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PEOPLE compiled by
“What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?” “A Lineage of Grace, a book about five Biblical women. I liked it.” Jenny Mother Priest River
“Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven. I liked it because it has simple advice to improve areas of your life. These areas are applicable to myself and to my students and the ball players I coach.” Chase Tigert Health teacher, baseball coach Sagle “All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. There is a lot of food for thought in the book—it was deep.” Ginni Post R.N. Sandpoint
“Dovekeepers, an historical novel by Alice Hoffman. It sent me on a few Google searches about King Herod’s fortress.” Adrienne Nelson Paraprofessional/SHS Bonner County “Everyone in my highly literary book group concurred that Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell was one of the most masterful novels we have read. Crafted elegantly and eloquently, it was a poignant, feminist version of Shakespeare’s life.” Jill Kahn Therapist Sandpoint
It’s been a beautiful week of spring-like weather out there, folks. Hope you’re all taking advantage of the mild weather to get outdoors. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the coronavirus pandemic has been a part of our lives. News Editor Lyndsie Kiebert wrote a COVID-19 update looking back on the past year, as well as looking forward to a new sense of optimism that Gov. Brad Little and health professionals are feeling after vaccination numbers are increasing statewide. I think we’ve all learned a lot about ourselves and our community this past year. The best of us have learned to adapt in the face of adversity. We’re all looking forward to life returning to what it was like in pre-pandemic times. The best way to get there is to follow the advice of health professionals and continue through the home stretch. I believe in you, readers. – Ben Olson, publisher
READER 111 Cedar Street, Suite 9 Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208)265-9724
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Sandpoint Reader letter policy: The Sandpoint Reader welcomes letters to the editor on all topics. Requirements: –No more than 300 words –Letters may not contain excessive profanity or libelous material. Please elevate the discussion. Letters will be edited to comply with the above requirements. Opinions expressed in these pages are those of the writers, not necessarily the publishers. Email letters to: email@example.com Check us out on the web at: www.sandpointreader.com Like us on Facebook. About the Cover
This week’s cover photo was taken by Ben Olson on a quiet Sunday afternoon at Glengary Bay. March 4, 2021 /
Initiative bill passes Senate as opposition grows Woodward votes ‘nay,’ Dixon says bill would improve representation for rural communities
By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff As opposition mounts to an Idaho Senate bill that would tighten requirements for placing a citizens’ initiative on the ballot, the measure passed the chamber on a near-party-line vote March 1, now moving to the House, where Capitol watchers expect it to also pass in the Republican-dominated body. Senate Bill 1110, co-sponsored by Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, and Rep. Jim Addis, R-Coeur d’Alene, would further restrict Idaho’s already difficult initiative process, requiring petitioners to collect signatures from at least 6% of registered voters in every one of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. Currently, petitioners are required to gather signatures from 6% of voters statewide as well as 6% of voters in a total of 18 districts. Critics from across the Gem State have blasted the measure as an attempt to make it all but impossible for grassroots organizations to exercise their constitutional right to place initiatives before voters, while proponents argue that it ensures an equal playing field for rural communities, which find their voices drowned out by more populous areas of the state. In the past 18 years, only one citizens’ initiative has made its way to the ballot and passed — the Medicaid expansion approved by voters in 2018. In an op-ed published by the Idaho Press on Feb. 15, Reclaim
Idaho founder Luke Mayville — whose organization led the successful initiative — wrote, “No other state in the country imposes signature requirements on all legislative districts. If this bill becomes law, Idaho will have the most restrictive initiative laws in the United States. “Let’s be clear: This bill is an attempt to make future grassroots initiatives virtually impossible.” An attempt to raise the bar for signature gathering in the initiative process fronted by Ponderay Republican Rep. Sage Dixon met with a veto from Gov. Brad Little in 2019, after which Dixon returned with four separate bills in an effort to have the measure passed piecemeal. The session ended before those bills could be considered. At the time, both Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle, opposed the effort. Dixon told the Reader in an email March 3 that, “I do believe S1110 will result in better representation for rural counties in the initiative process.” Meanwhile, Woodward was one of only two Republican senators to vote against SB1110, telling the Reader, “I voted no because I think moving from 50% of districts to 100% of legislative districts is a bit of a leap.” Scott did not respond to a request for comment. Meanwhile, letters to the editor urging opposition to SB1110 have cropped up in newspapers throughout the state, alongside
a social media campaign urging Little to veto the bill should it come to his desk. More dramatically, an ad hoc committee of former Idaho attorneys general — including a former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court — along with several other prominent lawyers from around the state, announced March 1 that they had formed “to protect the Idaho Constitution from repeated attacks by the Idaho Legislature.” Calling itself the Committee to Protect and Preserve the Idaho Constitution, the group’s spokesman, former AG and Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones, stated in a news release that, “Legislators have shown an alarming disrespect for our State Constitution this session and it is incumbent upon members of the legal profession to call them to account. The mission of our group
is to blow the whistle on legislation that threatens the integrity of the Idaho Constitution and to use every legal avenue to oppose it.” The committee took particular aim at SB1110, stating that the measure “would make it almost impossible” to bring an initiative or referendum before voters, and described it as “a direct attack on the bedrock principle of our Constitution — the right of the people to control their government.” Dixon dismissed the committee, telling the Reader that, “The new group, at first glance, seems to be comprised of folks with a single political perspective, and a perceived authority due to their past employment. Already their public statements have displayed a lack of understanding of our foundational structure, and expose a distinct bias that I expect to continue.” Lewiston Republican Sen.
Dan Johnson joined Woodward in breaking ranks with their party in voting against SB1110, with Johnson arguing from the floor that, “If we’re going to make such significant changes to this, maybe we should look at a constitutional amendment and just remove it from the Constitution.” Dixon characterized such arguments as “simply parroting opposition talking points and this approach was endorsed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when addressing our former method of collecting signatures by county, and not District.” Meanwhile, Woodward said, “We’ll have to watch and see how it fares in the House and with the governor.” As of press time, SB1110 had been referred to the House State Affairs Committee. Read the full bill at legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2021/legislation/S1110.
MT Supreme Court approves Rock Cr. mine water permit By Reader Staff The legal battle over a water use permit for a proposed Montana silver and copper mine saw an about-face on Feb. 17, as the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the permit was lawfully administered. The ruling overturns a 2019 district court opinion that “the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation failed 4 /
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to properly consider damage Hecla Mining Co’s Rock Creek Mine might do to the underground water supply,” the Missoulian reported. The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-2 in favor of re-issuing the permit. The proposed Rock Creek Mine would be located near Noxon, Mont., bordering the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. If approved in its entirety, the operation plans to discharge wastewater into the
Clark Fork River, which flows into Lake Pend Oreille. Conservation groups Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance, Earthworks and Montana Environmental Information Center have led the charge in opposing the mine, each listed as plaintiffs in the water permit suit. “We’re disappointed in the court’s decision, but this decision applies to only one of the many harmful effects from the pro-
posed Rock Creek Mine,” Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks told the Missoulian. “We will continue our work to protect the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and the
Rock Creek in Montana, near the location of the proposed mine. Courtesy photo. threatened fish and wildlife that find refuge there.”
Sandpoint man who allegedly took part in Jan. 6 Capitol ‘insurrection’ facing multiple felonies, misdemeanors By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff Additional details are emerging in the case against brothers William and Michael Pope — the latter a Sandpoint resident — alleging five misdemeanor and two felony violations each amid the violent Capitol protest Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., which resulted in the deaths of five people and dozens more injuries. According to court documents recently unsealed in the District of Columbia, 32-year-old Michael Pope joined his brother William, a Kansas resident, to participate in the Jan. 6 mass gathering of supporters of former-President Donald Trump, who converged on D.C. to oppose the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. The so-called “Stop the Steal” rally, during which Trump and others repeated baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election, quickly morphed into what both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have termed an “insurrection,” as an angry mob of Trump supporters — some armed with weapons such as tasers and baseball bats — stormed the Capitol in attempt to halt the certification of the election by a joint session of Congress. Both carrying American flags, the Pope brothers were recorded from various sources in the crowd of individuals who forced entrance to the Capitol, many of whom tussled with Capitol police as they filled hallways, broke into and vandalized offices, and occupied the Senate floor — requiring the evacuation of Congress members and staff to safe locations. In a video posted to William Pope’s own Facebook feed, he stated that Michael Pope had flown in from Idaho specifically to join him. An arrest warrant was issued for Michael Pope on Feb. 10. He turned himself over to federal agents Feb. 12, that day appearing in a virtual hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale in Boise. The judge released Pope as he awaits future hearings, stipulating that he restrict his travel to the 10
northernmost counties of Idaho and the District of Columbia, should he be required to travel there for trial. He may not possess a firearm, destructive device or other weapon; must maintain his current residence without prior approval of the pretrial services officer; and must adhere to all federal, state and local laws, orders, rules and the like regarding COVID-19 protocols, including but not limited to Idaho’s Reopening Plan and the orders of the court. Both Michael and William Pope are accused of seven offenses: obstructing or impeding any official proceeding; civil disorder; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Two of the offenses are felonies: obstructing or impeding any official proceedings carries with it a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine, while civil disorder is punishable with a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine. The remaining offenses are misdemeanors, with maximum prison sentences of between six months and a year, along with
fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. Capitol surveillance footage shows the brothers in various locations, including the hallway outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office — the door to which William Pope apparently struck with the bottom of his flag pole in an attempt to force open the door. Michael Pope is seen in surveillance footage apparently refusing to comply initially with law enforcement officers who attempted to physically remove him from an elevator. Though he did leave the elevator, both Michael and William Pope continued to occupy the Capitol. News footage from MSNBC also showed William Pope inside Statuary Hall, and a video posted to YouTube recorded an incident during which he was restrained by Capitol police. The Popes were identified to the FBI by witnesses who viewed the footage. Contacted by the Kansas Reflector newspaper on Jan. 11, William Pope told a reporter that, “I’ve reported myself to the FBI and remain loyal to the United States of America.” Court documents state that William Pope submitted a statement and photograph to the FBI on Jan. 12, stressing that he committed no damage in the Capitol, nor engaged in any violence. “I am loyal to the United States
and was only there to exercise my freedom of speech,” he wrote. “I left the building voluntarily.” Meanwhile, Michael Pope had returned home to North Idaho via a circuitous route — first attempting to rent a car in West Virginia in order to drive back to Idaho, then booking a return flight to Spokane out of Pittsburgh, Penn. The brothers had planned to follow their participation in the Jan. 6 demonstration with a camping vacation along the mid-Atlantic Coast, ending with Michael Pope flying from Charleston, S.C., but according to court documents decided to go home as quickly as possible after the chaotic events at the Capitol. The FBI identified Michael Pope through open source searches, along with help from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office. A vehicle associated with him was also identified using traffic cameras in
Surveillance footage from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 showing who investigators believe is Sandpoint man Michael Pope (circled in red) and his brother William (circled in blue). Courtesy FBI. the Coeur d’Alene area, showing travel consistent with a drop-off at the Spokane airport on Jan. 5. According to the Spokesman-Review, Michael Pope and his wife purchased a home in the Sandpoint area in 2019, using a loan from the Veterans Administration. Data from the Bonner County assessor’s office shows the Popes’ home is located in the Selle Valley, valued in 2020 at more than $460,000. Michael Pope is being represented by attorney Michael Palmer of Palmer George and Taylor, in Coeur d’Alene. No further hearings have been scheduled as yet, according to court documents.
