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The mother of newport Learn the h i s t o ry o f f e a , ca s s , s c o t t

home of the chubby chap elli rose essentials in priest river

An island of its own diamond lake home comes with an island

A supplement publication of the Newport Miner and Gem State Newspapers

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Horizon photo|Don Gronning

The view looking south from Ortner’s Island on Diamond Lake.

Land Title Company...........................................20 Leo’s Excavating................................................29 Liberty Painting................................................... 7 Marine West Industries..................................... 21 Michael J. McLaughlin, PS................................. 19 Newport Consolidated School District................. 5 Newport Hospital............................................... 31 North Idaho Dermatology.................................30 Northwest OB-GYN...........................................23 Novus Glass........................................................ 26 Numerica Credit Union........................................ 2 Oxarc..................................................................22 Pend Oreille County Solid Waste....................... 14 Pend Oreille Public Utility District..................... 27 Priest River Development Corp..........................30 Priest River Mini Storage..................................... 7 Protection Plus................................................... 21 Riverside Auto Center, Inc................................. 13 Rob’s Heating & Cooling.................................... 19 Roger’s Body & Frames......................................20 Rural Resources................................................. 11 Rural Resources................................................. 13 Rural Resources Community Action.................. 9

4 Newport Music Festival

Hundreds gather to listen to good ‘ol Americanan

8 Elli Rose Essentials Hand made lip balm, soaps, lotions in Priest River

12 A long history

One woman is responsible for a majority of Newport’s core

16 A home with a view

Island in Diamond Lake offers haven for many

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About the cover: Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

A line of mandolins waits ready for pickers at the Newport Music Festival. The vendor booths included musical sales and repair as well as clothing and, of course, festival food. The bluegrass-centric event fills the air at the Newport City Park each year in early September. Mark your calendars for the weekend event Sept. 13-15, 2013.


Editor’s Note

his issue of Horizon contains stories on various topics. There are many interesting people, events and histories in the Pend Oreille River Valley. The Newport Music Festival can be seen as the last festival-hoorah of the summer, and it draws hundreds of people from around the region. It highlights the plethora of Americana music stylings, and the people who play them. Elli Rose Essentials began as a way for the Hirst family to make some extra spending money but has turned into a worldwide phenomena. Hannah and Steve, along with their two boys, maintain the farm-quality of their products while shipping around the world. One woman is responsible for the core of Newport’s residential area. Jessie Fea Cass Scott was one of the pioneer women of Newport and lends her name to three residential streets. Her story shows how much impact one person can have on a community. Finally, we visit an unusual home sitting on its own island in Diamond Lake. The Ortner’s Island house is on the market and has an interesting history of its own. We hope you enjoy this issue of Horizon. -MCN

Community Horizon PUBLISHED: September 2012 PUBLISHER: Fred Willenbrock WRITERS & EDITORS: Janelle Atyeo, Don Gronning and Michelle Nedved DESIGN: Michelle Nedved ADVERTISING: Lindsay Guscott, Cindy Boober and Amy Robinson HORIZON is published quarterly as a supplement to The Newport Miner

and Gem State Miner, P.O. Box 349, Newport, WA 99156. Editorial and advertising offices are located at 421 S. Spokane, Newport. TELEPHONE: 509-447-2433 E-MAIL: FAX: 509-447-9222 Reproduction of articles & photographs is prohibited without permission of the publisher. See all issues at The Miner Online: Fall 2012|Horizon 3

Courtesy photo|Newport Music Festival Association

Kevin Brown & the Beloved Country. Kevin has the Front Porch Bluegrass Show at 1 p.m. Sundays on KPBX and helps with the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival in Medical Lake.

Newport Music Festival a toe-tapping good time New organizer recounts the past, and looks forward to the future of annual music festival BY JANELLE ATYEO


here’s one weekend every September when the Newport City Park

fills with the sounds of banjos, mandolins and guitars. Listening to the toe-tapping beats, from bluegrass and Americana to gospel and other roots music, people bring their lawn chairs and sit amongst the tall pines taking in the Newport 4 Horizon|2012 Fall

Music Festival.

“It’s a beautiful setting for a thing like this,” said Everett Hedrick of Hayden. He watched from a shady spot Friday afternoon with his wife, Erna Hedrick. It was their second year at Newport Music Festival. They’re part of the Escapees RV group that helps man the gates at the cowboy campground. On festival weekend, Sept. 7-9 this year, about 600 people came from around the region. Some made the trip from Canada, Montana, Oregon and California. Judging by the emails and Facebook posts received after the event, “everything is just a glowing review,” says Mark Harding, who was new to organizing the festival this year. He tells CONTINUED ON PAGE 5

Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

Digger Davis and his son Jonathon of Digger Davis and Tombstone pose during one of their songs. The group stopped in Newport for the 2012 festival during their tour through the Northwest.

r Pend Oreille County Enjoy You Fall Season Beautiful From County Commissioner Candidate


Tim Ibbetson is your best choice for County Commissioner, and believes in the County’s ability to become more productive with the right Leadership and creativity.

