Cheney Is a Commuter’s Haven and College Town With a Big Heart

by Jessica Simpkins, MD

As we enter May, the warmer weather brings more opportunities to get outside, have fun, and meet new people. If you’re looking for fun on May 12th and 13th, you don’t want to miss Cheney’s annual Mayfest! People of all ages can enjoy corn hole and other games, a petting zoo, live music, great food, and a lively weekend. Visit for more information about the event.

While Cheney houses a relatively small population of ~13,000 people, it has continued to grow. Only 17 miles from Spokane, Cheney is home to many commuters who enjoy the lower cost of living, safe environment, and proximity to a number of great places. “We have one of the most robust public transit routes in the whole area. We’re only a hop, skip, and a jump to Mount Spokane for skiing, Spokane for shopping, and a number of rivers and lakes. Whatever your passion is, you can find it pretty close,” shares.

Cheney is also a college town, home to Eastern Washington University. “Every year when the students come back in the fall, the whole city feels the excitement,” Mayor Grover notes. While certainly a haven for commuters and a college town, Cheney also has a whole lot of heart.

Chris Grover, Cheney Mayor

Chris Grover, Cheney Mayor

“When I was going through school in the 80s, Cheney was a cool place to grow up. It’s safe, the school district is fantastic, and you really get to know a lot of your neighbors here. Having events like Mayfest brings people downtown and lets you connect with people you might not otherwise meet,” Mayor Grover reflects.

Chris Grover is serving his second term as Mayor of Cheney. While his family was originally from the New England area, his dad was in the Air Force and much of his child was spent moving. It wasn’t until his family moved to Cheney in the late 1970s that Mayor Grover was able to lay down roots. Coming from a military family, he went into the Navy and served for 23 years before retiring in 2008. For Mayor Grover, Cheney was always home.

“Growing up, my mom always told us to give back and I watched her always volunteering in the community or helping others. That really stuck with me. When I retired from the Navy and moved back to Cheney, I decided to raise my hand for whatever the city needed. I served on the planning commission for five years where I learned about the regulation and code of the city. After that time, the mayor recommended I run for city council. I really loved being able to wake up every day and think about what services we provide our city. After one term with city counsel, the mayor decided to retire and recommended I run for office in his place,” Mayor Grover explains.

While he had enjoyed his role as a financial advisor with Edward Jones after retiring from the navy, Mayor Grover missed his role as a leader. “I went from leading 120 people in the navy on ships to a job as a financial advisor in an office with myself and my administrator (who is great, by the way). I missed that leadership aspect. So for me, running for mayor was a good fit. It’s a way for me to better serve my community.”

Mayor Grover credits the employees of the city of Cheney with maintaining such a great place for citizens to live: “Employees of the city of Cheney come to work with a passion to serve, which makes all the difference. We are a full service city and we provide that level of service ourselves. We have our own water, our own safety, our own sewage and garbage. The only resource we get outside of the city is gas from Avista. We provide that level of service ourselves. People get to know the people picking up their garbage. And they live in our town too! I think that’s something special about living in Cheney. We take care of our own streets. We have a team that takes care of snow removal. And if we need help, we train from our water department. All of this helps us keep our rates relatively low compared to surrounding communities.”

Mayor Grover shares a few focus areas that Cheney is working towards: “As the Mayor, my top priority is always providing a high level of service to citizens at a reasonable cost. Water has been a big challenge. Spokane gets water from a different source than we do on the plains. Southwest of Spokane, all of the farmers, city of Cheney, and even Pullman are pulling from the same aquifer. It’s not as robust as the Spokane River, so we need to be good stewards of that resource. We are upgrading our wastewater facility so we can filter and clean our wastewater to a higher level so that it can go back into our system to irrigate our football fields, parks, etc. Right now the water being used is potable water. If we can do our part to reuse water for irrigation purposes, we can save more groundwater.”

In keeping with being good stewards, Mayor Grover notes: “We’ve hired a consultant to do a land quality analysis to see how everything is zoned and what is the best use of the land in Cheney as we continue to grow. For example, maybe we have too much light industrial land that’s not being utilized and can be rezoned for multifamily residences. We need to keep up with the changes in our city and consider what is the best use of our land.”

Additionally, Cheney is advocating for improvements to State Route 904. “State Route 904 is the road between I-90 and Cheney. Cheney is growing, but many people that live here commute for work. That road has been dangerous for years, and we’re working to make it safer by proposing changes such as widening that road,” Mayor Grover explains.

Be sure to join Mayor Grover and his family at Mayfest this weekend! For more information about the city of Cheney, visit You can also follow their Parks and Rec department on Facebook @cheneyrecreation to stay current with their local events and programming.