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AH farmers market presented to council

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Plans for a farmers market in Airway Heights moved a little closer to reality with a briefing given to the City Council at its June 20 meeting.

During a presentation updating the council on activities in the city by the Spokane Regional Health District's "Neighborhoods Matter" program, SRHD health specialist Heather Wallace said the research is "out there" on the benefits to communities with active farmers markets. An information sheet listed eight online links to studies indicating some of those benefits, such as increased upward mobility and social integration, increased access to fresher foods and increases in health and community safety.

Wallace noted Airway Heights has been designated a second-level food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In an email, she explained a food desert is determined by the proximity of low-income households, as tracked by the Census, to grocery stores and a population to grocer ratio.

"Airway Heights is in the second tier, meaning for residents in most areas, access to a grocer is more than 1/2 mile," Wallace wrote. That could change with the addition of a farmers market.

"It's one of those things that can have multiple impacts," Wallace told the council.

Council woman Aspen Monteleone and Councilman Dave Malet have been part of a citizen's group spearheading the farmers market effort. Monteleone said they hoped to get a city-sponsored market, which would be more constant and better maintained. Malet added that they hope to mirror other markets in cities such as Cheney and Davenport.

The group is looking at three possible locations for the market: a grassy field adjacent to the library, across from City Hall and at Sunset Park. The group would also take into consideration other factors such as "where the community wants to be."

Airway Heights resident Marlene Olmsted said she likes the locations because they are away from U.S. Highway 2 and provide areas of gobd parking and for "milling around" by market patrons.

In action items, the council approved a Fire Department request to use $8,585 as the city's 5 percent match for a $171,715 Federal Emergency Management Administration grant to purchase 26 self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters. The money for the match will come from the fire equipment reserve fund and the wages volunteer firefighters fund, the latter of which Fire Chief Mitch Metzger said was made possible by residents' passage of the Emergency Medical Service levy in 2015.

"It's an SCBA for each one of our riding positions," Metzger said. "The equipment we're using today is 15 years old."

Council also approved using money from the current expense fund and Kalispel Tpbe fund to purchase 14 additional SCBAs, along with two rapid intervention team kits and three adaptors needed to refill the new SCBA unit bottles. Metzger said the purchase, which totals $88,976.50, was needed to allow training without taking the frontline units out of service.

Council also approved a $31,580 contract with Century West Engineering for design and construction of a new potable water well the city would like to locate near the Deno Road Water Reservoir. The money comes from $710,000 the city set aside for non-potable "purple pipe" water system improvements.

In a related issue, the City Council rejected bids submitted for repainting of the city's water reservoir at Sunset Park. The bids came in over the budgeted amount due to the discovery of a lead-based primer on the tower.

Council had been asked by the Public Works Department to use money from the purple pipe fund to proceed with the additional costs. Instead, council decided to rebid the project later this fall or winter.

John McCallum can be reached at

"Airway Heights is in the second tier, meaning for residents in most areas access to a grocer is more than 1/2 mile."

Spokane Regional Health District health specialist _Heather Wallace

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Original Publication Date: June 23, 2016

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