Application for Whiskey Jack Arts Venue pulled The Shook Twins release joint statement explaining the decision
By Reader Staff A proposed arts venue off Whiskey Jack Road along the Boyer Slough is no longer under consideration, after the family behind the project has chosen to pull its conditional use permit application from consideration. The Shook family filed the application in December, seeking approval from Bonner County planning officials to create a 500-person music venue on their property. Pushback from local agencies and residents soon surfaced, and planning staff issued a recommendation Feb. 25 to deny the application, arguing that the proposal was “not
in accord with the Bonner County comprehensive plan.” Before the Shook family chose to retract their application, the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission was slated to hear the staff report on March 4. In a joint statement released March 1, Laurie and Katelyn Shook — known professionally as the music group Shook Twins — shared that after discussing with family and reviewing the conditions of approval included in the planning staff report, they “feel that it is in best alignment with us and with the neighborhood” to pull the application from consideration. “We hear the neighbors’
concerns and we agree that this proposed arts venue could potentially create adverse impacts to the residential neighborhoods, due to increased traffic and lack of a second emergency exit,” said the Shooks, who were raised in Sandpoint. The statement goes on the share that the family doesn’t want to “be an impetus behind having to rebuild the quaint little bridge on Whiskey Jack [Road]” and also does not want to “disturb” their neighbors, “many of whom clearly oppose the idea of having events on our land on a commercial or professional level multiple times per summer.” “We wanted you all to know that we respect the quiet ruralness
of this place and never had intentions of loudly disrupting it,” they continued. The Shook Twins said they reserve their right to host personal events at their family’s property “on a very limited basis with respect to the surrounding community.” “Even though our parents’ Whiskey Jack property may not be the right place for our dream venue, for now we still plan to bring our musical friends to this town, utilizing the existing venues like the Panida and the Hive,” the statement concluded.
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Levy votes on the ballot in area school districts By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff
School districts around the state are seeking almost $300 million in funding from bond elections or property tax levies on Tuesday, March 9, with voters going to the polls in 46 of 115 districts. That includes the West Bonner County, Lakeland and Boundary County school districts. West Bonner is seeking a two-year $6.87 million supplemental levy, replacing a two-year $6 million levy in 2019 that passed by a narrow 52%. That levy expires at the end of the 2021 school year. The new maintenance and operations levy would replace previous funding with $3,432,2579 per year for two years, dedicated to paying for teaching materials and supplies, curriculum and staff development, special education and advanced placement programs, technology and library updates, and continuing and enhancing extracurricular activities such as music, performing arts and athletics. Levy dollars also go to help provide allday kindergarten. The maintenance portion of the levy would be earmarked for facility heating system updates, roof repairs, crosswalk lighting and gym siding repairs at Priest River Elementary. As well as that, administrators plan to dedicate a portion of the levy funding to maintaining safe transportation and continuing to support the district’s school resource officer. The measure headed to the ballot March 9 would cost residents an estimated $146.95 per $1,000 of assessed value — no change from the 2019-2021 levy, administrators stressed, stating, “This is not a new tax. This levy is a renewal of a tax currently being paid to fund instructional and support programs for West Bonner County School District.” West Bonner County relies heavily on levy dollars, accounting for 25% of its revenue. The state provides 69%, while other sources account for 4% and local sources provide 2% of funding. If approved, the West Bonner levy would go into effect July 1, 2021 and end June 30, 2023. 6 /
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The Lakeland School District, in southern Bonner County, is asking voters for a $19.04 million supplemental levy — almost 30% of the district’s yearly budget, dedicated to instructional support in a wide range of areas. Lakeland relies on its levy dollars for everything from school safety and security to technology education, all athletics and academic extracurriculars, full-day kindergarten, all curriculum materials and additional nurse time. Taxpayers in the district would see a bill of $222 per $100,000 of assessed value — an increase from the previous levy rate of $210 per $100,000, but offset by a bond levy expected to decrease by $12 per $100,000 at the same time. Meanwhile, Boundary County voters will also be asked to weigh in March 9 on a two-year $4.8 million replacement maintenance and operations levy. The levy is intended to help fund paraprofessionals and staff who support student learning; curricular materials, digital licenses and professional development; computer and technology replacements and upgrades; student transportation, field trips and all extracurricular activities; electives, humanities and courses beyond state requirements; and facilities maintenance, grounds keeping and improvements. As with the previous levy, the new measure would cost taxpayers $187 per $100,000 of assessed value, with the district noting that about 21% of its general fund budget comes from levy dollars. The district relies on the state for 76% of its revenue, while local sources provide 2% and county revenue contributes 1%. “Levy dollars help bridge the gap between what the state provides and what it actually costs to educate our students,” the Boundary County district officials stated. “Every school in the district benefits from the levy dollars to support student learning.” For more information on the West Bonner County levy, visit sd83.org/ levy_facts. For more information on the Boundary County levy, visit bcsd101. com/2021_m&o_levy. For election information, visit bonnercountyid.gov/departments/Elections or idahovotes.gov.
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: A materials engineer in Kenya has developed bricks made from waste plastic that are up to seven times stronger than concrete bricks. According to Reuters, the factory in Kenya produces 1,500 bricks daily. The plastics are mixed with sand, heated and then compressed. The Senate parliamentarian, an appointed adviser to the U.S. Senate, has said the $15 minimum wage proposal cannot be part of the American Rescue Plan, and should instead be considered as a stand-alone bill or as part of other legislation. President Joe Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president will not give up on the $15 minimum, commenting that “no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty.” A Morning Consult poll shows 76% of the public approves of the plan, including 60% of Republicans. According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would boost pay for 27 million Americans and lift nearly 1 million out of poverty; but it would also result in the loss of close to 1.4 million jobs and be costly for the federal government. Numerous responses by economists indicated the report is faulty and used different standards as compared to the previous CBO analysis. Business Insider cited a 2019 survey of 138 state-level minimum wage changes over four decades, which found the job and wage levels stayed “mostly level.” UC-Berkeley economists said the CBO prediction, done correctly, would show a $65.4 billion annual budget gain, much of that due to increased payroll taxes and savings from the decline in safety net programs. Business Insider also looked at a 2019 study of the Seattle minimum wage increase and found no impact on grocery store prices. If wages for some people double, will prices double? That is “absurd” an Oregon bar owner told Business Insider. A former bartender, she adopted a policy of listening to employees and paying them to reflect her appreciation. She said she rarely needs to find a new hire. Her customers’ costs go up when other costs rise; employees’ pay is only 25% of the equation. A co-CEO of a New Hampshire business told USA Today that paying “no
By Lorraine H. Marie Reader Columnist
less than $15” has resulted in no funds spent on recruiting new employees for the past 25 years, and “less waste and fewer errors” due to an experienced staff. Snippet from a recent U.S. Senate Budget hearing: “Why do large, profitable corporations pay such low wages that their employees are eligible for and must rely on federal anti-poverty programs just to make ends meet?” asked Economic Policy Institute president Thea Lee. A member of the budget panel invited offending CEOs to explain why they can’t afford to pay a $15 minimum wage. The House recently passed the American Rescue Plan, with every Republicans member voting against it. Next up: a vote by the Senate, where Republicans, although they represent fewer Americans but have 50% of seats, prefer a plan that is two-thirds smaller. Senate Republicans have presented the plan to Biden and he said it was inadequate for addressing the problem of getting the virus and the economy under control. According to The New York Times, Democrats want the plan passed before unemployment benefits end March 14. Without the $15 minimum wage in the bill, an amendment is under consideration that would penalize corporations that pay less than $15 by imposing an escalating tax on those large corporations’ payrolls. Meanwhile, the proposed child tax credit, part of the American Rescue Plan, could cut child poverty by 51%, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The House recently followed the Senate with an investigation of what allowed the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion by rioters. According to Talking Points Memo, the acting Capitol Police chief stated “we know that members of the militia groups” wanted to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible.” The chief gave no further details. NBC reported that the nation’s lifespan fell by one year due to COVID-19 in the first half of 2020. Minority populations were hit hardest. A Johns Hopkins University health professor said the U.S. has 4% of the world’s population but 20% of COVID-19 deaths. Blast from the (recent) past: “When one is accustomed to privilege, equality looks like oppression.” — Michele Goldberg in a 2019 New York Times opinion piece.
Past, present, pandemic By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Messages surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic in Idaho are becoming increasingly more optimistic, with Gov. Brad Little taking a tone of near-victory in a March 2 statement announcing a $39 million FEMA grant has been awarded to the Idaho Office of Emergency Management to assist in COVID-19 vaccine efforts. “We are in the final lap of the pandemic fight, and the finish line is close,” Little said, adding that his emergency declaration in response to the pandemic — enacted on March 13, 2020 — was “critical” in order for the state to secure the federal funds. The extra funding, Little said, is “pushing us ever-closer to normalcy.” By these measures, Idaho — and the entire world — has been operating somewhere outside of “normalcy” for about a year. Coverage of COVID-19 first appeared in the Sandpoint Reader on March 5, 2020, in an article titled “‘It is containable’: Bonner County agencies are taking precautions to prepare for the coronavirus.” At the time, there were no known cases of COVID-19 in Idaho. A year later, on March 3, the state has logged 172,288 cases of the virus, and 1,876 Idahoans have died of COVID-19. In Bonner County, 2,991 residents have been recorded as having the virus, and 33 locals have lost their lives in the pandemic fight. That fight hasn’t just been against the virus, but also between people. North Idaho has proven over the past year to be a hotbed of opposition to health orders and other measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, resulting in protests, lawsuits and countless heated political exchanges. Even amid the us-versus-them atmosphere, the virus brought out ingenuity and teamwork among some of the community’s most integral organizations. Health care, education, municipal government and business adapted, arriving at what now seems like a major turning point in the coronavirus saga:
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced March 2 that Idahoans who fall under the vaccination eligibility subgroup 2.3 — “frontline essential workers” such as those employed in agriculture, manufacturing, grocery stores or with the U.S. Postal Service — will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 15, two weeks ahead of schedule. The pivot Idaho reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 13, 2020. Within two weeks, on March 25, Little and IDHW officials enacted a statewide Stay Home Order, which required “Idaho residents to stay and work from home as much as possible while ensuring all essential services and business remain available.” During the ensuing months, Little introduced his four-stage Idaho Rebounds plan, which provided a timeline for reopening certain businesses and outlined social distancing protocols for all Idahoans. Meanwhile, local institutions began to adapt. Bonner General Health CEO Sheryl Rickard told the Reader that the pandemic “transformed many of the practices” at BGH. “Some of those have gone back to normal and some will never be what they were before,” she wrote in a March 2 email. “Our community got us through the worst part of the supply shortage,” Rickard added, noting that people donated N95 and homemade masks, bonnets and gowns. Rickard said a silver lining of the pandemic has been the teamwork displayed by the hospital’s various departments. “I’ve been inspired by the dedication, selflessness and resilience of our entire BGH hospital team,” she said. The Lake Pend Oreille School District closed schools on March 17, 2020, moving entirely to remote learning for the remainder of the school year. Superintendent Tom Albertson told the Reader that the transition was “difficult,” though not as difficult as developing a reopening plan for the 20202021 school year. When it came
COVID-19 ushered in a year of both camaraderie and contention in North Idaho
