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Because there’s more to life than bad news

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From all of us here at the River Journal to all of you this holiday season:

The light of the Christmas star to you, The warmth of home and hearth to you, The cheer and good will of friends to you, The hope of a childlike heart to you, The joy of a thousand angels to you, The love of the Son and God’s peace to you. See you in 2012!

December 2011 3 A Blow to Independent Nurse Practitioners

5 Second Mine Proposal Threatens the Wilderness 8 Mountain Monsters - Jinxed 9 Gray Jay - A Bird in Hand 10 The Man in the Mirror - Politically Incorrect

THE RIVER JOURNAL A News Magazine Worth Wading Through ~just going with the flow~ P.O. Box 151•Clark Fork, ID 83811•208.255.6957

12 Feeding Kills - The Game Trail


13 Impermanence - Gary’s Faith Walk

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14 Farmers, Ranchers & Loggers - Say What?


15 A plan for Idaho’s Energy Needs - A Seat in the House

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16 Big Burn Refugees

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17 Born Again Dog - The Scenic Route 18 Of Snowplows and Shopping - The Hawk’s Nest 19 Rehabilitation - Currents 20 XMas Humbug - Surrealist Research Bureau 20 Fire in the Sky - Valley of Shadows 22 Downtown Sandpoint Calendar 23 Double Benefit for Veterans - Veterans’ News 24 Buy Local / Bobby Clark 25 Black Friday - The Mouth of the River 26 Obituaries 27 The Blight Before Christmas - Scott Clawson

Cover photo by Sandy Compton of Rock Lake, located in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle Proudly printed at Griffin Publishing in Spokane, Wash. 509.534.3625 Contents of the River Journal are copyright 2011. Reproduction of any material, including original artwork and advertising, is prohibited. The River Journal is published the first week of each month and is distributed in over 16 communities in Sanders County, Montana, and Bonner, Boundary and Kootenai counties in Idaho. The River Journal is printed on 40 percent recycled paper with soy-based ink. We appreciate your efforts to recycle.

December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 


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Page  | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

School District Health Plan Seen as a Blow to Independent Nurse Practitioners A local microcosm of national issues at play regarding health care by Nancy Gerth The Lake Pend Oreille School District’s new contract for health care through the North Idaho Health Network does not cover services from independent nurse practitioners or the ambulatory surgery center—the Pend Oreille Surgery Center—in Ponderay. Nurse practitioners are Registered Nurses with advanced training who provide primary care, diagnose and treat medical illnesses, write prescriptions, order labs and radiology tests, and provide referrals when necessary. Legislation in Idaho allows nurse practitioners to operate independently (without a physician on site). They are credentialed by almost all insurance companies. The school district’s previous Blue Cross policy covered independent Nurse Practitioners. The NIHN network includes nurse practitioners operating within doctors’ offices, but not independent ones. There are several reasons why many people prefer NPs to doctors. Some women prefer to see women practitioners (there is only one full-time, female, primary-care doctor in Bonner County); many patients have established histories of care with NP providers, some for decades; and NPs often see entire families. Up until 2005, Idaho required all nurse practitioners to have a “supervising doctor;” a requirement many said was driven by medical doctors seeking to protect their turf. Even today, the position of the American Academy of Family Practitioners (an association of physicians) states, “The nurse practitioner should not function as an independent health practitioner. The AAFP position is that the nurse practitioner should only function in an integrated practice arrangement under the direction and responsible supervision of a practicing, licensed physician.” The demand for independent nurse practitioners has grown throughout the nation in response to declining access to family physicians. In many cases, services from independent nurse practitioners are less expensive than the same services from a medical doctor. A number of studies have documented the cost-effectiveness of nurse practitioners. Based in Coeur d’Alene, North Idaho Health Network is not an insurance program itself; it’s a consortium of health care providers developed by doctors and hospitals in the five northern counties of Idaho who pay a membership fee to belong; this group of professionals are the exclusive

providers under the Blue Cross plan selected by the school district. Under the plan, NIHN makes decisions about which providers are covered, that is, which ones are allowed to join the network. Independent nurse practitioners, and ambulatory care centers such as the Pend Oreille Surgery Center, are not currently allowed to join. That could change in the future. Rick McMaster, the executive director of NIHN, said they have hired a consultant to evaluate current operations beginning this winter. One of the items to be evaluated is coverage of independent NPs. “We are really sincere about wanting to improve our services,” he said. “We have been around for 17 years and have worked hard to improve care in our communities while controlling the cost of that care. We want to address the future.” McMaster admits that NIHN’s belief is that the best care for patients is integrated care, and that the group is most comfortable with NPs who work in partnership with a managing physician. Nonetheless, he says they are investing “considerable financial resources” to determine whether adding independent NPs will meet their goals of improving care and containing costs. Some local NPs fear this is a stall which may devastate their practices, as they are also losing patients from another NIHN product: Medicare Advantage. One local independent NP said her practice turns away about two patients per week because her practice is not established with NIHN. But the independent NPs may take heart from learning they are receiving support from the school district itself. “We are aware of the issue regarding independent nurse practitioners,” LPOSD Superintendent Dick Cvitanich said. “We view their services as important to our community and staff. We have asked the NIHN to consider the inclusion of independent NPs. We began this process late last spring and through the summer. We have a desire to have them included for our employees.” While many people prefer utilizing an NP for basic medical care over a traditional medical doctor, the majority of patients must choose their health care based on the services that insurance will cover. And when buying that insurance, supporting local independent nurse practitioners is not generally a prime motivation. Cvitanich says that while the district’s change in providers was given much thought, the process was driven by cost. “As the costs of health care rise, it reduces the amount of money

that can be driven into the classroom for instructional purposes. With the reduction in finances from the state, and as a matter of procedure, the district examines all ways to reduce costs. This past year we more carefully examined health care costs,” he said. The decision to contract for a Blue Cross plan that utilizes the North Idaho Health Network as a type of HMO was made in concert with staff through the collective bargaining group, headed up by President Brian Smith. “Doing our research together we learned of the benefits of the North Idaho Health Network,” said Cvitanich. “We determined to learn more and began consideration of proposing a change to the employees of the school district. We held a series of meetings for employees; all held outside of working hours so they could attend. We reviewed the information in the plan, showed the designated providers, and answered questions. Employees voted on the plan, and over 90 percent voted to move forward with the change. They appreciated the reduction in deductibles, flexibility of the plan, opportunity for orthodontia, and other provisions. Ninety percent is a compelling number.” It’s possible that some employees may not have realized that independent nurse practitioners who do not work under a supervising doctor would not be covered under the plan. The list of NIHN providers given to the school district staff by the broker was misleading: some providers on the list are not taking new patients and several have limited or closed practices. McMaster said the list has been corrected, but there are still non-practicing and non-accessible providers listed on the NIHN website; Brad Schwartz to name just one. According to Cvitanich five northern school districts contract with NIHN because of reduced costs and customer satisfaction. “Feedback we have received regarding the new plan from employees has been very positive,” Cvitanich said. “They appreciate the changes, reduced deductible costs, and the flexibility. In addition, it has reduced district costs. This is important to us and the community as school resources become scarce. We believe we are doing due diligence in monitoring the use of the public’s dollar. “No health plan meets every employee’s need,” he added. “Our number one priority is to provide a health care plan that meets the needs of the greatest number of our

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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 

Continued from previous page employees. In some cases, health care providers covered under the prior plan were not part of the Network. Some chose to join since the district is now a part of the Network, and some have declined.” NIHN does not currently allow independent NPs to join, and they would if they could. To those not impacted by the district’s change in health care this may seem to be an academically interesting look at medical turf wars. Yet without access to independent

the difference in cost is that the hospital is required to treat indigent patients, while the ASC is not. He pointed out that surgeons who use the ASC can use BGH. McMaster, however, is uncomfortable with discussing costs for procedures, characterizing it as a violation anti-trust laws. In addition, health care costs are complex: many people are surprised to learn that there is no set cost for a given procedure; instead, costs are determined based on who is paying: there

On both sides there is agreement that our health care system isn’t working. The details are choking us. The expense will kill us. Our provincial skirmish is just the rash on the toe of a patient with bubonic plague.

According to Savarise, “Although NIHN was formed to keep health care in North Idaho, it has resulted in managed care— controlling where people go to get their care—and that’s based more on protecting the turf of the doctors and hospitals that are on NIHN’s board. That might not be so bad, except that in many cases managed patients don’t have as good outcomes, and they are excluding some of our best people—nurse practitioners—from the list of covered providers. They are behaving like HMOs used to behave in the ‘90s.” Of the nurse practitioners, Savarise went on, “They are as good as any doctor in town. I refer my patients to them for primary care all the time. They are being excluded and there isn’t any reason for it.” NIHN’s mission is to provide quality, affordable care in North Idaho. Under the current system, however, there is available quality care via independent nurse practitioners which is not included. Should it be? It has been established for 25 years that NPs provide quality care at lower costs. According to the American Association of College Nursing, “... in 1986, the congressional Office of Technology Assessment concluded that nurse practitioners can deliver as much as 80 percent of the health services, and up to 90 percent of the pediatric care provided by primary care physicians, at equal to or better quality and at less cost. In 12 studies, OTA found that the quality of care by NPs— including communication with patients, preventive actions, and reductions in the number of patient symptom—was higher than that for physicians.” Protecting turf is understandable. That’s what happens in free market health care: everybody is forced to defend their own financial interest. The current concerns raised not just by the school district’s change in health care plans, but in the changes to coverage for county employees as well, are a microcosm of the debate ongoing at the national level regarding the ways in which people can afford medical care. On both sides there is agreement that our health care system isn’t working. The details are choking us. The expense will kill us. Our provincial skirmish is just the rash on the toe of a patient with bubonic plague. The first part of any cure is information, and the second part is action. From local medical providers to local insurance purchasers to those who simply want to be able to get medical help when they need it without breaking the bank, we all have a vested interest in debating these issues. If you are a school district employee who would like full access to care in the Sandpoint area, contact teacher union representative Brian Smith, the school board, Blue Cross, and NIHN. If you are concerned about privacy, call or email me at 304-9066 or and I’ll make sure your concerns are shared.

nurse practitioners, there are inadequate are different charges for each insurance numbers of providers to care for people company, as well as different charges for in Bonner County, where there is only one non-insured patients. physician per 1,220 people. The U.S. as a Yet knowing the cost of health care is whole has 2.67 doctors per 1,000 people. important for any reform efforts. A report in (We’re right up there between Uzbekistan the New England Journal of Medicine in March and the Republic of Moldova. Cuba has 80 of this year, “Increased Price Transparency per 1,000) in Health Care: Challenges and Potential There are simply not enough primary Effects,” points to the growing demand care providers in this area There are 33 NPs for transparency in health care costs and in North Idaho. You can’t swing a cat without opines, “It is difficult to defend the obscuring hitting one. But female MDs? We don’t have of health care prices.” Information on any cats with long enough tails. In the real comparative Medicare reimbursement rates world a lot of non-physician providers do of surgery at hospitals and at Ambulatory a lot of care in a lot of places. They are a Surgery Centers is available online at www. huge help in areas that don’t have enough providers, like here. Similar to the controversy between NIHN also does not currently allow medical doctors and independent nurse coverage for procedures done at the Pend practitioners is the controversy between Oreille Surgery Center. The Surgery Center is traditional hospitals and ambulatory a certified ambulatory surgery center, with surgery centers at play in this local board certified physicians, a qualified staff debate. A research paper from Archives of nurses and nurse anesthetists. It offers a of Surgery (a publication of the American comfortable, non-hospital environment for Medical Association) on the NIHN website outpatient procedures like colonoscopies. concludes that “financial incentives linked The only other option for ambulatory to ownership of either specialty hospitals procedures in Bonner County is Bonner or ambulatory surgery centers influence General Hospital, one of five hospitals that, physicians’ practice patterns.” These results along with 320 physicians, is a member/ are disputed by research cited on the ASC owner of NIHN. Coalition website. Mark Savarise, a local surgeon who is a The complexity of the issue is highlighted part owner of the surgery center in Pend on the U.S. Justice Department website, Oreille, as well as being a member of NIHN, where various sources write that ASCs are says, “I’ve had patients call to schedule a “a common-sense, intelligent response to colonoscopy at the Pend Oreille Surgery a mature health care delivery system and Center, only to be told that they have to industry gripped by inefficiencies and to schedule at Bonner General. I’ve never been health care spending being out of control... told by an insurance company before how or offer patients more convenient locations, where to practice... and it costs more to have shorter wait times, and lower coinsurance these procedures done at Bonner General; than a hospital department...” but at the colonoscopies and hernia operations cost at same time, ASCs are “eroding the outpatient least twice as much, gallbladder three times. market share of hospitals that hospitals And I can tell you this: it’s exactly the same depend upon, that ASCs do not care for operation.” Savarise also has privileges at Medicaid beneficiaries,” they “skim and Bonner General Hospital, so can treat his cherry-pick on the front end regarding the patients at either facility. finances of the patient,” and that ASCs “only According to McMaster, one reason for enter areas where business is profitable.” Page  | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

