Latest from The Spokesman-Review
From now until Sept. 7, people using the Centennial Trail in North Idaho are likely to find work crews seal coating it. The trail will be usable the entire time with spotters in front and in back of construction crews, a news release from the city of Coeur d’Alene said. When users encounter the work crews, they will have to use the shoulder to travel around them. Seal coating takes about two hours to dry, so the trail will be usable soon after crews pass through. The contractor will complete about one mile of trail per day, the release said/SR. More here.
Question: How often do you use the North Idaho Centennial Trail?
Coeur d’Alene got its goats, and the city isn’t the least bit annoyed by it. City water officials long have wanted to use goats to mow down weeds at municipal well sites, but a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule prohibits livestock at such sources of drinking water. The city’s water department said today it was able to convince state regulators that goats don’t pose the same health threat as cows, whose manure can contaminate groundwater with the E. coli bacteria. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has granted the city a waiver to use goats for weed control at any of its nine well sites. The city will begin this weekend with a tribe of 20 to 25 pygmy goats inside a fenced well near the traffic circle at Kathleen Avenue and Fourth Street, south of Coeur d’Alene High School/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Question: Have you ever milked a goat?
Coeur d'Alene resident Shawn Schlager talked about the making of his documentay that detailed the hardships of being unemployed. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Michelle Schlager had been through a few tough years with her husband, Shaun. He lost his job as a graphic designer in 2009 and has struggled to find work. The financial burden strained their marriage and left Shaun awash in self-doubt. Still, it wasn’t until she interviewed him – as part of a project for his community college class – that she learned he’d spent some time contemplating the value of his life insurance policy. The financial value of his death. “I never knew he felt that way,” she said. It’s hard to count all the blows that joblessness has landed on Shaun Schlager, but they go way beyond the checkbook. “A lot of times,” he said, “it’s hard to even look at Michelle. Because I’m the man. I’m supposed to provide for the family.” Schlager, 35, has detailed his three-plus years of unemployment in a frank and forthright documentary he produced for his documentary video class at Spokane Falls Community College/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
Question: How has long-term unemployment impacted your life or the life of someone in your family?
A Whitman County man who bragged about being involved with racist taco-truck protests in Kootenai County has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for unlawful gun possession. Jeremiah Daniel “J.D.” Hop's lawyer, Roger Peven, asked for him to receive between 15 and 21 months in prison, according to court documents, but U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley rejected that request on Wednesday. Hop, 31, is to be on probation for three years after his release. Hop was arrested during an FBI investigation April 20, 2011, for allegedly possessing an Izhmash 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun on March 25. His brother, Michael Hop, said he was set up by an FBI informant who supplied the shotgun after suggesting they go shooting/
Why was Coeur d'Alene formed? As we approach the 125th anniversary of the founding of the city (It is either Friday (Aug. 3) or Wednesday, Aug. 29 (depending on which reference in the early City minutes is correct), it is worth a quick look at the original Articles of Incorporation where there are 36 reasons for forming the city. Through the lens of 125 years of hindsight, some of them are pretty interesting. They are contained in the attachment (spelling errors are from the original document). Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Third: To restrain and suppress bawdy houses …
- Sixth: To prevent the firing of fire arms.
- Ninth: To creat (sic) and maintain poor-houses …
- Tenth: To provide pest houses.
- Fifteenth: To establish and regulate markets.
- Ninthteenth (sic): To provide for the inspection of lumber …
- Twenty third: To require and regulate the planting of shade trees on the streets.
- Twenty Seventh: To regulate the storage of gunpowder …
- Twenty Eight: To regulate the construction and cleaning of fire places…
- Thirtieth: To regulate prevent and furnish (sic) the carrying of concealed weapons.
- Thirty fourth: To establish and maintain a free public library and … appoint a librarian and janitor therefor …
Question: Which reason for incorporating Coeur d'Alene in 1887 do you appreciate most?
Coeur d'Alene could become proud owners of around five miles of waterfront property. Oh, and $3 million cash. Before the city agrees to take that land, and the $3 million check that would come with it from the Idaho Transportation Department, it wants to know what everyone thinks about the proposal. “There's certainly some value to look at,” Mayor Sandi Bloem said of the deal sitting in the city of Coeur d'Alene's lap. “The question is, do we want to move in that direction?” The deal would give the city around five miles of East Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, the old highway, from the city limit line at Silver Beach to just west of Higgens Point. The city would also get $3 million. In return, the city would take over maintenance of the road. Annual upkeep on the road would cost the city $13,160, street superintendent Tim Martin estimated. That would be paint for striping, labor costs and 11 pass-throughs by snowplows, which is the typical amount for an arterial road each winter/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Shawn Gust Coeur d'Alene Press photo of Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive)
Question: What's not to like about this deal?
