2023 October Current

Page 1



Frontier Man–

U-Hi grad Hawkins forges unique career

They have become nearly as common in the Inland Northwest as bluebonnets in Texas or blackberry bushes in suburban Seattle – blue and white Hawkins Edwards signs cropping up around every corner.

The placards speak to a company in Hawkins Edwards, Inc. that has become a regional trendsetter in commercial real estate – or as cofounder Paul Hawkins has been known to say, “A 40-year overnight success story.” Each sign sits on property that the business either owns or has an interest in.

The inventory of Hawkins Edwards’ transactions reads like a who’s who of retail and industrial properties – over 50 Walmarts, the Caterpillar and Amazon sites on the West Plains, the Fred Meyer on Sullivan in Spokane Valley, the Shadle Shopping Center and many more. Hawkins and his business partner, Dick Edwards, cut their teeth at James S. Black – now NAI Black – for a decade before spinning off and forming their own firm. Hawkins tackled the retail side while Edwards specialized in industrial deals.

“You have to be lucky and you have to be able to survive some down times,” said Hawkins, an attorney who gravitated toward land use law after seeing the upside of selling two apartment units as a student at University of Puget Sound Law School.

Hawkins will tell you his big break – the company’s big break – happened when Walmart decided it was time to expand to Washington state and reached out to Hawkins Edwards in the early 1990s. It was the last of 50 states without a Walmart footprint. John Grimes, manager of real estate for Walmart, met with Hawkins and introduced him to Rob Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, as sites were being considered for the inaugural store.

“John Grimes explained who I was in a single compound sentence,” Hawkins recalls. “He said, ‘Here is Paul who has a law degree, an accounting degree, a CPA certificate and he is our licensed broker in Washington.’ That one sentence was the reason why I was hired.”

With the help of Hawkins Edwards, Walmart opened its first Washington store in Omak in 1993. Sites in Aberdeen, Colville, Moses Lake and Kennewick followed. There are now 64 sites throughout the state, employing over 20,000 people.

These days, Hawkins has turned much of the day-to-day responsibilities over to his son, Ben. On the other side, Edwards has done much the same, passing substantial reins to his son, Kevin.

“I’m still not completely retired,” Hawkins said. “I’m still involved in the critical decisions.”

Hawkins grew up a child of the 1950s in the Chester Hills neighborhood of Spokane Valley. He attended University Elementary and Bowdish Junior High before establishing himself as a standout student-athlete at U-Hi. He was a varsity middle linebacker and right guard in football where he earned second team All Border League honors as a senior. In wrestling, he excelled on varsity and was part of a local select team that took on a traveling All-Star squad from Japan.

“We never played the city schools like Gonzaga Prep or Ferris in football,” Hawkins recalls. “The old Border League was U-Hi, Mead, CV, West Valley, East Valley, Pullman and Cheney.”

Hawkins’ parents, Gordon and Gloria, had roots in Southern California where both attended UCLA. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Gordon latched

on as an engineer with Ingersoll Rand. When the company asked if he would move back east, he passed and signed with Rainway Manufacturing which had its headquarters on Fourth and Conklin, near Central Valley High.

“I think they both realized it was better than living in the big city,” Hawkins said.

After graduating from U-Hi in 1972, Hawkins headed to Brigham Young University. He studied for a year in Provo before accepting a call to serve a two-year mission in Korea for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. Upon returning to BYU, Hawkins completed his degree in accounting and received his diploma in 1977. Six months before wrapping up his undergraduate studies, Hawkins met his future wife, Ann. The two were married that August.

Hawkins’ first job out of college was with IBM in the Bay Area. He worked in the General Products Division for a year before deciding to enroll in law school.

“Perry Mason was my hero,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins’ background in law –and the accompanying knowledge of the land use process and nuances of zoning and permitting – has served him and the company well over the years. Under the banner of commercial brokerage and property management, the firm is licensed in Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota.

“It really was my ticket,” Hawkins said.

Despite the slew of professional prosperity, family and faith remain the pillars in Hawkins’ life. Paul and Ann have been married for 46 years and are parents of seven children. In 2017, the couple embarked on an 18-month mission for their church in Australia.

Last year, Hawkins attended his 50th high school reunion, reconnecting with fellow graduates of U-Hi’s 1977 class. The former linebacker returned with strands of gray around his temples but sporting the same sincere smile that has been his calling card in business and throughout a lifetime of service.

• OCTOBER 2023 2 The Current
Photo by Craig Howard Paul Hawkins, a 1972 graduate of University High School, is the founding copartner of Hawkins Edwards, Inc., one of the most successful commercial real estate companies in the region. Hawkins is pictured in front of the old U-Hi campus in Spokane Valley, now Valley Christian School.
See HAWKINS, Page 4
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Continued from page 2

“It was fun to be back,” Hawkins said.

Q: You were an accomplished student-athlete at U-Hi. When you look back on your time in high school, how did it prepare you for your personal and professional journey?

A: High school and family created the base for the rest of my life. Friendships and activities gave me opportunities to understand myself and develop talents that would prove invaluable later in life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences and associations. I learned more through those experiences than I ever did in the formal classroom.

Q: I’m guessing you followed some of the land use discussions since Spokane Valley incorporated in 2003, including the much-debated Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan. What is your opinion of the way development has transpired over the last two decades in the area you once

A: Development: growth and expansion are inevitable. Some things turn out well, others not so well. The market decides what works and what doesn’t work. Trying to guide the market is not generally a good planning tool. The market should guide development. The retail real estate market is changing because retail is changing. When I was an undergraduate, Amazon and Microsoft did not exist. Amazon has created a paradigm shift in retail. Markets and retailers that don’t understand that fact, do it at their peril.

Q: As the dad of seven kids, you undoubtedly had discussions with your children about navigating college and career paths. What were those conversations like for you at that age with your parents and how did you eventually decide to pursue

A: My dad asked me upon graduation from high school what I wanted to do in life. I said that I wanted to own my own business. He said then when you go to college study accounting. It is the language of business. I went to law school to develop a skill set that would help me in business. I would tell all graduates – learn how to read, write and communicate with others.

Q: Land use may not be the most recognizable area of law but, for you, it seemed like an opportunistic fit

with a dash of serendipity. Do you ever wonder how things would have been different had you opted for a different branch of law?

A: All the time. However my skill set upon graduation did not allow me to dream about other options. I was a B-student in high school, an A-student in college and a C-student in law school. I was never going to be anyone’s attorney. My skills were best used in business, real estate looking for real estate projects.

Q: What did taking two years out of your life to serve a mission for your church teach you about yourself and life in general?

A: It taught me everything! It taught me that I could do hard things, go to a foreign country, learn a new language and communicate with others. It taught what it meant to work hard. It developed in me a greater love of family and country. It also defined for me what I believe. It prepared me for marriage and family. It matured me.

Q: How did that decade or so at James S. Black influence the ultimate direction of your career?

A: It gave me a skill set in commercial real estate, market knowledge and transactional understanding necessary to compete in the commercial and industrial real estate markets.

Q: The Hawkins Edwards brand has become a recognizable one over the years. What do you hope people think of when they consider your company and its reputation?

A: Integrity and competence.

Q: Finally, I know Vince Lombardi is a hero of yours. The late Hall of Fame coach was known for his unique ability to motivate and inspire his team, as you well know. Let’s say you are asked to speak to a group of recent law school graduates as they embark on their careers. What would your Lombardi-esque pep talk consist of?

A: Championships are really developed in the off-season through preparation. Play to your strengths. Ignore the chatter. Football is about execution, blocking and tackling. Business is no different. Determine the basics and do them well. As Bill Belichick has said, “Do your job, well!” Never compromise your integrity. That is all you really have to offer to others. Work for 40 years. In the end, you’ll be a 40-year overnight success. In the end – be good, work hard and have fun!

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Spokane Valley council establishes interim Homeless and Housing Task Force

Current correspondent

Spokane Valley continued to move forward in its efforts addressing homelessness with the creation of an Interim Homeless and Housing Task Force at the City Council’s Sept. 12. And while the structure of the committee presented no issues, several of the individuals selected by city staff to fill committee seats did.

The council approved a resolution at its July 25 meeting announcing its “intention and commitment” to start and operate a local homeless housing program under the state’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Act. The move enabled the city to appropriate its share — estimated at $640,000 — of Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) monies collected on its behalf by Spokane County to be used to help fund the homeless and housing program, with the state-required caveat that it launches a homeless and housing task force to develop a plan for operating the program.

The resolution passed unanimously Sept. 12 establishing the task force. The task force will be composed of seven members consisting of one each representatives from the Spokane Valley City Council, Spokane County, local businesses, schools, Spokane Housing Authority and two with lived homeless experience.

The interim task force was scheduled to begin its work with a Sept. 29 meeting. It is to produce recommendations for adopting a five-year plan for use in 2024, and recommendations for composition of a permanent homeless and housing task force.

The sticking point came with the next measure, a motion consideration naming specific individuals to the interim task force. Nominated were Mayor Pam Haley, Spokane Valley City Council, Spokane County

representative to be either George Dahl, Housing & Community Development Administrator or Chris McKinney, Homeless Programs Manager; Lance Beck, Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce representing businesses, Central Valley School District Superintendent John Parker representing schools and Arielle Anderson, Spokane Housing Authority Director of Housing and Assistance Programs as housing authority representative.

While those individuals didn’t create any concerns, the two lived experience representatives, Daniel Aga and Kody Jerred, did. According to information presented by city services administrator Gloria Mantz, Aga lives in Post Falls, Idaho, has personal experience with homelessness and works with agencies in Greenacres and downtown Spokane.

No information about where Jerred lives was presented, but Mantz said he manages one of Reclaim Project’s transitional housing facilities in Spokane and also has personal experiences with homelessness.

The fact neither of these two individuals has strong ties, if any, to Spokane Valley raised a red flag with Councilman Ben Wick, who felt there needed to be more local affiliation.

