March 22, 2007 |

City council approves return of popular Cheney Hangout

Eastern Washington University to run programs while city maintains and funds teen center

By JOHN McCALLUM

Editor

The Cheney City Council gave its stamp of approval for the return of the Cheney Hangout, a popular teen center that closed down last spring due to space issues and conflicts associated with its location in Eastern Washington University's Brewster Hall.

The council passed a resolution at its March 13 meeting authorizing Mayor Allan Gainer to sign an interlocal agreement with EWU for equipping and running the center, designed to provide a safe environment for kids ages 9-13 to go to after school.

Under the agreement the city will maintain the site, located in the conference room at the Wren Pierson Building, while Eastern is responsible for overseeing youth programs through its Children Studies Department.

The agreement also gives the City Council sole discretion over the expenditure of funds to furnish the site. The Police Department currently has $32,000 remaining from the former Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, money that can only be spent on youth activities such as teen center amenities.

The city will spend $20,000 of that money this year to equip the facility, with the remaining $12,000 allocated over the next 12 years as an additional funding resource.

The expense is considerably less than a $100,000 architectural estimate last May for transforming a lower level space next to the Cheney Museum into a teen center.

“This is an excellent, low cost method for addressing this need,” public works director Don MacDonald told the council.

An equipment estimate accompanying the resolution put the largest expense at $5,000 for a computer lab. Approximately $3,500 would be spent on video games and equipment, $3,000 on a large-screen TV, $4,500 on furniture, $3,000 on additional games and $1,000 on items needed after the center opens.

Parks and recreation director Paul Simmons said the center would provide programs and activities as a sort of “day care to a group of kids that are not able to go to other facilities.” The Cheney Hangout will also be available to the city's Youth Commission to use as well.

The council also approved a policy authorizing the take-home use of city vehicles by the Fire Chief, Police Chief and police commander.

A review by the public safety committee recommended the establishment of guidelines surrounding the vehicles' use, a provision that such use is contingent on budgetary constraints, and advised an examination of future limitations on how far out of the city personnel using the vehicles may live.

“It's a community benefit to having chiefs have the ability to respond quickly and provide command and control on the way in on emergencies,” City Administrator Robert Strope said to the council.

The council also approved signing a letter of support for Spokane's North-South Corridor freeway project, with a revision stating it's just an important project to the area, not the most important as stated in the original draft by the Spokane Regional Council of Governments.

The City Council also approved returning the letter to the regional council with a cover sheet expressing the city's support for the project, but a desire to have the regional body get behind efforts to complete what the city considers its most important project – the widening of SR-904.

The council previously tabled signing the letter until it some sort of quid pro quo could be worked out with the regional council on SR-904.

“Quite frankly, I don't know if we have much leverage in holding a letter of support hostage to get something for our project,” Strope said.

Finally, the City Council approved a federal non-discrimination agreement in order to receive federal transportation funding, renewed its annual contract for animal control with Spokane County and amended an existing contract with Educational Service District 101 to receive $4,762 in extra funding on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program.

They also adopted policies on service animals, employee work week and handling contagious illnesses.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com

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