to getting children into classrooms during a pandemic, Albertson said there was “no blueprint.” Since September, LPOSD schools have been operating with shortened days, virus-mitigating protocols — such as masking and distancing — and providing families with the choice to keep their students home with access to remote learning. “Having the vaccine for our staff has brought some sense of relief but we are still cautious, watching data closely,” Albertson said March 1, noting that LPOSD is currently in the pre-registration process for next school year, and “hopeful for a full school day with limited interruptions.” “This has been a big challenge for me and everyone involved, but I am thankful for the partnership with staff and parents in making our way through these times,” he added. The Panhandle Health District case-tracking dashboard shows North Idaho’s first major wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in late July. Cases slowly went down for a couple of months, until October launched the area into new, harrowing territory. Bonner County reported its first COVID-related deaths on Oct. 14 — a man and woman, both in their 80s — and the most dramatic spike in local cases commenced soon after. The most cases logged in one day in the five northern counties came on Dec. 9, when 410 residents were reported as having the virus. The health district logged its highest one-day number of hospitalizations Dec. 23, with 95 individuals needing medical care due to the virus. The rise and fall of virus-related deaths per day mirrored those peaks, with eight North Idahoans dying in a single day on Jan. 7. All those opposed Central to pandemic life in Bonner County has been a consistent and vocal opposition to efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Idaho saw two organized Disobey Idaho protests — one in Boise, and the other on the Long Bridge in Sandpoint — in response to Little’s health orders. The East Bonner County Library
District became a battleground for the debate over masks, when protestors inundated the Sandpoint Library in July. The debate persisted inside of Sandpoint City Council chambers, when two attempts to enact a mask mandate failed in July and August. When PHD enacted a panhandle-wide mask mandate in November, Bonner County and Sandpoint law enforcement took a stance of education, not enforcement. Bonner County went so far as to threaten to defund PHD, with Commissioner Steve Bradshaw alleging that the health district was acting “outside of their authoritative boundaries” and violating people’s “fundamental right” to “breathe free” with its mandate. County legal counsel determined Bradshaw’s motion to defund PHD — presented informally during a public comment period — was illegal. The commissioners also issued a proclamation May 28 opposing Idaho’s Stage 2 Stay Healthy order, arguing that the order’s objectives “are unconstitutional and replicate methods used in command-and-control societies such as China.” While Commissioners Dan McDonald and Bradshaw voted in favor of the proclamation, Commissioner Jeff Connolly voted against. A light at the end of the tunnel Daniel Holland, director of diagnostic imaging at BGH, said his team was put in charge of organizing the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics because they’re experienced with “volume scheduling.” In other words, getting two shots into thousands of people’s arms at three- to fourweek intervals requires some serious planning, and BGH is starting to get the hang of it. “Overall, it’s been a very surprisingly smooth process,” Holland said. As of March 3, 3,556 Bonner County residents have received one dose of the COVID-19 vac-
cine, while 3,229 have received both doses and are considered fully vaccinated. Across Idaho, those numbers are 121,561 and 136,027, respectively. Providers such as BGH, Kaniksu Health Services, Sandpoint Family Health Center, Sandpoint Super Drug and some other pharmacies are taking the lead on vaccinating Bonner County residents. The Panhandle Health District is not currently offering its own clinics in the county because the entire weekly dose allocation is going to community providers who stepped up to assist with distribution. However, PHD announced March 3 that it plans to host a clinic in Bonner County “later this month.” Holland said the county is currently receiving between 500-1,000 doses a week, with recent weeks tipping into the more plentiful range. Still, BGH is only scheduling a week of appointments at a time in order to make sure every appointment has a guaranteed dose. Those who wish to register can do so at bonnergeneral.org, and they will receive a call when an appointment is available. Kaniksu Health Services is also offering online vaccine registration at kaniksuhealthservices.org. The sentiment that Idaho is approaching “normalcy” almost a year after the start of the pandemic is reflected in the local health care community’s approach to the virus — an approach that has gone from reactive to proactive at BGH in recent weeks, Holland said. “Most of the time, we’ve had to change things and been reactive to new research ... and try to protect ourselves,” he said, “but this is something we can kind of be aggressive with and kind of go after it.” Those with questions about COVID-19 or receiving a vaccine in North Idaho can call the Panhandle Health District hotline at 877-415-5225. March 4, 2021 /
Great minds think alike…
Bouquets: • A Bouquet goes out to Sen. Jim Woodward, who represents our district. Woodward was one of only nine Idaho senators to vote against SB1110, a resolution aiming to make it nearly impossible for Idahoans to get an initiative on the ballot by increasing the number of districts needed for signature gathering from 18 to 35. The purpose of this bill is very clear: Idaho Republicans want to make it increasingly difficult for Idaho voters to use their constitutional right to gather signatures for an issue to appear on the ballot. It’s a power grab and it’s yet another example of how Idaho politics is dysfunctional — here we are, more than halfway through the legislative session, and only a handful of bills have actually been passed. The rest of the time has been spent fighting ideological battles that end up going nowhere. I’m pleased to have someone like Woodward who stands up for Idaho voters’ constitutional rights. I wrote about this last week, but it seems necessary to point out again: It’s curious that so many Idaho voters will raise a stink if they think one of their constitutional rights is being violated — namely the right to bear arms — but when it comes to limiting or handicapping other constitutional rights (such as the ballot initiative process, which is defined in the Idaho Constitution) they just shrug and allow it to happen. The excuse many on social media rely on is: “If Democrats like it, that means it’s bad,” which is about the dumbest reason to support something I can think of. Last year, when the Idaho Legislature passed a similar bill attempting to limit the ballot initiative process, Gov. Brad Little vetoed it because it was unconstitutional. I don’t know what has changed in a year, but if this bill reaches his desk, I hope Gov. Little again comes out on the side of the Constitution. 8 /
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Dear editor, Rick Reed wrote a letter published last week that hit the nail on the head [“Don’t need the stimulus? Do something good with it…,” Feb. 28, 2021]. He said if you had no need for your stimulus check to do something “good and kind.” I applaud him for saying this. I am on the board of the Sandpoint Senior Center and I help out by writing thank-you notes for the donations we receive. Recently, we have received several checks in the exact amount of $600. A couple of the checks indicated they were donations using the stimulus money. So, I guess great minds think alike. We so appreciate everyone’s help in keeping our meals program going during these trying times and I want to thank those who continue to support the Senior Center. We could use everyone’s help. Loris Michael Sandpoint
Fulcher is embarrassing us… Dear editor, Our U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher has made the national news twice that I’ve noticed. Was he mentioned for his eloquent oratory? No. Was it for a brilliant legislative proposal? Nope. Instead, during the first impeachment hearings, with other Republican representatives, he broke into a secure hearing room, armed with a cell phone, which was prohibited at that site, and pizza, as though it was a party. He was not authorized to be in that room during that time. More recently, Rep. Fulcher tried to walk around a metal detector to enter the House chamber, and, when
detained by the female officer, he assaulted her and forced his way around the detector. If he was carrying a weapon, I certainly hope he was fined, per the House rule. Mr. Fulcher seems more interested in breaking the law than making law. His idea of governing seems to involve thuggish pranks and outright disdain for the rule of law. Is that what we are paying him for? As far as I know, he has done nothing for the people of Idaho. In fact, if he is “representing” us, he is making us all look like primitive knuckle draggers, who favor physical violence to attain our goals. Speaking of which, exactly what are his goals? It would appear to me that he cares little about getting control of COVID-19, or even the economy. Since he voted not to certify the election, I conclude that he is not interested in helping us create a better future. Rather, he is concerned with beating a dead horse, the recent election, and looking to the far past for solutions to current problems. I hope the Democrats find a serious candidate for 2022. Rep. Fulcher has proved himself unworthy of his position and title. Ann Warwick Sandpoint
Ski safety at Schweitzer... Dear editor, I am interested in making skiing safer at Schweitzer, and am curious whether anyone else has similar concerns. I was hit by an out-of-control snowboarder while skiing at Schweitzer on Jan 22. I was hit from behind without warning and have a fractured fibula. My ski season is probably over. We have been increasingly concerned with the prevalence of fast, out-of-control skiers and
snowboarders at Schweitzer. Avoiding fast, reckless traffic is often a factor in our terrain choices. A ski instructor was seriously injured two seasons ago and there was another recent collision that had one person air-evacuated and another by ambulance. There have been others. There is little visible enforcement of safety rules at Schweitzer. Ski Patrol does not have a particularly visible presence, and mountain hosts who sometimes enforce safety rules are seldom seen on weekdays. There is too much tolerance for reckless, out-of-control skiing and riding. Some aspects of skiing are inherently risky, but having to deal with fast, reckless skiers and riders is unacceptable. The presence of out-of control skiers and riders is partly a choice made by the institution that tolerates it. I would like to see Schweitzer develop a more robust, visible culture of safety. Better enforcement of safety rules is needed: Loss of a pass is appropriate for gross violations, and warnings or temporary suspension with mandatory safety training could add a “rehab” aspect to punishment. Minimum standards should include: 1. Controlling reckless and dangerous behavior and removing noncompliant skiers/riders; 2. Providing sufficient staff to effectively monitor and patrol open slopes and trails; 3. Maintain a comprehensive, publicly accessible safety plan and five years of complete accident statistics. I hope I can feel better about safety at Schweitzer in the future. Some “accidents” are preventable and needless. Donald Laumann Sandpoint
Protect citizens’ initiative rights… Dear editor, The Idaho Senate passed Senate Bill 1110 this week, the bill that will effectively do away with any possibility of getting citizens initiatives on the ballot in Idaho. It changes the rules to require signatures from 6% of voters in each of the state’s 35 legislative districts from the current requirement of 18, already a high bar. Over the past nine years, and under the current rules, only two initiatives have made it to the ballot. Medicaid Expansion, an instate grassroots effort, passed by over 60% of the voters. The other initiative, which was funded by out of state interests, failed. Clearly, SB1110 will prevent grassroots in-state initiatives from getting on the ballot, taking away the right of every voter to vote on them. This will be most easily accomplished: the new rules would defeat an initiative if just one district failed to get 6%. The only possible route will be for initiatives to be funded by big interests, not our own. The bill, sadly, is expected to pass the House very soon. Then Gov. Little will be able to veto it. Idahoans convinced him to do this the last time a bill like this was proposed: he received over 1,000 phone calls and petition signatures asking for a veto and less than 100 in favor of that bill. Convincing Gov. Little to stand up for us again is our big chance of stopping this bill from becoming law. Please sign the petition asking Gov. Little to veto SB1110. At stake are planned initiatives to fund our schools and other issues our legislature refuses to address. Here is a link: bit.ly/302nkTn. Nancy Gerth Sagle
Forrest Bird Charter students return to full-time instruction By Reader Staff Students at Forrest M. Bird Charter Schools may decide to return to campus every school day, a shift that began March 1. Previously, students attended school either under a hybrid schedule of two days a week or online. Prior scheduling was based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then-rising community spread of COVID-19, and the protection of immune-compromised staff
and families. However, the charter school’s board of directors in early February considered the updated CDC guidelines, reduction of community spread, mental health concerns of students and the fact that 74% of FBCS staff members have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and decided it was time to return students to school every day. A “soft opening” is underway through May 4, during which families may choose to either allow their students back to school full time or to continue their students in a hybrid
schedule. Full-time online students will remain online for Trimester 2 and may continue for the rest of this school year. On May 4, all students attending school in the building will be in school four days a week. Before the pandemic, every Friday was an online day for students, and this will continue going forward. “The pandemic demanded schools across the nation to make difficult decisions on how to educate students while keeping everyone’s health in the forefront. FBCS made the best decisions for
our staff and families this year,” said Charter Administrator Mary Jensen. “I am looking forward to seeing all the students back in school each day. Learning happens the best in person. I want to give a ‘Thank You!’ to all of our families by working with us as we worked through this time of COVID.” Although the pandemic has created adjustments to operations for the past year, FBCS anticipates returning to school on a full-time, regular basis for the remainder and this year and into next year.