“Is it imperative those two last positions be filled tonight?” Wick asked.

Mantz said the two positions are requirements from the Department of Commerce, and she would have to check and see if the committee could begin meeting without them filled.

“Timing is of the essence in having to form this interim task force so quickly,” she added.

Wick said he would leave it up to his council colleagues on approving the appointments.

In public comments, Spokane Valley resident John Harding agreed with Wick and expressed disappointment there were no seats on the interim task force representing city residents. He felt at least 2-3 seats should be filled by residents as they would be the “ultimate deciders” on future homeless and housing efforts.

The council approved the recommendations 5-1, with Wick voting no and Councilwoman Brandi Peetz not in attendance with an excused absence.

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2023 August Malicious Mischief

The maps provided depict where citizens have reported Vehicle Thefts, Burglaries, Malicious Mischief and Thefts. The Spokane Valley Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s office analyze this data to determine high crime areas and where to allocate resources. Citizens who have been a victim of crime are encouraged to call 911, if the crime is in progress, or Crime Check at 4562233, if not in progress, to report a crime.

2023 August Theft Hotspots


The Benefits of Installing Security Cameras on Your Home

Deputy Chris Johnston, Crime Prevention Unit

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office/Spokane Valley Police Department

Not long ago, most homeowners likely believed that installing a security camera system on their home would be too costly, too complex, and difficult to operate. Now, however, advances in the technology of these systems have made them affordable. And, if someone like myself can set up and operate one of these systems, anybody can!

CCTV, or “closed-circuit television” systems, are a fantastic way to protect your home. Let’s discuss some of the many benefits of having a CCTV system installed as a form of home security:

1. Visible video cameras are an excellent deterrent! Bad guys, particularly burglars who are looking for a home to enter, just might think twice about breaking into your house if they believe they will be recorded doing so. In this way, the presence of cameras may help prevent you from becoming the victim of a crime. Which leads me into the next benefit…

2. Recording creates evidence! If a burglary, theft, or some other type of crime should occur, law enforcement can often use the video recording from the system to identify, and even prosecute, the perpetrator. The CCTV system that I have on my home helped me do exactly that, on more than one occasion!

3. The ability to check up on the kids or elderly family members in real time. It’s always nice to have another set of eyes on your children as well as your aging relatives when they are home alone. Adding remote video will allow you to log in and check up on them from your office computer, tablet, or smart phone. Indoor cameras can also be used to keep an eye on younger kids and their babysitters.

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4. Checking up on your pets. Ever wonder what mischief your furry friends are getting into when you’re away? Worried about an older pet that might need special attention? With a home security camera, you can ensure that your four-legged loved ones are safe and sound. And, not gnawing through the leather on your new sofa!

5. Saving money on homeowners insurance. Most major insurers will offer lower premiums if you choose to protect your property with a CCTV system. If you piggyback an existing security system with CCTV, such an advanced system could net up to a 15% discount on rates. This, of course, depends on many other factors, but I have been informed that such discounts do exist.

So, what to do now? It’s time to do your homework, and begin shopping! It’s important to first ascertain what your specific needs are, and what your budget will allow. Most modern systems are digital, so there are no pesky cassette tapes to replace- the data that is recorded by the cameras is stored to a hard drive (or the cloud), just like your home computer. Some questions to ask yourself should include:

1. How many cameras do I need?

2. Do I need/want cameras indoors, outdoors, or both?

3. Do I want cameras that are activated by motion, or always on?

4. Do I want the ability to check the cameras remotely, as discussed above?

5. Should I use wired, or wireless cameras?

6. Is IR, or infrared technology important (this allows recording in dark conditions)?

7. Do I want audio monitoring as well, so I can hear what happened/ is happening?

There are other less expensive ways to achieve a little bit of video security, such as “doorbell” cameras, and even systems that have only one or two channels. Just remember, like anything else, you get what you pay for. I installed my system a few years ago, at a cost of roughly $2000. There are systems for $500, and there are systems for $20,000. Doorbell cameras can be had for around $150.

So, if you’ve been considering a CCTV system, now is a great time to do some research and see what’s available to help protect your home. Be safe, everyone!

2023 August Burglary Hotspots

Spokane Valley Districts

2023 August Vehicle Theft Hotspots


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Five-year tourism plan, permanent cross country course to help provide tourism dollars to Spokane Valley

The Spokane Valley City Council approved two resolutions they hope will bring more outside dollars into the local economy.

One of these measures can be summed up by the modification of a famous movie line: “If we build it, they will come.” The other might fit under a similar rephrasing: “If we promote it, hopefully they will come.”

Both measures were adopted at the City Council’s Sept. 19 meeting.

The latter measure authorizes a 15-month, $813,000 contract with 116 & West, a marketing and advertising firm with offices in Spokane, Boise, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon for a five-year Destination Marketing Strategic Plan, a Tourism Marketing Services Agreement and Tourism Brand Name and Tagline for Spokane Valley.

The Spokane Valley Tourism Promotion Area (TPA) Committee previously approved, and council authorized, a $44,045 contract with 116 & West in May to develop the plan after hearing presentations from three consultants. The firm presented a final draft of the plan to the committee on Aug. 17, and along with approval the committee agreed to a proposed scope and fee for the services implementing the plan through December 2024.

Representatives of 116 & West together with the city’s marketing and communications officer, Lesli Brassfield, presented the marketing plan to the council at its Sept. 12 meeting, receiving a consensus vote to bring it back with the contract for final approval on Sept. 19.

116 & West identified primary, secondary and tertiary target audiences who would consider traveling to Spokane Valley for a variety of reasons and subsequently provide tourism dollars to the economy. Primary audiences are families and people with children who would travel for leisure or youth sports events and people without children traveling for leisure. Secondary audiences consisted of influence/decision makers traveling for meeting and events planning

along sporting events/tournament directors.

The firm identified these audiences as traveling from Western and Central Washington, North Idaho, Western Montana and southern parts of Canada in British Columbia and Alberta. The plan provided implementation strategies for messages targeting these audiences about the attraction of visiting Spokane Valley and surrounding areas, along with a recommendation for a new brand name recognition for the city’s tourism campaign: “Discover The Valley,” with “Spokane Valley, WA” added as a tagline.

It was the latter, along with the selected audiences, that caused some consternation from council members Ben Wick and Brandi Peetz. Both said in comments that the city has struggled for years to be identified as “Spokane Valley” and not “The Valley,” noting there are several jurisdictions with the latter name.

Peetz said she has been approached by constituents who aren’t even fond of Spokane Valley, let alone The Valley, and questioned why there wasn’t more input from local residents not only

on the campaign name, but also on why they would frequent local tourism spots. 116 & West’s plan listed Spokane Valley residents as “tertiary” target audiences, but Peetz said they also pay into the local tourism economy.

Councilwoman Laura Padden also questioned the use of the social media platform Tik Tok as part of the implementation strategy, noting recent controversies over the platform and its ties to China. Brassfield said they would be using a number of media as the campaign progressed, and were mainly focused on Facebook and Instagram.

“I can foresee that we won’t have a need to use Tik Tok at this time,” she added.

Council approved the contract on a 5-2 vote, with Wick and Peetz voting no.

With regards to “building it,” council approved a request by the city’s Economic Development Department for $4.4 million from the Lodging Tax Facilities Fund to construct a permanent cross country course on property recently acquired on the north side of the Spokane River east of Flora Road. According to the staff report, $4.4 million is the fund’s total anticipated balance by the end of 2023.

The construction would be in

partnership with Spokane Sports, who was given a $300,000 contract with Spokane Valley in June for sports recruitment and marketing services in 2023. The 2-kilometer course would be built on 46.13 acres owned by the city and 15.98 acres next to it owned by Washington State Parks, and would serve youth, middle and high school, collegiate and post-collegiate athletes. Economic Development Director Mike Basinger said the course would be modeled after a similar one in Indianapolis, Indiana, and would have a fall 2025 target opening date.

Spokane Sports would recruit events to the site, with CEO Ashley Blake telling council there already is some interest. The city would seek additional funding for the balance of the $7 million estimated construction costs.

Peetz, while supportive of the use, noted the city purchased the acreage with the idea of a multi-use park in mind. Both she and Wick asked what other uses the park would have outside the five-month long cross country season, with Blake responding the park would have multiple hiking and walking trails as well as areas that could be utilized for other competitions such as cycle cross.

Council approved the request 6-1, with Wick voting no and saying he wasn’t comfortable with the speed of the request and would like to see more see more citizen input into the land’s usage.

• OCTOBER 2023 8 The Current NEWS
Photo by John McCallum The northwest portion of city property just east of Flora Road that is being proposed for construction of a permanent competition cross country course is shown above.

Council approves resolution for public hearing on setting up a transportation benefit district

Some view a transportation benefit district (TBD) as more taxation, while others view it as something helping jurisdictions meet their needed annual street preservation and maintenance obligations.

Whatever your view, Spokane Valley residents will get a chance to weigh in on the formation of a TBD as the City Council gave consensus at its Sept. 26 meeting to move a resolution to the Oct. 3 meeting setting up an Oct. 17 public hearing on the proposal.

In a presentation to council, city staff outlined the current necessities in keeping the city’s 1,025 total lane miles — which includes 127 center lane miles of arterials/collectors and 323 center lane miles of local access streets – properly serviced and functioning. Taken collectively, Spokane Valley’s roads could amount to an asset worth $500 million – $600 million.

“It is physically and materially our biggest investment,” Engineering Manager Adam Jackson said.

Right now, to sustain the city’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI), Spokane Valley’s Pavement Management Program should spend $16 million annually, $10 million on preservation — literally replacing asphalt and road beds — and $6 million on maintenance items to keep streets open and usable such as snow plows, signals, sidewalks and crack repair.

