Monthly Archives: January 2014

Airway Heights to vote on youth and senior commissions

Two more boards may join Airway Heights as Park and Recreations is looking to establish both a youth and senior advisory commissions.

The idea for these commissions came up after meetings between J.C. Kennedy, Mayor Patrick Rushing and Councilman Dave Malet. Kennedy then brought up the proposed ordinances during the Jan. 13 City Council study session. He mentioned the commissions would serve in a similar capacity as the Park Advisory Board.

Kennedy said that engaging students in the area can be difficult due to lack of a facility, a middle school or a high school.

“They are engaging in activities, but it is in in Cheney instead of Airway Heights,” Kennedy said. “We need to find a way to serve the youth better, and no better way than to go to the source. We want to ask them ‘What can we do to make growing up here better for you in the community?’”

According to Ordinance C-821, the Youth Advisory Commission will act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters pertaining to the youth, especially as it relates to municipal programs and projects. The commissoin will also maintain a working relationship with organizations working towards a better quality of life for youth and children, recognize youth and children making significant contributions to the community.

The commission will get to design and participate in activities and programs intended to generate youth input and identify the unmet needs of youth and children through personal contact with youth and children, school officials, youth providers and others.

The Youth Advisory Commission will be comprised of 10 members: two elementary school students, four middle school students and four high school students. The City Council will appoint the members of the commission who will serve for a period of two years. High school students that are appointed to the board during their senior year will serve until they graduate. The term of an appointed commissioner shall be from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of each calendar year.

Similar to the youth commission, the Senior Advisory Board, according to Ordinance C-820, will act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters pertaining to the senior population. They will also maintain a working relationship with organizations working toward a better quality of life for seniors, recognize seniors making significant contributions to the community; and design and participate in activities and programs intended to generate senior input.

The Senior Advisory Commission will be comprised of five to seven members, all of whom will be appointed by the City Council, and will serve for a period of three years. A commissioner’s term shall coincide with the calendar year, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Both commissions will have officer positions of chairman, vice chair and secretary. The Youth Advisory Commission will also have a treasurer. Members of both commissions will serve without pay.

Kennedy mentioned that the city does not have a dedicated facility for seniors, however a lot of seniors are excited about the commission. He also said one of the goals is to open a multi-purpose room and the Senior Advisory Commission could be a way to “breath life into the project.”

“The youth and senior advisory boards can be a way to engage these age groups and have them come up with their own programs,” Kennedy said.

The ordinances proposing both commissions were presented at the Jan. 21 City Council meeting and will be up for vote, Feb. 3.

Al Stover can be reached at


Hallett Elementary students bust myths in lab

Elementary STEM Coach Marci Dayton prepares to drop a ball of clay onto the floor in front of an audience of students and parent as part of an experiment to see if falling on the ground was dangerous as falling into water.

A Hallett Elementary School student pulls off a tablecloth, resulting in dishes and silverware crashing on the floor. Several feet away, two of his classmates sit at a table, attempting to pull apart two phone books that had their pages interlaced together.

Both the tearing apart of the phone books and the ripping of the tablecloth were not acts of misbehaving, but rather two science experiments happening during the Mythbusters lab, presented by Medical Lake School District’s STEM program, Jan. 18, at Hallett Elementary.

According to Elementary STEM Coach Marci Dayton, who headed the presentation, the lab was to introduce students and their families to science experiments similar to ones performed on the television show “Mythbusters.”

Students had to prove whether the objective – or myth – could be completed in each experiment. This included trying to pull a tablecloth off a table without spilling all of the dishes on top and attempting to make rope out of toilet paper.

Dayton gave families notebooks to write down hypothesizes and record observations. Dayton also encouraged students to change some of the variables of each experiment, such as using a different kind of tablecloth.

One of the experiments families did as a group was to determine if hot water or cold water would freeze faster with Dayton monitoring the process of both the hot and cold water.

After 30 minutes, the cold water began to ice over while the hot water, which had cooled at this point, was starting to get some thickness.

Dayton explained that hot water freezes quicker because the molecules are moving at a fast rate, but because of the increased density, the cold water froze faster. She added that depth can affect how fast water freezes

Another experiment the families did together was to see if it was more dangerous to fall into water or onto solid ground. Dayton did four trials with different objects: air-dry clay, tomatoes, eggs and water balloons.

