Page 1

2 / R / April 25, 2024

The week in random review

a deep lake

Lake Pend Oreille is special for many of us, but did you know it’s also the fifth deepest lake in the United States? Only Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Chelan and Lake Superior are deeper. Lake Pend Oreille’s official depth is listed at 1,158 feet, and it is a natural lake formed by glacial activity during the last Ice Age.

‘hang from the ear’

“Pend Oreille” is derived from the French words pendre à l’oreille, which translates into “hang from the ear.” The name refers to distinctive round shell earrings worn by local Kalispel Native American males and females, who lived next to and relied on the lake’s abundant resources. When viewed from above, the lake also appears to take the shape of an ear. Did the natives wear distinctive earrings because they knew the shape of the lake, or is it just one of those coincidences? Nobody knows for sure.

quick facts

Lake Pend Oreille is 1,158 feet deep. It has 111 miles of shoreline and is roughly 43 miles long and six miles wide at its widest point. The lake covers a surface area of 148 square miles, making it the nation’s 39th largest.

The magnetic anomaly

In 1962, the Idaho Bureau of Mines and Geology commissioned a study on geomagnetics and geological interpretation of Lake Pend Oreille, finding that magnetic compasses experience anomalies that deviate from expected readings. Scientists postulated in the report that the anomalies could be due to fault zones, but remain unsure.

A lake of secrets

Because of its remote location and unique depth, the U.S. Navy chose Lake Pend Oreille for submarine operations. The exact nature of what the Navy does is secret, but most of the testing done in the lake has to do with acoustics. The Navy uses an underwater array of hydrophones and projectors to measure noise and structural acoustics. The fresh water is also a benefit for testing, since it doesn’t change sound velocity as much as salt water, and is much less corrosive. Lucky campers on the southern end of the lake might be treated with a rare sighting of one of the Navy’s miniature one-fifth scale submarines surfacing during testing operations.


North West Company fur agent and surveyor David Thompson, who first called it, “Kullyspell Lake,” had this to say about Lake Pend Oreille: “The impression of my mind is, from the formation of the country and its climate, its extensive Meadows and fine forests, watered by countless brooks and Rills of pure water, that it will become the abode of civilized Man, whether Natives or other people.”


Howdy folks, and welcome to another Reader Thursday.

If you feel like our newspaper is especially thick lately, it’s because we’ve been publishing an extra four pages, at no added cost to our readers (OK, that’s funny, right? We’re a free paper.) Whenever we publish 28-page Readers, it’s a bit like drinking from a firehose, so apologies for any mistakes you might come across this week.

Don’t forget there are candidate forums held Monday, April 29 and Tuesday, April 30 at the Sandpoint High School auditorium. Bonner County candidates will speak at the April 29 forum, hosted by Bonner County Daily Bee and Selkirk Association of Realtors, while Idaho Legislative candidates for District 1 (Senate, House 1A and House 1B) will appear at the April 30 forum, hosted by KRFY 88.5 FM, and the Sandpoint Reader. Get informed before you vote!

Thanks and take care of yourselves out there.

111 Cedar Street, Suite 9 Sandpoint, ID 83864 208-946-4368 Publisher: Ben Olson Editorial: Zach Hagadone (Editor) Soncirey Mitchell (Staff Writer) Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey (emeritus) Cameron Rasmusson (emeritus) John Reuter (emeritus) Advertising: Kelsey Kizer Contributing Artists: Ben Olson (cover), TC Energy, Woody Aunan, Trav Dickson, Ani Landis, Soncirey Mitchell, Corey Johnson, Racheal Baker, Bill Borders Contributing Writers: Zach Hagadone, Ben Olson, Soncirey Mitchell, Lorraine H. Marie, Brenden Bobby, Jeremy Grimm, Mark Sauter, Linda Navarre, Todd Crossett, Jim Healey, Karissa Huntsman Emily Erickson Submit stories to: Printed weekly at: Tribune Publishing Co. Lewiston, ID Subscription Price: $165 per year Web Content: Keokee The Sandpoint Reader is a weekly publication owned and operated by Ben Olson and Keokee. It is devoted to the arts, entertainment, politics and lifestyle in and around Sandpoint, Idaho. We hope to provide a quality alternative by offering honest, in-depth reporting that reflects the intelligence and interests of our diverse and growing community. The Reader is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Leftover copies are collected and recycled weekly, or burned in massive bonfires to appease the gods of journalism. Free to all, limit two copies per person SandpointReader letter policy: The Sandpoint Reader welcomes letters to the editor on all topics. Requirements: –No more than 300 words –Letters may not contain excessive profanity or libelous material. Please elevate the discussion. Letters will be edited to comply with the above requirements. Opinions expressed in these pages are those of the writers, not necessarily the publishers. Email letters to: Check us out on the web at:
April 25, 2024 / R / 3

County approves Panhandle Bike Ranch development in Sagle

The Bonner County Hearing Examiner approved a conditional use permit on April 22, sought by Scott and Jennifer Kalbach to build a downhill mountain bike recreational facility in Sagle.

A public hearing held on April 17 drew dozens of Sagle residents, who testified both in support of and in opposition to the development on two contiguous 85.33-acre parcels off Jumpline Landing in Sagle, currently zoned Rural 10. Access to the proposed facility is from East Dufort Road to Five Lakes Road, through the Five Lakes residential development approximately 3.5 miles east of Highway 95.

The Panhandle Bike Ranch will feature downhill mountain biking trails, campsites for trail users and shuttle trucks to take mountain bikers up the 1,300-foot elevation gain to trailheads. The Kalbachs plan to break ground May 1, building approximately half of the trails in 2024 and the other half in 2025, with a goal to open operations to the public by spring 2025.

After hearing extensive testimony from the community, Hearing Examiner Jacqueline Rucker approved the proposal, finding that it was in accord with the Bonner County Comprehensive Plan and Bonner County Revised Code. Further, Rucker stated the proposed use would not create a hazard or be dangerous to persons on or adjacent to the property.

Examiner Rucker’s approval came with some conditions for the developers. All county setbacks shall be

met, and the conditional use permit shall expire if the use has not commenced within two calendar years from the date of issuance.

Also, Rucker stated that camping shall only be subordinate to the proposed bike park, not offered as a separate use. Campsites will be limited to a maximum of 10 sites, with quiet hours of 8:30 p.m.-7 a.m. posted by the landowner. No fireworks, firearms, hunting or shooting will be allowed in conjunction with tent camping.

Any structures planned for the facility will require a building location permit, and any wastewater or sewage disposal methods shall have written approval from Panhandle Health District and/ or the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The helipad shall only be used

for emergency services, not for personal or recreation purposes.

Biking shall be limited to only downhill and cross-country non-motorized mountain biking-related activities. The commercial use shall be limited to May through September operations, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday with the addition of Memorial and Labor days. There is a maximum of 65 bike riders per day during regular operations — not applicable to special events. Two special race events will be allowed per calendar year, limited to 150 people, including employees.

Developers were asked to submit a site plan detailing the campsite layout, parking plan, proposed structures, bike trail system and shuttle routes. A fire risk assessment

and mitigation plan is also required, as well as stormwater, grading and erosion control plans.

Those seeking to appeal the decision must submit their request to the Bonner

County Planning Department no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20.

Town hall scheduled with county elected officials

By Reader Staff

In response to residents’ desires to dialogue with elected officials, the Bonner County Board of Commissioners will host a special town hall specifically to hear public comment on Thursday, April 25 from 2-4 p.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building (1500 US-2, Sandpoint).

“The regular business meeting of the BOCC is for

business and BCRC 1-200 limits the public’s ability to ask questions that they may want to know. This meeting is an opportunity for the public to ask questions in a more open forum,” Commission Chairman Luke Omodt told the Reader in an April 24 email.

All county elected officials are invited but not required to attend and answer questions. The event is free and requires no prior registration.

NEWS 4 / R / April 25, 2024
Members of the public testify at the conditional use permit hearing for Panhandle Bike Ranch April 17. Photo by Ben Olson.

Cedar St. Bridge to celebrate new ownership with grand reopening

Sandpoint’s iconic Cedar Street Bridge will celebrate the next phase in its long local history with a grand reopening and ribbon cutting Saturday, April 27 — marking the official beginning of a new era under new management.

Joseph Worth purchased the bridge in February and has since brought in Stacey Mueller as the local property manager. Worth is a 48-yearold entrepreneur who lives in the Southlake suburb of Dallas, Texas, with his family and runs a film studio. He got to know Sandpoint through Mueller and has made a number of trips here over the past several years, describing it as “a respite” for his family and “we can’t seem to stay away for long,” he told the Reader in an email.

Worth jumped at the opportunity to own the bridge — even after a handful of years during which previous ownership decisions coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic left it in a slump.

“We want to really cause this bridge to have energy up and down and create this experience here — we want to bring in the flavor of Sandpoint in here,” Mueller told the Reader in an interview.

Shery Meekings has been a tenant on the bridge for 15 years as the owner of Carousel Emporium and Creations, and whose husband Scott owns Creations Toy Store, and said the new ownership has revitalized the community of vendors. She described the new philosophy as, “Heart, friendliness and creativity — and history.”

The grand reopening will be the first opportunity for the new ownership and management to show off the invigo-

rated bridge to the community, starting at 11 a.m. with a ribbon cutting by the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce and followed by an afternoon of events including hot dogs, free caramel apples, face painting, mini-makeovers and hair shimmers, a raffle and a live music open mic with Frytz Mor and Company.

Each vendor will feature their own sales in a “snacksand-sips” format, and Mueller and Meekings both said the goal will be to re-welcome the community to the space.

“Since taking over the Cedar Street Bridge, we have been able to fill 10 vacancies with Sandpoint entrepreneurs,” Mueller told the City Council at its April 17 meeting, noting that the bridge — which is roughly equivalent to two city blocks in length — now represents about 20 businesses.

“We’ve taken all the ‘no’s’ off the front,” she added, referring to the list of prohibitions put on visitors to

the bridge under the previous ownership of Los Angeles-based attorneys Claire and Frank Fox, whose dramatic rent increases forced about a dozen vendors out of their spaces in the summer of 2022.

Among the most controversial actions taken by the Foxes was to put locks on the upstairs bathrooms, requiring visitors to ask for a key from vendors if and when they needed to use the facilities. Seen as emblematic of an unwelcoming approach to managing the bridge, “The very first thing we did when we got the keys was we took the locks off the bathrooms,” Mueller told the Reader, later reiterating to the City Council, “I can’t believe taking the locks off the bathrooms made such a huge impact on our city.”

Ultimately, that gesture was meant to communicate that the new ownership says “‘yes’ to our guests,” Mueller and Meekings both said.

Looking ahead, Worth,

Mueller and Meekings all said to expect to see expanded offerings, such as at Creations — including a new LEGO experience — as well as outdoor patio seating and, critically, more food options.

“We would like to see a restaurant or two that perhaps draws the local community in on a daily or weekly basis,” Worth wrote in an email.

“The more goods and services our tenants offer that meet the needs of the local community, the more it can be the place where friends and neighbors gather.”

Beyond that, Mueller said the bridge is on track to resume its position as a destination not just for visitors, but entrepreneurs themselves. For many years, the bridge was seen as a de facto business incubator. Going forward, Mueller said “the bridge is a place to be.”

“This is the greatest thing about being here at the bridge — especially for new

businesses: You’re not alone. You don’t have to take on all the ginormous expenses it takes to start a business and you have a family of support and a built-in clientele and a marketing engine with all the tenants here supporting each other,” she said.

And that collaborative spirit extends from the vendors to their new landlord, Worth.

“Being there isn’t a money thing [for Worth],” Mueller said. “It was driven by a lot of the bottom line and making a profit in the past, which I understand — it’s a business transaction — but Joe did not buy this property on a positive note. I mean, he took a chance. He understood what the heartbeat was that we were sharing with him, he wanted to restore that here at the bridge and come alongside these tenants and help them thrive.”

NEWS April 25, 2024 / R / 5
Inside the Cedar St. Bridge in Sandpoint. Photo by Ben Olson.

Rick Howarth appointed as newest Sandpoint City Council member

The Sandpoint City Council welcomed a new member April 17 with the confirmation of Rick Howarth to fill the seat left vacant by former-Council President Jason Welker, who stepped down in March to become the city’s new Community Planning and Development director.

“Jason leaves big shoes to fill,” Sandpoint Mayor Jeremy Grimm said before introducing Howarth, whom he said he’s known since 2007.

“Throughout this time, I have known Rick to be one of the most sincere, knowledgeable, respectful and capable humans I have had the pleasure to interact with in my lifetime,” Grimm wrote in a letter nominating Howarth to the council.

Highlighting Howarth’s past experience in international business — including as a vice president at Intel Corporation — Grimm said, “He has managed budgets with many, many zeros beyond the city of Sandpoint’s budget.”

Howarth retired in 2018 and has since served on the board of directors for Kinderhaven, as chair of the board for Lighthouse Foods and on the board of Valor Christian High School in Sandpoint.

