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2 / R / March 30, 2023

The week in random review

hell is tech support

As any graphic designer can attest, it’s a pain in the butt when programs change their operating procedures. One of my many duties at the Reader is to lay out and design the paper, which I’ve streamlined into a fine art over the past eight years. A task that once took me a full minute now takes mere seconds, thanks to keyboard shortcuts and my poor, addled brain filled with algorithms and nonsense. When there are hundreds of these tasks to be completed each week, you can imagine saving time on each task means getting out of the office while the sun is still over the yardarm, which is sailor-speak for, “It’s time for a drink.” After Google Drive updated its program and changed around many of my shortcuts, I spent the better part of an hour chatting with what I think was a human working tech support. It sure made me miss the days when you could just call a number and talk to a real person to figure out your issues. An hour later, I still hadn’t come any closer to the solution, so I ended the chat with my middle finger and moved on about my day. Hell is indeed tech support.

Really intelligent life

What if Earth is like one of those uncontacted tribes in South America? The whole galaxy knows we’re here, but they’ve agreed not to contact us until we figure it out for ourselves.

a deeper hole

While the Grand Canyon gets most of the attention, did you know Hell’s Canyon in central Idaho is actually deeper? Hell’s Canyon is more than 7,900 feet deep, which beats the Grand Canyon’s 6,001-foot depth. Originally called Box Canyon or Snake River Canyon, the term “Hell’s Canyon” was coined in the 1895 edition of McCurdy’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. The name was later popularized by its use in books and publications by Oregon Sen. Richard L.Neuberger, and has been used ever since. Today, Hell’s Canyon contains one of the best whitewater rafting stretches in the Northwest.

A modern mark twain

Adam Sandler was awarded the 2023 Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on March 19, joining past winners such as Jon Stewart, Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Bob Newhart and more.


“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

— George Orwell, from his novel 1984.


This week marks the two-year anniversary of when Reader Editor Zach Hagadone made everyone lose their minds when he wrote an April Fool’s Day article about the lake being drained because of a mysterious sludge coming from tourists’ boats.

We thought it was a clever prank, and Zach pulled it off with his usual aplomb, but after several dozen people called our office with varying levels of alarm in their voices, many exhibiting actual anger when we informed them it was just a goof, we realized there are many in this region who just can’t take a joke. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all so ready to be outraged, or if absurdity and satire has officially died as a result of the post-truth world. Either way, Zach and I both lament the loss of our chance to be absurd just one time a year in this absurd world.

Consequently, we’ve shied away from April Fool’s Day jokes in the Reader unless our edition falls directly on April 1. Then, perhaps we’ll publicize our jokes with large red disclaimers announcing them well in advance, because we wouldn’t want anyone to have any fun, would we?


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

Publisher: Ben Olson

Editorial: Zach Hagadone (Editor)

Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey (News Editor)

Cameron Rasmusson (emeritus) John Reuter (emeritus)

Advertising: Kelsey Kizer

Contributing Artists: Jim Woodward (cover), Ben Olson, Kathleen Huntley, Marty Andrews, Bill Borders, Zoya Lynch, Otto Kitsinger, Jenny Benoit

Contributing Writers: Zach Hagadone, Ben Olson, Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey, Lorraine H. Marie, Brenden Bobby, Emily Erickson, Mark Sauter, Luke Omodt, Ranel Hanson, Clark Corbin, Susan Drumheller

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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 photo was taken by Jim Woodward, who thought we could use a little reminder that the warm weather is on the way.

March 30, 2023 / R / 3

Advisory question on fairgrounds RV park abandoned

BOCC changes course at special meeting, votes to revisit 2014 resolution designating land as a parking area

Bonner County commissioners entered a special meeting Monday, March 27 with two items on the agenda — first, to determine the language for an advisory question on the May ballot regarding the placement of an RV campground on land between the Bonner County Fairgrounds and sheriff’s complex. The second piece of business was to consider simply moving the campground’s proposed home to land already understood as “fairgrounds designated property.”

Ultimately, neither item underwent a vote, as Commissioners Luke Omodt and Steve Bradshaw voted to abandon the advisory ballot question altogether and instead “revisit” a BOCC memorandum of understanding from 2014 that gave the Fair Board exclusive parking rights on the contested property.

Commissioner Asia Williams cast the lone vote in opposition to both measures, maintaining that the board was not taking the wishes of the community, sheriff or Fair Board into consideration.

The issue has been a long-simmering point of contention between the commissioners, Fair Board and Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, starting in 2022 when the BOCC voted to give lateFair Director Darcey Smith permission to apply for and accept a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Rec. to expand RV camping at the fairgrounds.

Wheeler has consistently argued that the land designated for the campground expansion is where he one day hopes to build an all-encompassing Bonner County justice facility. While no concrete plans are in the works for such a project, Wheeler maintains that prior boards have expressed that it is part of their “intentions” for the land.

That conflict picked up steam earlier this month, when Omodt

initiated a board discussion to conduct a boundary line adjustment on the property. After much back and forth over the course of several regular business meetings, Williams and Bradshaw voted to put the issue up to voters in the form of a ballot advisory question.

When it came time March 27 to discuss what, exactly, that question should be, the conversation turned instead to the 2014 MOU, which Omodt said he discovered while doing research in order to draft the advisory ballot language.

The MOU, signed by former BOCC Chairman Cary Kelly on May 27, 2014, designated that the parcel in question — now being debated for use of the RV expansion or future justice facility — be “utilized exclusively by the Bonner County Fair Board for fairground parking lot purposes until further notice.”

Omodt attested that the advisory vote was not needed because “for the last 10 years” the land has been used “as fairgrounds property,” and motioned to adjourn the meeting.

Williams disputed Omodt’s claim, arguing that the parcel remained “county property” even under the MOU. She then referenced an email sent to the commissioners March 23 by Fair Board Vice Chair Jody Russell alleging that the Fair Board’s original intentions were to expand the RV park on the north section of the fairgrounds — far from the sheriff’s complex — and that she was “not sure when the campground site proposal moved to the south end of the fairgrounds …”

Williams motioned to allow the Fair Board to make its own decision on the RV park’s location — ostensibly choosing a location different than what was depicted on the 2022 grant application — and to keep the current MOU in place, allowing for fair-related parking on the

contested parcel. Her motion died without a second.

According to an agenda posted to the Bonner County Fairgrounds Facebook page March 28, the Fair Board will host a discussion/ decision regarding its “desired location for the proposed campground expansion at the Bonner County Fairgrounds and the drafting of a letter to the Bonner County Board of Commissioners reflecting that position” on the evening of March 29. That meeting occurred after the Reader’s press time.

The BOCC’s March 27 special meeting saw mostly debate between Omodt and Williams, with each alleging misrepresentations of the facts by the other.

“Why is this board so intent on making this a campground when … the Fair Board doesn’t want it, the sheriff doesn’t want it [and] the community cannot afford this decision?” Williams asked.

“We can have conjecture, we can have allegation, we can have misrepresentation, or we can go with the legal documents that have been presented and recorded by both bodies,” Omodt later said. Omodt then reasserted his motion to adjourn the meeting, which Bradshaw seconded, sending the meeting into a frenzy of shouting as members of the public requested to comment with the support of Williams.

Resident Monica Gunter, once allowed to take to the microphone, shared that she worried the $473,000 in IDPR grant funds would end up wasted should the campground be built and later torn down to make way for a new justice complex.

“It is not in the best interest of us,” she said, accusing Omodt and Bradshaw of “playing God” and only pushing for the camp-

ground’s southern location to spite Wheeler.

“People want this campground 100%. We’re not saying don’t put in a campground. We’re saying move it over so we never have to plow the thing under,” Gunter added.

Once the board again took up the motion to adjourn, Omodt voted in favor while Williams called it “cowardice to not make a decision” before voting “no.” Bradshaw then also cast a “no” vote, offering his own motion: to “revisit” the parking MOU from

2014 — following the suggestion of Clerk Mike Rosedale, who said it might still be binding and therefore make the land unavailable for other uses — and to abandon the advisory vote.

Asked by Williams for clarification, Bradshaw responded:

“I never said anything about changing the MOU, revising the MOU, throwing the MOU away, ignoring the MOU, or any of the other bullshit y’all wanna throw in there and misrepresent, but we are going to revisit it and look at it and we will make a decision on it at that point in time.”

No date was set for that MOU discussion, though Bradshaw indicated it should happen “as soon as possible.”

Lakes Commission meeting scheduled for April 6

Water rights, dam operations, city wastewater treatment all topics on broad agenda

The Lakes Commission, a state-sanctioned advisory board advocating for water issues in North Idaho, will host a meeting Thursday, April 6 at the Sandpoint Organic Agricultural Center (10881 N. Boyer Ave.) to hear updates from several agencies involved in operations and projects impacting local waterways.

The meeting is slated to begin at 11 a.m. with the approval of the commission’s October minutes and general board housekeeping items. An update from the Idaho Department of Water Resources regarding Clark Fork/Pend Oreille Water Rights Adjudication will follow, as well as a presentation from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials about current Albeni Falls Dam operations and ongoing local hydrology projects.

Next, Joe Gibbs, of the Dover

Historical Committee, will make a presentation before a 10-minute break around 12:40 a.m.

Following the break, the commission and the attending public will hear from the city of Sandpoint regarding its wastewater treatment plant, then officials from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will share the agency’s public outreach efforts surrounding Lake Pend Oreille’s fishery.

There will be time for public comment, questions and announcements near the end of the meeting, which is set to wrap up around 2 p.m.

For those unable to attend in person, a Zoom link is accessible at lakescommission.wordpress. com/april-6th-2023.

Those with questions can reach Lakes Commission Executive Director Molly McCahon at 208265-4568 or lakescommission@

NEWS 4 / R / March 30, 2023

Fight over North Idaho College is costing students and employers NIC losing accreditation would have massive impacts on the local economy

North Idaho College remains locked in an epic match between advocates for higher education and three college trustees whose decisions have put the college’s accreditation at risk.

The politicization of the North Idaho College (NIC) Board of Trustees threatens to disrupt more than just the campus community. Local students would lose an affordable and accessible education if the college loses its accreditation and the region would lose a linchpin of the local economy, impacting key sectors like healthcare and construction.

Despite a recent court victory for college President Nick Swayne, who trustees placed on administrative leave without cause in early December, the turmoil is far from over. The court order returned Swayne to work March 6, but not before the college was given a final warning by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) to demonstrate that they have met the accreditation standards and eligibility requirements. A loss of accreditation would have catastrophic consequences for the college.

“Losing accreditation is so much bigger than my credits. It affects the entire future of the community of Coeur d’Alene,” said Damian Maxwell, president of the Associated Students of NIC (ASNIC). “It’s a college for everyone and we’re losing it over political theater.”

Swayne’s reinstatement has created optimism that an experienced president can navigate a potentially treacherous process, but NIC staff, supporters and local business leaders worry the trustees may sabotage Swayne’s efforts to keep the college afloat.

Political education

With so much to lose from the conflict over school leadership, local business leaders are puzzled by the moves the board has made.

“What’s the end game for these trustees?” said Katie Brodie, chair of the Kootenai Health Board of Directors, referring to trustees Greg McKenzie, Todd Banducci and

Mike Waggoner. “I don’t see where they are helping the community. If history is repeating itself, it’s going to be a tough struggle for [Swayne].”

NIC is on its fifth president in fewer than two years, and the escalating conflict has been the subject of national attention since March 2021.

Swayne was hired last summer following a rigorous process that involved interviews with students, faculty and staff. He was the third president for the college in less than a year, and tackled problems that arose after the board fired a previous president and elevated a wrestling coach to run the college on an interim basis.