A Second Mine Proposal Threatens the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Miners have long sought the copper, silver, and gold ore that lies beneath Montana’s Cabinet Mountains. Abandoned old mines litter the mountainsides, a testament to past mining operations. Most were small compared to today’s mines, but many have left a mark, leaching pollutants into local waterways from abandoned piles of waste rock and gaping holes that lead to underground caverns. The owners of these mines are long gone. The scars they produced are carved into the landscape for the conceivable future, and cleanup costs are now borne by Montana’s taxpayers. With the rise in minerals prices over the last several years, investors and speculators are eying the ore beneath the Cabinets with renewed interest. Current owners of once idle projects are now looking to reopen, adding to the cumulative pool of mining impacts this ecosystem must endure. One of the largest of these previously dormant projects is the proposed Montanore mine. The mine’s current owners, Mines Management or Montanore Minerals, are aggressively

pushing for permits from the Forest Service and Montana DEQ to resume exploratory drilling and begin construction. The Montanore mine would be located on the Kootenai National Forest 18 miles south of Libby. Its ore body abuts that of the proposed Rock Creek mine, the two ore bodies separated by a fault running through the mountain range. Mine facilities and tailings piles for both mines would be only a few air miles apart. Like the proposed Rock Creek mine, Montanore would be an underground copper/silver mine with an above ground tailings impoundment and processing facilities. The ore that it would exploit would come from beneath the Cabinet Mountains, much of it sequestered beneath Rock Lake in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The proposed Rock Creek and Montanore mines would be two of the largest underground copper/silver mines of their type in North America, and both would mine the same small wilderness. The permitting process for the Montanore

by Mary Costello

Project began in 1989 when the previous owner, Noranda Minerals, obtained a permit to construct an exploration adit (tunnel) in the Libby Creek drainage just outside the wilderness. In 1991, Noranda halted construction of the 14,000-foot exploratory adit just a few thousand feet short of the ore body when the amount of nitrate pollution generated from blasting operations degraded Libby Creek. A state directive mandating the construction of a water treatment facility, combined with low metals prices, led the company to abandon the project before ever reaching the ore. Almost from the get go, the Montanore project has been exempt from regulations implemented to protect Montana’s water from pollution. In 1992, at the request of Noranda Minerals, the state issued an order that would allow an increase in the concentration of certain pollutants discharged to surface water and groundwater above water quality standards set forth under Montana’s 1971 non-degradation

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St. Paul Lake, a popular day hike destination in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, would be heavily impacted by the proposed Montanore Mine. Photo by Brenda Haase.

December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 

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Montanore Mine Facilities

Rock Creek Mine Facilities


Cabinet Gorge Reservoir NOXON AREA MAP

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Source data: USDA Kootenai National Forest Mining Projects 2005

Cabinet Re g i o n Mines



statute. Under the current mining proposal, pollutants—including copper, chromium, iron, manganese, and zinc, as well as nitrates and total inorganic nitrogen—could still be discharged at higher concentrations than other dischargers could hope to get away with. MMI has argued that the 19-year order should stand despite changes in water quality standards, best available technology, new findings related to the impacts of the mine, and the presence of threatened bull trout in most of the impacted streams. The state plans to grant that request. Mining facilities would include a tailings impoundment located between Poorman Creek and Little Cherry Creek. The impoundment would require the construction of a dam big enough to contain 120 million tons of mine tailings and waste rock. At completion, it would be 320 feet high, 10,650 feet long, and consume 675 acres of National Forest Land. The location of this impoundment has been plagued by problems arising from the presence of wetlands and seasonal springs, and the amount of space required to hold the massive amount of tailings. The proposed mine would create a host of environmental problems. At the forefront is the extensive dewatering that would result from the excavation of an enormous underground mine cavity that would divert virtually all of the groundwater in the region of the proposed mine. Impacts would be felt in both the Clark Fork and Kootenai River drainages, with groundwater depletion and reductions in stream flows most pronounced in the East Fork of Rock Creek, Rock Creek, the East Fork of Bull River, Libby Creek, Ramsey Creek and Poorman Creek. The EIS for the mine predicts that after mine closure, the East Fork of Bull River and the East Fork of Rock Creek would be hardest hit, losing 100 percent of their ground water recharge. The massive dewatering created by the mine would be ominous for the area’s bull trout populations. Bull trout were listed as threatened in 1998, and since that time bull trout critical habitat has been designated in the East Fork of Bull River, Rock Creek, and Libby Creek. To make matters worse, the East Fork of Bull River, which would be impacted the most, has the most productive bull trout fishery in the Lower Clark Fork River Bull Trout Recovery Area. With groundwater levels not expected to improve until reaching a steady state 1,200 to 1,300 years after mining ceased, or not at all, bull trout would be left high and dry, literally, in these critical streams. As if dewatering of key bull trout streams was not a big enough problem, wilderness lakes would also feel the pinch. Deriving only a small amount of their water from rain and snowmelt, the area’s alpine lakes are typically dependent on groundwater recharge. Most heavily impacted would be Rock and St Paul Lakes. Both are extremely


popular hiking destinations. Park at the trailhead for either, and you will consistently see cars from Montana, Idaho, Washington, and beyond. EIS modeling predictions are most dire for Rock Lake, which sits almost on top of the ore body, aptly named the Rock Lake Ore Body. Estimates are that the water table surrounding Rock Lake would be lowered by as much as 1,000 feet with groundwater flows not returning to pre-mining levels for 1,000 years. Rock Lake would slowly be starved of the ground water essential for survival. St. Paul Lake, already subject to low water levels during the dry summer months, would not be spared. This alpine lake would become a mere pond, drying up shortly after winter snowmelt disappears. As with the Rock Creek mine, fish and wildlife populations would suffer from habitat loss, disturbance, increases in



Copyright 2005 TerraPen Mapping

hunting and fishing pressure, and poaching. Bull trout, westslope cutthroat and redband trout would be impacted not only from dewatering, but also from the introduction of sediment and heavy metals into local spawning streams. The construction of 16 miles of overhead transmission line to supply power to the mine would only add to the mine’s impacts. Declining populations and extreme sensitivity to human activities lend a particular vulnerability to several species in the area of the proposed mine. Grizzly bears, lynx, wolverines, and mountain goats would face the brunt of the mine’s impacts. The former two species are listed as threatened and the wolverine is a candidate for listing. Construction of mine tunnels (including one above Rock Lake), mine facilities, roads, and power lines would mean blasting,

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heavy equipment operation, increased traffic, and helicopter use. This massive industrialization, coupled with that of the Rock Creek mine, could create intolerable stress for these species. It is anticipated that the scale of this disturbance would negatively impact over 25,000-acres of grizzly bear habitat and would likely result in the loss of the entire Rock Creek mountain

Mountains Wilderness, the community of Libby is staunchly advocating for the mine. Many in the community see the lure of mining jobs as the economic salvation for this troubled area. Regardless of their perspective, a single community does not own the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and the reach of the Montanore mine would extend well beyond the Libby Creek drainage and the communities along the Kootenai River. This mine would dry up the Rock

The feeding frenzy in the Cabinet Mountains will undoubtedly persist, fueled by high metal prices and the archaic 1872 Mining Law... goat herd. The noise and visual impacts from mining operations would reach well into the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Blasting of the evaluation adit would generate noise louder than that of a jet engine, and would be audible on the ridge between Elephant Peak and Ojibway Peak near Rock Lake. Continuous industrial lighting would displace the solitude of the wilderness. Coupled with the impacts to alpine lakes, the wilderness would likely never recover from the industrial onslaught. In spite of the costs to local water resources, fish and wildlife, and the Cabinet

Creek Meadows, the East Fork of Bull River and likely even impact Bull River itself. The proposed project would affect everyone who recreates in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. It seems apparent that the Kootenai National Forest is bent on permitting both projects, resulting in cumulative impacts to water, wildlife, and wilderness. The dewatering impacts from Montanore have been well documented in the most recent EIS. The Rock Creek mine would also capture massive amounts of groundwater—as much as 3 million gallons per day. Grizzly bears and other wildlife species would lose

huge chunks of habitat, the loss from one mine exacerbating the loss from the other. Industrialization from both mines would hem in the wilderness on both the north and the south. How the Forest Service will address these and other cumulative impacts, as the law mandates, remains unclear. The feeding frenzy in the Cabinet Mountains will undoubtedly persist, fueled by high metal prices and the archaic 1872 Mining Law that prioritizes the mining of our public lands over all other uses. Unwary investors unaware of the legal complexities and challenges that both mines face by a coalition of local citizens and environmental groups, will throw money at these projects as long as they appear profitable. Closer to home, the federal and state agencies will work to clear the permitting hurdles, while those opposed to these mines will continue to fight them every step of the way. The Kootenai National Forest and Montana DEQ are accepting written comments on the Montanore Project Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement until December 21, 2011. The SDEIS and information on how to submit comments can be accessed on the Kootenai National Forest website at http://tinyurl. com/6nllpqm. Mary Costello writes for Save Our Cabinets ( She is the Executive Director of the Rock Creek Alliance and lives in


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• Sundays at 9:30 am • Christmas Sunday at 10:30 am • Thursdays at 6:30 pm FREE community breakfast every Sunday at 8:30 am December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 

Mountain Monsters So, I’m back from outer space. Well, not the alien abduction, big foil cap or the “Beam me up, Scotty,” kind of space, but the wide open spaces that are the plains of Montana. There is a certain beauty in those plains, the biggest sky ever, but after a three-year hiatus, I am happily back in Clark Fork. My first order of business? A trip to the mountains, ASAP. Stacey, my navigator, was more than happy to accompany me, as I knew she would be. So we left my granddaughter, Billie, with Banjo and off we sped to hunt wildlife, track them down and shoot them with my camera. We took my gun though—it’s hunting season and I wanted to get a little target practice in, just in case someone was crazy enough to let me hunt with them. Most people know that a day with a weapon that includes me will never turn out well. (Case in point, trying to cross Lightning Creek with a gun strapped to my waist… bad plan!) Stacey is my daughter though and has no choice. It was a beautiful day in the mountains and I was super excited to get some shots off, with my camera and my gun. I could hear the occasional gun fire, but didn’t think hunters would be so close to the road that I could possibly be a danger to them. That is, until I stopped to go to the bathroom—then I seriously wondered if any binoculars were trained my way! That didn’t give me pause for long though. The drive was so pretty, seeing again all the places that I had missed so much, I stopped and snapped pictures the whole way to the spot I had chosen for us to spend the night. We were in my little truck so we were just going to sleep in the camper, underneath the stars. We arrived in the afternoon, set up camp, filled the fire pit with wood and we were ready. Aspen was safely placed in the camper—she hates gunfire and if she bolted, I would never catch her! I attached a big target to a nearby


tree, one of the normal ones, with the big red rings, placed strategically to attract my bullets, right? Then we both began to shoot at it. This is when I learned that Stacey is a better shot than I am. Not just a LITTLE bit better either. I am talking Annie Oakley better! I blame Banjo for that! To say I missed the target would be a serious understatement and trust me, I tried! First I killed a nearby tree branch, then a clump of bushes fell victim to my misfired bullets. No matter how hard I tried, my bullets were repulsed by the target. I didn’t care though; we were in the mountains and trees where I love to be. From our campsite I could see clear into Montana or Canada from there. Our fire sat between the line of trees and our view. Stacey and I sat, catching up on mom/daughter stuff, giggling, reminiscing and watching the stars slowly begin to show their faces. The forest noises lulled our senses until we were ready to let the fire burn down and climb into the camper. I love the quietness of being in the woods, and I lay there grinning with excitement at the very idea of camping, until Aspen began her low growling. I looked at Stacey peacefully sleeping and didn’t quite know what to do. I sat up and tried to hush Aspen; looking through the windows in the dark all I could see was the moon. I opened the camper’s back window to see if I could see or hear anything. Aspen barreled through the window growling and, in spite of my calling her back, she ran to the edge of the woods yipping. Great, I thought, every hunter within a 10 mile radius was going to come to our campsite pissed off in the morning, because my dog had scared off all the game! I wondered just for one second if we had coffee. Coffee heals everything. The hunters couldn’t stay angry at Aspen if I offered them a piping hot cup of joe, fresh off the campfire.