Growing up in Great Falls, Mont. and educated at the University of Idaho, where he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.S. in mechanical engineering and material science, Howarth has a long association with Sandpoint — his wife, Debbie, being raised in Sandpoint and having graduated from SHS in 1978.

After years spent traveling the world for work, the Howarths now live across the street from Debbie’s parents — Fred and Karla Darnell — in south Sandpoint.

“I am very humbled by this opportunity to serve the community,” Howarth told the council. “As Jeremy said, I’ve called Sandpoint ‘home’ for more than 42 years. ...

“It was always our hope and desire

Bits ’n’ Pieces

From east, west and beyond

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling:

to come back to Sandpoint, to not only retire but raise our daughters,” he said, adding that they will soon graduate high school and depart for college in Indiana.

Speaking to the City Council on April 17, Howarth said that he accepted the nomination because, “I want to see if in my small way I can help guide the community so my daughters can come back to this community, which I love so much.”

In his letter, Grimm noted that Howarth’s “experience managing budgets of over $1.5 billion and thousands of employees will be invaluable to the city of Sandpoint as we move forward with what will be the largest public works projects in our history.”

Prior to the unanimous vote confirming Howarth’s nomination, Councilor Pam Duquette asked him what he thought would be the “biggest environmental concern” facing Sandpoint in the future, which he identified as management of runoff from the mountains into Lake Pend Oreille.

“What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the city in the next two years?” she asked, to which Howarth responded that the city’s master planning is “very ambitious” including numerous “hopes and wishes” that “come with a lot of very large financial commitments.

He stated that he would dig into the plans and assess which components are needs and which are wants.

Finally, Duquette asked how important Howarth viewed the environment when looking at development.

“I would say it is certainly a consideration,” he responded. “In any project of any scale it is always going to be a consideration. Would I say that is the highest priority — I can’t say that, it would depend on the particular situation and the particular activity.”

Howarth will serve on the council alongside Duquette, Councilors Joel Aispuro, Justin Dick and Kyle Schreiber, as well as Deb Ruehle, who was elected City Council president at the April 17 meeting.

The Associated Press reported that the climate crisis is expected to cost the global economy $38 trillion by 2050, resulting in average incomes falling by almost a fifth.

Last year, 422 cases of meningitis were reported, the highest since 2014, according to the CDC. In recent weeks, 143 cases were reported, indicating a surge over last year. Meningitis inflames the brain and spinal cord membrane. A CDC epidemiologist advises consulting a doctor if you experience symptoms including severe headache, fever, neck stiffness or light sensitivity.

Walmart is settling a class action lawsuit for up to $45 million over claims they overcharged shoppers for certain weighted grocery items, The New York Times reported.

Israel’s military intelligence chief resigned recently over his failure to prevent the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. Media is speculating more may resign. A U.N. commission investigating Oct. 7’s Hamas attack on Israel says Israel has been obstructing their efforts, The New York Times wrote.

A $7 billion EPA “solar for all” campaign will use funds from the bi-partisan Inflation Reduction Act that will create 200,000 jobs. Primary targets will be low-income and disadvantaged areas. It is expected to generate over $8 billion in savings on power bills, The Guardian reported.

Donald Trump’s election interference trial in New York is underway. Jurors will hear about 34 counts of falsifying business records to channel hush money so voters would not be fully informed about his 2016 candidacy. Trump will be required to attend the entire trial, which is expected to last about six weeks, various media reported. The trial judge allowed Trump’s lawyers extra time to review records and excluded from evidence info that could form a bias, such as past sexual assault allegations. Common Cause took legal action and New York State courts will make transcripts of Trump’s election interference trial open to the public.

Salon and Politico: the Trump campaign is asking for down-ballot candidates who use his name, image and

likeness when fundraising to give at least 5% of what’s raised to Trump’s campaign.

After stalling since October, House Speaker Mike Johnson initiated a vote for Ukraine funding ($60.8 billion), Israel ($14 billion), and smaller amount for other allies. Johnson said on C-Span that aid for Ukraine is “critically important;” without it, Vladimir Putin would continue aggression across Europe.

Earlier this week, 37 Democrats voted against sending Israel unconditional aid, but the funding bill passed, 311-112, and will move to the Senate.

A year after a train derailment, residents of East Palestine, Ohio, learned they will receive $600 million in payments from Norfolk Southern. To prevent an explosion, Norfolk burned toxic contents of the trains’ cars; people were evacuated. The environmental disaster caused tens of thousands of animal deaths, The WEEK reported. An estimated 100,000 people filed a class action lawsuit against Norfolk.

Since first detection in China in 1996, H5N1 bird flu has resulted in hundreds of millions of wild and domestic bird deaths, The WEEK reported. Of chickens, 90% die within 48 hours. After coming to North America in 2021, it has become more contagious. Culling of a third of chickens raised the price of eggs. So far, in its current form, the CDC says it poses a low threat to humans; the U.S. has had two mild human cases. Worldwide, 900 people have had H151, and half died. Since March, it has been found in cattle in about six states. They may have gotten it from being fed FDA-sanctioned ground-up chicken feces.

If Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 had been in place between 2018 and 2020, a new study says Medicare would have saved $26.5 billion from negotiating drug prices, according to JAMA Health Forum.

Blast from the past: Twenty-five years ago this month the Columbine High School shooting took 13 lives. Since then, 360,000 students have experienced gun violence in their schools; close to 500 have been killed. As of early April this year, there have been 95 school shooting incidents; in 2023 there were 348 all year. Research finds that the Columbine shooting was the inspiration for 23 other school shooters.

6 / R / April 25, 2024
Rick Howarth. Courtesy photo.

Despite petitions, feds approve expanded Northwest gas pipeline

Canada-based TC Energy pipeline runs through North Idaho, Washington, Oregon and northern California

Federal regulators are allowing construction to begin on expanding a controversial gas pipeline running through North Idaho, Washington, Oregon and northern California.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order April 17 giving the greenlight to the pipeline’s owner, the Canadian company TC Energy, to begin construction following its denial April 16 of appeals from conservationists and attorneys general in Oregon and Washington to reassess its approval of the Northwest XPress expansion project.

The 1,400-mile pipeline already sends billions of cubic feet of gas everyday from Canada to utilities supplying natural gas customers in the Northwest and California. In 2021, TC Energy asked the federal energy commission to allow it to increase the pipeline’s capacity, adding millions of cubic feet of gas extracted by fracking to the pipeline each day.

Company representatives told the commission and the Oregon Capital Chronicle that they need to increase capacity to meet demand.

Those opposed to the pipeline say the company has not proved a need for an expansion in an increasingly electrifying world and one where renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and more abundant. Natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, and environmentalists also oppose fracking, which involves injecting toxic chemicals into the earth.

Northwest opposition to pipeline’s expansion

The project is opposed by environmentalists, the governors of Oregon and Washington, those states’ U.S. senators and the attorneys general of Oregon, Washington and California.

For more than a year, they have called on the federal energy agency not to allow the project to move forward. They’ve said expanding the pipeline’s capacity undermines their goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that the company will invariably pass the costs of the pipeline expansion on to natural gas customers in the region.

[Editor’s note: Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and Reps. Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson — all Republicans — signed a letter of support for the Northwest XPress project in October 2022, writing that the pipeline expansion would “greatly expand the Pacific Northwest’s regional transportation capacity of low-cost natural gas and must be completed without delay.” The officials also wrote that regulators should not be bound by “arbitrary ‘clean energy standards’” adopted by neighboring states when considering approval of the project.]

Consumers already pay significantly higher prices today for natural gas than they did even three or four years ago.

All three natural gas companies in Oregon have requested rate hikes this year from the state’s Public Utilities Commission. Rates have gone up 50% on average since 2020 for residential customers of the state’s largest natural gas utility, NW Natural, according to the watchdog Citizens’ Utilities Board.

The offices of Oregon Attorney General Ellen

Rosenblum and Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Natural gas is almost entirely methane, a potent greenhouse gas and a main contributor to global warming. The expansion of the GTN Xpress would result in an additional 3.47 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being released for at least the next 30 years, according to a joint filing opposing the pipeline that was submitted to the federal commission in August 2022 by Rosenblum, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Under Oregon’s Climate Protection Program, greenhouse gas emissions need to decrease 90% by 2050. At least 26% of that reduction will have to come from natural gas. A 2020 Washington law mandates a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Nevertheless, in October the commission issued its approval.

Dissent on the commission

The decision on April 16 to deny a rehearing on the pipeline project approval was not unanimous, and one of the three members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — Allison Clements — said in her dissent that she largely agreed with the states that TC Energy had not demonstrated adequate demand and that the expansion is detrimental to the states’ laws mandating gas companies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Because the regulatory commission made its decision last week, and did not make its decision to deny the petitions within 30 days of issuing its October approval, the petitions are now in federal court, where the states’ attorneys general and attorneys for the Oregon nonprofits Columbia Riverkeeper and Rogue Climate will pursue a hearing by a federal Court of Appeals, where a judge could decide to side with the groups and the states.

“This is the first time in court we would essentially be arguing that FERC has to consider state climate laws

when it looks at whether a project sits in the public convenience and necessity,” Audrey Leonard, staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, previously told the Capital Chronicle.

But the pending litigation does not stop TC Energy from moving forward with its construction now that it has approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Critics say the federal commission has a history of approving pipeline projects with little dissent.

A recent review of the commission’s major pipeline decisions by University of Virginia School of Law Professor Alison Gocke found commissioners approved 423 of 425 proposed pipeline projects in the last 20 years.

The Oregon Capital Chronicle, like the Idaho Capital Sun, is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

April 25, 2024 / R / 7 NEWS
A map of the Gas Transmission Northwest Express pipeline, or GTN Express, proposed route. Image courtesy of TC Energy.


•“My son was hit by a truck while crossing the crosswalk at Oak and Fifth three weeks ago. So many people who saw it jumped into action immediately — calling 911, stopping traffic, holding his hand and encouraging him while waiting for the paramedics (who were so quick to respond). We’ve received visits, well wishes, and donations to him and his wife. We are so grateful to this amazing community. He is doing well. It is a long road of recovery and he is still in a lot of pain, but thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries.”


• We’re less than a month away from the primary election, which means it’s time for the mudslinging and negative campaign ads to start flooding our mailboxes. The only candidate who employs attack ads with such fervor is Sen. Scott Herndon, who has contracted with Las Vegas-based McShane LLC to create the dishonest, comically villainous mailers that voters are seeing again, featuring his opponent with a Photoshopped face mask, among other imagery. The fact that Herndon employs McShane LLC is yet another instance of someone who pretends to be a local, but uses out-of-state firms and money to run for office. McShane, for those who aren’t aware, is a political consultant firm that specializes in helping far-right extremist candidates gain hold in scorched-earth ad campaigns. Along with Herndon, other candidates who have paid McShane for their services include Dave Reilly, Brandon Durst, Cornel Rasor, Stacey Rodriguez, the Bonner County Republican Central Committee and others.

A McShane strategist even once arranged to recruit the neo-fascist militant organization Proud Boys — which promotes and engages in political violence — to attend a post-presidential election protest and rally. Don’t be fooled by out-of-state mudslingers paid for by far-right megadonors. Campaigns motivated by fear, a greedy desire to win at all costs or hatred of another’s point of view are despicable — especially from Herndon, who makes so much of his “Christian” identity.

‘Mud season’...

Dear editor,

It is mud season! Not spring and flowers, I’m talking about Scott Herndon. He became our state senator last time because of outside money and lies, and he is at it again. If you are new to the area let me tell you about Scott Herndon.

I first encountered him at the Farmers’ Market, as he was shoving huge pictures of dead babies into the faces of small children. Then I saw him do it again at the Festival at Sandpoint. But his crowning achievement was protesting at the Catholic Church during mass. Herndon screamed at us evil Catholics because we believed in protecting a woman’s life.

I have received three mailers so far from Herndon, all of them lies. The worst photoshopped a mask on Woodward, and said he supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. Herndon used pictures of crazed-looking, half-naked, Hispanic men on the flier. Why? Because Woodward voted for a non-binding resolution asking Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would protect the border while allowing legal farm laborers. Herndon does not believe women and farm laborers deserve life and protection. Jim Woodward, however, is a caring and honest Republican candidate.

‘Idaho conservative Woodward listens’…

Dear editor,

When I met Jim Woodward, I asked him why I should vote for him. After all, he is an Idaho conservative. He told me he would “listen to me.”

I visited Sen. Herndon at the Capitol, where he essentially dismissed my midwifery education. He’d read about birthing, delivering his last four children without a midwife. He was lucky, but not interested in hearing that — having a meeting to go to!

As a midwife for 40 years, I’m aware of the fine line in delivering safe health care. Jim Woodward — in true conservative style — voted for this legislation. After listening to women (and men) in his district, he acknowledges the unintended consequences of this legislation. He wants to repair and restore evidence-based women’s health care in North Idaho.

Bottom line: Jim is willing to listen and attend any event where he can hear from his constituents. When he disagrees with them, he is

respectfully present.

Jim Woodward will have my vote this May. His message is “Moms Matter, May Matters.” Moms do matter, and Jim Woodward understands the need to welcome medical providers into women’s health care, not legislators.