The makeup of the five-person board of trustees shifted again after elections last fall, when Waggoner, Banducci and McKenzie — all endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee — won. During the campaign, Waggoner called the risk of losing accreditation “fake news.” Banducci has complained about a “deep state” of entrenched liberals at NIC.

Shortly after the election, the college was thrust back into turmoil when the trustees placed Swayne on administrative leave and hired a fourth president, Greg South. Swayne filed for an injunction to get his job back and prevailed.

In contrast to Waggoner’s comments, the possible loss of accreditation has been a persistent fear among community members and NIC advocates since 2021.

That fear was realized Feb. 9, two months after Swayne’s ouster, when NIC received a letter to show cause why the college should keep its accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). It was the commission’s final warning. NIC has until March 31 to respond.

NIC is now paying two presidents (South is on leave following Swayne’s reinstatement but still on payroll) and defending itself against three lawsuits. The college lost its state-subsidized insurance and Moody’s Investment Services recently downgraded its bond rating. Enrollment is dropping (by more than 9% in the last year), faculty and staff are leaving, and all of the upheaval is creating a

downward fiscal spiral that Swayne must reverse.

Bigger than credits

If NWCCU withdraws accreditation, NIC students will no longer qualify for federal financial aid, student enrollment will drop and entire programs may be lost.

NIC has no admission requirements, and is the cheapest post-secondary education option for North Idaho students — 75% of whom rely on financial aid — making it an important platform for people to access career training and find better-paying jobs. For the same reason, employers say it’s a vital node in Kootenai County’s workforce development. Current students will not lose their credits if accreditation is stripped, but future students would, and the cost of a NIC education would increase.

In granting the injunction reinstating Swayne, District Judge Cynthia Meyer wrote: “… the Board’s majority has wrongfully locked its captain in the brig while steering NIC toward an iceberg.”

Faculty and local business leaders say that iceberg won’t just sink NIC, but also the economy of the greater Coeur d’Alene area, while reducing opportunities for area residents.

“Everything in this community will be affected by the loss of NIC,” said Brodie, a stalwart Republican who served as Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s North Idaho representative. “I went to NIC. I love NIC. I keep hearing, ‘Oh these liberal teachers, they are teaching such extreme things.’ Oh, baloney!”

According to an analysis by labor market consultant Lightcast (EMSI) for the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation (also known as Jobs Plus), the college contributes between $58 million and $60 million in earnings annually between the NIC workforce and jobs generated in the community because of the college. The study estimated a loss of 1,291 jobs if NIC closes its doors.

Trustees McKenzie, Banducci and Waggoner did not respond to requests for comment.

The college serves both traditional and non-traditional students. People looking to become mechan-

ics, forklift operators, chefs, electricians, pharmacists and more turn to NIC for two-year degrees and professional and other certifications.

“Business leaders of all political stripes are at risk of their talent pool being taken away,” said Mike Kennedy, chairman of Jobs Plus.

Kootenai Health is one of the area’s largest health care employers, and they tell RANGE there are currently 500 open positions that require specialized training and certifications. In the health sector, NIC trains people in everything from nursing to medical billing.

Nationally and locally, there is a shortage of nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and other clinical staff, according to Kim Anderson, Kootenai Health spokeswoman.

“Without the clinical and non-clinical pipelines of workers provided by NIC, Kootenai Health would struggle to onboard and retain the quality and volume of employees needed to provide care to our community,” she said.

Angel Beier, a 21-year-old nursing student, got a leg up through NIC’s dual enrollment program. The Kellogg High School graduate spent her senior year attending classes at NIC, and later saved more money living at home while attending college. She expects to be working as a nurse by 2024.

“The nursing program is a staple of NIC,” said Beier, who also serves as ASNIC vice president. She’s worried for the future of the college and her instructors, who have started voicing concerns in recent months. “This whole issue is really serious.”

Many faculty and staff have left due to the stress, uncertainty and lack of administrative support. One is Brian Seguin, who is leaving to work at the Gonzaga Law School library.

Born in Priest River, Seguin was a first-generation NIC student. He speaks glowingly of his experience both as student and employee — until 2020 when the administrative problems began.

“It’s been two years of not being able to have a stable environment to build that culture and climate that allows students to thrive and sets us apart from other community colleges,” Seguin said. “It’s hurtful to us as employees that we are be-

ing painted and demonized as doing something nefarious.”

Optimism and uncertainty

The return of Swayne to the helm has sparked renewed optimism.

“The change in the air is palpable at NIC,” said Keri Simonet, senior administrative assistant of operations at NIC’s Workforce Training Center. “People are laughing again, and you can see hope in people’s faces and voices.”

Swayne and NIC have a cheering section that dominates contentious board meetings and spans the state. State legislators are trying to pass a bill to give the Idaho State Board of Education temporary authority over any college or university that is threatened by loss of accreditation.

NIC advocates say the increased news coverage of the problems scares away students but also raises awareness needed to turnout pro-NIC votes in the 2024 elections, which are guaranteed to be hard-fought.

“The tide of opinion is turning, but the larger issue is the demographics of Idaho and the political influence of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee,” said NIC English Professor John Trombold, who heads the college Diversity Council, one of several entities to recently call on trustees to denounce harassment of students who have spoken out about the controversy.

He worries that the New Deal roots of the college — sprouting a social pact welcoming all comers — are being undermined.

“Now that we are no longer seen as working in service of the community as a whole, but rather as some global government conspiracy, then something very valuable has been lost,” he said.

Susan Drumheller is a freelance journalist based out of North Idaho. She was a longtime reporter and editor at The Spokesman-Review and contributes regularly to the Sandpoint Reader. RANGE is a reader-supported publication based in Spokane. Help it grow by becoming a paid subscriber. This article originally appeared March 15 on Visit the website for more information.

NEWS March 30, 2023 / R / 5

City gets rolling on Division Ave. Phase 1 improvement project

The city of Sandpoint is moving forward with a project to improve the heavily traveled stretch of Division Avenue from Superior Street to the intersection with U.S. Highway 2. City officials hosted a community open house on the project March 29, and provided an online info sheet that stated Phase 1 of the improvements are expected to start construction this summer.

According to City Hall, the work is informed by a road safety audit conducted in 2020 and the project included in the Multimodal Transportation Master Plan, which the City Council approved in the spring of 2021. In December 2021, the council authorized city staff to seek grant funding under the Children Pedestrian Safety Program of the Local Highway Technical Assistance Fund, as well as apply general fund dollars already budgeted for sidewalk improvements.

The need is great, according to the road safety audit, which found that particular stretch of roadway — which runs immediately past Sandpoint Middle and High schools — is one of the busiest transportation routes in Sandpoint.

More than 2,000 students attend schools on Division Avenue — which also includes Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School farther to the north — with 6,600 annual average daily vehicle trips, as well as serving as a truck route.

The 2020 report also showed that there were more than 30 crashes between 2015 and 2019 on the portion of Division from Michigan to Spruce streets, including 26 crashes affecting property only, three minor injury crashes and four serious injury crashes. The percentage of crashes involving serious injury made up 12% of the total, which is three times higher than the statewide average. The percentage of property-only crashes ran to 79% of the total, compared to 63% statewide. By far the highest density for collisions occurred

at the intersection of Division Avenue and Pine Street.

Meanwhile, the report found, the east side of Division between Superior and U.S. 2 is inadequate for pedestrian and cyclist safety — especially when it comes to sidewalks and bike lanes.

The first phase of the Division Avenue Corridor Improvement Project includes narrowing the north- and southbound lanes on Division and moving them to the west. That measure — referred to “a lateral shift” — is intended to slow and therefore calm traffic flow.

The other portion of Phase 1 is to reconstruct the east side of Division to widen the frontage, including new sidewalk, a planter strip acting as a buffer between travel lanes and sidewalk, new curb and gutter, and driveway approaches.

The new east-side Division sidewalk will measure six feet wide, and the planter strip is intended to incorporate green space, as well as provide for snow storage.

According to a presentation at the Dec. 15, 2021 City Council meeting, when staff was given the greenlight to pursue grant funding, overall reconstruction and improvements on Division Avenue represent a much larger project, with adequate pedestrian and cyclist safety features throughout the corridor running to an estimated $10 million in potential costs. Phase 1 is intended to be a measure that would provide the most immediate benefits for its relatively smaller scope.

City officials anticipate the full Division Avenue project — including work throughout the whole corridor — to be fully completed within the next 10 to 20 years. Meanwhile, Phase 1 is in the preliminary design phase and will likely be bid in May, in time for construction to take place after schools close for the summer.

For more information, contact City Construction Manager Holly Ellis at or 208946-2087. Project updates will be at as they become available.

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:

Arkansas Republicans proposed removing the age verification process for children entering the workforce, which Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law. Under the state’s new Youth Hiring Act, there is no requirement for those under the age of 16 to obtain an employment certificate. Removal of parental consent for a child to work is part of the new law. Arkansas companies have paid $1.5 million in recent fines from the Department of Justice for employing minors, who may work with dangerous equipment and chemicals. reported that previously undisclosed genetic data from a Wuhan, China market indicates a coronavirus-infected animal started the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans confirmed that cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits are not “off the table,” Social Security Works stated. One tactic promoted is delaying the age for Social Security eligibility to 70 years of age. SSW reported that every year the retirement age goes up is equivalent to a 7% cut in benefits. For example, going from retiring at 68 to the proposed 70, by some Republicans, means a 21% benefit cut. If passed, the Social Security Expansion Act would avoid the higher retirement age scenario by eliminating high earners’ cap for paying into the program, and would expand benefits and strengthen the program’s long-term viability.

In recent reporting on drastic weather events, The New York Times pointed out that such extremes are likely to continue, since warmer air holds more water. Deadly storms last week hit the U.S. South, killing at least 26 and leaving a wake of destruction. According to CNN, Rolling Forks, Miss. — where winds hit 170 miles per hour, was described as looking “like a landfill.”

Former-President Donald Trump complained that Manhattan’s district attorney should focus on killings in Manhattan, and not allegations that he violated campaign finance law. Meanwhile, Trump’s claim that murder is at record levels in New York City is false, Popular Information reported. Rather, there’s been a 19% decrease as compared to a year ago Manhattan has been named one of the safest places to live in the U.S.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recently indicated disagreement with the faction of U.S. Republican lawmakers who support Russian President Vladimir Putin. Quoted in The Washington Post, he said at the Atlantic Council that, “Some bad ideas are starting to infect the thinking … about what Putin stands for. He stands for aggression, systemic murder, rape and destruction.”

A new Public Citizen report examines private equity’s influence on the spectrum of U.S. health care. Findings included lapses in safety, price-gouging schemes and prices rising faster than at non-private equity entities. Other findings: residents of private-equity owned nursing care facilities were 10% more likely to die, and at private equity-owned obstetrics emergency departments, they are classifying normal births as “emergencies,” enabling them to charge additional fees.

An AP poll found 10% of U.S. respondents have a “great deal” of confidence in banking and financial institutions, and 30% have “hardly any” confidence. There was also bipartisan agreement that government regulation of financial institutions has been “inadequate.”

Almost three full months into 2023, the U.S. had its 129th mass shooting, which took place at a Christian school in Tennessee, various media reported. A 28-year-old female former student, with a pistol and two assault weapons, entered a side door. She shot three 9-year-olds and three adults, then was killed by police.

