Staff Reporter 

Short work

Airway Heights City Council races through Monday meeting


The Airway Heights City Council made quick work of things at their Monday, Aug. 19 meeting.

They breezed through a relatively routine agenda, plus heard an update from the Spokane Transit Authority, in just over 30 minutes.

Carl Otterstrum, Spokane Transit Authority’s Planning Director, gave an update on his organization’s West Plains projects.

His PowerPoint presentation helped illustrate some important issues related to bus service across the area as it stands today, and what it might look like in the future. Otterstrum noted there are currently five routes STA runs into either Airway Heights, Medical Lake or Cheney with No. 61 being responsible for nearly 500,000 riders a year.

The challenge Otterstrum and STA would like to solve is making West Plains riders come all the way into Spokane in order to make connections. A new park and ride at the SR 902 interchange on I-90, part of a project called Connect Spokane, would solve that, he told the council.

If built, the West Plains Transit Center, located on the southwest part of the freeway access would allow the West Plains routes to connect there first, saving riders a great deal of time – and enhancing the appeal of transit, he said.

“Travel time will be reduced and connections will be improved,” he said. This will make transit more viable not a burden because it currently takes so long to make connections through downtown.

STA recently received a $951,000 grant, which will allow continued preliminary engineering and some right away acquisition.

Fire Chief Mitch Metzger spoke about the cooperative services agreement between Medical Lake, Fire District 10 and Airway Heights and asked the council for permission to explore hiring of an outside company or consultant to see strengths or weaknesses in the agreement. He said he would report back to the members in October with more information, including the cost.

Metzger also updated council on recent fire activity. Dry conditions have seen a number of small fires break out, but were quickly extinguished. The department recently coordinated with the Bureau of Land Management in advance of predicted lightning storms. They dispatched a truck for standby use, but it was not needed.

City Manager Albert Tripp made a report to the council on a proposal to contract court services, similar to what Liberty Lake and the city of the Spokane Valley do with Spokane County District Court. It could save the city about $100,000 per year, Tripp said.

City attorney Stan Schwartz said that there are potential problems with this and that there were specific steps that must be taken before such a program might be implemented.

In other business, Councilman Dave Malet spoke of concerns he had over the city’s current public market and asked council to possibly consider terminating the contract.

“The vendor is just a vendor, they do not grow, there is no benefit to the community,” he said. He suggested looking at how other communities conduct and stage their markets and possibly follow their lead.

Malet also urged council to look into what it might take to establish an Airway Heights school or school district. Mayor Patrick Rushing cautioned Malet, however, telling him it was not the council’s place to promote or direct such an effort. But they can work to encourage the community to conduct a grassroots movement.

Councilman Barron Williamson had concerns over the look of the lawns in the city. A recent tour, he said, found about one in every 10 yards was not well maintained.

He said it was not fair for some residents to keep their lawns up while others failed to do so. Tripp said he also fielded a complaint in this regard.

Mayor Rushing gave a report on his participation in the Dan Kleckner Wounded Warrior golf tournament that attracted 470 golfers, 90 teams and was played over two days at Sundance Golf Course in Northwest Spokane.

A number of action items and consent agenda items passed without objections or additional discussion.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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