There’s nothing like a photo to make you realize how much a child has grown, says Susan Temby. Or how much a town has changed.
Temby, secretary for Kellogg’s Building and Planning Department for the past three years, keeps an album of pictures of the town as it looked in 1989.
“Isn’t it funny?” She chuckles, a sound that’s as much a feature of her office as the paperwork. “You think nothing much is happening, then you look in here and say, ‘Oh my heavens, I can’t believe it.”’
The changes would make anyone blink.
The Silver Mountain gondola base and a new Super 8 Motel occupy what six years ago was a muddy field. A brand new doctor’s clinic, valued at more than $1 million, perches just up the hill.
A boarded-up convenience store on the corner of Hill Street and Bunker Avenue has been remodeled and expanded to accommodate Hoffman’s Shoes. A deserted warehouse across the street houses Furniture Exchange and Trustworthy Hardware.
Further north on Cameron Avenue, Dave Smith Auto, IGA, and the Trail Motel all have done major remodels since the photos were taken. Ace Hardware is expanding with a new 7,000-square-foot warehouse. The portable igloo that once housed the Kellogg Chamber of Commerce has been removed and replaced by a drive-through espresso stand. (The Kellogg Chamber maintains its office at the gondola base.)
Perhaps the most dramatic photo shows an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet standing forlornly in scrubby grass on a barren corner on the outskirts of Kellogg. It’s since been transformed into the Gondolier, a gas station and convenience store. It enjoys one of the busiest locations in town - thanks to the new McDonald’s next door.
“The McDonald’s is probably the biggest indicator for the outside world that things are happening in Kellogg,” says Walter Hadley, the city’s planning administrator. “They don’t open anything without extensive research.”
Temby says she fields more inquiries with each passing month, many from investors in places like Park City, Utah, and Vale, Colo., who are ready for a new gamble.
More to the point, fees and valuations are on the rise. Last year, the total value of permits issued between January and May was $386,900. This year, valuations are up 32 percent, to $509,453.
“People say we’re growing faster than Park City and some of those others, but I want everything to happen now,” confesses Temby, who watched Kellogg wither from a mining boomtown to a shell of its former self.
But she says it’s just as well the town’s new identity is emerging as gradually as it is.
“It gives us a chance to adapt as we go along,” she says. “It’s definitely different.”
Only one chili cook-off in Idaho is sanctioned by the International Chili Society. Now Wallace is the cook-off’s official home.
“We just got the news two weeks ago,” says Jim Shields, co-chairman of Sportsman’s Paradise Days, the event that brought the contest home to roost.
“I’m excited. They tried southern Idaho, Rathdrum, the Coeur d’Alene Fair … but they said they felt most at home here.”
This year’s Sportsman’s Paradise Days is scheduled for July 22 and 23. The four-year-old event has taken off like a startled duck, giving muzzle-loaders, fly fishermen, archers and others a chance to congregate and promote their various sports.
“The festival is such an appropriate environment for chili and barbecue, and Wallace is such an interesting town,” says Gala Muench, the cook-off’s director.
What chili-samplers may not realize is
that the cook-off takes place specifically to benefit RSVP, a national Program that places senior volunteers wherever they’re needed. Coeur d’Alene-based Muench is RSVP project director for Idaho’s five northern counties.
RSVP isn’t the only Coeur d’Alene organization to adopt Sportsman’s Paradise as a showcase. The Coeur d’Alene Muzzle Loaders and the North Idaho Flycasters also have made a habit of attending.
Sportsmen’s events might get lost in a bigger place, but when the organizations come to Wallace, they literally take over the town.
“They’ve really helped make Sportsman’s Days a success,” said Shields.