I can assist the county in reaching this goal, with my experience in the following: 35 years of broad based business experience and exposure Overseas and in the States: Dealing with many different Businesses, Cultures and Municipalities • Making Payroll • Negotiations • Understanding Budgets • Creativity • Communications • Personnel

Our county needs someone who is willing to create: • Business friendly atmosphere • Citizen involvement • Incentives for home based businesses Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

Bill and Laurie Klein perform with Donna on bass. They were among the first acts to take the stage Friday afternoon of the 2012 festival.


the story of how the music festival lives on – and is going strong – after it was nearly canceled this year:

How did we get roped into this one, gang?

After organizing a weekend of bluegrass, folk and gospel music for about five years, Jim Crowley was ready to send out announcements that the annual event was canceled for 2012. Harding had to say, “Hold on for just a

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• Spending I will continue to look for new and creative ideas and concepts to assist the county citizens and businesses prosper and enjoy their property and county assets. Seek additional businesses to relocate to Pend Oreille County, who create “Low impact” footprints. I want to thank all of the Citizens of Pend Oreille County and “Armed Forces Veterans”, who believe in my passion to keep Pend Oreille County the “Jewel” of the Pacific Northwest, including your support and input.

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tainment director and emcee. Larang is treasurer and stage manager, Fletcher is the secretary and vendor coordinator and Harding says he’s to blame if anything should go wrong. Besides being president, he seeks out sponsorships, coordinates advertising and provides sound for the festival.

minute.” He started calling around and it was apparent that others felt as Harding did that it would be a shame to see the Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association’s “other” festival – the Newport Music Festival, held at the city park in early September – go to the wayside. Newport Music Festival’s got Harding recruited people to help roots out. The festival has roots as far back as “I’ve been involved in quite a num1980 when it was called the Selkirk ber of festivals through Bluegrass Festival and the years and I’ve learned was held at the Pend “It’s a beautiful that a group of likeminded Oreille County fairsetting for a thing grounds in Cusick. In folks with a common purpose can take on a 1986, it moved to Sandlike this.” multi-faceted undertaking point. Then in 1992, it like the Newport Music returned to the original Everett Hedrick Festival and help it to Festivalgoer from Hayden location but with a new thrive,” he said. moniker, The Great WestHe formed a new group ern Flat Pick Contest, called the Newport Music Festival and was touted as the “highest paying Association consisting of Pat Foster, contest in the West.” Dave Larang, Connie Fletcher and Bob Asbury organized the festival himself as officers as well as Britches through this period and also played Peden as grounds manager and Jim as part of Custer’s Grass Band, “one Shamp as camp host. They also got of the Northwest’s longest enduring much support from the Inland Northbluegrass ensembles,” which still plays west Bluegrass Association (INBA) today with pretty much all the origiand Singer Coats, “The Bluegrass Web nal players. When Mark O’Conner Guy” who took on creating their Inwas just a teen, he played, and Singer ternet presence. Any other volunteers Coats’s father, Dennis, whose banjo are welcome to pitch in. Just contact playing is widely known of in the any of the board members. area, also played during those years at This year, they divided up duties thus: Foster is vice president, enterCONTINUED ON PAGE 7

The 2012 Line-up: Jim Faddis - Hailing from eastern Washington, this singer-songwriter paints vivid characters plagued with regret, longing and heartbreak and sings their stories with his haunting high tenor voice. Chet O’Keef - His song, “Ring the Bell” was recorded by the Gibson Brothers and was No. 1 on the bluegrass charts for three months in 2010. Big Red Barn - The Northwest band is celebrating its 10th year together. Molly & Tenbrooks - Timeless bluegrass from the Evergreen State, the band brings years of combined experience to deliver a range of stylings. Custer’s Grass Band - Based in Spokane, the group formed in 1973 and is credited with making the first bluegrass album ever recorded in the Pacific Northwest. Kevin Brown and the Beloved Country - Hailing from eastern Washington, Brown’s songs explore the lives and thoughts of folks from the region. Kevin Pace and the Early Edition - Headed by a true Southerner, the group brings true bluegrass to the Northwest. Digger Davis and Tombstone - The Texas family made a stop in Newport on their recent tour, brining traditional bluegrass sounds. Bill and Laurie Klein - Songs, stories and clogging are part of this couple’s act. The Brad Keeler Trio - Fronted by an award winning multi-instrumentalist, the group plays roots music, acoustic style. Flatpick Earl - The guitars and banjos echoing through the pines remind listeners of simpler times. The Engell Family Band - Hailing from the Colville area, the family’s instrumental prowess includes versatile genres: bluegrass, western swing, folk and gospel. Riding the Pines - Musicians who have been with various groups over the years pull together to play their own favorites. The Afterthoughts - Some of Spokane’s most talented young pickers join revered veterans to put on a great show.

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the festival. After a break, the idea to continue in the tradition of those times landed on Jim Crowley. Hosted on the original fairgrounds site, Crowley brought the festival back to life as the Pend Oreille Valley Bluegrass Festival in 2007. He hired top performers such as Steve Kaufman, Gary Davis and Dan Crary along with about every band in the Spokane area. That’s when “It’s more Harding started going. “It was about a sense a lot of fun,” of community he said. “Some than it is about of my first gigs were there, and music.” it was a blast staying up all Jim Crowley Past Festival Organizer hours with all your friends playing ‘til your fingers were raw.” Year three of this inception, 2009, saw the move away from the fairgrounds in Cusick to the city park in Newport, a beautiful forested grassy setting with RV and tent camping. Gas prices were starting to rise at the time, and the idea was that you can increase daytime attendance by being almost an hour closer to Spokane. At the park, overnight camping and jamCourtesy photo|Newport Music Festival Association


The 2012 Newport Music Festival drew about 600 ticket buyers to the Newport City Park. Many commented they liked the setting amongst the tall pines.