Blast from the past: Originally designed in the 1950s for soldiers, an internal Pentagon report said the AR-15 had “phenomenal lethality.” For non-soldiers, the AR-15 was at one time regarded as ill-suited for hunting, and excessive for home defense. But the end of the Assault Weapons Ban and post-9/11 militaristic sentiments merged: one in 20 U.S. adults now own the weapon.

From 1981 to 1994 mass shootings averaged 7.2 deaths per year. During the ban it fell to 5.3 annually. After the ban expired, there was a steep rise in mass shooting deaths. Researchers say the risk of dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the ban, as compared to today.

The NRA’s School Shield Program, intended to help “protect our children,” spent $13,900 on the program in 2021 — 0.007% of that year’s NRA revenue of $282 million.

6 / R / March 30, 2023

Idaho House overrides Gov. Little’s veto of property tax bill

Vetoed bill heads next to the Idaho Senate as late session property tax showdown looms

The Idaho House of Representatives voted March 28 to override Gov. Brad Little’s veto of a property tax bill, setting up a late-session showdown between the two chambers of the Idaho Legislature and Little.

During its morning floor session, the Idaho House also voted to reject the Senate’s new property tax counterproposal, which killed the Senate’s attempt to answer Little’s veto.

It all started on March 27, when Little vetoed House Bill 292 after saying he opposed a section of the bill that removed the March election date that school districts use for bond and levy elections. Little also said House Bill 292 jeopardized transportation funding.

On the afternoon of March 28, the Idaho House responded by voting 58-12 to override Little’s veto, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to successfully override a gubernatorial veto.

“This was good legislation when we started, when we had overwhelming support,” Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, told legislators as they prepared to vote to override the veto. “It’s still good legislation today. I would hope that you could support me in helping to override so we can get this particular legislation passed and tax relief to the people.”

Next up, House Bill 292 heads back to the Idaho Senate for a possible override. It would take two-thirds of the senators present to override the veto. If all 35 senators are present for a floor vote, it would take 24 votes to override Little’s veto. The Senate originally voted 32-3 to pass House Bill 292 on March 20.

If the Senate votes to override the bill, it will become law.

Idaho House pushes to keep vetoed property tax bill alive

Throughout the day March 28, Republicans in the Idaho House made it clear that they hadn’t given up on House Bill 292.

“I urge us to have unity as a body and to stand up for what we passed before and

to follow through on the mandate that we received from our constituents and the people of Idaho,” Rep. David Cannon, R-Blackfoot, said on the House floor.

The House also introduced and passed a new bill, House Bill 376, that was described as a “trailer bill” to House Bill 292.The new bill was designed to address Little’s concerns over transportation bonding and funding by specifying a set amount of funding is continuously appropriated for the Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation fund.

The new trailer bill also is intended to address Little’s concerns about shifting the priorities for sales tax revenues. The bill does not address Little’s concern about removing the March election date for school districts. House Bill 376 is called a trailer bill because it follows behind House Bill 292.

Earlier on March 28, the House voted to reject a new property tax bill that the Idaho Senate had put forward the day before: House Bill 198a. The House voted 59-11 to reject the Senate amendments to House Bill 198a. On March 27, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, took House Bill 198 and replaced it with a totally different bill that he referred to as a “clean” property tax bill that Little had vetoed.

With the House rejecting the Senate amendments to the property tax bill, House Bill 198a is now dead for the session.

A moment before the vote, Cannon stood on the House floor and made it clear

how House Republicans felt about the Senate gutting House Bill 198a. Cannon referred to the Senate’s changes as “hostile amendments” and called the move an attempt to sidestep the Idaho Constitution.

“We are the House of Representatives,” Cannon said. “We have a voice. We are not here to be subservient to the body across the rotunda and we are not here to be subservient to [Little].”

March 28 was the 79th day of the 2023 legislative session, which Republican leaders had originally hoped to wrap up March 24. However, the public school budgets and Medicaid budget have yet to pass both chambers of the Legislature. Lawmakers cannot adjourn for the year until they set a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

The property tax showdown represents a new obstacle to adjourning. Property tax

reductions were one of the top priorities Idahoans identified in a recent Boise State University public policy survey. Little called for property tax reductions in his Jan. 9 State of the State address and reiterated his support for property tax reductions in a letter written to legislators March 27 to accompany his veto.

This story was produced by Boise-based nonprofit news outlet the Idaho Capital Sun, which is part of the States Newsroom nationwide reporting project. For more information, visit

March 30, 2023 / R / 7 NEWS
Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives his State of the State speech in the House chambers of the Idaho Capitol building on Jan. 9. Photo by Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun.


•When you take out the trash, do you ever think about how incredibly convenient it is to have such a messy problem taken care of so easily? There have been strikes in France the past three weeks over pension reforms by the French government. Along with thousands of other essential workers, sanitation employees have been on strike the entire time, leaving a literal wall of trash lining French city streets. The stench must be overwhelming. I was thinking about these essential workers the other day at the curb, thankful that we have people who pick up our trash every week and whisk it away so we never have to think about it again. I’m thankful for these hard-working sanitation workers in our community. You can help make their jobs easier by not overloading trash cans, placing your refuse in sturdy bags instead of loose in the can and positioning your cans on the curb instead of having them scattered around.


• I was hopeful when the Bonner County Board of Commissioners welcomed two new faces to replace outgoing Commissioners Dan McDonald and Jeff Connolly. Unfortunately, after watching their weekly meetings devolve into shouting matches, most of my hope for an orderly county government has been dashed. Commissioner Steve Bradshaw receives the extra Barb this week for his increasingly profane and cantankerous rhetoric toward the public. My advice to the commissioners? Stop with the shouting and nonsense and do the work. Nobody is interested in watching a weekly carnival.

•Finally, a Barb for tiny yapper dogs. Why? Because they’re annoying and never shut up. As Ron Swanson once said, “Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat and cats are pointless.”

Dear editor,

Thank you for the excellent coverage of the Bonner General Health shutdown of its maternity ward and OB-GYN services in your March 23 edition [News, “Area hospitals pledge support as Bonner General announces end to maternity services,” March 23, 2023].

I have been a resident of Sandpoint for 36 years; I was born and raised in the Northwest and spent summers on Lake Pend Oreille. I was a patient of Dr. Margaret Bowden of Women’s Health until her retirement, and had on several occasions been admitted to BGH. The closure of the maternity ward and the obvious demise of women’s health is tragic — not only to women living in Sandpoint, but to the community as a whole.

As “Lumberjill” pointed out [Perspectives, “The Lumberjill: BGH and other casualties of Idaho’s abortion ban,” March 23, 2023], it will be an ongoing house of cards with doctors and nurses fleeing, and I predict hospitals closing. Who would want to move here to work in the medical field? That Gov. Little and the Idaho Supreme Court signed and upheld a poorly written and ambiguous anti-abortion law that restricts doctors from practicing their medical specialty is a travesty of common sense.

Not only are doctors and young people fearing the strict abortions laws leaving, I have friends that are seriously planning to leave. Young and old alike have had it — the shutting of the maternity ward at BGH and exit of OB doctors is the tipping point.

Other factors are too-high property taxes with no relief in sight, neglected public education and the radical political climate.

I was about at my tipping point when extremist and misogynistic lawmakers like Scott Herndon — who simply want to expand their own extremist and often unconstitutional interests and control women — were elected to the state Legislature and other state offices.

At this point I’m nearly over the edge.

Beth F. Allen Sandpoint

Dear editor,

After watching the March 21, 2023 Bonner County commissioners’ board meeting, in which Commissioner Steve Bradshaw was belligerent to both a citizen and Sheriff Wheeler, I was appalled at his display of arrogance, lack of respect, and attempt to bully both the citizen and Sheriff.

Commissioners earn $84,000 per year, paid by our tax dollars, yet Bradshaw does not seem to realize who pays his salary. Additionally, a sheriff who is upholding our First Amendment rights and protecting our citizens and their property should receive the utmost respect from Commissioner Bradshaw, all the county employees and citizens.

Dear editor,

Time for term limits for Congress. Limit Congress to two terms: one term in office, one term in jail.

Dear editor, Fentanyl is here. It is real. Think it won’t affect you? I didn’t, then it did. It killed my brother. It will affect you in some way.

Fentanyl is not Democratic or Republican. It does not discriminate.

We all must stop this indiscriminate killer. Put an end to this scourge before it puts an end to you, your brother, your sister, your cousin, your son, your daughter, your neighbor, your friend.

8 / R / March 30, 2023
‘Tipping point’…
Fentanyl is a real threat…
‘Time for term limits’...
Send letters to the editor to Please keep under 300 words.

Emily Articulated

Reasons to stay

For the past few months, I’ve held a question in my mind — not in the fleeting and up-front way I ponder what I want for lunch, or in the ruminating way I wonder about another person’s thoughts on a topic I care about. This question is one that’s quietly stayed with me, retreating into shadow every time I try to look closer at it, as if we’re both afraid of what we’d find in a head-on confrontation.

It’s the question of what my actual breaking point is — of what specific circumstances would tip me into longer being able to live in North Idaho — no longer relating to the place enough to call it “home.”

This question pokes its head out with each headline describing our Legislature growing more extremist by the bill, with each young person packing up and shipping out to a new community in another state, and with each of my own growing concerns about the kind of future I could realistically have here.

But, still larger and more looming than that question, is the fight that hasn’t drained out of me yet, nor the stubborn attachment I have to the first place in which I was inspired enough to put down roots. And sometimes, the act of writing and reflecting is also the process of rediscovering what I know. So, I’m sitting here, fingers hovering over my keyboard, determined to remind myself of all the reasons I know to stay.

There’s the obvious and omnipresent natural beauty. I spent time at Green Bay this week, and had the same breath-stealing moment I always do when looking out over the lake and onto the Monarchs; their impressive slopes seemingly pulled up from the water and held there by the sky. The clouds above them were tinted pink and gold, a painter’s brush slipping into a pastel palette before each white and gray stroke.

There was comfort in the familiarity of spring always seeming to bloom there first, its little patches of green emerging just to remind us that rebirth is possible, and that growth can be both small and resilient.

I stood on the beach, trying to view the rocks through the same eyes with which I first saw them — my gaze rapt in wonder at how even stones, with their smooth, rounded edges and kaleidoscope of colors, were more beautiful here.

Then there are the friends-turned-family, whose time I share in the makeup of my day-to-day life. They’re the people I call on to share the simple, mundane pleasures

of taking a walk, making a meal or grabbing a coffee, and also the ones on whom I rely for helping process my big decisions, for celebrating the things of which I’m proud and for grieving the things I’ve lost. Also nearby is the family-turned-family, with both sets of my partners’ parents’ homes in close proximity to ours, with all the stability and comfort of “home” through each of their open doors.

There’s also the little house and the piece of land my partner and I get to call “ours.” Nestled into a grove of cedars, it’s the physical space he and I are crafting together, one weekend wood-working project at a time. It’s our playground for learning what our shared taste is; deciding which mix of his and mine feels perfectly and uniquely ours.

Welcome and belonging radiates in the glow of our lamp lights through the windows at night, in the tendrils of smoke gently swirling out the chimney on a crisp winter morning and in the tail-wagging greeting of our pets at the fence when we get home from work.

Then, there are the social hubs — the third places that personify the heartbeat of the Sandpoint I love — curating community and gathering with each pulled up chair, bar stool and couch cushion. These establishments are like literal life rafts; places to go when I need to remember there are others who think and feel the same way I do, if only I position myself in the places they regularly engage.

There’s alignment in the

feeling of artwork on the walls, in music on a stage and in snatches of conversations about the things I also hold dear.

