Cheney is a city in Spokane County, Washington, United States. The full-time resident population was 10,590 as of 2010 census. Eastern Washington University is located in Cheney. When classes are in session at EWU, the city's population reaches approximately 17,600 people on a temporary basis.
Named for Boston railroad tycoon Benjamin Pierce Cheney, Cheney was officially incorporated on November 28, 1883.
The City of Cheney is located in Spokane County and is home to 10,590 residents, according to the 2010 Census. Cheney is proud of its small town nature, which is enhanced by the diverse influence of Eastern Washington University, a public regional university with over 10,000 full-time students. The Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League have held the majority of their summer training camps at EWU, from 1976–1985, and again from 1997 through the 2006 training camp.
Cheney developed into the city known today because of its strong ties to education, trail riding, and agriculture. This provided a strong economic base for the community and was the result of a much larger event that took place in the United States. In 1858, the last Native American defense occurred in Eastern Washington. Because isolated Eastern Washington was an area of this Native American unrest during the early part of the territorial period, it was not until the late 1860s and early 1870s that settlers made homes in the area. In the latter part of that decade, settlers attracted by plentiful water and timber and the promise of a railway line made their homes near a group of springs bubbling through a willow copse from the bank where the Burlington Northern depot now stands.
The name of the community, originally Section Thirteen, became Willow Springs, then became Depot Springs, because of its ties to the railroad, then Billings, in honor of a president of the Northern Pacific Company, and finally Cheney, Washington in honor of Benjamin P. Cheney, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Benjamin P. Cheney was the eldest son of a blacksmith who was born in 1815 at Hillsborough, New Hampshire. At age 16, he started work as a stagecoach driver between Nashua and Keene. Five years later he had become a stage agent in Boston and soon organized an express between Boston and Montreal. He later consolidated that stagecoach line with others to form the United States and Canada Express Company, which 37 years later he merged with American Express, at which time he became American Express's largest shareholder. The only time Cheney actually visited the town of Cheney was on September 18, 1883, following the "Last Spike Ceremony" which was the joining of the eastern and western divisions of the railroad. Cheney donated a few bucks to establish the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy in the town. The railroad donated of land so that the educational facility could be built. In 1880 the railroad was graded through the town, and in 1883 the town was incorporated with the streets laid out in the shape of a triangle with the base parallel to the tracks. The railroad tracks were not in a true east-west line, however, so the original town is askew with the map; the newer part of Cheney was built more to the compass.
After a series of boundary changes caused by legislative acts, Spokane County was created with a permanent county seat still to be selected. Contenders for the honor were Cheney and Spokane Falls (now Spokane). Cheney received a majority of the votes, but because of alleged irregularities at the polls the election was won by Spokane Falls. When this was taken to court, a circuit court judge agreed to a ballot recount. Such recount failed to materialize, however, and the citizens of Cheney took matters into their own hands.
On a night when most of the residents of Spokane Falls were at a gala wedding celebration, a delegation of armed "Cheneyites" invaded the Auditor's office and took possession of the books, did their own ballot recount which showed Cheney the victor, and made off into the darkness with the records. The "Grand Steal" was not contested and was confirmed by a court decision in 1881.
Cheney remained the county seat until 1886 when the faster-growing Spokane Falls again brought the issue to a vote and regained the seat. From this point on, the history of Cheney revolves around the growth of the State Normal School, later Eastern Washington College of Education, later Eastern Washington State College and finally Eastern Washington University. The fierce determination of Cheney to build and promote its college was largely to regain its lost prestige over the county seat.
When Washington became a state in 1889, Cheney was able to obtain legislation establishing one of the state normal schools, mandatory under the Enabling Act, in Cheney. Its most convincing argument was that it already had the physical beginnings of a normal school in the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy.
Disagreement between legislators and governors resulted in three appropriation vetoes for the normal school in the next 25 years, but in each case, the citizens of Cheney somehow raised the funds to keep the college going until the next legislative session. The growth of the Cheney Normal School and the transformation of the frontier land into a thriving community were the basis for the changing attitudes in this area. The innovators who created the small community atmosphere were the women of the frontier. All of the energies that were once focused into making the west a home for their families were transformed into creating a vision of preferred lifestyle choices for the youth.