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Courtesy photo|Hannah Hirst

Chubby Chaps in various stages of packaging at Elli Rose Essentials. The pink tray attached to the top of the chap tubes is a huge time saver.

From their farm to yours Locally handmade ‘essentials’ a big hit world wide

goats to work is now a multi-

some extra spending and grocery money while allowing her to stay at home with the kids. The Hirsts had a few goats that weren’t really doing anything, so Hannah came up with the idea of making goat-milk based lotions and soaps. While most people would head to the Internet to learn how, Hannah headed to the library. “The library has a lot of books on recipes,” she said. This back-to-basics mentality is the cornerstone of Elli Rose Essentials. Hannah has always had sensitive skin, and she wanted to create a line that would be gentle on all skin types. She’s accomplished that by using the people she knows at guinea pigs. “We do a lot of testing on friends and family,” she said, with a laugh.

national hit based out of a

What’s in name?



he scents are unmistakable. The lotions are as rich as they

come. And the Chubby Chap is definitely one of a kind. What started out as a way to earn some extra grocery money and put a handful of

quaint home north of Priest River.

Hannah Hirst started Elli Rose Essentials about five and a half years ago. She and her husband Steve knew they would have children some day and Hannah wanted a way to make 8 Horizon|2012 Fall

Elli Rose Essentials is named after two of the Hirsts’ goats, Elli and Rose. The ‘essentials’ allowed the business to grow in different directions. What started out as just soaps is now lotions, creams, loofa scrubs, and the now-famous Chubby Chap – an overCONTINUED ON PAGE 9

Horizon photo|Michelle Nedved

Steve, left, and Hannah, right, are the owners of Elli Rose Essentials, pictured here with their sons, Carson, age 4, top, and Mason, 2.


sized tube of lip blam. They wanted to make sure the name encompassed anything they chose to make in the future. Their goats, which at one time reached a total of 13, are now all retired. They still have two of their own, but many have been sold for milking. Hannah and Steve said the goats’ schedule of milking twice a day became too much to keep up with. They are very schedule-oriented animals, and when the Hirsts went out of town they had to find someone to milk their goats. They now order their goat milk from a supplier, but their products are still as pure as when they started. Chubby Chaps are made with coconut oil, bees wax, honey and fragrance oils. Hannah does all her own graphic design work, and they make and package all their products right in their own home.

All around town

The Hirsts take their products to a variety of shows throughout the year, including the Pend Oreille Valley Lav-

ender Festival in July at the Newport City Park, and the Priest River Lioness Craft Show at Priest River Junior High. “And we had a really, really great show but mostly because all my grandmas showed up,” Steve said. They have also attended the Coeur d’Alene Street Fair, Custer’s Antiques and Collectables Show in Spokane and a wholesale show in Seattle at the convention center. They have to pick and choose what shows they attend by what makes the most sense both for the family and economically. Steve and Hannah have two sons, Carson, 4, and Mason, 2. They help out with some clean up in the family’s basement production center, but mostly stay involved by playing with their toys while their parents work. Elli Rose Essentials are available at a number of local stores and online at, and “It’s amazing how many Google hits we get,” Steve said. Just Because Fashion and Gifts on Washington Avenue in Newport was

Horizon photo|Michelle Nedved

Along with their giant Chubby Chaps, Hannah also makes a more standard-size lip balm in various flavors.

the first store to carry the line, and Rose soaps in their guest rooms. now it can be found at Country-wide, more “We do a lot of testing than 300 stores carry Elli Bushels, The Shanty, Into the Garden Up to on friends and family.” Rose Essentials, especially the Lake, Simply Susie’s the Chubby Chap, a halfand various other ounce lip balm – which Hannah Hirst stores in Sandpoint, is quite a bit bigger than Elli Rose Essentials Spokane, Hayden and most people are used to. Bonners Ferry. DannyAnn’s Bed and Breakfast stocks Elli CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

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Courtesy photo|Hannah Hirst

The Jelly Bean Chubby Chap was a new enterprise for Easter last spring. The Candy Cane Chubby Chap is a huge seller around Christmastime. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9

They now get orders from their sales reps at all hours of the day.