Then I realized I had Stacey with me, who could not function in the morning without coffee, so of course we had coffee. I was looking out at the trees, through the darkness, trying to see or hear Aspen, when I saw it. It was tall, with a pasty, white face, blood dripping from fangs that I couldn’t quite make out, but I somehow knew they were there. Its hair was tousled and it wore a dark cape that flowed behind it in the breeze. A vampire. A real live/unlive vampire! My heart practically stopped in my chest and I knew the hungry monster could smell my blood pumping wildly in my veins. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t close to the fire so I couldn’t wield a long, fiery log as a weapon. I couldn’t exactly leave Stacey’s side and let her get butchered before me. I did the only thing I could think of, I closed my eyes and counted to ten. When I opened them, he was still there! DRAT!! Quickly thinking, I grabbed two flashlights and made a cross out of them! Vampires hate crosses, right? As I was making that cross, one of the flashlight beams swept across the horrid, white face of the vampire. I was stunned. My vampire was a tree, the same tree that some idiot’s target was hung on. (Oops!) The target’s red circles glowed under tree limbs that hung down behind it, causing the branches to look like a cape and the tousled hair. I was really glad I hadn’t woken Stacey up. She would never let me live that down! I went ahead and put another piece of wood on the fire though, just to add more light. I sat there, the wind blowing softly, laughing at myself. My imagination is just over the top sometimes. Suddenly I saw a large set of eyes glaring at me across the fire. I could hear guttural sounds that I was pretty sure weren’t coming from me and I could just make out a set of claws, pawing at the leaves not 20 feet in front of me! I knew in that moment that werewolves were real. All this time I had doubted yet there it was, hunched low to the ground ready for its attack. I was going to get dragged off by a beast from hell and Stacey wouldn’t even know why


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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 

Gray Jay: ghost, robber, friend

my blood was splattered across our campsite! I stopped breathing for a moment because I could see steaming, hot breath coming from For many of our local folks winter it is probably never used. But better safe the foul mouth of the beast. Chills ran up and brings an end to all outdoor activity, except than sorry. down my spine and I was unable to move. My shoveling snow of course. Yes, as difficult If you have ever encountered a Gray Jay feet had failed me just as my heart was sure as it is to believe, there are actually people in the forest, it had probably discovered to do shortly. My stomach lurched as the around here—year-round residents, mind you before you discovered it. They can be beast lunged for me. Just before I passed out, I realized it was Aspen, jumping into my lap, you—who do not participate in skiing, as silent as ghosts and seemingly appear back from her little outing. Relief filled me snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or any out of nowhere. If they choose, they can be and Aspen and I quickly climbed back into other snow-related activity. Not even ice- noisy and will make all the usual sounds the safety of the camper, Stacey still gently fishing! Their idea of a winter activity is of a jay, with a few odd bugling noises for simply surviving until spring. Thoughts of good measure. But more often than not snoring, none the wiser. Sleep was a long time coming and I woke snow only generate silent curses and long, they are quiet little fellows. up again just before the sun was up. The fire’s deliberate sighs. They are also thieves, hence their embers glowed brightly, just enough light Hey, let’s not be too hard on these less- alternate name of camp robber. I have to be able to see the edges of our campsite. I than-hardy folks. These poor people are more than once been the victim of giggled and shook my head as I glanced over already missing out on half of the fun depredation by these sneaky little cusses. at my vampire. My own personal werewolf jumped out of the camper with me. I froze for living in this wonderful part of the They will steal your dinner right off of in my steps as I came around the back of the country. But their sentiments are shared your plate if you step too far away from it truck. There, at the front of the truck, peering by many of our fine feathered friends, while camping. And they are bold. I have through the mist that had not yet burned off too. Have you noticed how many birds had them eat a snack right out of the palm for the day, was a shimmering, specter of a are not outside your window right now? of my hand. You can do this too, if you are ghost. It was white and not quite fully formed Most species have migrated south or patient and still. and was waving wildly in the wind, bending, west—weeks if not months ago. Those that Like their cousins, the Gray Jay is shaping itself and flapping and it seemed to be remain are the toughest of the tough, the an intelligent little animal. They are a groaning at me. My breath came faster, I didn’t hardiest of the hardy, the most tenacious little bigger than a blackbird, but have a understand why Aspen wasn’t barking. Don’t of the tenacious. You get my point. And much longer tail. They are mostly gray, animals sense the paranormal? Shouldn’t Aspen be barking like a lunatic, informing the poster child for tough, hardy, and especially the back and wings of the bird. me of my impending doom? My brain couldn’t tenacious would have to be this month’s Otherwise they are white, from the front of the head down to the belly and the function, I stared at the ghost as if... I was bird in hand, the Gray Jay. The Gray Jay is an unusual bird. A undertail coverts. A distinctive field mark seeing... a towel. Ha! We had draped a wet towel over the antenna of the truck, which denizen of our forests, it takes to the is the band of dark gray that sweeps up became my ghost. snow like a duck to water. In fact, it even from the eyes and toward the back of the I let out a big breath, rolled my eyes at breeds and raises its young while the head and down to the top of the neck, but myself, grateful that it was almost light. I temperatures are still freezing and the not touching the dark shoulders. This dark began gathering twigs and branches to build snow is still flying. But this fact conjures coloration sort of looks like a receding the fire up, but then, at the very point of relief, up the question: how can the Gray Jay hairline, the “forehead” being white. The something that wasn’t Aspen came crashing out of the woods, dirt and leaves thrown into raise its brood when everything is covered bill is black and surprisingly small for a the air. I was pretty sure it was a Zombie, in a mantel of white? Easy. It lives off of jay. One last interesting note about the determined to take a bite out of my own reserves. The Gray Jay does not spend its brains that I am very partial to! I mean, that summer playing; instead, it is always busy Gray Jay. The bird also has another name, though it is less commonly used in our was pretty much the only thing I hadn’t seen getting ready for winter. yet. To my credit, my adrenaline had never The Gray Jay is an omnivore, meaning it area but one that most you may have completely left my body, so my nerves were just likes both animal- and plant-based foods. encountered. Early settlers in our region a little jumpy as they had been all night. I was Just like most people. It is an opportunistic sometimes called the bird whiskey jack, rendered motionless as the biggest squirrel feeder and will eat anything that comes which was as close as they could come I have ever seen came speeding through the its way, whether berries or bugs, seeds when pronouncing the name of the bird trees. It had big, buggy eyes and a tail that could whip a cougar. I was pretty sure it was or carrion, or anything it can catch, be it in the local Indian language. One more furred or feathered. Any meal that does mystery solved for those familiar with a on steroids. Gimme a break, it was scary! I think the squeaking that came from my not need to be eaten fresh will be stored certain road in Ponderay. Gray Jay, Canada Jay, Camp Robber, or vocal chords is what finally woke Stacey up. for later, and this is exactly what the Gray Rubbing her eyes she innocently asked how Jay does. The good Lord has given the Gray Whisky Jack—whatever you call it, this is I had SLEPT! I made coffee, just in case that Jay an exceptionally sticky saliva, which one fun bird to share the woods with. And stray hunter DID find our camp and as much the bird uses to “glue” food into hiding regardless of what time of the year you as I love camping, I packed up in record time places for later consumption. As in months venture off the beaten path and into the and proceeded back down the mountain. It later. Food is slathered in slobber and then forest, they’ll be there. was cold and Stacey chattered the whole way tucked away under shards of bark to be Happy birding! about how we should do it again real soon, her coffee mug bouncing in sync with the road consumed at a later date. So much food is You can reach Mike at and pot holes, she unaware that my eyes were stocked away in this fashion that much of bloodshot and I was glaring at her, jealous of her morning zeal. But I was back, I would live to camp again and I watched WAY too many movies while I by Michael Turnlund was away! December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 

A Bird in Hand

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The Man in the Mirror Earlier this year I asked if anyone was paying attention and it appears the answer is, “no, not really.” We are in the midst of a global meltdown: not just the reactor meltdown(s) in Fukushima, but the implosion of the global economic system, and the all too literal planetary meltdown as the impacts from climate change hit us faster than anyone thought possible. And our biggest national response was to the kick-off of Black Friday on Thanksgiving Thursday. The world may be falling apart, but don’t even think of getting between me and that X-box 360. Oh, there’s plenty of venting going on, on both the left and the right, so some might say we’re making progress—as a whole, we’re no longer praising the Emperor’s pretty new outfit. But quite honestly, I don’t see that criticizing his fashion sense is actually bringing us any closer to saying, “Holy skin, Batman, the Emperor’s naked!” Progress, George Santaya told us back at the beginning of the 20th century, “depends on retentiveness... Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” America, and much of the rest of the globe along with it, is walking toward the same destination faced by every empire since the Sumerians piled stone upon stone between the Tigris and the Euphrates. I have found this quite depressing. Actually, there’s no past tense to that—I still find this quite depressing. But like Ernie always tries to tell me, I can’t worry enough to actually change anything. What I can do—the only thing that I can do—is change myself. And unfortunately, while I sit and reflect on these issues and wonder why all the rest of you are so stupid, I have to admit that there are many (many) ways in which I am just as stupid as anyone else, if not more so, and that’s where I need to put my energy. For example, I’m a terrible wastrel. I waste time, I waste energy, I waste food... and all of these, in turn, waste money, which

is something most of us are running pretty short of. You’d think it’d be pretty simple to just quit wasting things, but I have found it anything but. And that’s even with some fairly small goals. Turn all the lights off when I go to bed. Turn the computer off at night. Don’t let water run while I’m doing something else. Button things up for the winter. Turn off the car even if I’m only going to be out of it for a minute. Throw food waste into a compost pile. Find a way to recycle the milk jugs—all of the milk jugs. Let go of the massive amounts of “stuff” I own that I will never use, and give it to someone who needs it. Take care of what I want to keep so that it lasts. Don’t bring anything new into my home unless I really need it. If the fate of the world rests on my progress in meeting these small, simple goals then let me warn you now, you’re all screwed. Changing the wasteful habits of a wasteful lifetime is no easy thing. For every successful step forward, I not only slide two backward, but spot a couple more areas that need improvement on my way down. I know I’m not actually ‘young’ anymore, though I still think of myself that way, and it doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was a child living on a farm in Indiana. There wasn’t a whole lot of waste in that lifestyle. Take garbage, for example. Food waste went to the animals, paper things were burned in a barrel out by the garage, and there just wasn’t very much else that became ‘garbage.’ Aluminum foil was re-used, glass milk bottles were re-used, glass soda bottles were turned back in for the deposit. Memory tells me that our use of propane for heat, and electricity for lights, was far from excessive and we certainly didn’t have a lot of ‘stuff,’ though I can’t say I ever felt deprived as I was growing up. As I got older, of course, the world changed and we came to take so many things for granted. Waste became a way of life—not just for me, but for people throughout this

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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 10

country. And it’s not just thoughtless waste. No, we glory in our waste, are enthralled by it and this, perhaps, sets us apart most uniquely from much of the rest of the world. Ask us to quit wasting, and we feel deprived. Somehow it has become our manifest destiny to simply consume, without either need or thought. As I did last year, I will be participating in the day of hunger this month. It’s a little thing, a program where local people, voluntarily, for just one single day limit their food intake to a single cup of rice; the caloric equivalent of what most of the rest of the world survives on every single day of the entire year. It is a symbolic gesture, for the most

part, because going hungry for a day (and yes, with only one cup of rice to eat you end up ravenously hungry) is not going to change the hunger in the rest of the world. Turning off my lights at night will not reduce our nation’s rapacious desire for energy. Washing and re-using plastic freezer bags will not make a dent in the massive, floating piles of garbage in our oceans, just as moving my money out of Bank of America, and into a local credit union, did not impact that “too big to fail” bank in any way. But it might change me. In fact, it has changed me, and the more I practice these things, the more I will change. Mother Teresa spent most of her life working with the poor in Calcutta and, 14

Politically Incorrect

years after her death, there are still plenty of poor in Calcutta. But she once said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I cannot save the world. I’m not sure, at this point, that anyone can. We have ignored what’s important to our peril, and I believe that in the years to come, we will reap what we have sown. We live in difficult times, and I suspect those times will become more difficult yet. Perhaps all any of us can do now is small things with great love. That is where I am putting my energy at least. I hope you will, too.