Finally, there is the hope that this is just a moment in time, a charged few years in which our pendulum of change has swung too far in the direction of extremism, and will, inevitably, correct itself. There’s reason to stick with the belief in reason; that people will return to common sense so we can reestablish our common ground.

In my reflection is also a hope for others, for the community members grappling with their own versions of my question, and that they, like me, are reminded of the many reasons we still have to stay.

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


March 30, 2023 / R / 9 PERSPECTIVES
Emily Erickson.

Science: Mad about

cities: skylines

Everyone is talking about “the Couplet” right now — you thought you could escape it in “Mad About Science,” but alas, it has invaded your favorite science blurb, as well.

But, while everyone seems to have an opinion on the project, how do you test a traffic revision without revising traffic first? While I may not have a perfect solution, I can present something that comes close: Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines is a city-building simulation packaged as a video game that was first released in 2015. If you played the SimCity franchise in the 1990s and early-2000s, Cities: Skylines is essentially an upgraded version of that principle.

The project began as a traffic simulation tool designed to show people how traffic evolves and issues arise from poor civic management and planning. Traffic jams, higher rates of accidents and increased vehicle emissions were all accounted for in the project, which led to the natural progression of managing the other issues that surround increased traffic: water management, pollution, emergency services, crime, education and crisis management. Creating a full-blown city management simulator was the next logical step, so the developers did it.

If you were to boot up Cities: Skylines on your computer right now with no prior knowledge of video games or civic management, I guarantee that you’d be able to create a functional small town with a moderate demand for housing; a stable source of industrial and commercial jobs; a school, firehouse and police station; and maybe even a park — all in the course of about 35 minutes.

The system’s tutorials are easy enough to understand and follow that absolute beginners can take

their first steps toward understanding how a city works, yet the system itself is deep enough to let you scale to near limitless size. It naturally progresses to unlock higher and higher resources and a wider breadth of services as your population grows, giving you breathing room to learn the basics a chunk at a time.

The entire structure of the simulation sits on the foundation of roads. Before you build anything else in your simulation, you will build a road connecting to a major highway. This road can be straight or it can be curved. Placing the road will create a grid pattern next to them that designates where you can zone for buildings. You can zone residential, commercial and industrial zones, and then people will buy up this property and build matching structures in your zones. These zones all have a demand for water and power, so you will have to build a water intake, a sewer output and windmills or a coal-powered power plant and connect your city to the grid.

Pro tip: Build your intake upstream of your sewage disposal, or your city will suffer from horrible intestinal woes — just like real life.

Spend any amount of time in Cities: Skylines and you will soon learn that perfect grids of roads are not a one-size-fits-all solution to traffic. As your city expands, you’ll begin to see choke points as you track traffic congestion in real time. If a residential neighborhood only has one way in and out, that intersection is going to be backed up for hours, trash will accumulate, pollution will rise, property values will fall and your ability to build new roads with tax dollars will rapidly disappear.

Making larger roads and adding more access points also isn’t a universal fix. Adding a four-lane roadway to a residential neighborhood will increase the number of vehicles traveling through the neigh-

borhood, increasing noise pollution and reducing property values that eventually translates to higher crime rates, more maintenance costs and more pollution to deal with.

Adding interstate highways presents a unique challenge to the aspiring city builder in the simulation, as well. You cannot zone areas adjacent to a highway as you can with a regular road. This means that you can’t simply pile up industrial and commercial zones around your interstate to solve your traffic problems, but instead need to figure out how to make adequate freeway entrances and exits to relieve traffic congestion. The program is advanced enough to allow you to create roundabouts and traffic clovers, which are some of the best — but most expensive — solutions for managing traffic in your city.

Cities: Skylines is a perpetual balancing act that scales as you grow. Everything about the simulation is customizable and can carry long-term consequences if not managed properly.

One of my personal favorite projects in the simulation is to create a hydroelectric dam. In many games, this is as simple as placing a dam where you want it and getting free power. Due to realistic water physics in Cities: Skylines, you will have to build your dam in a location where water is not only flowing, but able to gather behind the dam so that it can fall for a greater distance and generate more power on the opposing side. As you are damming a river, you also want to make sure that there isn’t another portion at a higher elevation that may cause seepage and flooding into your city, or your multimillion-dollar power solution just escalated into a massive disaster.

What would happen if an earthquake were to destroy your dam? Would your city be imperiled? These are things that real civic engineers need to take into


You may be wondering how some silly game can translate into understanding how a project like the Couplet may or may not work.

The PC version of Cities: Skylines has access to the Steam Workshop, a user-generated collection of maps and tools, which just so happens to have a map of Sandpoint. You’ll have to build the streets yourself, but do you think you can create a better city than the one we already have? What happens if you slam a five-lane highway through the heart of town? What might this do to congestion, and how might adding more public

transportation alter the flow of traffic? Of course, you can also just build a load of luxury condos and spawn a meteor to hit them — I’m not judging your aspirations.

Cities: Skylines can be found on Steam for PC, Linux and Mac for a base price of $29.99, though it frequently goes on sale. It’s also available for almost every gaming console, albeit as a digital download. If you have a Nintendo Switch, feel free to put in a request for it at the library to test out some of the concepts and see if you can design better civic infrastructure than what we already have.

Stay curious, 7B.

•The first modern traffic roundabout appeared in the 1960s in the United Kingdom. The first U.S. roundabout didn’t show up until 1990, in Nevada.

•With more than 100 roundabouts, Carmel, Ind., takes the national title as roundabout capital of the U.S.

•Roundabouts are not designed to reduce the number of car crashes overall; but, rather, to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities by preventing serious crashes such as T-bone accidents and head-on collisions. Numerous studies show they are quite effective at accomplishing this goal.

•Half of the world’s roundabouts are in France, which has an estimated 30,000 of them. The U.S. is catching up slowly, with around 7,000.

•One study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety showed that although most people oppose

roundabouts before they are built, opinions shift in favor of them after they are built, and most people end up being in favor of building more.

•Roundabouts are also known as being environmentally friendly. By allowing traffic to move steadily instead of stopping, fuel use and exhaust are reduced by an estimated 30%.

•Roundabouts do not actually need to be round. Some are peanut-shaped, others look like teardrops and some even resemble a dog bone. Most roundabouts have single lanes, but others feature up to six.

•Proponents for roundabouts argue that while they might take up a bit more space, they don’t require any electricity, require fewer lanes approaching the intersection and can accommodate a higher traffic volume than traffic lights.

10 / R / March 30, 2023
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A screenshot from Cities: Skylines. Courtesy image.

Greetings from Boise

March 24 is in the rear-view mirror. However, there is much to wrap up before we finish here in Boise. There are many bills to finalize and more than a few won’t be voted on.

The property tax bill (House Bill 292) I wrote about last week was vetoed by Gov. Brad Little on March 27. He explained he had issues with a few bill flaws and couldn’t live with it [editor’s note: see more on Page 7]. The governor’s veto set off a chain-reaction of responses.

Senators took it upon themselves to rewrite the tax bill and sent their version to the House. The House drew up a trailer bill to address the flaws the governor pointed out, and sent it to the Senate.

I still believe we will get somewhere with tax reform this session, but it’s going to take some more work this week — and maybe next week.

In other news, I joined several representatives earlier this week to meet with a pro-life advocate. We are trying to draft a better (and

more comprehensive) bill than those that were introduced and stalled out recently. Frustration is building. Many of us don’t want to end the session without some improvements to our abortion statutes. The Senate is rumored to have a new bill to introduce, as well.

North Idaho College remains another issue that needs attention. Many say the college is a gem of North Idaho, producing thousands of graduates, preparing many for good jobs and serving the community well. The problem is the NIC board governance system is not meeting accreditation standards.

NIC has been warned for months about this. Losing accreditation

would jeopardize federal funding and tuition loans. College staff members have left, multiple lawsuits have been filed and court rulings have not been in the favor of NIC. Enrollment has been dropping the last few years, too.

Despite introducing several bills (HBs 226, 315, 320 and 321), we have not held a public hearing on any of them. The introduced bills all deal with issues including governance, property and levy authority that NIC will face if it loses accreditation and is not able to remedy the situation in a timely manner — that is, two years.

It is not that we haven’t been trying. The speaker of the House controls the hearings and has stood in the way (so far) of any public action. A representative from Lewiston and I continue to pursue this issue. I’ve spent considerable time talking with the Idaho State Board of Education, the NIC president, other representatives, the House speaker, the governor and his staff, and many members of the public trying to get something done.

Most of those I speak with relay their concerns that “NIC hasn’t

County government 101

What exactly is local government? Local government is any entity that has the statutory authority or jurisdiction to deliver services, enforce the law and collect taxes. When Idaho became a state in 1890, the several counties that existed became legal subdivisions of the new state. County government’s authority comes directly from the Idaho Constitution and state statute.

This is part of a series of articles designed to inform and encourage participation in local Bonner County government. There are three ambulance districts, one cemetery district, 13 fire districts, five highway districts, three hospital districts, five library districts, one recreational district, three school districts, seven sewer districts, four water districts, 11

NIC accreditation loss

failed yet.” Another common opinion is that NIC has an elected board, and the state needs to stay out of their business. I’ve not advocated for a state takeover. My concern is for the state to provide the backup statute in case NIC does lose accreditation and begins to shut down. Having a backup plan ready for implementation should NIC lose accreditation, and its board is not able to turn the situation around, seems responsible to me.

The state has spent approximately $250 million on NIC since 2013.

Several weeks ago, the NIC president was reinstated after being on paid leave since December. A judge ordered that action. Reportedly, many breathed a sigh of relief upon learning of the president’s return. Then, approximately 10 days ago, the NIC board appealed the judge’s ruling and now the matter will be heard again in court on Friday, March 31 [editor’s note: see Page 5]. NIC has two college presidents on the payroll.

Setting and approving the NIC capital and operating budget is one of the duties of the Legislature each year. NIC operations funding was reduced this year. While the

other Idaho community colleges received budget increases of 7.6%11.4 %, NIC received 2.8%.

When I asked why the NIC budget is not aligned with the increases, like other community colleges, I was told the conditions at NIC did not warrant the expansion of funding.

The NIC board response to the Northwest Commission on College and Universities and most recent governance questions is due on March 31. Staff from the NWCCU will be touring NIC in April and meeting to evaluate their findings in June. A ruling on the accreditation status of NIC could come as early as July. Potential outcomes range from a return to accredited status to further probation to loss of accreditation.

It’s been promised that the state will call a special session of the Legislature if the college were to fail. I believe we should be doing more to have a backup plan.

Rep. Mark Sauter is a first-term Republican legislator representing District 1A. He serves on the Agricultural Affairs; Education; and Judiciary, Rules and Administration committees. Contact him at

water/sewer districts, six urban renewal districts and nine incorporated areas (cities) within Bonner County for a grand total of 72 taxing districts. Check it out yourself by visiting and going to our GIS department and start playing with the interactive map.

All Idahoans live in a county, but you may or may not reside in some of these other taxing districts. The authority for all local taxing districts begins with the United States Constitution, followed by the state constitutions such as Idaho’s that begins with, “We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.” Each of these different taxing districts have elected representatives that determine how to best serve their lawful purposes.

The Idaho State Tax Com-

mission informs taxpayers about their obligations so everyone can pay their fair share of taxes, and it must enforce Idaho’s laws to ensure the fairness of the tax system with those who don’t voluntarily comply. The State Tax Commission also ensures that local governments are abiding by state law in the assessment and collection of taxes. For more information, visit

State statute establishes the rules for the different taxing districts. Title 31, Chapter 20, Section 31-2001 enumerates the nine officers of a county in Idaho, and they are: a sheriff; a clerk of the district court, who shall be ex officio auditor and recorder and ex officio clerk of the board of county commissioners; an assessor; a prosecuting attorney; a county treasurer, who shall be ex officio public administrator and ex officio tax collector; a coroner; and three members of the board of county

commissioners. All seven offices have distinct statutory authority and jurisdiction.

