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2 / R / March 21, 2024

The week in random review

‘we’ll get through this’


Spring came in like a zephyr this week, and I’m here for it.


111 Cedar Street, Suite 9 Sandpoint, ID 83864 208-946-4368

Publisher: Ben Olson

Editorial: Zach Hagadone (Editor)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been four years — almost to the very day — since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded over us. On March 17, 2020, Gov. Brad Little hosted a teleconference with mayors and city administrators across the state to talk about business closures and restrictions on public gatherings. That same day, the Bonner County commissioners approved a local declaration of disaster emergency, followed a day later by the Sandpoint City Council. When the Reader published on Thursday, March 19, the cover bore the phrase, “We will get through this, Sandpoint,” in big letters. We (mostly) did, and kept a copy of that edition of paper hanging on the wall at our office. Even now, four years later, it’s a good reminder that “we’ll get through this,” whatever “this” happens to be.

appointment reading

I’m reluctant to admit this, having spent more than half my life producing writing for people to read in print, but I’d be lying if I claimed to consume most of my news and opinion from physical rather than digital media. I do the crossword and try (though fail) to finish the Sudoku in the Reader each week (I can’t even fathom Sr8ts), but other than that I scroll to stay informed. The major exception to this habit is The New Yorker, which I’ve been receiving since December 2023. The fact that it was a gift indicates that I likely wouldn’t have spent the money on a subscription myself, but I’m thankful for it every week. What I’m frustrated by is that I can’t seem to finish an edition over the course of a week. Thus I have a pile stacked under a side table that grows faster than I can keep current with it. As of now, I’m still working on the Jan. 29 edition. The degree to which this is helping me stay up to date is doubtful. However, it has been reacquainting me with “appointment reading,” that is, physically engaging with and absorbing a body of writing that’s contemporaneous enough to feel like I’m participating in and connected to an existing community. (Kind of like what the internet was supposed to do, but almost never does.) It’s a good feeling, and I’ll very likely shell out the bucks for a subscription renewal when the time comes and continue to make appointments with my side table.


“I hate my relationship with writing. So, in order to do it, I have to locate a question that interests me enough to remain in the discomfort of that work. But the process of locating that zone of interest, that question, feels like falling in love.”

— MacArthur award-winning writer Kelly Link in an interview with The New Yorker, which ironically I read online.

I’ve witnessed some quintessential “Sandpoint Moments” out there lately. One was up on a warm spring skiing day at Schweitzer on March 16 as we all sat out back of The Outback drinking beers and getting goggle tans on our faces. Local kids had borrowed plastic food trays to use as sleds, which harried employees kept grabbing back when the stock inside The Outback ran low. It didn’t matter that some kids bowled over skiers walking by, or slid all the way into the fire pit and bonked their heads — nobody was feeling any pain and vernal smiles abounded.

It was certainly a weird, truncated winter this year. Here’s wishing us all a happy and healthy spring. May your days be warm and bright.

So long, dear winter.

Soncirey Mitchell (Staff Writer)

Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey (emeritus) Cameron Rasmusson (emeritus) John Reuter (emeritus)


Kelsey Kizer

Contributing Artists: Soncirey Mitchell, Rich Milliron, Ted Wert, Jeanelle Shields, Guy Lothian, Marcia Pilgeram

Contributing Writers: Zach Hagadone, Ben Olson, Soncirey Mitchell, Lorraine H. Marie, Brenden Bobby, Lauren Necochea, Paul Graves, Shawn Keough, Marcia Pilgeram

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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 soybased 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

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About the Cover

This week’s cover designed by Ben Olson.

March 21, 2024 / R / 3

BOCC meeting raises concerns over county cybersecurity Officials

Hostilities between the Bonner County board of commissioners and the offices of the sheriff, prosecutor and coroner temporarily deescalated during the regular business meeting March 19, after Prosecutor Louis Marshall revealed that the three offices would hold off on pursuing a lawsuit against the board over access to and control of the county’s information technology and data.

The conflict stems from a security measure announced by the county Technology Department on Oct. 2, 2023, which stipulates that employees seeking access to sensitive records or administrative powers over the county’s Google Workplace Domain must first put in a request to the department.

In an effort to safeguard the sensitive personal and financial information stored on county servers, the Technology Department announced ongoing security upgrades to the Google Workplace following the principle of “least possible privilege to perform position.”

According to a March 14 email from BOCC Chairman Luke Omodt to Marshall, there were “25,000 unauthorized attempts to gain access to Bonner County’s digital infrastructure” between Feb. 13 and March 14, 2024.

“Half of these attacks are from foreign nations such as the United Kingdom, Panama, Venezuela and Nicaragua,” Omodt wrote.

The department therefore revoked super administrative clearance — which gives employees the ability to perform all administrative roles, like altering the Workplace or giving others access to privileged information — for an unknown number of accounts, including the Legal Department’s IT staff and BCSO Sgt. Marcus Robbins, specifically.

Due to those changes, Marshall can no longer bestow

wrestle over control of sensitive records

super administrative clearance on members of his department.

Marshall, Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Coroner Robert Beers subsequently sent a jointly signed cease and desist letter to Omodt on Feb. 21, objecting to the change in Robbins’ clearance because “he can no longer safeguard certain digital public records legally under the authority and control of the Bonner County Prosecutor. ... Neither you [Omodt] nor the board as a whole may dictate how we access, control or monitor those records.”

The three officials requested that Technology Director Jacob Storms reinstate Robbins’ credentials.

According to an email from Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson to Marshall, Omodt and Commissioners Asia Williams and Steve Bradshaw on Feb. 20 — provided to the Reader by a source close to the issue — “Marcus lost his super-admin credentials at least in part because he was prepared to give Scott [Bauer] ‘role-specific vault access,’ and this was deemed undesirable for a host of reasons.”

Former-Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bauer — who is also Wheeler’s son-in-law — has been placed on indefinite administrative leave, according to a March 7 email from Marshall to top county officials,

amid multiple ongoing legal actions against the county, with one seeking a total of $500,000 in damages.

First, Bauer filed a notice of tort on Dec. 28, 2021 against then-Commissioners Dan McDonald, Jeff Connolly and Steve Bradshaw and Chief Information Officer Brad Ptashkin for “malicious defamation,” seeking $3 million in damages on the allegation that McDonald and Ptashkin spread misinformation by claiming Bauer had illegally hacked into commissioner email accounts using county computers.

According to, the judge stayed the case on Oct. 13, 2022 “until either the Idaho state court renders a decision in the State Case” or the issue was informally resolved.

Baeur filed an additional tort against County Clerk Mike Rosedale in November 2023, alleging defamation and requesting $500,000 in damages. His most recent lawsuit is against Bonner County Deputy Clerk Veronica Dixon on Feb. 23, 2024, wherein he claims that Dixon supplied him with a counterfeit copy of her job description, which he claimed had been falsified and improperly altered to appear as though the BOCC had approved it and transferred her direct report from

the Prosecutor’s Office to the commissioners.

Bauer’s purpose for the initial public records request was to clarify whether he had supervisory authority over Dixon, and therefore bore responsibility for her job functions.

Since June 2023, Bauer has filed more than two dozen public records requests on topics related to his litigation, including information about potential financial fraud at the fairgrounds; communications, notes or documents mentioning his name; and, most recently, records related to Dixon’s job description.

In the Feb. 20 email related to IT access, Wilson suggested the BOCC and Prosecutor’s Office compromise by reinstating Robbins’ credentials with the promise that he would not grant Bauer “the enhanced access he was looking for,” adding, “I have no idea why he needed it in the first place ...”

What’s more, Wilson told the commissioners that he had “spoken with Louis [Marshall], and he has agreed to this arrangement from this end. ... If Louis directs [Robbins] not to provide access to others, especially Scott [Bauer], can we put this thing to bed and move on?”

Despite the potential compromise, the various

parties went back and forth until Marshall, in a March 11 email told the BOCC that if Robbins’ super-admin status wasn’t restored, “the next step will be the Sheriff and Coroner coming to the BOCC for funding for outside counsel [to sue the board].”

In a response to Marshall’s email, Omodt underscored that Robbins and Storms should get “into a room with a computer so that [Robbins] can show what he needs access to.”

Meanwhile, Omodt wrote, “simply put, you want the taxpayer to foot the bill for a lawsuit because Marcus [Robbins] has the access that he needs but won’t communicate with the Technology department who is protecting voter information, tax information and all recorded deeds from being accessed by people who shouldn’t have that access.”

In an email on March 13, Marshall challenged Omodt’s authority to allow Storms to change the access policies and reiterated his legal opinion “that the various elected officials control their data, that necessarily means how the data is stored, accessed and con-

NEWS 4 / R / March 21, 2024
Left: Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney Louis Marshall. Courtesy photo. Above: Bonner County Commissioners Asia Williams, left; Luke Omodt, center; Steve Bradshaw, right.
< see BOCC, Page 5 >
Photo by Soncirey Mitchell.

Open Primaries Initiative exceeds state requirement with 70,000+ signatures

Idahoans for Open Primaries has surpassed the petition signature requirement for the ballot initiative to end Idaho’s closed primary system, seeking to create nonpartisan primary elections that are open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation.

As of March 19, the coalition of groups working toward putting the Open Primaries Initiative on the November 2024 ballot had gathered 71,742 signatures and qualified 17 legislative districts, with three more districts only 250 signatures away from meeting the threshold to qualify.

According to Idaho’s regulations on citizen-led ballot initiatives, campaigns are required to gather valid signa-

< BOCC, con’t from Page 4 >


Omodt responded March 14, citing Idaho Code 31-802, which defines BOCC powers and duties, including: “To supervise the official conduct of all county officers, and appointed boards or commissions of the county charged with assessing, collecting, safekeeping, management or disbursement of the public moneys and revenues; see that they faithfully perform their duties; direct prosecution for delinquencies; approve the official bonds of county officers, and when necessary, require them to make reports, and to present their books and accounts for inspection.”

Beyond that, Omodt wrote, “SGT Robbins intended to give role-specific access to the Google Vault that includes attorney-client communications of current and pending litigation to an individual who is suing Bonner County.”

Marshall agendized his request for funding for outside legal counsel for the March 19 BOCC business meeting, though ultimately decided against making the request, calling it “premature.”

tures from 6% of all Idahoans who were registered to vote in the most recent general election — currently a total of 62,895. In addition, campaigns must collect signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 of the 35 legislative districts in the state.

The deadline for securing the required number of signatures and qualified legislative districts is Wednesday, May 1.

“We set a goal to collect 100,000 signatures before submitting our petition to the Secretary of State’s Office,” stated Ashley Prince, Idahoans for Open Primaries campaign manager. “While that number exceeds the state’s requirements, we want to go above and beyond to ensure our community members under-

Regardless, Marshall maintained that the records in question are under his jurisdiction and that the board does not have the authority to deny Robbins access.

“Not that long ago ... my files were kept in file cabinets — locked file cabinets. No one had access to those file cabinets except me and my designees,” Marshall said at the March 19 meeting. “No one ever questioned that. No one thought that other people — no one thought the public — should have access to those. No one thought that the commissioners should have access to those. It was just clear, and it was defined.”

Marshall further elaborated in a March 20 email to the Reader: “I think they need to understand data is not some abstract concept — we are talking about sexual assault kits with pictures, autopsies and highly confidential personal information of our citizens.”

“There is no cogent argument that this information should be more transparent, and that for some unknown reason, commissioners should have control over it,” Marshall added. “It doesn’t make

stand the initiative and are excited by it before it ever reaches the ballot. With just six weeks to go, Idahoans for Open Primaries is confident that we will reach our goal.”

According to the Idahoans for Open Primaries website,, the closed primary system approved by the Legislature in 2011 has functioned to block 270,000 independent voters in the state from participating in primary elections unless they choose to affiliate with a political party.

The Idaho Republican Party has held closed primaries since 2012, while the Idaho Democratic Party and Constitution Party both make their primary elections open to unaffiliated voters.

