Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Montvale Event Center and Ella's Theater open to bring history to life

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Montvale Event Center/Ella's Theater building view - EMILY GOODELL
  • Emily Goodell
  • Montvale Event Center/Ella's Theater building view

Something old and something new is coming to Spokane’s Entertainment District. Located on the 1000 block of West First Avenue, the Montvale Event Center and Ella’s Theater are open for business, in the former site of historic treasures like Ella’s Supper Club and the Odd Fellows Hall.

Montvale Event Center has multiple floors and venues that can be used singularly or as a whole, according to event coordinator Erin Hojnacki. She explains that when the center hosts weddings, the ceremony is held on the second floor, Ella’s Theater, while the first floor, Montvale Hall is used for the reception.  

The spaces — which add to developer Jerry Dicker's downtown hotel and entertainment collection — can also be utilized individually, which is typically the case with Ella’s Theater which is often used as an entertainment venue, hosting cabarets, music and comedy, Hojnacki says.

Montvale Hall - EMILY GOODELL
  • Emily Goodell
  • Montvale Hall
Although the space has been renovated and updated, careful attention was paid to preserving the building’s original features, the group behind the project says.

"The biggest changes are the commercial kitchen that was installed installed on this first floor, which we call Montvale Hall, [and] the exposed brick,” Hojnacki says. 

Hojnacki also noted that the elevator has been completely redone and brought up to code and a professional sound system was installed in the theater.

When the building was purchased in December 2015 by Jerry Dicker of GVD Commercial Properties, a press release noted: “his vision was to preserve the original speakeasy spirit of Ella’s in the second floor theater space, while also creating an elegant event space on the first floor.”

The press release also mentions that coming soon is Ella’s Bar, “a unique haven where guests can see a comedy show or listen to a local band while sipping something special and watching the revived projections playing on the wall of the Fox Theater across the street.”

Although the center has not had an official grand opening, it has already hosted multiple weddings, as well as events in the upstairs theater. The venue is currently booking events for 2017 and 2018.

"We have had reunions, weddings, comedy, theater and we're getting inquiries for all sorts of different events daily,” Hojinacki says.
Ella's Theater - EMILY GOODELL
  • Emily Goodell
  • Ella's Theater

Ella’s Theater recently wrapped up presenting [title of show] (yes, that's the actual title) by the Modern Theater, and is currently hosting the Friends of the Bing event series [email protected] Coming up is the special comedy event Reel Horror, a sketch show spoofing horror movies, set for Oct. 21.

According to a building history provided by the Spokane City/County Historic Preservation Office and the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission, the former Odd Fellows building was opened on January 1,1909. It was originally known as the Odd Fellows IOOF Lodge and was designed by renowned Spokane architect Albert Held.

Piano at Ella's Theater - EMILY GOODELL
  • Emily Goodell
  • Piano at Ella's Theater
According to the Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows website, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) began as a response to the trials and tribulations of living in 17th century England. Sickness, death and a very low life expectancy were hardships of the times. A group of people came together and pooled some of their income into a fund to be used for emergencies in their community, such as illness, unemployment and death.

They were called “odd fellows” because people found it odd that they would be selfless and impractical in giving up their time and money to help others. The organization was founded in North America on April 26, 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland, which is the location of the first lodge, gaining its charter through Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England.

IOOF became the first national fraternity that included women. Today there are men and women in 10,000 lodges in 26 countries, according to the Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows website, where their mission statement reads, "visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan."

The building history from the SHLC and Spokane City/County Historic Preservation Office notes that the ground floor was originally home to Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Company and Turnbull undertaking rooms. The floor became host to the Riley Candy Company from 1917 to the mid-1940s. Metronome Dance Hall was on the first floor from 1950 to 1953 and became Hi-Spot Dance hall from 1945 to 1956. The Lodge Room was on the second floor, while the third floor was banquet hall, parlor and kitchen.

The historic building has been mostly vacant since the closing of the jazz club Ella’s Supper Club shortly after its opening in 2004.

"The quality of work, uniqueness of the space, the history of the building, I think those are the main things that set it apart. There's nothing else like it," Hojinacki says.

For more information, contact Erin Hojnacki at 509-534-5805, or visit the Montvale Event Center website.
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Spokane will apply for HUD project to end youth homelessness

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Angelina, 17, became homeless earlier this year and ended up in a massive homeless encampment in Seattle - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Angelina, 17, became homeless earlier this year and ended up in a massive homeless encampment in Seattle

In a city the size of Spokane, ending youth homelessness may be possible given the right resources. At least that's the thinking of a collaborative work group that's been meeting to discuss how to solve youth homelessness in Spokane. 

