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Christmas Tree Thief Was Just A Bit Obvious

SATURDAY, NOV. 22, 1997

This is how NOT to start a business.

Don’t drive out into the national forest at night, cut dozens of Christmas trees, then haul them back to your home via sneaky routes down back roads.

Daniel W. Lewis of Rupert had actually hauled home 138 Christmas trees from the Sawtooth National Forest last year when a Forest Service volunteer noticed his suspicious activity.

His no-overhead Christmas tree lot never happened, and Lewis is facing up to a year behind bars and a $100,000 fine. He pleaded guilty this week to theft of Forest Service property.

There wasn’t much guesswork involved when Lewis was spotted surreptitiously hauling his nighttime loads of cut trees.

“Given the circumstances, they thought they were being stolen from the Forest Service,” Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsameter said.

What, politics? Here?

Three Eastern Idaho Republicans - all current members of the state Legislature - have launched campaigns for next year’s open 2nd District congressional seat.

Already, that’s led to a skirmish, with Sen. Stan Hawkins, R-Ucon, blasting House Speaker Mike Simpson over a 1990 vote on an abortion bill.

Simpson, of Blackfoot, is in a position to put his stamp on things in the Legislature. And with the outspoken Hawkins and maverick Rep. Mark Stubbs of Twin Falls also in the race, this year’s legislative session could see some high political theater.

Some more than others

First District Rep. Helen Chenoweth had this to say as she led off a speech to the Boise City Club this week: “Congressmen feel like we’re underpaid and underappreciated and under investigation about half the time.”

The two-term representative used a biblical analogy throughout her talk on the nation’s forests. The setup: Forests, in a sense, are like the Garden of Eden, bestowed upon humans with certain obligations attached. “Unless we get in and we prune our garden, our garden will die,” she said.

Asked to speculate about the 2000 presidential election, she looked back to 1996: “I don’t believe that this president so much won a mandate, as we (Republicans) lost it.”

That happened because Bob Dole said he wouldn’t be bound by the party’s platform, Chenoweth said. “The grass roots worked so hard on the platform…. Once you cut that loose, you’re cutting yourself away from the people.”

The presidential candidates she finds interesting: Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp and John Ashcroft.

Jazzing up BSU

Some University of Idaho partisans think Boise State University wants anything UI has. Thus the battles over the years over engineering and the like.

So how should one interpret the launch of a major new Boise State annual event: The Gene Harris Jazz Festival?

Of course, UI long has hosted its annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

But Boise really is home to Gene Harris, a world-renowned jazz pianist. The festival to bear his name will raise money for music scholarships and year-round workshops, and will involve about 1,000 students along with headline performers. It debuts in April 1998.

At a news conference to announce the festival, clarinetist/Gov. Phil Batt was among the musicians playing.

, DataTimes MEMO: North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to

North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to

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