Articles written by John Mccallum


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  • Charting the democratic process

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 26, 2021

    SPOKANE - Voting is a process - one as essential to our democracy as yeast is to making a good loaf of bread. On it's surface, that process involves the voter opening their ballot, reading and learning about candidates and measures up for consideration, properly making their choice and then sealing and returning said ballot. That's on the surface. Like an iceberg, most of what takes place at the Spokane County Elections Department - and similar departments around the state -...

  • EWU women's soccer drops openers

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 26, 2021

    CHENEY — Eastern Washington University’s women’s soccer team is still searching for its first goal of the season, having come close on several occasions in back-to-back losses to open the 2021 campaign. The Eagles fell 4-0 in the season opener Aug. 19 at Gonzaga University, finding themselves in an early 3-0 hole on the strength of three goals in the first 15 minutes by the host Bulldogs. Eastern followed that with a 1-0 loss in the home opener Aug. 21 against Arkansas State, the lone goal coming in the 11th minute of play. ...

  • Man identified in fatal Cheney-Spokane Road crash

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 26, 2021

    SPOKANE COUNTY — The Medical Examiner’s office has identified the man who was killed in a single vehicle accident Aug. 4 on Cheney-Spokane Road near Latah Creek. Nyckolas Davis, 20, was killed then the vehicle he was traveling in, a 2002 Lexus driven by 19-year-old Rayce R. Kent, left the roadway at approximately 6:45 p.m. and rolled near the intersection with South Sherman Road. Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies said the Lexus was traveling toward Spokane at a high rate of speed, failed to negotiate a curve and left...

  • Taking in the experience

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 20, 2021

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Isaiah Rigo's current mental state is somewhat cyclical when he thinks about the upcoming Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. "I get excited, nervous to serious, then back again," the Cheney High School state cross country wheelchair champion said in a July 26 interview. Rigo, who attends the University of Illinois and competes in NCAA wheelchair track and field under head coach and Paralympian Adam Bleakney, was named to Team USA after track and field trials...

  • U.S. 2 proposal tabled over roundabouts

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 19, 2021

    AIRWAY HEIGHTS — At their Aug. 16 meeting, City Council members elected to postpone consideration of a request by the state Department of Transportation for concurrence with their U.S. Highway 2/West Plains Subarea Transportation Management Plan. WSDOT staff presented a draft of the plan, which included some draft strategies for development, during a study session on Aug. 9. The department was requesting the council provide a letter of concurrence expressing support for those strategies. But at the Aug. 16 regular session, s...

  • The Covid shark is still lurking, and it's hungry

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 19, 2021

    One aspect of the last 18-plus months that has struck me is how life can sometimes imitate art. Specifically, for me, how some events with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic correlate to the Steven Spielberg summer blockbuster “Jaws.” In the movie, a woman is killed while swimming. The movie’s unwilling hero, Sheriff Martin Brody, gets a report from the medical examiner that the death was caused by a shark attack. But under pressure from the mayor and city council of the island town of Amity, the examiner backtracks, saying “yes,...

  • Daupler dispatch delayed 3-4 weeks

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 12, 2021

    CHENEY — Implementation of the city’s new afterhours utility service dispatch system has been put on hold and won’t be initiated for another 3-4 weeks. Light Department Director Steve Marx said the July 20 startup of the new incident response management system through Daupler, Inc. didn’t take place due to a technical glitch in the program. The system was to have begun routing calls for utility service directly to utility employees through a separate phone line rather than through the current system of calling 911 dispatc...

  • Mark Losh new West Plains Chamber director

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 12, 2021

    SPOKANE — After a months-long search, the West Plains Chamber of Commerce has finally found its next leader. The Chamber announced on Aug. 2 that Eastern Washington native Mark Losh has been named its new executive director. Losh, who is currently director of membership with the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, begins his duties Aug. 23. He succeeds former West Plains executive director Toby Broemmeling, who stepped down from that role in October 2020 after almost two y...