Item: Records request to Coeur d'Alene City Hall pinpoints embezzlement suspect/Tom Hasslinger, Press
JohnA: $48,600 a nice salary to just throw away, well in excess of what the county pays for similar positions. When you throw in six weeks vacation and three weeks sick leave, plus 11 paid holidays per year and the opportunity to retire at 55 with a great pension, it makes you wonder what would drive someone to do what she’s accused of. Whereas I feel sorry for the employee’s family, I’m glad the audit processes in place at the city discovered the suspicious activity and brought it to an end. I’m curious to see how it was done, as a warning to other entities in this age of electronic transfers.
Joker: Six weeks of vacation. Three weeks of sick leave. Is there any private employer in Idaho that gives such a sweet deal?
Question: How much vacation and sick leave do you get?
By process of elimination, The Press has determined who’s accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the city of Coeur d’Alene. A public records request from The Press shows Sheryl Carroll as the Finance Department employee who was fired Tuesday. The request, submitted Tuesday, asked for a list of all city finance employees on Friday, July 20, and a list of all finance employees on Wednesday, July 25. Carroll was the only employee who was not on both lists. The investigation of the alleged embezzlement, headed by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, is still open, and the city is not releasing the name of the employee because of personnel rules. Asked Wednesday whether any other city finance employee has left the department in the last few weeks other than the terminated position, City Attorney Mike Gridley said there hadn’t been/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
DFO: Attaboy, Tom …
The hundreds of homeless women and children in Kootenai County will soon have a place of refuge. The Union Gospel Mission is opening a 42,000 square foot facility on 196 W. Haycraft in COEUR d' Alene designed to provide “rescue, recovery, and restoration” to its visitors. There is a dedication ceremony set for August 1st at 2pm. Public tours of the building will be available on August 1st and 2nd from 3-7pm. The Mission will officially open September 4th, after the Labor Day weekend. For more information you can call (208) 665-HOPE/Matt Rogers, SWX/KHQ. Story & video tour of new facility here.
Question: Are you excited re: the opening of the Union Gospel Mission site behind Taco Bell?
Item: City probes theft possibility: Employee has been placed on leave, investigation continues/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: The City of Coeur d'Alene has placed an employee in its Finance Department on administrative leave and asked the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department and Kootenai County prosecutor to investigate the possibility that funds have been embezzled. The city is not naming the employee now, nor does it know how much money has gone missing. But officials believe the amount is “in the thousands of dollars” and that the transactions involve wire transfers and a federal bank, which could bring the Secret Service into the investigation. … Gridley did say that the employee, who has worked for the city since around 2002, was involved in payroll processing. The employee is the only one involved in the investigation, and believed to be the only person who benefited financially.
Question: Do you believe this embezzlement investigation is being handled properly?
The City of Coeur d'Alene has placed an employee in its Finance Department on administrative leave and asked the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office and Kootenai County Prosecutor to investigate the possibility that funds have been embezzled. The city is not naming the employee now, nor does it know how much money has gone missing. But officials believe the amount is “in the thousands of dollars” and that the transactions involve wire transfers and a federal bank, which could bring the Secret Service into the investigation/Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Cyndie Hammond (shown in SR file photo), executive director of the Lewis-Clark State College Coeur d’Alene Center, has resigned her position. Hammond served as the executive director for eight years. “I know that I speak for the entire college in thanking Cyndie for her dedication to higher education in Northern Idaho.” said LCSC President Tony Fernandez. “Cyndie worked tirelessly to make the center in Coeur d’Alene a success and LCSC is committed to build upon that success.” Rocky Owens, the associate director of LCSC CDA, has been named the interim director. “While we will certainly miss the energy and enthusiasm Cyndie brought to Lewis-Clark State College Coeur d’Alene, we know that the center is in good hands with Rocky Owens”, said Carmen Simone, LCSC Provost. “Rocky has been part of the center for many years and his knowledge and experience will be crucial during this time of transition.” The LCSC Coeur d’Alene Center has seen strong growth during Hammond’s tenure. Enrollment increased from 315 to 467 since 2004/Marc Stewart, Lewis-Clark State College news release. More below.
Question: Are you aware of the Lewis-Clark State College presence in the Education Corridor?
