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Snow Sculptures, Ice Rink The Plus Side To Minus Zero

Wed., Jan. 31, 1996

Shirley and Vince Laviolette piled up the snow and carved it into a dragster driven by a crazy grinning rodent.

They use the snow creature to pass along a winter message:

Can’t beat the cold? Join it.

“We’re happy for the time that it (the cold) is here,” Shirley Laviolette said. “We’re into making people smile.”

Besides, she added, it’s all that keeps “Rat Fink” - the Coeur d’Alene couple’s icy tribute to the 1970s magazine cartoon character - alive.

Car batteries continued to die and plumbers again scurried to warm frozen water pipes Tuesday as the Panhandle bundled up for its second day of below-zero temperatures.

But as the initial shock of Monday’s bitter cold began to thaw, some residents replaced shivering and grumbling with acceptance.

“At least there are blue skies coming along with it,” said Boundary County Sheriff Greg Sprungl, who woke to temperatures of minus 18 outside his Paradise Valley home Tuesday.

In Coeur d’Alene, crews cleared snow for a 100-foot by 130-foot ice rink on the baseball diamond at Memorial Field. Today, Snowflake Festival officials will begin watering the bermed area. Later this week, they hope to offer four daily skating sessions for $1 admission.

“The city has tried this countless times but the ground is warmer than the air temperature and it turns to slush,” said Parks Director Doug Eastwood. “But who knows? The weather is on their side this time.”

It was so cold in Coeur d’Alene that the National Weather Service’s automatic thermometer quit registering temperatures.

A weather spotter in Coeur d’Alene reported a low Tuesday morning of minus 6.

That kept potential buyers away from Ponderosa Motors and left salesman Al Clairmont dreaming about a giant, heated, indoor sales floor.

“Instead of a typical 10 customers we got about two, and they were only outside a couple minutes before they jumped in the car and drove away,” he said.

Clairmont used the time to make phone calls - to drum up “tomorrow’s business.”

Realtor Allen Plahn’s out-of-state customers donned snow shoes and went hiking to look at undeveloped land for sale.

“The temperature never even slowed them,” he said. “I think they’re saying, ‘If I’m going to live in North Idaho, I better get accustomed to this stuff.”’

The weather service is calling for icy temperatures all week with a high today of 8 degrees and a low of minus 9, said weather specialist Milt Maas.

Long-range weather charts show a warming trend next week.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: weather

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