Local news

Asphalt plant triggers turmoil

County said no; easement surprises state

Opponents of a proposed asphalt batch plant near Rathdrum thought they could rest easy after Kootenai County officials rejected the project in July. When Coeur d’Alene Paving nonetheless moved forward with construction on the 30-acre site, neighbors like Tiny Wilson were flummoxed.

“We’re very concerned, we’re very upset,” Wilson said.

Wilson isn’t the only one wondering what the heck is going on.

When an easement granting the Idaho Transportation Department the ability to use the site for asphalt production was recorded in Kootenai County on Sept. 5, county officials accused the state of usurping county control. It turns out, however, that the easement was recorded without consent of the Idaho Transportation Department – something ITD spokeswoman Barbara Babic has since discovered has been happening frequently throughout North Idaho.

“In most states, if you record something you have to have the other party involved,” Babic said. “Apparently you don’t here. We’re finding easements down at the Kootenai County Recorder’s Office that we’ve known nothing about.” Babic said neither ITD nor any of its contractors plan to use asphalt from the Rathdrum site for construction projects.

“This really gives us a bad name,” Babic said of the easement recorded without ITD’s knowledge. “I don’t blame the people for being upset after going through such an extensive public involvement process.”

Within days of the easement being recorded, ITD sent a letter to Kootenai County Clerk Dan English asking the county to reject or withdraw the easement.

Representatives from Coeur d’Alene Paving and Beacon West, owners of the property, did not return calls seeking comment. Kootenai County Planning Director Scott Clark said Coeur d’Alene Paving indicated that they were simply building the batch plant and planned to move it to their site near Athol.

Clark said the county sent a letter to Coeur d’Alene Paving saying that it was OK to construct the plant, but not to operate it on the Rathdrum property. “If they start it up, they’ll be in violation, and it’s likely the sheriff would have to become involved,” Clark said. “So far they’ve been cooperative.”

Though the county is emphatic that the project can’t move forward without its approval, Coeur d’Alene Paving has not withdrawn a request for a permit from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to construct the Rathdrum asphalt plant.

A public hearing on the proposed air quality permit is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Garwood Elementary School.

Taryn Hecker

Alternative high school getting more space

West Valley School District’s Contract Based Education will soon have some room to grow.

The district has signed a contract with the owners of the old Rite Aid store at Sprague Avenue and University Road to renovate and lease part of the building. Remodeling is expected to be complete by Jan. 1 and the school will move following remodeling.

CBE, an alternative high school, is currently crammed into a 13,000-square-foot STA building at 123 S. Bowdish Road. The new site will have 19,000 square feet.

The school is a cooperative school, with West Valley partnering with the Central Valley, East Valley and Freeman school districts, though students also come from districts across Eastern Washington.

Nina Culver

Vintage car enthusiasts pool efforts on roadster

The rusted 1926 Ford Model T Roadster sat for years in Craig Nelson’s mother’s North Side garage.

With no way to restore it, Nelson had watched other Model T owners out and about with their cars. Now a group of those owners has joined to help Nelson bring his 80-plus-year-old car back to life in a Hillyard garage.

Like Nelson’s Model T, each has suffered dents and dings in his own life. As a group they’ve coped with strokes, heart disease, broken bones and divorce.

“This is like therapy for us,” said Alan Stacey, a member of the Spokane Model T Club.

The club has 230 cars among its Eastern Washington members.

Nelson bought his Model T when he was just 14. After a summer baby-sitting for his sister’s children, she rewarded him with a $100 bill.

With the crisp bill in his pocket, Nelson noticed the Model T in a man’s yard and said how much he’d like to have it.

“He asked, ‘How much do you have in your pocket?’ ” Nelson said.

Moments later the Model T was his.

Nelson’s father worked on it from time to time, until he died in 1976.

Now Craig Nelson’s 87-year-old mother hopes she’ll get a ride in the Model T sometime soon.

It wasn’t until Nelson met Stacey at the Monroe Street Bridge 2005 reopening gala, however, that he was able to move forward with the project.

Stacey recently enlisted the help of Kerry Tritt, Jacob Tritt and Dan Coslic. After just weeks in Jacob Tritt’s garage, the Model T is close to being finished.

“All of these guys are volunteers,” Stacey said. “We’re putting it together because we want to see Craig get a working car.”

Amy Cannata

Airway Heights OKs water restrictions

Watering lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the hottest months of the year is a thing of the past in Airway Heights.

The City Council unanimously passed the watering restriction Monday.

“The intent is not to be the water police,” said Bryan St. Clair, public works director.

He said the restriction is aimed at avoiding the loss of water through evaporation while people are watering lawns. People watering brown spots for a few minutes or children running through sprinklers are not the problem, he said. The problem is with water customers who aren’t minding their sprinklers to the point where water is running down the street.

Medical Lake has had a similar ordinance in place for a couple of years.

Airway Heights water customers may no longer water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in June, July, August and September. There are exceptions, however. Anyone with new plantings, new landscaping or new lawns can get an exemption through City Hall.

Lisa Leinberger

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Day after Pepperdine

Back with my day-after Pepperdine post. The Zags held off the Waves 69-66 to remain a half-game up (tied in the loss column) with Saint Mary’s atop the WCC standings. ...



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