A quote from a Reagan Republican founder and almost Post Falls legislator shows why Coeur d'Alene residents who support the community's progress should be wary of local Republican hardliners. Reacting to the term “dug in” that I used to describe Councilman Ron Edinger and his two, new BFFs Dan Gookin and Steve Adams, Jeff Tyler, who came thisclose to winning the GOP nod for state Rep. Bob Nonini's seat, said on the Reagan Republican Facebook wall: “Dug in? I am glad that Ron, Dan and Steve are dug in to try to stop Coeur d “Alene from becoming another Stockton CA!” I know that Reagan Republican leaders from Post Falls are given to hyperbole when it comes to their undying contempt for Coeur d'Alene city government and all of its accomplishments, but comparing Coeur d'Alene to bankrupt Stockton, Calif., seems way over the top. (BTW, for those of you keeping score at home, I once cover the San Joaquin County Courthouse in Stockton, Calif. So I know that area fairly well. Two of my siblings live about 15 miles to the south.)
Question: Anyone think Coeur d'Alene is truly in the same bad shape as bankrupt Stockton, Calif.?
Poop jokes come with the territory. As do snickers and giggles, says Allen Dodge, as he jokes about the possibility of including sculptures of dung beetles for a commissioned piece of art to be installed at Coeur d’Alene’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Instead of beetles, Allen and wife, Mary Dee, created ten 10-foot-high abstracted welded-steel sculptures that will be installed at the Wastewater Plant’s new laboratory/administration building, collections shop and maintenance facility along Hubbard Street. Dale Young’s “Totem to the Water of Life” was also commissioned. The wastewater commission is just the latest in Coeur d’Alene’s ongoing tizzy about funding — the urban renewal organization known as Lake City Development Corp., the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, funding public art — but the Dodges are taking it all in stride. “All things repeat themselves in nature, from microscopic on up,” adds Allen, also known for his work with the Human Rights Education Institute, school districts and public libraries/Carrie Scozzaro, Inlander. More here. (Allen Dodge photo)
Question: Do you like the public art at the wastewater treatment plant?
A Coeur d'Alene produce vendor lost some limes, honey sticks and cash to a “skinny white male” who used a fake $20 bill to make a purchase at her business on Monday. The suspect has brown hair and was wearing black pants and a red shirt with an iron cross on it, according to the Coeur d'Alene Police Department's incident report. There were several customers in the store when the counterfeit bill was used by the suspect. The police report says that when he passed the owner the fake $20, the bill was folded and the owner did not examine it until the customer was gone - taking $17.88 in change with him/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Have you ever been victimized by a counterfeiter?
Not to be overlooked from last night's City Council meeting … the council unanimously agreed to another five-year contract with Ironman for the city to continue hosting Ironman Coeur d'Alene. This is from City Clerk Susan Weathers' rough draft of the minutes: “City Attorney Mike Gridley noted that it has been 10 years since Ironman came to Coeur d’Alene. He presented a 5-year contract with World Triathlon Corporation for continuing the Ironman race in Coeur d’Alene. He noted that not much has changed in the contract but noted that one of the changes is the bicycle course now going south on US 95. Councilman McEvers noted that there is not much of a change in the cost to the City, but rather just more specific language in the contract. City Attorney Gridley confirmed that is the case. Steve Wilson, representing the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that the sponsorship fees have gone up around the country but they have kept our Chamber’s sponsorship fees the same and have also allowed the Chamber increased opportunities for fund raising.” Complete rough draft of council minutes here. (SR file photo)
Question: Are you a fan of Ironman? Indifferent? Oppose it?
Here is the complete YouTube video from Jeff @ Bunkhouse Media of City Clerk Susan Weathers announcing the results from the petition verification process Tuesday afternoon:
Sara Meyer just posted this message on the Decline to Sign Facebook page: “Since this is now officially over it is time to take down the Decline To Sign signs. If you have not taken yours down already, please go ahead and take them down as soon as you have a chance. We will also be picking up signs as we see them around town. So, if yours disappears, there is a good chance that one of us picked it up. If possible, we would love to get the sign stakes and signs returned as the stakes were borrowed and the candidates would like to have them. back. If you are able to drop them off that would be great, if not let us know and we'll come pick them up. You can drop signs off at the following locations: Johannes downtown (406 E Sherman), Pita Pit offices downtown (105 N 4th Street) or at the Caddyshack tonight (Wednesday). Hope to see all of you tonight at the Caddyshack (5-8) to celebrate!”
Question: Do you plan to join the celebration at the Caddyshack this afternoon?