State GOP leaders have

any sense whatsoever and as the co-chief law enforcement officer of this county I am not going to bend on this issue. It is too important.”

Though these county records are now stored digitally, Marshall explained that Idaho statute hasn’t changed to reflect the new technology, and therefore the offices of the prosecutor, sheriff and coroner need “mechanisms” to ensure their departments’ information remains under their control.

Marshall and all three commissioners informally agreed to give the Technology Department the opportunity to come up with a compromise that satisfies both parties. Marshall stated he did not believe that the solution would cost much money or introduce redundancies into the county’s IT system.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office will deliver a legal opinion to the BOCC at an unspecified date that clarifies the board’s power over county records.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that [I.C.] 31-802 does give supervision by the board over all county officials in terms of budgeting and spending, but

been strident in their opposition to the Open Primaries Initiative, including Idaho Republican Party Chair Dorothy Moon, who wrote in December that the initiative would “dismantle” the electoral “pillars” of “one person, one vote” and “the right of political parties to freely associate and choose their own nominees. ... [R]igging the game for more leftist candidates.”

Bonner County Republican Central Committee Chair Scott Herndon — who also serves as District 1 Senator — has similarly expressed opposition to the initiative, stating at a September BCRCC meeting that the ballot measure would “eliminate the political primary system.”

“You might as well get

that is limited,” said Marshall.

When asked for clarification, Marshall cited I.C. 74-101, and the Idaho Public Records Act more broadly, in the March 20 email to the Reader, writing, “it is clear the legislature did not intend the Commissioners to be the custodian of all county records. If they did, they would have used language such as the ‘governing board’ as is used in the Open Meetings Act. It is clear from the Act and case law the custodian of records is the appropriate elected official over those records.”

I.C. 74-102 states, “A public agency or elected official shall designate a custodian or custodians for all public records, which includes any public official having custody of, control of, or authorized access to public records and also includes all delegates of such officials, employees or representatives.”

I.C. 74-101 further defines a “custodian” as “the person or persons having personal custody and control of the public records in question,” and the “public agency” as a “local agency,” and therefore “a county, city, school

rid of the Republican Party, because there’s no party nomination process anymore,” he added.

Proponents of the Open Primaries Initiative have been clear that their intention is to “blast Idaho’s primaries wide open,” as former-Idaho Supreme Court Justice, Idaho Attorney General and Open Primaries supporter Jim Jones stated in a March 19 news release.

“We shouldn’t exclude people — that’s not the way we do things in America,” he added. “We deserve to participate and have our voices heard in elections.”

For more information about the initiative, see endorsements, sign the petition or volunteer, visit

district, municipal corporation, independent public body corporate and politic, district, public health district, political subdivision, or any agency thereof, or any committee of a local agency, or any combination thereof.”

Marshall further argued that, as Idaho follows the “Dillon Rule,” “if the legislature didn’t explicitly grant powers to the BOCC, they don’t have them.”

Moreover, because the BOCC is a legislative and executive body, the separation of powers prevents the board from supervising judicial officers like the prosecuting attorney — except for the limited power they wield over county spending.

“Approximately 145 million dollars pass through the Bonner County Treasurer’s Office as fees, taxes and pass throughs from the federal and state government that are used across Bonner County to provide governmental services; I am mystified as to why taking cybersecurity seriously is not a greater priority for all elected officials,” wrote Omodt in a March 14 email to Marshall.

NEWS March 21, 2024 / R / 5

City to host special meeting on Selkirk Fire JPA

The city of Sandpoint will host a special meeting Wednesday, March 27 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 5:30 p.m. to consider continuing its participation in the Selkirk Fire Joint Powers Agreement.

Whether Sandpoint should remain in the agreement — which provides fire service in conjunction with the Sagle and Westside fire districts under the management umbrella of the city of Sandpoint — has been a point of discussion for the better part of a year, and ramped up in recent months as the local firefighters union prepared for collective bargaining talks this month.

At the Jan. 18 meeting of the City Council, members of the JPA — including fire district commissioners and representatives of the firefighters union — agreed to extend their contract negotiations and hold off on any collective

bargaining agreements until more meetings could be held at which to discuss the intricacies of maintaining and improving the current arrangement, which was established in 2016.

Union President Clint Frank — a 22-year veteran of local fire service — said at the Jan. 18 meeting that he was “happy to hear that we’re going to put a pause on what’s a really important issue for the community,” going on to say that, “To move back to three individual departments ... is probably a 15-20 year step backward.”

It was immediately unclear whether city officials anticipated a final decision at the March 27 meeting, and an email to Sandpoint Mayor Jeremy Grimm seeking clarification on the agenda of the special meeting went unanswered as of press time.

City Hall meetings can be attended in person at 1123 Lake St. or via Zoom at

City of Sandpoint announces spring branch pick-up dates

The city of Sandpoint announced the annual spring branch pick-up dates for Wednesday, April 24-Friday, April 26 within city limits. All branches must be in place by April 24.

The city asks residents to place all branches that homeowners wish to be picked up outside at the curb of their residence. Please do not include branches that exceed six feet in length or four inches in diameter.

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:

Incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin won reelection March 17 with 87% of the vote, though some Russians expressed dissent by defacing ballots with words like “killer and thief” and comments about Putin’s arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes, CBS reported.

The U.S. economy added 275,000 jobs in February — the 39th straight month of job gains, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, The Economist reported that the U.S. economy has grown 8% since late 2019 and wages have risen for all but the top 20%, targeting “those who need them most,” one economist noted.

President Joe Biden’s 2025 budget proposal includes tax breaks for families, lower health care costs, a smaller federal deficit, and higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, according to The Guardian. Speaking in New Hampshire, Biden said capitalists should make all the money they want, but should also pay their “fair share in taxes.” He faulted his predecessor for tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy and expanded the federal deficit.

Biden’s budget would trim $3 trillion from the deficit over more than 10 years, increase the child tax credit and charge billionaires a minimum tax of 25%. It would also enable Medicare to negotiate prices on 500 drugs, saving $200 billion over 10 years.

Trump has claimed violent Congolese prisoners are flooding U.S. borders, though his campaign officials cannot corroborate those statements. Federal border data shows that of 753,000 southern Border Patrol encounters so far this year, 320 involved people from the Congo, CNN reported.

James and Jennifer Crumbley — parents of a teen who killed four students at his school in Michigan in 2021 — were recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The Guardian said the boy’s mother and his father, who bought the gun their son used, were found “criminally responsible.” The parents had been called to school when the boy wrote on math papers, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.” An earlier diary entry indicated that he knew he needed help, “but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help.” He is currently serving a life sentence for murder and terrorism.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently stated that Israel’s government under Netanyahu “no longer fits the needs of Israel,” CNN reported. And, he added, in light of Israel’s “shameless response” to Hamas and mass killings of Palestinians, their governing vision “is stuck in the past.” Schumer advocated for a new election in Israel once the war starts to wind down. According to Axios, polls in Israel show 65% support early elections when the war is over, and if held today, Netanyahu would lose.

Congressional members said they have reached an agreement on spending legislation that would fund the federal government through fall, The New York Times reported. But they may not be able to pass it in time to prevent a short-term partial government shutdown.

At a recent rally, Trump said if he’s not elected, “it’s going to be a bloodbath” for the auto industry and the nation, CNN reported. He proposed a stiff tariff on foreign-made cars. Campaigning in Virginia, Trump repeatedly confused Barack Obama (who left office seven years ago) with Biden.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that Biden recently confused Ukraine with Gaza. A White House physician said Biden is “fit for duty.” Biden and Trump are the oldest individuals to run for the presidency in U.S. history.

Blast from the (recent) past: Trump has a history of threats. In 2016 he said riots were likely if he did not secure the GOP presidential nomination. In 2022 he warned of “terrible things” when the FBI searched his home. He threatened “death and destruction” if charged by the Manhattan district attorney. Then “bedlam” if criminal charges against him succeeded. Regarding possible removal from ballots due to the 14th Amendment, he predicted “big, big trouble,” adding, “does everyone understand what I’m saying?”

And another blast: March 1801 saw a peaceful transition of U.S. presidential power, despite a rancorous election. John Adams (incumbent) was defeated by Thomas Jefferson. Both used fear and smear campaign tactics: Jefferson said Adams was a quasi-monarchist with authoritarian “instincts.” Adams claimed a win for Jefferson would result in “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest” being “openly taught and practiced.” The peaceful transition was seen as a sign of the new nation’s strength.

6 / R / March 21, 2024

Slate of 2024 primary candidates finalized

Contested races abound — surprise challenge for BoCo sheriff from Steve Bradshaw

The Tuesday, May 21 primary will feature a crowded field of candidates, after the filing period to run for office closed March 15 and revealed contested races up and down the ballot from federal to legislative and local offices.

Four candidates are seeking the Congressional Dist. 1 House seat held by Republican Russ Fulcher, who is seeking reelection, including Democratic challenger Kaylee Peterson, as well as Brendan J. Gomez and Matt Loesby, of the Constitution and Libertarian parties, respectively.

Just as heavily contested — and more closely watched locally — will be the Legislative Dist. 1 Senate race, which will include incumbent Republican Scott Herndon versus Jim Woodward, marking their third GOP primary faceoff.

Woodward defeated Herndon in the 2018 primary — going on to serve two two-year terms in the Senate and running unopposed in 2020 — until Herndon unseated him in the 2022 primary. That race featured a dramatic move by Steve Johnson, who dropped out of the House 1A race as a Democrat and rejoined the Senate contest as an independent write-in against Herndon in the general election, drawing more than 9,000 votes despite his name not appearing on the ballot.

This time around, Johnson has filed to run for the Senate seat as an independent, as well as Daniel Rose, a longtime and vocal member of the local Republican Party who has been publicly critical of Herndon’s lead-

ership as the chair of the Bonner County Republican Central Committee.

The Dist. 1A House seat currently held by Republican Mark Sauter is also being contested by both Democratic and Republican candidates. The May 21 GOP primary ballot will see Sauter versus Spencer Hutchings — the former treasurer of the BCRCC and a frequently high-profile attendee of Bonner County commissioner meetings — and Jane Sauter (no relation), who frames herself as “a family centered traditionalist.”

Democrat Karen Matthee is also seeking the Dist. 1A House seat, but does not face a primary challenger.

The race for the Dist. 1B House seat has drawn a number of candidates, following Republican Rep. Sage Dixon’s decision not to seek a fifth two-year term, with contested primaries for both Democrats and Republicans:

Bob Vickaryouse and Kathryn Larson from the Democrats and Chuck Lowman and Cornel Rasor from the Republicans.

Republican voters will also have a range of choices for the Dist. 1 and Dist. 3 Bonner County commissioner seats, especially in the wake of a particularly surprising last-minute development in local politics.

The race for the Dist. 1 BOCC seat will not feature an incumbent after Commissioner Steve Bradshaw declined to run for reelection but instead has thrown his hat in the ring to challenge five-term Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler in the GOP primary.

Bradshaw and Wheeler have frequently butted heads in recent years over a range of issues, most notably the long-running turf war over

property at the county fairgrounds and adjacent justice center.

With Bradshaw out of the commissioner race, Republicans James Burroughs, Brian Domke and Brian Riley have stepped up and will vie for a spot on the general election ballot in November. Meanwhile, Democrat Meghan Yeats has filed to seek the Dist. 1 BOCC seat and will advance unchallenged to the November election.

Finally, the Dist. 3 BOCC commissioner seat currently held by Luke Omodt — who is running for a second term — has drawn four challengers: Republicans Dimitry Borisov, Jeff L. Glass and Ron Korn, and independent Glenn Lefebvre, the latter who will only appear on the November ballot.

Borisov is an active member of the local Republican Central Committee and has made critical comments about Omodt’s leadership on the BOCC during business meetings. Korn is a well-known conservative activist who made his way into local headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic for organizing a Fourth of July parade after the Lions Club canceled the annual event out of an abundance of caution for public health.