  • All Aboard Washington pulls into Cheney

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 12, 2021

    SEATTLE — Advocates for expanding passenger rail service in Washington state – including a new, east-west route, are bringing a public presentation and fact-finding session to Eastern Washington. All Aboard Washington’s “2021 Train Trek” is making two stops in the Spokane area next week. Thursday, Aug. 19, will feature a session at the Spokane Airport Event Center, 9211 W. McFarlane Road, beginning at 5 p.m. The organization follows that with another session on Friday, Aug. 20, at Cheney’s Wren Pierson Community Center, 615...

  • Sorting it out

    John McCallum|Updated Aug 5, 2021

    Spokane County election workers use a sorting machine at the Election Department's office on West Gardner Street Tuesday afternoon to prepare ballots for counting. Ballots are run through the machine twice, first to scan the bar code and voter signature to log in that the specific voter has cast their ballot and a second time to separate ballots by precinct in preparation for tabulating....

  • As the song goes, 'It's time for me to fly'

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 5, 2021

    One hot mid-August Wednesday morning in 2000 I received a phone call from then-Cheney Free Press Dave Rey. Rey didn’t waste any time. After a quick greeting, he asked one simple question “How’d you like to come work for the Cheney Free Press?” Similarly, I didn’t waste any time with my response: “Yes.” After several interviews and job search disappointments, I was finally going to put my recently earned journalism degree to work as a staff reporter at a local weekly newspaper. While not specifically what I had sought when g...

  • Williams Lake public access to close for improvements

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 5, 2021

    CHENEY - Water recreation enthusiasts will find their access to Williams Lake limited beginning this week. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is beginning a project to replace the existing ramps at the public water access are on the lake, located south of Klink's Resort. In a news release, DFW officials said the work was beginning now due to a limited construction season. Contractor crews will be onsite Wednesday, Aug. 5, preparing the area for construction, which will...

  • Increasing tribal visibility

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 29, 2021

    CHENEY - New Eastern Washington University Tribal Relations Director Erin Ross sees her primary focus as communicator - internally with current Native American students but just as important externally with those communities they come from. That communication includes equal parts presenting the value of an education at EWU and what that can mean to those communities, along with listening to what those communities need and want. Both involve getting out and meeting with...

  • Daupler startup passes without initiation

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 28, 2021

    CHENEY — Implementation of a new afterhours utility service dispatch system will have to wait a couple more weeks. According to Light Department Director Steve Marx, the July 20 initiation of the new incident response management system through Daupler, Inc. didn’t take place due to a technical glitch in the program. The system was to have begun routing calls for utility service directly to utility employees through a separate phone line rather than through the current system of calling 911 dispatchers. “(It) appears to be a...

  • Read all about the election

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 22, 2021

    SPOKANE — Two new elements will be in play in the upcoming August primary election — one with a physical manifestation the other less so, but with a possibly large presence nonetheless. The first element comes via a legislative mandate during the last session in Olympia, requiring all 39 Washington counties to print a voter pamphlet. The size —and subsequent cost —will depend upon the number of races and measures appearing on the ballot, with small counties printing a 1-2 page flyer stuffed in the same envelope as the bal...

  • Cheney to try out Daupler

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 22, 2021

    CHENEY — Beginning July 20, afterhours calls for utility services will no longer be handled by the Police Department but will instead be directed to a new incident response management system provided by Daupler, Inc. The City Council approved a 12-month contract for the pilot program at its Nov. 24, 2020 meeting, and officials with the Light and Public Works departments began a six-month setup process in January. “Now, we’re ready to switch over to it for the next six months for implementation,” Light Department Director Stev...

  • Innocence until proven guilty extends to elections

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 22, 2021

    The Spokane County Elections Department has conducted 21 recounts of specific races over the past 20 years, according to the department’s online archives. To me, that indicates an inclination towards openness and transparency in the electoral process, not just the number of recounts but also the easy availability of the outcomes. Add to this the department’s willingness to allow election observers, and I feel pretty good about trusting the reliability of elections in our region, whatever they may be. Other voters should too...