"Our hope and belief," says Dawn Kinder, Spokane's Community, Housing, & Human Services director, "is that we can be heavily impacted by three to four million dollars." 

The city of Spokane will compete for a national two-year pilot to end youth homelessness, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program, called the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, will select 10 communities to participate, four of which will be rural communities.

Communities selected will be awarded a minimum of $1 million and up to a total of $15 million.

In September, we published a cover story detailing the struggles facing homeless students in the state. There are 13,000 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 12 and 24 who experience homelessness in Washington each year, according to a state coalition aimed at addressing the problem. That number counts homelessness under the HUD definition of homelessness, which generally doesn't include kids or families staying with others or "doubling up." 

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McMorris Rodgers, McMullin and other McHeadlines this Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 9:42 AM

Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal throw down, Superintendent style!
  • Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal throw down, Superintendent style!

Addicted to Workahol

Workaholics' Adam Devine is coming to Spokane.

Bail to the King

Spokane is one Washington state's leaders when it comes to bail reform.


Say goodbye to spreadsheets and hello to bedsheets. Prison bedsheets, that is. Which is where you're going! Prison. 

A Spokane CPA has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for fraud. [Spokesman-Review]

Trump: Candidate, Businessman, Moral Crucible
Shawn Vestal heaps praise upon the courage of Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, and scorn upon Cathy McMorris Rodgers. [Spokesman-Review]


The Spokesman runs down last night's debate for State Superintendent.


Grope and Change
Buzzfeed reports that Donald Trump would walk in on contestants — some as young as 15 — changing during the Miss Teen USA pageant. In other words, there's a chance that the FBI could literally be controlled by the sort of creep that wears "Female Body Inspector" shirts.

Evan Almighty 
A new poll comes out showing Hillary and Trump tied in Utah. But that's not even the craziest thing. Third-party candidate Evan McMullin is within striking distance. Who? Exactly! That's what's so crazy! [Deseret News]

Look at all those datums!

FiveThirtyEight builds a system that shows how shifts in demographic groups could impact county-level voting. Trump could likely do better in Spokane County than Romney, but a lot worse in Whitman County.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Spokane among leaders in the state for bail reform

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 11:51 AM


The modern bail system traces its roots back to medieval England and is based on the idea that money or something of value will ensure a defendant's return to court and potentially restitution for his or her crime.

As we've written previously, the system that demands money in exchange for freedom and as an incentive to return to court is largely flawed — benefitting those with the means to bail themselves out, incarcerating the people who don't.

But in Washington state (and elsewhere) there is talk of change. Spokane County, as well as Yakima, is on the forefront of those reforms.

Last week, a group of criminal justice players from Spokane County met in Seattle with their counterparts throughout the state. Members of the Pretrial Justice Institute and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, national organizations pushing for change, were also on hand for a preliminary discussion about how to bring pretrial reform to Washington state.

"One part of the discussion on Friday [was] that your statute requires judges to consider things at pretrial that have been shown not to be predictive of whether someone will reappear in court or get rearrested," says Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute.

For example, judges must consider, among other things, employment, connection to the community and availability of stable housing. 

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Workaholics Adam DeVine heading to Spokane on standup tour

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM


Workaholics fans of the Inland Northwest rejoice! Adam DeVine is coming to Spokane in the spring on his "Weird Life" standup tour. 

Granted, some of you might know him not from Workaholics, but from his roles in the Pitch Perfect movies, as a nanny on Modern Family or from the recent Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Whatever the case, Devine will be doing a one-man show on Wednesday, March 1, at the Bing Crosby Theater. 

Tickets for DeVine go on sale Friday at 10 am via TicketsWest outlets and the Knitting Factory. They are $39.50 for floor seats, $29.50 for balcony, and there will be a limited number of early-bird tickets available for $19.50. Head over to DeVine's Facebook page for more info on that, although I had a hard time finding it. Try calling the 800-325-7328 and ask the TicketsWest folks for the deal on early-bird tickets. 

