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Update on the Proposed Amendment to the Current Boating Safety Ordinance for Liberty Lake

in Featured/Other News
Wakesurfing

 

He stated the following, “There have been a lot of rumors lately about this. However, the fact is there is a proposed amendment in the very early stages of the drafting process being drafted by the prosecutor’s office. It hasn’t even gone in front of the board of commissioners yet.”

The backing forces behind this proposed amendment are the HOAs of Newman Lake and Liberty Lake, primarily Newman Lake. The main reason is shoreline erosion and a study they completed on the erosion. “The proposed amendment is not to ban wakeboarding/surfing altogether. It is to prevent wakeboarding boats from adding internal or external devices which purposely creates a larger wake,” he adds.

If the amendment passes, it will encompass all of the lakes in Spokane County except for Lake Spokane (Long Lake).

Latest Version of Liberty Lake Farmers Market Set to Sprout

in Featured/Local Food/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Liberty Lake Farmers Market

Rain or shine, the 18th annual rendition of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market will roll out this Saturday, complete with new features and a lineup of over 50 vendors.

Longtime market manager, Holli Parker, says the opening of the open-air venue at Town Square Park – 1421 N. Meadowwood Lane – signals the beginning of the warm-weather season for many.

“One of my co-workers said to me the other day, ‘Oh, the market’s starting, that must mean that summer’s here,’” Parker said. “For a lot of people, it’s the sign that the weather’s going to get better.”

The market’s 2019 debut on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include new arrivals selling pies, burgers, pastries, and frozen drinks. Staples like Crepe Café Sisters, Veraci Pizza, and Desserts by Sara will also be part of a vendor array that will number 54 on opening day. Parker said the overall vendor count for the season – which runs through Oct. 12 – stands at 70. The folk stylings of local musician Brad Keeler will also be part of the atmosphere on Saturday.

Market regulars will miss the site of Lenny Munguia’s Jalapeno Heaven truck this year. One of the market’s inaugural vendors from 2002, Munguia has decided to shelf the salsa and burritos for now, although he still serves on the market’s board of directors.

Parker said that while fresh, local produce may not be as abundant early in the season, marketgoers will find plenty of plant and flower starts. There is also a vendor selling “micro-greens,” tasty roughage perfect for healthy salads.

Based on standards established by the Washington State Farmers Market Association, markets throughout the Evergreen state must account for at least half of their sales coming through local farmers. Parker said she and other board members are “observant and thoughtful about who we’re bringing in.”

“We want a good variety,” she said. “We’re not just going to bring in 50 Rice Crispy Treat people.”

Parker can remember the market’s debut on a drizzly Saturday 18 years ago when eight vendors huddled beneath plastic tarps while a paltry crowd wandered by.

“From where we started to where we are now, it’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so proud of this community and these people. I love our vendors and I love our board. We all work so well together.”

Holli’s uncle, Jim Frank and her mother, Susan Parker, first came up with the idea for the Liberty Lake Farmers Market as a way to support local farmers and create a friendly community gathering place. Almost two decades later, those goals and more appear to have been accomplished.

“It’s fun to see it get better every year,” said Frank who is a regular at the market each Saturday. “It is a Liberty Lake institution and really contributes to a strong sense of community.”

Holli said it’s gratifying to see vendors like Veraci’s start from market roots and establish successful brick-and-mortar sites like their restaurant in Kendall Yards. Another recent vendor, Glorious Bakery, found a landing spot over the winter, selling bread and other products at My Fresh Basket.

Market highlights this year include the Italian Festival (July 13), Pie Festival (Aug. 10) and Art at the Market, pared down to one day this September with a date to be announced.

Besides serving as manager in all but two years of the market’s existence, Parker says she relishes the opportunity to shop for groceries, reconnect with old friends and soak up the market’s positive energy.

“I just love going to the market,” she said. “Even though it’s a Saturday, I know I’m not going to sleep in.”

To learn more about the Liberty Lake Farmers Market, visit:

A Space of Their Own – Liberty Lake Portal Offers Unique Rental Options

in Featured/Other News
Liberty Lake Portal building

Bill Mogauro may call Boston home – but the project manager with Agility Recovery has sparkling reviews for a building at the corner of Mission Avenue and Molter Road in Liberty Lake that has become a unique home to dozens of businesses.

Agility – which provides resilient recovery for companies facing everything from an earthquake to a break in a water main – has occupied space at the Liberty Lake Portal for over two years. Mogauro credits Portal General Manager Keith Kopelson and his staff for being “extremely intuitive in offering suggestions and going out of their way to help us achieve our goals.”