Four-Eleven! - Pulaskis, Planes and Forest Fires Beginning in 1960, Rich Faletto worked for four summers as a seasonal employee for the Forest Service on the Chelan Ranger District. In those four seasons, he graduated from hefting a Pulaski as part of a trail maintenance crew to flying a Cessna 180 as an aerial fire observer looking for flames and smoke on the Wenatchee National Forest. Faletto’s book, Four-Eleven! Pulaskis, Planes and Forest Fires, takes readers on an adventure through those four summers that is not only a compelling narrative in itself, but also a history of a place and time that marked a zenith in airborne fire detection and suppression on the nation’s forests. Faletto’s straightforward narrative style leads readers up trails into the Cascade Range of Washington above legendary Lake Chelan as well as into the sky, which he shared with such Forest Service legends as former smoke jumper boss Bill Moody; airplane pilots “Red” Byers and Keith Bonner; and helicopter pilot A.K. Platt. Besides telling of the toil, travails and often downright hilarious adventures of a

trail crew and cruising for smoke at 10,000 feet, Four-Eleven! captures the Forest Service culture of the time: tough men doing a tough job in tough conditions with principle, pride and tenacity. Faletto has received many letters and e-mails from veterans of that era in the Forest Service expressing their gratitude for “telling it right.” “If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work for the Forest Service on a trail crew, fighting fire or flying patrol missions in the back country,” says Moody, “this is the book for you.” In addition to his personal stories, Faletto’s book sketches the history of aerial fire suppression in general and more specifically on the Wenatchee National Forest. “Rich has shared several missing pages about fire suppression on the Chelan District that reach back into the 1940s,” says Bob Sheehan, former Chelan District Ranger, “and therefore his work is extremely important for historical purposes.” “(Four-Eleven!) is a very important work that has recovered and preserved

missing historical data about Forest Service operations in the Lake Chelan Valley,” notes Linda Martinson of the Lake Chelan Historical Society. “Get ready to relive some interesting adventures in the high Cascades above Stehekin.” Faletto, after graduating from WSU in 1964, spent 20 years in the US Air Force before working in the private air industry. After moving to Sandpoint in 1985, he worked in the real estate business for 20 years before retiring and turning his hand to writing. He will be signing books at Vanderford’s Books, Second and Cedar, in Sandpoint on Saturday, December 10, from 10 am to 1 pm. Four Eleven! Pulaskis, Planes and Forest Fires, was designed and produced by Blue Creek Press ( of Heron, Montana and is also available online at

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Feeding Wildlife Kills Wildlife

Fall is quickly turning to winter and hunting seasons are starting to wind down. Of course, in this part of the world, there is nearly always one hunting/fishing season or another open. We are fortunate to live in an area rich in natural resources. When big game seasons draw to a close, duck hunting and ice fishing will be waiting! Living in an area rich with wildlife also means that as more and more people move into areas previously occupied by wildlife, human wildlife interactions and conflicts rise. According to the 2010 census, 1,567,582 call Idaho home. This is an increase of over 10 percent from the population in 2000. Idaho is the 14th largest state by land area, and ranked 39th in overall population. The population of Idaho is growing faster than all but three other states. People are moving into more rural areas and land once considered rural is becoming more suburban as development expands, especially in the Northwest. These areas where development and natural areas meet are considered wildland urban interface zones. Data from WSU states that populations in wildland urban interface zones in the Inland Northwest is expected to increase by up to 4 percent annually. Many factors contribute to this migration including a growing retired population no longer tied to a reasonable commute when determining a place to live; and an increase in

telecommuting and progress in technology allowing people access to services and goods previously only available in more metropolitan areas. Studies show that it is natural amenities, such as mountains, abundant shorelines and wildlife, that drive rural population growth. Bonner, Kootenai and Sanders counties were among the highest nationwide in population immigration (growth of over 15 percent in those age 60 and older) by retirees and are considered retirement destination counties. While more people are moving into the area, the demographics are also changing. What this means is more people are coming in contact with their wild neighbors than have previously lived in such close proximity to wild animals. And more animals are coming in contact with residents as their home ranges change from undeveloped land to sprawling subdivisions. People and wildlife can certainly live in harmony with one another with the help of tolerance, education, and living habits that help keep wildlife wild and people safe. This time of year animals are looking for food that is more challenging to find than it was six months ago. Deep snow brings animals down from the mountains and into town and yards. Winter time is a hard living for most, including people! The moose munching on your ornamental willow and apple tree does not need corn and hay. It just needs to be left alone so it can nibble contentedly on the twigs it depends on for food in the winter—the kind of food it needs

Matt Haag is a conservation officer with the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. Learn more about the department online at You can reach Matt at

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to eat, and that it is designed to eat. What? You don’t think a bush makes for a yummy lunch? Well, that’s because you aren’t a moose. When moose and deer and elk eat food WE think they should be eating, food it makes US feel good to see them eat, it can cause a potentially fatal condition known as rumen acidosis. It also can spread disease due to high concentrations of animals congregating, and can subject animals to the attack of hungry predators and harassment by domestic animals. Please don’t feed our mammalian wild neighbors. However, winter does provide a good opportunity to feed birds. Bears are snuggled up sleeping in their dens so bird feeders won’t attract them in the winter months; food is harder to find for our feathered friends, and bird watching from inside our cozy homes is a great way to while away the limited daylight hours. Bird watching is the No. 1 sport in America according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. There are 51.3 million birders in the U.S, with 20 percent if Americans identifying themselves as birdwatchers. Birdwatchers contributed 36 billion dollars to the economy in 2006. Remember to clean feeders out regularly to stop disease transmission, and in the spring feeders can come down as resources become readily available for resident birds and an average bird feeder full of 12,000 calories in bird seed can attract hungry bruins waking up from a long winter’s nap. If you don’t want to miss out on watching birds in spring and summer, add a bird bath to your yard and

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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 12

landscape your yard in plants attractive to birds. Whether you are new to the area or a lifelong resident, respect your wild neighbors. More often than not they do not need your help, but just need to be left alone so they can concentrate on meeting their own needs from day to day. It is important to remember that nature can be harsh. People often call IDFG wanting to intervene with an injured or seemingly hungry animal because it is difficult for them to watch the animal struggle, suffer or simply survive. We need to remember that our own need to feel comforted doesn’t supersede the natural cycle of life in the wild. As a side note I stole a lot of these facts and figures from my wife’s presentation on “Living with Wildlife;” hope she knows what she’s talking about! Kidding of course, it’s a very informative presentation and I would encourage any club, group, or neighborhood interested in learning how to live better with wildlife to contact her at the IDFG regional office 769-1414 or becky.haag@idfg. So give the critters some space this winter as snow levels are expected to again be high due to another La Nina year. Enjoy the winter wonderland, and keep the snowblower and plow tuned up. Don’t forget to purchase that sportsman in the family the ultimate gift, a 2012 hunting license and tags! On behalf of the Sandpoint based Conservation Officers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Tangible Gift My home is going to be a flurry of activity this Holiday Season. Like most people we will welcome home family and friends who have been gone for some time and end the season by saying goodbye to the same. In my home that’s going to mean one crazy week just before Christmas. It’s going to get crowded. It’s going to get noisy. And it’s going to be amazingly fulfilling! My son and his band buddies moved to Nashville last summer and we welcome some of them back home for a few days over Christmas. They have put a long tour behind them and look forward to another long one after Christmas. While here they will tell us about how God is using them in the world of music to reach people in need with the hope Jesus Christ brought into the world the day He was born and forever secured on the day He died. My oldest daughter is now home from a five-month mission trip to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. She will spend her time talking with friends and family about what God has been doing in her life which is focused primarily on children at risk. God is sending her to work in Las Vegas with Foster Connect. She will commit two years of her life to this project which, for her, begins January 4. We have no idea when we will see either of these kids again. Our youngest has basically asked the LORD to sell her truck so she can be debt free and get on with whatever He has for her.

Watching her pare down her life has been no easier than it was to watch my son box up his for transport or my other daughter give practically everything away but four small boxes of essentials. This business of launching kids into ministry... wow! It sure helps to have boxes of Kleenex sitting around. This Christmas our home will be no different than many others as we consider the aspect of gift giving. But our household may be very distinctive in how it carries that aspect out. We love to have as big a tree as possible and love to decorate it as a family. However, there will be precious little beneath it. We already have everything we need but there are so many who don’t and our LORD is quite serious about our response to the widow and the orphan in particular. He has instructed us to help care for them. So this Christmas, as we have so many times before, our family will exchange possessions for the blessing of giving during this season and the whole year round. It has become who we are. Yes—it’s going to get crowded and noisy at my house this Christmas. We are going to have great fun as we celebrate the Birth of Christ, His mercy and grace to us, and export that gift in a tangible way to a hurting world through every single avenue He lays before us. I hope you will find a way to do the same. Merry Christmas.

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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 13

Farmers, Ranchers & Loggers A few years ago the Bonner County Museum kindly allowed me to go through ten years of Northern Idaho News, specifically 1910-1920. I was curious to accumulate only what was front pages news. In those days the paper was eight columns wide and reported on everything. When compared to Bonner County 100 years later the differences are striking. The first observation is that in those earliest of days everyone worked. Life was not only tough but much more dangerous than these days even though there was no texting while driving. Railroading was a hazardous occupation. But then so was logging. Falling trees were bad. The environmental movement has managed to save many lives in Bonner County. There never has been anything easy about mining. The active mines are long gone mostly because they could not be profitable. Despite the fact that many had little and only a few had much, those who came before us managed to build on what they could wrest from the land In fact they did so well that in 1915 Bonner County was regarded as one of the five richest counties in Idaho. Not being able to watch baseball on TV they played baseball. Every little community had a team. They once played a colored team and lost! Since Ed Sullivan had yet to be conceived they relied on traveling road shows. The simplest things brought a laugh.

Say What?

The Spanish-American war came and went but most of the vets had been in the Civil War. We sent troops to Central America to try to keep the banana republics from disintegrating. Then along came the Great War. On each occasion when the local National Guard units were deployed they were sent off by a crowd of well dressed men and women. The same bunch were there to meet the train when they returned. Raising money for the YMCA or for the war effort, was usually over subscribed not by people living on money from Calpers but by people whose brows sweat as they earned every penny. There were no virturcrats trying to make a case for diversity because as a group these working people were of one mind and they were driven by plain old common sense. That so called monument to diversity that sits on the Court House lawn today would have brought jeers. Most farmers had a burn pile that was more inspiring. The other night I had a chance to see some FRLs in action as they met to defend the 4H program; to rail against the idea our Fair should be a revenue producer rather than a showcase of our pride in the community and to insist that the Historical Society not be sacrificed. Over the years we have had some great county commissioners from both parties. Likewise we have had some really pathetic commissioners from both parties. The other


night we saw what happens when ideologues come to power forsaking common sense in their efforts to save us from ourselves. Now I applaud anyone who is willing to make the effort to run for office. I know they have to give a lot of themselves. I know that there is always an internal conflict about doing what is best for them as individuals and what is best for the county. Since I have yet to see any monuments on the Court House grounds for commissioners past, I would suggest that anyone who is elected to serve ALL the people remember to do just that. Please remember we are all replaceable and the world is going on after we have had our turn. Of course societal needs change. Of course the demographics have changed. And most certainly the economic base of Bonner County has changed as it has so many other places. But please let us protect our value system. The principles that governed the lives of those who have gone before served us well. It was good to see they have not been forgotten. It was good to see they were not overwhelmed by those who seem to have no appreciation for doing what is right The fact that there are few farmers left, even fewer loggers and the miners are long gone doesn’t mean that their legacy is gone too.

