Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Bulletin Column: November 21, 2019


November 21, 2019

This vintage Colfax street light is one of two which were offered to Colfax for possible installation at the downtwn Codger Pole. The two lots are in the yard at the house which is located on property the adjoins Whitman Hospital on the south side. The house is expected to be removed next year to make the site available in the future.

These reports are from the previous four issues of the Daily Bulletin in Colfax. They are reprinted here for the benefit of Gazette readers who reside outside of Colfax. Some accounts have been updated.


Colfax city council members Monday night approved a $75,000 addition to this year's city budget to cover unanticipated costs for legal fees. The costs were incurred by the city in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Police Chief Rick McNannay's Civil Service Board petition for reinstatement after he was fired.

The three-member board voted July 2 to reinstate McNannay who had been placed on administrative leave last October and was subsequently fired in January.

The board voted 3-0 to grant McNannay's motion for a summary judgment and ordered McNannay to return to work Aug. 1. They also ruled he should receive back pay.

The city hired Spokane Attorney Ronald Van Wirt.

Chris Mathis, city financial director and interim city administrator, said provisions to cover the $75,000 have already been made in the city's budget for the year.

Noting he was asking in a hypothetical mode, Councilman Jim Kackman inquired about what would be the result if the council turned down the budget amendment.

Mathis said that would leave the city unable to pay the bills under the budget limits.

Van Wirt's law firm submitted bills to the city during the McNannay hearings, and they were paid on a monthly basis. The firm conducted extensive work in preparation for a formal hearing which never took place.

Mathis said much of the cost was covered with building permit revenue connected with the school remodeling project. That anticipated revenue at one time had been tagged to bolster the city's dwindling reserve fund.


Colfax City Council members Monday night approved a one percent increase for property tax revenue. The vote will hike property tax revenue by $6,148 for next year.

Under a state initiative, cities, towns and other government entities are restricted to one percent increase in tax revenues per year.

Councilman Jim Kackman noted the city at one time was allowed a six percent annual increase which generated council debate. He added the one percent mandate leaves little room for argument. He noted the one percent revenue limit actually falls short of covering the annual cost increases for the city's operation year.

The $6,148 includes the one percent hike in tax revenue plus anticipated revenue for new property which increased the city's tax base. New construction inside the city limits totaled $639,997.

Later in the session, the council converted to a session for the Colfax Municipal District and approved the same revenue hike for that entity. Anticipated revenue for the municipal district, which is intended to generate funds for parks, will be $1,146.

Kackman said he was concerned about the 2020 budget's lack of funds to pay for a new city administrator in the event the city hires one. He noted he was concerned that as time goes by the funding would disappear.

Mayor Todd Vanek noted the $81,000 to $85,000 pay range authorized by the council for the position is not in the budget.

Interim City Administrator Chris Mathis said she anticipated the city could cover the expense if 2020 revenue exceeds projections or if the city realizes savings during the year.

The administrator's salary is funded with portions coming from different parts of the budget. The city's general fund and the street fund would be hard pressed at this time to generate funds to pay their shares of the administrator expense.


Colfax United Methodist Church this week is participating in the Operation Christmas Child which provides gifts for children around the world. The church offers boxes of shoe box scale and assistance on what to place in the boxes and items to fill them. They will be shipped out to needy children around the world.

The UMC volunteers will be at the church from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday they will be at the church from 5 to 7 p.m. and next Monday from 9 to 11 a.m.

Operation Christmas Child is part of the Billy Graham Samaritan's Purse program.


Two new charges were filed in court Tuesday against Nicholas S. Rhuby, 25, Steptoe. He was charged with second degree theft and possession of heroin.

The theft charge alleges Rhuby took his grandfather's debit card and used it to make charges between Sept. 21 and 23. The report alleges a total of $1,015 was charged to the card. The alleged thefts included cash withdrawals from ATM machines in Colfax and Pullman. The report alleges Rhuby appeared on surveillance cameras at the ATM sites.

The heroin charge alleges deputies went to Rhuby's residence to arrest him on a warrant Nov. 6. He was brought to jail and a knife was discovered in his pocket during a search. The report alleges residue of heroin was found on the knife blade.

Rhuby was charged Oct. 11 with taking his grandfather's pickup truck.


Cristi Shindler, manager of the OB department at Whitman Hospital and Medical Center, issued a call for contributions in support of the annual baby wagon prize event sponsored by the hospital. Each year the hospital presents a Radio Flyer wagon filled with items to the family of the first baby born at the hospital.

The aim is to support parents with their new baby. Shindler noted they can arrange to pick up donated items.

For more information call the family birth center at the hospital, 509-288-9751.


Sheriff Brett Myers Saturday reported five people were arrested when the Quad Cities Drug Task Force and Lewiston Police executed a search warrant Friday morning on a residence in the 3100 block of 6th Street in Lewiston. The search followed a lengthy investigation and multiple complaints from residents.

Myers serves as commander of the task force.

During the search officers seized heroin, methamphetamine, digital scales, spoons, glass pipes and hypodermic needles with drug residue.

All five suspects were booked in the Nez Perce County jail.

Three of the suspects, including an 18-year-old, were arrested on probable charges of trafficking in heroin.


Pullman consulting engineer Munir Daud has urged a revival of the roundabout topic for both the north and south major intersections of Main Street (Highway 195) in Colfax. Daud said in a letter to the Gazette last Friday that he at one time was requested by then Colfax City Administrator Michael Rizzitiello to sketch out traffic circle proposals and submit them to the Department of Transportation.

Daud pointed out he was now advocating the intersection circles on his own initiative and is not representing any government agency.

Rizzitiello departed Colfax late in 2016 to take a job as city administrator at College Place.

The state has proposed a roundabout option for the Highway 26 and Highway 195 intersection at the north end of Colfax, but that option has been opposed by local businesses who anticipate problems with moving large farm equipment on the roundabouts. Preliminary plans for the intersection were sidelined when it failed to land a federal grant which was charted for a big share of the proposed funding package. The DOT now is looking at options for repairing or replacing the two aging bridges across the North Fork of the Palouse River and how that might be incorporated into revising the intersection.

Daud's initial sketch for the south end of Colfax shows a roundabout which would be centered at the approximate location of the small park where Highway 195 intersects with S. Main and curves toward Pullman.

Daud's sketch for the north end varies from sketches presented by DOT officials in sessions here. His version suggests moving the main crossing to the location of the Highway 26 cutoff bridge. Daud's proposal shows the center of the north end roundabout would be located west of the Chevron Station and its Sunset Mart building.

Daud in his letter said he expects the public would hate the idea once it is revived, but he predicted they would love the roundabouts once they were in place. He predicted roundabouts could clean up two complicated intersections.


Haunted Palouse netted $76,807 this year to break a records for the event which dates back to 2002. In addition to the haunted total, other Palouse groups raised funds with separate activities during the run of Haunted Palouse. They included Palouse Lions, the GPOP swim team, Xenodican and PEO clubs.

Earnings from Haunted Palouse are distributed among eight different groups or projects in Palouse. Top recipients are $23,042 going to the Community Center, $14,209 to FFA and $11,213 to the SciBorgs.

This year's net earning topped the $70,603 record set by the event last year.


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