“Keith has probably been the best business manager I’ve ever worked with,” Mogauro said.

Portal common AreaThe Portal has been around since 2000 and grown in scope and visibility over the years. Originally known as the TierPoint Building, the site benefits from the TierPoint data center, located in the Portal’s basement. Mogauro first discovered the Portal through Agility’s connection with TierPoint.

“It started with cloud services and our partnership with TierPoint,” he said. “We learned there was office space available here.”

Mogauro says he appreciates the Portal’s centralized location between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, easy access to amenities and convenient features like a loading dock just off Agility’s office space. Expanded parking in the back of the building has also drawn positive reviews from tenants.

Office space at the Portal ranges from 100 square feet up to 4,000 square feet. Agility – which has sites in College Station, Texas and the Boston area, as well as a collection of mobile units – occupies a 1,450-square-foot office that Kopelson has tailored right down to the corporate colors in the break room.

“This is a very modern, well-situated facility,” Mogauro said. “For us, it couldn’t be more perfect in terms of accommodations.”

Keith Kopelson at Portal office
Portal General Manager, Keith Kopelson Contact Keith at 509-343-0103 or email keith@libertylakeportal.com

Kopelson, a former member of the Liberty Lake City Council and a successful entrepreneur, took over as the Portal’s general manager in January 2017. He greets occupants here by their first name and always with a genuine smile.

“I really like working here,” Kopelson says. “I like to make sure people are comfortable, whether it’s adding a wall here or taking a paint swab and adding corporate colors to a room.”

Kopelson’s flexible approach has been apparent recently with new, short-term rental options for conference rooms and executive suites. While Portal tenants still get first dibs on a space like the Mica Peak Room with capacity for 50, outside groups have been utilizing the room for events like a First Aid training. Mica Peak can be leased for $80 per hour at a minimum of two hours or $300 for six hours.

“Tenants get priority but we don’t bump people,” Kopelson said. “Once a space is booked, it’s booked.”

Portal board room
Board Room

A classy boardroom that comfortably seats a dozen is available for $40 an hour while rentals of traditional office space run $100 for four hours or $150 for eight hours. Two smaller executive suites can be reserved at $25 an hour for a minimum of three hours.

“Because our executive suites did so well, offering a temporary office made sense,” Kopelson said. “These are great if you work out of your home and are meeting a customer. You have people where it doesn’t make sense to have a permanent office, so this works out well.”

The temporary offices are fully furnished and include features like a desktop computer, large monitor and printer.

Kopelson notes that the Portal can be likened to an incubator space with tenants moving up the square footage ladder as their respective operations expand.

“As they grow, we get them into bigger offices,” he said.

Mica Peak Room
Liberty Lake Portal – Mica Peak Room

 

Liberty Lake – Home of the “Grilling Gods”

in Featured/Local Food
Grilling Gods bbq

Grilling Gods logoLiberty Lake couple, Casey McClarty and Cassie Molloy, are the real Grilling Gods. The couple began as sales reps for a food and spice related business, then consulted for a local spice company prior to beginning their own business. They reside in Liberty Lake and create their rubs in a commercial kitchen in Spokane Valley.

Grilling Gods was born after the couple received a phone call from a friend who worked at the Gozzer Ranch in Harrison, Idaho. He asked them to create a rub that the ranch could use for their pork ribs because the head chef wanted to support a local business. Hence the birth of “Sweet Backyard BBQ.” After learning the chef and their customers loved their BBQ rub, Casey and Cassie created three more blends and started their brand “Grilling Gods.”

They now have four flavors, all of which are Gluten Free and have no MSG. The first three below are also sugar free.

  1. “Steak & Bake” – Is their top selling flavor which takes the best parts of a Montreal style and incorporates California grown garlic and mustard seed.
  2. “Salt of the Gods” – Is their newest and has quickly become a top seller. This amazing all-purpose seasoning is loaded with tons of domestic garlic, fresh pepper, onion, sea salt and smoky hickory flavor, creating a Johnny’s style rub without any sugar, msg. or fillers!
  3. “Southern Heat” – If you like a little heat with a whole lot of flavor, this may be the one for you. It has a unique combination of Cajun and Hispanic flavors, creating an absolutely outstanding profile with just the right amount of heat.
  4. “Sweet Backyard BBQ” – This rub is the Grilling Gods take on a traditional sweet BBQ dry rub with the flavors of fresh chili powder (without any heat) and an amazing cinnamon sugar blend that has half the sugar of traditional brown sugar rubs.