If you are thinking about having breakfast at the Garnet Café, here’s a piece of advice: Eat before you go. Or at least have a snack. The wait at this popular Coeur d’Alene breakfast spot can stretch up to an hour. That’s not to say the food isn’t good – it’s outstanding. The menu is straightforward, breakfast favorites done right with a few unexpected twists. Ham and eggs share the menu with spam and eggs, “everyone’s favorite,” the menu claims. If the number of empty Spam cans decorating the café is any sign, the dish is popular. The Garnet Café was full on a recent weekday morning with a healthy waiting list, but my companion and I snagged seats at the bar. We were offered coffee immediately, but passed it up for a Bellini, a sweet, tangy blend of peach nectar and Prosecco, which arrived in a generous wine glass for $6. Like the rest of the menu, the price seemed very reasonable/Kirsten Harrington, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: Proprietor Autumn Basso, left, serves breakfast on the open-air patio to Carolyn Joslin, center, and Linda Churchman)
Early in the Coeur d'Alene City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Councilman Dan Gookin said that he didn't want to see the Recallers sue as a result of the failed attempt to trigger a recall election for Mayor Sandi Bloem and three council members. “This is over, done,” Gookin said. “I've talked to the recall people … we need to move on.” Then, he said that the city is going forward with the upgrade to McEuen Field, adding that his job is to ensure the process is open and transparent and to make sure that the city saves every nickel possible. Later, he added that the job performed by City Clerk Susan Weathers during the trying 75 days (remember the first day wasn't counted because the Recallers had to refile the petition to trigger the petition drive) was “outstanding,” calling Weathers “phenomenal and fair.”
Question: I'm beginning to think that we may be allowed to move on without a lawsuit. How about you?
Here's the latest story of Your Huckleberry Hound talking to Dave Cotton for this morning's KHQ Newsbreak. (Notice how I'm looking more toward the camera? I forgot to smile. But I'm working on it):
Item: No go for the goats: General Services Committee won't let animals in city/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Coeur d'Alene won't tweak its animal ordinance to allow urbanites to own goats. Allowing the notorious munchers inside city limits opens the door to what other animals could follow in their hoof steps, the General Services Committee decided Monday. “I'm just not ready to be that guy,” said Steve Adams, on being the city councilman who voted in favor of allowing the animal. “In my view they're farm animals, so where do you draw the line?”
Question: Should the city of Coeur d'Alene allow goats in town?
“These are the real workers at the plant,” said Allen Dodge at his shop in Coeur d'Alene recently about the welded steel sculptures he created for display at the wastewater treatment plant in Coeur d'Alene. Dodge made the sculptures in the shape of organisms including stalked ciliate, filamentous bacteria and nematode. The artwork will be installed in July. (Kathy Plonka SR photo)
Question: Die-hard City Hall critic Sharon Culbreth dissed the public art at the “poop plant” in May during a seminar. The “poop plant,” of course, is now very public as a result of the new infrastructure into the future Education Corridor. Do you see a public good in spending public money to doll up a “poop plant”?
Mountain Comfort Furnishings and Design, based in Coeur d'Alene, will close its doors and sell off its furniture.
The press release announcing the closure also noted that the business was chosen as “Best Furniture in North Idaho” by Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine.
So, that award won't pay the rent, apparently. The press release noted that owners Andy and Heidi Jarski were not able to negotiate a new lease for their store, located on Highway 95 north of I-90. The company is a franchise location and the only one in this area.
They've been leasing a 13,000-square-foot store for a number of years.
It will close June 5-June 8 and then open for a sell-off of inventory on June 9.
Long-time Coeur d'Alene City Clerk Susan Weathers has announced that she will retire next Jan. 3. Weathers will tender her resignation tonight to the Coeur d'Alene City Council. Renata McLeod is expected to fill the vacancy created by Weathers' retirement. In an email to HucksOnline, Weathers wrote: “This plan is to provide Renata the time to work with me to learn the responsibilities of being both the Municipal Services Director and City Clerk. The City has known of my plans to retire since 2010.” Weathers referred to her decision to resign as one of life's “bittersweet moments.” Susan's letter of resignation here.
DFO: Look up public servant in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Susan Weathers.
Item: County drops suit, wants petitions by June 11/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Kootenai County dismissed a suit Wednesday that had asked a judge to rule on the deadline for recall petitions. So, the 5 p.m. June 19 deadline includes the time it will take Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes to certify the signatures. “I’m not satisfied with it, but I understand how they came to that,” Hayes said of the Secretary of State’s interpretation of the statutes governing the recall process. “(The conflicting statute language) is obviously an error by the legislature. They’ll fix it in January, I guess.”
Question: Are you satisfied that the 75-day deadline includes time to verify signatures?
Christopher McFarland, 49, (left) also is to be on probation for five years and has forfeited his ownership interest in the bar.
