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In brief: Chinese scholar addresses banquet

Chinese dissident and scholar Jianli Yang, who spent five years in prison for his pro-democracy views, was the keynote speaker Monday at the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations’ annual banquet.

After corruption left him disenchanted with China’s Communist Party, Yang left his country to study mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. He returned to China to support pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and witnessed the killing of civilians.

He returned to the United States but was blacklisted by the Chinese government for his participation in the protests. In 2002, Yang returned to China to investigate labor protests and was arrested. Following an international outcry, including resolutions passed by Congress, he was freed in 2007.

Yang, who earned a doctorate in political economics at Harvard, advocates for a peaceful transition to democracy in China. He is president of Initiatives for China.

Honored at the banquet were: The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, which received the task force’s Civil Rights award; Tony Stewart, co-founder of the task force, Jeff Crowe of Bunkhouse Media and Andy Finn of Local Motion Media, who all received the Bill Wassmuth Memorial Volunteer of the Year awards; and Lidwin Dirne, who received the Lifetime Humanitarian Award for contributions that included founding Dirne Medical Clinic.

Volunteers needed for Bloomsday

Bloomsday is looking for volunteers to help check in participants, distribute T-shirts and work in the lost and found area on race day.

The event typically relies on about 5,000 volunteers, according to a news release. “Most of our volunteer positions don’t require much, if any prior experience,” race director Don Kardong said.

Volunteer slots are still available distributing numbers on May 5 and passing out T-shirts and working the lost and found on May 6, race day. For more information, visit and click on “volunteers.” Groups wanting to volunteer can call the Bloomsday office at (509) 838-1579, ext. 10.

Service members invited to golf

Members of the military who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are invited to a free day of golf and dinner with their immediate families at the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Circling Raven Golf Course on Thursday.

Opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. with a 10 a.m. shotgun start for golfers. Dinner is at 6 p.m. at the event center, with the doors opening at 5 p.m.

RSVP is required for both the golf tournament and dinner. Vets will be asked to show their military identification or their DD214.

To RSVP for golf, contact Mark Nelson, (800) 523-2464, ext. 7259; or

To RSVP for dinner, contact Cassandra Rzepa, (208) 660-4066; or

Freya Way bridge closed today

Work to repair an expansion joint on the Freya Way bridge between Trent and Mission avenues will force closure of the northbound lanes today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The repair was ordered after a problem with the expansion joint was discovered during routine maintenance earlier this month.

In addition, Strong Road from Rustle Street to Indian Trail Road will be closed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. so that workers can grade the gravel street.

Hearing scheduled on caribou plan

Members of the public will get a chance to weigh in Saturday on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans to designate 375,565 acres of high-elevation critical habitat in Idaho and Washington for woodland caribou.

An informational meeting on the plan runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Bonners Ferry High School, 6485 Tamarack Lane, Bonners Ferry. A public hearing will follow from 2 to 5 p.m. at the high school. Speaker registration begins at 1 p.m.

Written comments on the proposal will be accepted through May 21.

USFWS and Boundary County worked together to determine a date and location to accommodate most citizens’ schedules, which is the reason for a weekend event.


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