In geographic area, Cheney covers approximately 360 square miles, stretching from the Spokane city limits well down into extensive agriculture areas. The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is five miles south of Cheney. The 15,468-acre refuge is an important breeding area for numerous species of waterfowl; tundra swans can be seen occasionally in spring. A public use area includes a self-guided driving tour. The area was recovered from land on which farming was attempted in the 1890s and early 1900s.
The city has a year-round professional parks and recreation staff providing athletics as well as arts and crafts for all ages. There are seven city parks, 18 tennis courts, a city swimming pool, a trap range, three major baseball diamonds, seven softball and five soccer fields, two college theatres, an art gallery and museum in Cheney. An agreement with Eastern Washington University allows for joint use and maintenance of city, school district and university facilities.
The Cheney School District is a relatively small school district with a student population of approximately 3,500. It is growing at a steady rate of between two and four percent per year and recently completed a building program by enlarging three elementary schools to accommodate increased growth, and remodeling and expanding the high school. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, with agriculture, higher education (Eastern Washington University) and business/computers being the predominant pursuits.
The district offers a program for gifted students at all levels. The middle school program is an elective/mentor studies program. The high school program is composed of advanced placement programs, mentor studies and the availability to take coursework at Eastern Washington University.
Cheney was the first county seat for Spokane County. In 1880, the first county seat election was held. Confusion as to the outcome of the election ensued, with the city of Cheney taking the county records in dispute. Cheney remained the county seat for six years.
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