Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

North Idaho air quality hits unhealthy levels

The air quality in North Idaho reached hazardous levels Wednesday due to smoke from multiple wildfires. According to AirNow, a government resource which provides daily Air Quality Index readings for more than 400 cities, conditions in Coeur d'Alene were unhealthy on Wednesday. That rating, determined by calculating the prevalence of five major air pollutants, comes with a warning for all residents to minimize time spent outdoors and any activity involving heavy exertion. Dr. Kevin Chang, a pulmonologist at North Idaho Lung and Asthma, told The Press Wednesday that the region's poor air quality has kept his office busy. "It's been steady and we've been getting a fair amount of phone calls from our patients," he said/Keith Cousins, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

North Idaho Crime Outpaces Boise

Sheriff Ben Wolfinger patrols the streets during recent Coeur d'Alene 4th of July activities. (SR file photo)

North Idaho has the highest crime rate in the state, eclipsing the Boise area, according to the state’s latest crime statistics. It’s a trend that’s been growing in recent years. The Boise area had a much higher crime rate than the Panhandle as recently as 2008, but since then, North Idaho’s rate has surged as the state’s overall crime rates have dropped. “Our guys are working hard and they’re doing a good job, but it’s just trying to keep up is the hard part,” said Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger. One factor: Kootenai County is becoming part of a Spokane-North Idaho metropolitan area, rather than an isolated, more rural area with a seasonal influx of visitors/Betsy Z. Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you feel less safe today in Kootenai County than you did 10 years ago?

Panhandle hunters report seeing more elk

HUNTING — During the first week of the main big-game hunting seasons, Idaho Panhandle hunters reported seeing a lot of moose and grouse and they saw more elk and elk sign than the past few years, according to reports for Idaho Fish and Game Department hunter check stations.

The number of elk calves seen varied. Some hunters reported a lot of calves with groups of cows while others reported few or no calves.

But hunters saw a lot of spike elk, which typically means good overwinter calf survival.

Most deer taken in early October in the Panhandle are incidental to elk hunting. Deer hunting success is gauged by what happens during the November 1 to December 1 part of the deer season.

Panhandle Prefers Ducks To Broncos

Just how popular are the Broncos in the Gem State and elsewhere? The folks at social media giant Facebook have an answer — sort of. Late last week, Facebook released its first NCAA college football fan map, similar to maps it has done in recent years showing the allegiances of its users to specific NFL and MLB teams. Using the AP's Top 25 preseason rankings, Facebook analyzed how many "likes" each Top 25 team's official Facebook page had in every county in every state. Boise State, which was 19th in the preseason rankings before dropping out altogether this week after being throttled by Washington in the season opener, won the popularity contest in the majority of Idaho counties. But it wasn't a Gem State shutout. Oregon, which dominates much of the West Coast in the Facebook popularity map, also stole some Idaho counties — Camas and Blaine in central Idaho as well as Lewis County and every county north of it/Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP photo: Oregon's Chance Allen (20) celebrates his touchdown run against Nicholls State Saturday)

Question: Are you surprised that the Oregon Ducks are more popular than the Boise State Broncos in the Idaho Panhandle?

Some Protesters Take To Overpasses

A Berry Picker who was on the Kootenai County portion of Interstate 90 reports on the planned national Overpasses for Obama Impeachment: "I saw a group of 8-10 people this morning on the NW Blvd/I90 overpass protesting Obama.  One sign referenced Benghazi.  Another sign said 'Honk for no IRS.' No other overpasses had protesters at the same time in the CdA area." Organizers of the North Idaho protest had hoped to man every overpass from Post Falls to Wallace.

Question: Anyone else seen Overpasses for Obama Impeachment activity?

Patriots To Man NIdaho Overpasses

Dunno if this is a joke or not. But an item was posted on the Kootenai County Reagan Republican Facebook wall promoting an event called "Overpasses for Obama's Impeachment — North Idaho." Seems the "event" is part of a larger effort to (wo)man overpasses demanding the impeachment of President Barack Obama. The effort in North Idaho is calling for overpasses from Post Falls to Wallace to be (wo)manned Aug. 6. The group  has a Facebook wall. This note accompanied the Reagan Republican post: "We would like to get as many patriots together as possible for this event. The more people, the more overpasses we can cover. Imagine the impact if every overpass from Post Falls to Wallace was manned on August 6th!"


