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Week’s Openings: Final ‘Hobbit’

Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen appear in a scene from “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Peter Jackson's overblown adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien's children's novel “The Hobbit” has drawn a lot of commentary. This, for example. And this. But whatever you think of what Jackson has put on the screen, you might be interested in knowing that the final chapter, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” will be arriving in area theaters on Wednesday. The rest of the week's openings will premiere on Friday/Dan Webster, 7 Blog. More here.

Question: Will you see “The Hobbit” during the opening week?

Man Keeping An Eye On Ex

From Post Falls Police Department Facebook:Female caller reported that her ex-husband has been driving by her residence taking photographs and trying to obtain photo’s of her current boyfriend. A report was taken.”

Question: What kind of advice would you give the ex-husband?

Mum Broadband Panel Meets Secretly

The state panel widely known as IPRAC met again Tuesday — behind closed doors. The Idaho Education Network’s Program Resource Advisory Council — assigned to oversee the troubled statewide high school broadband system — convened Tuesday morning. The council promptly went into a closed executive session, the only item on its agenda. The meeting lasted just over an hour, and the council adjourned without making any decisions on the broadband system or the 5-year-old lawsuit involving the $60 million system contract/Kevin Richert, IdahoED NEWS. More here.

Question: Open and transparent? Idaho? Ahaha. Thoughts?

Your Health Idaho Enrolls 75,000

Your Health Idaho, Idaho’s health insurance exchange, reported today that it processed 74,689 enrollments in the first month of this year’s open enrollment period, including both new applicants and people renewing their coverage from last year. “There is a huge demand for health insurance in our state,” said the exchange’s executive director, Pat Kelly. “We are pleased so many Idahoans have already found a health insurance plan that fits their needs. However, we still have a lot of work to do before open enrollment ends and many more Idahoans to help.” The figures are for enrollments from Nov. 15 to Dec. 14/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Seems Teapublicans don't like the state health exchange. But 75,000 Idahoans — and counting — are rushing to embrace it. So who's right?

Jeb Bush Considers Presidential Run

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he plans to “actively explore” a run for president, taking his most definitive step yet toward mounting a 2016 campaign. The former GOP governor — and son and brother of past Republican presidents — also said he plans to launch a new political operation allowing him to raise money for like-minded politicians. In a message posted on social media on Tuesday, Bush said he's discussed his plans with his family/Fox News. More here. (AP file photo: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush listens before speaking at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington Nov. 20)

Question: Would Jeb Bush make a good GOP presidential candidate?

Taliban Kills 141, Mostly Children

The first funerals are being held for the victims of a Taliban school massacre in Pakistan on Tuesday that left at least 141 people dead, most of them young students. Wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives, seven assailants attacked the military-run facility in the northwestern city of Peshawar, shooting children and adults. Pakistani officials said 132 of the dead were students about 12 to 16 years old. Nine school staff members also died in the siege. A provincial official said more than 120 others were wounded in the assault. VOA Deewa Radio reporter Hameedullah Khan said more than 100 of the wounded were children/Voice of America. More here. (AP photo: Relatives of Pakistani student, Baqir Ali Bangash, 13, who was killed in the Taliban attack on his school)

DFO: Absolute monsters. Thoughts?

Frozen Proposal

US couple Jon McAchran gets down on one knee to pop the question to his girlfriend Ashley Marie Kimberl, presenting her with a sparkling diamond engagement ring, as they pose for a photograph on the ice rink set 57 meters (188 feet) above the ground on the Eiffel Tower in Paris today. Real estate agent McAchran, 32, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, provoked instant applause when he got down on one frosty knee (and ice-skate) to pop the question on the ice to his girlfriend Kimberl, 30, presenting her with a sparkling diamond engagement ring. Kimberl confirmed her answer to the AP: “We’re getting married!” (AP Photo/Francois Mori )

Question: Did you — or your mate — get down on one knee to propose marriage?