“We actually love the Chubby Chap the most,” Hannah said. So does the Quality, quality, quality community. The back ends Hannah can make about of several cars in the New2,000 Chubby Chaps a day, “Let’s just port/Priest River area have all the same flavor. say we’re on the trademark “I ‘heart’ my “Once we’re set to go with Chubby Chap” bumper stick- a first name a flavor, we just go,” Hannah er. Steve said they see those basis with the said. on the back of their friends’ Quality control is a top cars often, but the real thrill mailman.” priority. comes when a bumper sticker “Everything gets checked is spotted on a stranger’s car. Steve Hirst about three times before it The Hirsts have sales repre- Elli Rose Essentials goes out,” she said. “We’re sentatives across the country constantly evolving.” that set up sales in shops and All orders are shipped make orders. Their first sales rep came the same day, something they pride from Boeing, where they sell Elli Rose Essentials at six different campuses. CONTINUED ON PAGE 11


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themselves on, and they always honor price quotes. Elli Rose is known world-wide, with shipments going to Canada, Greece, South America, Afghanistan, the U.K. and Austria, to name a few. One woman was in California on vacation and bought some Elli Rose Essentials. When she returned to her home in Aus“And we had a really, tria, she really great show but emailed Hanmostly because all my nah and grandmas showed up.” ordered more. Steve Hirst “Let’s Elli Rose Essentials just say we’re on a first name basis with the mailman,” Steve said. The Hirsts produce about 20,000 Chubby Chaps a year, and between 1,000 and 1,500 four-ounce soaps and lotions. New flavors are developed depending on the season. A new addition last spring was Jelly Bean Chubby Chaps for Easter. Now that fall is here, be on the lookout for Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and Cranberry Spice. Check out Christmas Cookie, Santa’s Pipe and Nutcracker at Christmastime. Summer scents include Raspberry Swirl, Cucumber, Spring Rain and

Horizon photo|Michelle Nedved

Lilac Blossom, Sweet Pea and other flavors of handmade soap sit ready for packaging in the Hirsts’ basement where they make their Elli Rose Essentials.

Island Oasis. “The library has a lot of books on recipes.” and UnYear-round scented. scents are Chubby Hannah Hirst Amber RoChaps are Elli Rose Essentials mance, Baavailable in hama Breeze, Buttercream Cherry Almond, Dreamcicle, Lavender, Vanilla, Huckleberry, Mango, Oatmeal Lilac, Pear Vanilla, Rosemary Mint, Cookie, Peach Daiquiri, Pomegranate Sweet Pea, Sweet Vanilla, Sun and Sand and Strawberry Banana. Last year, they




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Courtesy photo|Pend Oreille County Historical Society

A view of early Fea Scotts Edition of Newport in June 1905. Jessie Fea Cass Scott platted much of the land that is the core of Newport’s residential area.

Early Newport family gave much to the area she kept. Known as the Cottage House, Jessie’s grand threestories served as an inn and restaurant. It was the ou might recognize the name first business on the Washington side of Newport. “It was beautiful,” Jonelle said, remembering the as you travel east down any house with its peaked roof, large front porch and balconies and 23 rooms. street in the core of residential She recalls having dinner there one night with her great-aunt Jessie and a group that included Louis Newport. You’ll cross Fea Street, Cass Davenport, owner of Spokane’s luxurious hotel, who had come in on the train. It was certainly an occaStreet, then Scott. sion when Jonelle had to be on her best behavior. The streets were named by one woman who plat“She did her best to teach me to be a lady,” she ted the core of the city at the turn of the century said, recalling that her great-aunt always wore a and gave much of what would become Pend Oreille dress. “She was quite a gal.” County. “(Jessie) was very petite and Jessie Fea Cass Scott was a Scot- The Cottage House went always through a couple owners and polished tish emigrant who had moved Courtesy photo| west from Missouri around 1890. by 1946 it was torn down. In in every- Pend Oreille County Historical Society “I remember her telling me she Jessie Fea Cass Scott, its place the Masonic Lodge. thing tales about how important Pend did,” she right, had no children of Oreille County was and if it went on. her own, but she helped hadn’t been for the people in Newport it would still “She was soft spoken. She raise her nephews and be Stevens County,” said Jessie’s grandniece Jonelle treated people like they were their children. Jonelle (Fea) Sigler over the phone from her home in Portvery important to her.” Sigler remembers her land, Ore., this past spring. Early in her Newport great-aunt: “(She) was Jonelle “Nellie” Mae (Fea) (Merriam) Sigler, 91, revery petite and always members her great-aunt and the spectacular house CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 polished in everything she BY JANELLE ATYEO


12 Horizon|2012 Fall



life, she took in an African American orphan who would become a life-long family friend. Day after day, Jessie would see Ben Brown at the railroad station, Jonelle said. He was from Missouri too, and Jessie took him in and gave him a job as a cook at the Cottage House. She saw that he was provided for and even named him an heir when she died. He watched after Jonelle when she was a young girl. “If I got too far from home, he would come find me,” she says. “He kept me out of trouble.” She remembers being brought back to that grand Cottage House to share a sweet treat: a banana or an orange with sugar on it.

A move out West

Jessie didn’t have any children of her own, but she stepped in to help nurse Jonelle’s younger sister at the hospital in Spokane. Jennie Wren Fea was just over a pound when she was born, and her mother died in 1924 when she was just three months old. Jonelle said it was her great-aunt that named her baby sister Jennie, giving the young girl the name she really wanted. Jennie Wren Fea grew up to be one of the first women appointed to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She spent 29-plus years in military service. Jennie passed away in Gresham, Ore., in 2001 CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

Courtesy photo|Pend Oreille County Historical Society

A group stands at the Cottage House in Newport around 1905. The house, located where the Masonic Temple now stands, was busy with travelers boarding for the night or enjoying a chicken dinner.