The Battle of Four Lakes
Cheney is located at (47.488634, -117.578581), at an elevation of .
Cheney is at the highest point on the railroads between Spokane and Portland, and sits atop the route of gentlest gradient from the Spokane Valley to the Columbia Plateau, which was the reason for much of its early growth and railroad activity. The town is built on rolling palouse hills overlooking Channeled Scablands carved out by the pre-historic Missoula Floods to the south and east. These scablands now host "pothole" lakes and wetlands, and are home to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. There are numerous lakes, along with the Spokane River and Little Spokane River, that are located within of Cheney that provide abundant recreational opportunities such as boating, swimming, water skiing and fishing.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, is land and is water.
Nearby cities and towns
Cheney is located in the edge of the semi-arid region leading up to the foothills of the Selkirk Mountains, where the summers are hot and dry, and winters are cold, wet and windy.
Downtown historic district
Located approximately four blocks from the EWU campus, Historic Downtown Cheney offers a traditional mix of retail and service businesses as well as government offices. In 1999, Eastern Washington University, the City of Cheney, and the downtown business community formed a university/community partnership called "Pathways to Progress." Pathways to Progress quickly adopted the tenets and principles of the Main Street approach to downtown revitalization, formed a board of directors, and began the process of becoming a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Pathways to Progress is not a registered 501c(3) nonprofit corporation.
Immediately, Pathways to Progress undertook several major projects including pedestrian streetscape enhancements along First Street (Main Street), and College Avenue. Additionally, Pathways facilitated talks between EWU and a private developer that led to the construction of Brewster Hall, a mixed-use student residence in the downtown core.
Pathways to Progress is no longer an active organization.
Downtown Cheney has since evolved into a more traditional "university district", hosting numerous community festivals, a [http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/M24155 farmers' market], and businesses catering to the college crowd.
Cheney's downtown area is also the home of the Cheney Historical Museum which is dedicated to gathering, preserving, and sharing information and artifacts concerning the history of the Four Lakes, Marshall, Cheney, Tyler, and Amber districts of southwest Spokane County in eastern Washington. Volunteers open the museum at various times by season and by appointment as well as engaging in doing research, and preserving and caring for the collection. Another historic site, the Sterling-Moorman House, is also under development.
Downtown Cheney is the region's gateway to the Columbia Plateau Trail and the Fish Lake Trail, both of which explore the unique geology of the [http://www.iceagefloodsewa.org/ Great Ice Age Floods].
Fairchild Air Force Base
Fairchild Air Force Base, located approximately north of Cheney and established in 1942, has been a key part of the U.S. defense strategy and its personnel are a substantial portion of the Cheney community. Originally established as a World War II repair depot, it has transitioned over the years to a Strategic Air Command bomber wing during the Cold War, to Air Mobility Command air refueling wing during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, Fairchild's aircraft and personnel make up the backbone of the Air Force's airborne refueling tanker fleet on the west coast. Fairchild's location north of Cheney and west of Spokane, resulted from a competition with the cities of Seattle and Everett in western Washington. The War Department chose Spokane for several reasons: better weather conditions, the location from the coast, and the Cascade Range providing a natural barrier against possible Japanese attack.
Fairchild Air Force Base is also the United States Air Force's primary training facility for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Techniques (SERE). SERE is a U.S. military training program developed at the end of the Korean War to provide service members with training in the Code of Conduct, survival skills, evading capture, and dealing with being taken prisoner. It was created by the U.S. Air Force but was expanded to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy after the Vietnam War. The SERE school at Fairchild AFB is intended to train aircrews, special forces, and other service members who operate in dangerous areas and are thus more likely to be captured.
The education level of residents in Cheney of the age of 25 is
As of the census of 2010, there were 10,590 people, 3,902 households, and 1,669 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 4,183 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 81.7% White, 4.0% African American, 1.3% Native American, 4.0% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.3% of the population.
There were 3,902 households, of which 21.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.0% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 57.2% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.89.