Here's a bit of DeVine paying tribute to another act that recently played Spokane: 

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Trump vs. Ryan, Leach vs. WSU and morning news

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 9:05 AM


NEWS: WSU football player Logan Tago was charged yesterday with fourth-degree assault and second-degree robbery, a felony. Coach Mike Leach says he'll play until "proven guilty," even though school policy explicitly says he should be suspended. 

ARTS & CULTURE: Four Spokane authors were named as finalists for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards, but it was Spokane author Sharma Shields who took home the fiction prize for The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac.

NEWS: Yesterday, Spokane celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day, which is notably not Columbus Day. 


Craig Meidl was confirmed as the new police chief - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Craig Meidl was confirmed as the new police chief
Police chief confirmed
More than a year and at least $28,000 later, Spokane officially has a police chief. Spokane City Council voted 5 to 1 to confirm Craig Meidl as chief last night. (Spokesman-Review)

Construction delay
That downtown construction on Lincoln and Monroe streets? It won't be finished until next year. But crews will lay down a single layer of asphalt so the streets will be open in the winter. (Spokesman-Review)

Helping kids
A new soul food restaurant should open in East Central in the spring, with teens serving up the food and profits invested in children's programs. The restaurant, called Fresh Soul, is being opened by Michael Brown, who we wrote about in our East Central profile this summer. (KXLY)

Dumping Trump
House speaker Paul Ryan announced yesterday that he wouldn't campaign for Donald Trump, instead devoting himself to defending the Republican majority in Congress. 

Weakening ISIS
Terrorism researchers say propaganda operations of the Islamic State have dropped off drastically
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Monday, October 10, 2016

A WSU football player has been charged with robbery and assault

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 3:31 PM


Since late August, four Washington State University football players have been arrested by the Pullman Police Department. But until today, none of them had been charged with any crime. 

That has changed. The Whitman County Prosecutor's Office has charged Logan Tago with fourth-degree assault and second-degree robbery, a felony. 

Tago was arrested last month for allegedly being part of a group of people who mugged another man for a pack of beer in June. The group reportedly demanded that a man give them the beer, and when the victim refused, police say they assaulted him and stole it, leaving the victim with a concussion. The victim identified Tago as one of the assailants. 

Shortly after Tago was arrested last month, WSU head coach Mike Leach issued a statement that, in his view, the police target his football players. Referencing Tago's case, he specifically questioned why the arrest occurred four months after the incident, and why other people involved in these fights aren't being arrested as well. His comments set off a local and national controversy. 

According to the prosecutor's office, police only recommended charges for Tago in connection with the June incident. 

Shalom Luani, one of the three other players arrested, was involved in a fight outside a Domino's Pizza joint, though prosecutors have said they will not file charges against Luani.  Two other players, Robert Barber and TJ Fehoko, were arrested for felony assault after their involvement in a summer frat-party brawl. They have yet to be charged. 

Tago played in the WSU win over Stanford this past weekend, as did Barber, who was recently expelled by the school for the summer brawl (he appealed the decision). Luani missed one game following his arrest but has played every game since. 

Leach has said that he will presume players are innocent until proven guilty, a statement echoed by Athletic Director Bill Moos. The athletic department's code of conduct and discipline policy, provided to the Inlander by the school, says students charged with a felony cannot represent the university:
In the event the student-athlete is charged with a felony, absent extraordinary circumstances determined by the director of athletics and sport supervisor, he/she will not be permitted to represent WSU athletics in outside competition until such time as the case is resolved and all court, university and athletics department conditions for reinstatement have been met. 
But Leach may go against that policy, going by his comments to the Seattle Times: "If I have anything to do with it, he'll play till he's proven guilty. We're going to presume people innocent until proven guilty around here." 

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said Friday that he has still not received any referral concerning the July brawl involving Barber and Fehoko that left one student with a concussion and another with a broken jaw in July.  

Pullman police said on Sept. 16 that they would forward the case against Barber and Fehoko to prosecutors "next week." When asked by the Inlander three days ago when they anticipate charges to be filed, Police Chief Gay Jenkins, through an assistant, again said they expect to report to the prosecutor "sometime next week." 

WSU athletic department spokesman Bill Stevens has not responded to an Inlander request for comment on whether Tago will be disciplined in accordance with the athletic department policy. 

(Update 5 pm: Bill Stevens says the athletic department "will not comment on any disciplinary actions against the student-athletes.")
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Spokane's inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes past, present and future

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 12:37 PM

click image Dancers at the Gathering At The Falls Powwow in August. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Dancers at the Gathering At The Falls Powwow in August.