Candidates will have until Monday, March 29 to


Below is the list of Dist. 1 federal and legislative candidates, as well as Bonner County office seekers, as of March 15. Go to voteidaho. gov for a full list of statewide candidates, and visit the Bonner County Elections page at for all other election-related information.

Dist. 1 U.S. House

Russ Fulcher, Republican (incumbent)

Brendan J. Gomez, Constitution Party

Matt Loesby, Libertarian Party

Kaylee Peterson, Democrat

Dist. 1 Idaho Senate

Scott Herndon, Republican (incumbent)

Steve Johnson, Independent

Daniel Rose, Independent

Jim Woodward, Republican

Dist. 1 Idaho House

Seat A, Karen Mathee, Democrat

Seat A, Jane Sauter, Republican (no relation to Mark Sauter)

Seat A, Mark Sauter, Republican (incumbent)

Seat A, Spencer Hutchings, Republican

Seat B, Kathryn Larson, Democrat

Seat B, Chuck Lowman, Republican

Seat B, Cornel Rasor, Republican

Seat B, Bob Vickaryous, Democrat

Dist. 1 Bonner County commissioner

James Burroughs, Republican

Brian Domke, Republican

Brian Riley, Republican

Meghan Yeats, Democrat

Dist. 3 Bonner County commissioner

Dimitry Borisov, Republican

Jeff L. Glass, Republican

Ron Korn, Republican

Glenn Lefebvre, Independent (will only appear on the November ballot)

Luke Omodt, Republican (incumbent)

Bonner County prosecutor

Louis Marshall, Republican (incumbent)

Bonner County sheriff

Steve Bradshaw, Republican

Daryl Wheeler, Republican (incumbent)

Bonner County assessor

Dennis Engelhardt, Republican (incumbent)

March 21, 2024 / R / 7 NEWS
Steve Bradshaw, left, threw his hat in the ring for Bonner County Sheriff against incumbent Daryl Wheeler, second from left. Former District 1 Senator Jim Woodward, right, will face incumbent Scott Herndon, second from right, in the May 21 primary. File photos.



• A Bouquet “for all the employees and volunteers that make Better Together Animal Alliance such a positive organization for animals and their people, in Bonner/Boundary counties. This group of dedicated people do all they can to not only help injured and/or dumped animals, but also many of the pet owners that happen to be struggling financially, worried about whether or not they can keep their four-legged companion, are given assistance (through temporary boarding, medications, food for the animal) so they don’t have to give up their companion. Thank you for all you do.”


• There seems to be a misconception among a lot of drivers, who think that traffic must yield to them when they back out of a parking space. It’s actually the opposite. When you back out of a parking space, you must always yield to traffic (and pedestrians). That means if the car driving through the parking lot hits you while you’re backing out of a spot, you’re the one at fault, not them. This isn’t just a rule for parking spots, either. It also applies when backing out of a driveway, alley, private road or any other place that isn’t a roadway. I’ve seen too many instances where a car backing out of a parking spot will hold up traffic with an entitled look on their face, not knowing they were the ones who committed the infraction.

• Litterbugs have a special mezzanine in hell reserved just for them, filled with dirty diapers, styrofoam peanuts, cigarette butts and single use plastic bags. Enjoy.

A plea to affiliate and vote on May 21…

Dear editor,

Do you want a voice in our upcoming election? If so, you need to vote in the May 21 primary.

Idaho primaries can be confusing. Many of the races are partisan. The candidate could be running as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or a member of the Constitutional Party.

To vote for a candidate who affiliates with a party, the voter must declare a party affiliation. A few positions, such as magistrate judge, which are nonpartisan, do not require party affiliation.

About one quarter of Idahoans who are registered to vote do not affiliate with a party. On the voter rolls, they are identified as “Unaffiliated.”

Under Idaho’s laws, Unaffiliated voters don’t get much of a say.

But each Unaffiliated voter can change that. Unaffiliated voters can contact their county elections office to affiliate with a party or do so at the polls on primary election day. If you are voting in person, ask to affiliate when you get to the polls.

A successful democracy depends on a broad participation of the citizen electorate. The more people who vote, the stronger our country will be.

You have an opportunity to make a difference, so affiliate and vote on May 21.

Judith High, Brenda Walter, Nona Kaye Clark Bonners Ferry

Congratulations to SMS math winners…

Dear editor, Thanks for Soncirey Mitchell’s article about the Sandpoint Middle School girls achievement in the national mathematics program! [Community, “Local team takes 3rd in Mathcounts competition,” March 14, 2024.] How wonderful they are such knowledgeable mathematicians. And they have a great time expressing their knowledge. You go, girls!

Jane Holzer Sandpoint

Response to ‘No Exit’…

Dear editor, I was troubled by several things in the “No Exit” article in the March 14 Reader.

First, it is sad that a woman, or man, carries so much fear and lack of hope. All people are worth treatment with dignity and respect.

Second, how can watching a TV show enable diagnostic acumen better than thousands of hours of training?

It is very easy to postulate what a diagnosis might be but extremely challenging to rule out the other possibilities; hundreds in the case of the specific cause of an allergic reaction.

Third, how did the author know the doctor’s thoughts? Perhaps a poor bedside manner wasn’t about his attitude toward her but about the patient dying in another room or the time he missed a diagnosis by not questioning a patient’s story. Some patients lie about all kinds of things and doctors don’t have a truthometer.

Finally, the author seems to feel that “the way others perceive us affects ... our reality,” thus externalizing control of her experience in life. That choice of perspective is a dead end but other choices exist. Tao te Ching 12: “The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision.”

‘Who decides?’...

Dear editor,

House Bill 710 is just plain bad news. Who decides what’s appropriate for children to read? Each and every parent? The bill, as presented in the March 17 Daily Bee, doesn’t say who or what entity gets to determine what and which library materials are harmful to children. So, what’s next? Censorship of “free” speech? We don’t need more government controls over each and every one of us. Ever heard the words: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? How about the pursuit of knowledge? H.B. 710 is another control mechanism to curtail individual freedoms.

Michael Harmelin

Vietnam veteran Sandpoint

We don’t need Herndon’s kind of politics…

Dear editor, I would like to point out to Bill O’Neil that I respect his opinion and his right to express it [Letters, “Cut the Chaff,” March 14, 2024]. However, citing or endorsing Scott Herndon is not the best way to add credibility to your proposition!

In May 2020, Herndon, Jeff Avery, the Idaho 2nd Amendment Alliance and 2nd Amendment Foundation sued the Festival at Sandpoint over their right to carry weapons any time, anywhere without interference by anyone. Since

then our county and state governments have taken a significant and rapid spiral downward. Regardless of who paid for the suit, it certainly wasn’t him! I would be willing to bet that he didn’t put up the money to buy the chair of the Dist.1 Republican Committee, either! He has done nothing to improve life in the county or the state since. The longer he goes, the worse he gets: attacking womens’ health care, their bodies, freedom of choice, obstetrics, our entire medical profession, honesty, personal safety and whatever dignity there was left in politics.

We the people who work, live, love, pay our taxes and wish mostly to be left to raise our families in peace, do not need this kind of politics!

Unapologetic RINO,

City needs to consider the entire community — not just retirees…

Dear editor,

As a lifelong resident of Sandpoint, I can’t help but shake my head at the city’s questionable priorities. It’s utterly absurd that in a town with a rich winter sports tradition, we’re still devoid of an ice rink. Instead, what do we get? An

indoor pickleball arena. Seriously?

It seems like Sandpoint is more interested in catering to the whims of older retirees than addressing the needs of younger, growing families. While pickleball might be a hit with the retirement crowd, it’s hardly a substitute for the timeless joy of ice skating or the sense of community it fosters.

What’s even more ridiculous is that while Sandpoint twiddles its thumbs, community members are forced to hit the road and spend their money in neighboring towns just to lace up their skates. Congratulations, Sandpoint, you’re not just missing out on providing for your residents; you’re actively sending their money elsewhere. Brilliant.

Maybe it’s time for our city officials to step out of their retirement bubble and start considering the needs of the entire community. Until then, I’ll be sharpening my blades and heading out of town to spend my money where it’s appreciated.


Michael Lorden


The word limit for a letter to the editor has been changed to 200 words or less until after the May 21 primary. Please send letters to

Ponderay Rotary sets scholarship drive target

Ponderay Rotary is nearing the finish line of its 2024 scholarship drive, with $7,450 raised of its $16,000 goal by Monday, April 15.

“Your support in reaching this goal is invaluable to us,” the organization stated in a news release. “Every donation, regardless of size, makes a significant impact. Our community boasts exceptional students who are actively shaping a better world, and we take immense pride in their accomplishments. They understand the importance of giving back to the community that nurtures and supports them.”

The service organization aims to allocate more than $35,000 to local students for the 2024-’25 academic year, including graduating

high school seniors as well as those pursuing post-secondary education and local residents aspiring to further their studies.

Applicants are welcome from a variety of educational paths, including colleges, trade schools, nonprofit institutions, certifications, licenses and more. Applications are open until Wednesday, April 10.

Rotary thanked sponsors Ting, Avista, 219, Kochava, Carpet One, In and Out Painting, Temanos Counseling Center, Pend Oreille Veterinary Service, Diane Brockway, Cheryl Stewart, and Matt Kerr for their support. For more information, or make a donation online, visit Donations can also be sent by check to Ponderay Rotary, P.O. Box 813, Ponderay, ID 83852.

8 / R / March 21, 2024

Out-of-county money trickling into Dist. 3 commissioner race

Ad targeting BOCC Chair Luke Omodt paid for by Post Falls-based PAC

North Idahoans have become increasingly accustomed to negative campaign advertising over the past few election cycles, though typically related to hotly contested legislative seats. However, with about two months to go before the May 21 primary, the District 3 Bonner County commissioner race has so far attracted at least one attack ad circulating on YouTube and aimed at incumbent Commissioner Luke Omodt, who faces a GOP primary faceoff with challengers Dimitry Borisov, Jeff L. Glass and Ron Korn.

Glenn Lefebvre has also thrown his hat in the ring as an independent in the general election. (See Page 7 for more on the candidate filings.)

Titled “Freedom of Speech or Tyranny” and posted March 7 by Summer Bushnell, the ad tees off on long-standing controversies over public comment at Bonner County board of commissioners meetings, and specifically Omodt’s trespassing of county residents Dave Bowman and Rick Cramer from BOCC proceedings in January.

Paid for by Post Falls-based Awesome Sauce PAC — which Bushnell serves as chairperson and treasurer — the ad consists of footage from past BOCC meetings in which Omodt has spoken about limitations on public comments during business meetings, including the often repeated Ordinance 1-200 of Bonner County Code, which states that BOCC business meetings “do not constitute public hearings wherein the public has the right to be heard on every agendized item.”

Another portion of the ad features video footage — apparently taken from among the audience — of Bowman’s trespass by Omodt, accompanied by Sandpoint police officers, as well as footage of Bowman and SPD officers in the parking lot of the county administration building.

The ad concludes with the statement, “Tell Luke Omodt that citizens shouldn’t be trespassed for attending public meetings,” along with his official county profile photo and contact information. It has so far been viewed 5,000 times.

Why a political action committee based in Post Falls would have an interest in running ads targeted at a Bonner County commissioner is unclear. Contacted through the Bushnell Media website, Bushnell did not respond to questions from the Reader by press time.

In an email to the Reader, Omodt said it was “just plain weird” that an

outside PAC like Awesome Sauce would create, pay for and distribute an attack ad targeted at Bonner County.

“This smear campaign is misleading and ignores the truth,” Omodt wrote. “I remain focused on serving Bonner County. The first responsibility of government is to maintain public safety and stay within the limits of its authority as delegated by the people it serves.”