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and is buried at the Newport cemetery. Jessie had 10 brothers and sisters, but as far as her closest descendants know, there aren’t many left in their line to carry on the Fea name. Thomas Ward Fea lives in Sacramento. Joelle Si“She was soft spoken. gler is his aunt, and She treated people Thomas’s like they were very greatgrandfaimportant to her.” ther was Jessie’s Jonelle Sigler brother. Of her Great-Aunt That man, Jessie Fea Cass Scott Joseph Smith Fea homesteaded on Half Moon Prairie north of Spokane, naming the settlement Wayside. Jessie and her husband at the time, John W. Cass, followed her brother Joseph and homesteaded on the Idaho/ Washington border. “There was a lot of talk back in Missouri about the wonders of the West, especially eastern Washington,” Thomas says. Jessie’s homestead stretched from what is now Warren Avenue on the east, First Street on the north, west beyond the former airport property beside Stratton Elementary school, and south to the foothills. Their property CONTINUED ON PAGE 15

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Courtesy photo|

Above: John Lawrence Fea is pictured with his sister Jennie Wren Fea. Both served in the military, and Jennie Wren was the 13th woman to make the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. John passed away in 1976 and Jennie in 2001.

Courtesy photo|

Left: Joseph Smith Fea poses with his wife Sarah Hattery. Joseph was Jessie’s brother, the first of the family to move to eastern Washington from Missouri.


Wallace Fea served one term as a county commissioner for District 2. Jonelle graduated in 1939 and eventually she went on to the Kelsey Baird Secretarial School in Spokane. Her time with the county attorney must have made a mark. She retired as a paralegal. Jonelle returns to the area every summer to attend the Historical Weekend that the Pend Oreille County Historical Society puts on and to enjoy her property at Diamond Lake.

would eventually be subdivided into present-day Newport. Known as Scott’s Addition, it totals 160 acres. After Pend Oreille County was established in 1911 and Newport was officially declared the permanent county seat, officials decided they needed their own courthouse. Jessie donated the land across from the Cottage House, having four houses moved off of the lot. Joseph joined his sister at her homestead after his wife died. He’s credited with establishing Newport’s first post The legacy of the Cottage House office in 1891. And Thomas Ward Fea Aunt Jessie looked started researchWhen it came time to build after his three the Fea family the county courthouse, Jessie ing motherless sons as history when his donated the land across from father John Lawwell. Jessie and Mr. the Cottage House, having four rence Fea, was still Cass divorced alive, before 1976. houses moved off of the lot. in 1899 and she He and his father’s married Richard sister, Jonelle, comP. Scott, a union that lasted 17 years pare notes. before another divorce. “Now I’m just a thorn in her side One of Joseph’s eldest sons, Thomas because we argue over everything,� Wallace Fea was Jonelle’s father. He he said joking about the discrepancies worked for a lumber company in of dates and names. Dalkena. Jonelle said she learned to Thomas grew up in Deer Park and cruise timber with her dad. Spokane, and he’d visit family in New“I thought that would be great. None port as a child. Now he has some cousof the girls knew how to do it,� she ins in the area, he said. He says he’s says. one of two males left in his line with During her high school years at the Fea name. Both live in California. Cusick, she worked as a volunteer for He’s looked into what became of the Hugh Dressel, who served as Pend Cottage House. Oreille County’s attorney from 1935 to Jessie died of a heart attack in 1937. 1940. Around that same time, Thomas The house was put in the care of her

Courtesy photo

A view of the Cottage House circa 1905. The inn was known for its Sunday chicken dinners and on occasion served Louis Davenport when he visited Newport.

nephews, the boys she helped raise. But money was tight at the time, during the Great Depression. Thomas Wallace Fea had a pole yard in Dalkena, his grandson said, and he couldn’t afford the insurance. He let is lapse to keep people working. Someone had an accident, Thomas Ward Fea said, and he lost the pole yard. Jessie’s brother, Joseph Smith Fea died a year after his sister. “Grandfather didn’t have means to bring the taxes up on the Cottage House,� Thomas explained. Thomas said the house was eventually foreclosed and sold by the bank.

It went through a couple owners, he said, and by 1946 it was torn down. Currently in its place is the building that houses another iconic Newport business. The engineering offices of James A. Sewell and Associates is on the bottom level, and on the top floor is the Masonic Lodge. It’s not the first Fea family home that’s been replaced by a Mason Lodge. Thomas said the same became of his great-great-grandfather’s home and his sister’s too. “It’s kind of a joke in our family,â€? he says. “If you look for a Masonic Lodge, that’s probably where we lived.â€? •

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Courtesy photo|Dick Bockemuehl

This 2010 photo shows Ortner’s Island from the air. The island itself is about an acre in size and is located a couple hundred feet off the north shore of Diamond Lake.

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Buyers scarce for $1.8 million property on Diamond Lake BY DON GRONNING


t’s just 200 feet off shore, on the north side of the lake. A small island with a house,

dock, outdoor fireplace and a waterfall. It’s called Ortner’s Island and it can be yours for a mere $1.8 million.