Cynthia Dalsing MSN CNM Ret. Sandpoint

‘Make up your mind’…

Dear editor:

It seems Idaho is becoming even more red. In keeping an eye on Sen. Herndon, it appears he is busier than ever pushing his favorite bills through while at the same time undermining the rights of so many others. Taking away women’s rights was just the beginning of his desire to control! Not satisfied with that, he again went after our public schools and libraries. He must feel very proud having this bill passed, forcing librarians to be held responsible for what “children” should not have access to. Should any child bring home materials unsuitable, their parents can sue the library system!

Then, once again, he goes after the Festival, pushing for the right to carry guns where there are families and children!

Make up your mind Sen. Herndon, which is the scariest: books or loaded guns! In my opinion, you have an irrational and uncaring personality! I for one will enjoy seeing the back of you in the upcoming election.

Don’t be swayed by Herndon’s fliers…

Dear editor,

I would like to call attention to the hateful fliers that Scott Herndon is sending out. They are colorful and bold and for those who don’t know, they may be swayed. His fliers are full of negative, harmful and accusatory statements about Jim Woodward. I hope the voters open their eyes. Freedoms are being taken away from us — banning books, running doctors out of town — when does it stop?

We need people like Jim Woodward. Do not be swayed by these negative fliers. Let’s vote for Jim Woodward. Thank you,

May really does matter…

Dear editor,

The other day as I was driving

toward Sandpoint on Highway 200 I happened to notice a yard sign. It read simply, “May Matters.” I saw several others on different lawns over the next few days. I thought it was a real estate sign.

At first I said, “There’s an aggressive new realtor in town.” Then I started seeing several other signs for candidates in the upcoming primary. Then the words finally hit home: “May Matters!”

Of course May matters. It is our only real chance to pick who is going to represent us.

I’ve been shouting for years that elections are won or lost in the primaries. Only 15% to 20% of the registered voters even turn out in the primaries. That tiny percentage of voters has determined the outcome in every election in Idaho for well over a decade. Only those voters that are truly motivated show up at the polls.

Become a participant in our society and vote! Become one of the people that enables all women to control their own bodies. Be a voter that says “no” to the extremists, “yes” to education and access to health care. So yes, May matters. Get out and vote!

Dear editor, In 2023 and 2024, Scott Herndon voted against funding Idaho’s Division of Veterans Services. He was one of only nine senators voting against veterans. This division supports County Veteran Service Officers in helping veterans in their area obtain the benefits they need. Obviously, Herndon does not appreciate the role veterans have played in assuring the freedoms he and we enjoy.

As a veteran, I am supporting Jim Woodward, a 20+ year U.S. Navy veteran, to replace Herndon and assure continuing support for Idaho’s veterans.

If you are a veteran, a family member of a veteran or someone who appreciates veterans’ service, I urge you to do the same on May 21 when you vote.

Gray Henderson Bonners Ferry

School improvement impossible without funding…

Dear editor, We must overcome the shortfall in WBCSD. Voting for the levy will do that. If it’s for our students,

there should not be a question as to its necessity. Improvement cannot be accomplished without local funding. Idaho funds what they fund. We have to cover the shortfall. There is no way around it.

I get so tired of hearing naysayers comment that we have bad grades because we have bad teachers. That’s plain old B.S. Spend some time and go to board meetings and committee meetings. I have been so impressed with the show of intelligence and understanding of how the school system works by almost all the board members. And the interim superintendent Mr. Kren. He’s amazing. His knowledge and understanding of what’s happening and what needs to happen is incredible.

I could and would give you much more info but space doesn’t allow it. Check out the district website. It’s loaded with accurate information. It’s all fact, not someone’s opinion. Come up with your opinion based on fact.

‘A clearer solution’…

Dear editor,

Tom Houlihan’s letter of April 18 [“A clear solution…”] expressed some of his dissatisfaction with recently approved House Bill 710 dealing with certain types of reading material in public libraries. This bill may segregate some books deemed unfit for minors.

Tom suggests a see-through partition of those restricted materials and then exposing the names of those that voted for this bill.

Society secures many items from minors and has for many decades. To name a few, firearms, ammunition, tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs. If we are to publish names, how about naming those who voted for open primaries, marijuana legalization, certain political candidates, medical records, tax returns and where does it stop? Is Tom against the secret ballot?

There have always been restrictions on certain items/materials and conduct for minors (curfews) and they are generally expressed by the mores, attitudes and culture of society.

8 / R / April 25, 2024
Scott Herndon voted against help for veterans…


First quarter update from the mayor’s office

Taking stock of the city’s challenges and needs

Since my inauguration on Jan. 3, 2024, transitioning into the mayorship has been a journey of adaptation and transformation. Amid the typical challenges of acclimating to new faces, policies and procedures, I’ve embraced the opportunity to engage with more than 110 staff members and integrate their valuable insights into enhancing the functionality of City Hall. Thanks to their suggestions, we’ve implemented numerous minor adjustments that streamline our operations and foster greater citizen engagement.

As promised during my campaign, I’ve reinstated various citizen committees and commissions that had been dormant under the previous administration. Committees such as Parks and Recreation, Urban Forestry, Bicycle and Pedestrian, Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and Sustainability are about to be activated. We anticipate finalizing the necessary ordinance changes to govern these committees by May, enabling them to address crucial issues and advise the City Council effectively.

A significant challenge I encountered upon assuming office was addressing the vacancy left by the former city administrator. Despite this hurdle, the transition has allowed me to delve deeply into the inner workings of our city, leading to progress in reorganizing toward a more traditional department head structure. With capable individuals managing their respective domains, we’re fostering accountability and decision-making authority at all levels.

This shift toward a collaborative organizational structure is underscored by the reinstatement of bi-monthly updates from individual staff and department heads during City Council meetings, enhancing transparency and accountability.

Throughout the first quarter, I’ve conducted a comprehensive assessment of the city’s challenges and needs, akin to inspecting a used car before purchase. This examination revealed pressing issues, foremost among them being the obsolete state of our wastewater treatment plant.

With the facility dating back to World War II, urgent action is required to prevent further environmen-

tal degradation.

During periods of high flows (rain and rain-on-snow events), the facility becomes overwhelmed leading to wastewater discharge that at times exceeds water quality standards. Despite the best efforts of staff, they have been put in a situation of near-constant reaction to breakdowns and emergency repairs, which are costly and stressful.

The city will need to finance and build a new wastewater plant within the next four years. Plans for a new plant — estimated to cost between $60 million and $110 million, depending on the specific type of treatment technology used — are underway, signaling the largest public works project in Sandpoint’s history.

Another critical concern is the deteriorating condition of our streets, exacerbated by years of deferred maintenance. Our streets, many of which were originally constructed without proper base rock, are failing.

A recent engineering analysis of pavement conditions confirmed that despite the additional funding (estimated at nearly $1 million per year) made possible by the approval of our increased lodging tax, we are fighting a losing battle and our pavement conditions will continue to degrade. Creative solutions, such as partnering with neighboring jurisdictions and prioritizing essential maintenance over new projects, are imperative to address this pressing issue.

Potable water infrastructure also demands attention, particularly the deficient transmission lines serving areas outside city limits. Addressing the challenges of the water transmission

system is critical to the health, safety and economy of our region, and will require significant effort working with our neighbors toward the formulation of a sustainable long-term solution. Like our other challenges, the water transmission situation did not occur overnight, and an equitable solution will take time to develop.

In closing, these priorities represent just a fraction of the challenges we face. In July, I will provide a comprehensive update on our progress, including key developments in land use, transportation, budgeting and more.

From the onset of my campaign for mayor I stated that I would focus on putting Sandpoint residents first and focus on taking care of what we have before pursuing shiny new projects. The decisions that we face are challenging and will require sacrifice, compromise and tradeoffs. Together, we will navigate these challenges and steer Sandpoint toward a secure and prosperous future for all residents.


April 25, 2024 / R / 9
Sandpoint Mayor Jeremy Grimm. File photo.

Science: Mad about

“In Africa, the saying goes ‘In the bush, an elephant can kill you, a leopard can kill you and a black mamba can kill you. But only with the mamba is death sure.’ Hence its handle, ‘Death Incarnate.’”

— Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver, Kill Bill Vol. 2

Some of the most dangerous animals on planet Earth are among the smallest and most inconspicuous. Small critters loaded to the brim with potent killing chemicals that can incapacitate and kill in weeks, days, hours or in some cases even minutes.

It’s important to distinguish between a poisonous animal and a venomous animal. Poison dart frogs are poisonous, but they are not venomous. The black mamba is both. In order for a poison dart frog to kill you, you would have to handle one in the wild. A black mamba can inject you with poisonous compounds through its fangs and venom glands. Essentially, if it’s venomous, it comes with nature-made syringes to inject its toxins into your bloodstream.

Bonus fact: Poison dart frogs stop being poisonous in captivity. The toxins are a heavy alkaline waste product secreted as a byproduct of the frog’s primary diet, which consists of ants and termites. Carefully maintained diets in captivity remove this waste compound from ever entering their system, thus eliminating their ability to poison humans.

Animal venom comes in a number of flavors. The three most common compounds are cytotoxins, neurotoxins and hemotoxins. Each of these can be found in a wide variety of snakes, though a small num-

ber of mammals and most jellyfish are capable of producing at least one of these.

Cytotoxin works by chemically disrupting the outer membrane of the cells it encounters. The membrane of a cell acts as a filter and housing for the contents of the cell, keeping harmful things out. You can almost think of a cell membrane as the walls and roof of a house. Cytotoxin interacting with the walls of this house is a lot like a tsunami sweeping through a neighborhood, indiscriminately tearing down roofs and walls and scattering the contents all over the place.

Zoom out a little bit and this starts to look like necrosis, with skin and flesh dying and breaking down, rotting from the injection site outward.

Puff adders harbor cytotoxins within venom glands in the back of the throat just below the snake’s brain. These glands come equipped with a compressor muscle that can tense up and squeeze the venom through a canal within the fang, leading to large amounts of venom being injected into a snake’s intended target.

Interestingly, the very thing that makes cytotoxin so scary may be the exact feature humans desire in order to develop effective cancer treatments when applied surgically.

Neurotoxins are among the most lethal of snake venoms on the planet. Cobras, mambas, kraits, taipans and sea snakes all harbor lethal neurotoxic venom. Neurotoxic venom directly attacks the nervous system of the prey, acting as a disruptor that blocks signals from the brain to muscles causing paralysis. This is especially bad when it is introduced into the bloodstream by way of the snake’s injecting fangs, and allowed to travel freely

to the body’s organs. Many victims of a neurotoxic bite die of suffocation once their lungs become paralyzed and they can no longer breathe.

Hemotoxins attack red blood cells and cause a whole host of issues depending on the type of snake and the amount of venom injected. Rattlesnakes, adders, pit vipers and bush vipers all utilize hemotoxic venom. In some cases, hemotoxin causes blood to clot while it’s still in the veins and arteries, which causes stoppages to the circulatory system that eventually lead to cardiac arrest and likely death.

Other forms of hemotoxin do the exact opposite, thinning the blood to an extreme degree and causing massive blood pressure fall-offs or blood leaking into the urine via the kidneys.

Snakes always get a bad rap for being venomous, but they’re hardly the only animal on the planet capable of delivering a venomous bite. When you’ve evolved not to have any legs or arms, you need a little extra something with which to defend yourself.

The southern short-tailed shrew, which inhabits the southeastern United States, has evolved with a specialized venom for killing its prey. A single bite carries enough potency to kill 200 mice — and while this sounds pretty scary, it shouldn’t be enough to kill an adult human, though it sure does hurt.

Perhaps the most venomous and lethal creature on the planet could easily be mistaken for a plastic bag floating on the waves. The box jellyfish carries a powerful venom that it injects with countless tiny nematocysts, which are microscopic structures with barbs and venom injectors. As a creature comes in contact with

a box jellyfish, it gets caught in the tentacles, which are lined with these nematocysts that repeatedly sting the creature over the entire surface of its body.

The jellyfish sting can be easily countered by wearing a layer of clothing such as a wetsuit or pantyhose over the skin. It has been discovered that the nematocysts are not activated by touch but by a chemical reaction with organic matter present on the skin or scales of most animals. Box jellyfish are actually capable of

actively hunting prey.

You may be wondering how venomous creatures don’t poison themselves. Naturally, as the creature has evolved to contain these compounds, its natural defenses come preequipped to fight them off or nullify their effects when self-applied, such as a black widow spider eating an insect it just envenomed. That being said, it doesn’t make these animals immune to all forms of venom.

Stay curious, 7B.

•The presidential election of 1828 was one of the nastiest the country had yet seen. It was the election that largely solidified the two-party system we know in the U.S. In 1824, Andrew Jackson faced off against incumbent President John Quincy Adams, but no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote and the election was decided in the House of Representatives in Adams’ favor. By 1828, Jacksonians had become known as Democrats and Adams’ followers known as National Republicans, and the election was so contested that a majority of states held conventions to endorse a candidate, which means public opinion became more popular than ever before. Enter mudslinging.

