf of partner businesses, helping them share their messages through advertisements. This is an independent function from The Splash’s editorial team, which has its own evaluation process to determine the community news stories and features it pursues. For more information about a win-win partnership that expertly markets your business to thousands of readers (while making this home-grown community newspaper possible), email advertise@libertylakesplash.com. With story ideas, contact editor@libertylakesplash.com.

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All rights reserved. All contents of The Splash may not be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.

• APRIL 2023 26 The Splash
LIBERTY LAKE THE COMMUNITY NEWSMAGAZINE Achieve Today Homeschool 25 Affordable Arborist 26 Amaculate Housekeeping 12 Bake My Day 20 Banner Furnace & Fuel 20 Citizens for CVSD 19 City of Liberty Lake 7, Children’s Choice Pediatric Dentistry17 Columbia Basin Exteriors 3 Eagle Rock Storage 14 Elevations 4 Glacier Roofing and Exteriors 28 Green Lightning 20 Greenstone 6 HUB Sports Center 21 Inland Empire Utility CC 26 John L Scott - Pam Fredrick 22 Liberty Lake EyeCare Center 4 Liberty Lake Family Dentistry 5 Liberty Lake Lions Club 5 Liberty Lake Sewer & Water District24 Liberty Lake Smile Source 22 Lilac Family Eyecare North Idaho Exteriors 13 Pentagon 19 Saltese Construction 22 Simonds Dental Group 28 Spokane Roofing 25 Spokane Valley United Methodist 19 Spokane Valley Villa’s 26 Tate Law Office 25
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City buys Community Engagement Platform

Liberty Lake residents can expect to see the city asking them more questions in the future on everything from what movies they’d like to see in Pavillion Park to what the city’s budgeting priorities should be.

The City Council decided it wanted more community input on various issues and created the Community Engagement Commission in September 2021. The advisory committee members were to study the best methods to actively engage residents, whether through new technology or other methods.

Liberty Lake city administrator Mark McAvoy said the council wants to better understand how policy decisions are impacting the community. “The city council, by creating the Community Engagement Commission, has indicated its desire to have a more robust engagement

with the community,” he said. “That’s not unusual. This is something the council has prioritized.”

The commission recently recommended that the city sign a contract with ZenCity for a new community engagement platform. ZenCity bills itself as an all-in-one community engagement platform and routinely contracts with cities, counties, state agencies and law enforcement agencies.

ZenCity has a cloud based service that the city can use to reach out on a variety of topics, McAvoy said. “That platform will allow us to do that with greater efficiency and effectiveness,” he said. “That engagement could have a variety of pieces across the timeline.”

The work ZenCity will help with is not just about asking people to fill out surveys, McAvoy said, though surveys are part of it. “It’s more than a survey tool,” he said. “It’s more of a managed engagement tool.”

The goal is to be able to ask questions and get feedback as part of an ongoing conversation. “It’s a more fully fledged pipeline for back and forth communication,” he said.

The citizens, as taxpayers, are the city’s investors and as such they need to be able to weigh in as much as

possible, McAvoy said. “At the end of the day, the city is an expression of the community,” he said.

City councilman Tom Sahlberg said he was skeptical of the idea at first, but then was convinced that it could benefit the city after a presentation was given to the council on how ZenCity works. “It looked good to me,” he said.

Sahlberg said the city has long worked to connect with all its residents. Efforts have included mailers, inserts in the Liberty Lake Splash, distributing information at the Farmer’s Market and social media, which Sahlberg called “iffy.” “We have not had a full community dialogue for a long time,” he said.

"The real issue is to get the community engagement,” he said of ZenCity’s software. “It presents us with different platforms.”

The contract the city signed is for two years at $12,000 a year, McAvoy said. The contract has already taken effect and city staff is working with ZenCity representatives to configure what the city wants to do. The first communications to residents should go out within the next few weeks. “We’re targeting a mid-April launch,” he said.

The city plans to distribute

information about the ZenCity platform wherever it can, including in city emails, social media sites and the Farmer’s Market, once it opens for the season. There are also plans to put a kiosk at the Farmer’s Market where people can give feedback on city issues.

“It’s going to look like a multifaceted approach,” McAvoy said. “Every channel that we have available we will be promoting this. There’s all kinds of different methods we are going to use to drive people to this.”

Sahlberg said he’s looking forward to what ZenCity can do. “If we can reach people and ZenCity can help us, then it will be money well spent,” he said. “Everyone should be a part of the process and everyone should have a voice.”

There are currently vacancies on the Community Engagement Commission that city residents can apply for if they are interested in helping the city move forward with engaging with residents. The commission meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. The meetings are also streamed on Zoom.

Visit www.libertylakewa. gov/682/community-engagementcommission for more details.

The Splash APRIL 2023 • 27 ON THAT NOTE
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• APRIL 2023 28 The Splash
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