“It’s a unique property,” said Dick Bockemuehl, the realtor selling the place. “It’s going to take a young buyer with resources. I think it will sell to someone outside the area.” Bockemuehl said there are a surprising number of properties in the county 16 Horizon|2012 Fall

priced over a million dollars. But none are located on an island in a lake. Ortner’s Island is owned by Brock and Diane Maslonka of Cusick. They moved here in 1992, buying a ranch from Herb Cordes. Diane Maslonka said the family has completely renovated the inside of the island home that they acquired in 2006. They were originally partners with others who had grand plans for developing the island. Unfortunately, they hadn’t considered all the details, such as getting permits for working on the shoreline. When it became clear the project wasn’t going to be feasible, the Maslonkas became sole owners. Ortner’s Island was originally owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad. It was used by locals as a place for picnics, said Peg Gaylord, who lived on CONTINUED ON PAGE 17

Horizon photo|Don Gronning

This outdoor stone fireplace is one of the attractions on the island.


Diamond Lake back in the 1930s. “When we were kids, we would row a boat out to the island and have lunch,” she said. In “During the summer, 1944, Dad and his men floated the lumber from the shore properto the island and used ty was sold to a flat-bottomed scow the D.L. to haul tools and Thompequipment.” sons of SpoMarion Orting Mitchell kane. The About how her father built the Thomphome on Orting’s Island sons sold the property to Lina and John Ortner in May 1946. They were the parents of Marion Ortner Mitchell, who wrote about the island home for The Big Smoke magazine. She said her parents faced a couple of big challenges when they decided to build a home on the island. First, it was right after World War II, so building materials were scarce. Then there was the matter of getting materials to the island. As Mitchell wrote, “one does not back a truck up to unload supplies on an island.” But her father was determined so he found building material, even pulling and straightening nails from old lumber when

Horizon photo|Don Gronning

This is the view looking south from Ortner’s Island.

necessary. “During the summer, Dad and his men floated lumber from the shore to the island and used a flat-bottomed scow to haul tools and equipment,” Mitchell wrote. In the winter, they slid a wood and

coal range across the ice and installed it in the new kitchen. Over the years, getting materials to the island hasn’t changed much, according to Diane Maslonka. When they renovated the home, they also used a sleigh to slide

over the ice. “That’s how we did it,” she said when told of how the Ortners transported items to the island. “We waited until the ice had frozen hard, then we pushed the materials CONTINUED ON PAGE 19

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on a sled.” Moving cumbersome items like mattresses in a boat was not practical, so using the ice became the way to get things to the island. The Maslonkas use the island for family gatherings. It is a great place to watch the Diamond Lake fireworks on the Fourth of July, she said. They were watching the fireworks “That’s how we did it. with their We waited until the grandice had frozen hard, children then we pushed the when they had materials on a sled.” a surprise guest. Diane Maslonka “When Current owner of Ortner’s Island on transporting materials the fireworks for renovation of the home on started the island. going off, this deer jumped out of the bushes,” she said. “It scared us half to death.” The deer had long used the island, even raising a fawn there, protected from predators. The deer may be charming, but it is also a pest. “She’s always eating all the flowers,” she said. “But what are you going to do?” Living on the island is both a joy and a chore, she said. The property is connected to the Diamond Lake Sewer and Water District. In 1987, when the water was low,

Horizon photo|Don Gronning

These metallic birds are joined by real geese during part of the year. The geese love the island.

a trench was dug and a sewer line put in. The island itself is about an acre in size, with trails, an outdoor fireplace and waterfall. It is private. It became an island of refuge for Marion Mitchell. Her eldest son died in 1976 and

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her husband died in 1978. The deaths “shattered the dreams and left my life in shreds,” she wrote in a 2005 Big Smoke story. “I went to the island on 31 March 1978 after laying my husband to rest next to

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juts out from the island on the southwest. The big rock was warm from the afternoon sun and I sat down. The lake spread out before me. A light breeze rippled the water. The sun caught the wavelets, and they burst into sparking diamonds as far as my eyes could see. In that moment, I realized that this acre of ground, surrounded by beautiful water, was now mine to care for, God’s gift to me, and I knew this is where I belonged.” Mitchell continued to spend summers on the island until 2004. In 2008, two years after the Maslonkas acquired the property, the economy went into recession. They put it on the market, but no buyers have come forth yet. “It’s hard to sell,” Maslonka said. She says they will likely hang on to it until the market turns around. So, at $1,799,000, are the island and the mainland lot overpriced? “The market is going to set the price,” says Bockemuehl. Finding property to compare it to isn’t easy. But islands are expensive. He remembers a few years ago there was an island on Lake Pend Oreille that was being offered for sale for $16 million. The market didn’t like that price and now the island is for sale for about $4 million. The county has the island and house appraised at a little over $1 million. The mainland lot is appraised by the county at $122,000. Both have come down a little in the wake of the recession. The mainland lot, which includes a one-car garage, was appraised at $162,000 in 2009. The island house Horizon photo|Don Gronning and property were appraised at $1.142 million in 2009. This carved bench is one of the several unique items that can be found on the one-acre island. While both properties have come down a little, it wasn’t as fast as they went up. In 2003, the island property and house were appraised The mainland lot was appraised at $24,000 in 2003. So who will be the next owner of Ortner’s Island? A at $207,583. In 2004, it was valued by the county at In 2004, the appraisal nearly doubled to $42,000. In movie star? An Internet entrepreneur? Who knows? But $487,583, according to the county assessor. In 2008, it 2008, it jumped again, to $162,000 before coming down one thing is sure, they will be getting a jewel of a propjumped to $1.142 million. to $122,000 in 2010. erty on a Diamond of a Lake. •