Grilling Gods does not have a retail store, however you can purchase any of these online at Grillinggods.com, at Yoke’s Fresh Market, Sonnenbergs, Tim’s Meats and at FMI Equipment. Grilling Gods will also be at Fairwood on Tuesdays, Kendall Yards on Wednesdays, the Spokane Valley Farmers Market on Fridays and the Liberty Lake Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Grilling Gods is a small family business working hard to build a loyal following for their brand by focusing on customer service, amazing flavors and affordability for families. They also donate to Soldiers’ Angels through special sales throughout the year.

Grilling Gods rubs

Fun Fact: Liberty Lake was named after Etienne Edward Laliberte

in Featured/Other News
Did you know? Liberty Lake

According to Wikipedia, “Liberty Lake was named after an Etienne Edward Laliberte, later he changed his name to Steve Liberty, a pioneer who settled near the lake.”

What if Etienne hadn’t changed his name? Would we be living in the City of Laliberte? Or, would we be fishing and boating in Etienne Edward Laliberte Lake?

source: “Liberty Lake, Washington.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Lake,_Washington.

Bear Spotted on the Liberty Lake Loop Trail

in Featured/Other News/Public Safety
Liberty Lake bear tips

Did you know that American black bears are common in this area and in most of Washington?

Some confusion comes from folks not realizing there is a lot of variability in the color of black bears—they can be a lighter “cinnamon” brown, dark brown, black, and even a combination of these.

Carrie Lowe, Assistant District Wildlife Biologist with the WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, states “We do have a couple of small populations of grizzly bear in Washington; the closest population to us is in the Selkirk Mountains in northeastern Pend Oreille County.  A few grizzlies have been observed in Stevens & Ferry counties as well.”

There are no known black bear population estimates for the area because the population naturally fluctuates with factors such as weather conditions and the resulting food availability. The WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife tend to get more reports of bear activity in the vicinity of people during periods of scarce natural food: early spring and late summer-fall, especially in years with drought conditions. This is sometimes perceived as an increase in the bear population.

Lowe states, “Bear can be active any time day or night.  During hot days they tend to be more active at dawn, dusk and at night when it is cool and rest during the day.  However, during the late summer and fall when they are packing on weight for the winter, they will be up feeding almost around the clock. Bear that get in to trash and other human food sources tend to do so at night, but can quickly get comfortable enough around people to do it during the day. Also during late spring and early summer, juvenile male bears may roam considerable distances looking for a territory and mature males will be roaming looking for mates, so people may be more likely to encounter a bear then.”

Bear usually avoid people as much as possible. If you see one while out hiking and it is unaware of you, it is recommended you just move away quietly. Lowe advises, “If it is aware of you or starts to approach, talk in a calm voice (don’t scream) and clap your hands. Keep your group together and back out of the area slowly—do not run. Usually the bear will run off. If the bear continues to approach, stand your ground and get your bear spray ready, use it when the bear is about 30 feet away. Do not climb a tree—black bear are excellent climbers. In the unlikely event of an attack, do not lay down and play dead but fight back and spray bear spray in the bear’s face. The exception to this is a defensive attack: a sow defending cubs, which is rare for a black bear. In that case, do not fight back but lay face down with your hands behind your neck and stay quiet until the bear leaves.”

Hikers should carry bear spray and have it easily accessible, such as on their waist belt or a chest harness. Do not leave it in your backpack, as you will not likely have time to dig it out when you need it.  Also, carrying bear spray doesn’t help if you don’t know how to use it. 

Lastly, Lowe states, “If you are recreating in bear habitat, which includes much of the natural areas surrounding Liberty Lake, it is inevitable that from time to time people will see a bear, and just seeing one is usually not a reason to report it.  If you have any encounter with a bear where it behaved aggressively or you felt threatened, whether at home or on the trail, you should report it to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Always report a bear that gets into your vehicle, home, building, pets or livestock to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife immediately.  In the case of an emergency or on weekends or outside normal business hours, call 911 and the appropriate personnel will be dispatched.”

Always keep this in mind: Ways for hikers to avoid an encounter with a bear include keeping their dog leashed at all times, hiking in groups, and making noise to avoid startling a bear.  

Fujiyama Adding Sushi Bar to Liberty Lake Location

in Featured/Local Food
Fujiyama sushi bar in Liberty Lake

The Liberty Lake community will soon have another opportunity to please their palate.

After receiving many requests, Fujiyama will be opening their new sushi bar on Thursday, May 16th.