•Examples of mudslinging that emerged during the 1828 election were rumors that Jackson and his wife were “adulterers,” and Jackson’s proclivities for dueling and gambling became embellished and widespread. He was also accused of being a cannibal. On the other side, Adams was portrayed as a “corrupt bargainer” and “unscrupulous aristocrat” who had misappropriated tax dollars.

•Other early examples of mudslinging include opponents of President Grover Cleveland, who claimed he may or may not have fathered a child out of wedlock. A photo of him appeared in a newspaper with a baby and a lady, with the baby crying, “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?”

•The first negative television attack ad was “Daisy,” by 1964 presidential candidate Lyndon B.Johnson against his opponent Barry Goldwater. The ad stoked the public’s fear of nuclear weapons and painted Goldwater as a radical ready to launch nukes at the drop of a hat. It set a model for negative attack ads that came after.

•Experts say attack ads work so well for extremist candidates because they solidify their already polarized base. Rather than search for meaningful messages in a particular campaign, attack ads merely stoke the fires of fear and xenophobia.

10 / R / April 25, 2024
to you by:
Don’t know much about political mudslinging? We can help!
venomous biology Random Corner
The black mamba. Courtesy photo.

Legislative update: Wrapping up

The legislative session wrapped up two weeks ago. Many of the elected state representatives are now focusing their time on campaigning for the May 21 primary election. I am no exception, and am spending most of my time reaching out to you, in various ways, to inform my constituents that I am running for re-election as your District 1 Seat A Representative.

I found this 2024 session very different from my first one. The speed of the process was much quicker, the progress on bills to address real problems was slower and the appropriations process was changed. However, we did make some improvements for our state.

I started and “ran” five constituent bills this session and all were signed into law by the governor. The bills covered water adjudication, public works procedures, elections, school board operations and livestock depredation. They all started with requests from our district and will benefit our area and the state.

Legislators introduced a flurry of bills at the start of the session. About half of the bills introduced made it to the finish line and were signed into law. We had noteworthy votes

in January that hit us as a surprise and some dogged bill movement in April. The state office that does the actual bill drafting for the legislators earned their keep, writing over 1,400 pages of legislation. There were more than 300 new sections of code added, while only 102 sections of code were repealed. Idaho is noted as the least regulated state in our country. If we intend to keep this noteworthy title, we will have to quell our appetite for new legislation at some point.

The legislature made progress on community safety by supporting law enforcement, the fire service, adding fentanyl to the mandatory-minimum drug list and attaching harsher penalties for those who traffic it. We started a school funding process that has merit and “Launched” a program to invest in our graduating high

school seniors.

Our success with improvements to women’s healthcare are stubbornly slow. We had hard-fought wins for extending prescription contraceptives for women, reinstating our annual state reporting of maternal mortality (we rejoined the other 49 states) and expanding Medicaid coverage for qualifying postpartum moms from two to 12 months.

However, we did not pass legislation to address the exodus of healthcare workers (doctors included), hospital service changes (labor/ delivery unit closures), clarify allowable medical procedures or reduce the concerns of doctors and mothers about healthcare decisions.

The appropriations process changed this session. Previously, the Idaho appropriations process was considered a model for responsible financial procedures. This year, rather than vote on a budget for each of the 100+ state agencies, the funding was bundled together. Multiple agency funding bills were split between what was called maintenance and enhancements. Many other Representatives joined me in questioning the efficacy of this process. The results of the changes will take time to be known. Most of the maintenance budgets were approved in one day by a handful of bills

Reaffirming regional human rights

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.”

The Bonner County Human Rights Task Force (BCHRTF) stands with regional human rights groups and community members in confirming that racism and violent extremism have no place in our community.

In light of recent events in North Idaho, we restate our commitment to our shared rights, needs, dignity

and value with people of all races or geographical origins. We reject behavior and attitudes that reflect and foster prejudice, discrimination or antagonism by an individual, community or institution against a person or people on the basis of real or perceived characteristics such as race or ethnicity.

Since 1992, BCHRTF has served Bonner County in opposing racism, acts of hate and violence toward others. We continue in our mission to affirm the American principles and ideals of the inviolable dignity and worth of each human being and to promote and secure mutual understanding and respect among all people.

BCHRTF recognizes that it is the

racial, social and cultural diversity of our people that makes Bonner County a rich and worthwhile place to live.

You may be wondering, What can I, as an individual, do?

We call on you to:

• Be bold and call out harmful behavior. Amplify your observations of respect, compassion and inclusivity in our community by posting them in “Kudos” in the Bee and “Bouquets” in the Reader;

• Be an informed voter and vote for people who demonstrate a recognition of the shared rights, needs and dignity of all people;

• Report and encourage others

adding up to billions of dollars. The consolidation of agencies and the combining of budget items left fewer opportunities for legislative action.

Our overall state budget increased this year by 1.7 % over last year. Considering inflation and population growth, that is success. And we did so with the same tax structure!

Other successes include another year of reduced property taxes and a slightly reduced income tax rate. We started making state investments in school facilities. Previously, the state mostly stuck to operational funding for schools. We also increased the efforts we had started a few years ago for career technical education (CTE). These efforts are meant to address our workforce, housing and family needs, and should help our communities, too.

We also managed to direct over $530 million to road, bridge and water projects across the state. This investment into our local economies will improve our infrastructure and provide good paying jobs for our residents. At the end of the day, we will have better transportation routes, too.

Passing legislation for our district is being responsible. I encourage you to get out and vote on Tuesday, May 21 and would appreciate your support to send me back to Boise as your responsible representative. There’s more work to do, and I get things done.

to report acts of harassment and discrimination. The BCHRTF can assist in this, offer support and/or accompany an individual who needs to speak to law enforcement but is not comfortable doing so.

It is our belief that this community will continue to create a safe and welcoming environment for all who live and visit here. We reaffirm our dedication to our mission and we ask that you commit to advancing respect, compassion, inclusivity, and kindness for all.

To learn more about the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, visit

April 25, 2024 / R / 11 PERSPECTIVES
Rep. Mark Sauter. Courtesy photo.

Make a difference as a water quality steward

Water levels on Lake Pend Oreille began rising on April 1, signaling that summer is on its way. Living in a lake town is a lifestyle that can’t be beat. After work, I can drive five minutes to meet friends for a swim or have dinner literally on the water at the Float House in Hope. With this luxury, though, comes responsibility. In my position at the Idaho Conservation League, I have learned so much about water quality and the responsibility we all have to be good stewards of it. Through actions small and large, anyone can be a water quality steward — together, we can protect our local lakes, streams and rivers from various forms of pollution.

Good stewardship can start from the comfort of your own home. You can be a steward by using phosphorus-free fertilizer on your lawn. A lot of stormwater and runoff eventually makes its way into the lake. When met with nitrogen

and warm water temperatures, excessive phosphorus is fuel for toxic algae and invasive aquatic weeds, and can make them grow out of control — often making our waters unsafe for people and pets.

You can be a steward by getting your septic tank checked regularly and making sure it is operating correctly. A failing septic system can contaminate well water and nearby bodies of water, posing human health risks. The Panhandle Health District recommends having systems inspected every three years.

You can be a steward by speaking up against threats to our clean water. From historic mining pollution to inappropriate development, our North Idaho waterways face an array of threats.

Thousands of community members have acted as stewards of our waters by speaking out to protect Trestle Creek from a proposal by The Idaho Club to build a luxury private marina. These stewards submitted comments to the Idaho Department

of Lands in opposition to the development that would harm critical fish habitat, clean water and one-of-a-kind recreation opportunities. Their voices made a difference.

Thanks to community members taking action, IDL recently notified the developer they must withdraw their application and reapply if they still wish to pursue the marina.

You can be a steward by voting in support of water quality. Boyer Slough — the point of discharge for the Kootenai Ponderay Sewer District for half of the year — often has extremely high levels of phosphorus. The wastewater treatment plant is in desperate need of upgrades. While the district was successful in a grant application of $13 million, voters will need to approve the remaining funding needed for the upgrades through a bond measure.

If you live in Kootenai or Ponderay, be a steward by voting in favor of the bond on the May ballot. Nothing is more important for our

community than having clean water to drink.

Lastly, you can be an official water quality steward by joining the Idaho Conservation League’s Water Quality Monitoring Program.

You may have read articles about this program before by me, or my colleague Jennifer Ekstrom. We are pretty passionate about it. Dedicated volunteers make this program possible by dedicating their time to monitor water quality at stations across Lake Pend Oreille monthly from May through September. Each sample collected throughout the summer is sent to a nearby lab and tested for water quality indicators like temperature, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen, total phosphorus and E. coli, to name a few.

Additionally, these stewards serve as extra sets of eyes and ears for our land and waters, letting us know if they see trash in the waterways, growth of noxious weeds, signs of toxic algae or evidence of poorly managed shoreline development.

By tracking these various indicators of water quality, we can better understand what factors are impacting Lake Pend Oreille — and take action to protect and restore this beloved lake.

Science and data aside, my favorite part of this program is

getting to know our stewards. Each comes to us with unique interests and perspectives that positively contribute to the program’s overall success. I am continuously inspired by their dedication to the community and the natural resources that we all benefit from.

Join our group of award-winning volunteers and spend a few days this summer monitoring water quality on Lake Pend Oreille. Volunteer training sessions will be held on Wednesdays, May 1 and May 8 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Windbag Marina at City Beach.

Attending a training is not a commitment to being a steward, so if you are interested we encourage you to attend, learn how the sampling works and meet our returning volunteers. Sign up at to learn more.

Whether you join the program or not, consider how your actions impact water quality. We all benefit from a swimmable, fishable and drinkable lake, and it takes each of us acting as stewards to ensure it remains that way. When we work together, as stewards, we can make sure that living in a lake town stays a lifestyle that can’t be beat.

Karissa Huntsman is the Water Quality Monitoring Program organizer for Idaho Conservation League.

12 / R / April 25, 2024

Emily Articulated

Big headlines, micro effects

“I had to get out of Commie-fornia,” he said, eyebrows wagging, all anticipation of landing a shared joke.

It didn’t land. I had just been standing in line for coffee, making small talk with the person in front of me to speed up the seconds between my brain and caffeine. Yet, somehow we transitioned from, “Oh nice, where’d you move from?” to a bad pun and off-color political commentary.

This was one of many similar jokes and throwaway comments of which I’ve been on the receiving end — feelers from strangers stretching out like octopus legs, so confident they’ll make contact with someone like-minded when they touch. Instead, they found me, too paralyzed by secondhand embarrassment and delayed anger to come up with a competent in-the-moment retort.

“Things were just getting insane with masks and the crime,” and, “More like, ‘Black Guns Matter,’ am I right?”

Just going by the headlines from the last few years, I probably shouldn’t be caught off guard by these quips. In fact, the latest two to hit national stands paint quite a convincing picture, with a piece in NBC News Today reading, “Racial slur was used against University of Utah women’s basketball team, Coeur d’Alene detectives say,” and Time Magazine reading, “Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Idaho’s Near-Total Abortion Ban.”

And of course, we can’t forget The Guardian from a few years ago, “Neo-Nazi activist

behind racist robocalls linked to threats of Idaho newspaper.”

If I were reading these headlines, and moving to the area because they sounded attractive; a return to the good ol’ days or a refuge from progressivism, maybe I’d be confident that my political jokes would land, too. Especially if I was promised they would.

As The Oregonian reported in 2022, “Real estate companies are advertising themselves to people on the right, saying they can take them out of liberal bastions like Seattle and San Francisco and find them homes in places like rural Idaho.”

One such company’s marketing slogan described itself as “a real estate firm for the vigilant,” (thinly coded language to attract the American Redoubter and far-right political bastions).

With synergistic effect, these promises and our ever-growing laundry list of extreme headlines at the national level contribute to people, on the ground in our community, feeling comfortable giving voice to the things they used to keep at the dinner table (or more likely, the grime-encrusted comment section in an online

chatroom). With the confidence of like-mindedness, they forego shame, generating a million micro-interactions with unintended consequences — zoom in to my *dead inside* face in line at Evans Brothers.

The growing perception of mono-thinking in Idaho makes challenging those beliefs, even in small ways, feel like acts of resistance. In another place, flying a pride flag might be benign, but in Sandpoint, it feels like necessary opposition to the inadvertent and explicit advertising hoping to make gay people feel unwelcome. Posting an “Abortion is Healthcare” sign in our yard is both a statement about reproductive rights and an overt denouncement of extreme legislation plaguing our state. And wearing a mask (back in the days of masks) was just as much a healthcare precaution as it was a challenge to the promise of “mandate refuge.”

Katie Adams, owner of the local Heart Bowls vegan cafe, has leaned into this explicit form of defying the North Idaho perception, literally writing, “We believe in equity and justice for all living beings” on her business’ windows. She described this choice as strategic.

“Sure, I get negative comments for it sometimes. But I don’t focus on them,” she said. “I focus on the people who read it and realize they’re welcome in my cafe and in Sandpoint. It’s important.”

By nature, I’m the kind of person more inclined to keep my politics to myself, especially upon first meeting people. This is mostly from an allergy to conflict, but it’s also from a longstanding belief in establishing relationships in the sturdy middle-ground

of shared experiences before challenging them with the hurricane that is politics.

