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Candidates share ideas for city

Thu., Oct. 4, 2007

Jim Lynn

Since 1984, when he opened Advanced Hood and Kitchen Installations, Jim Lynn’s traveled the world outfitting commercial kitchens in restaurants and even prisons, he said.

A Spirit Lake resident since 1977, he’s ready to give up life on the road to spend more time at home.

He’s selling his company to a former partner, but he’s still keeping the business’s books and occasionally installs kitchens in the North Idaho area, he said.

Lynn previously served on Spirit Lake’s City Council for eight years and did a stint as mayor pro-tem.

Now he’s one of three vying for two four-year council seats that will run through 2011.

He’d believes the city needs to modernize and become more progressive, he said, adding that it’s time to put a halt to the “good old boy” system of getting things done.

One of the first steps he would recommend is asking the Council to bring a city manager on board, he said.

A city administrator would be “more professional and know what they’re doing” when acting on the city’s behalf and shaping public policy, he said.

“Maybe we could split one (city manager) with Athol or something like that,” he said. “I’m sure it’s going to cost us and it can get expensive. But a lot of things are slipping through the cracks right now.”

For instance, he said, some land developers are being saddled with the expense of moving utilities to comply with Spirit Lake’s street plan.

But the costs should be shouldered by public utility companies, which by law must pay for such relocations if the city asks them to, he said.

“Why should it cost everybody if the law says the utility has to move them if the municipality asks them to move them?” Lynn asked.

He knows firsthand how expensive such endeavors can be. He’s paying for relocating utilities on about six acres on which he’s building an in-town residential neighborhood, he said.

Acquiring permits is another area the city should streamline, he said.

“You can’t believe the hoops you have to jump through,” he said of the existing process. “If the city had a plan of where it was going, it would be a lot smoother.”

Lynn would also like to re-do the city’s park. He’d eliminate the sports fields since there now are school fields where kids could play ball, he said. And he’d add park gardens and walking paths.

If elected, he’d also recommend tapping Spirit Lake residents’ knowledge, he said.

“There’s a lot of good minds in Spirit Lake,” he said. “Your best resources are people.”

Lynn’s strong suits, he said, are his “fresh ideas” and desire to make city government more “progressive.”

Shelley Tschida

Having served on the Spirit Lake City Council for the past six years, Shelley Tschida is seeking re-election to a another four-year term.

Appointed in 2002 to finish out two years of a vacated seat, Tschida went on to win election to the four-year seat she’s now finishing.

Tschida said growth in and around the community are placing new pressures on Spirit Lake.

“I really want to help guide that growth so we can maintain our small-town atmosphere and at the same time have the healthy vigor commerce can bring to our community,” Tschida said.

Because it’s expanding, Spirit Lake should expand its sewer plant, she said.

“We will also need to look at infrastructure replacement, and the aging water and sewer lines will need to be addressed,” she said.

“Being one of the last little corners left in Kootenai County, there are annexation proposals the council will have to give serious merit to — to determine ultimately what our city boundaries will be.

“The growth is pushing out from Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Rathdrum, and it’s coming our way,” Tschida said.

She thinks that given its limited budget, the city is doing a good job in dealing with the issues that accompany growth.

If re-elected, Tschida said she would like stimulate more community input in matters before the city.

“One of the big issues coming up soon is the public hearing for our city comprehensive plan,” she said. “And it was extremely disappointing to me that planning and zoning at their (department’s) hearing had virtually no turnout.

“It’s unfortunate. That seems to be a pattern in small communities. This is a crucial guiding document for our future, and the public needs to be involved in that process,” Tschida said.

Traffic is another area that will demand attention, she said. “We developed a traffic management plan which will allow us to go after grant funding for improving our streets and roads,” she said.

“We’re also looking at doing an upgrade to the city cemetery. And we need to develop additional park capacity for our community,” Tschida added.

She’s been instrumental in forming Spirit Lake’s first youth organization. A nonprofit, the YES group strives to engage kids in positive activities and help them develop qualities that will be instrumental as they enter adulthood.

“I feel passionately about our community,” she said. “I have a proven track record in my voting record of representing the people. It’s very important to me that I be a servant to the community and (its) desires and wishes,” Tschida said.

Gary Ventress

A few months ago, Gary Ventress was appointed to serve through the end of the year to fill City Councilman Steve Gaddum’s seat.

Ventress is hoping to be re-elected to the Council in the Nov. 6 municipal election. If he makes it, he’ll begin a third term on the city’s governing board, having also served between 2001 and 2005, he said.

He said he bases his official decisions on what the majority of residents want.

“That’s always what I’ve stood by,” Ventress said. “I represent (residents). Their thoughts and opinions are what I put first. If some project comes into town and the majority of people are against it – even if I’m not against it – I’d side with the majority opinion.”

A veteran city leader, he said he’d like to continue in that role.

“When I got on Council (the first time), the city was just going in the right direction,” he said of the growth it was experiencing, its comprehensive plan, its decision to institute developers’ impact fees and its formation of an urban renewal district.

“I just feel like I’ve been on it so long, I’d like to see it finished out,” he said of the city’s present projects and goals.

Ventress said it’s critical that the next council takes a look at expanding and improving Spirit Lake’s wastewater treatment facility.

That may mean the city should acquire more land on which to treat effluent, he said.

“Right now, we only issue (a maximum) four sewer hook-up (permits) a month. And that affects people who want to come in and build tract homes. I think we need to be able to accommodate the people who want to hook up,” Ventress said.

While he favors growth, he said it must be carefully planned.

“You can’t stop (growth), but I think it has to be managed so our infrastructure isn’t overburdened by the growth. And we’ve got to control the growth so the infrastructure (is added) to go with the growth,” he said.

He’s said the mayor and city council “are working in a good, healthy direction, which is helping the city cope with the growth we’re having.”

Ventress underscored his commitment to represent Spirit Lake’s citizens.

“I just love the town and the people of Spirit Lake, and I would love to have another chance to represent them,” he said.


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