County commissioners are unique in that we are the only elected officials that act as a legislative, executive and quasi-judicial body. In a three-member board of commissioners, individually we have no authority, but as a body we have a number of responsibilities and roles that are clearly outlined in state statute.

Our legislative function is to write local ordinances and policy. Our executive function is that the board is the final budget authority for all county expenditures and responsible for supervising the safekeeping of public monies collected and/or spent by elected officials, boards and commissions.

The board of county commissioners is also legally responsible for the management of all county property. Finally, the board acts in a quasi-judicial capacity when

acting as the board of equalization or hearing land use files.

President James Madison said it best: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Your local elected officials are here to deliver services, enforce the law and collect the taxes that pay for roads, schools, the dump, library, EMS and much more. If you want to know why I made a decision, reach out to me at luke. If you would like me to come and speak to a group about county government let’s make it happen. Get involved, attend a meeting and bring a friend — Bonner County is home.

Luke Omodt represents District 3 on the Bonner County Board of Commissioners, comprising the areas immediately north of Sandpoint and the eastern portion of the county.

March 30, 2023 / R / 11
Rep. Mark Sauter. File photo.
We need a backup plan in case of

Dirt-y Secrets A preseason garden checklist

“In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move.”

The earth is waking up soon, and we will see the evidence. Green leaves, tiny buds, mud, more birds, more bugs, more blue skies and probably more snow. Time to get your gardens ready for planting.

Seed catalogs have arrived and they are great company for a rainy day. Use them to plan your garden; but, when it is time to buy seeds and plants, remember to buy local. We have several wonderful nurseries in our area and when you buy from them, you support not only our local economy, but friends and neighbors.

One of the first steps, if you are eager, is to set up your seed planting enterprise. If you have grow lights, you are ready to roll. There are many vegetables and flowers that can be started in March, so that when the soil warms and the sun comes out for real, your seedlings can go into the ground. That is usually mid-May in our area.

Plants that need a little more time to mature make the best candidates for early starts. Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants — these are a few of the best choices. A little warning though: These early risers need plenty of light, (not too much) water and occasionally they may need to have the second leaves pinched off to avoid the

dreaded legginess.

If you don’t have grow lights, a warm, sunny window will work, but not as well. At this time of year, it is very hard to get enough light from a window. And it is harder to keep those sprouts warm enough if the weather is cold.

It’s also the beginning of the yearly “Slug Fest.” If you’ve read this column before, you know about slugs, eggshells and salt. If you haven’t, start saving all of your eggshells now. As soon as the snow is gone, spread those eggshells you’ve been saving all winter. Crush them with Epsom salts and place them around vulnerable plants. Now, before the flowers come, that mostly means hostas. Later, you’ll want to protect the new shoots of practically everything, because slugs are hungry — and sneaky.

A word on compost: Healthy soil means vigorous plants. Like cooking a good, nutritious meal, you must add some good ingredients. In addition to compost (your homemade or bagged from the nursery), you’ll also need some fertilizer: steer and chicken manure (not dog, it shouldn’t need to be said) are good choices, but be sure it is organic. Chemical fertilizers are not only bad for your own private Idaho, but bad for our collective water, soil and air — and ourselves.

It is certainly worth the effort to garden organically. The birds, bees, squirrels, deer, elk and moose will all thank you. You can buy soil testing kits at the nursery to check the health of your soil and add soil amend-

ments to improve its health.

It is too early to be planting your outdoor pots, but it is time to get them ready. If they have that white ring on the bottom from sitting in water, scrub it off with a brush and a vinegar solution. I add a drop or two of dish soap and go to town. They will look better and the cleanliness will help them to avoid pests and diseases. Be sure to rinse well, though, because vinegar kills plants.

However, that means vinegar kills weeds, too. I keep a spray bottle full of vinegar and dish soap (just a few drops) handy to spray emerging weeds. Just be sure not to spray plants you want to protect.

Bird houses need cleaning this time of year, too. Unless someone has already moved in, empty last year’s nesting material, brush out dirt and place somewhere that birds have nearby cover from

predators. A tree or some shrubs are ideal. Don’t worry if you see yellow jacket nests inside. Your birds will take care of them by gobbling up the larvae.

It also helps your bird visitors to have a source of freshwater nearby. A clay saucer on a deck railing works just fine. But, you must clean your bird bath, too. Avian flu is still around and cleanliness helps keep it at bay. Once a week, empty the water, scrub the surface, rinse well and refill.

As I write, there is still snow on the ground in many places, but we can practically feel the seasons changing. Enjoy the last gasps of winter as you look forward to a bountiful garden, baby animals, sunny days, green grass, leafy trees and longer daylight.

Until next time.

12 / R / March 30, 2023 OUTDOORS
In addition to compost, a spring garden should also contain fertilizer. Courtesy photo.

POAC presents Mirrored Moments art exhibit Reception to be held March 31 at the Old Power House

The Pend Oreille Arts Council is excited to present Mirrored Moments, a new art exhibit featuring the work of four talented POAC artist members. The reception will take place at the Old Power House, 120 E Lake St. in Sandpoint, on Friday, March 31 from 5-7 p.m.

The exhibit features realistic drawings and paintings that capture the essence of Sandpoint’s natural beauty and wildlife. Jenny Benoit’s acrylic paintings depict Sandpoint’s minute details, while Mary Berryhill draws inspiration from flora and fauna. Susan Gallo’s paintings showcase both real and imagined scenes, while Ed Robinson’s oil paintings depict the landscapes he encounters during his hikes.

Complimentary wine will be served, and all ages are welcome to attend this event. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet the artists, view their work and learn more about the creative process behind each piece.

A portion of the proceeds from artwork sales will support POAC’s mission to facilitate quality experiences in the arts through educational programs and presentations that

benefit the people of North Idaho.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the beauty of Sandpoint’s natural landscape through the eyes of talented artists. For more information contact POAC Arts Coordinator Claire Christy at or 208-263-6139.

March 30, 2023 / R / 13
Can you guess where artist Jenny Benoit referenced this image? Get a closer look at the Old Power House, 120 E. Lake St. in Sandpoint.

Shooting for the stars

New local nonprofit Spacepoint aims to generate interest, participation in the space industry

Nothing captures the human imagination quite like space. Likewise, nothing holds so much possibility as space. What’s more, at no time since the 1960s has the public been so space-minded. And so it’s the perfect opportunity for Sandpoint to get into the space game, and the new local nonprofit Spacepoint is aiming to do just that.

The organization is making its debut with a sci-fi film series at the Panida Theater, screening Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Saturday, April 1 from 6-9 p.m., but not before a special presentation from University of Idaho Professor Jason Barnes, who happens to be one of the experts on the forefront of contemporary space exploration.

“The idea at the end of the day is education — but we want it to be fun,” said Spacepoint founder Kyle Averill, who said the April 1 event is only the beginning of some big plans, which includes sci-fi film screenings timed with the seasonal equinoxes and solstices, coupled with presentations on space-related topics and knowledge contests (including a rocketry competition), with the winning team entered into the American Rocketry Challenge and earning tickets to the NASA Camp Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Even more than that, Spacepoint has a plan to establish an astronomical observatory in Sandpoint, geared toward stargazing and education.

“What I hope is that we elevate the awareness and the excitement and the opportunity of space and the space industry, and present the opportunity for folks to get into that industry — regardless of what their career path is,” Averill said. “This event [on April 1] is the introduction of Spacepoint — what is Spacepoint, why Spacepoint, when and where.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids, available at All proceeds benefit Spacepoint programs. Doors open at 5 p.m., with the presentation from Barnes beginning at 6 p.m., followed by the film screening.

Barnes is the deputy lead principal investigator on the multi-billion-dollar NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s moon Titan, where he told the Reader in an interview that the innovative quadcopter lander will search for evidence of organic material and investigate the conditions that may have led to (or continue to support) the development of life.

“Titan is unusual in that its atmosphere has a bunch of methane in it and it gets broken down into pretty advanced molecules,” he said, explaining that the surface of Titan is water ice frozen at very low temperatures.

That ice has melted under certain conditions in the past — notably from the heat of a volcano located on the site of a crater created by a comet or asteroid — which Dragonfly will probe for traces of organic materials in the ice.

“We’ll be looking at what happens when

you mix that organic material from the atmosphere with liquid water. We think this is an analogue to what early Earth might have looked like,” Barnes said. “That process is kind of lost to history because it happened 4 billion years ago.”

The mission, which was first proposed in 2016, received approval for funding and flight from NASA’s New Frontiers Program in 2019. Since then, Barnes has worked with Principal Investigator and Johns Hopkins University planetary scientist Elizabeth Turtle, Deputy Principal Investigator Melissa Trainer and Mission Chief Ralph Lorenz to make it a reality.

Barnes said the Dragonfly vehicle is about four meters long and weighs almost a metric ton. It has the ability to fly upwards of 100 kilometers over Titan’s surface at a time, landing and taking off from various locations around Titan’s organic sand dunes, where it will use its instruments to analyze both the surface and the uniquely thick atmosphere of the moon — which also boasts low gravity, making “flying there easier than anywhere else in the solar system,” he said.

That kind of mobility is intended to expand the reach of the lander beyond what could typically be achieved by a wheeled or tracked rover, as “wheels and sand really aren’t a great mix,” Barnes added.

The nominal mission timeframe is for a little more than three years — flying from location to location once every month — with a launch date from Earth in June 2027 and arrival at Titan by 2034. However,

Dragonfly is equipped with the same kind of nuclear battery that powers the Cassini and Voyager space probes, which means it has a “very long-lived power source,” and “there’s no real upper limit for how long we might be able to go for,” Barnes said, adding later, “This is a very capable mission.”

Audiences at the Panida will learn all about the mission — which Barnes said is geared to “answering those big questions” about the origins of life in the solar system — and take questions from attendees.

A professor of physics at University of Idaho specializing in planetary science — which he described as, “the physics of planets and planetary systems” — Barnes has been teaching and researching in Moscow since 2008, having earned his undergraduate degree in astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in 1998, followed by a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2004 and postdoctoral work at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

He said now is a great time for people, especially in rural areas like North Idaho, to get engaged with space.

“Astronomy itself is kind of nascent here,” he said, noting that when he was hired by UI in 2008 he was the first active research astronomer in the state.

However, “Space exploration has sort of experienced a renaissance in the last 10 years or so, with the advent of private companies reducing the cost of going to space and undertaking their own programs for < see SPACEPOINT, Page 15 >

14 / R / March 30, 2023 FEATURE
A rendering of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboritory’s Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

commercial interests,” he added. “I’m really excited that Spacepoint has started up there in Sandpoint to be a new local astronomy association in a place that has been underserved.”

While Spacepoint’s goals are, in some cases, literally out-of-this-world, Averill emphasized that they’re also very much grounded in real-world applications and opportunities.

“If you look at the space industry, it’s open to everybody now. It’s not just scientists and people in lab coats,” said Averill, whose own background is in information technology.

He said it will be tradespeople — from electricians to plumbers, welders and home builders — who will be building the vehicles and structures critical to the future of space exploration.

“It’s across the entire economy,” he said. “The idea is to hopefully build this pipeline of talent among kids in careers that are pointed at the space industry.”