McFarland worked with James Roy “Slim” O'Neill, who was sentenced in April 2011 to 15 years in prison.
O'Neill's wife, Lecia Donita O'Neill, 46, (right) , also was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison, followed by ten months of home confinement and eight years of probation.
The sentencings in U.S. District Court close a case that began with arrests in May 2010.
“Slim” O'Neill, 50, (left) was the kingpin of a cocaine distribution ring that supplied the drug in North Idaho for at least a decade and operated partly out of Chillers bar on Sherman Avenue near South 20th Street.
O'Neill also grew marijuana near Mineral Ridge, a popular hiking area with a spectacular view of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
The O’Neills used proceeds from cocaine and marijuana sales to finance an expensive lifestyle, including cars, recreational vehicles and annual trips to NASCAR's Daytona 500 race in Florida.
Co-defendant Gary A. Votava was sentenced last year to two years in prison and four years probation. Stephen J. McCabe was sentenced to 18 months in prison and five years probation. Debra L. Margraff was sentenced to five months in prison and three years probation.
Manuel Rivera, who supplied cocaine to O'Neill from Kennewick, was sentenced to 108 months in prison.
“Those who bring cocaine or other illegal drugs into our communities will be brought to justice,” Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement. “Yesterday’s sentencing marks the end of a successful investigation. It is a victory for our communities. I commend the cooperative law enforcement work that ended this long-lasting drug trafficking operation.”
Authorities began investigating O'Neill after finding his phone number in former school booster and imprisoned cocaine addict Jerry Carlson's phone records.. Carlson is to be released from federal prison on May 1.
Joker: Can’t we just solve this (recall/McEuen flap) WWE style and have an six-person tag match in a steel cage? Imagine the revenues it would generate. I see Mad Mary Souza trying to give Sandi “Lookn’ Fierce” Bloem a pile driver only to be blocked by Chicago Mike’s vicious clothesline off the top rope. Then Mary uses a hidden tape in her tights to knock Chicago Mike out. Bloem uses the McEuen Ruin, a choke slam to put Mad Mary out of commission. Frank Orzell uses his patented “Get off my lawn” body slam on Woody McEvers, but the Woodman recovers to apply his special sleeper hold called the “Doobie do” and Frank is sleeping like a baby. Woody is disqualified when he leaves the cage to get a snack. Meanwhile, Kathy Sims is using her URL claw, which cuts off blood to the brain on Bloem. It looks bad for Bloem when Deanna Goodlander, aka the Legendary Lee, uses an amazing submission hold called the Tubbs Hill leg breaker, forcing Sims to submit. What a match … Pay per view revenues. The possibilities are endless.
Question: Who would win a tag team match featuring Bloem-Kennedy-Goodlander on one side & Souza-Orzell-Sims on the other?
One of the largest churches in Kootenai County is establishing a campus in Coeur d'Alene. Real Life Ministries, which has around 7,000 attending weekend services at its Post Falls site, will hold its first official service in the Lake City on Easter Sunday. “This is a community where we don't feel like we've had a lot of influence in the past, especially in the downtown area,” said Craig Miles, lead pastor for the Coeur d'Alene campus. “We want to help reach this area a little better.” Real Life's home will be at 610 N. Fourth, in a decades-old brick church building that was most recently used by First Christian Church. First Christian had struggled to attract younger families, and its attendance had been declining. It closed early this year and put the church on the market/Bill Buley, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you attend Real Life Ministries in Post Falls? Would you be interested in transferring to new church in Coeur d'Alene?
Joker paints a bleak future for DFO after Mary Souza and OpenCDA.com seize control of Coeur d'Alene City Hall and Steve Adams is mayor: The cell didn’t have any windows and the metal floor made Dave’s back ache. The lights in the cell would flicker on and off. “Fight the power…” bounced off the steel walls as the Public Enemy roared from a speaker built into the ceiling. When the music stopped, he could he faint screams from the other prisoners in the camp. Then the door opened, a small portable TV with DVD was rolled into the cell by two elderly men wearing theater masks. One of the old guys plugged the unit into the set. The screen flickered. Mary Souza appeared. “Hello. Welcome to the Corrupt Alene education center. We will teach you why your government is whorehouse. We will show you how LCDC is a socialist organization led by evil people. When you leave, or rather, if you leave. You will have the knowledge to make a difference. This is the beginning.” The men removed the TV and left. In the door way, a tall muscular man with a billy club sneered, “Get up. I am your huckleberry now.”
Question: Feel free to join in on the possible post-Bloem apocalypse?