Paul Rechnitzer is a local conservative and author, and a practiced curmudgeon. You can reach him at

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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 14

Continued Work on Energy Issues In my last article I stated that the interim committee on Environment, Energy and Technology would finish its work on revising the Idaho Energy Plan following the end of the comment period on November 4. However, the committee had a request on November 3 to extend the comment period until November 18. The committee agreed to the extension and at the same time scheduled a meeting of the committee for November 21 to review all the comments received and to agree on the final revisions to the plan for submittal to the upcoming legislature for approval. The following is a summary of action taken by the committee on major provisions of the policy. A significant issue debated by the committee members was the treatment of conservation as a resource. The Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance final recommendation stated “all Idaho utilities should fully incorporate cost-effective conservation, energy efficiency and demand response as priority resources in their Integrated Resource Planning.” The current energy plan as well as the ISEA’s original recommendation stated that these resources should be identified as “the priority” resources. Several members of the committee felt that taking out the word “the” diminished the role of conservation, efficiency and demand response as the first priority and reduced the intent of the energy policy. The committee agreed on a 7 to 6 vote to keep cost-effective conservation, efficiency and demand response as “the first priority resources” in meeting utilities’ resource needs. The current state energy plan emphasizes the use of tax incentives as a means of encouraging investment in energy conservation and renewable resources. The ISEA recommendation eliminated tax incentives as a specific means of encouraging investment in these resources and replaced this terminology by stating “Idaho should encourage investments” in these resources without specifying particular ways of encouraging investment such as the use of tax incentives. The committee eliminated

tax incentives as a specific measure on a vote of 9-3. Several comments received on the energy plan recommended that Idaho should adopt the “International Energy Conservation Code” on a three=year cycle as a minimum for building energy efficiency standards and that the state should provide technical and financial assistance to local jurisdictions for implementation and enforcement. There was significant objection by local jurisdiction and others to this recommendation because not all local jurisdictions have the resources necessary to adopt the energy codes on a three-year cycle. The committee agreed that rather then requiring that Idaho adopt the codes on a three-year cycle that Idaho “review” the International Energy Conservation for its applicability for the state of Idaho and its local jurisdictions. There is still a significant amount of support among some interest groups that Idaho adopt an “Energy Facility Siting Act” that would allow more state control in siting energy facilities in the state instead of the local jurisdictions having the major responsibility for siting energy facilities. The committee could not agree to the state having major siting authority, but it was agreed by members that Idaho state agencies should support local jurisdictions by “providing technical assistance to support local energy facility siting decisions and that local jurisdictions make a reasonable effort to hear testimony about the impact of proposed energy facilities from citizens and businesses in neighboring jurisdictions.” The ISEA provided the initial recommendations for changes to the current energy policy that the committee used to revise the current plant. Many of the recommendations of the ISEA were agreed upon by the committee; however there were comments from other interested groups that the ISEA board is represented by a majority of utility and large industrial interests and as a consequence the board should include a broader spectrum of energy related interests, including consumer advocates and large rate payers. A motion was made by

A Seat in the House


one member of the committee to make this recommendation to the Governor; however that motion failed by an 8 to 5 vote. An additional issue addressed by the committee and defeated was a recommendation that “the Idaho Legislature should create an Office of Consumer Advocate to represent residential utility customers in matters before the Idaho Public Utility Commission.” There was some interest by committee members for including this in the energy policy, but it was defeated in part because establishment of a consumer advocate office would do nothing to support development of energy resources and should be pursued in separate legislation by legislators in support of the office. The motion to establish an Office of Consumer Advocate failed on an 8-5 vote but there may be one or more legislators that have an interest in proposing legislation next session that would establish such an office. The recommendations adopted by the Committee in its November 21 meeting will be formalized in a final document to be approved by the committee in a meeting to be scheduled in December. The final document will then be presented to the legislature for its approval in the upcoming session. As I stated in my previous article, it is important that Idaho have an energy policy that addresses current energy issues to help ensure that our citizens continue to have access to a firm and economical energy supply. The interim committee has worked hard over the summer to revise our current policy to meet today’s energy needs and hopefully the revisions that we have adopted will be upheld by the legislature. Thanks for reading and as always continue to contact me with issues of interest. I can be reached by phone at (209) 265-0123 or by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho 83825. And as we enter into this joyous Christmas Season let me take this opportunity to wish you and yours “A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Thanks! George

George Eskridge, Idaho Rep. for House District 1B. Reach him at 208-265-0123 or P.O. Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Winter Hours Open Fridays, 10 am to 4 pm

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Caring For The “Big Burn” Refugees of 1910 The “Big Burn” of 1910 was a massive forest fire that devastated large portions of northern Idaho and western Montana. Not only did the fire create a great loss of marketable timber that was the economic basis of the region, it burned towns, took many lives, and left hundreds of families burned out of their homes and farms. Local communities that were especially affected by the fires which left dozens of families without a home or livelihood were Cabinet, Sagle, and Priest River. On Thursday, December 8, Thomas Krainz will speak about how communities in this region cared for refugees from the fires. While Krainz will focus especially on how Missoula and Spokane responded to the crisis, he is also researching the scope of the refugee situation in Bonner County and the way in which local communities helped those displaced by the fires. Krainz is an associate professor of history at DePaul University in Chicago and the author of Delivering Aid: Implementing Progressive Era Welfare in the American West. He is currently conducting research for a book on how local communities, including state and federal agencies, responded to refugees in the American West in the early twentieth century. The massive 1910 forest fire known as the “Big Burn” is one of the case studies he is using to understand how receiving communities cared for refugees.

On December 8, Krainz will speak at 1:00 pm at the Sandpoint Community Hall. That evening, he will speak at 6:00 pm at the Sagle Senior Center at 650 Monarch Road in Sagle. Both presentations are free and open to the public. The presentations are sponsored by the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum. Co-sponsors of the event are the Idaho Humanities Council, DePaul University, City of Sandpoint, Sagle Senior Center, and the Co-Op Country Store. For information, visit or call the Museum at 263-2344.

Sandpoint Police warn Burglary Activity on the Rise The Department is currently investigating several residential and auto burglaries which have occurred across the City. Some of these burglaries have taken place at locations or autos which were not locked others have included forced entry. The Sandpoint Police Department recommends the following simple steps in order to guard your belongings; • Lock your residence and your vehicle every time you leave them. • Remove your belongings from view in parked vehicles; take them into your residence/ business or lock them in your vehicle’s trunk. • Secure all tools Lawn Mowers, bikes, etc in locked garages, or storage sheds. • Have a list which contains the make, model and serial numbers of all electronics, computers, tools, etc. • Be alert to persons or vehicles that do not belong in your neighborhood, or near your work. • Report any suspicious persons or activity to the day or night to the police department. 208265-1418 or 208-265-5525 or 263-TIPS(8477).

Thomas Krainz, PhD - Associate Professor of History, DePaul University



The annual Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count count for the Sandpoint vicinity begins at 6:30 am and ends at sunset. Contact Rich Del Carlo with questions at 208-265-8989 or visit Birds.audubon. org/christmas-bird-count. Ray Allen is available for private parties, weddings, restaurants, and all corporate events. Ray Allen plays acoustic guitar and sings jazz standards, pop tunes, country, and originals from the 30s through the 70s. Music for all ages. Includes use of my PA system for announcements. Clean cut and well dressed for your event. PA rentals for events. Call for my low rates and information.

Call 208-610-8244

December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 16

The Born-Again Dog It’s not my turn to rant. I’m up 3 to 1 on the publisher over previous months, unless you count her recent pieces about Bonner County politics, which would pass for thinly disguised editorial if they weren’t so true. So, I’ve decided to wax poetic about our dog (shared with my mother, sister, friend Harold, the UPS man, the FedEx guy and miscellaneous other humans). For the bloggers, doubters, Marxists, Obama-haters, naysayers, rabble, ultraliberal snots and ultraconservative skinheads who delight in mashing my prose (it’s kind of cool to have enemies from both sides of the political spectrum), I apologize. I imagine that some of you also love your dogs, so we may have some common ground, after all. Our dog is of the best kind: a mutt and an ex-con; bailed out of the shelter where he was doing time for malingering. He is smart enough that he was able to hide his bad habits—and abandonment issues—long enough for us to sign the papers and get him home. Laddie is a “born-again dog.” Our decision to bring him home—which my mother, sister and I have all, at one time or another, regretted—was his resurrection. He was happy about that, and he still is. In fact, Laddie is happy about most everything. Laddie’s picture is beside the word “exuberant” in the dictionary. He is a joyful dog, if not completely obedient. His joy takes many forms; his dance of delight that you—whoever you are—have come into his presence, or that you—whoever you are—are going to take him for a w-a-l-k. His unbridled (and unleashed) delight that something, anything, left a trail through the woods for him to follow. Squirrel, deer, bear, raccoon, rabbit, skunk, field mouse, pack rat; it doesn’t matter. If his nose can sift a single smell out, he will follow it until

The Scenic Route Lake Pend Oreille High School Earns State Award

it can’t be followed any more—at a high rate of speed. Anyone who takes him out really isn’t “walking” him as much as they are “watching” him as he comes tearing by, nose to the ground—again and again and again. The good news is that he— ever-so-slowly—is learning that ripping around the woods is not necessarily good form on a w-a-l-k. If he manages to stick close and actually comes when called, he likely gets a t-r-e-a-t. If he happens to check in of his own volition—wonder of wonders—the rewards are great, as they also are when he stays on heel for at least three minutes. Further good news is that he doesn’t wander unless there’s someone to wander with. The bad news is that he might wander with anybody, evidenced recently by a 46-hour absence. He went missing on Monday and wandered home on Wednesday. Upon return, he was not in the least dirty, footsore, tired or inordinately hungry. In fact, it was as if he had been locked in a backyard—or, perhaps, a living room—for two days. He was, as he always is after a period of relative inactivity, like a race horse in the gate. Manic. Ready to rock. Wired. I theorize that someone took him. “Oh, what a cute dog,” they may have said, as he crawled in the car with them—a habit he is slowly being cured of. The relationship lasted almost two days. If you’ve read “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry, you might imagine the quandary the alleged dognappers found themselves in. Lucky for them, they’d not tipped their hand yet, and so did not have to pay to bring him back. Don’t get me wrong. We were glad to see him. And whoever took him was probably

glad to let him go. Laddie’s lineage is unknown. Yellow lab is hard to miss in his configuration, his love of water and that damned nose. Some smaller breed was involved; maybe Australian shepherd (he has half a blue eye and he’s a herder). At 50 pounds, with that lab physique, some mistake him for a her, which he ain’t, nor is he dainty. He’s like a crazyass welter-weight outside receiver who plays like a maniac and will do anything to catch what’s thrown his way. He’s a good dog, working on being a great dog. I have this fantasy that one day, we will go for a w-a-l-k, and he will actually spend most of his time in my immediate presence instead of levitating around the forest. You know, like Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin or Sandy the dog of Little Orphan Annie fame. A boon companion, instead of a loose cannon. It’s a good thing he’s “our” dog. We all love him, each in our own way. And, he loves us all. One person doesn’t seem to be enough for this happy canine. And, he’s probably too much for any one of us. Sandy Compton is the author of several books, instigator of “The Storytelling Company,” and owner of Blue Creek Press. Learn more at Reach him at Editor’s note: This year, Sandy once again allowed my family to conduct our “Christmas Tree Hunt” on his property on Blue Creek and Laddie joined us for the adventure. After reading Sandy’s story, I no longer feel nearly as guilty (nor as worried Sandy will find out) about Laddie’s high speed race through the woods and into the river and back through the woods and into the river again and “Crap! Where did he go? Laddie? Laddie?! Damn, I’ve lost Sandy’s dog. That’s a fine thank-you for our Christmas tree.” Laddie, thankfully, did come back (at high speed) eventually and we returned him safely home.


The State of Idaho presented the exemplary Leadership in Career Development Award to Lake Pend Oreille High School counselor Colleen Ross at Governor Butch Otter’s office in Boise on November 10. This prestigious award was in recognition of the work-based thrift store, 2nds Anyone, in Sandpoint that is a joint venture between LPOHS and the Sandpoint area senior citizens. Colleen worked closely with colleagues Linda Spade, Mona Stafford, Randy Wilhelm, Belinda Wilson, Rick Dalessio and the entire LPOHS staff to develop a work-based site that would pair high school students with area senior citizens and provide meaningful hands-on experiences for all. Colleen expressed a special thank you to the Ambrosiana-Pastore Foundation for their generous support.

Don’t miss Santa at the Bonner Mall, every weekend through December 24!.