After each drop, objects dropped in water had similar results, but received less damage than objects that hit the floor.

In addition to the experiments, families watched a video interview featuring “Mythbusters” host Adam Savage, who talked about the positive aspects of children learning new things and creating their own science experiments.

At the end of the lab, students and families shared their results of their expirments. One group said they were able to tie nine braids of toilet paper together to make it work as a temporary rope.

Elementary school students Colton Lennen said the phone book experiment was interesting.

Dayton said the lab had a good turnout. She mentioned she normally puts everyone into a group and they perform all of the experiments together.

“This time people put more time in some experiments,” Dayton said. “They just went where their interests lie.”

The next STEM lab for Hallett Elementary is scheduled for February.

Al Stover can be reached at

Airway Heights families learn about making fast food at home

Sunset Elementary hosts cooking class

Kristen Nicholson helps the Peterson family make a fruit salad to go with their meal. Nicholson was one of the teachers at the Sunset Elementary Cooking with Families Nutrition class.

Sunset Elementary school hosted a Cooking with Families/Nutrition class for local families, Jan. 16, in the gymnasium.

Sunset holds cooking classes every few months as a part of health and wellness development.

According to Laura Martin, the wellness coordinator for Cheney School District, the focus for this class was to show families they could cook fast food meals at home on a smaller budget.

As students and parents came into the gym, teachers brought them to one of the tables lined with juices, soft drinks and energy drinks. Teachers brought up several facts about the drinks, including the amount of sugar in each one.

After the presentation with the drinks, families took seats at the tables as Kristen Nicholson, a professor from Washington State University, broke down the price and nutritional values of a meal from McDonalds, comprised of six-piece chicken nuggets, a small fry and a small soft drink and a homemade meal of breaded chicken, baked fries, a fruit salad and 1-percent milk.

“The message here is not to stay away from fast food, but we recommend only going out once or twice a week,” Nicholson said.

While fast food is convenient for saving time, Nicholson recommended that families who are busy during the week take some time during the week to prepare the food ahead of time.

In addition to comparing the two meals, Nicholson also informed students about which fruits contained Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Following Nielsen, Martin showed how to bread the chicken with panko breadcrumbs, milk or eggs, salt petter and garlic powder, before putting it into the oven. She added that families can do anything to “spice up the meat” if they wanted to add some extra flavor to the chicken.

Martin then showed families how to cut potatoes for baked fries. Similar to the chicken, Martin recommended that families could add herbs to the potatoes.

As families were waiting for the main course of dinner, teachers brought out apples, bananas, kiwis and had families make a fruit salad.

“The fruit salad gave kids and parents a hands-on activity where they can participate,” Martin said.

After the fruit salads were complete, families were served baked fries and breaded chicken to go along with the salad.

Jeani Struss, Sunset Elementary teacher who is in charge of the cooking classes, said that parents were happy with the information that was presented during the class.

“[The class] gave them a chance to eat dinner as a family and meet some new people,” Struss said.

Struss added that there will be another Cooking with Families/Nutrition class in March.

Al Stover can be reached at

Consultants brought in to help local fire departments

 The fire departments of Medical Lake, Airway Heights and Spokane Fire District 10 are once again putting their heads together, but this time they are bringing in an outside source for help.

The three fire departments have entered into an interlocal agreement to bring in consultants from Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) to perform an evaluation of the three individual departments, as well as, provide recommendations on how the departments can improve their cooperation between each other.

The cooperative agreement between the fire departments to hire a consulting service is the latest collaboration between the departments. In the past the departments have consolidated their training programs and combined their calendars, which has allows recruits from one department to take a class from a different department and still receive the same training. The departments also formed the West Plains Fire Academy.

According to Medical Lake Fire Chief Jason Mayfield, the idea to hire a consulting service came after several meetings where the departments would meet and discuss better ways to improve their cooperation.

“Whenever it seemed like recommendations were made, more questions would be popping up,” Mayfield said. “The departments decided to bring in an outside source, which would have a non-biased professional opinion of how the departments are currently operating.”

Spokane Fire District 10 Deputy Chief Bob Ladd said his goal is to see what recommendations ESCI will provide that will help the departments serve citizens better.

Airway Heights fire chief Mitch Mezger said he thought the consulting service is a great thing and that he hopes the communities will be happy from increase of efficiency of service that comes from ESCI’s recommendation.

