Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Articles written by Joe Smillie

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 By Joe Smillie    News    December 27, 2012

O'Neill reflects on stint as commissioner

The end of 2012 also means the end of Pat O’Neill’s tenure as Whitman County commissioner from District 2. A retired United Airlines mechanic, Pat O’Neill served one term. O’Neill, 65, Johnson, was one of the rarest breeds of Whitman County...

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 27, 2012

Partch says Hawkins lockout was 'fatal'

Twelve years in office resulted in a lot of votes for outgoing Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch, 64, Garfield. But it was his decision to shut down public comment at a Jan. 3 meeting about the county’s contribution to Boise-based Hawkins...

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 20, 2012

Changes eyed for Pullman-Moscow corridor

Whitman County commissioners decided Monday to have the planning commission consider reducing the minimum size requirement for commercial lots in the Pullman-Moscow Corridor. Land owners and realtors from the corridor asked for changes to allow for... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 20, 2012

County 2013 budget $200K short; plan to balance of 2012 surplus

Commissioners still plan to pass a deficit budget for Whitman County’s operating plan in 2013. The $59.58 million budget is expected to spend $200,000 more than it will earn in revenue. The deficit will be in the $13.29 million current expense...

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 20, 2012

Wind Farm goes live

Construction on one of the largest projects in Whitman County history finished Tuesday, as First Wind began commercial operations on the Palouse Wind farm on Naff Ridge. First Wind Project Manager Aaron Pedigo is interviewed as construction finished... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 13, 2012

Flat bottom boat for Sheriffs on Rock Lake

Using a seldom-tapped source of state boating safety funding, Whitman County Sheriff’s office is the proud owner of a new 17-foot flat-bottom aluminum boat with a 70-horsepower engine. “It’s a fisherman’s dream come true,” said Sheriff... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 13, 2012

Coal train concerns port, grain shipper

Proposed large shipments of coal on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad from the midwest to coastal Washington ports in Longview and Cherry Point could impact grain shipments from Whitman County. Port of Whitman County officials discussed the i...

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 13, 2012

County sticks with New World

Whitman County will stick with its costly New World accounting software. Commissioners Monday voted unanimously to sign a maintenance deal with the firm through 2014. The three-year contract begins with retroactive coverage to the beginning of 2012....

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 13, 2012

Officials see grey area in new pot law

Marijuana possession is legal in Washington as of last Thursday, Dec. 6. Passed in the November election, Initiative 502 made it legal for anyone over 21 to hold up to an ounce of pot. But several questions remain. Marijuana is legal to smoke in...

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 6, 2012

LaCrosse Community Pride searches for Teapot proprietor

Bringing back the Teapot Café in LaCrosse is the latest cause for LaCrosse Community Pride, a nonprofit that formed after the town grocery store closed in 2009. Due to failing health, long-time owner Cheri Garrett shut the doors on the west county... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    December 6, 2012

State's GOP senators elect Schoesler to lead caucus

Ninth District Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was unanimously elected to the top spot in the senate Nov. 28 when the legislature’s 23 Republican senators met in Olympia to choose leaders for the next two years. Schoesler, who was unopposed, was...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 29, 2012

The battle of ‘The Beast’: Coug wins first ‘Top Notch Cup’

Sweat forming on his upper lip, Cedric Cook dug his fork back into the heaping plate of meat on his way to a win in an epic eat-off of “The Beast,” the new monster burger cooked by Top Notch owner Pete Koerner. Cedric Cook, left, and Andrew Poleo... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 29, 2012

Port of Whitmanbudget drops after cable project

Without the boost of a federal telecommunications grant, the Port of Whitman County’s budget will fall back to just over $4 million in 2013. Port commissioners unanimously approved the budget earlier this month. The 2013 budget is a steep drop...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 29, 2012

County budget ready for public hearings

With a projected shortfall of $200,000, Whitman County’s 2013 budget will be put before the public at a 6 p.m. hearing next Monday, Dec. 3. Initial requests from department managers had spending in the $55 million plan out-pacing revenues by... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 29, 2012

Stubblefield proposal ‘penned’ by Steiger

“Only in Whitman County.” Tiffany Hergert’s words about the marriage proposal offered up last month by her now-fiancee, Tyler Startin, could not be more accurate. Using his trusty old Steiger tractor, Startin plowed “Marry Me Tiff?” into a... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 22, 2012

Residents ask county to keep Seltice cutoff

Several residents from around Seltice voiced their objections to a Whitman County proposal to abandon the 450-foot Seltice Road, saying it is a regularly-used bypass for traffic in the neighborhood. “I was really kind of insulted by you calling it...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 22, 2012

County asked to consider smaller lots in P-M corridor

Whitman County commissioners have been asked to consider reducing the minimum size of commercial lots in the Pullman-Moscow Corridor. Planner Alan Thomson Monday told commissioners he had been asked by a potential developer if county zoning laws...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 22, 2012

TV report on SJ twister not today's news

Thanks to what is assumed to be a computer virus that somehow activated 18-month-old emails, Spokane television station KREM reported a pair of twisters appeared in the sky west of St. John Monday. Ken Gehring, whose photograph of two tornadoes in...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 22, 2012

LaCrosse Cafe closes doors

The Teapot Cafe closed last week, leaving another vacant storefront on Main Street LaCrosse. Townsfolk, though, don’t intend to leave it empty for long. Cheri and Steven Garrett closed the doors on the restaurant they have operated for more than...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 15, 2012

Plea deal offered to marijuana defendants

After Washington voters legalized marijuana in last week’s election, Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said Tuesday he plans to offer plea deals to anyone facing misdemeanor possession charges. Washington voters approved Initiative 502 in last...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 8, 2012

CETC goes on auction block

Whitman County commissioners put the damaged CETC building on the auction block Monday with a minimum bid of $60,000. Sale will be conducted through a sealed bid process. Bids are due Dec. 3 at 11:30 a.m. The CETC, damaged by a snow load in the...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 8, 2012

Port signs first fiber contract

Seattle-based telecommunications company CenturyLink signed on to be the first user of the Port of Whitman County’s new 170-mile fiber optic cable. Port commissioners signed a 10-year lease to use four strands of the 144-strand fiber optic cable at...

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 8, 2012

Largent to lead Hawkins talks

Despite his objection to Whitman County’s $15 million development agreement with commercial developer Hawkins Companies of Boise, County Commissioner Michael Largent was named Monday to head a committee to negotiate an amendment to the contract....

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 8, 2012

Swannack, Kinzer post big leads

Art Swannack and Dean Kinzer appeared poised to join Whitman County’s governing commission, and President Barack Obama won re-election despite losing the county to Mitt Romney in Tuesday night’s initial election returns. Tuesday night’s... Full story

 By Joe Smillie    News    November 1, 2012

Health insurance costs rile county employees

Employees of Whitman County government pleaded for increased benefits Monday morning as commissioners discussed health insurance plans for the coming year. “There’s been a paucity of investment in employees,” Deputy Prosecutor Byron Bedirian...


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