A column by and about Millennials
Rent, buy, sell: That big boom feeling By Emily Erickson Reader Columnist
It’s hard to live in the greater Sandpoint area and not feel the pulsing boom of the newcomers, home-buyers, rental-seekers, land-sellers and everyone stuck somewhere in between. Within the past week, the “Mayor’s Roundtable” column in the Reader advocated for the protection of the open spaces that make the region beautiful while the article “Zoom Boom: Tensions between regulation and deregulation,” by Susan Drumheller and published in the Feb. 25 edition of the Reader, put actual numbers to — and reasons behind — the unprecedented shift in our local make-up. Beyond what can be adequately quantified on property tax rolls and regional maps are the personal anecdotes related while standing in line to get coffee, spoken between sips of beer and shared about a friend-of-a-friend who had to move away because they couldn’t afford to live here anymore. With an interest in all those narratives, I solicited stories from friends on my Facebook page, inquiring about their recent personal experiences (good, bad or otherwise) with buying, selling or renting within the greater Sandpoint area. I was flooded with responses, providing a small snapshot of how many 20- to 40-somethings are feeling amid the “Big Boom.” A Bonner General Hospital employee wrote, “I moved here in 2017. I casually browsed listed homes in town with no intention of buying since I didn’t know if I wanted to stay here. There was a particular listing that caught my eye [selling for] $138,000 in town, but I found my dream rental instead and have been there ever since. That home is $330,000
Emily Erickson. now. I kick myself. I’ve had two coworkers leave the area because they can’t afford it on Idaho wages. ‘Poverty with a view,’ they say. I’ll likely never own a home up here now. Unless the market crashes.” A Schweitzer employee explained, “Working-class people can’t afford to buy homes in this town when not so long ago they used to be able to. I started exploring the option to buy in the fall, and quickly realized it isn’t an option. Which is frustrating because finding a decent rental, especially one that will take a pet, is nearly just as hard.” A Dover homeowner wrote, “I have lived in Sandpoint for close to 14 years. After renting for most of the time, I purchased my first home (ever) in 2018... At the time we bought, prices were just starting to go up so we feel that we really scored a deal on our one-acre [plot and] home in Dover, where houses down the street are now selling for half a million. I have considered selling. But, in order to sell, you have to have somewhere to go.” She continued, speaking from a business owner’s perspective, “As a small business, we cannot even afford to lease a commercial space to start-up, let alone pay employ-
ees livable wages in a town with the rents and mortgages skyrocketing. We’re going to have this quaint little mountain town full of chains because those are going to be the only employers that can provide adequate wages and handle the high costs themselves.” A lakeside renter wrote, “I’m planning to build a tiny house this year and be prepared to be mobile. I did try to discuss [purchasing my rental] with the owner, to which he scoffed, ‘You’ll never be able to afford this piece of land.’ Which is a fairly likely statement [that] reeks of the rapacious paradigm we have created, not just here, but systemically. I’m grateful, with some fear and certainly enough anger to go around.” The collective feeling is not all passive, however. There were some responses to my prompt that spoke to the importance of taking responsibility when necessary and being called to action when it’s within our means. One Sandpoint homeowner wrote, “The increasing demand in housing should also be attributed to the younger generation moving away from cities and into small towns now that we can work from home more easily. There is a psychological movement similar to the back-to-the-land migration of the ’70s in our [Millennials] generation. We can complain about increased housing prices, but we are equally to blame.” I was also directed to the Bonner Community Housing Agency to learn about the multi-faceted approach it is taking to assist the community in every stage of the housing process. According to its website, “From working with bare landowners who want to leave a positive impact and legacy, to the first-time home buyer looking to establish a future for their families,” the BCHA provides
mortgage supplements, acts as a real-estate liaison, assists in property rehabilitation and acquires donated land to further responsible development endeavors. Change is inevitable and growth is happening. While it’s OK to participate in that change; to profit, to buy and sell and rent in a way that is financially advantageous, it’s also important to consider the people being displaced or stymied by that participation. When possible, donate to or volunteer with the organizations
doing good work, build an accessory dwelling unit and rent it out at an affordable rate, sell to your long-term tenant or find creative ways to support people who are having a hard time. In the balancing act of sellers and buyers, newcomers and renters, we have to actively seek out and create solutions to maintain the kind of community in which the people who are essential to its fabric are also afforded the opportunity to live comfortably and well.
March 4, 2021 /
Mad about Science:
Brought to you by:
By Brenden Bobby Reader Columnist You know that guy (Brenden) who refers to nuclear fusion as an energy source at parties to try and sound smart (Brenden), but no one really knows what he’s talking about and figures he’s just full of himself (Brenden). Nuclear fusion is a real thing scientists are experimenting with now, and it could forever change the way human beings deal with energy. Humanity currently has a few major sources of energy: fossil fuels, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and nuclear fission, all of which behave very differently but utilize the same mechanics to create electrical energy: turning a turbine. Take a hydroelectric dam for example, it utilizes gravity pulling water downward over turbine blades attached to a generator. The action of the water turning the blades and cranking the generator converts this mechanical energy into electrical energy that we can then utilize in power grids that are fed directly into our homes and offices. As complicated as nuclear fission is, at its core, it utilizes extremely hot temperatures created by volatile elements breaking apart (decaying) and releasing energy as heat, which converts contained water into steam that is pushed through a vent to spin a turbine. Basically, a fission reactor is a Rube Goldberg machine using extremely advanced science to spin a wheel, and nuclear fission is more or less fission in reverse. Fission uses heavy, volatile 10 /
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elements like uranium and plutonium that rapidly decay, breaking down into lighter elements very rapidly and producing heat. Fusion results when lighter elements such as hydrogen smash together to become heavier elements, creating heat energy in the process. This is the same process that takes place inside of every star in the universe — in fact, stars could be described as giant fusion factories spraying light and heat into the cosmos. Fusion is so vital as a form of energy transference that it is responsible for every other form of energy currently available on Earth. Fossil fuels, primarily petroleum, are harvested from oil reservoirs deep beneath the Earth’s surface. This oil is the carbonized, fossilized remains of ancient algal mats that once existed throughout all of the planet’s oceans. This algae likely utilized photosynthesis, like all modern plants, by which it would absorb light from the sun to trigger a reaction that would split carbon dioxide (CO2), utilizing the carbon to further grow and reproduce while spitting out the oxygen as waste. Some of the energy of this reaction was stored in the carbon, which is then released as it is subjected to heat and converted back into carbon dioxide, which generates a heat reaction and release of energy in the form of a tiny explosion. The short version is light from the sun ejected hundreds of millions of years ago is being released to make your car move, and if that doesn’t blow your mind, I can’t help you. You wouldn’t guess it just
by glancing at it, but the Sun is huge — about 109 times the diameter of Earth. Due to this monstrous size and indescribable heat, it makes a natural fusion reactor wildly impractical to build on Earth. An object that large would be extremely dense and create a tremendously huge magnetic field, which would rip Earth into a smattering of atoms in a matter of nanoseconds. Instead, we attempt to build a much smaller version of the sun, one that we can control. So how do you control the sun? Magnets. Scientists effectively create a vacuum chamber filled only with the gases they want to fuse, then utilize magnets to push the contents of the chamber together to create intense pressure and heat. Once a reaction takes place, it creates heat and energy, which causes a cascading effect that triggers more reactions, which in turn triggers even more reactions — very similar to how fission works when triggering a nuclear weapon. The vacuum chamber also prevents this reaction from running wild and escaping into the rest of the world. It’s likely that we would use the heat generated by fusion energy to heat water and spin turbines like we already do with other forms of energy production, but this heat has the potential for all sorts of other cool interactions that could completely change the future of humankind. Strangely enough, one of the biggest benefits of fusion energy may be how we could begin to recycle plastics. Plastic poly-
mers are essentially a collection of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules — on their own, this is fairly harmless, but in their very precise construction, they become virtually indestructible and poisonous compounds, especially once they are broken down or incinerated. However, when these products are subject to intense heat, such as the heat at the surface of the sun — somewhere around
5,500 degrees Celsius, they can be broken down into their basest forms: individual atoms of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, which can then be separated by weight and vented into containment vats and utilized for commercial industries. Who doesn’t want a 3-D printer that can make pure charcoal briquettes? The future is bright! Stay curious, 7B.
Random Corner vil War?
Don’t know much about the Ci • If you were drafted during the American Civil War you could legally pay someone else $300 to go in your place. • No foreign national ever recognized the Confederacy during the Civil War, though Britain and France continued to trade with the rebels while remaining officially neutral. • The Civil War had a Balloon Corps established by President Abraham Lincoln. • Civil War soldiers had a code of honor that forbade shooting at men while they were defecating. • More than 600 women dressed as men in order to fight in the Civil War. • Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men during the Battle of Chancellorsville. • During the Civil War, generals were 50% more likely to die in combat than privates. • The entire student body of the University of Mississippi enlisted for the Civil War. They suffered a
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100% casualty rate. • After the Civil War, one third to one half of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. • The Civil War claimed the lives of 10% of all Northern white males 20-45 years old, and 30% of all Southern white males aged 18-40. • There is a community in Brazil founded by 2,000 to 4,000 Confederate refugees who left the U.S. after losing the Civil War. • The last surviving Civil War widow didn’t pass away until 2008. She married an 86-year-old veteran when she was only 19. • Mary Walker, a surgeon during the Civil War, is the only female Medal of Honor recipient. • During the Civil War, Union soldiers found a copy of the Confederates’ plan for the Antietam campaign, yet still lost. • Hurricane Matthew unearthed at least a dozen Civil War cannonballs on Folly Island, S.C.
Legislative update By Sen. Jim Woodward Reader Contributor
A major task each legislative session is creating and approving a plan for how we will spend our state tax dollars in the upcoming year. The legislative session typically ends in late March. The budget year starts in July and runs through the following June. When we finish this session in the next month or so, we will have a plan in place for Fiscal Year 2022, which starts this coming July 1. The first part of setting a budget is anticipating the revenues for the following year. State revenue consists primarily of income tax and sales tax. The state income tax rate is 6.925%. The sales tax rate is 6%. The amount of revenue those two taxes generate is dependent on the level of economic activity of the state during the year. How much people earn during the year and how much they buy determines total tax revenue and therefore the total budget. We make a best guess of what will happen during the upcoming year,
Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle.
then set spending levels to match. For FY2022, we are projecting $4.4 billion in state tax revenue. The total Idaho state budget with federal funding included will be close to $10 billion. In an unexpected economic downturn, such as the recession in 2008, revenue does not meet expectations. This situation requires budget adjustments during the year to make sure spending does not exceed revenue. In FY2021, our current fiscal year, actual revenues are greatly outpacing anticipated revenue. There are three primary contributing factors for the additional revenue in this budget year. First,
Where did the money come from?
at the beginning of a period of uncertainty last spring, budget reductions were put in place as it looked very likely that we would enter an extended period of reduced economic activity. The 5% budget reduction put in place by the governor resulted in approximately $200 million in reduced spending. Second, the federal government has provided higher levels of Medicaid funding as well as other funds for public safety costs. These federal funds also total approximately $200 million. Finally, economic activity has been higher than expected. More sales tax collections and more income tax withholding have resulted in greater than $200 million of additional revenue. Combined, these three revenue changes now add up to nearly $700 million in taxpayer money that is not obligated to any specific use. All the money described above is available for use this year, but it may not show up again in years to come. In other words, this is onetime state revenue, not ongoing. The plan to utilize the addi-
tional revenue is three-pronged: tax relief, capital investments in transportation and other infrastructure including broadband internet, and savings for the next economic downturn. All three are planned as one-time expenditures to match the one-time nature of the revenue. In addition to the deliberations about FY2021, we are working on a plan for future years to provide more ongoing transportation funding for state highways as well as local road systems. I hope to have details in the upcoming weeks. It was my honor this week to present House Concurrent Resolution 3 on the Senate floor. The resolution memorializes the significance of a new submarine of the United States Navy, SSN-799. The USS Idaho is a Virginia-class nuclear-powered, fast attack submarine currently under construction. The state of Idaho is particularly important to the Navy submarine fleet. The Acoustic Research Detachment in Bayview plays a part in the development of our submarine fleet through acoustic testing in Lake Pend Oreille. Near Idaho
Falls, the Idaho National Laboratory has been an integral part of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program since its beginnings in the early 1950s. We now have two submarines with Idaho names: the USS Boise is a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine commissioned in 1992 and still serving the nation; the USS Idaho will be the newest of the fleet in 2023. Thank you for the opportunity to represent the community at the state level. I look forward to hearing concerns and input on legislative actions. The easiest way to track legislation is on the legislative website: legislature. idaho.gov. Email is the best way to reach me: jwoodward@senate. idaho.gov. Sen. Jim Woodward is a second-term Republican legislator from Sagle serving District 1. He serves as vice-chair of the Transportation Committee and holds seats on the Education and Joint Finance-Appropriations committees.