And, while kids are definitely a target audience for Spacepoint, its planned programs and projects are intended to benefit anyone, regardless of age.

“I don’t care whether people are 80 years old or 4. It doesn’t matter,” he added. “Literally all you have to do is point your career toward the space industry and that’s what we’re trying to show people.”

Meanwhile, getting hands-on with the science is critical to Spacepoint’s mission, with Averill expressing particular enthusiasm for the rocketry competition, which will be open to youths in sixth to 12th grade. An introduction to rocketry event is scheduled for Thursday, May 13, presented by Eastern Washington University Professor Marty Weiser, who specializes in mechanical engineering. Attendees will be provided with rocket kits, which they’ll build and launch.

Teams of between three and 10 members will perform all their own design and software modeling, with designs required to meet the criteria of the National Association of Rocketry, meaning rockets must fly for a certain duration, reach a certain altitude and return a payload to Earth safely.

“For kids, that’s pretty stringent criteria,” Averill said, though the rewards are potentially astronomical.

Averill said award money upward of $100,000 is available for teams that finish in the top 10 nationally, while NASA invites the top-25 teams to its launch program education series. And of course, Spacepoint is planning to send the winning local team to Kennedy Space Center.

If all that sounds a little out of reach for rural Northwesterners, Averill added that the winner of the national rocketry competition last year was from Washington.

“It’s really run by the kids, and that’s key,” he said. “You want a program where kids can fail, and it’s OK to fail. You collect

your data about why it failed, then you fold that back into your design. You redesign, then you launch again.”

The other big project on Spacepoint’s horizon is the construction of a local observatory, which Averill said would function as a “technology demonstrator.”

In partnership with Idagon Homes owner Colin Burnett, who Averill said is designing and building the structure, the facility is envisioned as a “roll-off” observatory constructed out of a new shipping container, divided into two sections, with the telescope (or telescopes) in one part and the control room with all the necessary technology in the other.

The idea is first to construct the proof-of-concept facility somewhere accessible, with possible sites including the University of Idaho Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center at the base of Schweitzer on North Boyer Avenue or co-locating with a local school.

That has yet to be nailed down, but already the second phase of the project includes (hopefully) to build a bigger, more powerful observatory somewhere at altitude, such as Baldy or Schweitzer mountains.

“I think having it here in the Sandpoint area, where it’s super easy to get to, that’s probably for a Phase I technology demonstration a better way to go,” Averill said. “You could have a massive telescope up here at some point. …

“The bottom line is we’ll have one implemented this year,” he added. “That’s our objective.”

First thing’s first, though, and that’s the Spacepoint kickoff event April 1 at the Panida.

“Hopefully people will embrace it, see the opportunity and help us push this opportunity forward for everybody in the community,” Averill said. “As we build that demand, the skies the limit.”

March 30, 2023 / R / 15
< SPACEPOINT, con’t from Page 14 >
Images on this and facing page provided courtesy Spacepoint. The Dragonfly quadcopter lander will search for evidence of organic material and investigate the conditions that may have led to (or continue to support) the development of life on Titan. Saturn’s moon Titan is unique for having a thick atmosphere that rains complex molecules onto its icy surface, where there may be traces of organic materials.

Sandpoint Parks and Rec. programming for April

Sandpoint Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces will be offering the following programming in April 2023.

• Lou Domanski Chess Festival.

Join fellow chess enthusiasts for a one-day tournament on Saturday April 8 at the Sandpoint Community Hall (204 S. First Ave.). Divisions include Elementary (first- through sixth-grade) for $5, Middle/High School (seventh- through 12th-grade) for $7 and Open division for $10. Register by Thursday, March 30. The tournament uses the Swiss system and is coordinated by James Stripes. Trophies awarded for each division.

• Contra dance series. Dance your heart out to live music and meet your neighbors. Previous dancing experience is not necessary, all ages are welcome and you don’t have to bring a partner. Taught by Emily Faulkner, in partnership with Parks and Rec., dances will be held at the Sandpoint Community Hall (204 S. First Ave.) from 7-10 p.m., the second Friday of each month in 2023, except in August. Beginners

are encouraged to arrive on time for an introductory lesson at 7 p.m. Wear comfortable, breathable clothing and non-marking shoes in which to dance. A $5 donation is suggested for each session (musicians need to eat, too).

•Bike maintenance classes. Sandpoint Parks and Rec. has partnered with Syringa Cyclery to offer classes on bike maintenance, Monday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. Classes are for ages 16 and up, and will be held at Syringa Cyclery (518 Oak St.). Attendees of this introductory class will learn about how to keep the parts of a bicycle running and operating like they were brand new. Each session covers the same material — pick the one that fits into your schedule. Register by Thursday, April 13. Space is limited, sign up early. Fee is $25 per person ($3 non-resident fee).

•CPR/AED with Optional First Aid. Ages 16 to adult or ages 1215 with an adult guardian. American Health and Safety Institute’s CPR/ AED with optional First Aid is a general communi-

Get your Flowers for Futures baskets while they last

The Rotary Club of Ponderay is again selling hanging flower baskets to fund educational opportunities, service projects, and health and wellness initiatives for the local community in its annual springtime Flowers for Futures program.

Baskets are large and contain a wide variety of flowers. Valued at $75, the baskets are being sold for $45 by the club,with $20 of that designated as a tax deductible donation.

Flowers will be available for pick-up on Wednesday, May 10 — the week before Mother’s Day (this year on Sunday,

Courtesy photo.

ty course for persons with little or no medical training, who need CPR/AED and or First Aid card for work, OSHA requirements, school or personal knowledge. This course meets American Heart Association guidelines. Classes are offered every other month on the first Monday. Register by Thursday, April 20 for the Monday, April 24 class. Located at Sandpoint City Hall Council Chambers (1123 Lake St.), class meets 4-6 p.m. for CPR/AED and 6-8 p.m. for First Aid. Fee: $35 CPR/AED, with additional $25 First Aid option.

•Community track meet. Parks and Rec., the Sandpoint High School Cross Country and SHS

Track Team invites you to participate in a FREE community track meet on Friday, May 5. The meet will take place at the SHS track from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and is open to all children grades K-8. Sandpoint coaching staff, track and cross-country athletes will teach the events and conduct the competitions. Each division will have limited participation, based on availability of coaches and volunteers. Early registration ends Wednesday, May 3. Day-of registration will be available. Look for the promotional materials in the spring outlining the details and listen to ROCK 103.

•April facility spotlight. Located near the intersection of Boyer Avenue and Pine Street, the Community Garden is managed by the city of Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Department, and offers 4-foot by 8-foot and 7-foot by 7-foot plots for $26 and $31.50, respectively. A limited number of plots remain open for the 2023 growing season. Visit for more information.

• Work for Parks and Rec. Sandpoint Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces is hiring City Beach lifeguards for $14.50-$15.50 per hour, and seasonal parks maintenance workers, paying $16.63-$17.33 per hour. Lifeguarding positions are for the season running June 10-Sept. 4. Parks maintenance jobs are available in eight-, seven- and threemonth terms. Apply online at For more information, call 208-263-3613.

The Sandpoint Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department also acts as a clearinghouse to connect the public with other recreational opportunities in the community. Visit the online activity catalog to view listings in this category. Outside organizations and individuals wishing to list their activities are encouraged to contact Parks and Rec. with their program information at

For questions about Parks and Rec. programming, go to sandpointidaho. gov/parksrecreation, visit the office at Sandpoint City Hall (1123 Lake St.) or call 208-263-3613.

May 14).

According to the club, there are only 85 baskets left. Order by emailing

16 / R / March 30,

Driving east on Highway 200, fewer views have more to offer than the one headed into the Hope city limits. The approach to the bridge over the boat basin affords the first clear views of Lake Pend Oreille and its islands — not to mention the Green Monarchs, appearing to rise directly skyward from the deep-blue water.

The western entrance to Hope has only one real eyesore: the towering, off-

‘A focal place of pride’

white retaining wall immediately to the driver’s left, bordering the highway’s parallel business loop.

After years of blandness and even some graffiti, a group of citizens has banded together to create the Hope Idaho Scenic Mural nonprofit committee, which is currently collecting donations in order to paint a mural on the wall.

Committee member Kathleen Huntley said the group solicited ideas

last year and received about a dozen concepts, including a well-loved submission from Hope Elementary School’s fifth-grade class.

After creating a composite of the various ideas, the nonprofit submitted a scale model to the Idaho Transportation Department. Following some color changes and proper permitting, the group is now ready to begin painting in May — funds and weather depending.

Huntley said that the project has seen broad support, and that the Sam Owen Fire Department has gladly stepped up to provide volunteer flagging services once painting begins. Ultimately, she hopes the mural — which depicts a lake scene framed by syringa flowers (the Idaho state flower) — can serve as a reflection of community camaraderie.

“Everyone will be participating,”

Huntley said, “and then it will be a focal place of pride.”

Donations can be made to Hope Idaho Scenic Mural, P.O. Box 316, Hope, ID, 83836. Those with questions can contact Huntley at

— Photos of art (which go from left to right starting at the top of the page) courtesy of Kathleen Huntley. Words by Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey.

March 30, 2023 / R / 17
A preview of the forthcoming mural to be painted in Hope


March 30 - April 6, 2023

THURSDAY, march 30

Cribbage Night

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Trivia Night

5-8pm @ Paddler’s Alehouse

Live Music w/ Ron Keiper Trio

5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery

Meets every Sunday at 9am

Live Music w/ Brian Jacobs

6-8:30pm @ Matchwood Brewing

Live Music w/ Headwaters

8pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Strings for the people

Live Music w/ Bright Moments

7-9pm @ The Back Door

Sandpoint’s jazz band heroes

Live Music w/ Double Shot Band

7-9pm @ Connie’s Lounge

Join Kenny and Jon, rock and roll brothers from Priest River

Live Music w/ Matt Mitchell

7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Join Kenny and Jon, rock and roll brothers from Priest River

Sandpoint Home & Garden show

10am-6pm @ BoCo Fairgrounds

Over 50 vendors selling home improvement, crafts, plants and much more. Free entry with donation of non-perishable food item

Registration deadline for Lou Domanski Chess Festival

The date of the chess tournament is April 8 at Sandpoint Community Hall. Divisions include grades 1-6 for $5, middle/high school for $7 and open division for $10. Register at

FriDAY, march 31

No Man’s Land film festival • 7pm @ Panida Theater

This all-women adventure film festival will donate all proceeds to Kaniksu Land Trust and Pend Oreille Pedalers. There will also be a community discussion with leaders in our community about making the outdoors inclusive and accessible

Live Music w/ Ian Newbill

6:30-9:30pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

Country and classic rock

SATURDAY, april 1

Master Naturalists Bluebird Nesting Box Sale

8:30am-12pm @ Super Drug parking lot

For only $15 you can get a bluebird nesting box built to IDFG standards and help the Pend Oreille Chapter of Master Naturalists

Grin it to Win it: Ponderay Rotary’s Duck Derby

10am-1pm @ Schweitzer village

Ponderay Rotary club will host an open air booth in the Schweitzer village, with each high quality photo and digital image going for $20 to enter the club’s big raffle, which is a Schweitzer season pass. 1pm draw

Cancer’s No Joke fundraiser • 5-7pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall

Help support Community Cancer Services with $1 from every beer sold going to CCS. Live music by John Daffron, Opa! food truck and a raffle

Spacepoint - panel discussion and movie • 6pm @ Panida Theater

Join Dr. Jason Barnes on a journey with NASA’s Dragonfly spacecraft. Barnes served on the orginal team for the Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn. Show starts at 6pm with doors opening at 5pm