Spokane HUD office to close this fall, cutting five positions

Spokane’s office of the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) will close in September, eliminating five jobs here.

Federal officials are streamlining HUD as part of broad effort to provide services more efficiently. Spokane’s field office at the Thomas S. Foley Courthouse downtown is one of 16 being closed, the agency reported Wednesday.

Spokane’s HUD office serves Eastern Washington and North Idaho. The office reviews and monitors loan insurance programs for single family and multifamily housing projects. It also has one program manager reviewing insurance for health care facility loans.

HUD will still have a Seattle regional office in  Seattle, said HUD spokesman Lee Jones.

Spokane's five staff workers will be offered buyouts or the option to move to another location, Jones said.

Over the next three years, HUD said the restructuring could save $45 million to $50 million.

Lucky Friday Mine avoids federal safety violation notice, after improvements

Federal mine safety officials will not issue Hecla Mining Co. a violations pattern notice, the mine company announced today.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration had issued a potential pattern of violations notice for the Lucky Friday Mine in early 2012, following two fatal accidents at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan.

But after further review, and following more than $60 million spent on safety training and mine improvements, the MSHA said no final violation notice will be issued.

If the POV had been issued, the risk was that Hecla might have had to close the mine again, or make more focused safety efforts at the Lucky Friday.

The mine was closed for more than a year as Hecla managers made the investments and installed new equipment in the silver, zinc and lead mine.

"We are pleased that following the rehabilitation of the shaft, training and other work, MSHA has decided that the PPOV is not required. We have worked with MSHA, and are continuing to enhance many aspects of the mine’s operations and safety, including implementation of the National Mining Association’s CORESafety Program,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Hecla’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Lucky Friday mine resumed operations last month.

Hecla reopens Lucky Friday mine after extensive safety steps

After being closed for more than a year, Hecla’s Lucky Friday silver mine has resumed protection, following a series of safety upgrades that cost more than $30 million.

The mine was closed on orders from federal mine inspectors following a rock burst that injured seven workers in December 2011.

The mile-deep silver mine in Mullan, Idaho, is expected to return to full production later this year. The company announced all employees were recalled and received supplemental safety training.

The rock burst injuries followed fatal accidents at the Lucky Friday that killed two miners in April and November of 2011.

Hecla officials also said the company completed a new bypass drift at the main shaft’s 5,900 foot level, around an area impacted by the December 2011 rock burst. Hecla reporting spending roughly $30 million on the rehabilitation of the main silver shaft and an additional $26.2 million on other Lucky Friday capital projects unrelated to the shaft renovation.

If you thought that would help Hecla's stock, that's not so.  As of 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, the stock dipped  9 cents or 1.5 percent


BLM seeks hosts for North Idaho campgrounds

PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking for camp hosts for two campgrounds in its Coeur d’Alene District, in the Idaho Panhandle.

Mica Bay Boaters Park, about 10 minutes south of Coeur d’Alene, is a boat-in recreation site that offers 15 campsites, a picnic pavilion, fishing docks and a swim area. RVcamping is available for the camp host, but no one else. Here, the camp host performs minor maintenance such as lawn mowing and weed trimming with tools provided by the BLM. The host also monitors visitor use and provides information to users about the site and surrounding area. The work schedule for this opportunity is Thursday through Sunday, as well as one additional floating day during the week.

  • Info: John Mottern, Mica Bay Boater Park ranger, (208) 769-5002.

Hammer Creek Recreation Site offers 12 campsites along the Lower Salmon River south of Grangeville. A popular camping, picnicking and swimming destination, it’s also a common put-in site for rafters floating the river. Here, the camp host makes visitor contacts, provides area information and assists with minor maintenance such as painting, cleaning and weed trimming. The BLM is seeking a host that would live on-site from mid-June through Thanksgiving.

  • Info: Joe O’Neill, Hammer Creek Recreation Site outdoor recreation planner, (208) 962-3683.