The median age in the city was 22.3 years. 14.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 48.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.8% were from 25 to 44; 12.4% were from 45 to 64; and 6.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,832 people, 3,108 households, and 1,529 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,161.0 people per square mile (833.8/km). There were 3,293 housing units at an average density of 805.7 per square mile (310.9/km). The racial makeup of the city was 85.28% White, 2.11% African American, 1.32% Native American, 6.34% Asian, 0.35% Pacific Islander, 1.71% from other races, and 2.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.35% of the population.
There were 3,108 households, out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.6% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.8% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 18.2% under the age of 18, 41.0% from 18 to 24, 21.6% from 25 to 44, 12.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $22,593, and the median income for a family was $37,935. Males had a median income of $27,745 versus $23,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,566. About 20.1% of families and 30.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.4% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
Once a booming railroad town and county seat, Cheney is a bedroom community to the city of Spokane. Many people who live in Cheney work and shop in Spokane, while over half of the student population at Eastern Washington University commutes to classes in Cheney daily. Cheney has its own distinctive economic characteristics, but its fortunes and growth are tightly linked to the greater economy of the Inland Northwest. Eastern Washington University is the single largest employer in Cheney, followed by the Cheney School District and city government. In the private sector, healthcare dominates the employment base followed closely by farming and agriculture with the principal crops being dryland graincrops like wheat, barley and peas along with a substantial amount of hay production.
With Cheney located just southwest of Spokane, the city has seen some significant growth since the mid and late 1990s which continues today as the Spokane area continues growing. Much of the growth and development has taken place in the northern part of the city, where Interstate 90 enters Cheney. I-90 is the main thoroughfare between Cheney and Spokane. Over the years this area has seen the development of several new businesses and restaurants including a new shopping center with a Safeway supermarket, Pizza Hut, Starbucks coffee, and a credit union. Holiday Inn Express recently opened a new hotel in Cheney. The city has seen residential growth with the addition of several apartments and housing subdivisions.
The city hopes to help attract more businesses and high-tech industries by installing a fiber-optic network that will eventually connect to all businesses in the city as well as developing a technology business park [https://web.archive.org/web/20070318001004/http://www.cityofcheney.org/site/business]. The city has recently started renovating its historic downtown and has connected downtown to the university with a pedestrian-only walkway that stretches the few blocks between the two.
Eastern Washington University is the fastest-growing university in the state of Washington and has seen several new buildings built or renovated on campus, upgrades to and beautification of the campus, a new residential hall built, and a renovation of the football stadium.
Cost of living
The following cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. A component amount below 100 means Cheney has a lower cost than the US average. A component amount above 100 means Cheney has a higher cost.
Overall, Cheney cost of living index is 94.07.
The median home cost in Cheney is approximately $202,400.
Arts and culture
Cheney Rodeo Days
Cheney Rodeo Days is held the second weekend in July each year and is a major annual event for the community since 1967. The event is put on by the Cheney Rodeo Association, an includes three days of rodeo competition held at the rodeo ground just north of Cheney. Cheney Federal Credit Union sponsors the Happy Hoofers Fun Run in conjunction with Rodeo weekend, and the City of Cheney holds the Cheney Rodeo Days Parade through the main street of downtown along with a street fair. The Cheney Rodeo features over $40,000 in prize money, rodeo stock from the National Finals Rodeo, and is a professional rodeo event that is part of the Columbia River Prorodeo Circuit which is part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, that professional cowboys can use to qualify to join the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, and potentially further qualify for a chance to compete at the National Finals Rodeo, the rodeo world championships.
Cheney Farmers' Market
Cheney Farmers' Market is held each Saturday from June 1 through September 14. Located in downtown Cheney, the annual Market provides a wide variety of regionally grown and prepared products and produce, pieces from local artisans, and hand crafted goods. The market encourages the community to get to know the local farmers and learn about local food sources. Local farmers come to the market to help the community understand how food is grown and where it comes from.