The legislative roller coaster By Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise Reader Contributor
When I started my first term in 2019, nearly every long-time Capitol observer told me it was the worst legislative session they ever experienced. In 2020, they told me that was the worst legislative session ever. And now they’re saying in 2021 this is the worst session ever — and we’re only at the halfway mark. Why is that? Well, it’s like a roller coaster. It can be a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping experience. Or it can be a head-spinning, stomach-turning nightmare. Or both. But in the end, after all the ups and downs, twists and turns, white-knuckled fist-clenching and primordial screaming, you wind up back where you started. It seems every year the legislative roller coaster becomes increasingly more extreme. The plunges are deeper and the turns skew sharper to the right (ejecting some occupants from their seats). But in the end, the Legislature makes little or no progress by the end of the session. Here’s a midway progress report on the issues voters tell me
they care about the most:
• Funding education without constantly voting on school bonds and levies: nothing; • Keeping up with the cost of living (low wages, high property taxes, soaring rents): nada; • Affordable health care, including better mental health services: zip; • Transportation infrastructure that keeps up with the rapid pace of growth: zilch; • Protect access to public lands being blocked by out-of-state billionaires: nope. Instead, the majority party has spent most of the time on bills that are either self-serving, politically motivated or just plain head-scratching: • Enabling the legislature to call itself into session anytime for any reason; • Increasing the power of the Legislature over the executive branch; • Increasing voter suppression by making absentee voting more difficult; • Nullifying the constitutional right for citizen-driven ballot initiatives; • Banning all future medical science development of psychoactive medications;
• Shifting $4 million taxpayer dollars into a slush fund controlled by a few legislative leaders; • Allowing people to bring concealed guns into elementary schools; • Making it easier for businesses to engage in price-gouging; • A law to protect your kid’s neighborhood lemonade stand; • And so on.
When the dizziness and nausea from the legislative roller coaster subsides, you can then head on over to the Fiscal Fun House! The Legislature is currently sitting on over $1.3 billion in a rainy day fund, a record budget surplus and an idle internet sales tax account. Instead of investing most of that money in education, infrastructure and vital services, the majority party introduced a bill that would divert a good chunk of it toward tax cuts that go mostly to businesses, the wealthy and the well-connected — while a family of four making less than $75,000 per year will likely see their taxes go up. I and my colleagues have proposed legislation that will provide real tax relief for working families:
• Invest internet sales tax revenue in education, which would reduce the need for perpetual school bonds and levies; • Repeal the cap on the homeowner’s exemption, which would raise it from $100,000 to approximately $150,000 (if the majority party hadn’t capped it in 2016); • Increase the circuit-breaker allowance to help offset property taxes for low-income seniors and people with disabilities (which hasn’t changed since 2006); • Create a new earned income tax credit; • Repeal those portions of the $2.5 billion in annual sales tax exemptions that don’t deliver a fiscal benefit to the state. Unfortunately, majority party leadership has thus far refused to allow these ideas to be discussed, debated or come to a vote. It looks like the Legislature may once again fail to prioritize working families over its political squabbles. It’s time to get off this roller coaster. Rep. Steve Berch is a second-term Democratic legislator serving District 15 Seat A in Boise. He holds seats on the Business, Education and Local Government committees. March 4, 2021 /
Before my husband and I joined forces to become arborists, I was a librarian. I loved it. The interaction with community and books and ideas filled my cup. Well, mostly it did. I admit that I often stared longingly out the windows, wishing I could topple the walls around me and be outdoors. When the opportunity came to work outside with my husband, I jumped on it. Not only did I do it to be out in the elements, but also to make a living wage. My part-time work in patron services wasn’t exactly doing that. I supplemented my librarian living with work as an editor and columnist — neither of which pay well, either. Combined together, though, it sort of penciled out. Skilled manual labor, however, was a revelation. Not only could we pay the bills, but we actually saved up a little in reserve. No longer was there a sense of impending doom when the car needed new tires or a cell phone crapped out. Though we still lived in a camper trailer together, those first few years gave us a sense of moving up in the world. We’d found a modicum of security and freedom. We could buy beyond PBR. During this time, I still occasionally filled shifts at the library when needed. It was a good way to keep my toe in community and literary waters, feeling connected to things I still held dear. However, during those substitute shifts, I encountered an interesting array of patron reactions regarding my change in employment status. Some were excited 12 /
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Jen Jackson Quintano. for me, some were curious, but most reactions were along the lines of, Oh, you poor dear. Why in the world did you leave such a respectable job to do work like that?!? Never mind that my respectable job was paying me about $11 an hour. Never mind that I could make three times that running a chainsaw. Never mind that I was actually happy. The perception was that the change from librarian to laborer was a downhill slide. I felt that I had somehow disappointed my community. I admit that my first few days on the job found me questioning its respectability, too. When end-of-day clean-up found me filtering twigs out of rocks in a gravel driveway, I lamented the squandering of my college degree. Surely, I was not the kind of person who did this work, right? Such a thought begs the question: Who is supposed to
be the twig filterer, if not me? Is there a type that belongs on the other end of a rake? Once, on the job, I was asked if I had graduated from high school. It was a friendly question, born of simple curiosity and the desire to connect and converse, but… holy cow. The assumption was that, as a laborer, I was likely uneducated and making do with limited options. At first I was offended. I wanted to scream: I was valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude from a respected university and I own this shit! Instead, I just smiled and told the man, yes, I had a diploma. And that was that. Yet, all this points to the assumptions we carry about the kind of people who do and don’t toil behind computer screens. People who use their bodies for work likely do so because their minds are lacking. Or so the story seems to go. We manual laborers are just so many Scarecrows lamenting, “If I only had a brain,” because we’re all dying to get in on the Zoom craze, too. But we’re not. Or, I’m not. The 1999 movie Office Space comes to mind when I think about this divide. White-collar Peter absolutely hates his job as a programmer at Initech — the tedium, his smarmy boss, the TPS reports — while his blue-collar neighbor, Lawrence, seems happy piecing together seemingly menial gigs. At the end of the movie, with Initech in literal ruins after a disaffected employee burns the place down, Peter finds himself working side by side with
Lawrence. This is the beginning of his new and contented life outside the office. Peter: “This isn’t so bad, huh? Makin’ bucks, gettin’ exercise, workin’ outside.” Lawrence: “F***in’ A.” Peter: “F***in’ A.” Yes, Peter! The money, the exercise, the outdoors… f***in’ A, indeed. Soon after my transition from books to back cuts, my mother let me in on a little family secret: My deceased grandmother, before her passing, confided her fears that I wasn’t living up to my potential. Just thought you should know, Jenny. Whether or not my grandma actually said this, I don’t know, but it did illustrate my mom’s backhanded point about my intellect, my education and my future. It was her oft-repeated phrase, “What will other people think?” in disguise. My mother was obviously not feeling the f***in’ A-ness of my new gig. The thing is, though, my work is not that much different from that of my family before me. My dad sells heavy machin-
ery. His father owned businesses in oil, gas and propane. My mother’s family ran the Monarch Feed and Seed Company for 75 years. I am just one in a long line of people working close to the earth. None of us has ever had to file a TPS report. And maybe that was the problem for my family in initially accepting my work (they do embrace it now that it’s panning out). Parents always want better for their children. Often “better” looks like working with concepts rather than mechanics. “Better” is power suits rather than logging boots. “Better” is bodily ease. In reality, “better” is what I’ve got. I love my job, and it supports my family. Makin’ bucks, gettin’ exercise, workin’ outside. F***in’ A. Jen Jackson Quintano writes and runs an arborist business with her husband in Sandpoint. Find their website at sandcreektreeservice.com. See more of Quintano’s writing at jenjacksonquintano.com.
“Makin’ bucks, gettin’ exercise, workin’ outside... f***in’ A.” The closing scene from Office Space. Courtesy photo.
It’s that time of year when winter sunsets are simply glorious. There’s something about fresh-fallen snow in the mountains and a sunny, mild day in the lowlands that just screams North Idaho. To submit a photo for a future edition, please send to ben@ sandpointreader.com.
Top: This quiet winter scene was captured while driving home from Sandpoint. Photo by Tricia Florence. Bottom: Laura Phillips took this photo from her deck on Thursday, Feb. 25. “So much beauty on this 3rd rock from the Sun,” she wrote. Photo by Laura Phillips.
March 4, 2021 /
Voices in the Wilderness By Lauren Mitchell Reader Contributor
In 2011-2012 I spent the winter in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mountain pine bark beetles were spreading through the forests at a record rate and there was a lot of concern about the health of the forests and the amount of standing dead timber. The governor of South Dakota had just implemented his “Black Hills Forest Initiative,” declaring the mountain pine bark epidemic an emergency situation, but also “a disaster we can see coming.” He wanted action before fire took over, and action meant the parks had money to hire freshly graduated college kids like me to go and find the bugs. I wrote the following piece in December 2011 after working in Custer State Park for a few wonderful months getting intimately familiar with the terrain. It’s a story about the tribulations of working in the public sector and joys of working for the land. A story about finding happiness in getting dirty and solace in wild
‘The Song of the Bug Markers’
landscapes. Finally, it’s a tribute to the ways that our public lands are adored and protected by people from all walks of life. I hope you can find yourself in my story. ‘The Song of the Bug Markers’ Before working as a Land Survey Technician, I worked as a “Conservation Foreman” for Custer State Park, a.k.a. “seasonal forester,” “bug marker” or “bug person.” We have many names. We started out small. There were only three of us. Myself and two crazy boys who had competitions to see who could mark the most trees or go the longest without eating (that ended with a feast of four pizzas). Then another girl joined us and there were four. We found the biggest bug spot together, over 1,300. And then we were fired. And rehired! And given a raise! The park was granted a bunch of money to fight the bug war! And then our numbers began to grow exponentially. We’ve been joined by a diesel mechanic from Hermosa, a wildlife major
from Iowa, a jeep driver from Custer, a swing-dancing-cowboy from Iowa, a lumberjill from Paul Smiths and two of my college friends from New York. And five more are coming! And the paint is flying! We hike, scramble, crawl, scale and fall over, around, under and in the Black Hills as we identify, locate and mark the trees that are infested with mountain pine beetle. We cover ourselves with paint, bruise our
Lauren Mitchell in the outdoors. Courtesy photo. knees, run into branches, slide down hills and rip our pants on barbed wire fences. But there are days that remind us why it’s worth it. The places we climb to, the views that we see, the experiences we have; make each paint covered piece of clothing worth it. We’re getting to know the park from the inside out, in a more personal way than people who have worked here for years have ever experienced. The other day I had the strange feeling that each time we started to mark trees that a theme song should be playing, weird I know. I had no idea what song it would be or even what genre. But I started to think about it and suddenly I began to hear a few notes drifting in. There was the crunch of our boots in the snow, the irregular rhythm of our labored breathing, the misting spray of the paint cans, the chorus of “yo!’ when we lost each other, the wind moving through the trees, the chirping of angry birds and squirrels, the distant buzz of chainsaws and the occasional thunderous rumble as another chunk from Crazy Horse was blasted away. The theme song was there, perhaps drifting on the edge of consciousness, but there all the same. And the bug markers of Custer State Park will continue to add to the music of the park as we grow to 16 strong. Watch out bugs, the battles just beginning. Lauren Mitchell lives in Sandpoint and is pursuing a career as a land survey technician. Before settling in Idaho, she traveled across the United States to do conservation work and ecological research in incredible places from Arizona to Utah to South Dakota.