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ming is welcome and encouraged. An expansive covered stage area is also very accommodating for the bands with a nice backstage “green room.” That 2009 festival drew 500 to 600 people. Afterward, Crowley said the work of organizing it all was well worth it. “Part of me just gets a kick out of it,” he told The Miner in 2009. “People have a great time. After the work’s all over, I look around and say, ‘Yeah, this was a good time.’” “It’s more about a sense of community than it is about music,” he added. The following year, Harding came on as sound engineer, and that is where he got to see how Crowley operates. “He’s a quiet, solitary man and humble,” Harding said. “He managed every aspect of the festival on his own, depending only on volunteers that showed up – quite a daunting feat.” Crowley is quite the guitar player himself. “I saw him playing on the stage with Steve Kaufman at the one of his first festivals and thought to myself ‘I would rather take lessons from Jim, I love and admire his style of playing,’” Harding said. Crowley is also an accomplished web designer and maintains both the INBA and the Washington Bluegrass Association websites. He also paints

Courtesy photo|Newport Music Festival Association

Jim Faddis, formerly of the group Prairie Flyer, joins forces with Corte Armstrong performing powerful duets and later joined with some former Flyer band mates to finish out their set.

houses and signs and in his spare time organizes the Little Grand Old Opry concerts at the Hospitality House in Newport over the fall and winter months. The first installment was held Sept. 22.

Americana: Heritage in music

Another wise move by Crowley was to drop the “bluegrass” part of the festival’s name, Harding said. “There are so many kinds of wonderful acoustic music that represents

the heritage of the American people – it falls under the broader definition called Americana,” he said. Included in the genre are old time, country, CONTINUED ON PAGE 23

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folk, Cajun and blues. This year, organizers made an effort to mix it up a little. Big Red Barn was one of the first bands they approached. “They are definitely broader than bluegrass and do a great job performing many kinds of Americana,” Harding said. Reverb Nation said about them: “If Bill Monroe would have recruited Muddy Waters and Louie Jordan to be in the Bluegrass Boys, they might Keep an eye out have sounded something like for next year’s Big Red Barn.” plans at www. Not to point the bluelovers, the The festival is set grass festival brought for Sept. 13-14 in on Kevin Pace and the Early Newport. Edition. The band’s debut during the INBA Music Showcase in January was one of the most authentic presentations any bluegrass band could give, Harding said. “Great mic choreography, fantastic picking, perfect three part harmonies and those suits,” he said. “And not only did they look good, their take on classic gospel tunes had people standing in the isles, clapping and shouting while Kevin and the boys were proclaiming the Good News. Amen.”

Courtesy photo|Newport Music Festival Association

Swing for Sale plays in the youth band contest. They took the top $300 prize. The group features two of the reigning champions from last year’s contest, Macy Morgan, left, and Aaron Castilla. Festival organizer Mark Harding said they’re pretty unbeatable as a team.

In promoting a festival such as the Newport Music Festival, it is good to talk to others involved in similar ventures, and that is how the group found their next performer, Kevin Brown. CONTINUED ON PAGE 25 Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

Right: Programs for the 2012 festival tout the 15 acts and other featured events. The contra dance, a style of partnered folk dance that has couples dancing in two facing lines, was new this year.

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keep the booking at right around 15 bands. Both Pat Foster and Harding had been “We were really pleased with the picking his brain, and Brown was variety,” he said. He added that next very helpful with organizing as well year they’ll try to bring in some more as promising to promote the event on country, Americana and Cajun music his KPBX radio program, “Front Porch groups. He’ll be scouting out the Bluegrass” and at groups in Missoula, the Blue Waters where they have a “It leaves a living legacy by Bluegrass Festival, good music scene. encouraging young people held at Medical Lake He’s already started to develop their musical in August. Brown sending out emails has put together an talents and affords them to recruit bands, original CD project and he’ll keep an opportunities to perform in as a solo artist. This eye on tour schedyear he brought his public which improves their ules as they come group, The Beloved spiritual, mental, social and up. In the future, Country, to Newphysical condition, preparing Harding hopes port. to find a major them to be better citizens.” Harding’s own sponsor that can band is the widely help them bring in Mark Harding known Molly and national acts. Festival Organizer Tenbrooks. They About the Youth Band Competition have just put the Dancing under finishing touches on the stars their long awaited Not everyone at a all original CD “The Old Mandolin.” music festival is a picker, so the event With guest appearances by Greg includes activities the non-musician Spatz, John Reischman, Jim Faddis can enjoy. This year they added a and others, the CD covers a scope of contra dance, which is similar to a different themes of the heart, the soul, square dance. It has couples dancing family, the Civil War and, of course, in two facing lines. Last year after baseball. It’s been several years since the Saturday night concert at the Molly and Tenbrooks has played at Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival, held in the Newport Music Festival, and they early June in the Tri-Cities, Harding’s were excited to be back to show off wife, not a musician herself, dragged their new music. For coming years, Harding plans to CONTINUED ON PAGE 26 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23

