The driver who honked at a toddler in the street, then sped up when the child didn’t move, pushed Susan Snedaker over the edge.
“You have to take responsibility for your own neighborhood,” she said Thursday as Coeur d’Alene police officer Randy Miller taught her how to use a radar gun. “If it takes a little time and work, that’s OK. It could save the life of a child or animal.”
For 22 years, Susan has seethed at the mad motorists on her residential street. The speed limit is 25 mph on Fifth, a street designed for neighborhood traffic - families returning home from shopping or leaving for soccer practice.
For some reason, the occasional Fifth Street speeder multiplied about eight years ago. Drivers seemed to know police had staked out busy Third and Fourth streets. But Fifth was quiet and had no traffic signals and few stop signs.
Susan began squawking to city officials as traffic picked up.
“It was always a nice quiet street,” she said. “Now we have traffic 24 hours a day.”
She made little headway with anyone until she met Randy three years ago. He was watching traffic on Fourth, listened to her complaints and moved to Fifth. But he caught few speeders.
“It was kind of hit and miss,” he said. “It’s hard to know the best time to catch them.”
The Police Department’s traffic division took complaints from neighborhoods all over Coeur d’Alene, but Susan’s were the most persistent. Finally, Randy decided to lend her a radar gun and a reader board that shows drivers their speeds as they pass by.
Susan and her neighbors will chart speeds reached between Montana and Foster on Fifth for several days. They’ll note the time and the license plate numbers of the most flagrant violators.
The information will help Randy know the best time to crack down on Fifth Street’s speeders.
“Someone’s going to take a little kid out to get downtown 14 seconds faster,” said Steve Thornton, Susan’s neighbor and father of two toddlers. “I’m absolutely glad she’s going to do this. People have to pay attention.”
The first time Eunice Gillam’s face fluttered as if she’d walked into a spider web, Eunice paid no attention. But she noticed more when her face quivered. Then she fell to the floor the day she felt as if someone had stuck a knife in her cheek.
“The pain was horrible,” she says. “It hit out of the blue, like a lightning bolt.”
Doctors diagnosed her with trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, and offered her two options: having surgery that would leave her face frozen or taking epilepsy medication. Neither choice appealed to her, so Eunice, who lives in Spirit Lake, Idaho, began hunting.
She found the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association, which told her she is one of 40,000 Americans with the nerve disorder. Her research led her to 10 different corrective surgeries. The one she chose has left her pain-free for three years.
“When I went into that operating room, I said to God I was going to help other people,” Eunice says.
Now, she wants to share her experience and information with other trigeminal neuralgia sufferers. If there’s interest, Eunice would like to start a support group. If you’re interested, call her at 623-6110.
The Panhandle has produced some decent musical groups - The Renovators, Black Happy for a while, the Rhythm Dawgs, the Coeur d’Alene Youth Symphony.
What’s your favorite North Idaho musical group and why? Tune in Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene 83814; or send a fax to 765-7149, call 765-7128 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RADAR Coeur d’Alene police will lend their radar equipment to city residents to monitor neighborhoods. For information, call 769-2320.