Currently, Spokane Valley spends $8 million on this work, money generated by its annual street wear fee. About $3 million comes out of the general fund, with the remaining $5 million shortfall resulting in needed work not getting done.

A TBD would allow the city to generate income to overcome this shortfall through taxes, fees and other funding measures. The district would be governed by the City Council.

City legal counsel Deanna Gregory said TBDs are popular in the state, with 110 cities and six counties establishing such districts. While original state law creating TBDs allowed for them to create debt, Gregory said only one TDB has done so.

Gregory added there is a very specific, state-required process to go through for setting up a TBD, including a public hearing and changes to the city’s municipal codes.

Councilman Tim Hattenburg expressed support for establishing a TDB, saying it had been talked about numerous times over the past several years and the public had been asking for action on keeping up with roadwork. Councilman Ben Wick also voiced support, saying he liked that money raised by the TBD was focused on specific purposes, but added residents needed to be clear the council was not running off and raising taxes.

“We’re not going to levy fees, taxes at maximum levels,” Wick said. “We’re just opening doors for all to have a conversation.”

His comments didn’t ease concerns of council members Laura Padden and Brandi Peetz. Padden noted costs of virtually all goods and services were going up and wages weren’t keeping pace.

“We need to take a hard look at resetting our priorities,” she said. “I’m a taxpayer and this is another tax increase.”

Peetz noted street work is being taken care of under the current funding situation, adding the deficit was more like $3 million –$4 million, not $8 million. She felt it was a discussion that required more time.

“What’s the rush?” Peetz asked. “If we’re only having a discussion, we need to have more time.”

In the end, council gave its consensus to the Oct. 3 resolution Road work continues

At its Sept. 5 meeting, council approved several agreements designed to bring pavement reconstruction and stormwater

improvements to a pair of neighborhoods in the city.

The first is a $379,397 contract with Osborn Consulting Incorporated (OCI) for study, evaluation and some design work for stormwater infrastructure in the Ridgemont Estates Southwest neighborhood. The neighborhood is located east of Sullivan Road between 16th and 24th avenues.

According to information from the city, the neighborhood has experienced excremental construction since the 1970s, resulting in stormwater facilities being created in an “undocumented patchwork of ponds, catch basins, pipes and ditches.” The result has been frequent flooding causing damage to private property and area streets and sidewalks.

“The stormwater challenge is creating a pavement challenge,” Spokane Valley Engineering Manager Adam Jackson told the council.

OCI’s work will provide the city stormwater upgrade recommendations and a pavement replacement plan for future work. The evaluation work is being funded by additional revenues the city has received due to increases in its annual stormwater utility rate.

Also at the Sept. 5 meeting, council approved a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Spokane County Water District 3 (SCWD 3) for pavement replacement work on Buttercup Street south of 16th Avenue. The work is being done in conjunction with a gas line replacement project by Avista Utilities and watermain replacement project SCWD 3.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $413,393, with the city’s share projected at approximately $202,713 and SCWD 3’s expenditure at $210,681. The city’s share includes $41,141 paid by Avista for a “final trench patch” on their gas line work, which started in 2022.

“We get a brand new road for a very limited cost to the city,” Community & Public Works Director Bill Helbig told the council.

Seeking funding sources

Council members approved several staff requests to seek outside funding sources for road work and other operations. Three of those requests were approved

unanimously at the Sept. 12 meeting, the first being for a grant from the state’s Recreation & Conservation Office for park maintenance.

Parks and Recreation Director John Bottelli told the council the funding was a one-time grant, with cities able to ask for a minimum of $35,000 and a maximum of $100,000, with no matching amount required. Spokane Valley intends to ask for the maximum amount to repair and resurface concrete sports courts at Edgecliff and Valley Mission parks, along with making Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.

“It’s about catching up on our maintenance back log,” Bottelli said.

Council also approved city staff to enter into a joint grant application with the city of Spokane and the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) for funding from the federal Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) program for the Liberty Park to Edgecliff Park Improvements to Accessibility (LEIA) project. The $25 million project involves improvements along STA Route 94 from East Central Spokane to Millwood, including improvements along 8th Avenue from Havana to Park roads and to Carnahan Road in Spokane Valley.

Improvements include sidewalks, bus stops, road crossings and bike lanes. Spokane Valley’s share of the award could be $12 million, and could also go towards other improvements at Carnahan, Thierman and Park roads that might require $1 million – $2 million local funds.

Council also approved an application to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for funding from the National Highway Performance Program for three city projects eligible as primary arterials under the National Highway System. WSDOT expects to award $150 million of this funding in November, 2023.

Spokane Valley is requesting $6.9 million for three projects: Sprague Avenue Preservation from Bowdish to McDonald roads, North Sullivan Road Preservation from the Spokane River to Kiernan and South Sullivan Road Preservation from 8th to 24th avenues. Estimated construction totals for all three projects are $10.8 million.

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 9 NEWS

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Special Election Guide 2023

Dear Readers:

With the upcoming election heating up and the sea of political signs filling our streets, we at The Current wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with some information about the candidates seeking your vote this election cycle. It had become a tradition to bring you this election guide that showcases as

many candidates as we can get to respond.

In order to give you more insight into who these people are we reached out to all of the contenders appearing on your ballot and asked them to please provide a 300-word response to the following questions (which we would publish at no cost).

1. What best qualifies you for this position?

2. What is the most important issue that needs addressed?

This year we have also

added some fun questions!

1. Where is your favorite local spot?

2. Most admired public servant?

3. What is your favorite book?

While not everyone chose to respond to our request, a good number have and we hope that you find their unedited responses helpful for your voting consideration.

This year you can register to vote even on election day by going to CenterPlace in Spokane Valley.

Thanks for reading The Current, we hope you enjoy it!

The Current Team

P.S. If you have any feedback on how we can enhance the voter’s guide or if you found it valuable please let us know by emailing us at elections@ libertylakesplash.com or by calling our office at 509-242-7752

Vote by November 7

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 11

City of spokane valley pos.2


is your favorite local spot?

Rachel BriscoeThe Garden Cafe

Jessica YaegerThe Pentagon

Al (Albert) MerkelTT’s Old Iron Brewery and BBQ

Tim HattenburgBoomers Bar and Grill

Rob ChaseBlack Diamond Restaurant

Cindy McMullenHallett’s Market and Cafe

Jeff Brooks -


Gregory (Spudd) HesseHaving friends and family over for dinner and sports

Debra Long -

Dave’s Bar and Grill

Stephanie JerdonTrail

Keith ClarkMy Garden

Anniece BarkerOur Thai House Restaurant

Adam MortensenCamp Sekani

Amy AnselmoRocket Bakery

S John DuboisBeacon Hill

Rick FreierThe Spokane Indians

George OrrThe river at Mirabeau Park

What best qualifies you for this position?

The most important experience that has prepared me for city council is being a wife and mother. My husband and I work hard for the life we have, and want to create opportunities to help other families, too. Raising children here has leveled up our expectations of the city we want this younger generation to inherit.

Owning and operating businesses is an experience that continues to prepare me to step into this

role; leading, budgeting, networking, and doing whatever it takes to get the job done while navigating the pressure of other people relying on you. We manage a budget we developed from scratch, have employees with families who rely on us to make decisions that will help them pay their bills, and what we get to do is a result of effective networking.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

Further develop the working relationship with the Sheriff’s office; we will continue to bring violent crime down in Spokane Valley, put more emphasis on property crime and nuisance behavior in the residential and business communities, and create deeper connections between neighborhoods and law enforcement. Sheriff Nowels

and I have been discussing ideas around how we can give our officers and citizens more resources to promote public safety and decency.

Encourage civic engagement with our citizens. In the last year of attending city council meetings, I’ve learned a lot about this role, and noticed the same handful of people are the ones showing up representing the public voice. With over 107k residents in Spokane Valley, we can hear more stories and input from people living out these issues, as well as have accountability for how and why the elected officials are making their decisions. My vision is that we have a strong, well-informed electorate in Spokane Valley.

What best qualifies you for this position?

For over a decade, I have held leadership roles where I managed more than 100 staff members and multimilliondollar budgets daily. In these positions, I was responsible for adhering to the policies and procedures established by the state of Washington’s statutes. During this period, ensuring the safety of my residents was my utmost priority, and enhancing their quality of life was always at the forefront of my considerations.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

We are committed to enhancing the safety of our Spokane Valley community, starting with bolstering mental health support and effective policing. We understand that feeling safe is fundamental to daily activities such as visiting the store or park. This priority precedes infrastructure development and creating opportunities for those who aspire to realize their dreams in the Valley.

• OCTOBER 2023 12 The Current
Rachel Briscoe Candidate Jessica Yaeger Candidate
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City of spokane valley pos. 6

I previously served ten years on the Spokane County Library Board of Trustees. I spent my entire career in the Central Valley School District as a teacher, coach and athletic director. In all of these positions I worked with multi million dollar budgets and numerous people.

issue that needs to be addressed?

What best qualifies you for this position?

My candidacy is grounded in a deep commitment to the well-being of our community. My extensive knowledge of government operations, experience as a local small business owner, advocacy for neighborhood integrity, and commitment to fiscal responsibility uniquely position me to serve our city effectively.

My roles in government program management have provided me with deep knowledge of government operations and procurement. Given the recent debacle of our city hall sinking after only a few years of service without clear responsibility delineated in the contract, our city could use help in both.

I am committed to Spokane Valley, a community I’ve called home for nearly all my life. I have helped neighborhoods fight against bad development decisions like placing multifamily housing in Chester Creek and served as an emergency substitute teacher during COVID. I believe that we should support community events like Valleyfest which my opponent unfortunately voted to defund last year.