He further pushed back at the substance of the ad, writing, “Asking an individual to leave a public meeting after they have threatened to take offensive action and warned of a shooting is reasonable and appropriate.”

The controversy stemmed from a Jan. 15 email in which Bowman used what Omodt considered to be threatening language, including that the former felt it to be “within my rights” to take what he called “offensive action to defend myself” if told by BOCC Sergeant at Arms Cameron La Combe to leave the meeting room at the instruction of Omodt.

“Instead I retreated; if it happens again I will not retreat,” Bowman wrote in the Jan. 15 email, referring to a separate incident on Jan. 9 when Omodt directed La Combe to remove Bowman from a meeting for behavior he considered disruptive.

Furthermore, Bowman wrote that if he felt “threatened” by La Combe in the context of his duty to remove individuals at the direction of the chair, he would “defend myself,” and if “an altercation ensues, imagine the ramifications. Civil actions against the county, Omodt and Cameron, criminal charges against Cameron and Omodt, medical bills, potential injuries of bystanders, etc., etc. It could get very ugly. No one needs or wants that, however if it happens it will be on the county and the individual actors, especially now that this has been brought to your attention on the record.”

The county has since been given notice of tort claims filed by Bowman and Cramer.

Meanwhile, despite not responding to a request for comment, the pedigree of Bushnell’s political activities is well known. Among the examples of Bushnell Media’s work on the company’s website are helping design and maintain the Rathdrum-based Classical Christian Academy’s website and social media channels; creating and maintaining the webpage for Coeur d’Alene Republican Rep. Ron Mendive, as well as providing his social media content; and maintaining the website and creating social media content for the Kootenai County GOP.

Idaho Secretary of State campaign finance records show that Awesome Sauce

filed its first report in February 2023 and over the following year pulled in $6,382 while spending $4,651.

The most recent expenditure disclosed to the SOS was $200 in September 2023 under the “electioneering” category for Google ads.

North Idaho Freedom Fighters has been the single largest third-party donor to Awesome Sauce to date, giving $1,553.53 in March 2023. It is unclear from campaign finance disclosures who serves as NIFF’s chairperson or treasurer — or for what purpose the group gave money to Awesome Sauce — but NIFF has donated to and received funds from numerous Kootenai County politicos since 2021, including donations to the Kootenai County GOP and 2022 Dist. 1B House candidate Todd Engel. Former-lieutenant governor candidate Priscilla Giddings spent $275 on “events” with NIFF in 2021, as did Coeur d’Alene Republican Rep. Joe Alfieri in 2022.

Bushnell’s highest-profile moment came in September 2022, when Kootenai County drag performer Eric Posey (a.k.a. Mona Liza Million) sued her for defamation related to a video Bushnell posted on her political blog “The Bushnell Report.” According to Posey’s complaint, the video shared by Bushnell had been edited to blur out Posey’s pelvic area, suggestive of nudity — a claim that Bushnell made when she accused the performer of indecent exposure at the 2022 Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene.

However, upon reviewing the unedited videos and photos of Posey’s performance alongside the edited material, the Coeur d’Alene prosecutor’s office announced it would not file charges, as, according to a news release, “The unedited recordings did not depict any exposure of genitalia,” and, “The allegations of indecent exposure or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence.”

Posey’s lawsuit, which is represented

by Boise-based Stoel Rives, alleges that Bushnell knowingly altered the video in order to support false claims of indecent exposure.

“The day after Pride in the Park — June 12, 2022 — Bushnell decided to boost her popularity on social media by seizing on the attention surrounding the event, especially the national coverage of the arrest of 31 members of Patriot Front,” Posey’s complaint states. “To do so, she fabricated a sensationalist story that Posey exposed his genitals in public, including in front of children. ...

“Bushnell’s lies had the intended effect. Bushnell’s popularity on Facebook soared, as her video has been viewed approximately 19,300 times and shared on other social media accounts and platforms,” the complaint continues. “By comparison, her prior 10 videos were each viewed between approximately 235 and 1,400 times.”

Bushnell is represented in the case by Hayden-based attorney Colton Boyles, formerly of Sandpoint, who is no stranger to those familiar with Bonner County politics, having previously worked with Davillier Law and been involved with the initial drafting of a letter to the city of Sandpoint challenging the Festival at Sandpoint’s no-weapons policy, which evolved into a lengthy and expensive legal battle that ultimately resulted in the city’s victory.

Boyles also represented former-Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in 2021 when she declined to provide complete, unredacted records to members of the press, and his own fees became the subject of headlines and further public records requests related to spending in McGeachin’s office. Boyles is listed among the “resources” on the North Idaho Freedom Fighters website, and in August 2023 spurred more controversy when the

March 21, 2024 / R / 9 NEWS
see BUSHNELL, Page 11 >
Post Falls-based Awesome Sauce PAC chairperson and treasurer Summer Bushnell. Courtesy image. Bonner County Commissioner Luke Omodt. File photo

Science: Mad about

complicated confections

Sorry, 7B. This one is a birthday present to myself. Cue the sad, lonely, lip-dampened noisemaker celebrating the slow march to the grave.

As a person afflicted with an unfortunate intestinal allergy to gluten, I find myself binge-snacking during episodes of The Great British Bake Off, salivating over delicacies that I can no longer enjoy. My own sweet tooth must be tempered by gluten-free goodies formed to vaguely resemble the confectionary goodness scandalously shot in ultra high-definition on my TV screen.

Gluten free sweets have come a long way in recent years, but one cannot escape the fact that gluten is a great binding agent and xanthan gum — the byproduct of fermentation utilizing Xanthomonas campestris bacteria to create a complex sugar — just isn’t the same.

Gluten’s unique properties allow wheat-based flours to create light and fluffy pastries, moist cakes and breads that are somehow crispy on the outside and light and chewy on the inside.

Some of the delicious treats in this feature will showcase the human mastery of baking science. How much food was wasted or destroyed to create these confoundingly complex dishes? The world may never know.

Baked Alaska

One of the most complicated confections to create isn’t the dreaded French croquembouche, but the American-made baked Alaska. A traditional baked Alaska is a layer of cake beneath a layer of ice cream beneath a layer of meringue that is put into the oven without melting the ice cream. Fear not — this is no

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feat of witchcraft but an act of science willfully exploited by science-minded chefs the world over.

First created in the 1800s, this dish was inspired by a French dessert called omelette Norwegge, which as you can probably guess is a reference to Norway’s icy forests. The scientific magic that occurs here is all thanks to the abundance of air in the whipped egg whites of the meringue, which acts as an insulator for the ice cream. Air is a fantastic insulator — just look at Venus. Venus has a very thick atmosphere that traps heat from the sun. Pockets of air in the extruded foam or fiberglass panels that likely line your walls at home are the reason for why your house remains a different temperature from the outdoors throughout the year. This barrier of air trapped by egg proteins makes for an effective insulator that keeps the ice cream cool while your cake is in the oven, provided you adequately cover the ice cream with appropriately whipped meringue.

It’s worth noting that you pre-bake the cake portion before adding the ice cream and meringue, so the time it spends in the oven is to caramelize the meringue and not bake the cake.


Another confectionary creation of the 1800s, which literally translates from German as “tree cake,” is unlike any other cake in the world. It’s hollow in the center and cooked on a spit like a pig or the intrepid Dwarf of your D&D party that got a little too close to the goblin encampment. It’s also notable that this cake sports “rings” like a tree, which is how it earned its name.

The rings of this cake are

formed when cake batter is slathered onto the spit. As some of this cooks, more batter is slathered on. This is done over and over again until the baker is satisfied and then coats the outside in sugar and chocolate, removing the spit and leaving a funky hollow interior. Each layer cooking separately and then together doesn’t allow the batter to bond as it would have, had it been cooked all together at once.

Baumkuchen was a pretty big deal in Germany. Called the “king of cakes,” it was also known as the “cake of kings” when multiple kings and later emperors hired the bakers of the town of Salzwedel, from which the cake originated, as royal suppliers. It has since become popular internationally, in as far-flung places as Japan and Hawaii, where they have become important cultural confections for kings and common folk alike.


One of the most ancient and persevering forms of pastry in the world is Baklava. Its influence has been felt in every corner of the culinary world from strudel to Éclair and even McDonald’s apple pies. The history of this flaky dessert stretches back to the eighth century B.C.E., likely somewhere in the Middle East — some think the Assyrian Empire in what is currently Iraq.

What makes Baklava special is its flaky nature. Try as you might, there will never be a truly authentic representation of baklava for those of us that can only go gluten-free. Gluten’s nature to be smashed, stretched and pulled to the point of near-breaking while remaining extremely thin is how baklava gets its flaky nature. The dough is pulled and flattened until it is practically transparent, then layered doz-

ens of times. In some Christian celebrations, it contains 33 layers to represent the 33 years of Christ’s life. An interesting take for an Assyrian dessert turned Islamic staple.

Baklava’s reach is strongest in the Middle East and Mediterranean Coast, which makes sense when one examines the reach of the Muslim caliphates from 632 through 1517 C.E., paired with the spread of the Ottoman Empire between 1481 and 1914 C.E.

Given the treat’s immense popularity in this time and the numerous crusades mounted by the kings and emperors of Central Europe, it should come as no surprise that the German strudel and a whole host of layered French pastries

bear a striking resemblance to the Turkish Baklava.

It turns out that the science behind the adding of layers and butter between them is very intentional to control the outcome of the pastry. As heat is applied, the water and fat of the butter turns into steam, which expands to create gaps in the layers. As it cools, the moisture molecules contract and allow some of it to escape in gaps without blasting a hole in the side of the pastry. The fats that didn’t essentially boil away create a crispness to each layer once the bulk of the moisture has baked out. The caramelization of sugars also contributes to the crispness of each bite.

Stay curious, 7B.

• Crystals are repeating, three-dimensional arrangements of atoms, ions or molecules.

• Almost any solid material can crystallize — even DNA. Chemists from New York University, Purdue University and the Argonne National Laboratory recently created DNA crystals large enough to see with the naked eye. The work is said to have applications in nanoelectronics and drug development.

• The oldest known pieces of Earth’s surface are 4.4 billion-yearold zircon crystals from the Jack Hills of Australia.

• The center of the Earth was once thought to be a 1,500-mile-wide iron crystal. Seismic studies, however, now show that the inner core is not a single solid, but most likely an aggregate of smaller crystals.

• The largest crystals in the world are located in a limestone cavern 1,000 feet below the surface of Chihuahua, Mexico. They are glit-

tering gypsum formations up to six feet in diameter and 36 feet long, and weigh as much as 55 tons.

• The so-called “Subway Garnet” is a nine-pound garnet crystal discovered in 1885 beneath 35th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. According to the lore, the giant crystal was unearthed by a laborer digging a sewer during subway construction. The crystal was sold within a day for $100, which is $3,200 in today’s dollars.

•The most ubiquitous crystal on Earth is quartz, which is found in all rock types (sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic). It is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth.

• Common crystals that humans use everyday are sugar and salt. There is so much salt — or sodium chloride — in the oceans that if they all evaporated, we’d be left with 4.5 million cubic miles of salt. That’s a cube measuring 165 miles on each side.

10 / R / March 21, 2024
Random Corner Don’t know much about crystals? We can help!
The baked Alaska. Courtesy image.

The platform purity the GOP demands would mean utter chaos

Voters need to trust that their elected leaders are beholden to them — not their donors, lobbyists or party bosses. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a rise in tribunals and censures by local GOP party leaders across the state when they see elected Republican lawmakers and even the governor stray from the party platform. Most recently and shockingly, the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee is attempting to prevent one of their legislators from running as a Republican — a move that is not backed by legal precedent.

The Idaho Republican Party’s new trend of punishing and purging independent thinkers would be alarming on its own. It’s unnerving when you consider the extreme, fringe positions in the platform.

First, the platform equates all abor-

tion with murder — a crime punishable by execution. This is, of course, even more draconian than the current abortion ban that has driven 22% of our obstetric gynecologists from practicing in Idaho. Party officials rejected an amendment that would have created an exemption to save the life of the patient by a 2-1 vote.

