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Redux: When Spencer Fought Kroc

On April 22, 2007, I wrote the following column for the Spokesman-Review re: the attempt by Larry Spencer and anonymous letter signers to stop the Kroc Center: "It's hard to imagine why anyone would have a problem with a $64 million grant and endowment for a community center in Coeur d'Alene. Yet, self-appointed citizens' advocate Larry Spencer and some anonymous letter writers do. Spencer has publicly accused the Salvation Army of covering up a sweetheart deal with a generous contractor who made a $50,000 contribution and accepted rock-bottom rates to provide fill dirt for a Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center. The anonymous penmen did their part to thwart the community center project by complaining about the Salvation Army's role in letters and phone calls to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Americans United wrote a threatening letter to the city." Full column here.

Question: Do you see any similarities between the attempt to stop the Kroc Center and the attempt to stop McEuen Field reconstruction?

Kroc’s Chamness Lauds Bloem & Co.

As we approach the third anniversary of the Kroc Center, and my final days as the Kroc Administrator, I have begun to reflect on what a privilege I have had these past eight years being involved with the Kroc Center and the Coeur d’Alene community. I can still vividly recall how our community competed against cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Denver and Oakland, just to name a few, and how our city won. I recently spoke in Vancouver, B.C., to leaders from 100 municipal-run community centers across British Columbia and I was asked, like I have been asked so many times before, how did Coeur d’Alene beat out all of those other cities? The answer is simple. We have a visionary mayor and City Council members who saw a once in a lifetime opportunity and took it. They were willing to put their political careers on the line because they care more about this community and making it better than their jobs/Salvation Army Major John Chamness of the Kroc Center. More from Coeur d'Alene Press letter to the editor here. (2007 SR photo of John Chamness being interviewing by DFO)

DFO: Major Chamness's statement re: the role played by Mayor Sandi Bloem & the 3 council members targetted for recall reflects the statement made by founding Kroc member Jack Riggs. Riggs has encouraged all Kroc Center fans and users to refuse to sign recall petitions.


Riggs To Kroc Fans: Say No To Recall

In this June 27, 2007, SR file photo, retired executive Art Brown, left, and Dr. Jack Riggs, right, flank Mayor Sandi Bloem as they listen to speeches at the official groundbreaking of the Kroc Center Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene. Riggs and Brown are the co-chairs of the campaign to raise more than six million dollars in matching money to meet requirements set by the Salvation Army to build the center. Riggs has provided Huckleberries with letter below asking Kroc Center users not to take part in Coeur d'Alene recall effort. (Jesse Tinsley's SR file photo)

"This is an appeal to all Coeur d’Alene residents who are current Kroc members, former Kroc members, or have benefited in any way from the Kroc Center.  There is no question that without the leadership of Mayor Sandi Bloem and the City Council, we would NOT have a Kroc Center here in Coeur d’Alene today. We all know that improving McEuen has been a controversial subject, but the Mayor and Council have done nothing wrong or illegal that should merit a recall. Many of the very same people that are now opposing McEuen improvements, opposed Kroc before it was built. You be the judge.  Has Kroc been good for the community?  If you respect, admire or support the Kroc Center, and projects like it, then when someone asks you to sign a recall petition, please just say ‘no thanks’ "— former Idaho Lt. Gov. Jack Riggs letter.

Question: Are you a fan of the Kroc Center, which was built through the efforts of Mayor Sandi Bloem & the three council members targetted for recall?

Kroc Center’s Chamnesses Promoted

Majors John and Lani Chamness of Coeur d'Alene's Salvation Army Kroc Center are being transferred to new positions as the divisional commanders of the Hawaii and Pacific Island Division of The Salvation Army in June. The Chamnesses have been with The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene since its inception in 2006. They helped lead the initial bid to bring a Kroc Center to Coeur d’Alene, and subsequently spearheaded the planning and construction of the building. Both majors have served as an integral part of center, overseeing pre-development, fundraising, planning of Kroc Church, creation of the advisory board and more … Kroc Center Associate Officer Major Ben Markham will be stepping into the role of Kroc Center executive director/Kroc Center news release. More here. (2006 SR file photo: Major John M. Chamness, left, of The Salvation Army shakes hands after learning Coeur d’Alene was selected as a site for a $65 million Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center)

CDAJim: I am saddened, but not surprised to hear of their well-deserved promotion back to the area where Lani’s family lives and where they were stationed in the past. John and Lani are incredibly dedicated to The Salvation Army’s mission of “Doing the Most Good” which they have shown that since they first arrived in our area. I know they will continue that dedication for many, many years to come. A very sincere “God Speed and Aloha”.

Question: Have you had the pleasure to know the Chamnesses during their time in Coeur d'Alene?