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ng er he to as ke es

re ey er eir

Of Snowplows and Shopping During our winter, which happened the third week of November this year, I spent several hours plowing snow off our road. I know many of our neighbors and some of my readers would be happy if that was the entirety of winter this year; at the risk of some wrath, I admit some more would be fine by me. However, I did read a comment by a meteorologist in Fairbanks who said, “Sometimes we go a whole winter season without reaching minus forty.” That may be a little extreme for me but I have never experienced forty below. I also wonder how they came up with the name Fairbanks. After years of talking about it, we finally broke down and bought snow removal equipment. In the past our wonderful friends and neighbors helped us out with the road and we helped them with their fuel expenses. I have done a lot plowing at different places I have lived, but never here. It was, nearly always, on a tractor with buckets or blades but for here, we felt a fourwheeler with a plow was perfect. I like the maneuverability and the quickness it offers. I hope to use it more this year; in truth, I think it is fun. Still, when I am spending time plowing back and forth on the same, three-quartermile stretch, one thing is always the same— there is plenty of time to think. That doesn’t mean I’m bored—I enjoy the opportunity to be out in winter—but it does not take all my consciousness to do the job. I’m sure you want to know what I was thinking about. What wonderful words of wisdom am I channeling from the falling snow? One brilliant inspiration that came through the slight, stimulating sting of snow on my face; I need a windshield. In addition and since I was in the snow and it

was November, thoughts of the Christmas holidays started to waft along between the trees as I created berms of white powder under the snow-loaded branches of pines along our lane. It looks to be a quiet Christmas at the Hawk’s Nest this year. The kids and family are in Virginia and none of us has the time to travel across the continent to see the other. I think of the song “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” That’s where I live. Linda and I became grandparents last December so our home in the woods fits the song. I must admit, since no children or grandchildren will be here it is a rather sad song this year; however, there will be Christmases to share with them in the future. We will miss all our relatives but we will choose to find peace and joy in this holiday season, and all year, for ourselves and with our friends. As the plow slides snow sideways my attention focuses on the holiday giving. Don’t worry, there is very little traffic on our road this time of year, so I could allow my thoughts to wander a bit. I have received a couple emails and seen several posts on Facebook about shopping local. I like the idea. About ten years ago I did story on local musicians and their CDs; that was then, but now there are even more singers and songwriters in our area representing every genre. I bet you know several who have albums for sale. Purchasing their music gives you great gifts to share while keeping money in our community I have also done stories this time of year about regional visual artists who have material available for sale. Give a oneof-a-kind piece of art this year. They are exclusive and exceptional while at the same time beautiful. While shopping, don’t forget my friends who have books on the market. They are

The Hawk’s Nest Council website at

Hay’s Chevron Gas • Convenience Store Unofficial Historical Society

Oil Changes Tire Rotation by appointment


by ERNIE HAWKS all good reads. These artists have creative and unique gifts for those on your list. Chances are the gifts created here will not be duplicated when sent to Seattle, Virginia, or around the world. For those near home, consider all of the above, as well as gift cards for goods and services that are just down the street. Consider a restaurant, pub, gallery or studio that would be fun for a friend. Then there are massages, an oil change, or a haircut. There are several shops and boutiques in our area owned and operated by our neighbors. Maybe you have someone on your list who has everything, is hard to shop for, or says they don’t really need anything. How about a donation to a nonprofit or charity in their name? It is unexpected and personal. Several years ago, my brother and his wife started doing all their Christmas giving that way. It is fun getting a surprise thank you note from an organization I would support anyway. Another way to share the Christmas spirit is with a homemade gift certificate. It can be a promise to help someone, possibly some housework or shoveling or lawn care next summer. It could be a pledge to read to someone who has trouble seeing, or baby sit to give some parents a night out. The possibilities are endless—get creative and let love be your guide. So while doing your Christmas shopping look around, I bet your imagination and creativity will come up with several ideas, then think about how you are supporting your local communities’ economies with each purchase. From the Hawk’s Nest the wish list is simple—peace to you all even when it looks like you are in the middle of chaos and conflict. Oh, and a little more winter. Don’t worry about me though, unless you want to give to a charity or nonprofit. I have already bought a windshield. •

The Scotchman Peaks Keep ‘em wild.

For our Families, For tomorrow.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

The River Journal - A5News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 18 m | Vol December 17 No. 182011| | November 2008 | Page


Two large-tired skidders, one humongous Caterpillar, one small Bobcat, an industrialsized Link excavator, a regular-sized dump truck, and several assorted personal vehicles were either parked in the hay field or in the creek bed. Ouch. The creek rehabilitation plan on paper seemed pretty innocuous. On paper, it looked like a few, well placed root wad masses and a few platforms to plant willows. In muddy real life, it looked like a miniaturized version of the Milltown dam removal project on the Clark Fork. The Milltown dam removal was necessary to remove the poisoned silts that had collected behind the dam. The toxic materials came from the mines and smelters of Butte and Anaconda. Money from the mines and smelters did not stay in Montana, and it is taking Super Fund money to clean up the mining mess. So it is truly hyperbole to compare our 400’ bank renovation to that huge project, and fortunately there never was a copper mine upstream, so no toxic silts were present on our job. This mini-project began in January 1974 when there was an abrupt change of weather. There had been a really cold, dry November, driving the frost deep into the soil. December brought tons of snow, and early January settled in with below zero temperatures. Overnight, the air warmed up and it began to rain. Three days of rain on snow over frozen ground caused flooding throughout the county. Elk Creek demolished nearly every bridge and culvert in its raging path. As the creek passed through our field, it sliced a curve where it been straight before. We gained gravel bar and lost hay field. There have been attempts to stop this encroachment by placing root wads, logs, large rocks, and planting willow, service berry, pine, rose, and spruce. About every 10 years or so, another ‘100 year flood’ would come along and rip the scab off. The barriers would be breached and the bank full of young trees would be washed away. The genesis of the big rehab project stretches back farther than 1974 though. Sometime in the mid-Thirties, according to Joe Ovnicek, his dad got excited about the capabilities of a Caterpillar. He hired a young guy (I think it was Art Jensen) with a dozer to reshape a reach of the creek. You



can still see the line of rock and gravel that was piled to close off a horseshoe bend. The old bend still holds enough ground moisture to promote alder growth, but the gravelly soils are weedy and still not much benefit for pasture. After this impediment to its will, to its need to curve, the creek angrily ripped Ovnicek a new one... a new creek bed that cut a productive hay field in half and covered the east half in two feet of river gravel. John Ovnicek told us he was surprised that the field had recovered well enough by the 70s that it again produced grass hay. A fast-forward aerial film of the creek would show a writhing snake, desperate to escape downhill. Ray Fitchett—another ‘old-timer’ with a dozer—thought trying to keep the creek where you wanted it to be was useless, and he so far has proven to be right. Yet, we humans just can’t help trying to ‘heal’ nature. There are many sound reasons to buttress this bend: potential damage to the nearby county bridge, better fish habitat through designed deep holes, protect a productive hay field, provide cleaner water. The side benefits also have value: employment for engineers, local heavy equipment operators and tree planters. At first we were concerned about the two dippers that hang out in this reach of the creek. For most of the first day, a dipper was feeding in front of the dozer blade. By afternoon, when the water had been successfully diverted to a new, temporary channel, and only a trickle was still following the old, now muddy creek bed, four, then six dippers were feeding, flipping over rocks that were now sitting high and dry. It was as if an invitation had gone out: “come on up for dinner, there is more than we can eat.” Every time a hole is dug, something is learned. The dense, grey-blue Glacial Lake Missoula clay was a dismaying discovery for the contractor and engineer. (We knew that clay underlay the creek cobbles, but hadn’t understood the scope of the project well enough to warn the engineer of the clay problem.) Clay is a problem in that it cannot be tamped back into its hole. Tamping clay is like pounding Crisco. To tamp fence posts in

holes dug in clay, we have had to haul in rock. Fortunately, the contractor had a nearby shale pit and a site to dump the wet, unwanted clay. Moving a load or two of rocks by wheelbarrow is less intense than hauling 300 yards of fractured shale. It took that much extra rock to refill the 20x15x15’ deep holes that held a carefully placed tangle of logs with root wads still attached. The spiky protrusions reminded us of tank traps. Between the tank traps, the skillful excavator operator constructed a sloped platform to receive coconut fiber ‘logs’, which would be hand wrapped in fiber blankets by the contractors’ teenage boys. Working under and in concert with the backhoe bucket, the kids would stretch the fiber and pound stakes. Then the team of boys carried bundles of willow cuttings and spread them on the fiber. The backhoe bucket sprinkled small gravel like it was sifting sugar on the stems. The boys, again working under the bucket, wrestled another fiber log in place and the process began again. It was obvious they had done this work before. Their dad told us of a summer-long project in which the kids had participated. The planting crew arrived the last day of the machinery. Dump trucks, skidders, dozers were gone, with only a dark brown muddy field and an odd circular patch of red dust remaining. The reddish dust lay where the dump trucks had emptied their loads of shale. The planting contractor pointed out the circle of red. “This is volcanic ash from a Mount Mazama eruption about 7,700 years ago. But,” he added,” it is in the wrong place. Windblown volcanic ash collects, like snow drifts, in front of an obstruction.” We pointed to the region of the contractor’s nearby shale pit located on the lee side of a small ridge, asking if it could have collected there. “Oh yeah, perfect site for windblown ash to pile up”, he replied,


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December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 19

X-Mas Humbug In my college days an early research paper assignment over the X-mas holidays was on astronomical implications of the Nativity Gospels: i.e; the Star of Bethlehem (SOB). The results were regrettably meager, other than my referencing a classic Arthur C. Clarke story, but in studying the subject I came across a lot of distortions, errors, and outright falsehoods I’d like to share with you that fundamentalists tend to gloss over. The first puzzle came over trying to verify King Herod’s famous slaughter of the innocents, in which Herod orders the death of all children in his kingdom under two years of age. Neither Roman records, Jewish archives nor historical records such as

the Antiquities of Josephus mention such an abomination, a sheer impossibility for a region under Roman rule, a tinderbox of revolution and rebellion in which the slightest spark, such as ordering the deaths of so many young kids, could lead to mass unrest. Then there was the problem of the Census. Supposedly Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem for a Census ordered by Rome. Now Roman population and poll data from that time are fairly consistent and no poll or census data was taken in Jerusalem until the first in 6 C.E., and it did not require traveling to Bethlehem or anywhere; the males only (women were property and not worth recording) were required to register at their nearest village. Luke likewise mentions a Roman governor named Quinnius who did not

administer Judea until long after Herod had died. It gets worse however in Biblical attempts to “prove” the royal lineage from David to Jesus, for Matthew and Luke give two different lineages and they can’t both be right, even naming as grandfathers of Jesus two separate individuals (Jacob and Heli). The virgin birth? A later extrapolation, for, based on the original earliest Aramaic and Hebrew texts, the word virgin should be more accurately translated as simply “young woman.” An early pioneer researcher and skeptic into the whole Nativity question was none other than Thomas Paine, one of the founders of the American Republic, whose analysis can be found in part three of his Age of Reason. He recaps most of what I’ve just said: the implausibility of Herod’s slaughter of all of his realm’s twoyear-olds and younger, the insanity of the supposed Roman Census, which would


Surrealist Research Bureau

Fire from the Sky This month, nothing really spooky or supernatural, just an alternate theory that proposes something outside the conventional box of explanations for the great fire of 1910 in the St. Maries, St. Joe River area of Idaho. As most buffs of the history of the Second World War know, over about a ten-month period from late 1944 through the spring of 1945—before the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the Japanese, in a last ditch attempt to inflict damage on the United States proper, launched as many as 9,000 fire balloons to start forest fires and hopefully inflict as many causalities as possible. Of these, approximately 300 were recovered, most here in the Northwest with some in British Columbia. A few even reached as far as southern Ontario and Michigan. Constructed of five or six glued-together layers of mulberry paper, they w e r e

durable enough to carry a 200-pound, self-destructing flash bomb payload that floated up to 36,000 feet in the jet stream, taking approximately seventy hours to cross the pacific. The question is: could this technique have been used prior to WW II? Remnants of the balloons continued to be found within the last couple of decades in remote parts of northwest forests. Their lift was provided by highly flammable hydrogen, (which is what inflated the Hindenburg and led to the disaster in Pinehurst, NY in May of 1937 because we wouldn’t sell them the mostly inert Helium). As far as is known, the only casualties of the fire balloons were in Oregon in early May of 1945. Five children and an adult on a hiking trip found one which exploded, killing all of them when they investigated the strange looking device. This brings us to the possibility of the events 35 years earlier; the great 1910 fire before the known fire balloons. The period beginning in the late 1880s

by Jody Forest

through around 1910 had seen a number of reports from around the country of mysterious airships, most blimp or cigar shaped. A few reports had them landing, a human looking crew stepping out and speaking an unusual or unknown, (to the witnesses), language. Could they have been speaking German or even Japanese? Lighter than air balloons were first launched, unmanned, then manned in the 1780s in France and Germany, so it is not that great a stretch of the imagination that they existed in 1910 or that the Japanese may have dabbled in lighter than air devices. Most books and

by LAWRENCE FURY• Page 20 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

have required everyone to register at their ancestral city, (thus Spaniards had to return home from Mesopotamia, north Africans to India, it would have been a logistical nightmare, one for which there’s not a scrap of historical evidence other than the Bible). But to return to the miraculous star of Bethlehem, which I began researching so many years ago. It was first proposed by Kepler to have been a planetary conjunction in 7 BCE; however, ancient Babylonian almanacs and stellar observations have been found since which show both that the conjunctions were not visually impressive and that they held little interest to the astronomers of their era. Halley’s Comet (among others) has also been suggested as a possible SOB, as has a super or hyper-nova in the nearby Andromeda galaxy. Regrettably, nothing came of my SOB researches, other than a grade of