/ March 4, 2021
STAGE & SCREEN Panida announces new leadership, to embark on strategic planning for the future By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff Sandpoint’s oldest arts institution is under new management, as the Panida Theater announced in late-February a slate of new board members as well as the departure of Executive Director Patricia Walker, ending a tenure of almost seven years in the job. According to a Feb. 25 news release from the theater, the board selected Keely Gray to serve as interim chairperson, fulfilling the two-year term left vacant by Lenny Hess, who stepped down from the position earlier in the month. Prior to that, board members Kevin Smith and Carol Thomas left the organization in January and December, respectively. Meanwhile, Associate Director Becky Revak has also left the Panida. Gray said the board will be stepping in to handle office duties for the time being, and does not plan to replace the executive director position until after a strategic planning process is completed — likely in September or October, in time for the theater’s annual membership meeting. It would be the first such planning effort in more than six years, Gray said, noting that, “It forces us to look at all the things the theater does, organize it in a way that makes sense and figure out what we need.” “We’re in the perfect position to do this, because it’s sort of quiet,” she said, adding that “COVID gave us the ability to hit the pause button.” In a statement to Reader on March 3, Walker wrote that, “It is with the deepest gratitude that we say thank you for all your support over the nearly seven years since I arrived in Sandpoint. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community at your beloved Panida Theater.” She highlighted a number of accomplishments during her time as executive director, including keeping the theater afloat during several seasons during which downtown street construction hampered access to the building, followed by the general disruption wrought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Amid all that, Walker also cited challenges posed by the film industry, which in recent years has transitioned to a streaming model that simultaneously threw up hurdles to small theaters and altered the viewing habits of audiences. “It was always with an eye on the past blending with that with an understanding of current trends and changes to the industry as a part of the challenge. We added more foreign and arthouse films than had ever been shown, we also added more popular and requested films to help revenue. The addition of live events of more concerts and comedy was a huge hit,” she said. “Our primary goal was to expand programming to offer something for
everyone. We purposely looked for areas that were underserved to expand.” Gray said one of the chief goals of the planning process, which kicks off March 20, is to understand “the dynamic of what it takes to manage a historic venue and what it takes to book that venue.” “One of the things that we really, really are striving for is to really let the community feel like the theater is our home,” she added. “The biggest thing that we want to achieve is to make sure the community feels welcome.” Beyond the operational challenges facing the theater, there are also a number of ongoing maintenance and renovation projects that Gray said will be tackled in the near future — chief among them, repairs to the roof of the Little Theater and Panida marquee, as well as restructuring the upstairs administrative offices. “We have a lot on our plates and renovations are top of the agenda,” she said. “We’re going to refocus and evaluate the entire structure of just how our management is run going forward. … “The idea of having one person solely responsible for renovations and maintenance of a historic theater while trying to fill it, that kind of makes your brain explode,” Gray added. Among Walker’s proudest achievements, she said, was encouraging more live theater on the Panida main stage — pointing specifically to local productions such as Love Letters, Drinking Habits and Clue. “Collaborations with Unknown Locals for an annual production, the summer play of Panida Playhouse Juniors and the new Festival of the Bards come to mind. Inviting and celebrating playwrights, actors and directors to come join,” she said. According to Gray, Walker’s departure resulted from a difference in vision: “I think we were just going in different directions in terms of how the theater should move into the future. Not that Patricia’s passion wasn’t there and that it wasn’t good — were not trying to say anything bad about her or her work, we’re just saying our vision of the future of the theater and hers were different.” Looking back on her time as executive director — only the second person to hold the position since the retirement of Karen Bowers, who served in the role for 26 years, dating to the rescue of the theater from the wrecking ball in the late-1980s — Walker said audiences’ “laughter, their applause and even a few tears will be what remain in my heart.” “A line in a movie we showed inspired me to say: ‘The Panida is the heart of the community and it’s up to all of us to keep it beating,’” she said. “I am so very grateful to the people, the businesses and the industry for making that possible. Work is love and it truly was a privilege and an honor to have worked at the Panida for nearly seven years.”
March 4, 2021 /
Land use tug-of-war By Susan Drumheller Reader Contributor
Skip Lassen and Jenny Post, like many rural North Idaho residents, found their dream homes in the woods, miles from town. Lassen’s home is off the grid on 50 acres accessed by the private Coyote Trail road in the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains. Post lives nearby. Most of the land in the area is divided into 10-acre parcels and it’s all designated as Ag/Forest in the county’s comprehensive land use plan, which means properties cannot be subdivided into parcels smaller than 10 acres. “I live 20 miles out for a reason,” Lassen said. “I don’t live out there for increased population density.” So when a nearby landowner applied to Bonner County to divide a 20-plus-acre lot into five-acre parcels, Lassen and Post and the other neighbors were concerned. They worried about traffic on their road and increased fire danger, as the area is largely forested. “That’s our Achilles heel up here, it’s fire danger,” Post said. “It’s a tinderbox,” Lassen said. “You increase density and your fire danger goes up.” Despite the concerns of several neighbors, the county planning staff recommended amending the comp plan and zoning to allow the higher density. The request was unanimously approved by both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the board of commissioner in the fall. “It was like they were going through their perfunctory role, listened to the objections and they dismissed it,” said Lassen who attended the P&Z hearing. Rural stewards About the same time, a group of Selle Valley volunteers were wrapping up three years of meetings on a comp plan update for the Selle Valley and Samuels area. Like other “subarea” plans 16 /
/ March 4, 2021
around the county, the committee made it clear their intent was to protect their rural quality of life. The process began with a couple of rowdy community meetings three years ago at Northside Elementary School. “The people were yelling, ‘Leave it [the valley] alone! We don’t want to change anything,’” recalled Fred Omodt. Omodt later became chair of the Selle-Samuels Subarea Plan Committee, convened by the county to review the comp plan and recommend changes to meet the needs and desires of the rural community. The county comp plan is the guiding document for growth and land use in the county, setting the overarching goals and objectives. The county’s zoning codes are the laws that carry out the intent of the plan. The comp plan and land use map were last updated in 2005. Before the update, most of the county’s land use was designated Rural Residential, which meant that lots in those areas could be as small as five acres. The county hired planning consultants who hosted community meetings in which residents voiced concerns about sprawl, strip development and leap-frogging growth, according to a 2005 story in the Spokesman-Review. The county responded by changing the land use designation for much of the outlying rural areas to Ag/Forest — with 10-acre lot minimums. Judging from the work of the subarea plan committees around the county, that’s something they want to see maintained. “I know there’s a demand to be up in this area,” said Doug Gunter, a member of the Sagle Subarea Plan Committee. “We want to keep Sagle rural as much as possible.” Gunter describes himself as an “old Sagle farm boy.” His grandfather was born in a wall tent on the homestead off Sagle Road, where Gunter raised his
Neighborhood winners and losers
4-H steers, and he wants the same rural lifestyle for his own three children. Gunter’s uncle and father were involved in crafting earlier versions of the county’s comp plan. Gunter attended the initial Sagle subarea meetings, because it was his turn to defend the rural lifestyle from the inevitable growth that was coming. At the large community meetings at Sagle Elementary School in 2016, he found his neighbors largely agreed with
his point of view. “It was undeniable what 90% of the people wanted,” he said. But he questions if county leadership shares those desires.
Doug Gunter stands by a barn built in 1950 on his property in Sagle. Gunter’s great-great-grandparents first moved to a cabin by Shepherd Lake in 1914 and the family has largely remained in Sagle ever since. Photo courtesy the Gunter family.