AM Scanner Traffic — 12.16.14

  • 11:54 a.m. Post Falls High 14YO boy lethargic in gym after taking dumb bell to the head.
  • 11:45 a.m. 91YO male unconscious @ 31100 block of Sunray Trail/Worley.
  • 11:44 a.m. Medical emergency @ Budget Saver, 1519 E. Sherman Ave/CdA.
  • 11:32 a.m. A burned egg on stove set off fire alarm @ Heritage Place, 1105 E3rd/CdA.
  • 10:52 a.m. Citizen assist requested @ 1424 E. Sherman Ave/CdA.
  • 10:12 a.m. Transients are bothering customers @ Walgreens pharmacy drive-thru, 335 Appleway/CdA.
  • 10:08 a.m. ISP officer calls ahead to 2nd officer re: speeding red pickup @ n/b H95/MP 428 (Blackwell Road).
  • 9:58 a.m. ISP officer removes undisclosed road hazard @ w/b I-90/MP 10.5, west of NW Blvd/CdA.
  • 9:44 a.m. 911 center receives hangup call from Sports Authority, 200 W. Hanley/CdA.
  • 9:43 a.m. Vandalism to property reported @ 100 block of Wallace Avenue/CdA.
  • 9:19 a.m. PFPD officer serving eviction notice @ 100 block of Caton Street/Post Falls.
  • 9:06 a.m. Winton Elementary, 9650 N Govt Way/Hayden is conducting a fire drill.
  • 8:44 a.m. Medical emergency @ North Star Retirement Community, 2340 W. Seltice Way/CdA.
  • 8:39 a.m. Drivers yelling at each other in road-rage incident @ Emma/Govt Way, CdA.
  • 8:17 a.m. 16YO female is unconscious in Room 204 of Post Falls High.

Error Triples Wallace Billing Amount

Wallace School District residents got a surprise in their property tax bills last month – a school bond payment that should have cost the average homeowner about $61 this year instead came out at $183. It was a mistake – the Idaho district had refinanced the 30-year bond that a decade ago built Wallace Junior-Senior High School, where 244 students now attend the 7th through 12th grade. That move two years ago was designed to save the local taxpayers money, not cost them more; all told, Superintendent Bob Ranells estimates it’ll save taxpayers $100,000 and also shorten the repayment period/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: What should Shoshone County commissioners do: Re-calculate, re-bill and issue refunds; or do nothing, letting this year’s overpayments hold over to cover future years’ bond payments?

Gun Remark Miffs Constitutionalists

That video was posted on, the website of conservative radio host Alex Jones, and has garnered nearly 120,000 views on YouTube in the past three days.

Comments made by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy during a public event Dec. 7 have drawn fire and protest plans from self-proclaimed constitutionalists, who say the sheriff is targeting law-abiding gun owners with military equipment obtained from the federal government. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said critics are taking seven seconds of video out of context and using it as an excuse to criticize law enforcement. The video in question shows a citizen asking a deputy why the Sheriff’s Office needs a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) at a public event at the Spokane Valley Mall. The deputy’s response: “We’ve got a lot of constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons, a lot of ammunition”/Rachel Alexander, SR. More here.

Question: Do you agree with the sheriff's deputy that there are some scary people with stockpiles of firearms back in them thar hills?

WSU Grad Dies In Australia Siege

The cafe manager killed in the deadly siege in Sydney, Australia, was a graduate of Washington State University. Spokesman Rob Strenge in Pullman says Tori Johnson graduated with honors in 2003 with a degree in hotel and restaurant administration. Strenge says Johnson apparently transferred to WSU for his final year. The 34-year-old Johnson was one of two hostages killed along with the gunman in the 16-hour siege that ended when police stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe. Officials have yet to say whether the two hostages died in crossfire or were shot by their captor/AP.

Poll: Pseudonymed Posts Sketchy

  • Monday Poll: Hucks Nation puts less trust in comments made under pseudonyms than it does those made by individuals who use their real names. 86 of 137 respondents (62.77%) said they put less trust in pseudonymed comments than ones signed ones. 43 (31.39%) viewed pseudonymed comments the same as signed ones. 8 (5.84%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Which Idaho tax reduction or elimination idea is most important to you — grocery sales tax, personal property tax on business equipment, or state income tax?

AM: ‘Explorers’ Installed At McEuen

Tim McCormick, left, with Contractors Northwest Inc., and John Kinkade with the Sculptors Guild install “The Explorers” on Monday. The Explorers portrays two young boys and a young girl hiking on a log. It is located near the base of Tubbs Hill along the trail confluence near the Pavilion. The $90,000 piece of art was created by Jane DeDecker of Colorado. More here. (Coeur d'Alene Today photo: Keith Erickson)

Toastmasters Launch Speakers Bureau

Toastmasters has launched a speakers bureau to help local organizations find free presenters. Organizational leaders can now submit a form online to request a speaker. The form is online here. The speakers bureau enables organizations to be matched with experienced Toastmasters speakers. When Spokane's annual fan-themed convention, SpoCon, needed panel moderators, organizers turned to Toastmasters. With the launch of a new Toastmasters Speakers Bureau, event planners and organizers can submit a simple form to request speakers. The Speakers Bureau chair will connect the organization with an appropriate choice of speakers shortly after form submission, according to Toastmaster Kathy Hansen/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: When did you last speak in public?