But lately, I’ve wondered if my propensity toward silence makes me (and people who think like me) invisible. And in our invisibility, complicit. If our community is only making headlines for the minority of people doing extreme things — thus inviting more people who are attracted to and thrive in extremity — how long will it be until people like me disap-

pear entirely?

So, here’s my little act of explicitness, putting my small dog in the big fight to restore political normalcy to Sandpoint; a plight to Make Extremists Shameful Again.

Emily Erickson is a writer and business owner with an affinity for black coffee and playing in the mountains. Connect with her online at


April 25, 2024 / R / 13
A column by and about Millennials
Emily Erickson.


Races for Idaho Legislature Dist. 1 Senate, House 1A and House 1B


Publisher’s note: Before each election, the Sandpoint Reader reaches out to candidates in contested races to ask questions about how they would represent the constituents in the offices they seek. Below are questions and answers for the offices of Idaho Legislative District 1A and 1B House, as well as District 1 Idaho Senate, in the Tuesday, May 21 primary election. A questionnaire featuring candidates for Bonner County office published April 18 and can be found at

All candidates who responded to our questions have been included below, with some answers edited lightly for length.

There are two candidates forums coming up: the first featuring Bonner County candidates on Monday, April 29 hosted by the Bonner County Daily Bee and Selkirk Association of Realtors; the other featuring Idaho Legislative District 1 candidates on Tuesday, April 30 and hosted by KRFY 88.5FM, and the Sandpoint Reader.

Both forums will be held at the Sandpoint High School auditorium and will begin at 5:30 p.m. and conclude no later than 8 p.m.

Finally, don’t forget to vote Tuesday, May 21.

District 1 Idaho Senate

1. Why are you running for District 1 Senate?

2. What do you think are the three most important issues to your constituents?

3. What do you see as the top challenge facing District 1, and how do you propose to address it?

4. What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 1 Senate seat?

5. What piece of legislation signed into law from the 2024 Legislature did the most good for Idahoans, and what piece of legislation did the most harm to Idahoans?

Age: 56

Birthplace and residence: Born in Richmond, Va., resides in Sagle, Idaho

How many years lived in Bonner County: 20

Past/current government service (if applicable): Current state senator for District 1; previously worked as a software contractor for public schools and two public universities

Profession: Custom homebuilder in Bonner and Boundary counties

Education: B.S., finance, Arizona State University

Contact info:; cell 208610-2680

1. The Institute for Legislative Analysis concluded that before I was elected in 2022, Idaho’s legislative Republicans ranked 41st out of 50 states for how conservative they were. During my predecessor’s time, Idaho’s government spending grew 43% in just four years. Idaho was not leading in conservative protections for families and children. Instead, it was growing dependence on government welfare. In my two years, we have started to turn that around. We have reformed the budget process, controlled spending and have added protections

for families and children. I want to continue that conservative momentum.

2. a. Inflation and the growth of government spending, dependence and welfare programs.

b. Illegal immigration and our inability to control criminals infiltrating the border.

c. Protection of our children. Our children are increasingly being assaulted by aggressive sexual and cultural messages that are undermining the traditional family and interrupting success in academic outcomes.

3. The cost of government has helped staggering inflation. The dollar is losing its value at an incredible rate and the federal government adds $1 trillion in debt on average every 120 days. This harms fixed income Idahoans the most.

Unless we control government spending, we will have a tremendous economic imbalance in North Idaho, and we will have persistent labor shortages with not enough young people being able to afford to live and work here.

4. I am a fiscal conservative. My opponent voted for every one of hundreds of spending bills while I had the courage to say no to some. This led to amazing spending reforms in the Idaho Legislature this year. We achieved line-item budgets and were able to decrease total government spending year over year. Several rating agencies have rated our voting records. I have an average 95% conservative rating based on how I have voted on hundreds of bills, whereas my opponent is below 50%. Finally, in contrast to my opponent, I have

succeeded in strengthening Idaho’s laws against illegal immigration.

5. House Bill 521 was the most significant legislation. It cut income taxes by over $60 million. It also eliminated the August election date and banned diversity statements as a condition of hiring in public education. H521 created a $1 billion bond funding mechanism for public school facilities, which will relieve the burden on property taxpayers while maintaining a fiscally sound Idaho balance sheet. House Bill 685 will harm Idaho’s budget the most by not seeking to reign in outof-control Medicaid costs. Medicaid is 35% of total government spending in Idaho and has grown from $2 billion in just 10 years.

14 / R / April 25, 2024
< see Q&A, Page 15 >

Age: 53

Birthplace and residence: Birthplace: Anacortes, Wash., residence: Sagle, Idaho

How many years lived in Bonner County: 28 years; 16 years in Boundary County

Past/current government service (if applicable): 21 years of Navy service in submarines, coastal warfare and physical security; Legislative District 1 state senator for four years; Sagle Fire District commissioner for seven years; Northern Lights board member for 10 years

Profession: Excavation and marine contractor

Education: B.S., mechanical engineering, University of Idaho

Contact info:, cell 208-946-7963

1. I would like to keep Idaho IDAHO. I think most everyone is here for similar reasons, whether new to the area or from a multi-generational Idaho family. We enjoy our independence but with responsibility for our actions. We want small government that is fiscally conservative. We live and let live. We believe that the best decisions are those made closest to home. I advocate for states’ rights in our federalist system and local decision making by locally elected officials within the state.

2. a. Education — We have a constitutional obligation to our state education system. Let’s raise and educate our youth so they can fend for themselves and continue on with our great state and country.

b. Health care — We are running our doctors out of Idaho. I do not believe in abortion as birth control, but I do believe in medical decisions by medical professionals to protect the physical health of a woman.

c. Property taxes — We can reduce property taxes and move away from the “every two year school levy battle” by fully funding our schools at the state level.

3. I think growth is still the top challenge in Legislative District 1 and

in Idaho. Through state and local government, we have to maintain and update our infrastructure to maintain our quality of life. Aside from government functions, I think we all have to work together to maintain the Idaho lifestyle we’ve come to know. Times change, but we can hold on to our values and our community.

4. When I went to War Memorial Field, I took my construction crew and equipment. We demolished the old bleachers and locker room as a volunteer project to make way for new facilities.

When Herndon went to War Memorial Field, he instigated a lawsuit against the Festival at Sandpoint which is essentially a lawsuit against the community. He cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in a years-long court battle. We are vying for a position representing the community, yet he fights the community. I am vested in North Idaho and our communities through friends, family, place and business.

5. Most good: I believe the school facilities funding bill (H521) is significant progress for both school funding

and property tax relief. It is a major paradigm shift for the state of Idaho to provide facilities funding as compared to funding school buildings with property taxes.

Most harm: The library bill (H710) is just one more example of an out-ofstate solution to an out-of-state problem. None of us want our children viewing inappropriate material. That is why we have locally elected library boards, which have established review processes and a procedure for patrons to challenge library materials.

District 1 House Seat A

1. Why are you running for District 1A House?

2. What do you think are the three most important issues to your constituents?

3. What do you see as the top challenge facing District 1 and how do you propose to address it?

4. What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 1A seat?

5. The Idaho Legislature has focused a lot of its attention on the introduction of bills that don’t have widespread voter support, such as Senate Bill 1280, which would allow patrons to sue the library for “harmful materials.” Are these types of bills useful for the Legislature to spend its time on? Why or why not?

Spencer Hutchings, R

Age: 55

Birthplace and residence: Calif., Sagle

How many years lived in Bonner Co.: 11

Past/current government service (if applicable): proud and loyal U.S. citizen

Profession: business owner

Education: one year of college

Contact info:

1. We got stuck with a person last election that got about 38% of the vote. This person clearly does not reflect the beliefs and values of the majority of citizens in North Idaho. The citizens of North Idaho should have a representative, like me, that reflects and will fight for the values and beliefs of the North Idaho community.

2. a. Put parents in charge of their children’s education: tax dollars should follow the student. Parents should be able to choose any school that they feel

suits their children’s needs.

b. Reducing the size of government: There is no such thing as a tax cut without a reduction in the size of government. Cut taxes, cut staff, cut departments... keep doing that until we reach the minimum necessary government to provide the services we need.

c. Stopping the influx of cheap labor. Idahoans will struggle to earn good wages as long as our state is flooded with cheap, foreign labor.

3. The average income ($50,000) family is struggling to afford living here. How do you address it? Well that is the big question. As near as I can tell there is not one answer that has been suggested to solve this issue. I’m open to input and ideas from all sides to try and solve this issue for the citizens of North Idaho.

4. I understand the concept of “Public Service.” I am forthright and honest in my statements and actions. I seek to make life better for all the citizens of North Idaho, not select groups.

5. It’s a quandary. When you get small vocal groups applying pressure to malleable politicians pushing for a goal that is important to just their group, you often end up with laws that have strange and often undesirable outcomes for the majority. H.B. 710 is conservative representatives’ attempt to make the libraries of our state a safe place for young kids to explore

and read without accidentally running across a book about sex. It’s fine with me that they are working on this. It could be far worse; they could fight for days about the name of a building.


Birthplace and residence: Austin, Minn.; resides in Cocolalla, Idaho

How many years lived in Bonner County: Eight

Past/current government service (if applicable): Poll worker, as well as a chief election judge in several Bonner County elections; delegate to the Republican State Convention in 2020; Kelso Republican precinct committeeman, 2020-2022; helped in the campaigns of several local Republican candidates

Profession: Wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker, small business co-owner

April 25, 2024 / R / 15
Jim Woodward, R Jane Sauter, R
< Q&A, Con’t from Page 14 >
< see Q&A, Page 16 >

Education: High school diploma, Austin Christian Academy, Austin, Minn.; A.A., theology, Christ For the Nations Institute, Dallas

Contact info:

1. I am running in District 1 for state representative to replace Mark Sauter, because he does not represent liberty loving constitutional conservatives. My other opponent has a track record of being disruptive in public.

2. The three most important issues to my constituents are most-likely:

a. The safety and well-being of the children and families of Idaho;

b. Our First and Second Amendment rights;

c. Border security and illegal migration.

3. I see the top challenge to District 1 being the ineffective leadership of elected officials running as Republicans when they vote with the Democrats a majority of the time.

4. Unlike Mark [Sauter], I will stand up for Republican values and interests. I will use the Republican platform as a guide, as well as the Idaho State Constitution and the United States Constitution. As far as my other opponent is concerned, I am assertive, not aggressive, and I know how to work well with others to get things done.

5. I would say that H.B. 710 was a very important bill. The educational materials made available to children is of great importance. Our children are a treasure of inestimable value, and quality reading material is of utmost importance in their formative years. <

Candidate forums will be held Monday, April 29 (Bonner Co.) and Tuesday, April 30 (District 1 legislature) at the Sandpoint High School auditorium, starting at 5:30 p.m. both nights.

Age: 66

Birthplace and residence: Born in Downey, Calif.; resides in Sandpoint, Idaho

How many years lived in Bonner County: Owned property in Sagle since 1993, moved to Sandpoint in 2012.

Past/current government service (if applicable): past president of Bonner County Fire Chief Association, current Idaho Legislative District 1A representative

Profession: Worked and volunteered for Selkirk Fire for five years since being in Sandpoint, firefighter through fire chief covering 30 years, another three years in city administration after fire service work

Education: Undergrad degree in fire administration, graduate degree in public administration

Contact info:

1. I’m running for reelection because there is work to do for our district. We need to continue to support our community. Serving my community is what I have done all my adult life. I have finished my second legislative session and understand how the governing process works. I have results to show for my efforts. This year I ran five bills to address real issues we have in our district. All of these Bills (H.B. 571, H.B. 592, H.B. 645, H.B. 687, S.B.1244) were passed by the Legislature and then signed by the governor.

2. Education, infrastructure and public safety immediately come to mind. We need to add community health and housing, too. For our area to continue being a place to raise

our families, conduct business and enjoy our beautiful surroundings, we must support these pillars of the district. These issues are intertwined. We need jobs, a good education system and a health care system to handle our everyday needs. Because our area is so attractive, we must deal with the influx of new residents, and affordable housing as well.

3. No. 1 is balance. Funding for education and facilities is important, as is controlling our tax burden. I’ve supported property and income tax relief to address some of these concerns. I’ve also supported legislation to send tax dollars to our schools for facility improvements and reduce the burden of levies and bonds. We have unfilled jobs but lack the skilled workforce to fill them. Career technical educa-

tion has been a focus of mine. Preparing students for better-paying jobs helps fill our needs, provides students with a better job pathway, dulls the immediate need for housing and keeps our kids here.

4. I have been active in our community since 2012 and served our district for two legislative sessions. During that time, I have built many relationships with community and business leaders. This knowledge and these relationships put me in a position to better represent the interests of our district and to address the needs of our entire constituency through legislation. There is work to be done to continue to improve our state governance. Along with a 30-yearplus career in community service, I have proven I can represent our district and have

successfully navigated through the legislative process.

