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Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
May 26, 2016     Cheney Free Press
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May 26, 2016

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CHENEYFREE PRESS Thursday, May 26, 2016 in By PAUL DELANEY and Internet to about 1,700 households• Staff Reporter Davis is one of very few independent The ash from Mount Saint Helens providers in the nation. and Tom Davis's effort to bring cable Davis grew up in the cable television television to the West Plains area ar- business as his father was something of rived just about the same time. an early pioneer in its growth, primar- Residents in Cheney, Medical Lake, ily inthe Puget Sound region, but also Four Lakes and places in between are extending into Alaska. probably happy the former has -- for , If one thought the "Last Frontier" the most part - vanished and Davis just described the 49th state's immense was not scared off. remoteness in a geographic sense, so too On the 36th anniversary of the North- was the case for cable• west's dust up with one of its most famous "Before satellite dishes, we had to vid- mountains, Davis told the story of his ar- eotape allour programming inSeattle, ship rival in Cheney to begin thejob DCI (Davis it north and personally deliver to providers Communications, Inc. ) Cable and Com- in many far-flung locations - sometimes munications took on connecting the city. using bicycles to get the programs to their to television beyond channels 2, 4, 6 and 7. destination," Davis said. Davis had been living in temporary Davis remembers Jello calling and quarters in a trailer, but was traveling asking how Alaskans were getting that when the mountain spewed ash across "chocolate on toiY' message and wanting much of Eastern Washington• Including product• "We are only marketing that in thegrittypowderthatfounditswayinside the Seattle area and we're getting calls his trailer when Davis left the windows from Alaska," they told him. open in order to allow fresh air inside• They were unable to easily remove the "That took a little bit forever getting that ads in the programming. But also somewhat talcum powder out of there," Davis said. difficult was getting the tapes delivered to From those uncertain beginnings, many towns and villages, Davis said. Davis Communications has grown toAll of which made staking out new serve the area, bringing both cable TV territory in Cheney a breeze by corn- Contributed photo by Dale P. Nunn Sprint boat racing has transformed farmland near St. John, Wash. into a tourist draw, and a business boost for the community. Slough celebrates 10th anniversary P UL. DELANEY grad,, Amanda Webb said• race, the Webbs had never Staff Reporter "We've become very pas- seen a race before, but took When Matt and Aman- sionate about the sport and the leap of faith anyway. daWebbduguponeoftheir creating an awesome place The races in St. John wheatandbarleyfieldsade- for our fans." Webb's great have attracted a dedicated cade ago in St. John, Wash. aunt is Amy Jo Sooy, a for- fan base from all walks of they took one mighty roll mer mayor of Cheney. life. They have found the of the dice with the sport of "There are stillstruggles tiny community of just un- sprint boat racing, in year-10, the same as there der 600 residents along State Ten years later the were in year one," Webb Route 23 is a place they love Webbs, and .the commu- said. But things have come to visit again and again. nity in which they reside, a long way since July 200;7 Fans of the Slough "Are are quite happy with their when the venue hosted its literally (age) two. to 92," gamble and the former first race. Ever since, race Webb said. The male and fe- farm field - now known promotionhasbecomeboth male demographic, ascalcu- as Webb's Slough -- is the Amanda and Matt's full- lated on the race's Facebook center of the sport, time job. page, are 52 percent female St.John, now the longest The Webb's Slough and 48 percent male. established venue in the course is a maze of chan- And that was one of the sport, will stage two races nels and islands where reasons the Webbs got into in the 2016 American Sprint boats producing up to l,000 the racing business. Boat five-race schedule, horsepower speed fromDelivering a big busi- Saturday, June 18 and Sat- zero to 80 miles-per-hour in ness boost to a farm com- urday, Aug. 27. It's about just three seconds. Drivers munity-- whichlikemany a 50-minute drive from and navigators weave their others has seen some of its Cheney. way through the course vibrancy fade over the "It's working for us," hoping'to be the quickest years -- was one of the Cheney native and 1997 in their class. Cheney High School Prior to staging that first See Slough page 9 li Originally the televisions were limited to 12 channels. Then ca e converter boxes, the first of which had an old-fashioned analog dial that actually required someone to get off the couch or La-Z-Boy to change. Remotes came along in the mid-1980s. A collection of those old-fashioned boxes Photo by Paul Delaney sit high on a shelf in the company's new Davis Communications founder and headquarters at 1920 Fourth St. in Cheney. owner Tom Davis, and service manager The focus of the company changed in Tim Gainer with one of their first cable 1998, longtime employee andsystem engi- TV converted boxes that date back to neer, Tim Gainer, said. That's when Davis the 1980s. began offering Internet. parison. But finding his new market took "It's been a slow, costly climb," some hunting -- literally. Davis said. He recently paid off a big "My father said'you ought to go take a bill for equipment he knows will soon look at Cheney,'" Davis said. "I happened be outdated• But it delivers the product to be pheasant hunting near Moses Lake with the speed and efficiency found and I drove in here." with the mega-operators - and with Cheney was the perfect place for Da- very little downtime, Davis said. vis to establish roots. Bigger companies The advent of satellite television has like Cox Cable TV, which was the first cut into Davis's business to some extent• provider in Spokane simply "had bigger But after customers evaluate the service fish to fry," Davis said• and are not saddled with lengthy con- He visited City Hall, spoke with the city tracts, some come back. administrator and the groundwork was laid Among the vanishing breed of indepen- to take Cheney and the surrounding area dent cable operators, Davis holds strong from a day when one could count snowy to offers by companies like Comcast to television channels on one hand to today purchase the business. where there are too many to imagine. He loves the idea that, "You call here Under a short deadline window ofyou won't get Mumbai, India. You get a Dec. 31, 1980, the company began the job humanbeing and they'llwalk you through of stringing cable on poles, many owned (a problem), or you can bring your stuff in at the time by Washington Water Power, here and they'll fix it or make an appoint- now Avista Utilities, where they are ment to come out." charged a rental fee per pole. Davis cur- "It's small town stuff," Davis said. rently has just short of 80 miles of cable Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@ strung in the city of Cheney. king for Good Eye Care in Cheney? ] 1867 1st St. 509-235-2010 NOW SELLING LIQUOR 1122 1st St. Cheney ~, Sunday-Wednesday 6 a.m. -12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. YOU CAN SPECIAL ORDER LIQUOR! (509) 235-4900 A Bi: [ • PLAYHOUSES • SHEDS • REMODELING KENNY ALLEsTAD (509) 842-0425 CABiI'~'t 857RZ i)iNG lESSONS we Have Summer Camps too/ No Horse? No Problem. 3714 W. Anderson Rd., Chene~WA ingacadem~com 509-290-430! ........ One Buffet & Two Beverages One Buffet Free