Schpring Fling (April 1-2)

All day @ Schweitzer

Events to wrap up the winter season. See for info

SunDAY, april 2

Songwriter Showcase

7pm @ Heartwood Center

Join in and focus on the art of songwriting with Matt Mitchell Music Co., Fern Spores and Justin Landis. Each will share songs before all discuss and present music in a roundtable format

Stabat Mater by Pergolesi

2pm @ First Presbyterian Church

A collaboration between Bel Canto Opera and North Idaho Philharmonia

Sandpoint Home & Garden show

10am-4pm @ BoCo Fairgrounds

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

monDAY, april 3

Monday Night Blues Jam w/ John Firshi

7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Live Music w/ Ian Newbill

4:30-7:30pm @ Barrel 33 Country and classic rock

Easter Eggstravaganza

11am @ Christ Our Redeemer

More than 10,000 plastic, candy-filled eggs hidden for kids 12 and under. Event starts promply

Sandpoint Chess Club 9am @ Evans Brothers Coffee

Group Run @ Outdoor Experience

6pm @ Outdoor Experience

3-5 miles, all levels welcome, beer after Live Music w/ Sheldon Packwood

7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub

Lifetree Cafe • 2pm @ Jalapeño’s “The Prophetic Jesus”

ThursDAY, april 6

7pm @ Connie’s Lounge Trivia Night 5-8pm @ Paddler’s Alehouse

Cribbage Night

18 / R / March 30, 2023

STAGE & SCREEN Sandpoint leaders to speak at No Man’s Land Film Festival

Panel discussion will focus on accessibility and inclusivity in the outdoors

The No Man’s Land Film Festival, which serves as the premier adventure film festival for women and gender non-conforming athletes and storytellers, will screen Friday, March 31 at the Panida Theater, capped off by a panel discussion with leaders from the Sandpoint community dedicated to making the outdoors inclusive and accessible for all.

Speakers include Ammi Midstokke, Maeve Nevins-Lavtar and Gwen Victorson.

Midstokke is a popular columnist for the Spokesman-Review and Out There Outdoors magazine, whose writing has also appeared in the Sandpoint Reader and is the author of the recently published collection of essays All the Things: Mountain Misadven-

ture, Relationshipping, and Other Hazards of an Off-Grid Life.

Her stories are the raw, humbling and often hilarious occurrences of an adventurous life as a woman, mother and outdoor advocate.

No Man’s Land Film Festival

Friday, March 31; doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.; $15 adults, $5 children. Panida Theater, 300 North First. Ave., 208-263-9191, get more info and tickets at

“I believe that representation is essential in the self-actualization of the individual. When we see people with some semblance of commonality to us doing a thing, it expands and inspires our own ideas of what we have access to or are capable of,” she said. “Beyond giving us hope for self-efficacy, representation is how we build our sense of belonging, and belonging is essential to our mental well-being as individuals and even the health of our communities.”

Nevins-Lavtar works for the city of Sandpoint as its first Park Planning and Development manager, focusing on

inclusive and accessible design and land use of public parks and trails, with the mission to improve equitable access to public lands for all.

“Children who have access to bike trails on their route to school have an increased attendance rate,” she said, underscoring one of the many benefits of outdoor recreation development and active play.

“By advocating for funding toward equitable outdoor recreation, and at the local level for park improvements, such as those prioritized in the Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Master Plan, we can strengthen not only the family unit, but ultimately create a positive ripple effect community-wide,” she stated.

Victorson is a lands resource specialist with the Idaho Department of Lands and co-founder of True North Treks, a Sandpoint nonprofit focused on connecting cancer-affected young people and their caregivers to the outdoors.

“I feel the outdoors are life’s grandest classroom, and we all should spend more time soaking in her countless benefits,” Victorson said. “It’s important for the outdoors to remain inclusive and accessible so all creatures are able to reap these big rewards. Part of my hopes for my Idaho Department of Lands career is to continue to help our state balance unprecedented use and the conservation of our resources, so my grandbabies’ grandbabies have the same opportunities I have today.”

The film festival is sponsored by Claire Anderson, a co-owner of Burger Dock in Sandpoint, as well as Matchwood Brewing Company and Alpine Shop.

Raffle sponsors include Le Chic Boutique, Heartbowls, Embody Studio, Outdoor Experience, Sandpoint Medical Massage, Syringa Cyclery, Carousel, Evans Brothers, Rachel Baker Photography, Bula Stone, Bluebird Bakery, Cognito Brands, Kristine Rae

Physical Therapy, Zabrielle, Longleaf Wilderness Medicine, Finan McDonald, Azalea Handpicked Style, Mountain Flow Riders, and Keokee Media and Marketing, among others.

All ticket and raffle sales go to Kaniksu Land Trust and Pend Oreille Pedalers.

HBO Max series Succession enters its final season, setting up a messy endgame

There are few villains on either the big or small screen more suited to our times than Logan Roy, the tyrannical head of the fictional Fox News-ish media empire at the center of the hit series Succession, which just entered its first fourth and final season March 26 on HBO Max.

Roy, played to brutal perfection by Brian Cox, is frequently likened to News Corporation head honcho Rupert Murdoch, but with more than a little King Lear thrown into the mix. The central tension throughout the series has been (and remains) Roy’s power struggle with his own three children over the multi-billion-dollar family business.

Logan Roy is unashamedly a bad guy. He’s foul-mouthed, conniving and as overbearing as he is manipulative — all traits that he’s passed on, in varying portions, to his eldest son Connor (Alan Ruck); middle kids Kendall (Jeremy

Strong) and Siobhan, a.k.a. “Shiv” (Sarah Snook); and youngest son, the absurdly named Romulus, a.k.a. “Roman” (Kieran Culkin).

All of them think they are much smarter and capable than they actually are, having strived and scrambled sometimes in concert, sometimes against one another, in the so-far unsuccessful attempt to dethrone dear old dad.

The Roy family’s generational tussle should be un-relatable to most people because of its ultra-wealthy trappings, but it isn’t — standing in for the broader real-life cultural conflict between a class of elders who by the luck of the timing of their birth came up in a climate of unprecedented wealth and opportunity (featuring structural barriers to prosperity that were objectively far lower than the ones we have today), but who refuse to relinquish their grip on the levers of economic, social and political power. At least that’s the broadstroke case for white people, as the Roy family most definitely is.

Meantime, wrapped up in the literal notion of “succession,” are ruminations on the moral rot at the core of post-post-industrial capitalism, in which the ultimate commodity is the degree to which an individual is able to control the narrative and therefore bend reality to their will. Logan Roy has been defining the “truth” not only to his own family but the country at large for so long that he has constructed an unassailable vantage point, from which he swats away his kids in one instance, while cajoling them to join him near the summit when it suits him.

As the series enters its Götterdämmerung, the big question is whether Roy’s god-like position is really so unassailable after all.

In the onset of Season 4, the first episode evocatively titled “The Munsters,” the Roy kids are plotting a sortie in their bid to be… richer than they already are? (Character motivation beyond greedy spite and family trauma is sometimes hard to discern in the show.)

The Roys’ plan: Start their own media company, described in high-finance buzzword poetry as “Substack meets Masterclass meets the Economist meets The New Yorker”; a “private members club but for everyone”; and “an indispensable bespoke information hub,” serving up “high-calorie info-snacks” spiced with the “ethos of a nonprofit but the path to crazy margins.” Even Forbes, which also highlighted those particular phrases, wrote that “it all feels too real sometimes,” despite its essential absurdity.

Added to Logan Roy’s Lear complex may be an even older storytelling tradition — that of the tragic Greek trope of hubris. That’s also a particularly apt concept for the show to play with, insofar as a viewer might be inclined to think of the patriarchal Roy as an avatar for the kind of prickly 21st-century American exceptionalism so well exemplified and propagated by the likes of Fox News and its collaborators.

Will Roy be “disrupted” by his

own progeny? Will he give one (or two or all) of them a pathway to the figurative throne? Why would we even care?

That’s a valid question, but I suspect that the answer lies somewhere in the vicinity of the compulsion to watch rich people be mean to each other, even though they always win at some level, so long as they remain fabulously rich.

Essentially, Succession manages even after three seasons to remain a finely woven grab-bag of the most poisonous aspects of our current civilization; and, while containing literally no characters worth rooting for or feeling sympathetic toward (and that includes all the various in-laws, extended Roy family members, handlers, toadies, executives and nemeses), staying riveting.

New episodes of Succession stream Sundays on HBO Max.

March 30, 2023 / R / 19
Photo by Zoya Lynch.

Setting up pups for success

Local chapter of Canine Companions seeking more puppy raisers to prepare budding service dogs for bright futures

March 23 may have been National Puppy Day in the United States, but for one group of dedicated volunteers in Sandpoint, there’s no bad time to celebrate the joys of young doggos.

That group is the Inland Northwest Chapter of the Canine Companions puppy raisers program, which has four years under its belt of helping to raise future service dogs for people in need.

The chapter is currently recruiting for more locals interested in puppy raising for Canine Companions, according to puppy raiser and community outreach coordinator Lilly Mitsui.

“We’re looking for local families or individuals who will open their hearts and homes to raising a puppy for Canine Companions to help change the life of an individual who’s been on the waiting list to receive a skilled service dog from Canine Companions free of charge,” Mitsui told the Reader. “This isn’t a lifetime commitment — just about 16 months.”

Puppies arrive from the Canine Companions California headquarters at 8 weeks old and are then taught basic obedience commands and socialized by puppy raisers. Mitsui said Canine Companions provides online training and an in-depth manual, while the local chapter hosts regular training classes in Sandpoint.

“We all help each other succeed,” Mitsui said.

Puppy raisers are responsible for providing the food, supplies and medical care each dog requires. Then, once deemed ready, dogs graduate from the puppy raising phase and go on to service dog school before be-

ing placed with a forever family in need of the dog’s expertise. So far, 20 Sandpoint-raised pups have gone on to become bonafide Canine Companions Service Dogs.

“It’s a wonderful way for a family to ‘give back,’” Mitsui said. “Some families choose to write a check to their favorite charity, and some may choose puppy raising.”

One of those Sandpoint families is the Orton family, which welcomed service-dog-in-training Jolene into their home in December. Chika Orton said her eldest daughter, 10-year-old Elena, has long wanted a dog of her own. By joining the local chapter of Canine Companions puppy raisers, Chika said she hoped Elena could be introduced to the commitment of caring for a dog while also helping a stranger in need.

“We love Jolene. She is so cute. Everyday we learn new things with her,” Chika said, also admitting that it is “hard work,” since the end goal is to

prepare Jolene for a life of service dog responsibilities.

The Ortons will continue caring for Jolene until February or March of next year, at which point she will travel back to California for her formal training. In the meantime, Elena and her family will work to give Jolene a secure and confident start in life.

Chika said she would encourage anyone considering puppy raising to “just go for it.” She said she’s heard stories from Mitsui about seeing Sandpoint-raised pups matched with their forever families and looks forward to being a part of that emotional moment herself.

“Even just hearing the stories — it touches my heart,” she said.

Those curious can learn more at or contact Mitsui directly at 208-304-4490.

20 / R / March 30, 2023 PETS & ANIMALS
Elena Orton and service pup in training, Jolene. Courtesy photo.


The art of goosebumps

Mattox Farm Productions to host Songwriter Showcase at the Heartwood

Mattox Farm Productions has proven itself a force for musical good in Sandpoint, bringing nationally touring artists from a wide swath of genres and backgrounds to local stages. Despite the variety, it’s clear that MFP founder Robb Talbott aims to highlight the artistry in each act.