General Manager, Laura Cael states, “We’ll be offering at least 15 specialty rolls plus many traditional rolls. Fujiyama is growing along with Liberty Lake and it’s exciting for us to be a part of it. We’re looking forward to bringing more sushi options to the community. We’ll also be opening our patio area with all new furniture on Thursday.”

Summer hours are currently:

  • Sunday Noon – 9 p.m.
  • Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

http://www.fujiyamawa.com/locations/liberty-lake/

LLPD Copes with Steady Decline in Applicants

in Featured/Government and Politics/Public Safety
Liberty Lake police car

Chief Brian Asmus can remember a time when as many as 70 hopefuls would apply for one officer position with the Liberty Lake Police Department (LLPD).

That was over a decade ago.

When two openings emerged recently at the agency, only five qualified applicants stepped up to the plate.

The scarcity of law enforcement recruits is not unique to Liberty Lake. According to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Seattle saw a 50-percent drop in applicants last year despite a starting officer salary of $79,000.

“There’s lots of thoughts about it,” said Asmus, who has overseen LLPD since late 2001, the year Liberty Lake was incorporated. “It’s a national issue, not just a local issue or a Washington issue. A lot of it has to do with the negative attention law enforcement has received.”

LLPD did bring on two officers earlier this year — Tuan Nguyen and Stephanie Scheurer. There will be 13 full-time staff after the latest pair of hires join the force.

Asmus said he would like to add one more officer by the fall. Within the past year, two Liberty Lake officers have left for the Cheney Police Department while a third resigned.

Early attrition continues to be a challenge for many agencies across the country, according to research by PERF. A survey of nearly 400 police departments nationwide last year found that 29 percent of officers who left their jobs had been employed less than a year while nearly 40 percent had been on the job less than five years.

Asmus is not ignoring the trends as he works to keep his team stable and emotionally well. He has implemented new programs providing mental health sick leave and conducting regular check-ins with awareness of issues like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Asmus stepped up to fill gaps after several departures in 2018, covering 12-hour patrol shifts himself. In 2002, the first full year of LLPD, Asmus and three officers patrolled the streets. The city’s population was around 3,500 at the time. It’s now closer to 11,000.

As for the drop-off in resumes, Asmus said he has decided against offering signing bonuses like a number of agencies on the west side of the state.

“You get people just chasing the dollar and we don’t want that,” Asmus said. “I’m looking for people who want to serve this community and be here for the right reasons.”

Asmus notes that recruiting worthy officer candidates these days resembles the work a college coach might do to sign a top recruit.

“Law enforcement is different from when I started back in the 90s,” Asmus said. “Now, you’re not only recruiting the officer, you’re recruiting their family.”

Former City Council Member Judi Owens remembers the discussions about enhancing public safety leading up to the successful incorporation vote in November 2000. She and her husband Charlie have called the community home since 1992.

“Before incorporation, there was just one county patrol car covering this area,” Owens recalls. “They were spread pretty thin. I think people realized we needed more public services, not just law enforcement, but our own road maintenance, library and more. It was a matter of keeping our tax dollars at home and funding those services.”

Owens said the inaugural City Council quickly recognized the importance of funding law enforcement and making public safety a top priority.

“We talked to Spokane County about contracting but it didn’t pan out,” she said. “I’m glad we went the way we did starting our own department. Brian has done a tremendous job and I think we have an outstanding police department.”

Asmus said he has always felt fully supported by the city when it comes to keeping his agency sufficiently staffed and equipped.

“The support has always been there,” he said.

As for the future of LLPD, Owens said there is one eventual vacancy that will be difficult to fill.

“I don’t really want to think about Brian retiring,” she said. “When you think about hiring a chief that fits in and has the community’s respect like he does – it’s going to be challenging.”

City Council Discusses Interstate 90 Improvements through Liberty Lake

in Featured/Government and Politics/Traffic and Roads
Featured Video Play Icon

Last week, we reported that the Washington state legislature approved $20.7 million for I-90 improvements through Liberty Lake.

“Awesome! When will they get started?”

Not so fast. The road to project kick-off is still under construction.

First, the governor needs to sign the bill into law. As of today, HB 1160 is on the governor’s desk awaiting signature.  If Governor Inslee fails to sign and does not veto the bill, it may still become law.

Next, the City of Liberty Lake and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have some work ahead of them before breaking ground.

Here is what is known and what the City of Liberty Lake is working to define.