B+. I’ll leave you however with a nearforgotten quote from Matt 27:52 in which he describes, after the resurrection, an earthquake which “opened up the graves and the bodies of the dead arose and walked through the city and appeared to the inhabitants of the city.” Apparently, these many inhabitants of Jerusalem were so unimpressed by the dead walking among them that they found no need to tell anyone else about it and such a remarkable occurrence was not recorded by a single other person in letters or histories of the time. Even Matthew falls silent after that brief mention. I mean, were they like Zombies or the Evil Dead? Did you have to cut off their heads to kill them? Inquiring minds want to know! ‘til next time, a Merry Christmas to you all and All Homage to Xena! “What I’m saying now I say not with the Lord’s authority but as a Fool!” Luke in 1 Corinthians

Update on the Rock Creek Mine

Earlier this year, attorneys for the Rock Creek Alliance presented oral argument to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At issue was a 2010 federal court decision pertaining to the Biological Opinion for threatened grizzly bear and bull trout issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. The Alliance’s attorneys argued that the federal agency had not considered the mine’s impacts to Rock Creek’s ability to support bull trout recovery as critical habitat, and that it could not justify its findings that the mine would not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. They also asserted that the Biological Opinion failed to adequately mitigate for the loss of over 7,000 acres of habitat for grizzly bears. Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling upholding the lower court’s decision to defer to the discretion of the US Fish and Wildlife. As a result, the 2006 Biological Opinion stands. In spite of this ruling, numerous significant obstacles to the construction of Jody Forest can be reached at the Rock Creek mine remain: 1) A Montana state court ruling issued this past summer is preventing the exploratory phase of the project from commencing. The district court agreed with the Alliance that the Montana Department reports of the 1910 fire, from what the sky and disappeared in the trees, and of Environmental Quality was wrong to permit the mine under a generic general I’ve seen, seem to quickly brush with no other fire around. over or lack any explanation for There were several accounts a few years storm water permit that covers ordinary construction activities across the state what started the fire. Most focus before 1910 of unusual things having been and excludes public comment. Instead, the on the tales of terror and the fire’s occasionally seen in the sky. Round objects court determined that Montana DEQ should aftermath. like small, grayish-white coins floating have prepared an individual water quality There are some clues though, that over and descending in Oregon, and the permit based on the specific conditions at something other than lightening or Central Idaho panhandle. the mine site. An individual permit would a conventional human cause may Could these things have been early allow for a consideration of Montana’s nonhave been responsible. Japanese hydrogen balloons? Perhaps degradation policy that protects water A couple of eye witnesses launched against their then threat, Russia? quality, while providing an opportunity for related the seemingly spontaneous Could some have gone astray over the public comment. 2) The mine currently does not have a combustion at one or more points Pacific, winding up here in 1910 Northwest Final Environmental Impact Statement or a which would start on one side of United States, causing an unintentional Record of Decision authorizing construction. a gully for no apparent reason, first strike in a war that wouldn’t continue The 2001 EIS and the 2003 Record of Decision then another point of fire would for another three decades at Pearl Harbor? were voided as a result of a 2010 federal court mysteriously appear on the other Until next time, give conventional ruling. A supplemental EIS must be released side. True, an unseen brand from explanations their due, but don’t hesitate for public comment before a new Record of Decision can be issued. an initial fire could have floated to think outside the box. 3) The permit to perpetually discharge up through the air, landing many yards NEXT TIME: “Tommy Knockers” in a to 3 million gallons of mine wastewater per or miles away. failed North Idaho mining town. One obscure account however, Japanese fire balloon of mulberry paper day into the Clark Fork River was invalidated reported that a point of ignition reinflated at Moffett Field, CA after it had been as a result of a 2008 decision from the Montana Supreme Court. The permit has not just before dawn near St. Maries shot down by a Navy aircraft January 10, 1945 US been reissued. seemed to have started just after Army photo A 37180C. Balloon now owned by the 4) In 2006, a Montana state court revoked what appeared to be a roundish National Air and Space Museum. WikiCommons the permit allowing for a discharge from the dark object descended slowly from photo tailings impoundment into groundwater. A new permit has not been issued. You can visit online for continually updated information on the proposed mine at Rock Creek. December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 21

The Valley of Shadows

Dec 15-17 and 19-24 10-3

Don’t Miss Santa! Downtown at the Cedar St. Bridge


Downtown Sandpoint!

Visit for a complete calendar of events



7 Embracing a Global Society Art Opening Reception, 5:30-7 Sandpoint High School Commons 8 Sip ‘n’ Shop with Community Cancer Services, Pend d’Oreille Winery, 5-8 pm 8 Music Conservatory Concert. First Presbyterian Church, 417 N. 4th Ave, 6:30 pm 8-10 Santa at the North Pole. Cedar Street Bridge hosts Santa Claus from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m 9 A Day for Community Cancer Services. Join Schweitzer Mountain Resort with $10 lift tickets 9 Girls’ Night Out. The Downtown Sandpoint Business Association hosts a Girls’ Night Out shopping event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 9 Contra Dance, 7 pm, Sandpoint Community Hall, $5 donation 9-10 It’s a Wonderful Life, radiostyle presentation, Panida Theater. Matinees 1 pm, evening show 7:30 10 Studio 524 Coffee Lounge Grand Opening, 10 am-1 pm 524 Church 10-11 A Christmas Celebration Concert, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 3 pm both days 11 Christmas Home Tour, 10-4, benefits The Healing Garden. Call Bonner General Hospital 12 Sip ‘n’ Shop with POAC, 5-8 pm at Pend d’Oreille Winery. 13 Sip ‘n’ Shop with the Festival at Sandpoint, 5-8 pm Pend d’Oreille Winery. 13 Sandpoint Swing, lessons every week just $3 208-610-8587 15 Women Who Wine, 5-8 pm Pend d’Oreille Winery 15-17 Santa at the North Pole. Cedar Street Bridge hosts Santa Claus from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m 16 Mens’ Night Out. The Downtown Sandpoint Business Association hosts a Mens’ Night Out shopping event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Winery Music - Live music every Friday night at Pend d’Oreille Winery Pub Music with Truck Mills Blues Jam every Monday night at Eichardt’s Trivia every Tuesday night at MickDuff’s. Tuesdays with Mike, Trinity at City Beach, 5 to 8 pm. Sunday Open Mic, 6:30 to 10 pm every Sunday at the Long Bridge Grill.

Page 22 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

Two Bills Pass that Benefit Veterans Two big pieces of news have occurred since last month’s article went to the printer. The first of these events was not directly veteran related but well worth noting. The ‘Super Committee’ failed to arrive at a solution to our national budgetary impasse. Surprise, surprise, surprise! If ever a group was designed to fail it was the Super Committee. The twelve members—six Republicans and six Democrats—were chosen by the respective leadership in both houses of Congress not for their negotiating skills or willingness to reach a consensus. Rather, they were chosen for their ideological purity and willingness to stick to the mantra of their respective parties. Demonstrably, the six GOP members of the Super Committee were less flexible than the six Democrats—more on that later. In the 112th Congress the very make-up of the committee defines the formula for failure. When it comes to accomplishments the 112th Congress has set a new low bar. My expectation for success from this group was at a low level from the get go. They had been given a model that could have been used to reach a solution. But one side in that debate chooses not to even consider that model. I recently found a report that compared the proposals presented in the Bowles-Simpson Plan and an almost identical plan submitted by the six Democrats on the Super Committee (see below). The suggestions that came out of the Bowles-Simpson Plan would have raised even more revenue and made almost identical cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs over several years. The Bowles-Simpson Plan spread the—considerable—pain across the entire spectrum of incomes and age groups, therefore making it intolerable to the extremes of both Parties. With the collapse of the Super Committee, Congress has once more kicked these hard decisions—decisions that NEED to be made—down the road to be essentially decided by the results seen in the elections of 2012. I firmly believe that nothing will be done on this crisis until after the votes are counted and those within the ‘Beltway Bubble’ that is Washington see how the American People feel about the adequacy of their representatives. I suspect—indeed, I hope—that there will be

Veterans’ News

substantial changes in the composition of both houses. I believe that the American People are finally waking up to the fact that the 112th Congress may indeed be the worst ever Congress in our twohundred-and-thirty-five-year history. The majority of members that took office in January of this year came in on a wave of anti-Government feeling. These ‘newbies’ soon learned that actually governing was much harder than they realized. The traditional GOP leadership soon realized that they had loosed an uncontrollable and undisciplined bunch of neophytes upon the country. Those who lose their seats on the second Tuesday of November 2012—known affectionately as “Lame Ducks”—may realize that they don’t have to follow Grover Norquist’s dictates any longer, and realizing that they had been sold a pig in a poke by the Koch brothers, will actually do what is good for all of the country before they head back into the real world outside ‘The Beltway’ at the end of December 2012. One can but hope. Now onto the other event that occurred during the past month. In an almost unheard moment of bipartisanship both the House and the Senate passed—with a near unanimous vote—the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433) and Hiring Heroes Act (S.951). This legislation is actually a miniscule—$55 billion— portion of the President’s $455 billion jobs plan given to Congress during his September 8th speech. Granted this bill is built on the GOP’s favorite things—tax reducing incentives for employers—but it does at least recognize a very real problem. Unemployment among veterans is well over the national average. As he was signing the bill President Obama said, “Just as they fight for us on the battlefield, it’s up to us to fight for our troops and their families when they come home. Today, a deeply grateful nation is doing right by our military and paying back just a little bit what we owe our veterans.” While there has been zero action on any other portion of the President’s jobs proposal—thanks to GOP obstructionism and intransigence in the House and threats of filibusters in the Senate—this small piece zipped through both chambers with lightening like speed. I found it ironic— and somewhat suspicious—that this bill was signed into law shortly after Veteran’s Day and shortly before tens of thousands


of fit, motivated and unemployed young men and women—that coincidentally are very familiar with tactics, weapons and are extremely goal oriented—are coming home to bleak employment options. But then again, I’m a cynical old bastard. I find it amusing that the members of the GOP who make such a big point of being for a ‘Strong National Defense’ have shown so little concern or care for all those young men and women who volunteer to bear arms for this nation once that service is done. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced thousands of young veterans. During the Bush Administration billions of dollars was spent providing these young warriors with the best equipment* and training in the world. When these same warriors returned home they found a Veterans Administration woefully underfunded and understaffed to handle this huge influx of broken citizen soldiers. When the current administration increased funding for veteran’s services, guess which group raised the specter of ‘Runaway Debt’? *I’ll save my commentary on trying to run a war on the cheap for another day. I am hopeful that voters nationwide will see the sheer hypocrisy of the GOP when it comes to serving the vast majority of Americans and our veteran community in specific. I recently read an article in New York Magazine by Robert Frum, a former speech writer for President Bush. Mr. Frum is no fan of President Obama but he asks the question, “When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” It is a lengthy analysis of the past 10 to 12 years that is well worth seeking out regardless of your political bent. He has done an excellent job of laying bare the distortions of reality that are the hallmark of today’s GOP and sets the stage for the battle to return the GOP to its traditional values and priorities. The outcome of this battle could well determine the future course of our country. I’ll close this month’s article with a heartfelt ‘Thanks’ for all the local businesses that did so much to honor the area’s veterans over this past Veterans Day. Many of them render this honor on a daily basis—not just one day a year. To them I offer this salute from this old sailor – Thank you!