  • Juggling a full schedule

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 22, 2021

    CHENEY — Like most of us, new Eastern Washington University student trustee Auriana Mitchell claims it’s difficult for her to be in two places at once. A look at the Liberty High School graduate and Cheney-area native’s career so far makes one wonder, however, if she hasn’t somehow perfected that ability — if not physically, then at least mentally and intellectually. The third-generation EWU student’s career at the university where her parents and one set of grandparent...

  • Rodeo returns after year off

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 9, 2021

    CHENEY — It takes a lot of work to stage the Cheney Rodeo — no small feat considering all of that work is done by volunteers. But given all that takes place, literally beginning just a couple days after the previous year’s rodeo wraps up, it’s more than likely all of those volunteers would agree with coordinator Heidi Monter’s assessment of the 2021 Cheney Rodeo. “I’m just thrilled to be putting on the rodeo again,” Monter said last week. After a one-year hiatus due to the Cov...

  • A fire dangerous Fourth

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2021

    WEST PLAINS — When it comes to the Fourth of July tradition of discharging fireworks, local fire agency officials are hoping West Plains residents will follow the old 1980s Nancy Reagan adage about drug use and just say no. Fireworks are banned in most of Spokane County with the exceptions of the cities of Airway Heights and Medical Lake — both of which allow their sales and usage. That is until Monday afternoon, when Spokane County Fire District 3 Fire Chief Cody Rohrbach enacted a temporary ban on discharging fireworks in...

  • Our birthday card for celebrating independence

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2021

    If you’re trying to beat the excessive heat by staying indoors this Fourth of July weekend and you run out of things to do, let me offer a suggestion. Read the Declaration of Independence. At 1,338 words it’s actually a short read. I’m sure you could find it on Kindle, but instead of listening to someone else read it, you read it. We learn more when we engage our minds in the active exercise of reading versus the passive course of listening — although the latter is essential and needed more these days. Don’t worry about mem...

  • Avista power outage planned in Sprague, surrounding area

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2021

    SPOKANE — Approximately 460 Avista electric customers in Sprague and the surrounding area will experience a planned power outage on Thursday, July 8. The planned outage will begin at 10 p.m. and end at 4 a.m. on Friday, July 9. No road closures are expected during this outage. During this time, Avista crews will perform maintenance to their Sprague substation, located north of Interstate 90 on Doerschlag Road approximately nine miles west of Sprague. The routine maintenance will increase reliability and reduce future o...

  • Cheney High alum and four-time state champion to compete in Paralympic Games

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2021

    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn — Former Cheney Blackhawk Isaiah Rigo is one of 61 athletes selected to represent the United States at the Paralympic Games this August in Tokyo, Japan. Rigo is one of three athletes from the Spokane area who was selected to the team after recently completing three days of trials. The other two are Hannah Dederick of Liberty Lake and Susannah Scaroni of Tekoa. Rigo is the first Cheney track and field athlete to compete in an Olympic Games. He is the second Ch...

  • Class portrait

    John McCallum, Cheney Free Press|Updated Jun 24, 2021

    Cheney High School Class of 2021 speakers Kayli Lucas and Dawson Heuett take time to remember their classmates and the special moment of graduation the modern way — by taking selfies during commencement ceremonies last Friday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. Lewis and Heuett were part of the largest class to ever graduate from Cheney. Editor’s note: This photo was previously run June 17 and is being re-run to correct a last name typo...

  • Cheney wraps up accelerated sports seasons

    JOHN McCALLUM, Managing Editor|Updated Jun 24, 2021

    CHENEY — The Blackhawks Season 3 (winter) teams wrapped up competition with some playoff action last week. Boys basketball They may have finished 0-12, but Cheney’s last game of the season was one of its better ones. The Blackhawks battled back from a 26-14 halftime deficit by outscoring Lewis and Clark 16-11 in the third quarter, only to fade down the stretch in a 63-50 loss in a Greater Spokane League 4A/3A consolation game June 16. The Tigers outscored Cheney 26-20 in the final eight minutes. Josh Whiteley led Cheney wit...

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