Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
April 11, 2016
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photo: Eric Johnson
Program Coordinator: Brad Stark
           Fund deadlines near:  Just six weeks remain until the Thursday, June 2 fund-raising dinner party as the club tries to raise up to $25,000 for projects at Holmes Elementary and needy kids elsewhere.  President Lenore Romney and coordinator Jodi Harland said corporate sponsors still are needed.  So are auction items and gift-basket goodies.  No tickets will be printed this year, so names of attendees should be e-mailed to Jon Heideman.  Jodi and crew were visiting with proprietors of The Backyard, 1811 W. Broadway, to plan on quicker food service this year.  The dinner theme is Mexican.
           Save the date: The club’s installation banquet is set for Tuesday, June 28, probably at the Kalispel Golf and Country Club.  Our year-end banquets for many years were held at the predecessor Spokane Country Club.  The facility was purchased by the Northern Quest Casino owners and will open for golf this month.   Art Rudd is coordinating venue details.
           Tee it up: The Spokane Valley Rotary’s annual golf tournament is Tuesday, May 17, at the nine-hole executive course in Liberty Lake.  Shotgun start is at 2 p.m.  A taco-bar dinner follows the golf.  Spokane North has won the event twice in the last several years and had two teams entered last year. Contact Dave Hayward if you can play.
           Getting social:  Board member Bruce Ellwein is working on scheduling a happy-hour social in the next several weeks.  E-mail interest and suggestions to him. 
Journal publisher: Business is good
          It’s all business for Publisher Paul Read and his Journal of Business staff.
          The Spokane publication celebrated its 30-year anniversary earlier this year and retains its enviable position as having the highest market penetration of any local business paper in the country.
          Though circulation has slipped to 12,000 from 15,000 copies over the past decade, Read said the Journal’s circulation is still “double of its peers.”  The Journal is owned by Cowles Co.
          Read’s talk April 11 continued a month of media speakers.  He titled his talk “Optimism: Yours, Mine and Ours.”  He recalled the dismal days of 1986, when the Journal was launched, and area unemployment was 8.2 percent, mortgage rates had dropped to 8.3 percent and home sales were low.  Read summarized the economy by saying, “Things were not good.”
          Read said the Journal‘s start also was slow.  The office was a former warehouse near Division and Pacific.  There were five phones, but no desks.  Early editions were published from the homes of the six staff members.
          Read recalled that era of IBM Selectric typewriters, saying he wore his Members Only jacket and watched movies on Beta-Max (Sony’s short-lived VCR version). “Now you get national news on your computer, your telephone, even your wrist-watch,”
Read said.  “But our niche is local business news and the internet doesn’t cover that, so we are very blessed.”
          Read, who was named publisher in 2012, said the average age of Journal readers is 51, “and, unlike the millennials, they like pulp.”  The bi-weekly hard copy is supplemented by daily e-mail reports and other internet media items.
          Read is a Spokane native, EWU grad and Club 21 Rotarian.  He is on the board of Greater Spokane, Inc., Association of Washington Business, the Spokane United Way and the Inland Northwest Boy Scout Council.
          The optimism theme translates to the area’s current economic climate, he said.  Spokane doesn’t have “big booms and busts,” but 2 percent job growth created 4,400 new jobs last year, unemployment is 6.4 percent, but may drop to 5 percent
and local wages are rising.  Some $1.4 billion in big construction projects are on the books.  “All the (economic indicator) arrows are pointing up,” Read said.
          “It’s time for a little self-congratulations, something Spokane typically is not good at,” he said.
          Asked about the $15-an-hour minimum wage, Read said “it’s a damaging thing, but we’d be naïve in thinking it won’t happen.”  He suggests rather than just opposition, a “path B” plan of “staying at the table” and negotiating issues like whether tips are included, whether there is a separate training wage, and how long the staging will be to reach $15 an hour.   He also thinks the minimum wage should be a statewide issue, not determined in each municipality.
          Asked about his “king for a day” wishful decrees, Read said “over-regulation is very difficult,” and reforms are needed in Labor and Industries provisions and employment security rules.  “We also need to invest more in economic development.”
          Read is optimistic about refilling the abandoned Macy’s downtown buildings.  “We may see something in the next three months that may inspire us,” he said.
Last fall’s storm missed these pine trees
           It was a “dirty hands and dirty feet” outing April 9 as several club members and family raked up a small mountain of pine needles at the home of Melody Farance, a club member on medical leave of absence.
           In two hours the group filled Nancy Hanson’s pickup truck bed three times with huge piles of yard waste and also packed the 96-gallon yard-waste container.  The green bin was stomped down by ever-agile Dave Hayward, a scene which Lenore Romney compared favorably to Lucille Ball’s famous grape-stomping skit on “I Love Lucy.”
           Not missing an opportunity to recruit future Rotarians, next year’s president-elect Chad Haverkamp and wife, Chelsea, brought daughter Peyton, age 2, an energetic and exceedingly cute helper.
           Romney noted the welcomed backyard shade on a sunny, warm morning.  “No rain and no wind,” she reported to the club with a smile.
After the workout, seven members of the group met at a north side restaurant to test the bistro’s claim about having the coldest beverages in town.
                                Pine needle pickers included, from left, Chad, Chelsea and Peyton Haverkamp, Dave and Robin Hayward, Melody Farance, Robbie Jackson, Chuck Rehberg, and, kneeling, Nancy Hanson                                                   Lenore Romney took the photo and Bruce Ellwein had just left.