A cold reception In a December workshop, after the Selle-Samuels committee submitted its plan, the county commissioners made a deadline for all the committees to finish their plans, with Commissioner Dan McDonald declaring “the Selle thing” a “waste of paper,
time and effort.” McDonald’s comments grated on volunteers like Gunter: “Since we had those meetings at Sagle school, my life became a lot busier with three new kids, but I stayed committed because I know what [the subarea groups] are capable of.” < see LAND USE, page 17 >
< LAND USE, con’t from page 17 > Frequently, the work of those committees centers on private property rights — which Gunter sees as a balancing act between adjacent landowners. Not everyone agrees, with many holding private property rights as “100%” sacred, according to Gunter, so given the passions and differences of opinions on the committee, he said it’s no wonder it’s taken years to put a subarea plan together. Once the subarea plans are done, the P&Z Commission will take the work under advisement and provide its own set of recommendations for updating the comp plan and land use map, according to county Planning Director Milton Ollerton. “I don’t think it was a waste of time,” Ollerton said. “I have a clearer picture of how people want those areas to develop.” Ollerton has told committee members that one intention of the revisions was to eliminate loopholes that allow development to occur that isn’t intended in the current comp plan. But Gunter and Omodt see the county creating work-arounds for the density limits in the rural areas — such as the new recreational vehicle rule, which lifted the 120-day limit of occupancy of an RV, and allows two per every lot over an acre in size. The Selle-Samuels committee banned the RV rule in its plan. “The staff would come in with these recommendations that did not uphold the comp plan,” Omodt said. “And it seems like no matter what they come forth with, [the commission] would rubber stamp it.” That echoes Lassen’s impression of the case near his property off Coyote Trail: “They already had their minds made up.” Similar request, different outcomes One goal of the comp plan is to “encourage the community to grow while retaining its rural character and protecting its unique natural resources.” The zoning code states that the Ag/ Forest 10-acre zone is appropriate for areas that do not necessarily have “prime agricultural soils” but where agricultural and forestry pursuits are still viable. Those areas can also be “within or adjacent to areas of city impact or where lands are afforded fire protection, access to standard roads and other services.” Yet, in the case pointed to by Lassen and Post, staff argued that because the property in question did not have steep slopes nor prime ag soil, was on a county-maintained road — Upper Gold Creek Road borders the short side, with private Coyote Trail along the length — and was within a fire district, there appeared to “no reason” why the parcel would fall under Ag/Forest use designation in the comp plan. The result is a rectangular Rural Res-
idential island in a sea of Ag/Forest land on the county’s land use map. The same argument essentially could be made for hundreds of properties in the Selle Valley, eventually resulting in land divisions (most likely through the county’s new streamlined “minor land division” process, without public input), and leading to sprawl and traffic jams on Colburn Culver Road — precisely what residents told consultants they didn’t want back in 2005, and what residents are trying to prevent now with their subarea plans. Across the county, in the Hoodoo Valley, the staff last month made the opposite argument, selecting different language from the comp plan, such as the intention “for new development to locate in areas with similar densities and compatible uses.” In the Hoodoo case, the staff focused on fire danger, traffic and other issues residents also tried to raise up Gold Creek — to recommend denial of a similar request to change the comp plan to allow five-acre parcels. The Hoodoo property is much larger and bordered by Idaho state lands, but it also borders a subdivision with 48 parcels ranging from two to nine acres in size. The biggest difference between the two properties — other than size — was dirt. The Hoodoo property has prime agricultural soils. Ollerton said the soil was a deciding factor, but downplayed the influence of a petition with 111 signatures opposing the Hoodoo rezone. All this is now rather meaningless to Post and Lassen and their dispirited neighbors up Gold Creek, who don’t understand the official rationale for why their neighborhood shouldn’t also remain a haven for low-density living and wildlife. “Everyone did their thing, everyone participated, and they said, ‘Well, you’re just like Rapid Lightning and there’s lots of five-acre parcels there,’” Post said. “I see why people get apathy — they feel like they have no power. It’s like I can’t do anything about it, so what the heck.” Susan Drumheller is a 30-year resident of North Idaho, a former Spokesman-Review reporter and a member of the board of Project 7B, a local nonprofit with the mission to support land use planning based on locally shared values and aspirations. For information or to support Project 7B’s efforts to track land use planning and promote public involvement, go to project7B.org. This is Part 2 in a two-part series on growth in Bonner County. Find Part 1, “Zoom boom: Land use priorities collide in the ‘Zoom economy,’” in the Feb. 25 edition of the Sandpoint Reader and online at sandpointreader.com. March 4, 2021 /
events March 4-11, 2021
THURSDAY, March 4
Live Music w/ Kevin Dorin 6-8pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall
FriDAY, March 5
Live Music w/ Bright Moments Jazz 6-8pm @ Idaho Pour Authority Live Music w/ BTP 5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery Classic rock trio featuring Benny Baker, Ali Thomas and Sheldon Packwood
Trivia at the Longshot 6pm @ The Longshot
Live Music w/ Nick Wiebe 5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery Everything from reggae, country, classic rock to ‘80s, ‘90s pop
Live Music w/ Okay, Honey 6:30-9:30pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall Live Music w/ Bright Moments Jazz 8-11pm @ Eichardt’s Pub
Live Music w/ Luke Yates 6:30-9:30pm @ MickDuff’s Beer Hall
SATURDAY, March 6
SunDAY, March 7
Sandpoint Chess Club 9am @ Evans Brothers Coffee Meets every Sunday at 9am
Piano Sunday w/ Annie Welle 3-5pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery Bingo at the Winery 3-5pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery
monDAY, March 8
Outdoor Experience Monday Night Group Run – All levels welcome 6pm @ Outdoor Experience Lifetree Cafe • 2pm @ Jalapeño’s Restaurant “Is Marriage Obsolete? Why More People Are Saying, ‘I Don’t’” Monday Night Blues Jam w/ Truck Mills 7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub
tuesDAY, March 9
Paint and Sip 5:30pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery March artist of the month Jennings Waterhouse hosts a paint and sip. $35
ThursDAY, March 11
Live Trivia at the Winery 5:30-7:30pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery
Artistically wrap a stone or crystal in copper wire 1-3pm @ Create (900 W. 4th in Newport, Wash.) Wire artist Weezil from Bonners Ferry teaches basics of wrapping stone or crystal in a wire design. $15. All tools provided. Masks/distancing required. 509-447-9277
/ March 4, 2021
STAGE & SCREEN
The future in black and white
Late ’90s TV series Early Edition embraces absurdity, restores faith in humanity
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff What would you do with tomorrow’s newspaper today? This is the narrated theme that opens each episode of Early Edition, a four-season show that ran from 1996-2000 and followed main character Gary Hobson — played by Kyle Chandler, best known later as Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. Gary is a regular guy living in Chicago, until one morning, he receives a copy of the Chicago SunTimes at his door — along with an orange cat — and notices the date: tomorrow. Events covered in the newspaper haven’t happened yet, but as Gary finds out, they will happen, unless he takes steps to change the future. The explanation as to why this supernatural paper arrives at Gary’s door is only ever half-baked, with it remaining a mystery well into Season 2 — as far as I’ve been able to watch. Each episode launches our hero onto a mission to change fate, oftentimes saving people from train crashes and robberies. He is assisted by his two best friends — the occasionally insufferable Chuck, and Marissa, a blind wom-
an of color who often serves as the guys’ moral guiding light. Entertainment Weekly gave the first season a C rating in 1996, calling Chandler “such a likable sweetie that he almost makes Early Edition watchable.” It’s a harsh truth, but the show would have undoubtedly sunk after five episodes if not for Chandler. He’s an average, soft kind of handsome, with slanted eyes, a tall build and absolutely no sense of fashion, complete with a Southern accent. What keeps his character so lovable — and what should baffle anyone with an understanding of successful character development — is that there are no clear factors motivating Gary to get up every day and save Chicagoans. His past is largely a mystery. He’s a young divorcee with no children, and quits his stockbroker job in the pilot episode. There is one early Season 2 episode in which he tries to be a “normal guy” and ignore tomorrow’s paper for a day, but he simply can’t. Gary is driven to do good things, and we don’t know why. Is there anything more heroic than that? An AV Club critic argued that Early Edition was “held back by
… the absurd coincidences that keep Chandler’s mission afloat, and his inability to come up with any better plan than to run to where trouble’s about to happen, and shout, ‘Hey! Stop!’” This is a fair calculation, likely from someone who does not know how to have fun. The absurdity of Early Edition is its key ingredient. I mean, a cat brings this man a
Huh, looks like Early Edition gets canceled today. Courtesy photo. newspaper from the future. What ensues after that should be free from the binds of reality. Besides, Gary’s inability to plan ahead leads to golden episodes, like the time that he and Chuck sneak into the Chicago Bears’ locker room to stop the quarterback from sustaining coma-inducing injuries. What happens next is impossible, but a joy to watch. The brilliance of Early Edition lies not in the production, or even in the storytelling, but in its sheer audacity. The show invites viewers to buy in by providing just enough mystery to keep things interesting, but also by creating characters who have a single, clear-cut goal: make life better for others. This mixture of unpredictability (‘Where will the paper send Gary next?’) and formulaic world-building (‘People are going to look out for one another’) is satisfying, if only because the news — particularly these days — feels so completely out of control. Critics of the late ’90s and early ’00s did not have the foresight to
know that a man who gets tomorrow’s newspaper today would be the hero we so desperately needed in the 2020s. Gary would not have hesitated to tear through airports early last year, tracking down carriers of the coronavirus and pleading with them to quarantine themselves. “But sir, I have no reason to believe that these people need to be detained. I can’t hold them against their will,” the airport security would say. “How do you know they’re sick?” Gary, pulling his newspaper from his brown leather jacket and silently re-reading the names of the infected people — yet to be released the next day, in a fictional world where, yes, the paper publishes typically privileged information — would breathlessly retort: “Don’t ask me how I know, OK? You wouldn’t believe me anyway. Just know that you’d be saving a whole lot of people from a whole lot of trouble.” Find Early Edition on DVD at the library.
March 4, 2021 /
Eating their words
When a tech startup said it could ‘fix’ online recipes, the recipe bloggers rose up
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Startups often launch from Twitter, with creators sharing “personal news” that they’ve begun a new project and followers making sure the great new idea spreads far and wide. Occasionally, Twitter has the opposite effect. Such was the case when Tom Redman announced the launch of his new website, Recipeasly, on Feb. 28. “Some personal news!” Redman tweeted. “Two friends and I created a new thing to fix online recipes; recipeasly.com — your favourite recipes except without the ads or life stories.” That was at 1:24 p.m. Three hours later, Redman issued an
apology several tweets long, expressing he and his team’s respect for recipe blog content creators. “Clearly, how we’re marketing Recipeasly doesn’t demonstrate that respect at all,” he said, adding later: “I’m also grateful for the strong feedback. There’s a lot for us to learn, and I appreciate learning from the conversations in this thread.” Now, a visit to recipeasly. com brings viewers to a basic black-and-white, sans serif message, headlined: “We’re sorry.” The message shares that the website will remain down while the Recipeasly team “re-examines [its] impact” on the recipe blogging community. As far as apologies go, Recipeasly is doing it right. There hasn’t been a tinge of defensiveness from Redman on Twitter — only a real attempt to explain how the website works and assure people that his intentions are coming from the right place — and the apology on the website seems about as genuine as it gets. The fact of the matter is that in a world where we’ve all had to scroll to the bottom of a web page to find a
recipe (begrudgingly or not), this discussion was bound to take place. But by circumventing the original bloggers’ work to avoid “ads or life stories,” copyright and simple respect moved to the forefront of the conversation. Food culture website Eater put it perfectly in its coverage of the Recipeasly debacle. “But as frustrating as the founders’ goals were, it’s also the logical conclusion of an internet culture that has long whined about having to scroll through essays, stories and paragraphs-long headnotes to get to a free recipe,” wrote Eater staff writer Jaya Saxena. “When labor is devalued for that long, some tech bro is going to come around to ‘fix’ it.” Basically, it’s all of our faults that we’ve arrived at this crossroads. But where will we go from here? You’d be hard-pressed to find an internet user who hasn’t Googled “banana bread recipe,” found one that looked appealing, clicked on the link and then exasperatedly scrolled through an autobiographical deluge of words before finally arriving at the goal: a simple list of ingredients and directions. While recipe blogging often serves as a genuine attempt to help viewers connect to a dish by sharing family stories and
Scroll, scroll, scroll, repeat. Courtesy photo. cultural details, lengthy web pages also help these bloggers — mostly women — monetize and popularize their work. More text means more chances for Google to latch onto key words and move up certain recipes in search results. As Eater pointed out, this work is labor, whether today’s tech culture respects it or not. The paradigm which says, “This woman’s words are annoying, get me to the recipe,” is unfortunately drenched in misogyny, and a special type of which we are all guilty. Luckily, Recipeasly is attempting reconciliation, and so can everyone else. No one is saying you have to read all the nitty-gritty details that led the
Friends of the Library brings back monthly book sale By Reader Staff
/ March 4, 2021
recipe blogger to share that particular baked spaghetti squash recipe, but it’s possible to still keep traffic going to their site by selecting the original blog, spending the 30 seconds it takes to get past the backstory and going on to enjoy the fruits of their — yep — labor. Alternatively, use control+F on your keyboard, type in “recipe,” and jump straight to it. While brutal Twitter takedowns rarely present a silver lining, the Recipeasly blowup is forcing everyone to confront their relationship with the internet’s plentiful supply of free recipes. It appears we’ve all been taking this delicious and care-filled resource for granted. Let’s do better.
The Friends of the Library are happy to announce that book sales are on again, beginning Saturday, March 6. Doors will be open at 10 a.m. and will close at 2 p.m. “Our shelves are overflowing and we so want to put them in your
hands,” FOL wrote in a press release. Masks are mandatory and the FOL encourages everyone in attendance to maintain social distancing. The sale will be held in the large meeting rooms and in the FOL book room, not the lobby. “We eagerly await your happy faces,” FOL wrote. “We have missed you.”