Gil Beyer, ETC USN Ret. can be reached at

December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 23

‘Genuine Sandpoint’ launched in new ‘buy local’ campaign

With a goal of educating and inspiring residents to support and appreciate local businesses, the DSBA’s Sandpoint Forward initiative has launched a new “buy local” program. Dubbed “Genuine Sandpoint,” the program will have a number of features as it is developed over the coming months. The particular emphasis for the holiday buying season is simply to raise awareness, said DSBA’s downtown manager, Marcy Timblin. “Buying local is not some kind of plea for charity,” she said. “Just in a straight-up comparison, we think our local merchants, restaurants and service providers offer competitive prices and selection with what you can find out of town. Especially when you factor in the cost of driving to Coeur d’Alene or Spokane – that can easily add $50-$80 to your expenses, not including the hours of white-knuckle driving.” But Timblin noted the idea of buying local goes much further than that. Especially in tight economic times, when consumers make a conscious decision to buy local they keep their dollars here to help employ neighbors, to contribute to community services through the tax base, and to enable our businesses to recirculate those dollars with their own buying and spending. “We just hope folks think about the big

picture when they go shopping,” she said. Timblin said the Genuine Sandpoint campaign will focus on several areas as it continues. • Education. Information on the range of goods and services available in Sandpoint, reminding residents of the variety and benefits of local shopping. • Promotion. Advertising and social media to promote local buying. • Benefits. Area businesses may wish to offer discounts and specials. A “Buy Local” shopping day is under consideration for early 2012, as well. Looking ahead, DSBA hopes to add a downtown gift card in the spring and expand benefits. There will also be programs to support locally produced foods and goods. “We are excited to celebrate local goods and services and build a program that can provide some commerce for our businesses and benefits for our residents,” said Timblin. “This is a small start but a good start to revisit the great benefits of shopping downtown and throughout Sandpoint.” Get more information at the DSBA website, www.downtownsandpoint. com. All local businesses are invited to participate in the effort; contact Timblin through the website.

DiLuna’s Catering to your Needs 220 Cedar St. Sandpoint 208.263.0846

Continued Support for Bobby Clark Bobby Clark, a senior at Priest River Lamanna High School, suffered a severe head injury on September 30 while playing football in the school’s homecoming game. When tragedy such as this affects a youth, the whole community yearns to do something to help. It started with hopes and prayers and grew into a Spaghetti Feed and Auction Fundraiser. Priest River is a small town in North Idaho where I too reside and am raising my family. The Clark family gets their electricity from Northern Lights Inc. I am a lineman and utility arborist for NLI. Asplundh Tree Expert Co. is a contractor NLI utilizes to keep power lines clear of vegetation. More than that, Asplundh is a good neighbor who extended their support to the benefit auction. I contacted General Foreperson Randy Clark (no relation), as well as Mick Kavran (region 72 Vice President). I explained Bobby’s plight, the situation facing the Clark family and about the community fundraiser. Their aid was more than generous and for that I would like to offer my gratitude. Asplundh contributed a pair of NFL Tickets for the Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks game. At auction, these tickets sold for $400. Additionally, they donated a Stihl BG 86 handheld blower which garnered $200 from the highest bidder. Their generosity gathered $600 for the Clark family to help them with expenses. Additionally, a Marathon Hot Water Heater was purchased by the employees of NLI and the manufacturer, and donated to the auction as well. It sold for $500 to NLI members that are building a home. They said that they had been considering buying a Marathon HWH anyway, and they are happy that their purchase benefits the Clark family too. Bobby’s condition is improving, but he has a long difficult road ahead of him. To learn more about Bobby, his story and to follow his progress, go to www.caringbridge. org/visit/bobbyclark. At this website you can read the journal Bobby’s mother has kept from the start. If you have children or have faced similar circumstances, you’ll find yourself right there on the roller coaster with her. Her rock solid commitment to her son is inspirational. In addition to hopes and prayers, if you too would like to do more for the Clark family, monetary donations are still being collected under the Bobby Clark Fund at: Panhandle State Bank P. O. Box 1847 Priest River, ID 83856 phone 208-448-0604. You can also e-mail Camille.Riley@panhandlebank. com for more information. -by Tim Barnett

Page 24 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

Black Friday It was Black Friday at the Mercantile in Chipmunk Falls Idaho, when two women showed up at the same time for the big sales grand opening at midnight. Two large women who claimed to be twin sisters, even though one was a year older than the other, wrestled the door man to the ground trying to get him to open the double doors so they could both pass, squashing him so hard chocolate oozed from their pores like brown zits; it wasn’t a pretty sight. Leaving his lifeless body at the door they raced to the sales rack, trampling the house cat in their wake and finding only one, onesize-fits-all t-shirt hanging limp on the rack. It had been there since the 1994 Donkey basketball game between the alumni and the graduating class of ‘94. There were two in the class and they were both female, or at least that one claimed to be, but it was never proven. It wasn’t until the judge let one girl out on work release to have her baby that the game got started. It was a hard fought game and the alumni went through several cases of Bud Light and won by two points when the girls had to forfeit when the pregnant girl’s water broke doing a lay up. The twin sisters who showed up at the Mercantile at midnight of black Friday had been misinformed by hearing ads on the radio by Wally World, Tar Jay and other big box stores that Christmas started back in September and would run until January second at which time Easter would start and the pregnant bunnies who were already being put on display would start delivering. December 25 has been set aside for some cult, and does not interfere with the gluttony that

and other important American holidays

the big box stores start in September. If you don’t get it now your neighbor will, and you will be left out! Just to keep things wound up, somewhere in there they have SUGAR day, an evening where they sell all the candy the little duffers can haul home; it’s called Treat. It used to be trick or treat but the little duffers have no way of knowing what trick means, they just want the candy. Feed this to your kids and watch them bounce off the walls for several days at which point you give them a shot of Ritalin or all the Turkey they can eat. This is called Thanksgiving, a day when they sell you over-inflated turkeys whose breasts are implanted to a size that would make Dolly jealous, knowing that turkey breast would, like any breast, put a man to sleep in just minutes. With a smile on his face and gravy on his lips he will fall into a narcotic slumber that may last for days, or until the turkey sandwiches run out. After the dishes are washed and put away the housewife goes to her room and dons her suit of shopping armor, gathers up her hidden cash and all the credit cards that are not maxed out, frisks her husband for any loose change. Putting his tongue back in his mouth she kisses him on the cheek, says good bye to her children who are fixated on the Disney channel’s Mickey Mouse with no pants on chasing Minnie Mouse, who likewise has no pants on. The mom picks up her two best friends and arrives at the big box store just before midnight. Armed with clubs and bear spray they fight their way to the sales rack marked 90 percent off. One sales lady was already wearing less than that, most of her clothes had been sold from her body. A

sales manager was trying to protect her by covering her body with his. Hours later the girls exited the store, with three over-loaded shopping carts of Chinese junk they didn’t want and tied it to the back of their car with jumper cables. All the Chinese junk that wasn’t scarfed up by the mentally challenged shoppers was dozed out the back door into dumpsters to make room for all those cute little bunnies whose butts were red from pooping out those Easter eggs. In the meantime, Chinese scientists are working night and day trying to come up with fireworks that will make a lot of colorful noise and will refrain from blowing off the fingers of little kids the world over; some Chinese kids were sacrificed in the research.

From the Mouth of the River BOOTS REYNOLDS MORE THAN JUST A COIN DEALER BUYING & SELLING Coins & Paper Money • U.S. & Worldwide Gold • Silver •Food quality storage containers • Coin collecting books & supplies Metal detectors • Prospecting supplies

Grunberg Schloss Collector’s Cabinet 210 C TRIANGLE DRIVE, PONDERAY • 208-263-7871• MON-FRI OR CALL FOR APPT December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 25



May 1, 1921 - November 18, 2011

April 15, 2004 - November 13, 2011

BETTY LOUISE BEAIRD GAGE August 2, 1938 - November 13, 2011 LILLIE ALTA BRUCE BERG January 8, 1918 - November 20, 2011

Lakeview Funeral Home, Sandpoint, Idaho.

ROLAND E. ‘ROLLIE’ ACKERMAN July 11, 1914 - November 14, 2011

Get complete obituaries online at PATRICIA ANN PRICE

HENRY FRANKLIN EATON September 15, 1933 November 24, 2011

July 29, 1943 - November 1, 2011

MARNIE SCHNEIDMILLER HIGGINS June 8, 1938 - November 15, 2011

JANET LOUISE BEAM SIMMONS January 8, 1931 - November 26, 2011 JAMES FORSMANN July 31, 1948 November 2, 2011

RAYMOND O. TURNER December 12, 1922 November 18, 2011

BILLIE LEE CHURCHMAN August 4, 1926 - November 19, 2011

NANCY ANN ‘NAN’ MORLEY July 2, 1943 - November 4, 2011

VIRBINIA ‘GIN PEARL ARNOLD BABLER June 22, 1922 - November 19, 2011

WILLIAM ROBERT SMITH December 17, 1920 November 6, 2011

JUANITA LORRAINE TAYLOR STEVENS March 5, 1926 - November 7, 2011

T.J. ‘MAC’ MCFADDEN June 15, 1916 - November 8, 2011

CECIL MARDEN WALKER JR September 4, 1949 - November 8, 2011 DOROTHY ALICE WILLIAMS

Coffelt Funeral Home, Sandpoint, Idaho.

Get complete obituaries online at PARK W. ‘BILL’ FOURNIER February 28, 1925 - November 7, 2011

FIELDS ‘SONNY’ WHITE COBB JR. February 16, 1932 - November 7, 2011

MARY FRANCIS JOHNSON April 22, 1931 - November 8, 2011 FRANCIS MARION RICH NEWELL August 10, 1917 - November 9, 2011

DONALD LEE HOERL August 29, 1929 - November 21, 201 WILLIAM ‘BILL’ E. TRUBY JR. April 21, 1929 - November 23, 2011

JENS ‘BUSTER’ OLAF KNUDSEN April 18, 1918 - November 24, 2011

JULIE ANN ZAKLAN WAHLGREN December 18, 1927 - November 25, 2011 FAY S. SHOTT GREGG April 6, 1940 - November 26, 2011

January 20, 1917 - November 9, 2011

MARY EDITH ‘EDIE’ SCHUELKE HOELKE May 31, 1928 - November 9, 2011

CARTHEL S. ‘ROBBY’ ROBERSON September 4, 1942 - November 15, 2011

WASIL ‘RUSS’ MOROZ January 7, 1921 November 9, 2011

EDITH VIOLA ELMGREEN PETERSON June 7, 1914 - November 10, 2011

CARL FREDERICK BARTZ, JR February 16, 1927 November 26, 2011

ELMA LORETTA HATCH November 19, 1911 - November 28, 2011 ELIZABETH DONAHUE January 9, 1916 - December 3, 2011

JEFFREY CARL MAASS September 25, 1954 - November 12, 2011

Page 26 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| December 2011

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the land all the creatures were scurrying like a one man band. With the days getting shorter and the ‘big one’ close at hand, the average consumer was in debt ten grand. But all was okay for it’s well understood that salvation only comes when the economy’s good. And to prove that ‘Trickle-Down’ works as well as it should they were all asked to spend what they possibly could. “Just follow your leaders”, was the message being sent, “and don’t fret the details of a deficit lent. This is far more important than groceries or rent or any speck of savings you haven’t yet spent.” Their eyes how they twinkled with smiles so bright in commercials so tailored that you’ll not even fight to keep the meaning of Christmas in its original light, with the love and good feelings we once held so tight. Like way back when, in the dimly lit past, it was considered enough and not get harassed for just sharing some goodies and a grateful repast with close friends and family who occasionally got gassed. There was music and games and light conversations with nibbles and dribbles and laughter an’ elations, without talk of hatred or unsavory castigations like wantin’ to put Congress on some kind of probations. For politics and rhetoric don’t belong here in the least and neither does wanderin’ around gettin’ fleeced or getting your debt ceiling somehow increased so you can leverage yourself and really get greased!

So invite all your friends to go along with this plan and even some members of yer own silly clan. Make sure they understand, any way that you can, no presents are necessary, just something in a pan. Or a bottle, bowl, basket or platter so long as it’s tasty, the rest doesn’t matter. People seem to smile while they’re gettin’ fatter. ‘Tis a day for feasting, tell your diet to scatter. When there’s plenty to go ‘round, then no one need fret about anything profound like credit card debt. So bring them together by car, train or jet and hopefully they’ll all have the proper mind set to just have a good time eatin’ and yackin’ and listnin’ to stories about slackin’ or frackin’, whackin’ bracken or even lackin’ some backin’ all the while concentratin’ on slurpin’ and snackin’. This may sound confusing or even preposterous. You may even think I’m an improbable cuss for implying we shouldn’t be this superfluous and return to the ways that actually foster us. So just as you gather to carve up the roast and celebrate life with those you like most try raising a glass and giving a toast to Our Father, His Son and the Holy Ghost.

Scott Clawson

December 2011| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | | Vol. 20 No. 12| Page 27



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The River Journal, December 2011  

December 2011 issue of the River Journal, a news magazine worth wading through

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