Cheney Free Press -


By John McCallum

Cheney’s piece of geological history


If all goes well, the city of Cheney might soon own property near Williams Lake – and part of geological history.

City Council members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing staff to enter into negotiations to purchase property referred to as the Williams Lake Plunge Pool. The pool is located between Williams and Badger lakes in southwest Spokane County and once served as a cataract between the lakes during the Ice Age floods that ravaged and shaped the regional landscape over 10,000 years ago.

“I’ve heard it compared to a miniature version of Dry Falls,” Ice Age Floods Institute, Cheney-Spokane chapter past president Dave Daugharty told the council, referring to the massive, long dry waterfalls about and hour and a half west of Spokane along U.S. Highway 2.

The incentive for the city’s purchase is that it wouldn’t be coming up with the funding to buy the land. That would come from the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.

Cheney Parks and Recreation Director Paul Simmons said the Conservation Futures Program would essentially do for Cheney with the plunge pool what it did for the city of Spokane with the former YMCA property in Riverfront Park downtown – purchase the property and help the city put it in its name.

“When you say purchase, the county is really going to give it to us,” Mayor Tom Trulove said. “It’s just a technical term.”

Simmons said the plunge pool is a popular destination on Ice Age Floods tours. The site has a storage shed already on it with functioning water and electrical connections already in place.

“Really the possibilities are endless with what you can do with this property,” Simmons said.

Most of the other agenda items were housekeeping in nature and the council moved quickly through them. The council adopted resolutions that included setting governmental fees and charges for 2013 and agreeing to a labor contract with the five-person emergency services dispatch bargaining unit to provides a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2012, 2.75 in 2013 and 3 percent in 2014.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance repealing Title 9A, Chapter 06, Section 020 of the Cheney Municipal Code and replacing it with state RCW 66.44.270. The sections deal with minor in possession of alcohol offenses. Police Chief John Hensley told the council the biggest change in the two is the city listed those offenses as misdemeanors while the state statute classifies them as gross misdemeanors.

“The penalties and fines are quite different between the two,” Hensley added.

Finally council unanimously adopted an ordinance approving final 2013 budget amendment items totaling $1,866,700 that incorporated new revenues in several funds. The biggest ticket item was $904,400 headed into the sewer fund, with $586,000 in revenue tabbed for the general fund as a result of receiving insurance money for the damage done to the Wren Pierson Community Center by the January 2008 snowstorm, a reimbursement for the 50-acre park and monies from the state’s fire mobilization fund to cover expenses for Cheney firefighters helping combat wildfires this summer.

The final 2012 council meeting is rescheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 20 at City Hall.

John McCallum can be reached at


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