A big part of that artistry? Songwriting.

Lucky for local lyric-lovers, MFP will host a Songwriter Showcase at the Heartwood Center on Sunday, April 2 to give the art its due through a panel discussion with three local and regional musicians: Matt Mitchell, Justin Landis and Alyssa Nunke of Fern Spores.

“The art of songwriting is a tough one to really appreciate in a bar setting where it can often turn to background music,” Talbott told the Reader. “In the Heartwood, with these three musicians, the talent of each singer-songwriter will be on display, allowing the audience members to fully appreciate the performance.”

Songwriter Showcase

Each musician will have about 30 minutes to play and discuss a selection of their songs with the audience, Talbott said, then all three


I do not recommend this for bedside reading — or reading that is likely to brighten your day — but the report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “The Gap,” published earlier in March, has some fascinating numbers and analysis of the housing crisis experienced by low-wage earners around the country. In Idaho, for instance, there were almost 40,000 “extremely low-income renter households” in 2021, competing for only about 15,000 affordable/available rentals. Find the Idaho figures at


will spend time discussing their work together and collaborating onstage.

Sunday, April 2; doors and bar open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.; tickets are $12/adults and $8/ youth in advance at Eichardt’s. and $15 for adults at the door. Kids under 5 enter free. Heartwood Center, 615 Oak St.,

“I feel that Sandpoint wants to be able to hear the songs in a space — and with an audience — that highlights the talents of singer-songwriters,” he said. “I have been wanting to do this for a while and have been waiting for a fun line up to be in the area at the same time.”

Mitchell, based in Spokane

and known under the moniker Matt Mitchell Music Co., told the Reader that songwriting, at its best, is a “physical, spiritual and emotional act.”

“When it’s real, honest and heartfelt, a good song is inevitably going to be something that a listener can absorb and make their own,” he said. “In a world of escapism and distraction, any form of art that encourages folks to feel, to question, to dig a little deeper is invaluable; songwriting does this for me and if a listener can share in that, I’m doing my job right.”

Mitchell said he wants the audience at the Songwriter Show-

case to walk away with “goosebumps, mostly” — “that feeling when a song stirs up emotion and makes a listener truly feel something.”

“We often get so caught up in the routines of life we forget that the whole damn point is to be engaged with ourselves and present in the moment,” he said. “Music, like other artforms, can facilitate this and remind us that living is about being alive.”

A snapshot of notable live music coming up in Sandpoint

Right Front Burner, 219 Lounge, April 1

Sandpoint’s favorite, funkiest trio will be bringing the ruckus to the 219 Lounge on Saturday, April 1.

Featuring Paul Gunter, Dave Pecha and Alvah Street, Right Front Burner — a.k.a. RFB — has been a RBD — “really big deal” — for local live music fans for more than a decade, and the 219 is one of the best places to experience their big, groovy sound.

CCS Fundraiser, MickDuff’s Beer Hall, April 1

Kudos to Baxters on Cedar owner Brandon Emch for his stellar Spotify curation. I was there last week, enjoying one of my customary sumptuous lunches with the Reader’s downstairs neighbor, when several songs on Emch’s playlist of the day caught my ear. I asked him about it, and he recommended Pokey LaFarge as an artist worth listening to. That was good advice — the old-timey, rockabilly-meets-tinpan-alley-meets-indie folk singer-songwriter is one in a million (and he has a new-ish album, In the Blossom of their Shade, out now). Listen for yourself at


It’s not be an April Fool’s prank, but that’s a Saturday when it might be a good time to make an April fool of yourself — within reason, of course.

9 p.m.-midnight, FREE, 21+. 219 Lounge, 219 N. First Ave., 208-263-5673, Listen at, more info at

MickDuff’s Beer Hall is partnering with Community Cancer Services to throw a party for a worthy cause, with the Cancer is No Joke Fundraiser on Saturday, April 1.

The event will feature the Opa! food truck, live music from local singer-songwriter John Daffron (a.k.a. Johnny Guitar) and a raffle for a three-hour sailing charter for up to six people from Cloud Nine Sail Charters — a prize worth $500 and sponsored by Bruce

Robertson and Barb Perusse. On top of all that, $1 of every beer sold will go to benefit CCS and its work in the Sandpoint area community.

Come for the good food, stay for the good tunes and do some good for CCS and those it serves.

5-7 p.m., FREE. MickDuff’s Beer Hall, 220 Cedar St., 208209-6700,

It is almost assured that I will write more about one or all of these shows at some point in the near future, but I feel obliged to at least put readers on notice that several excellent series are now streaming new seasons, among them: The Mandalorian (a somewhat-unnecessary-feeling Season 3, Wednesdays, on Disney+); Ted Lasso (the third-and-maybe-final season, Wednesdays, Apple TV); and Succession (the fourth-and-definitely-final season, Sundays, HBO Max). Of those, I must confess that Ted Lasso is by far the winningest.

March 30, 2023 / R / 21
This week’s RLW by Zach Hagadone Matt Mitchell will join Justin Landis and Alyssa Nunke of Fern Spores April 2 for the Songwriter Showcase. Courtesy photo.


So long and thanks for all the turns

From Northern Idaho News, March 27, 1923


Work on the Hope road is progressing rapidly these days. So far the contractors have confined their work to the most difficult part of the job, the hill north of Trestle creek, and are getting well along on it.

Last Wednesday, the highest point on the hillside which the new road will reach, and which, because of its precipitous character was considered the hardest engineering problem of the job, was successfully shot away. One ton of powder which is had taken weeks to place, was exploded that day. It had been the intention to “shoot” the entire charge simultaneously, but a poor wire connection (the shots are fired by electricity) prevented the most important part of the charge going off at the first attempt in the morning.

It took several hours to locate the defect in the wiring, but it was found on the surface, and on the afternoon of the same day the current was again applied, and the towering hillside crumbled away, leaving a clear course for the new road. To the contractors, a great deal depended upon the success of this shot and consternation reigned for a time when, in the forenoon, the first shot failed to do all that had been expected of it. The second shot, however, finished the job exactly as desired and furthered the work a long way. The road bed at this point will be considerably farther down the hillside than the old road, and will also be apparently the highest point on the new road north of Trestle creek. From this point north the new road descends as fast as the grade will permit to near water level and will continue thus to a point where it turns to cross Pack river; thus eliminating entirely a large part of the hill which the old road traverses.

The end of the ski season at Schweitzer is always a little bittersweet. Everyone down in the valley is rejoicing at the first warm days of spring, leaving only the locals and diehards to remain in the mountains to wring out every bit of winter stoke they can until the closing bell.

This year, closing day falls on Sunday, April 9, giving us just over a week to say goodbye to this winter tradition that keeps many of us sane and healthy. I shudder to think of the state of my mental health if I was unable to escape to go screaming and howling down the mountain once a week throughout the winter.

While I spend the majority of the ski season chasing untracked stashes of powder across the mountain, the end of the season brings a whole different vibe at Schweitzer. Gone are the thousands of tourists and lengthy lift lines, the scramble for parking spots and careful navigation around groms and newbies on narrow runs.

Instead, there’s a sense of calm that washes across the entire mountain. It’s a quiet majesty that remains an important transition time for locals because we feel a closer connection to our ski hill than during the hectic midseason. It’s the same way you feel when houseguests who have stayed for months finally take off and leave you with a quiet living room again. It’s not that you dislike the houseguests — you’re just ready for them to be on their way.

That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about North Idahoans; we’re respectful of those who share our spaces, but we’re so damn glad to see them go.

Spring ski days are warm and familiar, like going to a party where you know everyone. It’s a time to ski with a couple of beers in your jacket pockets, ready to whip one out at once when you find a cool perch on a

Chair 4 run, where you can sit and overlook the lake and town.

It’s also a time to act a little goofy, like when Cadie and I showed up to the Rowdy Grouse yurt to find them cleaning up after a rail slide competition. Everyone was drinking beer in the sun as the day came to a close. We shared a tallboy with our good friend Gary Quinn, with whom we sailed across the Atlantic about five years ago. Some kids were sliding down the jump on their butts, so I said, “Hold my beer,” and told Cadie to ride me down the jump like I was a snowboard. Our friend Marty Andrews snapped a photo on his phone and we laughed about it the whole drive down the hill.

As I look up at the two-dozen hash marks on my wall for the 2022-’23 ski season, I can say with some degree of certainty that 90% of them were excellent days, when I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be than Schweitzer.

After April 9, we’ll box up our winter gear, take the ski rack down from the truck, stash the snowboards in a closet and close the book on yet another season of winter fun in North Idaho. And, while the end-ofseason melancholy feels the same today as it did 20-plus years ago when I was still in high school, I take pleasure in knowing that, at the end of the year, we’ll be back up there again — standing over an untouched run of powder, smiles on our faces as wide as Bottle Bay.

Until then, I’ll say, “So long, and thanks for all the turns.”

Sudoku Solution STR8TS Solution

Crossword Solution

Instead of half-mast, maybe you could fly a flag at threequarter-mast for a guy who’s in a coma. Then, if he gets worse, the flag gets lower, or if he gets better, it starts to move up, so you can just look at the flag and see how he’s doing.

22 / R / March 30, 2023
Cadie Archer gets style points as she rides Ben Olson the human snowboard down the hill. Photo by Marty Andrews.

Laughing Matter

Solution on page 22

humicolous /hyoo-MIK-uh-luhs/

Word Week of the


1. of or relating to organisms that live in or on soil.

“As they dug through the soil in the garden, ants, worms, and other humicolous creatures kept appearing.”

Corrections: In the March 23, 2023 article “Reader hosts town hall on U.S. Hwy. 2 concepts,” we unintentionally mischaracterized a statement made by Aaron Qualls regarding reducing lanes on Fifth Avenue from Cedar to Larch streets. More accurately, Qualls suggested it might be advisable to prioritize narrowing those lanes (not removing one or more them), while putting in landscaped medians, pedestrian refuges and additional crossing opportunities, as well as on-street parking. We apologize for the confusion. — ZH

Solution on page 22

March 30, 2023 / R / 23
type of writing tablet 6.Manila hemp 11.Instances 12.Reveal 15.Sprints 16.Building wing 17.Chapter in history 18.Razzed 20.Roam 21.Seaweed 23.Nights before 24.Picnic insects 25.Extend credit 26.Minerals 27.Tall woody plant 28.Flower stalk 29.What we breathe 30.Multitude 31.Bowel 34.Units of land 36.Cobbler’s tool 37.Abbey area 41.Masticate 42.Sand 43.Unit of paper 44.Teller of untruths 45.Conceited 46.Give the cold shoulder 47.Commercials 48.Realize beforehand 51.Consumed 52.Looks down on 54.Cursed 1.Red 2.Baked Italian dish 3.Fire residue 4.Adolescent 5.Being 6.Confuses 7.Waits DOWN ACROSS Copyright
9.Director’s cry 10.Brought into agreement 13.A small chin beard 14.Terminates 15.Trades 16.Opponents 19.Spooky 22.Adorer 24.Past-due debts 26.Horse feed 27.2000 pounds 30.Sword handle 32.Without precedent
can be fraternal or identical 34.Having a low pH 35.Auto frame 38.Remorseful act 39.Fried quickly 40.Implant 42.January’s birthstone 44.Boys 45.Express 48.A temple (archaic) 49.Border 50.Deserve 53.Morning moisture 55.Angry 56.Study of the physical world 57.Simple elegance 58.Sugary 59.Terminated
Solution on page