Known:

  • Improvements are needed at Barker Road, Henry Road, and Harvard Road.
  • A year ago, City of Liberty Lake retained lobbyist to get these projects funded.
  • The project includes:
    • Harvard Road Northbound Bridge Widening
    • Harvard Road Westbound Ramp Extension
    • Barker Road at Cataldo Roundabout
    • Henry Road Overpass from Country Vista to Mission (no on/off ramps)
  • The project will be managed by WSDOT. They will control timeline, budget, and construction management.
  • WSDOT considers this one project and has yet to complete the project plan and contract.
  • According to WSDOT, I-90/Barker to Harvard – Improve Interchanges project is estimated at $26.9 million.
  • Per HB 1160, the City of Liberty lake is responsible to pay any amount over $20.7 million
    • The connecting Washington account appropriation for the improvements that fall within the city of Liberty Lake may only be expended if the city of Liberty Lake agrees to cover any project costs above the $20,900,000 of state appropriation provided for the total project in LEAP Transportation Document 2019-1 as developed April 27, 2019, Program – Highway Improvements (I).
  • Current estimated cost to Liberty Lake is $6.2 million.
  • There is no cap on overages and Liberty Lake has no say in the final amount besides managing the scope.
  • Supporters included: City of Spokane Valley, Spokane Valley Fire Department, Central Valley School District, Spokane Transit, Spokane Regional Transportation Council

Unknown:

  • Will the Liberty Lake City Council approve the WSDOT contract without knowing the total project cost?
  • Will Liberty Lake be able to find savings to reduce costs?
  • What will the financial strategy be to pay for this expenditure?
  • Will Spokane Valley contribute to the project since a portion of the project is located within Spokane Valley limits?
  • Will any of the other supporters contribute to the cost?
  • Will a project of this scope require Liberty Lake to put other planned projects on hold?

This week, City Council touched on some of these questions. It will take further discussions and discovery before they can answer all the questions.

Click here to watch the council discuss the I-90/Barker to Harvard – Improve Interchanges project.

Appreciative Angle – A reporter’s view of Liberty Lake

in Featured/Other News
Liberty Lake in May 2019 by James Paul

In the newsroom, it’s a question as common as the discarded lead paragraph:

“What’s the angle?”

In Liberty Lake, the pitch is one most jaded editors would quickly dismiss as idyllic and improbable as they shuffled the idea off to acquaintances in the field of utopian fiction.

“Communities like that don’t exist anymore,” the editor might say. “People don’t build trails, parks and a city of their own. They don’t start a farmers market, a utility district, magnanimous service clubs and a free festival with concerts, movies and a regular staging of Shakespeare.”

As someone who has covered Liberty Lake since April 2002, I would have a retort for Mr. Cynical that might ring similar to Zag Nation’s response to Jimmy Kimmel when the talk show host speculated on the veracity of Gonzaga University during March Madness.

“Liberty Lake does exist.”

For a decade with the Spokane Valley News Herald, I had the privilege of chronicling the rise of Spokane County’s first new jurisdiction since Airway Heights became a city in 1955.

Long before Liberty Lake established its own police department, library and City Council, dynamic civic leaders like Jim Frank, Leslie Zilka, Tom Specht, Margaret Barnes, Ross Schneidmiller and Lud Kramer were pouring the foundation of a community that would become known for landmarks like Pavillion Park and a world-class network of trails that residents thought was so important they decided to tax themselves to build it.

Since 2012, I’ve had the good fortune to continue telling the story of Liberty Lake in The Splash, a publication founded by Shaun and Nathan Brown in 1999 as they astutely saw the escalating demand for a larger and more detailed quantity of local news that went beyond the daily paper’s limited coverage.

These days, the stories in Liberty Lake are more plentiful than ever. As one of Washington’s fastest growing communities, the area lends itself abundantly to the sort of engaging, personal journalism you probably won’t find on the Associated Press Wire Service but that is distinctive to experiences in the 99019 zip code.

These are the stories of your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. They are stories that keep you in tune with a city, a school district, a police department, volunteer groups and more.

Former Liberty Lake Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Jenkins once told me that living in Liberty Lake was like being a resident of modern-day Mayberry. While the slogan never caught on, I saw his point. It does seem like the gold standard of communities and Chief Brian Asmus could likely pass for Andy Griffith on most days.

Still, like any community, Liberty Lake has its challenges. As one who learned the newspaper’s role as a watchdog years ago in Journalism School, I believe local publications like the Liberty Lake Gazette can shed light on those issues and be a sounding board for solutions.

On with the storytelling.

Editor’s Note
We are excited Craig is sharing his talents and Liberty Lake experience with the Liberty Lake Gazette.  Keep an eye out for Craig’s reporting and feel free to comment if there is a Liberty Lake topic you would like him to explore.
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