5. Some bills are presented to the Legislature by special interest groups, sometimes called purity tests. They can be solutions looking for a problem. Other bills address a need somewhere in the state. Many times, the bill has already been addressed by local, responsible (elected) parties. Each bill needs to be evaluated and considered locally to determine if it deserves a “pass.” I have voted against the library bills because we already have local systems and elected officials in place, don’t agree with the penalty and costs, and don’t think county prosecutors and the attorney general should be involved with enforcement.

District 1 House Seat B

1. Why are you running for District 1B House?

2. What do you think are the three most important issues to your constituents?

3. What do you see as the top challenge facing District 1, and how do you propose to address it?

4. What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 1B seat?

5. What piece of legislation signed into law from the 2024 Legislature did the most good for Idahoans, and what piece of legislation did the most harm to Idahoans?

Kathryn Larson, D

Age: 66

Birthplace and residence: Born in Dallas, moved 11 times before high school, raised children in Colorado, resides in Bonner County

How many years lived in Bonner County: Nine

Past/current government service (if applicable): N/A

Profession: Consultant helping organizations function more effectively, focusing on strategy, decision making, risk and understanding tradeoffs

Education: B.S., geology; post-graduate work in education and organizational development

Contact info:

1. The people of North Idaho deserve to be represented. Our government works best when there is a balance of power. The Republican Party has had a supermajority for 37 years and that power has

corrupted the leadership to stop representing the citizens of North Idaho and instead serve the interests of party leadership. It’s time for a course correction. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back. We need elected officials who listen to their constituents, engage in genuine problem solving, and are willing to be held accountable.

2. Three filters help identify the issues: Does it impact our quality of life? Does it chip away at our freedom? Will it impact the economic health of local businesses and working-class families?

District 1 issues are: a. Women’s health care —

< see Q&A, Page 17 >

16 / R / April 25, 2024
15 >
Q&A, Con’t from Page
Answers con’t from Jane Sauter

specifically OB-GYN. Our rural health care system is in jeopardy.

b. Underfunded/under-supported public schools — Equip our young people for economic opportunities locally, after they leave high school.

c. Aging infrastructure stressed by growth — affordable housing; safe, navigable roads; and robust, sustainable sewer/water systems fall into that category.

We need collaborative problem solving across perspectives to address these problems.

3. Reverse the drain that the state puts on local city and county taxpayers. Since 1999 our local portion of the burden has gone from 25% to nearly 50%. A smaller group of people carries a larger burden. While they claim to be against big government, legislators distract and add costs with excess regulations on our schools, libraries and health care. The JFAC line item veto increases state power to starve agencies. The fix is to elect legislators who represent your interests — not special, out-of-state interests. Take their power away and we’ll regain the power to tackle our challenges.

4. I believe in strong public education. Our children are our future. Our businesses and daily lives depend upon drivable roads, access to water and affordable housing. We need to support public infrastructure. Population growth has stressed that infrastructure. We need high-quality health care for men and women if we want to attract high quality employees. My opponents want vouchers that will bankrupt the schools. They’d like to privatize all public services. They don’t value women’s health care. It’s a bright line.

5. LAUNCH is a good piece of legislation. It gives opportunity to our young people. The JFAC rule changes were the most harmful legislation because it gave sweeping power to the IFF to micromanage and cut funding deep into agencies. Legislators axed funds to feed hungry children and sent $16.3 million of our tax dollars to feed children in other states. It’s mean. It’s shortsighted. Our community will have to pick up the slack. Business owners know that giving departments discretion over the details of their budgets with accountability delivers better outcomes. This sweeping rule change removes discretion and accountability.

Charles “Chuck” Lowman, R

Age: 47

Birthplace and residence: Grand Junction, Colo.; resides in Sandpoint, Idaho

How many years lived in Bonner Co.: 5

Past/current government service (if applicable): U.S. Army officer (12 years), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (three years), Colorado Division of Wildlife (one year), Nevada Department of Wildlife (four years)

Profession: Small business owner

Education: B.S., wildlife resources, University of Idaho (1999); master of divinity, Multnomah University (2007)

Contact info: chuck@chucklowman. com, 208-946-5928

1. What our community needs is servant leadership: the kind of people who have proven that they can listen to their neighbor, understand the issue at hand and find workable solutions by bringing people together while not separating them with divisive politics. We need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. We need to make friends with our opponent — not drag them into court. We need the kind of leaders who bring people to the table, not the kind who reject and despise their neighbor because we don’t agree on how things should be done.

2. a. School funding and school choice;

b. Fentanyl and other drugs making their way into our community;

c. Community growth and development (workforce opportunities for young families, affordable Housing, education and protecting arable lands)

bleeding, so-to-speak, then we can address other issues.

4. Leadership and experience. I’ve worked in eight U.S. states and nine countries around the world. I have worked in the trades and professional fields, at all levels. I was an Army officer with nearly 12 years of active duty experience, providing crucial leadership during 39 months of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have taken complex problems and ideas, translated those into workable solutions and delivered those solutions through targeted training to thousands of soldiers. I don’t just talk about servant leadership, but I have committed to live that lifestyle in all that I do.

5. Good: Along with H.B. 521, another important bill was H.B. 399, which authorizes the Board of Medicine to collect and report data on maternal mortality rates. As we work through the issues related to restrictive abortion laws, it’s imperative that we make decisions with full knowledge of the impacts to maternal mortality.

Bad: H.B. 704 seeks to continue deregulating electrical codes. This bill changed supervision requirements to a ratio of one journeyman to six apprentices, and supervision is only defined as the ability to talk to the supervisor (via cellphone). This increases risk related to electrical installations.

Age: 67

Birthplace and residence: Jackson, Calif.; resides in Sagle, Idaho

a conservative working towards limited government.

2. Better management of the state budget with reductions in taxes, protection of life and education.

3. Property taxes and education funding. I will have something of a novel method for attacking this and since the legislative session is over, I will keep that information close to my vest at this time. Should I be elected, I will tackle it. Should I not be elected I will give the information to a trusted legislator to look into.

4. There is only one other Republican candidate at this point in the primary, but, including the two Democrat challengers, I believe the main difference is that I have government background and have worked for many years dealing with issues that concern people and methods of solving those issues. I believe I would bring a unique perspective to the Legislature for Bonner and Boundary County in that I understand the issues that county commissions face when dealing with state legislation that impacts the county.


3. School funding for rural schools is the top issue facing our community. Rural schools across the state do not have the uniform educational experience as mandated by the Idaho Constitution. Our counties do not have the tax base to support infrastructure and operational needs, resulting in deferred facilities maintenance and high teacher turnover. H.B. 521 is a good start, but it does not adequately target school districts with the highest needs; those schools with the highest need should be addressed first. Once we stop the

How many years lived in Bonner County: 53 years in Bonner County, 1969-1978 and 1979-2024; one year in Tillamook County, 1978-1979.

Past/current government service (if applicable): Bonner County commissioner 2009-2012

Profession: Retail store owner

Education: Two years of college

Contact info: 501 Oak St., Sandpoint, Idaho 83864

1. The seat was vacated by Sage Dixon and I believe I could be an encouraging addition to the House as

April 25, 2024 / R / 17
< Q&A, Con’t from Page 16 >

Top left: The 11th fiddle made from scratch by local musician and former teacher Woody Aunan. You can listen to Woody play it on aunanw

Top right: Travis Dickson and his curious son Esker read the Reader. “He was interested in the upcoming bioblitz y’all wrote about,” said Trav.

Bottom left: “I forgot to bring a Reader to NYC, but I brought the infamous corduroy coat and look what was still in the pocket!” wrote Justin Landis, referring to a jacket that he stole from Reader publisher Ben Olson, which still had the program from Zach Hagadone’s wedding that was styled after a Reader cover. “Even though I didn’t have the most recent publication, I am sporting a garment which has been worn by two co-founders as well as one of their wedding programs, which sort of feels more on-brand for me anyways.” Photo by Ani Landis.

Bottom right: A local pigeon seen in Sandpoint, or, as photographer Soncirey Mitchell put it, “The Reader’s temporary avian editor while Zach Hagadone’s out of town.”

18 / R / April 25, 2024 To submit a photo for a future edition, please send to

Verdant Plants to celebrate grand opening

Plant shop joins retailers inside Cedar St. Bridge

The shops at the Cedar Street Bridge are a kaleidoscope of colorful trinkets and treats, and Erin Johnson will add a pop of green with her new store Verdant Plants.

The shop officially opens for the first time at the bridge’s grand reopening celebration on Saturday, April 27, but local houseplant lovers will recognize Johnson from her popular booth at the Farmers’ Market.

“I started the business, technically, a year ago, but had just been treating it as a side hustle,” Johnson told the Reader. “I used that year to work with mentors through the Women’s Business Center in Spokane, really just doing all the homework and learning about being a small business owner in the hope that, eventually, I would be able to quit my job.”

Johnson and her family moved from Montana to Sandpoint back in 2017, and locals cautioned her to bring her job with her. She’s been working remotely ever since — that is, until April 19 when she officially said goodbye to her company of 16 years.

“I signed the [shop’s]

lease, I turned 46 and I quit my job all in the span of two weeks,” Johnson said, adding: “Not a crisis — a midlife opportunity.”

After working online for so long, Johnson realized she missed the community and human interaction that in-person jobs bring, and decided to return to her roots. She inherited her love of plants — and many of her plants themselves — from her mother.

“Plants run in my veins. I think it’s built into my DNA,” said Johnson. “My mom always had houseplants and she would prune but she could never throw anything away. We’d have glass jars on every windowsill and she’d just propagate everything.”

Johnson’s mother passed away in 2022, but her memory and plants live on. Some of those cuttings now fill the walls of Verdant Plants, and Johnson calls them “heritage” or “legacy” plants.

Alongside her wide variety of houseplants, Johnson will sell essentials like pots and watering cans, as well as offer services like plant fostering and rentals for events. Later on, she hopes to host fun classes on building terrariums, crafting macrame plant hangers and much more.

“I just love talking about plants with people. At the Farmers’ Market, when people walk into that booth space, their eyes light up and they just smile. You can’t be mad when you’re looking at plants,” she said.

Johnson has a special talent for asking the right questions to pair each individual with the perfect plant

to suit their needs. Visit her upstairs in the Cedar Street Bridge (334 N. 1st Ave.) on Saturday, April 27 to walk through rows of carefully tended plants and take home a new addition to the family.

“I want to thank my husband for all of his support, and our community, too,” said Johnson. “Everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘Yes!

That’s what we need,’ so I’m very hopeful and excited that this is going to be a good thing for our community and a good thing for our family too.”

April 25, 2024 / R / 19 COMMUNITY
Erin and Corey Johnson with their children Cassidy and Leo. Photo courtesy of Corey Johnson.

A sanctuary in the city

The North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum celebrates a quarter century

The dream of the North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum in Lakeview Park began in 1997, when Master Gardener Lois Wythe sought out a community of kindred spirits with whom to share her love of native flora. By 1999, the group had formed the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society and, with the support of the city of Sandpoint, a team of dedicated volunteers planted the 1.18 acres where the arboretum would flourish for the next 25 years.

“It is a precious corner of Lakeview Park, offering the shelter and magnificence of 75- to 100-year-old trees,” Mary Toland, KNPS member and longtime volunteer, told the Reader

The arboretum is a pocket of nature in the city, and has always helped residents connect with the area and understand the importance of local

flora. Still, the small sanctuary doesn’t look the same as it did at its grand opening.

“The arboretum is a living thing, and like all living things it changes with changing conditions,” KNPS board member Robin Campbell told the Reader. “Over the last 25 years, some areas have become more shady while others have become more sunny. Moisture is less of a problem as we can water plants in the arboretum, but rising temperatures in the summer and more erratic winters have also had an effect.”

Fallen trees and climate change are just a few of the challenges the arboretum has weathered, but through it all they maintain a diverse host of plants and represent the uniqueness of the Northern Rockies Ecoregion, which includes the largest inland temperate rainforest in the world.

“We have pockets of truly coastal rainforest, with plants found in that area, and we have areas that are

dry, and we have areas where these two mix. We have incredible diversity because of that,” Campbell said.

KNPS, a 501c3 nonprofit, not only tends the arboretum through the Arboretum Leadership Team, but also advocates for conservation, habitat restoration and responsible planning. Their educational programs use the arboretum as a tool to teach the importance of biodiversity and the interconnectedness of different members of the ecosystem — be they plant or animal.

the arboretum and update their identification placards to better reflect the changing climate.

With only one seasonal paid worker, the arboretum is always in need of volunteers to tend the plants and look to the future. KNSP met in January to discuss the next 25 years, and will continue to update their plans to suit the needs of the community. Next, they intend to replant certain areas of

“Once we have new signage for plants and reorganize those plantings to reflect climate and ecological zones, the opportunities for deepening the understanding of our precious place on this planet will benefit us all for more generations to come,” Toland said.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit

20 / R / April 25, 2024 COMMUNITY
The KNPS Native Plant Sale is an annual event held by the society. Courtesy photo.

Chamber honors Sand Creek Custom Wear as April Business of the Month

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce celebrated Sand Creek Custom Wear as April Business of the Month at the General Member Chamber Luncheon on April 11.