Idaho 6th For Peace Corps Volunteers

The Peace Corps today released the 2014 rankings of the top volunteer-producing states and metropolitan areas across the country. Idaho ranked No. 6 among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita, with 4.2 volunteers currently serving worldwide for every 100,000 residents. … Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, 1,328 Peace Corps volunteers from Idaho have traveled abroad to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. The state produced 67 volunteers this year and jumped up one spot on the per capita list from No. 7 in 2013 and three spots from its No. 10 spot in 2012/Jeremiah McDaniel, Peace Corps. More here. (Wikipedia illustration)

Question: Has anyone in your family served in the Peace Corps?

CSD $1.8M Short On Winton Project

Coeur d’Alene School District officials say they’re $1.8 million short in paying for a new school scheduled to open next September. The funding gap for Winton Elementary School was discussed publicly for the first time at a school board workshop Monday night. Superintendent Matt Handelman (pictured) said he learned about the shortfall about two months ago and immediately tightened his oversight of the $8 million project. School trustees will consider closing the difference using district reserves but said they also want to look at selling district-owned property to help cover the cost. “This is a problem we can solve within our means” and without delaying the school’s opening, board Chairman Christa Hazel said … The bond projects were managed by Wendell Wardell, who was the district’s chief operating officer until his sudden departure last month/Scott Maben, SR. More here.


Lewiston 7YO Wins Idaho Card Contest

Award-winning Lewiston artist Kate McDougall works in a variety of media, with a particular focus on splatter paint. The diminutive 7-year-old grand prize winner of Idaho's holiday card contest said she's been exploring art since she was, well, smaller. “When I was a little baby, I made a little handprint with my smashed food,” McDougall said. The image she designed for the contest - two cardinals perched beak-to-beak against a backdrop of birch trees and falling snow - has been printed on cards for her parents, Liz and Jeff McDougall, to send to family and friends. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade can enter the annual competition, organized by the Idaho State Department of Education/Mary Stone, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (Lewiston Tribune photo: Whitman Elementary second-grader Kate McDougall shows her artwork of two cardinals in birch trees)

Question: Have you ever won a contest involving something you created?

3 Spokane Men Arrested At Casino

Three Spokane men were arrested on a number of charges after a Kootenai County deputy spotted a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of the Coeur d'Alene Casino, near Worley. The deputy had received an alert on the stolen car from Spokane. The vehicle was parked and unoccupied. The deputy contacted casino security and with the aid of their security cameras was able to obtain video of the four individuals that arrived in the stolen car. The deputy, along with other officers, then found the four men who had arrived in the stolen vehicle. Three of the four were arrested on a host of charges including possession of the stolen vehicle, possession of stolen credit cards, possession of stolen property, possession of drugs with the intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. The fourth man was released after deputies decided he didn't know the vehicle was stolen/Lt. Stu Miller, KCSD press release. More here. (KCSD booking mugs: Clinton Castillo, left, and Jackie McPeak)

Mother, Baby Escape Injury In Crash

Elsie Buttice holds her 3-month-old granddaughter as emergency crews investigate a roll-over accident at the corner of Third Street and Locust Avenue Monday in Coeur d’Alene. (SR photo: Shawn Gust)

A mother and her 3-month-old baby were temporarily trapped in her car Monday morning in a rollover accident at the intersection of Third Street and Locust Avenue. Janell Haines, 28, of Ponderay was traveling westbound on Locust Avenue around 11 a.m. and did not notice the stop sign at the Third Street intersection. “When I realized I had a stop sign, it was too late,” Haines said. “I saw the other car coming so I stepped on it, and I am glad I did, otherwise she would have hit right where my baby was sitting.” Another vehicle was traveling south on Third Street and struck Haines' vehicle in the rear passenger side, which spun it around before it flipped onto its side, trapping the passengers inside/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: When were you last in a vehicle accident?

Clark: Beware Of Spokane Drivers

Based on the caravan of emails that rolled in, I apparently hotwired a nerve last week by asking readers to send me their favorite tales about Spokane’s notorious bad drivers. “Wow, you sure do know how to up my pressure, white knuckle it and make me grit my teeth,” wrote Darlene Norton, who could have been sideswiped at a four-way stop thanks to an out-of-turn road hog. Then there was Mary Jordan, who accused me of hitting her “hot button” with this roadway numskulls topic. “I have been driving for 43 years and am so tired of the stupid, reckless, inconsiderate %^&^$* out there,” she wrote. “To pick just one incident is harder than picking out a Christmas gift for my husband.” Never fear. Santa Clark is coming to town/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Do North Idaho motorists drive better than Spokane ones?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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