The departments formed committees between the three agencies and put out a request for qualifications bids and proposals. After receiving answers from a couple of services, Mayfield said they picked ESCI because the company came with a lot of experience conducting assessments with fire departments. The committee not only followed up with references, but also interviewed ESCI personnel.

Mayfield said that Medical Lake Fire Department would receive the same service from ESCI as the other two departments.

“They seemed to have an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish,” Mayfield said.

According to Mayfield, $13,720 is what each department is paying for the initial study. There may be some additional costs with further recommendations.

Medical Lake approved the agreement at the Jan. 6 city council meeting. The agreement was presented at the Jan. 13 Airway Heights City Council Study Session. Mayor Patrick Rushing said the proposal was a good thing.

“It’s a long way from where we’ve been in the past,” Rushing said.

The first step of the study would begin after ESCI sends a letter with a list of the documents they need from each department. Once they have compiled information from the documents they received, ESCI will come out to visit each fire department and interview department personnel, city administration, city council and citizens to “get a feel for where the department is on every level,” according to Mayfield.

ESCI will send a draft to the departments. After the departments review the draft and send it back to ESCI, the consultants will complete a report, complete with recommendations for improvement in each department.

“Some things will be very simple that we can implement right now that won’t have any cost,” Mayfield said. “It could just be better ways of tailoring our resources, our budget or how we deploy our trucks on call.”

Mayfield added that the report would also contain recommendations for more defined cooperative services between the three departments, which could include a type of merger or consolidation.

Once they get the recommendations from ESCI, the departments will see which improvements they could implement at first. Cast of “Perfect Wedding”If there are any recommendations that would result in major changes, the department will meet with city officials and the other departments to see which ones they should pursue.

On a personal note, Mayfield said ESCI’s report would help him plan the future of the Medical Lake Fire Department.

“I’ve been here for 15 years and worked under four different fire chiefs and each of my predecessors has had a different idea of where the fire department should go in the future,” Mayfield said. “I’m just trying to make sure any direction I take are based in fact and not based on my own opinions or desires.”

Al Stover can be reached at

Blackhawks defeat Greyhounds, compete in Ellensburg

Sanderson, Wessels take home Westberg tourney titles

The Cheney Blackhawks wrestling team continued to roll through the season with a dual meet and a tournament this past week.

The team first competed in a dual meet against the Pullman Greyhounds in a league contest, Jan. 15. The Blackhawks beat the Greyhounds 61-12.

In the first match of the night, Cheney’s Braden Wirth, competing at 113 pounds, pinned Joe Harris with 22 seconds left in the third round.

In the second bout, Cheney’s Andrew Jenkins moved up to 120 pounds to face Cole Dahmen. After close first and second rounds, Jenkins scored a reverse in the last minute to win the match by decision, 5-3.

Cameron Wiseman, at 132 pounds, scored more points for Cheney after he pinned Devyn Weignert. His teammates Vern Sanderson and Devon Waterman also scored pins in their matches. Sanderson, at 145 pounds, defeated Matt Pru and Waterman, at 182 pounds, beat Zach Toyoda.

Several Cheney wrestlers scored points via forfeit, including Josh Wessels, Michael Ferguson, Kodi Smith and Garrett Pederson.

In the last match of the night, Blackhawks’ Taylor Mgyuen defeated Grant Harris by majority decision, 12-4.

Head coach Brad Rasmussen said the team was looking to improve after Deer Park and the kids showed a lot of heart during the match.

Three days after the dual against Pullman the team traveled to Ellensburg to compete in the Westberg Wrestling Invitational, Jan. 18. The Blackhawks took fifth place as a team with 142 points.

Sanderson and Wessels took home championships in the 138 and 170 weight divisions, respectively. Smith took second place at 220 pounds.

In addition to Sanderson, Wessels and Smith making the finals, Cheney had three third place finishers and one fifth place finisher.

Rasmussen said he was happy with how the team wrestled in the tournament.

“Having three in the finals and seven overall placers is something to really be proud of as a team,” Rasmussen said. “They have really worked hard the last few weeks and it’s nice to see some of that pay off.”

The team returns to Cheney to face the East Valley Knights, Jan. 22. The results from that meet will be in the Jan. 30 edition of the Cheney Free Press.