Elli and Aaron Vahrenwald purchased Sand Creek Custom Wear in 2021. The business is Sandpoint’s expert in customized logo wear. They specialize in screen printing, embroidery, digital printing and patches. They help with design, and they have a wide selection of soft goods. It is a local option for business uniforms, as well as a place to design and purchase customized items for staff, clients, events and personalized gifts.

Sand Creek Custom Wear is flexible in that the shop does not require a minimum

Eichardt’s Pub celebrates 30 years in Sandpoint

for orders, and they offer bulk discounts for larger orders.

Elli, Aaron and their team have been servicing the community in various ways for 15 years and appreciate being able to fill such a unique need in the community.

Elli is from St. Maries and has an accounting degree. Aaron is from Seattle. They are both snow and water skiers and active outdoor people.

Since purchasing the business, Elli and Aaron have been actively involved in the community, participating in chamber events and, through

Would Sandpoint be the same without Eichardt’s Pub? The epicenter of potent potables and epicurean delights is celebrating 30 years in Sandpoint on April 29, but in classic Eichardt’s style, they’re celebrating all weekend.

The festivities kick off with Ron Kieper Trio playing jazz at the pub on Friday, April 26 starting at 7 p.m.

What were you listening to in the spring of 1994? Eichardt’s will answer this question with a “1994 DJ Dance Party” starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

The pub’s first band, Edwards Park, will reunite from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, April 28, with a special return of Truck Mills, who ran the Monday Night Blues Jam for many years.

Finally, the real birthday bash is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 29 with the modern iteration of the historic Blues Jam hosted by John Firshi.

Celebrate 30 years of beers with the crew at Eichardt’s this weekend.

the business, are generous contributors to various local charities.

April 25, 2024 / R / 21 COMMUNITY
Elli Vahrenwald of Sand Creek Custom Wear and Alison Dunbar, Chair of the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors


Send event listings to

Game Night

6:30pm @ Tervan

Cribbage League

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Live Music w/ Hot Cheetos 6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Live Music w/ Oak Street Connection

5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Soft rock, lounge and pop tunes

Live Music w/ Endless Switchbacks

5pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Local bluegrass band

Live Music w/ Mobius Riff

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Live Music w/ Suspicious PKG

6pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Live Music w/ Claude Bourbon

7pm @ Pearl Theater (Bonners Ferry)

Tickets $15/adv., $18/door

Live Music w/ Jona Gallegos

5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Poetic folk sounds and warm vocals

Terry Robb in concert

6-8pm @ CREATE Arts Center (Newport)

A fingerstyle guitarist playing blues, ragtime and slide. $14/adv, $17/door

Live Music w/ Justyn Priest Band

9pm-midnight @ 219 Lounge

Rock ’n’ roll originals, some covers

1994 DJ Dance Party for Eichardt’s 30th 8pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

What were you listening to in 1994?

Come dance and party with the gang

Sandpoint Chess Club 9am @ Evans Brothers Coffee

Live Music w/ Ken Mayginnes 3-6pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

THURSDAY, April 25

Bingo Night 6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

FriDAY, April 26

Harold’s IGA and Fern Spores concert

7:30pm @ The Hive ($10 cover)

Indie rockers Harold’s IGA and Olympia indie folk-rock trio Fern Spores.

Live Music w/ Kenny James Miller Band

6-8pm @ Smokesmith BBQ

Blues, rock, BBQ and beer

Live Music w/ Chris Paradis 6:30-9:30pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

SATURDAY, April 27

Taco Dinner to benefit CFHS Grad Night 5-8pm @ Hope Memorial Community Ctr.

A taco dinner to benefit the 2024 CFHS Senior Class Grad Night. Silent auction, trivia, basket raffle and more Bingo fundraiser for SASi 1pm @ Sandpoint Senior Center Doors at 12:30, bingo at 1. Cash prizes, 50/50 raffle. Please join us!

Sandpoint Onstage presents Sherlock 7:30pm @ Panida Theater

Evening of comedy and mystery by local playwright Teresa Pesce

Live Music w/ Ken Mayginnes 5-8pm @ 1908 Saloon

Street Scramble Sandpoint #9

9am @ Litehouse YMCA

Call 208-263-9894 to get a map before the evening of April 25. Navigate numerous checkpoints by foot or bike

Live Music w/ Matt Lome

6-9pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

SunDAY, April 28

Terry Robb Finger Style Guitar Workshop

1-2:30pm @ CREATE Arts Center (Newport)

April 25 - May 2, 2024

Bridges Home Trio Reunion and Food For Our Children Benefit Concert

7pm @ Panida Theater

Celtic group takes the stage to raise funds for a worthy nonprofit. $15

Live Music w/ Hannah Meehan 7-9pm @ The Back Door Bar

Live Jazz w/ Ron Kieper Trio 7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Swinging in the Rain dance 7-10pm @ Sandpoint Community Hall

One hour basics of East Coast Swing lesson, followed by general dancing 8-10pm. Door prizes, refreshments. $8

Spring Fling downtown shopping event 12pm @ Participating downtown retailers

Win tickets to see The Wallflowers, over $1,000 in prizes. Grab your passport at Barrel 33 after 12pm. After parties at Winery and 219 Lounge 6-7 p.m. with additional giveaways

All are welcome to talk gardening

Grand Opening: Verdant Plant Shop

10am-6pm @ Verdant Plant Shop

Head to the Cedar St. Bridge to a new plant shop opening. Raffles and more MCC: The Gardener’s Gathering 10-11am @ Memorial Community Center

Live Music w/ Alex Cope & Liam McCoy 5-7pm @ 219 Lounge

Fantastic duo to drink to. This is a Downtown Shopping District event

Kaniksu Folk School monthly walks

1-4pm @ The Big Red Shed

Donate today to help BTAA match $10k

Better Together Animal Alliance is calling on the community to rally behind its Spring Matching Campaign, ensuring every animal receives the care they deserve.

While spring may bring adorable litters of puppies and kittens, the work of BTAA never pauses. Year round, BTAA performs over 1,000 surgeries, from spays and neuters to emergency lifesaving procedures for lost, stray and surrendered animals.

Blues, ragtime and slide guitar taught by individualized instruction. $40 with a concert ticket, $45 without

Magic with Star Alexander 5-8pm @ Jalepeño’s Edwards Park reunites feat. Truck Mills 3-6pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Monday Night Blues Jam w/ John Firshi 7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

monDAY, April 29

Outdoor Experience Group Run

6pm @ Outdoor Experience

Candidate Forum: Legislative District 1 races (Senate, House A and B seats)

5:30pm @ Sandpoint High School Auditorium

A forum for Idaho Legislative District 1 candidates, hosted by Bonner County Daily Bee and Selkirk Association of Realtors

Eichardt’s 30th birthday bash • 7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

With the historic Blues Jam hosted by John Firshi

tuesDAY, April 30

Candidate Forum: Bonner County races

Tapas Tuesday

4-5:30pm @ IPA

• 5:30pm @ SHS Auditorium

Bonner Co. candidates, hosted by KRFY, SandpointOnline and the Reader

ThursDAY, may 2

Toast to Pride

• 5pm @ Matchwood Brewing Co.

Hor d’oeuvres, drinks, speakers and live music with Thrown Out Bones and Katelyn Shook. Fundraiser for Sandpoint Pride Festival. See ad Page 21

Join instructor Meryl Kastin, learn to positively ID plants and how to use them for medicine

$5 movie: Field of Dreams

2pm & 7pm @ Panida Theater

Trivia Night

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Hosted by a revolving cast of characters

Lifetree Cafe • 2pm @ Jalapeño’s “America as the New Rome”

wednesDAY, may 1

Open Mic Night

6pm @ Tervan

Live Trivia ($5)

6pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Dress Rehearsal TEAM spelling bee 6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Bingo Night 6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Game Night

6:30pm @ Tervan

Cribbage League

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

All of this is in addition to meeting the round-the-clock needs of the other residents of the BTAA animal care center such as Wally. Wally is a resilient dog who has been under BTAA’s care for nearly nine months. Wally battles hip complications, requiring daily medication and physical therapy for strength and wellness. Extended shelter stays like Wally’s elevate risks of illness and behavioral issues, escalating care costs significantly.

This spring, a local couple’s generous pledge to match $10,000 in donations doubles the impact of every contribution. Their challenge to the community is clear: let’s match it together, ensuring twice as many animals receive the care they deserve. The match deadline is Tuesday, April 30.

Every dollar counts in this campaign. Whether $10, $25 or $50, each donation directly supports animals in need, guaranteeing they lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Donate today at story/Showeranimals.

22 / R / April 25, 2024
Wally is a 7-year-old dog available to adopt at Better Together Animal Alliance.

An evening of hors d’oeuvres, drinks, speakers and music

For the past three years, thousands of people have come together to celebrate and affirm the dignity and equality of the LGBTQ+ community with the Sandpoint Pride Festival, this year slated for July 12-13. To help do it again in 2024, Sandpoint Pride is asking for help with Toast to Pride from 5-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 2 at Matchwood Brewing Company (513 Oak St., in Sandpoint).

Sandpoint Pride has established a skilled, volunteer-led planning committee to create a two-day festival prioritizing advocacy, education, community, celebration, performance, safety and joy. Last year, more than 45 local advocacy groups, businesses and community leaders supported the event, which drew more than 1,600 attendees and made it the largest queer gathering in Idaho north of Coeur d’Alene.

Sandpoint Pride is seeking to raise $30,000 to help the festival remain free, safe and family friendly. The money will also help significantly expand safety and security efforts.

Toast to Pride will feature a night of hors d’oeuvres by Sandpoint vendors, guest speaker Corbin Thicke, live music by Thrown Out Bones featuring guest appearance by Katelyn Shook and more.

Sponsorships are offered for individuals or organizations who are interested in supporting the efforts of Sandpoint Pride Festival organizers, with individual tickets starting at $125 to help raise funds for the annual festival in July.

Field of Dreams to screen as part of $5 film screenings at the Panida A toast for Pride

Batter up! It’s that time of year again when one hears voices in the cornfield. In this case it is Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, who is hearing voices in the 1989 film Field of Dreams, coming to the Panida Theater on Sunday, April 28. There will be two showings, one at 2 p.m. (close-captioned) and an evening showing at 7 p.m.

Madigan, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster. This is Lancaster’s final film role before his death in 1994. Field of Dreams was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Library of Congress selected the film in 2017 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The Heartwood Center is sponsoring this screening of Field of Dreams, with tickets priced at $5.

Based on W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe (1982), the film celebrates the game of baseball — its legends, dreams and grasp on the American psyche. The film stars Costner, Amy

Jim Healey is a longtime member of the board of directors for both the Panida Theater and 88.5 KRFY Panhandle Community Radio, as well as an avid film buff.

Admittance includes appetizers, an open bar for 21+ guests, speakers and live music. Courtesy photo.

April 25, 2024 / R / 23 STAGE & SCREEN
A photo from a past Sandpoint Pride Festival by Racheal Baker.


1 in 4

The number of U.S. adults, age 50 or older who are not yet retired, who say they expect to never retire. Another quarter have no retirement savings and 37% are worried about meeting basic living costs such as food and housing. Meanwhile, last month the Republican Study Committee released recommendations for the fiscal 2025 budget. Among other particulars was a call to raise the retirement age for Social Security eligibility above its current 67. Note: 173 of the 220 Republican members of the House belong to the RSC.

13 million

The number of acres of a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska where the Biden administration will restrict new oil and gas leasing in an effort to help protect wildlife.

BGH Foundation awards funds for an additional endoscopy tower

The Bonner General Health Foundation gathered on April 9 to present the hospital’s surgical team with a check for more than $318,000 at Bonner General Hospital. These funds will go towards purchasing an additional endoscopy tower and cleaning system for the hospital.

With colon cancer as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, BGH saw a need to better protect our community by providing additional screenings. Not only does this piece of equipment provide just that, but it also serves as a screening, diagnostic, evaluation and treatment tool for colonoscopies and screenings from the esophagus to the colon.

“Adding this new endoscopy equipment will allow Bonner General Health to provide endoscopy services to a greater number of patients, providing routine screening, diagnostic testing, and treatment in a timely and efficient manner,” said Surgical Department Director Johnna Ramsey. “This is a win for the community.”

BGH will add an additional endoscopy tower, two colonoscopes, one upper endoscope, a new state-

of-the-art storage cabinet and a new reprocessing room.

“All of these additions and upgrades will increase the capabilities of our endoscopy services,” said Ramsey. “We look forward to this growth and increasing access to this service in our community.”

The 16th Annual Heart Ball, which BGH officials called “a testament to the unwavering support of over 200 Sandpoint and regional supporters,” led to the funds raised for the purchase of the new endoscopy equipment.

The Bonner General Foundation Board was thrilled to provide this opportunity.

“Joining the BGH Foundation is a passion for myself and my husband,” said longtime board member Georgia Simmons, who, along with her husband Howard, are original members of the foundation. “Successful communities must have two things: quality healthcare and education. BGH gives us excellent affordable services close to home. We are very fortunate.”

For more information on the foundation and Bonner General Health, visit

24 / R / April 25, 2024
Courtesy photo.