Today, Spokane joined a multitude of cities across the nation committing to replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, instead choosing to celebrate the rich history of tribal culture in Spokane.

A celebration begins at 2 pm at City Hall, and features remarks from local tribal leaders and appearances from the Salish School of Spokane and Rogers High School students. From there, the event moves at 2:30 pm to Canada Island (soon to be renamed to recognize the tribe's use of it as a fishing ground) in Riverfront Park, where there will be performances by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Powwow Sweat Team and a blanket dance to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Local organizer Barbara Gongyin says the event is meant to be “optimistic — a march instead of a walk,” and that the informal theme is “past, present and future.”

Columbus Day became a national holiday in 1937, and began as a celebration of Italian-American heritage and the legacy of worldwide exploration. However, since that time, much work has been done to shift the narrative and to expose the truth of our nation’s origins.

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Spokane's Sharma Shields wins Washington State Book Award for debut novel

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 11:53 AM

Spokane's Sharma Shields took home top honors for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane's Sharma Shields took home top honors for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards.

With four Spokane authors named as finalists for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards, the odds were ever in our favor. And during a ceremony Saturday the top prize in the fiction category went to celebrated Spokane author Sharma Shields for her debut novel set in the Evergreen State, The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac.

Shield's fantastical book tells the life story of Eli Roebuck, whose mother runs off when he's 9 years old, with a man believed to be a Sasquatch. He spends the rest of his life trying to prove that the cryptozoological beast is real, and to discover why and how his mother could abandon him like that. Naturally, this obsessive quest taints every decision and relationship in Eli's life, the majority for worse.   

Finalists with Shields in the fiction category included fellow Spokane authors S.M. Hulse, for her stunning debut Black River, and Shann Ray, for his historical account American Copper. In the history/general nonfiction category, Spokane writer Jack Nisbet's Ancient Places: People and Landscapes of the Emerging Northwest was also a finalist.

Writing on Facebook this morning, Shields expressed gratitude for the recognition:
"THE SASQUATCH HUNTER'S ALMANAC is a Washington State novel, through and through, and it is such an honor to win the Washington State Book Award. As a woman who grew up in Spokane, went to college in Seattle, and eventually returned to her hometown, this means so much to me. Thank you to the Washington Center for the Book, The Seattle Public Library, the judges, the sponsors; thank you to all of my friends and family for the support here, the messages, the texts, the phone calls, the in-person hugs and tears. I could not be more stunned and elated and grateful. And congrats to the finalists, incredible writers all. The biggest honor was seeing my book up there next to yours."
The awards are sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, and presented "based on the strength of the publication's literary merit, lasting importance and overall quality."

Finalists are judged by a panel of Washington-based English instructors, librarians and book store owners. Separate categories for children's literature are also presented.

Shields' win marks the second consecutive fiction category win for the Spokane writing community, following up on last year's recognition of Bruce Holbert's The Hour of Lead. Spokane poet and sitting Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall also took home in 2015 the top prize in the poetry category for his collection Bugle.  
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Monday Morning Place Kicker: Eags, Cougs rolling, Vandals maybe bowling?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Hope all you Seahawks fans took advantage of a bye-week Sunday for your NFL squad and did something worthwhile. I hit up Green Bluff for Halloween pumpkins and apple pie, and I'm ready to hunker down for the non-stop run to the playoffs commencing on Sunday when Seattle plays the suddenly dangerous Falcons. 

There was plenty of football over the weekend, though, thanks to our local college squads doing some serious work. Let's break it down. 

Gage Gubrud is EWU's ace new quarterback. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • Gage Gubrud is EWU's ace new quarterback.


Eastern Washington is one scary-good squad, putting up video-game numbers on offense on a weekly basis, so much so that the historic statistics senior wide receiever Cooper Kupp is racking up are sort of lost in the fact that everyone on the team is crushing it, from quarterback Gage Gubrud to wide receiver Shaq Hill. 

On Saturday, the Eags took out Northern Colorado 49-31, tallying the fifth-most yards for a game in program history (659) while Hill set a record for touchdown catches in a game (4). Kupp was held in check, but everyone else went off, and the game was a blowout after the last two matchups between EWU and UNC went down to the wire. 

The big story: The Eags are ranked No. 4 in the country, are clearly the class of the Big Sky Conference, and their game against Montana at the end of this month looms large. They have a bye this weekend. 

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