Demolition began this week in the historic Opportunity block on the southwest corner of Sprague Avenue and Pines Road. Several run-down buildings are coming down to make way for a new Rite Aid store.
The tear-down is expected to be complete by mid-August, said property owner Tom Hamilton. The new store should be done by the end of the year.
The former Walgreens (Bromling’s Pharmacy before that) came down first; next to go will be the old brick Opportunity State Bank, which failed during the Depression, said Spokane Valley Heritage Museum director Jayne Singleton. Next to it is the Odd Fellows hall, built in stages in 1909 and 1926. She isn’t sure when the bank was built. “Nobody kept records,” she said.
In May 1921 a fire destroyed several wooden buildings. “The Odd Fellows building is the only building that survived the 1921 fire,” Singleton said.
Singleton, who runs the museum in the historic Opportunity Township Hall, is sorry to see the buildings go.
“I think of this as the heart of the Valley,” she said. “I know it would cost lots of money to refurbish. It’s very, very sad.”
Hamilton said in the end it’s cheaper to spend $5 million to $6 million to tear them down and build something new.
“They’ve been in bad, bad shape for many years,” he said. “I bought them with the idea of owning a corner and building there.”
But there is a glimmer of excitement for Singleton. The contractor doing the demolition has promised to try to retrieve the cornerstone from the Odd Fellows hall, which reportedly contains a time capsule.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community to look back in time,” she said. “It’s very exciting. Hands haven’t touched that in 83 years.”
An old newspaper article lists the contents of the capsule as a copy of the lodge’s history and a list of charter members, but Singleton is hoping other items will be there as well.
“History always yields surprises,” she said.
Graduation pranks inappropriate
For the past three years, Sandpoint High School Principal Becky Kiebert has received a few gifts from seniors during graduation ceremonies, but they were not gifts of gratitude.
Some students handed her condoms. Last year it was Hawaiian leis. This year’s pranks included an attempted kiss on the lips by a student who was acting on a dare.
“It was totally inappropriate,” said Kiebert.
A police investigation led to a charge of unwanted touching against the student.
Sandpoint’s principal is not the only one harassed during graduation ceremonies. According to Kiebert, Post Falls High School Principal Dena Naccarato received inappropriate gifts from two students at this year’s ceremony.
Most students behave appropriately, Kiebert said. “Ninety-nine percent of these kids are great.”
Lake Pend Oreille School Superintendent Dick Cvitanich agrees, but said it is not uncommon to have a few people participate in these pranks.
“I have attended many graduations in my 34 years of education. I have seen good behavior, poor behavior and everything in between from both kids and parents,” Cvitanich said. “I would not say this graduation was disrespectful. There were a handful of kids who acted inappropriately when their moment came on the stage.”
One student will perform school service, while another is watching a video on appropriate conduct and must write a letter of apology to be published in a local newspaper. The third student will have to answer to the unwanted touching charge.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, Kiebert plans to have students sign agreements that if they act inappropriately they will not receive their diploma at the ceremony. Inappropriate behavior will include presenting any so-called gifts to anyone on stage. Also, Kiebert will remain seated as the superintendent and a member of the school board present the diplomas.
“We will also have an SRO (school resource officer) at the bottom of the stage,” said Kiebert.
Above all, Kiebert said she will emphasize to the students that graduation is not necessarily about them, but is an opportunity to recognize and respectfully thank others who have helped them through their years of education.