Second, the platform seeks to abolish the Federal Reserve Bank and tie the U.S. dollar to gold and silver. This is a dangerous, antiquated policy that would make recessions much longer and deeper. In fact, there is consensus among economists that the gold

standard is one reason the Great Depression was so devastating. This move would take away our ability to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy when a downturn looms near.

Third, the platform seeks to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows the voters to elect their U.S. senators directly instead of having the state legislature appoint them. Idaho voters have been electing their senators for more than 100 years.

There are many more dangerous provisions, like the privatization of Social Security. We must bolster and protect seniors’ retirement security, not squander precious dollars by inserting a corporate middleman. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement would allow health insurers to again deny coverage for preexisting conditions, eliminate the tax credits that tens of thousands of Idahoans use to purchase coverage

Aging, dementing, ageism and the presidency

In spite of what your perception might be of this commentary’s title, I’m not really writing about partisan politics. Sure, a bombshell of partisan politics exploded on Feb. 9 when Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report on Joe Biden hit the news. Hur’s report was supposed to focus on whether charges related to Biden’s holding onto classified documents would be filed.

But the inclusion of serious allegations of the president’s cognitive health was the marquee takeaway that reporters drooled over. Hur said if the president was put on trial, a jury wouldn’t likely convict him because he’s a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.” Why was that even included in Hur’s report? A political stab?

Perhaps. But I think his report was straight-out ageism.

A cartoon wife says to her husband, “I’m going to vote for the honest and kind senile man, not the senile man who’s racist, greedy and self-serving.” She too fell into the ageism trap — the bias against, the discrimination of, persons based on their age.

The reactions on all sides of the

Hur report — and subsequent criticisms of the advanced ages of both Biden and Donald Trump — are driven by politics. But I suggest they are deeper than opportunistic partisan politics. They smack of the widespread cultural bias called ageism.

Ageism happens to young and old alike. Though it’s much bigger news when it involves the two presumptive presidential candidates.

I’ve worked with older adults since my parish days and in nursing homes as a social worker. So I have firsthand experience with older people, including myself.

Proverbs 20:29 (“The Message”) reminds us: “Youth may be admired for vigor, but gray hair gives prestige to old age.” For years, my consulting ministry’s mantra has been: “Gray hair and wrinkles are not a fashion statement. They are a values statement.”

Ageism disrespects and distorts that human value. We often distort our own aging, and we often distort other people’s aging. So let me be clear: “aging” is not the same thing as “dementing.”

Normal aging can include slower mental processing, but routine memory, skills and knowledge often improve with age. Dementia, on the other hand, is not a normal outcome of aging. It’s caused by some kind of disease process that affects the brain. But aging and dementia aren’t the same.

It’s easy to quickly point to verbal and mental “gaffes” when we see both Biden and Trump. Come on folks!

through Your Health Idaho and take Medicaid away from 95,000 Idahoans.

If you don’t want to let a patient die when a medical procedure would save them, if you want modern economic policy tools at our disposal, or if you respect the right of the people to elect their senators, Idaho GOP Chair Dorothy Moon would say you are not qualified to hold office as a Republican.

The future of our state is on the ballot this November. Voters must reject this new Idaho Republican Party that generations of Idahoans don’t recognize and elect more Democrats to restore the political balance that prevents extremism from taking root.

Rep. Lauren Necochea is the House assistant Democratic leader, representing District 19 in Boise on the Environment, Energy and Technology; Resources and Conservation; Revenue and Taxation; and Ways and Means committees.

They’re both old.

The causes of either man’s verbal flubs are complex. Admittedly, while I choose not to dismiss either man because of ageism, their physical and cognitive health is an issue for me to some degree.

But when we see their public gaffes, we’d be wise not to listen to pundits and reporters looking for “gotchas” on one candidate or the other. We’d be wiser to first see how our personal age-related fear colors our perception of them.

My standard for choosing between them has far less to do with their age. It has more to do with their competency in how they conduct themselves as men, and as former and current presidents. I observe how they live the values they say they have — like how they treat other persons with respect, compassion.

I watch them deal with political leaders, regular “people on the street” or perceived outsiders. I see their actions reflect what they value as men, and how they value other people.

Age is far less an issue for me than their character and their competency. Where does age fit into your own evaluation of this pivotal election year?

Paul Graves is a retired United Methodist pastor and longtime Sandpoint resident, where he served on the City Council and as mayor. He also works as a geriatric social worker, serving as “Lead Geezer-in-Training” for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues.


con’t from Page 9 >

North Idaho College Board of Trustees voted to hire him as its general counsel, despite having “no previous experience representing a higher education institution and has ties to Idaho’s far-right extremists, including Ammon Bundy,” according to the Pacific Northwest Inlander.

The lawsuit between Posey and Bushnell has continued since 2022, with court records indicating a jury trial is currently scheduled for May 20.

Finally, Bushnell made her way into local newspapers yet again in March 2023, when campaign flyers and door hangers paid for by Awesome Sauce PAC turned up throughout the Coeur d’Alene area making numerous claims about the then-upcoming school district levy that officials called “bogus,” “disgusting,” “unethical” and “un-American,” according to the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Meanwhile going into what is almost certain to be an uncommonly contested primary election — with slates of four or more candidates each running for both the Dist. 1 and Dist. 3 BOCC seats — Omodt said he’s not distracted by the onset of negative campaigning.

“The Bonner County taxpayers hired me to do a job and I remain focused and committed to providing our residents capable and competent leadership,” he wrote.

Additional reporting by Soncirey Mitchell.

March 21, 2024 / R / 11
Rep. Lauren Necochea. File photo. Paul Graves. File photo.

Getting a leg up

Bonner General Health’s exoskeleton suit is kind of a big deal

Everything changed for Jake Gemkow last November. While loading wood into his pickup truck at his home in Sagle, Gemkow suddenly lost feeling on his right side and couldn’t see anything.

“I felt like the right side of my face was gone,” Gemkow told the Reader.

He and his son called an ambulance and Gemkow was rushed to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, where he later learned he had suffered a brain bleed, or hemorrhagic stroke.

Since then, Gemkow has navigated the after-effects of such a traumatic episode, which caused a loss of mobility in his right arm and leg, as well as a language disorder called aphasia, which limits the ability to speak and understand others.

Gemkow, 48, now uses a wheelchair to get around and realizes he has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but thanks to a new piece of equipment that Bonner General Health acquired last fall, he is steadily marking progress forward.

Once a week, Gemkow attends an appointment with Performance Therapy Services at BGH to take about 600 steps in the EksoNR robotic exoskeleton suit.

It’s kind of a big deal that BGH’s rehabilitation department has an exo-suit. It’s a robotic suit that uses cutting-edge technology to help patients regain their strength, mobility, confidence and freedom.

The EksoNR was the

first exo-suit that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared for stroke and spinal cord injury neurorehabilitation and the only one the FDA has cleared for acquired brain injury and multiple sclerosis. The technology has transformed the lives of many who have lost the ability to walk due to stroke, injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and more.

Physical therapist Elizabeth Neuder, who specializes in neurological rehabilitation, said BGH can thank occupational therapist Beth Weiss for getting the ball rolling on acquiring the suit.

“She really held a flag for getting the exo,” Neuder told the Reader. “She’s had experience with her husband who has a spinal cord injury. They’ve used the suit that’s in Wenatchee, [Wash.] and every time he used the suit he had a benefit.”

Wenatchee is the nearest location to Sandpoint with an exo-suit. There is one in Billings, Mont., but it’s only available for inpatients. Currently, BGH is the only hospital in Idaho that owns an exo-suit.

“It is a very rare opportunity for us to have this,” said BGH Director of Rehabilitation Michelle Tucker, who said the funding to cover the whopping $120,000 price tag for the suit came through a partnership with the Find Your Strength races BGH has sponsored the past two years, as well as contributions from local organizations.

“That money has gone towards the exoskeleton suit, along with assistance from organizations that have part-

nered with us,” said Tucker, who added that some donations from the annual Heart Ball fundraiser were also earmarked by the donors to be used toward the purchase of the exo-suit.

Now, instead of patients having to travel several hundred miles to use the state-of-the-art equipment, they have one right here in Sandpoint, which Tucker hopes will also attract other patients from the region to BGH.

“I really have the belief

that our patients deserve to have the best care and best technology,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to leave our community to get the best outcome that they should be able to achieve. ... If we can provide something that actually improves the quality of life, we know through studies they’ve done that if they get into this suit, they have a higher probability of an outcome that will increase the longevity of their life.”

Gemkow said the suit

has helped him make huge forward strides — literally.

“The doctors told me you could be very well without your leg and your arm,” Gemkow said. “He also said the aphasia could be permanent. But my doctor was amazed. I’m almost three months in and he was amazed that I could walk and talk.”

When asked what his goals were, Gemkow replied: “To walk again. Simply walk again.”

When Gemkow begins his session with Neuder, he exits his wheelchair and sits on a chair with the suit laid out. From there, Neuder fits it around Gemkow with a series of straps that adjust to his body.

Powered by a 15-pound battery that provides up to an hour of usage on one charge, the suit is fully programmable by therapists, who can enter different parameters and presets to account for step length, height and width. While the technology offers powered assistance, it’s up to the patient to maintain the momentum.

“It adapts according to the power that Jake is giving to the suit,” Neuder explained as she finished strapping him into the suit. “It will back off so he’s doing as much as possible. As you get stronger, Jake, the suit does less and less.”

Neuder said BGH currently has more than a dozen clients who use the suit regularly. After a month of training wrapped up in October, four rehabilitation

< see EXO, Page 13 >

12 / R / March 21, 2024 FEATURE
Rehab assistant Tanya Hindle, left, and physical therapist Elizabeth Neuder, center, check patient Jake Gemkow’s progress while he uses the EksoNR robotic exoskeleton suit at Bonner General Health. Photo by Ben Olson.


specialists are certified to use the suit, including two physical therapists, one assistant PT and one occupational therapist.

Gemkow said walking in the suit feels a bit like walking through mud. When the suit applies less assistance due to the patients’ strength returning, it’s like walking through “thicker mud,” according to Neuder.

Flanked by Neuder and a rehabilitation assistant, Gemkow takes his first step in the suit. Then he exits the therapy room and walks down the long hallway at the BGH Health Services Building, clocking an average of 500-600 steps each session. He grits his teeth in determination with every step, and Neuder provides vocal support along the way.

While it’s visibly fatiguing to him, Gemkow grins and jokes throughout the therapy session.

“Usually my therapist and my counselor help give me a positive attitude. Also a lot of Prozac,” he said, prompting laughter from the therapists beside him.

Neuder said the suit is a huge morale boost for her patients, but it’s also beneficial to them both physically and mentally.

“The benefits of weight bearing through our legs benefits every system in our body — from our bones and muscles to cardiovascular system, our function and mobility, digestion,” Neuder said. “When we’re not moving around, those systems suffer, so movement is key.”

With more than 5.3 million people in the United States living with a permanent brain injury-related disability, 2.8 million Americans sustaining a traumatic brain injury each year and more than 795,000 people in the U.S. experiencing a stroke annually, it’s clear the EksoNR exo-suit has the ability to serve a lot of people in the Inland Northwest who otherwise would have had to travel all the way to Wenatchee for rehab treatment.

“Our biggest step now is getting the word out about this suit,” said Tucker. “Not just in the Sandpoint area, but in our region. We want to support our region with

this amazing piece of equipment. Just like our patients used to travel to Wenatchee, it would be great if people from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene could seek the suit here.”

After two long trips down the hallway, Gemkow walks back into the therapy room and sighs loudly after sitting down. The counter reads 563 steps. With every step, he holds out hope for a return to walking as he did before the stroke.

“It’s hard work, but it’s worth it,” he said.