One of my core principles is a commitment to low taxes and effective, efficient, and transparent government. I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility, and I pledge to work tirelessly to ensure that our taxpayers’ hard-earned money is used wisely. I believe that our government should be tightening its belt during times of economic instability like these, unlike my opponent who voted to raise property taxes last year.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

I firmly believe that the most pressing issue facing our community is neighborhood integrity. We need a wellmanaged growth strategy that addresses the needs and concerns of our residents about multifamily being placed into single-family residential zones. This means implementing regulations that shift the burden of development costs off taxpayers, ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of responsibilities. It also means safeguarding neighborhood integrity, so that our city remains a place where residents are proud to live.


What best qualifies you for this position?

Having lived in the Spokane Valley since 1959, I understand the values and priorities of families in our community and feel that is one of the reasons I am qualified for the re-election of Spokane Valley City Council #6. I am currently finishing my first four year term on the Council, I have always voted in the best interest of our city and it’s citizens.

I am very proud of our new $10 million library, that was built at no additional cost to our taxpayers. I was honored to have had a part in this project.

Public Safety is our single most costly item in our city budget- and for good reason. Our citizens deserve a safe place to live, work and raise their families. Because of our continued growth, we are going to be adding officers to our police dept. next year.

What is the most important

We added a police officer dedicated to work with our housing and homeless team on a daily basis. With increased homelessness due to the closing of Camp Hope, the city will be adding an additional police officer to work in this area. Security cameras are going to be placed in our parks and along the Appleway Trail. A Mobile camera has been purchased and placed in targeted neighborhoods, with a second one to arrive soon.

I have truly enjoyed being your councilman and would like to continue to do so.

What best qualifies you for this position?

I am very qualified for Spokane Valley City Council. I know all the players with their successes and failures since the Committee for Positive Change in 2009. My world view is conservative, and therefore I am a cautious person, but I do call things as I see them. I have door belled most Valley City precincts over the years and aim to door bell at least 30 precincts this year before ballots hit. This way people can talk to me face to face instead of getting a distorted picture of me from fake news.

I have held elected positions as Spokane County Treasurer, and at the State Level as a Representative. I was also a leader in Common Cause issues such as; stopping Avista from selling

out to Hydro One of Canada, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership, and stopping the ill advised invasion of Iraq. In retrospect my instincts were correct.

As Spokane County Treasurer Representative Mike Volz and I won a ten year battle to allow partial payments on late property taxes at 9% interest and no penalties. This was in response to feedback from our constituents. I also kept my two term pledge by limiting myself to two terms as County Treasurer. We also brought the Office into the 21st Century making it easier to pay property taxes electronically.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

I think our primary challenges in the Spokane Valley today are public

safety (where I voted 100% for public safety bills in the Legislature), road maintenance, and preventing the City of Spokane Valley from becoming like the City of Spokane.

I devote my spare time to helping with the Spokane Fatherhood Initiative and Spokane River Keepers.

• OCTOBER 2023 14 The Current
Rob Chase Candidate

What best qualifies you for the position?

In 32 years on the Central Valley School Board, and 4 years on the State Board of Education, I have come to know our community well, including the similarities and difference among our schools and neighborhoods. I’m aware of the State and federal requirements for our students, staff and district operations. I have balanced the budget in difficult times and

What best qualifies you for this position?

expanded ourprograms when resources permited and I know both short-term and longterm impacts on our students and the community that require careful consideration to make the best possible decision. I have worked hard at both the State and Federal levels advocating with our elected officials for laws and programs that support our students, staff, families and community. By building relationships with elected and agency officials, I have been able to share our concerns and the impacts of their decisions and work with them for improvements. My legal background gives me a deep knowledge of the laws, and regulations governing K-12 education, which allows me to consider all the factors in making a decision and focus on the best outcome for ALL students. I have a true passion and commitment to the providing opportunities for all students to thrive..

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

The Central Valley community needs to move away from the angry rhetoric of a vocal minority and refocus on our long-standing support for excellent education in Central Valley School District. Everyone has experienced some impact of the pandemic, especially our staff and students. Our community is known for its resilience and commitment to supporting one another. We must reunite and focus on building a strong, caring community, particularly around our children. The Central Valley community came together to create our new Strategic Plan; now we must move forward together to implement our promise to create infinite possibilities for every student.

What best qualifies you for this position?

I spent 33 1/2 years with city of Spokane Fire Department retiring as Fire Marshal. I received a Fire Science in the early 1970s.I was able to attend the national fire academy 5 times for intense 2 week classes. I have been elected to 4 terms as Fire Commissioner for SCFD 8.. What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

What best qualifies you for this position?

As a Physical Therapist and a former submarine based Naval Nuclear Engineer I have a firm grasp of mathematics, science and english language proficiency. This is a passion of mine. I plan to use my strengths to raise the level of Central Valley’s academic performance to equal that of the top rated schools in the state. 55th in the state isn’t good

enough anymore. Academic excellence should be the highest priority.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

A thorough review of the curriculum at every grade level needs to be conducted to discover the weakness. I hope to form parental advisory panels to create a comprehensive and high quality education as the state constitution directs.

Lost your Ballot?

In 32 years on the Central Valley School Board, and 4 years on the State Board of Education, I have come to know our community well, including the similari�es and difference among our schools and neighborhoods. I’m aware of the State and federal requirements for our students, staff and district opera�ons. I have balanced the budget in difficult �mes and expanded our programs when resources permited and term and longterm impacts on our students and the community that require careful considera�on to make the best possible decision. I have worked hard at both the State and Federal levels advoca�ng with our elected officials for laws and programs that support our students, staff, families and community. By building rela�onships with elected and agency officials, I have been able to share our concerns and the impacts of their decisions and work with them

I strongly believe that maintaining a full staff of firefighters and para a medics is important as it is getting harder to hire qualified people. I also believe it is very important to maintain and keep updated our equipment and fire stations. Maintain transparency to the people who live in our district.

My legal background gives me a deep knowledge of the 12 educa�on, which allows me to consider

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 15 cvsd director dist. 1
Cindy McMullen Incumbant Jeff Brooks Candidate
To utilize this service
to https://weiapplets.sos. wa.gov/MyVote/#/login
Gregory (Spudd) Hesse Candidate
you can go online to get a replacement! Input your information and it will generate the correct ballot for you. Simply print it off and take it to a ballot drop off location.
Fire Dist 8, pos 3

What is your Favorite Book?

Rachel BriscoeShe Works His Way

Jessica Yaeger -

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

Al (Albert) MerkelThe Expanse Series

Tim HattenburgGiants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag

Rob ChaseThe Brothers Karamazov

Cindy McMullenProfiles in Courage, by John F. Kennedy

Jeff BrooksThe Bible

Gregory (Spudd) HesseGettysburg

Debra Long -

Stephanie JerdonEmma

Keith ClarkMy scriptures

Anniece BarkerLord of the Rings


Adam MortensenThe White Mountains

Amy AnselmoThe Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

S John DuboisAtlas Shrugged

Rick Freier -

“Breaking Blue” by Timothy Egan

George Orr -

“Cold Millions” by Jess Walters

of our children.

What best qualifies you for this position?

I am seeking re-election to the Central Valley School Board as I believe I have made a difference in education. Together with our community we have remodeled or built over 15 schools. As a board, we collectively agreed to invest and create Spokane Valley Tech School and then sought funding from our legislature for Phase II and III. This schools has had a profound impact on the lives

Running for the school board can be a challenging and exciting experience. Serving on the board has been very rewarding. It has allowed me to contribute to our community and help make a difference in our schools and to our children. As a school board director, we must partner with parents, teachers and administrators so that all children receive a quality education. We must build upon the fundamental skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, by giving our students the knowledge they need in order that they may lead us into the next century.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

One of the challenging issues is always the budget. Understanding Federal and State educational funding is complex, full of nuances, and takes years

to fully understand. At CVSD, our budget is approximately 259 million. As an accountant I can assure you this is not like balancing your personal bank account. I’ve helped oversee the challenges the district has faced in the past such as the 2008 financial crisis that adversely affected our district. Again, in February 2023 we saw the State of Washington pull 5 million of our funding, but because of our experience we were able to control spending and end the year with over a 3.5% fund balance. We are fortunate that our experiences of the past helped prepare us to navigate for the future.

What best qualifies you for this position?

First and foremost, I am committed to building meaningful relationships within schools, with families, local businesses, and community members. With that commitment, I will advocate for high academic standards. I am a former educator, current school volunteer, involved community volunteer, leader, and parent of a CVSD student. My cooperative skills in the community and experience with children, youth, and adults set me apart as a listening leader.

The Washington State School Directors Association describes school board members as those who bring “their varying experiences and background to inform good decision-making with a spirit of teamwork.” I am personally invested in putting in the work and engaging in diverse discussions to problemsolve together, providing our

children with the best education possible.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

As a parent in the district, I frequently engage with other parents, students, and staff. Through these interactions, I’ve realized that the most fundamental yet critical issue within our district, which underpins all others, is the need for improved communication and transparency. Clear, concise communication is the remedy for misunderstandings. Whether it’s about curriculum in the classroom, the allocations of taxpayer funds, state legislation related to education, or changes in policy or staffing, information is power, and transparency fosters trust.

Promoting open dialogue and providing easily accessible and understandable information for our busy families will significantly strengthen relationships within our district community. Moreover,

by having approachable board directors who engage regularly to listen to parents and families, we can ensure that parents feel they have a voice as we work together to navigate these challenging times following the pandemic.

Encouraging meaningful conversations among parents, teachers, staff, and administrators will enhance collaboration, foster understanding, and offer more substantial support for our students.

• OCTOBER 2023 16 The Current cvsd director dist. 3
Sephanie Jerdon Candidate

What best qualifies you for this position?

Experience matters. As a Board Director in CVSD for 16 years, I’ve gained a varied and broad knowledge of managing and running a large school district. Inexperience can never replace experience. The only thing that can replace experience is more and better experience. The following are just a few examples of the successes that come with years of service:

- Planning and overseeing a $250 million-dollar annual

What best qualifies you for this position?