Bridges Home Trio sets Panida reunion

April 26 concert to benefit Food For Our Children

Great music joins forces with a great cause when local favorite the Bridges Home Trio takes the stage for a reunion concert on Friday, April 26, at the Panida Theater. The show is being staged as a benefit for Food For Our Children, with all proceeds going to support its nonprofit work to feed hungry kids in the community.

This night of entertainment celebrates the first time all three band members have held a public performance since the spring of 2020. After playing one Celtic music show in March of that year, the group was forced to cancel more than 100 already booked concert dates for 2020-’21 as they followed COVID-related guidelines.

“We didn’t want to be responsible for pulling a big crowd of people together during that crucial time,” said Tamara Belzer-Gunter, one of the three lead vocalists and multi-instrumentalists in the band. “But for this upcoming Panida concert, we’re hoping

for a packed house to enjoy our music and raise money to help local kids at the same time.”

Tamara performs in a duo format with husband Dave Gunter, who pointed out that this reunion offers the audience a one-of-a-kind musical experience with the addition of son Paul Gunter to the mix.

“When Paul brings his magic to our sound, it really is next-level stuff,” Dave said. “We all take turns singing lead vocals and we have the ability to lay soaring, three-part vocal harmonies over a richly textured musical background.”

The concert will feature a wide array of instruments, including Celtic harp, oldtime banjo, fiddle, accordion, ukulele, cigar box guitar, foot percussion and bass.

Bridges Home Trio Reunion Concert

Friday, April 26; doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.; $15. Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208263-9191, Get tickets at foodforourchildren. org, Jalapeño’s Restaurant (314 N. Second Ave., Sandpoint) and at the door.

Another treat for concert goers will be the addition of violinist extraordinaire Arvid Lundin to the stage to add his unmistakable flair to songs ranging from straight-ahead bluegrass to Irish and Americana selections.

“As we were going over numbers for the show, we realized how many of the songs


from our albums highlight the playing of some wonderfully talented regional fiddlers,” Belzer-Gunter said. “In Arvid, we have a musician who excels in a variety of styles and genres. Plus, we’ve all been fans of his for years, so we’re honored to have him onstage with us.”

Local music lovers know that a Bridges Home concert features an engaging blend ranging from upbeat numbers that make you feel like you’ve just walked into the world’s friendliest pub, to funky Delta Blues, foot-stomping oldtime and hauntingly beautiful ballads.

The April 26 concert date is no coincidence — it’s also Dave’s 70th birthday, and the community is invited to join in as he celebrates four

decades of entertaining local audiences.

“Tamara asked me if we should take a trip or do something else special on my birthday,” he said. “I told her, ‘I’d love to be onstage at our downtown treasure of a theater making music for friends as I turn 70.’

“Sandpoint welcomed me as a musician when I arrived here 46 years ago and I’ve been blessed to be able to perform in my own hometown non-stop ever since,” he added. “I see this as a chance to say thanks for all those sweet memories — and make another big one by ‘getting the band back together’ for this concert.”

snapshot of notable live music coming up in Sandpoint

The Endless Switchbacks, Connie’s Lounge, April 26

There are bands that play bluegrass, then there are bluegrass bands. The Endless Switchbacks are the latter, embodying the boot-stompin’ newgrass side of the genre, along with a healthy dollop of Americana and mountain folk.

Hailing from Sandpoint, this five-piece brings the fun, playing old favorites and new tunes you want to listen to again. Each band member

adds their own ingredient to the soup — and it tastes good, brother.

Join Jim, Christine, Muffy, Luke and Scott for another evening of strings, drinks and harmony.

5 p.m., FREE, Connie’s Lounge, 208-255-2227, 323 Cedar St., Listen at The Endless Switchbacks on Facebook.

Jona Gallegos, Pend d’Oreille Winery, April 27

The warm, subtle stylings of Spokane-based Jona Gallegos are a comforting complement to a quiet night. This singer-songwriter — or, more accurately, singer-poet — writes introspective, thought-provoking songs, and audiences can’t help but relate to his emotional authenticity.

Gallegos has a deep understanding of the nuances of folk music and is able to

This week’s RLW by Soncirey Mitchell


Prepare to be traumatized. Margaret Atwood synthesized every horrible aspect of humanity, speculated on the not-so-distant future of genetic experimentation, then produced the dystopian novel Oryx and Crake. Readers will recognize our society in Atwood’s 2003 tale of a global pandemic and the depravity that preceded it, making this work of speculative fiction more terrifying than anything in the horror genre.


capture a delicate, nostalgic sound with only his voice and acoustic guitar. Carve out a few hours to relax on Saturday, April 27 and enjoy these original songs alongside a bottle of your favorite wine.

5-8 p.m., FREE, Pend d’Oreille Winery, 208-265-8545, 301 Cedar St., Listen at

I recommended Hozier’s Unreal Unearth album in my very first RLW and now, eight months later, he’s blessed us with four new songs cut from the initial release. The EP Unheard lives up to the perfection of the original — especially the song “Too Sweet,” which is so catchy it’s become a permanent resident of my temporal lobe. “Too Sweet” marks the singer-songwriter’s first time at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, establishing his place as one of the greatest talents of his generation.


Since we could all use a dash of hope and inspiration this election season, it’s time to bring back a pandemic favorite: We Are the Champions. This documentary series follows weird and wonderful competitions and their contestants, whose joy and dedication are infectious. My personal favorite is Episode 1, “Cheese Rolling,” which follows global visitors and residents of a small village in England as they train to run down a 200-yard hill, chasing a wheel of double Gloucester cheese. Stream it on Netflix.

April 25, 2024 / R / 25
Paul Gunter, Tammy Belzer-Gunter and David Gunter. Courtesy photo.

From Northern Idaho News, April 25, 1911


Walter Barnes, aged 19 and who says his home is in Chicago, is at the Dr. Page hospital with a compound fracture of the thigh bone and bruised up otherwise quite seriously, and Joe Gardaple, Jr., of Antigo, Wisc. also aged 19, has two cuts in his scalp as a result of trying to ride the rods of No. 4, one of the Northern Pacific trains Sunday night, from Spokane to St. Paul.

It was only the presence of mind of Gardaple that saved Barnes from getting ground to death beneath the wheels of the fast moving train. The accident happened, as near as the boys can tell, about one mile on the other side of the Pend d’Oreille draw bridge, south of this city, and Barnes tells the story: “I think that we left Spokane along about 10 o’clock and the train must have been a few minutes late for she was sure rambling, trying to make up time. Gardaple and I were sitting on the rods talking and having a good time when all of a sudden I took a cramp in my right foot and was unable to stick to the rods. My foot slipped off the rods and struck the ties breaking my right leg and then in an attempt to stick on the rods my hands dragged along the ground bruising and lacerating them. When I broke my leg it kind of dazed me and when I hollered Gardaple grabbed me and the sudden lurch of my body threw him off his balance, letting his head hit the ties and bruising him up.

Gardaple said all he wants now is some kind of a job so that he can stay around here until Barnes is able to go with him. “I will not leave Walt if there is a chance for me to get something to do around here,” he said. It will be some weeks before Barnes will be well, but at the present time he is doing nicely.


Remembering the Testicle Festival

The early days of the Sandpoint Reader were wild. Editor Zach Hagadone owned the paper then. I was just a lowly writer seeking out adventures to fill these pages, and I was always looking for something interesting to write about.

Somewhere along the line, Zach and I found out about a phenomenon called the Testicle Festival, a five-day debauchery that used to take place at the Rock Creek Lodge, located about 20 minutes east of Missoula, Mont.

We gathered forces, including high school friends Lawson Tate and Lindsay Nance, and planned to attend the gathering to cover the story, for good or ill, and perhaps shed light on this gathering of bikers, nudists, drunks and lowlifes.

It didn’t exactly go to plan.

With tape recorders, drawing pads, cameras and notebooks in hand, our hopeful crew rolled into the Rock Creek Lodge early one morning and found our way over to a swamp next to the freeway where people were supposed to set up tents. The swamp was about a foot underwater, but that didn’t seem to deter the hundreds of eager festival goers from pitching tents in the flood and heading over to the main event to begin drinking.

If there was a central draw to the Testicle Festival, it was, of course, testicles. Bull testicles, to be exact. Rod Lincoln — who liked to be called the Baron of Balls — founded the festival in 1982 as an annual event where people would gather to drink, party and eat copious amounts of bull testicles, also called Rocky Mountain Oysters. I remember interviewing Lincoln behind

the bar one night as all hell erupted around us; his deep, gravely voice just barely registering in my tape recorder, telling us he named it the Testicle Festival because he “liked the way it rolled off your tongue.”

Day after day, we careened from one crazed group to another, trying to find out why they were at the Testy Festy — what it meant to them. If anyone knew, they weren’t sharing.

Along with the incessant drinking that took place, the Testy Festy also drew a strange mix of nudists, hippies, bikers, Grizzly Adams-types and college kids. There were wet T-shirt contests, live bands playing behind actual chicken wire and an event called Bullshit Bingo which featured a scantily-clad woman (whose name was, simply, Bitch) in her late 50s leading a bull around a dancefloor. Whichever square the bull pooped on was the bingo number called.

One afternoon, we stumbled into a crowd of people and made our way forward only to find two older festival goers copulating right on top of a picnic table still festooned with plates of bull balls and beans nearby.

The testicles themselves weren’t anything to write home about. They were thinly sliced and heavily breaded, tasting like chicken strips that were mostly fat. I didn’t like the flavor much, but Zach was so hungry he ate all of our portions, licking the plates clean of any leftover ball juices. I have refused to let him live it down.

It must’ve been the second night when I noticed the tape recorder I had been using all weekend wasn’t running. The microcassette tape was missing, and the only place I remembered taking it out was inside the Sweet Pea porta-potty where I hid for several

minutes for peace and quiet while switching the tape around.

Sure enough, I returned to the honey bucket and found my microcassette tape inside the toilet, resting perfectly atop a mound of what was likely bull testicles and beans not too long before. Mustering all of my drunken courage, I leaned far into the hole and retrieved my tape, washed it off and was back recording in no time. Zach never let me live that one down, either.

In the end, the four of us left the Testy Festy in shambles, destroyed after drinking hard for about 36 hours and interacting with the worst people on Earth. No matter how hard we tried, neither of us could write an account of the trip that did it any justice. We simply returned home and fell into our respective beds, hoping to forget about the Testicle Festival forever.

We did return the year after, hellbent on covering the story that we couldn’t cover the first year. However, upon arriving, we realized we were too late. We had missed it. The only thing that remained was an acre of trash, beer cans, broken glass and a burned-out van in the field that was still smoldering.

The Testicle Festival lasted 35 years until 2017, but the owner who took over from Lincoln finally shuttered it after a series of incidents, fatal crashes, stabbings and lawsuits made it rather inhospitable, even by Montana standards. The only thing that remains today is a scar where the Rock Creek Lodge used to sit, and Baron of Balls Rod Lincoln held court behind the bar while thousands of people drank their body weight, fought, got arrested and ate plates filled with breaded testicles.

It was the most Montana thing I’d ever seen. Is it strange that I miss it?

26 / R / April 25, 2024 Crossword Solution Sudoku Solution STR8TS Solution


April 25, 2024 / R / 27
uncontrolled urination
automatically disqualify you.
I don’t think sudden,
1. Truth (archaic) 6. Doesn’t go 11. Small and light boat 12. Eavesdrop 15. Vocation 16. Voice between bass and tenor 17. Stomach muscles, for short 18. Lured 20. 18-wheeler 21. Arm or leg 23. Goes quickly 24. Rotating disks 25. Calf’s meat 26. Hairless 27. Roman robe 28. Anagram of “Seen” 29. Anger 30. Intestine 31. Abuses 34. Deception 36. Layer 37. Fluid escape 41. Repose 42. Brews 43. Bright thought 44. Cummerbund 45. Junk E-mail 46. Contented cat sound 47. Whelp 48. Christian rite 51. A rotating disk 52. Open to advice 54. Mexican party item 1. Contagious skin infection 2. Rower 3. Half of a pair 4. Pigeon-___ 5. In this location DOWN ACROSS Copyright Solution on page 26 6. Persuaded 7. Rubber wheels 8. Dry 9. At a future time 10. Warehousing 13. Beast 14. Clothespins 15. Have a cow 16. Formulaic writing 19. Navigational aid 22. Flaw 24. Marsh marigold 26. Defraud 27. Youngster 30. Alcoves 32. Play a role 33. Lacquer ingredient 34. Injury 35. Hold in esteem 38. Train 39. Oxygenates 40. Fate 42. Granny Smiths and Red delicious 44. Bridge 45. Expensive fur 48. Emollient 49. Urge (on) 50. Short skirt 53. Modern 55. Zero 56. Plane engine enclosure 57. Come together 58. Weighty books 59. Angers Word Week of the Corrections: Nope, but thanks for asking. sternutation /stur-nyuh-TEY-shuhn/ [noun] 1. the act of sneezing. “‘Gesundheit!’ exclaimed the nurse as a fit of sternutation overcame his patient.”
Solution on page 26 Solution on page 26

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.