A Passion For Ballroom Dancing

A friend and I were discussing passion the other night. Not the sexual kind. But the passion for ideas, causes, projects, new adventures. We've noticed that as we age (we're both in our mid-50s) it's harder to feel passionate about all of the above. We decided we feel “half passions” which we abbreviated to “half-pashes.” Anyway, a couple I wrote about today, Ken and Debby Dahlke, discovered ballroom dancing four years ago, when both were in their 50s. They share the passion with others by organizing practice nights at the Kroc Center in Coeur d'Alene. On Sunday, they will hold a Snowflake Ball. (Read my story for details)/Rebecca Nappi, End Notes. More here. (Photo courtesy of Ken Dahlke)

Question: What are you passionate about?

Aylward: Transformed By Desire

A puddle of sweat covers the concrete floor below Tom Aylward’s indoor training bike. But his trainer, Shawn Burke, doesn’t give Aylward much slack. As soon as the warm-up is complete, Aylward hits the ground for push-ups and squat thrusts, jumps laterally against a resistance band, then pulls almost 300 pounds, arm-over-arm, across the gym with a heavy rope. This pace would not have been possible 18 months ago when Aylward first approached Burke and asked for help training to participate in the Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene. The 62-year-old man was more than 100 pounds overweight and had never biked, swum or run any distances, let alone completed one of the nation’s most challenging endurance races/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

Question: Has the Ironman Coeur d'Alene race inspired you to get fitter?

Kroc Center Mulls Parking Structure

Item: A case of spaces: Kroc Center considers parking structure/Tom Hasslinger, Press

More Info: An upper level parking structure that could cost more than $1 million could grace the west side of the Kroc Community Center parking lot by late next summer. Right now, the center is working on a conceptual design for the one-story project with around 120 additional spaces, hoping to send it out to bid by February.

Question: Do you avoid the Kroc Center at certain times because it’s hard to find parking?

Press: Kroc Center Takes Right Tact

Simply stated, we think it’s the most responsible - and civic-minded - way to address the community center’s financial needs. Fee increases range up to $7 per month. If this were a property tax increase for, say, the city of Coeur d’Alene, there probably wouldn’t be enough space in the newspaper for all the angry letters to the editor. But because the Kroc Center has provided a welcome family fitness option for many, there hasn’t been much complaining about the hikes at all/Mike Patrick, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.

Question: Are you a member of the Kroc Center?

Chamnesses Encounter Private Eye

Major John Chamness of the Kroc Center provided the following information re: an encounter last Friday night with a private investigator involved in Brannon-Kennedy case: I had just walked outside when this lady pulled up and starting walking toward our house. She asked if I was John Chamness and if Martie (Lani) Chamness also lived here. As she said this Lani walked out. She than said she was working for the city of Coeur d’Alene doing some research on some voting irregularities and asked my wife who she voted for. I interrupted this person who did not give me her name and said that my wife did not need to share who she voted for as this was confidential information. I than (sic) asked her who she worked for and she said she worked for the city of Coeur d’Alene and was just here to do some research for the city for the upcoming case to clear up any irregularities. I asked her again who she worked for and she said that she was working for a private investigative firm for the city of Coeur d’Alene. So I asked her if she was working for Starr Kelso and Jim Brannon and she said no she works for a private investigator. And I asked if Starr Kelso had employed her firm and she said no. I than noticed she was palming a small recorder and so I asked her if she had recorded our conversation and she said yes she had. Full statement by John Chamness here.

KXLY: Kroc Center Raise Rates

Money worries is pushing the Salvation Army KROC Center to hike its membership rates.Since the facility opened its doors back in May 2009, the state of the art facility has drawn in big crowds shattering memberships records.The KROC Center’s Executive Director Major John Chamness says raising membership rates will help offset a $400,000 projected deficit in 2011. Major Chamness blames an increase in insurance rates, utility rates and a spike in staff health insurance for having to increase rates. Members will have to pay an additional $1 to $7 dollars per month for services/Tania Dall, KXLY. More here.

Question: Will raising rates cost the Kroc Center members?

Kroc Center Observe 1st Anniversary

Item: Kroc Center celebrates one year: Cd’A facility is tops in the West with 20,500 members/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: Before it opened, it shot for around 2,000 members, keeping its fingers crossed for 5,000 at the one year mark. Today, it has 20,500 members, and has entertained around 630,000 visitors since May 11, 2009 - while staff has increased to 272 employees compared to around 70 when it opened.

Question: Are you a member of the Kroc Center? What would you tell someone who’s still upset by the process undertaken by Mayor Sandi Bloem and the city to build the Kroc Center?

Kroc Membership Doubles to 12,000

Item: Kroc membership doubles in 3 weeks: Center nets another 6000 members/Tom Hasslinger, Cda Press

More Info: 12,000. And counting. The Salvation Army’s new Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center is making good on its promise to be a destination the whole community can enjoy. Doubling its membership total from three weeks ago, the $38 million mega-recreation center off Golf Course Road in Coeur d’Alene boasts 12,000 members — eight times the number of people it originally expected to join.

Question: So when can we officially tell the naysayers who fought so hard to stop this project (you know who you are): I told you so?