Being a current parent of students inside the district offers me a more personal understanding of how the policies, resolutions, and administration of those policies affect our children and teachers. I am a current parent volunteer and have first-hand experience being in the classroom. I bring family representation to the board. With my previous experience advocating in Olympia for the retention of local control, I have demonstrated an ability to connect and work with organizations across the state to find solutions for our schools that best represent our local values. I will bring a fresh perspective to the board, new ideas, and a first-hand understanding of the unique challenges that our students face. I will ask the hard

budget, which has been balanced and audited every year with no negative audit findings. It takes years to understand educational funding which is replete with state and federal government rules and regulations.

- Developing a trusting relationship with our unions, we just signed unprecedented 3-year contract.

- Successfully searching for and hiring excellent Superintendents.

- We’ve completed 29 construction projects in 7 years all on time and on or under budget. This has given us beautiful buildings with safety the number one priority.

- Our experienced Board is well respected throughout the state and has influence with policy makers, business, and community leaders.

- We work with parents on adoption and development of excellent curriculum.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

questions, I will listen to the community, and engage parents in their child’s education.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

There is not only one important issue when it comes to our children. We have seen stagnation and even loss in regard to our children’s academic performance. But we have an opportunity to turn that around. With a refocus on the foundational aspects of education, we can bring up our reading, math, and science proficiencies, and make sure our children are prepared for their next academic or career steps.

We also have an opportunity to create and build lasting trust between our School District and the community by embracing a culture of transparency and communication. Being

We are laser focused on academics. Covid 19 left its scar on society and our children. The last three years have been involved in getting through Covid and then healing our children from its residual effects. Now we look beyond Covid and turn to our students’ academic success and achievement.

Historically our education system was cultivated from an Agrarian system. Our children’s world is changing. We need to reimagine education to provide infinite possibilities for all students. Central Valley’s new 5-year Strategic Plan provides exciting new opportunities and direction for answering these questions. We are changing the way our students are educated, enhancing communication with our parents and community partners, and unifying our community around education discussions

What best qualifies you for this position?

I have been a member of the West Valley Community my entire life, and I consider myself fortunate for the opportunities West Valley has provided me. It has been an honor to serve on the West Valley Board for the last ten years and give back to the community. I believe Public Education is critical for the continued success of our local communities, state, and country.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

In my opinion, emotional health is the most significant issue students currently face. We live in a society that unfortunately keeps us connected during most of our waking hours and students are unable to disconnect from the stresses of life. Helping students navigate these challenges needs to be a priority for all school districts. I am excited for the chance to continue to serve the children of West Valley (including two of my own) and to provide them the opportunities and resources they need for future success.

transparent about policy, curriculum, and how the district uses your hardearned tax dollars is vital to building that trust. With fresh ideas and new perspectives, we can build schools that will lead out in the state and give our children the excellent education they deserve. These are a few of the important things that need to be addressed in our school district because they are important to families.

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 17 Cvsd director dist. 4
Keith Clark Incumbant Anniece Barker Candidate Adam Mortensen Candidate wvsd director pos.

Most admired public servant?

Rachel BriscoeKevin Parker

Jessica YaegerRonald Reagan

Al (Albert) MerkelPresident Teddy Roosevelt

Tim HattenburgPres. Teddy Roosevelt

Rob ChaseRon Paul

Cindy McMullenHarriette Tubman

Jeff BrooksGeorge Washington

Gregory (Spudd) HessePresident Ronald Regan

Debra LongAbraham Lincoln

Stephanie JerdonFirefighters

Keith ClarkNelson Mandela

Anniece BarkerOur Military Members, past and present

Adam MortensenTeddy Roosevelt

Amy AnselmoMartin Luther King Jr.

S John DuboisWinston Churchill

Rick FreierGeorge Washington

George Orr -

What best qualifies you for this position?

I come to the open West Valley School District School Board position with over 18 years of teaching experience. I am a lifelong learner and have continued to strengthen my teaching skills through ongoing education. This has led me to obtain a master’s in teaching from Grand Canyon University and a master’s in administration

with a current principal certification from Whitworth University. I am also Nationally Board certified.

In addition, I have been a building union representative for Spokane Education Association and continue to take on leadership roles in my current teaching position. I am a proud mother of a West Valley 2020 graduate and a current freshman.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

West Valley’s greatest needs right now include supporting future bonds and levies to maintain the already existing highquality instruction that is

taking place in our schools. Resources, staffing, building maintenance, and continued focus on a secure, safe, and caring culture to learn in relies on the passing of our bonds and levies to meet the needs of our students. In addition, a continued focus on student attendance, graduation rates, state testing scores, and future success beyond high school will ensure growth, vitality, and a clear path for the future.

Vernon Baker

What best qualifies you for this position?

I believe I am qualified for this position because I care about the community and the people in it. This is evident through my current role as Seth Woodard PTO President and the several different civic and religious roles I have accepted through the years. I am the proud dad of four West Valley graduates and have two more to go which keeps me participating with their many activities. I have been the elected homeowners association president for a 1600 home master plan community, I have been a college recruiter for a NCAA Division 1 school, and am now a licensed mental health professional. These and other responsibilities uniquely prepare me to contribute on the West Valley School Board.

What is the most important

issue that needs to be addressed?

As a board member we will tackle hard challenging social issues and student issues because they are fluid, both influencing the other. No matter the challenge we must do everything in our power to equip the students in becoming strong innovative contributors to our society while also balancing the multiplicity of needs found in the community that shapes them.

Ballot Drop Off Locations

Liberty Lake Library

23123 E Mission Ave

Liberty Lake, WA 99019

Otis Orchards Library

22324 E Wellesley Ave

Otis Orchards,

• OCTOBER 2023 18 The Current wvsd
director pos. 3
Amy Anselmo Candidate S John Dubois Candidate
WA 99027 Spokane Valley Library 12004 E Main Ave Spokane Valley, WA 99206
Argonne Library
N Argonne Rd
WA 99212

spokane valley fire commisioner no. 5

with the Valley Fire dept.

I have been elected to the CV school board and Washington state legislature .

I was the author of the fire mobilization bill after the 1991 fire storm .

I enjoy being outdoors and I organized the kids fishing trip for CVSD special needs kids since 1986.

What best qualifies you for this position?

I have 33 years experience

What best qualifies you for this position?

The 20 years that I spent in the U.S. Marine Corps made me a leader. As a 1st Sgt (E-8), I set the example, communicated effectively, and motivated my Marines to get the job done.

After 24 years in the fire service, I know how the fire department operates. I know what it does well, and I know how it can improve. I know the community because I have lived in the heart of the valley for 23 years. As a fire investigator, I learned what causes fires, as a public educator I used that knowledge to prevent fires. I understand that it is better to be proactive than reactive. Ben Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The year was 1735 and he was talking about preventing fire. Fire prevention (education) is the most cost-effective way to protect people and property from fire. Learn more, go to thefirescienceguy.com.

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

I will seek to improve and increase the fire department’s prevention programs. Falls

What is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?

in the home are the leading cause of accidental deaths among the elderly. Car wrecks are the leading cause of death for those 15 to 19. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five. To reduce the call volume, we need to expand our falls program, develop a drivers safety program, and develop a water safety program.

Also, the department needs to devote more time and resources to wildland firefighting. Wildland fires are far more dangerous and destructive than a typical house fire and they require specialized trucks to put them out. The fire district only three of these trucks and if one breaks down there are no trucks in reserve. Wildfires must be extinguished as soon as possible, if they aren’t, they quickly grow out of control.

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 19
FEATURING SPOKANE VALLEY CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES EAST VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL 15711 E WELLESLEY AVE, SPOKANE VALLEY, WA 99216 MONDAY, OCTOBER 23 BROUGHT TO YOU BY EAST VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL GREATER SPOKANE VALLEY A VALLEY-WIDE COMMUNITY NEWSMAGAZINE Adver tising options * Normal rates based upon the typical cost of advertising at that size in both The Splash and The Current Interested in running in our publications at other times throughout the year? You qualify for a discount! Are you already running ads with us? Your current discount applies Deadlines Display ad with submitted menu tem or gift idea: November 7 Display ad (submitted gift idea or menu item will be printed if space is still available): November 11 Reser ve your spot today at 509-242-7752 or adver tise@valleycurrent com. at the shoppers and businesses of the greater Spokane Valley — and as a bonus we will include your g ft idea as par t of our stor y listing can’t-miss local gift ideas (Restaurants don t feel left out You can contribute a tantalizing menu item to be included in our ar ticle on dining out.) Either way, submitted photos are encouraged! “Eat, Shop and Be Merr y ” is a special cover section that will be included in the December issues of both The Current and The Splash. That s right — be a par t of both publications for one price Distribution This guide is strategically scheduled to land November 21 and 22 the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving and Small Business Saturday It will be distributed in The Splash (12,000 copies delivered to ever y address in Liber ty Lake and available for free at more than 120 newsstands through Christmas) as well as The Current (27,000 copies delivered to 20,000 homes in Spokane Valley and at more than 220 newsstands throughout the greater Spokane Valley). S H AR E YOU R GI F T IDE A W I T H TH E VALL E Y! 4.83 w x 5.66˝h 1/4 PAGE: $485 (normally $790)* 9.83 w x 5.66˝h 1/2 PAGE: $875 (normally $1440)* 4.83 w x 11.5˝h 1/2 PAGE: $875 (normally$1440)* 9.83 w x 11.5˝h FULL PAGE: $1650 (normally$2,700)* E a t , Sh op & Be Merr y A holiday guide for the Spokane Valley Liberty Lake Millwood Otis Orchards Newman Lake and Rockford areas That s a total of 39,000 copies of this holiday guide distributed throughout the greater Valley through our alreadypopular monthly publications “Eat, Shop and Be Merry” is a community-minded project of The Splash and The Current encouraging spending holiday money. Connecting LO C A L PE O PL E with LO C A L BUS I NE S SE S Contact us for more information on how to be included today! 509-242-7752 or email advertise@ valleycurrent.com
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Measure 1

Advocates of Spokane County

Measure 1 point to the need to revamp the overcrowded and outdated Spokane County Jail while others express concern over the fact that the $1.7 billion measure doesn’t specify what most of the money will be spent on.