To learn more about the EksoNR exoskeleton suit, visit Performance Therapy Services inside the Bonner General Health Services building, 423 N. Third Ave., Suite 150, or call 208-265-3325.

March 21, 2024 / R / 13
< EXO, con’t from Page 12 >
The EksoNR robotic exoskeleton suit, which has a price tag of $120,000, was purchased thanks to donations received as part of BGH’s Find Your Strength races. Courtesy image.

Investing in Idaho’s forestry workforce

It’s no secret that forestry is an important part of Idaho’s economy. A 2023 University of Idaho study found that the forest products business sector contributed $2.5 billion to Idaho’s gross state product in 2022. The vast majority of the $61 million in state endowment lands money that went to public schools in 2023 came from timber harvesting proceeds. That means close to 30,000 of our friends, families and neighbors work in Idaho forests. They’re the loggers, truck drivers, mill workers, foresters, sales and accounting professionals who sustainably manage our forests to produce lumber, paper products, furniture and other wood products.

But those numbers only tell part of the story. While vital to Idaho’s economy, the forest products sector faces uncertainty due to workforce challenges. Twenty-four percent of the log truck drivers are over the age of

60 and the logging contractor owner/ operators have on average 29 years of business experience. Like many Idaho businesses, without a stable workforce, forestry’s tremendous impact on our state’s economy is at risk.

But there’s reason for optimism. Recent investments through Idaho’s new Career Ready Students program represent an infusion of both energy and capital in cultivating new pipelines of young talent into Idaho’s forest products sector. In March 2023, Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, with the help of the Idaho Legislature, secured $45 million to create a new program that would invest in career technical education and career training around our state.

Now, just 12 months later, Critchfield and the 11-member Career Ready Students Council have awarded grants totaling more than $43 million to Idaho schools. Grants will be used to teach students new skills that prepare them for successful careers here in Idaho. The program will help address workforce demands in sectors like ag-

riculture, forest products, mechanics, animal science, food production and more.

The investments in the forest products sector are especially significant. The council has awarded just over $5 million that will upgrade existing logging and forestry training programs or create new ones altogether. These investments — which represent more than 10% of awarded funds — are being made at schools in places like St. Maries, Kamiah, Kooskia, Orofino, Grangeville, Weippe, Potlatch, Priest River and Council. In other words, in rural Idaho and in the heart of Idaho’s forest products business sector.

Students trained in these programs will be positioned to enter the workforce immediately after high school or continue their pursuit of a forestry-related career at post-secondary institutions. Their training will provide them meaningful career opportunities close to home. Stable and reliable talent pipelines also allow the forest products sector to continue investing in Idaho’s robust economy.

Idaho’s Career Ready Students

program represents a strategic investment in our young people, rural Idaho and business sectors that are essential to our state’s success. As Idaho’s forest products businesses, we’re grateful for Superintendent Critchfield’s leadership and the state’s recognition of the importance of workforce investments, and we stand ready to continue our work. After all, as Idaho’s forests are responsibly managed and our forest business sector thrives, so too does our state.

Companies and organizations who support this letter include: Associated Logging Contractors — Idaho; Idaho Forest Group; Inland Empire Paper Company; Molpus Woodlands Group; PotlatchDeltic; Clearwater Paper; Bennett Lumber Products, Inc.; Manulife Forest Management; and Stimson Lumber Company.

14 / R / March 21, 2024 PERSPECTIVES
Shawn Keough. Courtesy photo.
March 21, 2024 / R / 15 To submit a photo for a future edition, please send to
Top left: Sandpoint City Beach after a March snowfall. Photo by Rich Milliron. Top right: Ben and Jeannie Higgs celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary on March 5 by skiing in their wedding attire at Schweitzer (on a bluebird powder day, no less). This was taken in the Schweitzer Ski Patrol room after they’d finished. Photo by Ted Wert. Bottom left: The farm flock of peacocks and peahens basking in the first rays of sun in late February. Photo by Jeanelle Shields. Bottom right: Bald eagles playing “cootball,” according to photographer Guy Lothian, as they fight over a piece of a coot hunted on the Pend Oreille River recently.

Dr. Benjamin Keggi joins Bonner General Family Practice

Bonner General Family Practice welcomes Dr. Benjamin Keggi to the practice. After relocating from Great Falls, Mont., Keggi will start seeing patients on March 18.

Board-certified in family medicine by the American Osteopathic Association, Keggi attended the University of Montana in Missoula for his undergraduate studies and completed

medical school at Pacific Northwest University in Yakima, Wash., where he remained for his residency. He has been practicing in Great Falls in the clinic setting since 2020.

As a family medicine practitioner, Keggi provides comprehensive care to patients of all backgrounds and age groups, with extensive experience in treating both acute and chronic medical conditions. He is particularly passionate about preventive care;

population health; and personalized, science-based medicine.

Keggi recently moved to Sandpoint with his wife and two young children. His wife was born in Sandpoint, and they have strong family ties to the area. Keggi is excited to join the team at BGH and become an active member of the community. He enjoys various outdoor activities, including gardening and woodworking and looks forward to exploring the North Idaho outdoors further.

Director Erin Binnall stated in a news release. “Dr. Keggi’s qualifications and dedication to patient care make him a perfect addition to our team, and we are confident he will provide exceptional care to our patients.”

“On behalf of the entire Bonner General Family Practice & Internal Medicine team, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Benjamin Keggi to our practice,” BGH Clinical Operations

Keggi joins providers Dr. Tessa Reinke; Nichole Grimm, FNP; and the Bonner General Family Practice staff to provide exceptional primary care for patients of all ages. The clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 423 N. Third Ave., Suite 110, in Sandpoint. To learn more, call 208265-2221 or visit

BGH Poison Prevention Program educates

LPOSD elementary students

The Bonner General Health Pharmacy is hosting a Poison Prevention Community Outreach Program, educating some of the youngest local students about everyday household items that could be dangerous and what to do if they encounter them.

BGH Pharmacist Brooke Schaat wrote the grant, which is funded by the Bonner General Health Foundation’s Hometown Health Grants Initiative, which allows BGH departments to write grants to the foundation for items that fall outside the traditional budget and are awarded based on need, impact and sustainability. Launched in 2021, the foundation awarded $50,000 in grants to various hospital departments in 2023 alone.

Prior to the Poison Prevention Community Outreach Program, the Lake Pend Oreille School District didn’t not have an initiative to teach elementary school students about potentially dangerous household substances. Nationwide, more than 80% of the 2 million calls to the National Poison Control Center relate to unintentional exposures among children 12 years old and younger.

BGH’s program is expected to reach more than 500 students throughout the district this spring.

“Due to pharmacist’s extensive knowledge not only of medications

but also chemical ingredients used in over-the-counter products, household substances, and antidotes, they are in a unique position to provide poison prevention education to the community,” Schaat stated in a news release. “This program is not just about educating children; it’s about making our community safer and more aware.”

In the schools, activities include comparing the look of a toxic vs. non-toxic item, identifying objects that look like candy but could actually be medication, watching a video featuring Spike the Poison Prevention Porcupine and how to identify dangerous items in your home and what to do if a child is unsure. “Don’t touch, taste or smell,” and, “Ask an Adult,” were some of the messages.

At a recent presentation to Washington Elementary School kindergartners,kids were sent home with an interactive coloring sheet, a magnet with the phone number for Poison Control and “homework” for their parent/guardian, informing them of the day’s lesson and how to keep their home safe.

Washington Elementary Principal Natassia Hamer said she signed the kindergarten class up for the program but hopes to bring it back for the first-graders before the end of the year.

For more information, visit

16 / R / March 21, 2024 COMMUNITY
Dr. Benjamin Keggi. Courtesy photo.

The Little Live Radio Hour returns to KRFY

Panhandle Community Radio KRFY, 88.5 FM, is bringing back its monthly local music showcase “The Little Live Radio Hour” to the airwaves for another year.

Radio listeners can tune their dials to 88.5 (or use the live webstream on krfy. org) on Tuesday, March 26, at 8 p.m. to catch the 2024 premiere of the show — now in its third year — broadcast live, unedited and unfiltered from the Little Panida Theater.

to take advantage of that and put together a program that’s unlike what you can find anywhere else,” said KRFY’s Jack Peterson, who hosts the show. “It’s an experiment for us — I hope it pays off; but even if we fall flat on our face, it’s going to be fun to hear it. No matter what, the music will be great.”

Audience members can also attend the show in person for free. Call KRFY at 208-265-2992 for details.

Fitting for a “season premiere,” this month’s show will feature local singer-songwriter Justin Lantrip — a longtime fixture of the local music scene whose Americana stylings can be found on Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and

The emphasis is on music, but the Little Live Radio Hour has a few new features for its third season. In addition to conversations with the musicians, the format will include act breaks with some live radio theater provided by local thespians.

“We’re trying to keep things fresh and play around with our format a bit. Live radio provides such unique opportunities for creativity, we wanted


2 million

The approximate number of women 55 and older who left the labor force in 2023 because of family obligations — about seven times higher than the number of men who said the same. A new report found that 59% of unpaid caregivers for the elderly in 2021 to 2022 were women.


The number of states that have filed a legal challenge against the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s new public disclosure regulations for climate-related risks and direct greenhouse gas emissions. West Virginia and Georgia co-led the petition for review filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals, joined by Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming and Virginia. The rule is scheduled to go into effect in 2026.


The total forfeiture amount assessed to neo-Nazi robocaller Scott Rhodes in a U.S. District Court in Montana after Judge Dana Christensen granted the United States summary judgment on March 19. The amount stems from 4,959 illegally spoofed calls identified in the Federal Communications Commission’s forfeiture order, at $2,000 assessed for each violation. Rhodes placed most of the calls while living in Sandpoint, including two against Reader Publisher Ben Olson, calling him a “cancer” that needed to be “burned out” of the community.


The number of “unauthorized attempts” to gain access to Bonner County’s digital infrastructure between Feb. 13 and March 14, 2024, according to BOCC Chair Luke Omodt.

The Little Live Radio Hour is a joint production with the Festival at Sandpoint, which provides promotional support and audio engineering through Production and Education Manager Paul Gunter. The Panida furnishes the venue and will offer beverage service for in-person attendees. The show is currently scheduled to air only once, live, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 26. New editions of the show will air on the fourth Tuesday of every month through October, with new musical acts each month.

March 21, 2024 / R / 17 COMMUNITY
Justin Lantrip. Courtesy photo.


Send event listings to

Kindergarten Registration event

8:30-11am / 12-2:30pm @ Zoned schools

Parents invited to drop by their zoned schools for in-person event. Kids welcome but not required for registration

Live Music w/ Mike Wagoner

5-7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Live Music w/ TJ Kelly

7-9pm @ The Back Door

Live Music w/ Two Rivers Jazz

8pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Live Music w/ Mike Wagoner

5-7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Live Music w/ Justin Harris and the Pocket Aces (bluegrass)

6-8pm @ Smokesmith BBQ

Live Music w/ Huckleberry

6-8pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Live Music w/ The Crooked Kilt

6-8pm @ CREATE (Newport, Wash.)

Family band with fiddle, accordion, bodhran, djembe, guitar, piano and Highland pipes. Students free, $12/$15 for more info

Live Music w/ Matt Lome

6-9pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

Drum with Rhythm Boomers

10am @ Pearl Theater, Bonners Ferry. FREE

Murder Mystery Dinner, $120/person

5:30pm @ Talus Rock Retreat, 255-8458

Live Music w/ Kosh

5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Live Music w/ Courtney & Company

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Sandpoint Chess Club

9am @ Evans Brothers Coffee

Magic with Star Alexander 5-8pm @ Jalepeño’s

THURSDAY, march 21

Game Night

6:30pm @ Tervan Tavern

Bingo Night

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Cribbage League

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

FriDAY, march 22

Live Music w/ Oak Street Connection

5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Jazzy, pop and groovy songs

Live Music w/ Ponderay Paradox

6:30-9:30pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

Live Music w/ Bright Moments Jazz

5-8pm @ Barrel 33

The Beautiful Mind of Robert Schumann

7pm @ Little Carnegie Hall, MCS Schumann festival, featuring Matt Goodrich and Melody Puller

SATURDAY, march 23

Community Writing Contest

9:30am @ Sandpoint Library

No entry charge and first prize of $100. Sponsored by Sandpoint Writers on the Lake. Contestants read work to audience (5-min limit). Open to all writers in all genres. Unpublished work

Friends of Hope Cemetery Meeting

3pm @ Hope City Hall

Come learn about community efforts to preserve and revitalize the Hope Cemetery. Get involved! Pizza/live piano 3pm, presentations at 4pm.