Eastern Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives
Cheney is home to the Eastern Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives, which provides archival and records management services to local government agencies throughout Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties in the state of Washington. Eastern Region's collections include: Local government records include those from county offices such as the Auditor, the Clerk, the Treasurer, the Board of Commissioners, and from municipalities, school districts, and other service districts. Only a small percentage of the records created by these offices are transferred to the State Archives as archival records. They are selected as archival for their value as legal and historical evidence of policy development, implementation, and effect. The transfer of records to the State Archives is an ongoing process. Some historical records remain with their originating office pending future transfer to the archives. Collections span the years from the territorial period to the present and include school census records, tax assessment rolls, court dockets and case files, photographs, maps, plats, and engineering drawings. The Archives building is located on the campus of Eastern Washington University.
Parks and recreation
The City of Cheney has a number of significant and well-maintained public parks. Currently there are seven public parks inside the city limits with land set aside for the addition of two more in the near future to accommodate Cheney's substantial recent growth. The current parks are:
Local recreation programs
The City of Cheney has a wide variety recreation programs that are available in addition to the park facilities listed above. These programs and activities are administered by a coalition made up of the city and county government agencies and local non-profit organizations. The activities in these programs range from basketball, baseball, softball gymnastics, karate, day camps, and arts & crafts for youth and children to adult sport leagues and educational and field trips for senior citizens, along with a summer concert and movie series that is held at Sutton Park. The recreation programs run by local non-profit organizations include:
Columbia Plateau Trail State Park
There are four access points to the trail near Cheney: Fish Lake Trailhead (Milepost 365), Cheney Trailhead (Milepost 361.25), Amber Lake Trailhead (Milepost 349.25), Martin Road Trailhead (Milepost 342). The section between the Fish Lake and Cheney trailheads is paved; the rest is gravel.
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
Nearby recreation opportunities
There are multiple recreational opportunities and events near the city of Cheney that include:
The City of Cheney's government operates under a strong mayor-council form of government. The Mayor is elected by the community at large every four years, and the City Council consists of seven members who are also elected to serve in four-year terms. The Mayor performs as the Chief Executive Officer, and the City Council performs the legislative functions.
The City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:00 PM. Meetings are conducted in the City Council Chambers in City Hall, located at 609 Second Street. An agenda of the upcoming City Council meeting is posted in City Hall on the Friday before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Cheney's current elected officials and key administrators are:
The City Council makes final decisions regarding policy and fiscal matters and is assisted by a number of advisory committees that include:
Departments and administrative staff
The actual administration of the government is operated under a city administrator who oversees several departments that include:
Regularly scheduled interdepartmental meetings are held to coordinate the activities of Cheney's government. Cheney's administrative staff includes:
In the Washington State Legislature, Cheney is located in the 6th Legislative District. It is currently represented in the Washington State Senate by Republican Michael Baumgartner. In the Washington House of Representatives Cheney is represented by Republican Kevin Parker in Position #1 and Republican Jeff Holy in Position #2.
Cheney is located in Washington's 5th congressional district for representation in the United States Congress. The 5th congressional district in Washington has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+7 and is represented in the House of Representatives by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers and in the Senate is represented by two Democrats, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
Cheney School District
The primary and secondary public schools in the City of Cheney are run by Cheney School District. Cheney public schools spend $5,688 per student in annual education costs. The average annual school expenditure in the United States is $6,058 per student. The student teacher ratio in Cheney public schools is approximately 25-35 students per teacher. The district operates seven schools and a partnership program that supports K-8 homeschool students.
Eastern Washington University
Founded in 1882, as the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy, it opened its doors to more than 200 enrolling students.
The academy became the Washington State Normal School at Cheney in 1889, the same year in which Washington was given its statehood. By the time it became Eastern Washington College of Education in 1937, Eastern was already a fully accredited four-year, degree-granting institution, offering majors in numerous subjects. The campus grew rapidly in size and program offerings in the decades following World War II. In 1961, the name was again changed, this time to Eastern Washington State College. It was increasingly evident that the region needed professionals in many fields; in response, Eastern added a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Finally, in 1977, the state legislature changed the school's name to Eastern Washington University.
Eastern Washington University is now a regional, comprehensive public university, with programs also offered in Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Seattle, Shoreline, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver and Yakima.
Cheney is served by two libraries:
The city of Cheney's medical and dental needs are serviced by two medical clinics and four dentists. Hospital / surgical services are handled at the three major hospitals located in Spokane.
Places listed on the National Register of Historical Places
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