The measure, as it reads on the ballot, would collect two-tenths in sales tax for “criminal justice, public safety, correctional infrastructure and behavioral health purposes.” The 30-year tax would raise an estimated $1.7 billion during its life span.

Despite their stance on the ballot measure, most people seem to agree that the Spokane County Jail is in dire need of improvement. Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels said the jail was built to house 462 inmates and routinely houses much more than that, making it unsafe. The average population of the jail is 567.

The overcrowding means that the county is limited in what behavioral health and other programs it can use that are designed to increase support for inmates and reduce recidivism, Nowels said. “We’ve needed it for the last 12 years,” he said of the need for a new jail. “We need a redesign, we need an expansion to ensure a better outcome. There are programs we know help people not recidivate, but we can’t use them.”

In addition to having fewer beds than needed, the Spokane County Jail has a very small booking area. Only a few people can fit inside at a time, leaving deputies and police officers lined up in the parking lot waiting to book their suspects into jail. At 7 p.m. on a recent Friday night, the wait to get a suspect booked was three hours, Nowels said. That’s despite issuing citations for misdemeanor offenses and not making arrests in those cases.

“It’s not like we book everyone,” he said. “We book very few people unless it’s a felony.”

The Geiger Correctional Facility on the west plains was built as a military barracks in 1953 and has been leased by the county for

decades to house low-risk inmates. Not only does the facility need $40 million in improvements, but more and more inmates are facing serious felonies and there aren’t enough low level offenders to send to Geiger, Nowels said.

If Measure 1 is approved, the County would close Geiger, remodel the jail and add two buildings next to the current jail, a housing facility to serve medium security inmates and a community corrections center for minimum security inmates. These new facilities would increase the number of beds to 1,358 from the current capacity of 948.

The need for a new jail is not just a local issue, said County Commissioner Mary Kuney. “It truly is something that’s going on across the state,” Kuney said. “We need a different facility and this is much more than just the facility. We want to provide those wraparound services.”

Sixty percent of the money collected under Measure 1 would go to Spokane County for jail construction and the courts. The rest would be distributed to the cities and towns within Spokane County to be used for criminal justice or behavioral health needs. The money can be used to pay the salaries of new police officers if cities want, Nowels said.

“Local jurisdictions get to decide how they want to spend those funds,” he said. “The county isn’t going to dictate how that works.”

The County’s share would be spent on courtrooms, judges, public defenders, prosecutors, and programs to support inmates and reduce recidivism, Nowels said.

The problem, said Spokane County Commission Amber Waldref, is that those additional programs haven’t been specified and no one knows how much they will cost and how many of those programs the County will actually be able to fund. Waldref said she knows there is a need for jail improvements, but she believes additional details should have been finalized before putting Measure 1 before voters. As it is, voters are simply being asked to approve the largest tax ever proposed in Spokane County and trusting the County and cities to spend it

properly, she said.

Waldref said the jail needs a better booking area and she thinks there should be a first appearance courtroom on site. The Geiger facility is outdated and needs to be closed. But she said she’s also concerned that the new facilities as proposed Measure 1 would provide too many beds and doesn’t take into account the reduced need for beds if the proposed programs are brought online and are successful. She said the assumption seems to be that the system would not change and there would still be a need for a large number of beds.

“I just call it the status quo proposal,” she said. “I would hope that in 30 years we need less beds that what we’re projecting.”

Waldref said she’s also concerned that Measure 1 would fund new jail facilities first rather than changes to the court system such as more therapeutic courts, increased use of ankle monitors and adding court staff. “I’m concerned that we’re starting with the beds and not starting with the reforms,” she said. “They need to be part of the equation. Those don’t require extra space in the jail. There’s still many, many programs that could be put into place.”

At the end of the day the lack of detail in Measure 1 is what makes her pause, Waldref said. She and Commissioner Chris Jordan proposed waiting a year to give staff time to add detail to the proposed measure before it was placed on the ballot.

“When the improvements aren’t outlined and detailed by the county, I’m uneasy,” she said. “To me, this whole measure is not complete. I definitely support an investment, but this measure, it’s not detailed enough.”

If the measure fails, Kuney said she’s committed to putting it back on the ballot. “We can’t fix the system without having the funding to do it,” she said.

Nowels said it's time to take action on a plan for the jail and criminal justice system. “We know the plan we have in place will reduce crime,” he said. “We know it will make our community safer. We’ve been paralyzed on this issue for the better part of 10 to 12 years. Things have not gotten better.”

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 21
509-242-7752 www.libertylakesplash.com Wick Enterprizes Publishing House 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 250 high-traffic places around the Valley, including the following locations: Pick up a free copy of “Honoring local communities and encouraging citizen involvement” GREATER SPOKANE VALLEY DRIVE-THRU BULK MEAT PAGE 22 GENEROSITY SEWN UP PAGE The Future is Bright Youngest leadership team since the Spokane Valley’s incorporation, page 10 Adorkable Flowers and Gifts Anytime Fitness Barlows Fieldhouse Pizza and Subs Greenstone Just Chillin’FrozenYogurt KiDDS Dental Liberty Lake City Hall Liberty Lake Portal Building Liberty Lake Smile Source Safeway Trailhead Golf Course True Legends Grill The WELL Coffee House Walgreens WashingtonTrust Bank Yoke’s Fresh Market Would you like to carry The Current in your place of business? Contact Paula at paula@valleycurrent.com. GREATER SPOKANE OCTOBER 2023 U.S. Postage Paid FREE SERVANT BUSINESS CHANGEPAGE 16 JOE AND MIKE LIFE PAGE 23 DRESS UP YOUR WINDOWS BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS SEE PAGE 3 2023 Candidate Guide pages 11-22
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Try out some slightly spooky crafts and activities! You’re welcome to wear and show off your costume, so long as it isn’t scary.

ARGONNE LIBRARY: Saturday, Oct 21, 3–4pm

OTIS ORCHARDS LIBRARY: Thursday, Oct 26, 4–5pm

SPOKANE VALLEY LIBRARY: Friday, Oct 27, 4–5pm

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 23

The Crest

Novel Homeless Outreach Program Walks the Line Between Compassion and Enforcement

Hitting the streets of Spokane Valley with a social service provider from Spokane Valley Partners, Spokane Valley Police Homeless Outreach Officer Joshua Pratt provides a much-needed service to people experiencing homelessness— face-to-face support during tough times.

Formed after the Spokane Valley Police Department resumed bike patrols on trails and other pedestrian walkways, the Homeless Outreach Officer program is one of the first of its kind in the region. Spokane Valley leaders approved it after the department reported an increasing number of bike officers making contact with individuals experiencing homelessness.

Like many jurisdictions across the country, the City of Spokane Valley is experiencing an increase in homelessness. According to the 2023 Point in Time Count conducted countywide, a total of 2,390 people were identified as homeless. The numbers reflect populations throughout Spokane County, including the City of Spokane Valley.

“During our conversations with the Valley about those contacts, the opportunity came up to create a fulltime position for homeless outreach by demonstrating the need for it on our end,” Pratt said. “The Valley proactively wanted to address some of these issues throughout the community, and through that, this position was created and it has expanded from there.”

Where other jurisdictions might rely on a reactive approach to homelessness, Pratt said the Valley’s program uniquely leans on proactive contacts to steer homeless individuals toward utilizing

support services. Four days a week, Pratt and his partnering service provider make their rounds throughout the Spokane Valley and connect with people experiencing homelessness for various reasons, offering them anything from food and clothing to bottles of water and rides to treatment facilities.

“I think for them (those interactions) are really unique because they’re not used to seeing that…you can just see that sometimes when we meet with (homeless individuals)they’re like, ‘whoa, you’re not here to take me (to jail) on my $200 dollar warrant?’” Homeless Outreach Officer Joshua Pratt said. “Yeah, you need to take care of your warrant, but that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to offer you these services. I’m here to try and help you get out of this situation, whatever that is.”

Officer Pratt came to the Spokane Valley Police Department in 2019, moving to the Inland Northwest from his native Southern California where he worked for the Los Angeles Police Department across

multiple programs for more than a decade. After working in the LAPD’s gang enforcement unit, Officer Pratt spent two years in community-oriented policing roles where he gained the experience and skills that he uses in his current role.

“We participated in building some programming for the youth, taking them on field trips to get them to see the bigger picture, and to know that there’s life outside of this area and that they have other opportunities,” Officer Pratt said. “Maybe generationally, they didn’t think they had those opportunities, but we tried to let them know that there is other stuff out there for them and that they didn’t need to be stuck in where they were at. That cycle has to break, and it can be broken.”

Beyond checking in with people and discussing options for addiction treatment or mental health support, Officer Pratt and his partner also provide what he calls ‘accountability’ to homeless individuals. It could be as simple as reminding someone of an upcoming meeting about temporary housing, all the way to setting up temporary fostering for a person’s animal while they seek treatment.

“The reality is the system…like many systems… is broken,” Officer Pratt said. “Part of what we do is try

to break down those barriers, those, in my mind, simple barriers; Bus passes to get to appointments, rides to get them from point a to point b and make sure they’re getting to where they need to be… some of those basic necessities that we try to do.”

While it might be too soon to call the Homeless Outreach Officer program a major success, Officer Pratt says the response from people experiencing homelessness and the housed community has been positive. The challenge now for Pratt and his partnering service providers is to get the greater community completely on board with the new approach and any other additional services the city might need to invest in to reduce homelessness.