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Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

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her husband away from a jam saying he had to go to this dance. They had the trees all lit up, an old time dance band and a caller. “It was exhilarating,” Harding said. So Harding brought the tradition to Newport this year. Nora Scott, one of Spokane’s best callers, taught the dance, then did the calling while a live band played. After the last set on the main stage, around 9 p.m. Saturday night, about 20 to 30 people came out learn the dance. “It’s a great way to kind of shake hands with your neighbor,” Harding said. They worked up quite a sweat, and when they returned to the campground to turn in for the night, their bare arms got some strange looks from the campers who bowed out early and were bundled up to fight the chill of the late summer evening. After a little rain after Labor Day, the festival managed to slide in on a weekend that was mostly sunny and warm. The days were a little windy, but it didn’t affect the sound. Cloud cover on Saturday made for a warm night for the campers. And while Sunday morning brought a little rain, it cleared up quickly. “We were sweating in our boots

with that. We were worried about people leaving, but they all came out. It was a really good Sunday crowd,” Harding said. “Folks came out and made us feel like we were doing the right thing.”

Living legacy

The festival weekend also includes an open mic where anyone can take the stage for a song or two, a band scramble and more. Workshops for adults and for kids are part of the offerings. This year’s included lessons on instruments, vocals, song writing and even proper sound stage techniques. A youth band competition has been a popular part of the festival for the last few years. Harding calls it one of the greatest idea’s of Newport’s Festival. “It leaves a living legacy by encouraging young people to develop their musical talents and affords them opportunities to perform in CONTINUED ON PAGE 27 Horizon photo|file

Right: Even the attendees at the Newport Music Festival get a little playing time in. This group from Sandpoint and Spokane got together at the campground for a bluegrass jam before 2011’s festival. Many are return festivalgoers. They say festivals are fun because of the people you meet.

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public which improves their spiritual, mental, social and physical condition, preparing them to be better citizens,” he said. This year, organizers aimed to improve the competition with more bands and prizes and their own stage. This year it was the group Swing for Sale that took the $300 first place prize donated by Michael’s Café. The group featured Macy Morgan of Chewelah and Aaron Castilla of Spokane Valley, reigning champions from last year’s youth band contest. They also play in the group Afterthoughts. “They’re a couple of our real stars,” Harding said. “As a team, they’re pretty unbeatable.” Second place went to the Mansfield Construction Bluegrass Band, made up of the Mansfield family. They won $100 donated be Larry Sutherland. Some of the most interesting, if not entertaining events of the festival is the band scramble. All the musicians on the grounds throw a piece of paper with their names and the instrument they play into a hat, an “impartial” official divides all the participants into impromptu groups. The musicians pick a band name and several songs to rehearse and perform in competition with other groups. Harding jokes that they’re after some really grand prize, such as a hot dog. Open mics are another hit, and a way to keep the audience entertained

Courtesy photo|file

The 2007 festival brought bluegrass to the Pend Oreille County fairgrounds at Cusick. Here, championship flatpicking guitarist Steve Kaufman plays beside Gary Davis, the only three-time national banjo champion. Both Kaufman and Davis taught workshops at the Pend Oreille Valley Bluegrass Festival.

between acts. Harding says, “We always love having an open mic where aspiring new bands and even over the hill ones have a chance to get up on

the stage and strut their stuff. “No prizes are offered for this part of the show though it might be possible to receive a very ripe tomato or hook

for your efforts,” he said jokingly. There’s one more thing he warns CONTINUED ON PAGE 28

Fall 2012|Horizon 27


festival-goers about: If you thought a banjo orchestra was a bad idea, the board of directors perform as the Foggy Bottom Rumblers, a four-piece bass ensemble “for your listening pleasure, or not.”

More to come

Harding worked with a budget of about $10,000 for this year’s festival. He said they try to give the bands at least half of the money collected at the gate. This year, the festival association collected more than expected. Harding said they totaled about $8,000 in ticket sales. Harding and others put in a lot of work promoting the event. He said they handed out thousands of flyers at other festivals to help draw an audience. He’s also very appreciative of the city of Newport for letting them host the festival here. The city also allowed the association $1,000 in tourism funds to help with advertising costs. The money comes from taxes collected on motel stays in the city. The association is in the process of filing for nonprofit status, and Harding hopes that in the coming years

they can use some of their ticket sales to start a scholarship fund for music lessons. As another fundraiser, a guitar was raffled as a special fundraiser. Lesa Fry of Newport won the Recording King RD-26, a 1930s style guitar with solid mahogany back and sides and a spruce top. Keep an eye out for next year’s plans at The festival is set for Sept. 13-14 in Newport. Ticket prices this year were $35 for a three-day weekend pass or $10 to $15 for single day passes. Kids 13 and under get in free. • Editor’s Note: Much of the history and information for this article was written by Mark Harding.

Horizon photo|Janelle Atyeo

Jamie Davis from Digger Davis and Tombstone adds mandolin for that bluegrass sound.

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