Al Stover can be reached at

Medical Lake students take in college jazz scene

The Medical Lake Middle School jazz band plays during the critique session with David Marriott, the director of Edmonds Community College’s jazz band.

Students of Medical Lake middle school and high school jazz bands saw a possible glimpse into their musical futures as they came to Eastern Washington University to display their skills as a part of EWU’s annual Jazz Dialogue Music Festival, Jan. 10-11.

The middle school band, consisting of sixth-seventh- and eighth-graders, came on the first morning of the event. For 13 of these students, who were clutching their polished instruments and worn music books as they made their way through the halls, this was their first time performing in a jazz festival.

After a 30-minute warm-up practice session, the band played a set of three tune in front of an audience consisting of two other schools.

Once they were finished with their performance, they went to a critique session with David Marriott, the director of Edmonds Community College’s jazz band.

During the session, Marriott gave several tips to help them with their sound. He also recommended that soloists spend time looking at their parts.

“The more time you spend with your parts, the more time you’ll save for your band director,” Marriott said.

Craig Johnson sixth-12th grade band director, said the students were relaxed while they were performing at the festival.

“I was worried because it was the first time for some, but they enjoyed it,” Johnson said.

The high school and Red Clay combo jazz bands came to EWU on the second day of the festival. Like their younger musical counterparts, the high school and combo bands played a 30-minute practice before going to perform at the recital hall. Johnson mentioned that both bands were relaxed when they came to the festival.

“The high schoolers came at 7 a.m., so I think they were too tired to be nervous,” Johnson said. “They had a great time.”

Some of the band members attended the evening concert that featured performances from EWU’s performing faculty and other guests, including guitarist Mike Stern and vocalist Greta Matassa.

All three jazz bands will be performing at the Java and Jazz fundraiser at MLMS, Feb. 21. The high school jazz band will also be performing at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Feb. 22, in Idaho.

Al Stover can be reached at

Airway Heights residents can get in shape from head to toe

For citizens of Airway Heights, who are looking to transform themselves in 2014, the Parks and Recreation Department offers the “New Year, New You,” adult fitness class.

The class will be eight weeks and will help teach workouts participants can use at home and without equipment. The workouts are modified for men and women of all fitness levels. The class takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30 p.m ., at Sunset Elementary.

Andy Gardner, Parks, Recreation and Community Services supervisor, said the class was something Parks and Recreation wanted to do for the city.

Although the lack of a proper facility is something the department has battled when it comes to hosting a fitness class, Gardner mentioned that Sunset provides space for workouts.

“We can do running in the hallways,” Gardner said. “We’ll be using the music room to do workouts.”

Kelli Proctor, a fitness teacher at Cheney High School, has been working as a recreation assistant for youth and adult programs for two and a half years. When the department was looking to expand fitness beyond the adult athletics program, she helped come up with some of the ideas that evolved into the Total Body Conditioning class held in 2013. After Proctor became a certified instructor, she took on the task of overseeing the classes.

After Total Body Conditioning was well received by the community, Parks and Recreation started a Boot Camp class in the spring.

Proctor said the idea for the “New Body, New You” fitness class is to introduce people to fitness. She plans on focusing her lessons on three of the five components of fitness: cardio respiratory, muscular endurance and muscular strength.

She mentioned that the classes would comprise of proper exercises that people can do with their own bodies that will be as effective as if they used workout equipment, but without the cost of renting or purchasing machines. Students will do some of the workouts themselves, while other exercises will involve them collaborating with other students or the whole group.

“The goal is to have everyone break a sweat and learn something new everyday,” Proctor said.

Over the course of the class, Proctor will also be putting together a booklet that will include exercises and routines that were demonstrated in the class. The book will allow students to use some of the routines in class and use them at home.

In addition to learning new exercises provided from the instructor, the class gives citizens a chance to have a support system where there are other people working toward the same goal as them, as well as gives them a chance to bounce new ideas off their classmates.

Although no one is registered for the class at this time, Gardner said the department would still offer it to anyone who wants to join.

“We might stop it for a few weeks and open registration back up in February,” Gardner said.

Proctor said she excited for the class and blessed to be a part of a community that wants to offer people different fitness programs. She added that Parks and Recreation plans on having three more fitness classes this year.

The registration fee is $50 a person. Anyone interested can register online at

Al Stover can be reached at