The Beautiful Mind of Robert Schumann

2pm @ Little Carnegie Hall, MCS Schumann faculty and staff recital free Comedy Avalanche: Landry, Woodall 8pm @ Panida Theater Learn more at

SunDAY, march 24

10,000 Easter Egg hunt

11am @ Christ Our Redeemer Church Free and open to all, rain or shine

Monday Night Blues Jam w/ John Firshi

7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Lifetree Cafe • 2pm @ Jalapeño’s “Substitutionary Atonement?”

tuesDAY, march 26

Live Piano w/ Jennifer Stoehner

5-7pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Tapas Tuesday w/ music by Zach Simms

4-6pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Bingo Night

March 21 - 28, 2024

A Taste of Ireland (music/dance)

7:30pm @ Panida Theater

A Taste of Ireland performs a show that has entertained thousands around the globe. Celtic tunes, champion dancers and more. for info

Food Bank Fundraiser

11am-3pm @ Tango Cafe

Soup, a handmade bowl, bread, dessert and a beverage for $20. All money raised goes to Food Bank Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2024

7pm @ Panida Theater

Curated collection of independent films about wild places and the people working to protect them. $15/$20

Live Music w/ Jake Robin

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Sun Daddy Sandpoint Drum Circle

3-5pm @ Embody, 823 Main St. Held 1st and 3rd Saturdays. FREE

Cabin Fever Dance

7-10pm @ Sandpoint Community Hall

West coast swing line dance lesson at 7pm followed by general dancing. All are welcome. $8/person

5G / SMART Cities - Want to Learn More?

12-4pm @ Gardenia Center

Join Wire Idaho for a FREE event on 5G and how it affects you.

Kaniksu Folk School: Blacksmithing

9am-12pm @ Big Red Shed, 11735 W. Pine Learn basics and mae your own bottle opener. Instructed by Nick Belfrey. $45

Kids Day at the Rusty Trunk

9am-12pm @ The Rustry Trunk, Ponderay Activities, prizes, free books

Music Matters! choirs (free)

4:30pm @ First Presbyterian Church Feat. Handbell and Ensemble choirs

monDAY, march 25

Outdoor Experience Group Run 6pm @ Outdoor Experience 3-5 miles, all levels welcome

Trivia Night

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority

Hosted by a revolving cast of characters

wednesDAY, march 27

Live Music w/ John Firshi

8pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Live Piano w/ Bob Beadling

Live trivia ($5/person) 6pm @ Connie’s Lounge

5-7pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

ThursDAY, march 28

6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority Cribbage League

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Registration deadline: Lou Domanski Chess Festival Register at Game Night

6:30pm @ Tervan Tavern

Wild Idaho Rising Tide 13th Annual Celebration • 7pm @ Gardenia Center

Anniversary benefit supporting climate activism with community open mic, music by Desiree Aguirre, potluck, slide show, updates — all free with donations. More info at and facebook. com/wildidahorisingtide

18 / R / March 21, 2024

Panida hosts 22nd annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival

The 22nd annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which shares stories of adventure, environmentalism and activism, returns to the Panida Theater courtesy of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on Friday, March 22. This series of nine

inspiring films reveals humanity’s deep connection to nature and offers hope for a healthy planet in the future. Featured stories follow ecologists, athletes and extraordinary kids as they interact with the natural world, connecting with themselves and their communities in the process.

With so many unique individuals, attendees are sure to find a narrative that speaks to their interests or personal experiences.

Among the selected films, “Light Beams for Helena” is the story of Helena Bourdillon, whose struggle with depression led her to discover a passion for freediving.

Landry, Aaron Woodall take the stage in final Comedy Avalanche show of 2024

Landry has been on the standup scene since 2006 and, in that time, come a long way from his birthplace in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He’s won both the Boston Comedy Festival and World Series of Comedy, been seen on Dry Bar Comedy, selected as a finalist for NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity Showcase, been heard on XM Satellite Radio and was the first winner of the Punchline Comedy Club’s “64 Comedian Super Comedy Competition.”

Now based in Georgia, Landry recently concluded a two-week stint performing 15 shows of 18+ comedy aboard a cruise ship, which makes up the material for his video “Lost at Sea,” available on YouTube and

For the third and final Comedy Avalanche show of 2024, Landry will come to the Panida Theater on Saturday, March 23, bringing his “likable hair” and “comedy goulash” whipped up from his experiences as a “Canadian-born interracial love child ... mixed with a little dysfunction.”

Known for his magnetic personality and effortless delivery, Landry’s style is frequently full of crowd work, making for unpredictable riffs and big laughs.

Joining Landry will be Aaron Woodall, whose standup career began in 2011 while still enrolled at

Brigham Young University. Woodall spun his experiences with the Mormon Church into comedy gold, co-founding and co-hosting the popular Mormon and Meth-Head podcast. He has also performed in the New York City Comedy Festival — being named to the “Comics to Watch Showcase” — with his jokes seen on FOX, Hulu, Dry Bar, Epix and, as he states on his website, “the Boise, Idaho Army Navy Surplus Store’s website.”

Woodall’s style is described as “delightful and charming as he is honest and vulnerable,” keying into “life’s sad little disillusions with a sense of wide-eyed excitement.”

Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 at panida. org or the door at 300 N. First Ave. in Sandpoint. Material in the show will include adult content.

Bourdillon shares the lessons she’s learned over her 20 years spent in deep water. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Brave Girl” follows a 6-year-old adventurer and her grandpa on their quest to climb Wyoming’s mountains. Visit event/wild-scenic-film-fes-

tival for descriptions of all nine films and purchase tickets for $15 each. Doors open at 6 p.m. on March 22 at the Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., Sandpoint.

March 21, 2024 / R / 19 STAGE & SCREEN
Community Sandpoint Writers on The Lake presents… Writing Contest Bonner County Library Saturday, March 23, 2024 Sign-ups begin at 8:30 a.m. Readings begin 9:30 Categories & Prizes: One Grand Prize: $100 Adult – 18 & Up: Best $50; Runner-up $25 Youth –17 & Under: Best $50; Runner-up $25 ~ Any unpublished fiction, non-fiction, or poetry eligible (keeping in mind our youthful audience) ~ All contest entrants get a free book from a selection by published authors of Sandpoint Writers on the Lake For more information contact Jim Payne 208-263-3564;; or ~ Read your original writing to an appreciative audience of friends and fellow writers! ~ Readings are 5 minutes each. ~ Audience members vote for prize winners! Snacks for everyone!
Screenshots from films playing at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, including (from left to right): “Light Beams for Helena,” “Renaissance,” “Between Earth and Sky” and “Brave Girl.” Courtesy photos. Landry. Courtesy photo.

Next week, I’m off on a long-planned adventure, though my timing is bittersweet. I’ll be missing my favorite family holiday: Easter. It’s so early this year that it snuck up on me. I have some disappointed grandbabes and, to be sure, I will never plan another trip without the calendar in hand.

My travel, food and adventure mantra will soon come to life when I fly business class on Turkish Air, home to the “Flying Chefs.” I don’t spend much time in the front of the plane, but along with Easter, I will be away for my birthday, and I thought, Marcia, why not treat yourself? For years, I hoarded miles for my college girls (and occasionally their friends) to get from college to home for the holidays.

I’ve accumulated a lot of miles in the past few years, so I planned my upcoming trip to Italy circuitously to experience Turkish Air. My first flight is from Seattle to Istanbul, and Turkish Air promises to offer the best in-flight, award-winning, five-star meal to be savored between heaven and earth. And a dessert cart — literally, pie in the sky!

I prepared more than my share of meals from the confines of a train galley over the years, so I’m especially intrigued to learn about the challenges for the miles-high galley crew, where and how they provision, prep and present their cuisine. The ingredients are all fresh and specially curated combinations of local and interna-

The Sandpoint Eater Pie in the sky

tional flavors.

Since I’m on a flight longer than eight hours, I’ll be offered the option to dine by candlelight. Why not?

Before continuing on to Naples, I’ll spend a couple of nights in Istanbul, an important port and hub for Mediterranean cruises. I’ve never been there, but I often send clients who come back raving about their experience, and now I’m anxious to visit, too.

I’ve always said sleeping is overrated, and my one-day Istanbul bucket list continues to grow: visit the Blue Mosque and the Dolmabahce Palace, shop at the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, and if I am still standing, a dinner cruise and tour of Asia and Europe along the Bosphorus Strait (Istanbul is the only city that straddles two

continents) before my early morning departure.

Then I’m headed to sunny Sorrento, where I’ll spend three days, including Easter. As a hosted guest at this idyllic seaside destination, I’ll be meeting with local hoteliers and tour planners, so much of my time is not my own. I’m hopeful I can at least attend an Easter Vigil or Mass because old (Catholic) habits die hard. Afterward, I hope to find a plaza bench to watch generations of families embracing their holiday traditions.

My birthday will be split between waking up in Sorrento and calling it a night in Venice. And I’m still pinching myself because, after four days in Venice, I’ll be hosted at a new luxury wellness center in Portopiccolo, located

in a beautiful bay in the Gulf of Trieste. After a week of conspicuous consumption, I’m sure my time there will be well spent.

I know it all sounds a little over the top, and it is. Truth be known, I’m a wash-andwear-type gal, and I fret over formal events. I’m especially apprehensive about the “Venice Black Tie Event” on April 5. I will only settle into the evening comfortably once I’ve had a libation or two, find my seat, and can watch (and critique) the parade of servers begin the elegant meal service with precision and flair.

With my lifelong early-bird rituals, I’ll probably be the first to leave, which means I’m also the first to rise. In Venice, I’ll walk along the quiet canals and listen to the melodic voices of early morn-

Asparagus tart

Serves 6-8

ing mongers preparing their wares for markets.

The Venice event I’m most looking forward to is a private tour through the island’s vegetable gardens — renowned for local delicacies such as the purple artichoke. In anticipation of shopping for some regional foodstuffs (and Prosecco), I’ve already tucked some ice packs and food storage bags into my suitcase.

As much as I’m looking forward to my upcoming Italian adventure, I’m already planning next year’s Easter menu. I’ll be planted firmly in Sandpoint, surrounded by my gaggle of grandkids. You don’t have to wait until next year to sample one of our favorite dishes: spring asparagus tart. Buona Pasqua!

This tart, with fresh spring asparagus and a golden-brown crust, is a perfect dish for your Easter brunch. If you don’t have a tart pan with removable bottom, use a sheet pan, line with parchment paper and roll the edges of the pastry to form a border. Coat the pastry with a thin film of egg white before adding ingredients — it will help the pastry stay crisp.


• 9” x 11” rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.

• 1 pound of asparagus, trim to about 5” tips

• 2 tbs olive oil

• 4 oz cream cheese softened

• 2 tbs butter softened

• 1 tbs fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon before squeezing)

• ½ tsp coarse black pepper

• 1 tsp sea salt flakes

• 1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry thawed (keep chilled)

• ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese (or other good Swiss cheese)

• 1 egg whisked with a splash of water (scoop a little white back into shell — set aside to rub on pasty)

• 2 tbs grated Parmesan

• 2 tsp fresh lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus, and rub to coat well.