This week’s RLW by Ed Ohlweiler
Both Sides Now
A music newbie’s deep dive into the life and work of Joni Mitchell
By Sophie McMahon Reader Contributor Music allows us to view our lives through someone else’s lens, and in the same breath teaches us equally about ourselves as it does the world. I have used artists — usually strong, artistic women generations older than I am — to serve as beacons of individuality and spirit as I move through life (my most recent obsessions being Pattie Smith, Joan Didion and of course, Joni Mitchell). My dad was the first person to introduce me to Joni Mitchell. I still remember his tenor voice flying around the cab of his truck, trying to mimic her own wafty vibrato as we listened to “A Case of You,” a raw and unapologetic love ballad: “Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine/ You taste so bitter and so sweet/ Oh, I could drink a case of you darling/ And I would still be on my feet.” When I decided that Joni Mitchell would be my next muse, I did what was obvious to me: knit hats for every person I love and listen to her entire discography from start to finish, one album at a time. Mitchell grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada. She was destined to be a risk-taker, as she started smoking cigarettes at age 9 because it made her “feel wise,” according to her extensive online biography. After a tumultuous marriage, a stint in art school and the birth of a child, Mitchell released her debut album when she was 23. Song to a Seagull sets the bar for Mitchell’s identity as a storyteller. Flowery but distinct language is the vein through which all of her songwriting flows. She is candid in her lyr-
icism and approach; she opens the door with a smile, asks you to take off your shoes and welcomes you into her world: “Seabird I have seen you fly above the pilings/I am smiling at your circles in the air/ I will come and sit by you while he lies sleeping.” I didn’t think it was possible to love every single song on an album, until I heard Blue. Unapologetic lyrics, paired with nothing but an acoustic guitar, dulcimer and piano are the essence of what it means to write effectively. Mitchell stated in a Rolling Stone interview that she “felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes” while writing Blue. The album is sometimes hopeful, sometimes sad, but a testament to the heartbreaking qualities of confessional folk, and always undeniably Joni Mitchell. Today, when I want to feel a little more like myself — or maybe a little more like Joni — I play Blue: “Everybody’s saying that hell’s the hippest way to go/ Well I don’t think so/ But I’m gonna take a look around it though/ Blue I love you.” Mitchell’s quirky lyricism and raw backing became the soundtrack to my life, accompanying me on long walks and
sitting across the table from me as I had my eggs and toast. Albums such as Mingus and The Hissing of Summer Lawns are highlights of her range of artistry, and the greatest representations of her jazz influences and social commentary about class, society and fame: “Don’t you get sensitive on me/ ‘Cause I know you’re just too proud/ You couldn’t step outside the boho dance now/ Even if good fortune allowed.” Hejira, an album written during a cross-country solo road trip in a “hat white” Mercedes, mirrors Blue in its minimal backing and heartfelt storytelling qualities. Listening to Hejira, I feel transported back to the two months I spent alone on the highway in my own hat white Mercedes (*ahem* Toyota 4Runner) — introspective, a little weary, but most importantly, free: “Listen/ Strains of Benny Goodman/ Coming through the snow and the pinewood trees/ I’m porous with travel fever/ But you know I’m so glad to be on my own.” As I approached Mitchell’s final album (and my last knitted hat), I heard the final re-recording of her hit “Both Sides Now.” Her first rendition
Joni Mitchell. Courtesy photo. in 1964 was undeniably beautiful, but at age 60, her voice has deepened and become richer over time, and now she’s backed by a chorus of wafty strings rather than her guitar. It feels like 23-year-old Mitchell wrote this song for this exact moment, when she’s finally able to syncopate her fame, loves and losses: “I’ve looked at love from both sides now/ From give and take, and still somehow/ It’s love’s illusions I recall/ I really don’t know love at all.” At the culmination of my expedition into her life and work, I realized that the true magic of Joni Mitchell is not hidden in the lengths of her blonde hair or within the notes of her unorthodox chord shapes. She lays all that she is at your feet and doesn’t care whether you like it or not. In short, she doesn’t make me want to be more like her, she makes me want to be more like myself, and I think that is the greatest gift you can give someone — the freedom to be honest. To learn more about Joni Mitchell and her work, visit jonimitchell.com.
In 1978, William Least Heat Moon packed everything into a Ford Econoline van nicknamed “Ghost Dancer“ and drove 13,000 miles on back roads around the country for what would later become his classic book, Blue Highways. He illustrates our search for meaning, a common book theme at the time, but through human contact and interactions with nature rather than some esoteric religion or guru. There are so many things to love about this book: colorful characters and storytelling, memorable similes (bordering on hilarious), poetic imagery and a glance into a more naïve past.
Hopefully word about Molly Tuttle is starting to get out after being awarded the first female IBMA Guitarist of the Year, or the online footage of her jamming with other guitar greats. (Heck, I even made a ringtone from one of her riffs.) Her CD When You’re Ready showcases this talent even further. While strict bluegrass disciplinarians may find Tuttle’s wandering outside the confines of the genre unpardonable, this may be just what makes it so great.
Rejoice, friends of Planet Earth! Sometime in the past few years, unbeknownst to me, Planet Earth II was released with six more timeless episodes. Remember how for 10 years all the iconic footage of say, snow leopards, came from the first series and we watched it over and over tirelessly? Well now there’s more. And still with David Attenborough‘s narration and sense of wonder, which always takes me to my happy place. March 4, 2021 /
BACK OF THE BOOK
Every snow by its right name
The many terms we use to describe the snow we ride
By Ben Olson Reader Staff
From Northern Idaho News, March 4, 1924
THIEVES GET SMALL LOOT; VANDALS OUT
Thievery and vandalism went on a rampage here over the weekend, with one holdup, an attempted holdup that failed, a suitcase theft and the smashing of $200 worth of plate-glass windows at the R.B. Himes photo studio on First avenue. So far, none of the miscreants have been apprehended. Saturday night, as he was walking home along the Spokane International tracks, Lloyd Harper, barber at the Dan Reichart shop, was accosted by one of four men, three of whom remained in the background. The unknown commanded Mr. Harper to “stick ‘em up,” but his intended victim noticed he had no gun, although holding his hand low as though to delude the object of his holdup. Mr. Harper let swing a right-hander with all the steam he had, and the holdup went flat when the blow landed on his jaw. Mr. Harper then kicked him in the head and ribs and, seeing the other three approaching, fled down the track. On Sunday night, it is unofficially reported a Milltown man was similarly waylaid along the Spokane International tracks and robbed of 40 cents, all the money he had on him at the time. His assailants it is said then manhandled him, dislocating a shoulder. Also on Sunday evening, Mrs. John Lawson of Wardner, B.C., who was en route to Helena, Mont., transferring from the Spokane International to the Northern Pacific depot here, had her suitcase stolen from the Northern Pacific depot. A report was made to the police, but nothing was learned about its disappearance. 22 /
/ March 4, 2021
Imagine you overhear someone saying to their friend, “It was nice on the corduroy, but off piste was nothing but dust on crust until it turned to Pend Oreille pre-mix near Stella.” If you’re a local skier or snowboarder, you know exactly what’s going on here, but if you don’t frequent the amazing ski hill right in our backyard, there’s a good chance this sentence sounds like hopeless jargon. Like any other specialized sport, skiing and snowboarding brings with it certain lingo that helps participants define and share the experience. One common question when encountering someone who just came down from Schweitzer is, “What was the snow like?” Over the years, I’ve heard many humorous descriptive terms that attempt to define exactly what the snow was like. Here are some of my favorites: Powder day It snowed the night before, and the mountain is awaiting your fresh tracks. Call in sick for work.
Bluebird powder day A rare experience when a storm rolls through the day before, dumping snow all over the mountain, but by morning the clouds push off and a bright blue sky awaits your fresh tracks. Packed powder Ski resorts often use this term to denote they had a powder day the day before but now it’s been compacted and is a bit denser.
Tracked out On a powder day, after thousands of skiers have sought out every nook and cranny of freshies, what’s left is a bumpy, choppy mess that can be like riding a bucking bronco down the mountain. It still beats a boring day at the office.
Champagne powder This is more common in ski resorts in places like Colorado, where the temperature is consistently lower due to higher elevation. Champagne powder days are uncommon in North Idaho, but when they happen it’s like Christmas morning. The snow is light, fluffy and chalky, often spraying in fine rooster tails when you surf through it. Pend Oreille pre-mix This is a local colloquialism for when fresh powder turns to packed powder, then gets tracked out and what remains seems closer to skiing through wet concrete than snow. The pre-mix will grab your skis or board and do funny things with them. Best to stop and have a beer to make this run more enjoyable. Mank or crud Similar to Pend Oreille pre-mix. Start with untracked powder, track it out and achieve pre-mix status, which then gets warmed by the sun and refreezes overnight to transform into crud, which is heavy, grabby and hard on the joints. The heavier and wetter the crud gets, the more inclined we are to call it mank.
Cream cheese Very dense, wet snow that only lets your skis or board sink in a few inches, but is smooth and buttery. Good spring skiing days often feature cream cheese snow.
Crust When the temperature warms, it softens the snow a bit, but after it refreezes, we are left with a firm layer of crust on top with a softer layer beneath.
Corduroy After a groomer passes over the snow, it leaves a grooved pattern behind that resembles corduroy. There is a unique sound and feeling when riding the fresh corduroy.
Sastrugi Those beautiful carved wind erosion patterns that form in firm, wind-affected snow. They are terribly beautiful to look at, but just terrible when trying to punch through them.
Graupel Graupel is soft, hail-like snow that falls on occasion. Sometimes you’ll ride up a chair and enough will accumulate on your lap that it resembles a box full of mini packing peanuts. On the run, graupel can be a bit like skiing over chafed ball bearings. It’s grabby and odd, but it still beats being hit in the face with a fish. Free refills When it’s snowing so hard you can ski the same run over and over again, and in the time it takes you to get back up in the chairlift, your lines are already filled in. Storm skiing is super fun, but visibility is often tough. Suck it up, buttercup — free refills can be some of the best days of the year.
Dust on crust When a fresh snowfall of a piddling amount falls on crust, giving someone the illusion that the snow is forgiving. The inexperienced will barrel off the run into dust on crust and try to put an edge down, only to slide clear down the hill without stopping. Legend has it some are still sliding to this day.
We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can’t scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me.
By Bill Borders
Solution on page 22
Solution on page 22
Woorf tdhe Week
[verb (used with object)] 1. to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like.
“He bamboozled me with promises of lower prices, but the service left something to be desired.” Corrections: I dropped the letter “p” in the word “hypnotism” in last week’s “Old School Bonner County News Stories” column. Apologies for the error. –BO Also, in the Feb. 25 story, “Dover P&Z looking at zone change for former Thorne Research property,” we incorrectly described the size of the building. According to the owner, the footprint of the building is 36,000 square feet. With the second floor it totals about 57,000 square feet. “It has been approved long ago for expansion of the base footprint,” he said. We apologize for the error.
1. Stockpile 6. “Cheers!” 11. Chills and fever 12. First 15. Putting surfaces 16. Spike heel 17. Website address 18. Chooses 20. And so forth 21. Fastens 23. Prima donna problems 24. Journey 25. Check 26. Not cool 27. Historical periods 28. Backside 29. “___ Maria” 30. Supporting column 31. Demoted 34. Motionless 36. Era 37. Sea eagle 41. Low, flat land 42. Put away 43. A noble gas 44. Not false 45. Blend 46. Docile 47. Hairpiece 48. Popeye’s favorite food 51. Not brilliant 52. Breathing in 54. Hulled corn
Solution on page 22 56. Swarming 57. Express a thought 58. Rituals 59. A kind of golf club
DOWN 1. A large warship 2. Eternal 3. Prompt 4. Female chickens 5. To be, in old Rome 6. Funny television show 7. Intertwines 8. Anagram of “Silo”
9. Consumed food 10. Genuine 13. Certify 14. A door fastener 15. Minim 16. Discriminating 19. Depart 22. Germless 24. A spear with three prongs 26. Bulwark 27. French for “Summer” 30. Goulash 32. Shade tree 33. Ancient Greek marketplace
34. Place of worship 35. More difficult 38. Interpreting written material 39. Candidate 40. Foe 42. Insect wounds 44. Blockhead 45. Backbone 48. Narrow opening 49. Grub 50. Expect and wish 53. French for “Friend” 55. Central
March 4, 2021 /
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