“The big picture that I try to explain to people is that we don’t want just a bandaid on the hemorrhage,” Pratt said. “We’d like to get them up and out of their situation, whether it be an addiction, dealing with mental health (disorders)…unemployment, or just bad luck…the idea is to say, ‘hey, let’s figure this out. Let’s get you completely off of this.’”

Three years in, the department is actively considering adding an additional officer to the program to increase its reach and impact. The additional officer would allow the program to function similarly to regular patrol teams within the department while making sure someone from the program is available seven days a week to support anyone experiencing homelessness and seeking services.

“I get calls all the time that say ‘hey, you don’t know me but you helped get so-and-so to treatment and I want to go to treatment,’ or ‘someone said I can trust you, so I’m calling you’,” Pratt said. “That’s so powerful because whatever people’s beliefs are or whether stuff has happened to them in the past, whether right or wrong or why they believe what they believe, us building that bridge between the community and law enforcement is huge.”

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Cross country culture shrugs off obscurity, maintains stride

Lauren Bergam and her Gonzaga University teammates would often joke about the “full stands” at cross country meets, a euphemism that didn’t equate to a sold-out crowd.

“It meant everyone’s parents had showed up,” Bergam recalls.

Bergam arrived at GU in 2009 after a sparkling career at East Valley High School that included eight varsity letters over four years between cross country and track. She qualified for the state cross country meet every season and placed fifth in the prestigious Foot Locker West Senior Race.

Despite the success, Bergam was never among the student-athlete celebrities at EV in comparison to those in mainstream sports like basketball, soccer and football.

“You don’t run for the glory,” said Bergam who now coaches the EV girls’ cross country team. “When people don’t show up, you know your teammates and coaches will be there.”

Last fall, EV junior Logan Hofstee raced to an individual crown at the 2A state meet. When she returned to school that Monday, acknowledgement of the accomplishment was minimal.

“I’m a pretty quiet kid,” Hofstee said. “My close friends knew about it and I’ve always had people there along the way supporting me. Running is a sport where we’re familiar with not getting a lot of attention.”

While Knight Nation is not represented by the marching band and cheerleaders at EV meets, Hofstee said she has been encouraged by the turnout of school administrators like Athletic Director Alec Vemaire, Superintendent Brian Talbott and new Principal Ryan Arnold this season.

“It’s felt like there is definitely more interest,” said Hofstee who will continue her career on scholarship at Gonzaga. “I get more questions at school about running.”

Bergam acknowledges cross country presents challenges as a spectator sport along a typical 5K (3.1mile) course. The state meet is held at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco where fans must be mobile to catch more than limited segments of the racing.

“It’s something every runner has had to deal with,” Bergam said. “I don’t think runners are looking for status. It’s generally a community of humble people and it’s really about the team aspect.”

As an iconic high school and college coach, Pat Tyson has fostered the priority on team for decades. Now in his 16th year as director of cross country and track at Gonzaga, Tyson led Mead High School to a dozen

cross country titles on the boys’ side and often had around 100 runners turn out each fall.

“We had guys like Chris Lewis, Matt Davis and Micah Davis at Mead that made running cool,” Tyson said. “It was all-inclusive. Our team became a family. Our runners didn’t want to let their teammates down.”

Tyson grew up in the Tacoma area but gravitated toward the established running community in Spokane. He would venture over the mountains as a high schooler each summer to run with his Spokane counterparts, inspired by local standouts like Rick Riley, who set a national high school record in the 2-mile at Ferris, and Gerry Lindgren, the Rogers grad who ran for the U.S. Olympic team.

“Spokane people respected runners,” Tyson said.

In the fall of 1994, Kieran Mahoney was a student-teacher and assistant coach at Mead. A recent graduate

of Eastern Washington University, Mahoney excelled in cross country and track as an Eagle and was prepping for a career in coaching, knowing Tyson was among the best.

“Kieran was a real bright guy, very energetic,” Tyson recalls. “A hundred percent, I knew he was going to be a good head coach.”

Mahoney took over the Central Valley boys’ cross country program in 2009 and led the Bears to eight consecutive top 10 state finishes, including a 4A championship in 2012. While the kudos didn’t always follow his team’s achievements, Mahoney, like Tyson, focused on “building a culture based on the team.”

“It bothered us quite a bit that we didn’t get the attention of sports like football and basketball,” Mahoney said. “But we had our own cool factor, going to the bigger meets and getting that recognition.”

Mahoney does remember administration, fellow teachers and coaches at CV rallying on behalf of cross country with support like the football team lining the course during home meets. When he was an elite runner at Cheney High, Mahoney experienced lukewarm regard, even after he won the 2A state title as a senior.

“As a runner, I stayed hungry,” he said. “I liked to compete and I liked to win – everything else was just extra.”

Briton Demars was a sophomore on the CV squad that won the program’s first state boys’ championship 11 years ago. He remembers Mahoney handing out notecards that August that read, “State Champs 2012.”

“We learned how to prepare for success ahead of time,” Demars said. “It was that consistency, every day. We wanted to win together.”

After the Bears brought home the state trophy, Demars remembers limited awareness of the feat.

“There wasn’t the fanfare like there would have been for the football team,” he said. “I think there was an announcement at lunch. We were operating in a bubble. The feelings of success were determined by ourselves. We just kind of created our own community.”

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Photo by Sheryl Demars Briton Demars was a sophomore on the Central Valley cross country squad that raced to a state title in 2012. The Bears finished runner-up on the 4A side for three straight years beginning in 2016.

Student of the Month Citizen of the Month Athlete of the Month

Dylan Lee is a trusted leader at University High School. The senior serves as ASB treasurer and has oversight on all expenditures. He maintains a 3.65 grade point average and is a member of National Honor Society. He volunteered at a food pantry in Colfax as part of NHS. Lee serves as president of U-Hi’s Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) chapter and qualified for state in three categories last year. He has also served as president of the DECA club. Lee is the cross country team captain this season. He has earned varsity letters the past three years and was part of squad that advanced to districts last season. He also participates in track where his personal bests in the 800 and 1,600 meters are 2:09 and 5:05, respectively. He plans to pursue a business/marketing/finance track in college.

University High senior Natalie Singer has been a catalyst for the Titans’ consecutive slowpitch softball state championships in 2021 and 2022. She has lettered in slowpitch and fastpitch since her freshman year and earned first team All Greater Spokane League honors in both sports. This slowpitch season Singer is hitting .530 with three triples as the Titans vie for a third straight state title. Singer was part of a U-Hi fastpitch club that won the GSL crown and qualified for state her sophomore year. She was named to the All GSL team that season as a utility player. Last season, she hit .460 with 39 runs batted in and seven home runs. The senior maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of National Honor Society. She was a graduate of the Leadership Spokane Youth Program last year.

Many know Tom Towey as a twoterm mayor of Spokane Valley but the Minnesota native is also a Navy veteran, community volunteer, marathon runner and more. After serving a year on the Spokane Valley Planning Commission, Towey began a four-year tenure on City Council in 2010. Towey graduated from West Valley High in 1960 before enlisting in the Navy. He served four years of active duty and two years in the reserves. Towey spent 32 years with Rosauers, primarily as a store manager. He has completed 50 marathons. He has served as a volunteer with SCOPE (Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort) since 1996 and is on the board. He also volunteers weekly with Newbyginnings, a resource/supply center for veterans. Tom and his wife Karen have been married for 58 years. They have two children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 27 Come visit your spokane valley neighborhood FinanCial Center loCated at 615 n sullivan road 800-233-2328
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Explore the Flavors of World Cooking

See libraries, returning seeds, plus fall and winter gardening programs

Our seed libraries are in need of being filled up by generous local gardeners! While you’re harvesting your crops, you can bring in heirloom seeds you’ve saved and hand them off to our library staff who will make sure they are added to our seed libraries and are ready for borrowing next spring.

We request that you don’t put seeds in any of our book drops because they won’t survive the drop and will likely create a mess and become unusable.

Our seed libraries accept heirloom vegetable, flower, and herb seed donations year-round, during open hours. Be sure to clearly separate and label the

Prepare traditional dishes and learn about world cultures with the chefs during these online programs.


Venezuelan Food with Patricia Castaneda


Turkish Food with Chef Filiz Palic


Colombian Food with Chef Janeth Angulo

Sign up at www.scld.org/world-cooking

Annual Spokane Writers Conference comes to Spokane Valley Library

The Spokane Writers Conference is celebrating its 7th year and features collaboration between Spokane County Library District and Spokane Public Library.

Free to all attendees, the workshop sessions are led by published authors, a journalist, an independent publisher, and a professional editor. The sessions offer informative and creative approaches to writing and revision as well as insights into the processes for getting your work published.

The conference is held at two libraries for 2023: Central Library (906 W Main Ave, Spokane) on Friday, October 27, 10:30am–4:30pm and Spokane Valley Library (22 N Herald Rd, Spokane Valley) on Saturday, October 28, 9:30am–5:15pm.

seeds you bring into the library for donation. Starting next spring, you can borrow seed envelopes from any of our seed libraries. Spokane Valley and Otis Orchards Libraries serve the eastern side of the county with seed libraries.

You can learn more about our seed libraries at www.scld. org/seed-libraries. And if you’re saving seeds for the first time, we have some videos on YouTube with examples and some tips that you can access with the link: www.scld.org/seed-savingvideos.

Harvest season may be winding down, but you can still stop into the library for gardening programs in October and November.

During the “Growing Garlic” program for adults, Master Gardener Steve Nokes shows us how easy it is to grow your own garlic. Learn what you need to know including the time of year to plant, the types of garlic, and the best storage practices.