Blend the cream cheese, butter and lemon until smooth.

Unfold the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 9” x 11” rectangle. Press into the tart pan. Rub the pastry with egg white. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the puff pastry sheet inside the border, then sprinkle with Gruyère cheese.

Top the cheese with the asparagus spears, arranging them to be parallel, and the stalk ends facing each other. Brush the border/edges with an egg wash.

Dust the top with the Parmesan and lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puff pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Remove from the oven, set on cooling rack, remove rim. Place tart

20 / R / March 21, 2024 FOOD
with bottom of pan still attached, and place on serving tray. Cut in half (where asparagus ends meet), then cut in thin rectangles between asparagus stalks. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Spring into music with Music Conservatory of Sandpoint events

The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint is launching into a string of performing arts events this spring, featuring faculty and students of the conservatory and a lineup ranging from concerts showcasing the piano compositions of Robert Schumann to complimentary student recitals and the premiere of MCS’s opera dinner theater.

Musical Stories.”

All performances will take place at the conservatory’s 70seat Little Carnegie Hall (110 Main St., in Sandpoint), with the exception of the Music Matters! concert at the First Presbyterian Church (417 N. Fourth Ave, in Sandpoint).

The spring schedule begins with two concerts featuring several of Schumann’s piano masterpieces. The first will feature “Davidsbündlertanze” and “Papillons” on Friday, March 22, followed by “Kreisleriana” and “Carnaval” on Saturday, March 23. Both concerts are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be performed by Melody Puller and Matthew Goodrich. Arrive an hour early each night for the pre-concert talk “Schumann’s

Tickets are available online and cost $30 for adults and $15 for students, and can also be purchased at the door on the night of the performance.

A double concert ticket option is available for $50, which includes limited VIP seating. Both nights will feature a no-host wine bar, offering a selection of German wines.

Prior to the Saturday, March 23 evening performance, MCS students, faculty and friends will perform in “Schumanntiade” — an allSchumann afternoon recital festival from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Little Carnegie Hall.

The Music Matters! Handbell and Ensemble Choirs will continue the festivities with a free performance at the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 24 at 4:30

p.m. The concert will spotlight honors program soprano Alanna Dixon and mezzo-soprano Jubilant Duvall performing excerpts from “Stabat Mater.”

The MCS Contemporary Department will then present a weekend Contemporary Music Festival, featuring a concert Friday, April 5 with the Karen Atkins Trio at 7 p.m., followed by a songwriting workshop on Saturday, April 6 at 2 p.m. Both events will take place in Little Carnegie.

Finally, Bel Canto Opera will perform two nights of the dinner opera, Tortellini — Or the Day We Ran Out of Lobster, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14.

Described as “an operatic comedy wrapped in beautiful music,” the whimsical work is inspired by true events, with a script penned and arranged by

MCS Artistic Director Karin Wedemeyer and drawing from a variety of familiar operas.

The culinary accompaniment to the event will be prepared by neighboring bistro 113 Main. Wine will be available for purchase, though reserved tables for parties of three or four include a complimentary bottle of wine.

Early-bird tickets for the opera and dinner will be available for $65 at until Saturday, March 23.

Information on all MCS events and ticket links can be found online at, or email the box office with any questions at

A snapshot of notable live music coming up in Sandpoint

A Taste of Ireland, Panida Theater, March 21

If you’re in the shamrock state of mind, head down to the Panida Theater on Thursday, March 21 for a special show featuring the Irish music and dance sensation, A Taste of Ireland.

This troupe has performed more than 300 shows around the world since 2019, merging cultural traditions with modern flair. The show blends an energetic mix of melodic folk music mash-ups with live aca-

pella tap battles and dances. It’s a unique show that stars dancers from Lord of the Dance and choreography that will leave audiences stunned.

Doors at 7 p.m., music at 7:30 p.m., $42.50-$65. Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191, Learn more at

Justin Harris and the Pocket Aces, Smokesmith Bar-B-Que, March 22

Get ready for one heck of a hoedown, because Justin Harris and Anthony Walters will bring their rockabilly party performance from Kalispell, Mont. to Sandpoint’s Smokesmith Bar-B-Que on Friday, March 22. Harris has perfected a rich, throaty drawl that compliments Walter’s driving beat on the double bass. Their original songs draw from the hallmarks of classic country,

This week’s RLW by Zach Hagadone


We’d never heard of the book Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism — and What Comes Next until two separate mentions in the past week. That’s because author Bradley Onishi apparently quotes extensively from the Reader’s 2017 series on the American Redoubt. We’d check it out from the library, but see there are already two holds and four checkouts on it. Meanwhile, read our series at under “Special Reports.”


rock ’n’ roll and bluegrass, with toe-tapping rhythms perfect for a Friday night. Grab a BBQ “sammich” and settle in for a roaring good time.

6-8 p.m., FREE. Smokesmith Bar-B-Que, 102 S. Boyer Ave., 208920-0517, Listen on the Facebook page “Justin Harris and the Pocket Aces.”

I realize that listening to soundtracks is gauche, and listening to soundtracks by Hans “Gladiator” Zimmer is especially so, but I have to go against my snobbish inclinations and recommend The Art and Soul of Dune — the official soundtrack of Dune from WaterTower Music, on YouTube. It’s simultaneously epic and meditative, and a fitting backdrop for any activity requiring concentration but benefiting from Zimmer’s sweeping oeuvre.


It’s always compelling to watch a state collapse — provided it’s not your own — which is the broad-stroke plot of the darkly satirical six-episode HBO series The Regime, starring Oscar-winner Kate Winslet as the dictatorial chancellor of a fictional tinpot Central European nation. While the former undergoes a psycho-emotional breakdown, the latter teeters on the political precipice. New episodes Sundays.

March 21, 2024 / R / 21
Melody puller, left; and Matthew Goodrich, right. Courtesy photos.



Bonner county was ushered into existence Monday morning at the office of Ignatz Weil, the temporary quarters of the county commissioners until such time as other office arrangements are made.

There was some delay in getting started owing to the fact that County auditor Weil had to go to Rathdrum to take his oath of office before Judge Woods of the district court before the board of commissioners could be sworn in and the chairman of the board in turn swear in the county officials. Mr. Weil returned from Rathdrum on Nov. 6, meeting Judge Woods of Spokane, riding out with him to Rathdrum where they both disembarked from the train, the judge administering the oath to Mr. Weil in the depot and Mr. Weil taking the same train on to Sandpoint.

On arrival here Mr. Weil administered the oath to Messrs. Clark, Roth and Dunn of the board of commissioners. The board then elected Mr. Clark chairman of the board and Mr. Clark then administered the oaths of the new county officials.

Internal combustion therapy

Every spring for the past 20 years or so, around the time when the weather turns warm in earnest, I mark a personal seasonal resurrection: the starting up of my old Kawasaki motorcycle.

It’s been an annual tradition since the mid-2000s, when I purchased the bike using all the tip money I earned bartending during a busy Lost in the ’50s weekend. It remains the best $600 I’ve ever spent.

I felt an immediate affinity toward my 1980 Kawasaki 750 LTD. It might be the fact that it was born the same year as me. Perhaps it’s the simple, utilitarian design, or the power and vibration of 75 horses purring beneath your butt as you speed down a lonely highway.

Whatever the initial draw, my motorcycle is the closest thing I have to a child.

I learned to ride years before, on a Honda dirt bike when I was in sixth grade, but my Kawasaki was the first road bike in my life. In good times and bad, I’ve relied on that machine to put enough wind in my hair that I don’t lose my mind once and for all. Consider it internal combustion therapy.

It was on the back of this bike that I rode off on a January morning bound for Mexico about 15 years ago. It was a mild winter, so the roads were clear of ice and snow, but when you’re moving 65 miles per hour, the winter wind chill is enough to cut right through your bones. I pulled over several times the first few hours just to dig into my gear and pull on more and more of the clothes I packed. By the time I reached the Blue Mountains of Oregon, I was wearing everything in my pack, including two pairs of gloves.

It was so cold at times, I had to hunch over while riding down the road and grab the engine block with one hand at a time just to get some warmth back into my fingers.

After 4,000 miles of wandering and living the best life I knew how, I returned north and, just miles from my destination in Portland, Ore., my drive chain broke and caught in the rear wheel, causing the bike to lock up. I weaved between five lanes of freeway traffic, narrowly avoiding every car until I wrestled the bike to the shoulder and got off with a sigh of relief. I could have wrecked the bike or myself, but instead I just needed a ride to the shop for a new chain.

Each season with my motorcycle brings its own challenges and glories. I used the bike to run errands when I was still a bartender, often bemusing passersby as I whizzed along with three boxes full of liquor bottles strapped to the back of the bike, alongside two CO2 tanks for the beer taps.

“One of these days, we’re going to see a giant explosion from across town when you run into someone with those tanks on your bike,” the liquor store clerk would say every week.

It never ceased to amaze him how much I could strap onto the bike.

Every fall, as the weather turns cold, I reach the time when I have to put a cover over the bike and wheel it into the garage to hibernate for the winter. Then, when spring finally turns the corner and leaves winter behind, it’s time to uncover the Kawasaki, wheel it outside, install the freshly charged battery, put in some new gas and cross my fingers that the engine turns over.

Some years there’s no life at all. The battery might be shot, or the gas

petcock valve was left open and all the remaining drops of fuel had emptied from the tank over winter. Other years, it fires up like it’s been waiting for me. Then, still wearing my greasy coveralls and, now, a smile from ear to ear, I’ll fly down the road and feel the crisp spring air in my hair. The engine roars like a sentient being, angry for being dormant so long, but ecstatic to be out in the world again.

I’ve almost died on a motorcycle several times, but it’s never stopped me from resurrecting it every spring.

It is my most favorite tradition.

I think there is more wisdom in a single drop of rain than there is in all the books in all the libraries of the world. Wait, not rain. Super-concentrated brain juice.

Pend Oreille Review, March 21, 1907
22 / R / March 21, 2024
Crossword Solution Sudoku Solution
The author’s 1980 Kawasaki 750 LTD, on a road trip to Mexico. Photo by Ben Olson.

Solution on page 22

Laughing Matter

tmesis /tuh-MEE-sis/

Word Week of the


1. the introduction of one or more words between the parts of a compound word.

“The TV show’s theme song begins with an example of tmesis, breaking up the word “superhero” to create emphasis: “Super-duper-hero!””

Corrections: We left two clues off the Across section of last week’s crossword puzzle. Whoops. —BO



1. Newspapers

6. Daisylike bloom

11. Adjust again

12. Idiom

15. Erase

16. Traditional tales

17. Air hero

18. Friendly

20. C

21. Teller of untruths

23. Between black and white

24. Glance over

25. Being

26. Charity

27. Did the backstroke?

28. Appear to be

29. “Awesome!”

30. A personal journal

31. Observing

34. Units of land

36. Fish eggs

37. Person’s manner of walking

41. Thorny flower

42. Three-handed card game

43. European volcano

44. Nothing more than

45. Rind

46. Decays

47. Male child

48. Notched

51. Encountered

52. Boosts

Solution on page 22


54. Require

56. Camper van

57. Nibble

58. Inscribed pillar

59. Serious


1. Exact

2. Let go

3. East southeast

4. Bristle

5. Flower stalk

6. Sun-dried bricks

7. Nonsensical

8. Plunder

9. Addition

10. Happen again

13. Smooth

14. Adolescent

15. Valleys

16. Fieldhands

19. Snow house

22. Regret

24. Overconfident gait

26. Cobblers’ tools

27. Transgression

30. Eat sparingly

32. Born, in bios

33. Australian “bear”

34. Area around a nipple

35. Where lines intersect

38. Reduce to a fine spray

39. Whole number

40. Flavor

42. Calm

44. Millisecond

45. Flower feature

48. Rescue

49. Clothing

50. River in Spain

53. Tank

55. Chemist’s workplace

March 21, 2024 / R / 23
on page 22
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