• Experimental Fiction & Poetry with Lindsay Hill

• Querying as a Picture Book Author with Eija Sumner

• Fact Finding & World Building in Historical Fiction with Tara Karr Roberts

• Escribir una novela del concepto a la autopublicación con Teresa Sorroche (presented in Spanish)

• Writing Everyday Magic with Carla Crujido

• Tips for Self-Editing & Knowing When to Hire a Pro with Carrie Del Pizzo

• Literature as Performance with Sarah Rooney

• On Air: Podcasting for Writers with Trace Kerr

On Saturday, the ten conference sessions are:

• Getting Organized to Revise with a Purpose with Trent Reedy

• Developing an Indie Author Mindset with Colin Conway

This program is at Spokane Valley Library (22 N Herald Rd) on Tuesday, October 10, at 6:30pm, and at Otis Orchards Library (22324 E Wellesley Ave) on Wednesday, October 25, at 6:30pm.

Discover the joy of planting spring bulbs in containers for winter enjoyment during the program “Growing Winter Bulbs,” also led by Master Gardener Steve Nokes. He guides us in selecting spring bulbs and offers tips for planting them to enjoy during the winter months. This program is at Otis Orchards Library on Wednesday, November 1, at 6:30pm, and at Spokane Valley Library on Tuesday, November 7, at 6:30pm.

I hope you are able to attend these programs for these delicious tips and beautiful gardening projects. If they don’t fit into your schedule, you’ll find a mound of fertile gardening tips and project ideas using our digital resources at www.scld.org/digitalresources-gardening.

• Writing Blurbs & Pitches that Sell with Asa Maria Bradley

• Creating with Hybrid Forms with Wendy Oleson

• Getting the Most Out of NaNoWriMo with Guy L. Pace

• Know Where You Are in the Writing Process with Gordon Jackson

• Publishing 101: Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions with Christine Holbert

• Journalism: Find, Pitch & Write Compelling Stories with Chey Scott

• May Science Be with You! with Andrés Aragoneses

To register for the conference, visit www.scld.org/writerscon-2023.


On Friday, the eight conference sessions are:

• Which Comes First: The Character or The Plot with John Bladek

Conference sponsors are providing refreshments for participants. The Friday sessions are sponsored by the Friends of the Spokane Public Library (www.spokanelibrary.org/ friends). The Saturday sessions are sponsored by the Library Foundation of Spokane County (www.supportscld.org).

• OCTOBER 2023 28 The Current

We are your local community newsmagazine. Our mission is to “honor local communities and encourage citizen involvement.” In our efforts to continue with our mission, we would love to hear from you!

Want to see your name in print (for all the right reasons, of course)? Or maybe you just want to help point out great ideas for content worth sharing with your neighbors? The Current is a community newspaper, so if you are part of the greater Valley community, we want to know what’s important to you. We like to say there are eight of us, and there are more than 100,000 of you. Maybe one of the questions below applies to you? If so, you can help us out.

 Do you go on vacation?

Maybe you’re heading somewhere fun (and warm) for spring break. If so, pack a copy of The Current and pull it out to snap your photo in front of your favorite destination or landmark. When you return to the Valley, drop us a line with

the pic, and we’ll share it with readers. Call it “Current Travels.”

 Are you part of a club or service organization? Well, what do you know? Let us add you to our list of recurring Valley events in the near future that will be well-suited for clubs and organizations that have regular meetings. Send us the info.

 Do you celebrate?

We want people to know about everything from your new baby, to your upcoming wedding or anniversary, to your incredible office or sporting achievement. Photos, announcements, honors — please send!

 Did you capture a shot?

Shutterbugs, unite! If you are capturing great Valley moments, whether while out and about or in your backyard, e-mail us your photo so we can share it around the neighborhood. Send along names of those pictures and complete caption information as much as possible.

 Are you a local freelance journalist?

The Current sets aside a budget and great assignments for people like you. Send some clips our way, and we’ll be in touch.

 Do you eat?

We thought so. Perhaps you have a favorite order at a Valley eatery? Before you clean your plate, get your picture taken with your order and send it to us. Include the place, order, cost and why you love it. It’s just one more way we can point one another to all the best the Valley offers.

You are The Current. E-mail editor@ valleycurrent.com so we can share the things that are important to you.

The Current OCTOBER 2023 • 29 greenstonehomes.com ENRICHED LIVING. LASTING VALUE. Building lasting communities for everyone to be a part of. New homes in Spokane, Liberty Lake, Post Falls & Coeur d’Alene. Welcome New Readers of The Current “Honoring local communities and encouraging citizen involvement” 509-242-7752 | www.valleycurrent.com
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River City Pizza Celebrates Twenty-five years


Colette Buck, Nina Culver, Ashley Humbird, Craig Howard, John McCallum

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On the outskirts of Spokane Valley in Otis Orchards, there's a place where the scent of freshly baked pizza wafts through the air, and pizza is headed out over a counter in a warm white box. This beloved establishment, River City Pizza, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, marking a quartercentury of serving up scrumptious pizza pies to the community. This milestone is not just a testament to their dedication but also a story of perseverance, community support, and the shared love of pizza.

River City opened its doors in 1998 to serve as the go to local stop for delicious pizza in the tried-andtrue delivery and takeout service. The original proprietors owned River City Pizza until Jacqueline and Phillip Barnard bought the establishment in September 2016. “I was driving by and saw that they had put out a sign on their reader board saying their last day was August 30th,” Jacqueline shares how she became interested in owning and operating a pizza shop though her degree is in communications. “We lived forever in Otis and had been there during that time. Who doesn’t love pizza? It seemed like a good fit.”

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Running a restaurant is not for the faint of heart. It involves a myriad of challenges, from sourcing quality ingredients to managing a diverse team and providing exceptional customer service. Over the past 25 years, River City Pizza has encountered its fair share of hurdles, but it's their unwavering commitment to excellence that has seen them through. Jacqueline explains about the beginning of owning a pizza shop. “People just love food and food brings people together! Food makes people happy and pizza! Pizza makes people really happy!”

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One significant challenge in the restaurant industry is maintaining consistency while adapting to

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evolving tastes and trends. River City Pizza has managed this by continuously refining their menu and experimenting with new flavors, all while staying true to their roots and the timeless appeal of pizza. But at the heart of River City Pizza's success lies their commitment to using only the finest ingredients. From the basic dough ingredients to the toppings that adorn their pizzas, every component is carefully chosen to create a symphony of flavors that keeps customers coming back for more.

The basic dough ingredients— flour, water, yeast, and a touch of olive oil—are transformed into a canvas for culinary artistry. The quality of these ingredients and the expertise of their employees in crafting the perfect crust are what set River City Pizza apart. It's this attention to detail that has made their pizza a staple in the lives of Spokane Valley residents for a quarter-century.

With unique offerings including the Balsamic Peaches with Blue Cheese that starts with a thin crust topped with a homemade white sauce, peaches, crumbled blue cheese, chicken, mozzarella, and a fine balsamic drizzle there is something for everyone. A popular take on the classic Hawaiian is their Porky Style Hawaiian; it has Canadian bacon, bacon, pineapple, and extra cheese, but if you want to step it up a notch, add jalapenos and a drizzled swirl of their homemade ranch after it’s baked.


Jacqueline helped support the community by providing free personal sized pizzas to students that were unable to attend school and get a hot lunch from school.

Jacqueline and Phillip opened their second location in Spokane Valley near Sprague and Valleyway in August of 2019 with the same takeout and delivery model as the Otis Orchards location. With the success of their second location despite the world imploding, the love of pizza was needed even more, and the opportunity arose to open a third location in CDA in October 2020.

They have most recently opened their fourth location in July of this year in Post Falls and continue to thrive.

Random Acts of Pizza: Giving back to their community

Sharing a pizza can be a catalyst for building relationships. Whether it's neighbors getting to know each other better or colleagues bonding over a pizza lunch, these interactions can lead to stronger social networks. Relationships forged over a slice

of pizza can extend beyond the dining table, leading to lasting friendships. “We started when a new business would open. We’d take pizza to them and welcome them to the community,” Jacqueline is a firm believer in giving back to the community whether it’s a new business, non-profit, or a school. “We’ve given out over 50 Random Acts of Pizza visits. It’s an outreach program to connect with the community at large.” A Random Act of Pizza visit will see the location chosen to receive multiple pizzas piping hot from the oven for free for the employees, students, or volunteers.

In addition to their Random Acts of Pizza, they help support local schools by donating pizzas to silent auctions and provide Dine Out nights for schools to raise funds. A Dine Out event gives 10% of the sales from the event back to the organization. “We wouldn’t be here if the community didn’t buy pizza from us. So, it’s our way of saying thank you for the support.”

Jacqueline is grateful for the support from their community. Phillip adds

that “we give not because we need a tax write off, or because we want recognition, but that we give back because we genuinely want people to know that we appreciate them.”

25th Anniversary and the Future

Jacqueline and Phillip have recently ventured into the realm of catering with unique pizza offerings at weddings, office meetings, and social events. They continue to provide the level of service and pizza quality that has become synonymous with River City Pizza. They are hoping to continue serving the community at their unique events for years to come.

Over the coming years, they are hopeful that a River City Pizza will be in the neighborhood pizza place for the majority of Spokane Valley and Spokane residents.

Follow River City Pizza and their Random Acts of Pizza on Facebook and Instagram and view their menu online at rivercitypizza.com. They have a new app that makes ordering your favorite pizza easier than ever before, available on iOS and Android.


Pandemic Pivot: The Benefits of Counter Service

The past couple of years have brought unprecedented challenges to the restaurant industry, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting traditional dining experiences. However, River City Pizza was quick to adapt since their original model was counter service and delivery.

Counter service allowed River City Pizza to maintain social distancing measures while still serving their beloved pizza to the community. Customers could place orders, pay, and pick up their food swiftly and safely, minimizing contact. This practice continued to not only ensure the safety of their staff and patrons but also demonstrated their commitment to serving the community even in the face of adversity.

During the trying times of the beginning of the pandemic,

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Photo by Ashley Humbird Owners Phillip and Jaqueline Barnard stand proudly in their recently opened fourth River City Pizza Location in Post Falls.
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