 Click here for general information on both sites.

Clark Plans Road Trip To North Idaho

Today I’m offering ONE LUCKY READER the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m talking about a chance to ride shotgun in my 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Guzzler as we travel to wild and crazy … North Idaho. That’s right. At a mutually acceptable date, we will leave Spokane for this less-regulated land where Republicans outnumber the wood ticks. First stop is the bawdy hamlet of Stateline, where we will skip the strip joint and focus instead on a certain convenience store where I will buy my contest winner a jumbo box of that “banned in nanny Washington” Cascade dish soap. Then it’s off to Post Falls for a cheap booze run. (Sorry. Due to editor concerns, the winner must spring for his or her own hooch.) Once we’re loaded with suds and liquor, we will aim for Coeur d’Alene, where we will gorge on Hudson’s hamburgers. (Yep, I’m buying. Just don’t embarrass me by trying to order fries, or you’ll find yourself walking back to Spokane)Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: What do you think of Clark's itinerary for a road trip to North Idaho?

Giant cutthroat a gift from North Idaho catch and release rules

FISHING — A jaw-dropping cutthroat trout caught by Matt Seaton this week, out with his brother — North Idaho fly-fishing guide Josh Seaton — is a reminder that Idaho's catch-and-release fishing rules have giant benefits.

A few groups, primarily in the Silver Valley and St. Maries areas, have been pressuring the  Idaho Fish and Game Department to relax the catch-and-release rules enacted for the river a few years ago.  Apparently they can't imagine catching a trophy like this and releasing it back into the river to live, spawn and perhaps be caught again by another lucky angler.

Research proves that few wild trout in Idaho streams would grow to large sizes if anglers were allowed to harvest the biggest fish every year. These findings are especially applicable to cutthroat trout, which have evolved to be rather unselective in what they strike in order to survive in their clean, relatively unfertile waters.

This wild fish, running at least 25 inches long, was caught on a large streamer a few days ago in a location the anglers are identifying only as in "the Couer d'Alene watershed."  Super. Great job, Matt and Josh. Thanks for giving the rest of us a chance to be thrilled by that wild hunk of Idaho.

And thanks to Idaho Fish and Game for standing tall against selfish people who essentially are promoting the elimination of this size of fish from North Idaho waters within a couple of years.

NI Senators Back Secret Tribunals

The Senate has adopted proposed new ethics rules in a straight party-line vote, 28-7. In his closing debate, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said, “There's a lot that was said in opposition to the bill that I agree with.” But he said a public ethics process before probable cause has been determined “does not … preserve reputations against frivolous allegations.” He said, “When we make it part of the public discourse, let's at least have confidence that we've met a probable cause standard, and if we have, then it should be part of the public discourse”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

DFO: This 28-7 party-line vote means all five North Idaho GOP senators supported the secret ethics tribunals. Extremely bad form, Shawn Keough, Joyce Broadsword, Steve Vick, John Goedde & Jim Hammond. What was the need to rush this through in the closing hours of the 2012 Legislature?

Question: Does this issue matter to you?

Paul: We Prefer ‘North Idaho,’ Period

Paul Matthews re: "North Idaho or northern Idaho?": It is a common courtesy to allow an individual to define his/ her own term of address, as in “please call me Paul” or “Mr. Matthews will be fine” I think everybody here prefers North Idaho. I have always been vaguely insulted by people like our Governor who make a point of saying “northern” Idaho. Reminds me of the kind of insecure people who call a person “chief” or “sport” or “boy.”

Question: Do you think Gov. Butch Otter knows or cares that residents of this region prefer that it be called "North Idaho"?

Lew2nl: North Or Northern Idaho?

In responding to an issue raised by DeePee re: Idaho going back to Mountain Standard/Daylight Time, Lew2nl asks whether we live in North Idaho or northern Idaho. We haven't discussed this issue for awhile, so I'll post it out here with this caveat: The Lewiston Tribune (where I worked from 1982-84) labels the 10 northernmost Idaho counties "northern Idaho." The SR calls the 5 northernmost counties "North Idaho." Politicians from Boise, like Gov. Butch Otter, refers to the Panhandle as "northern Idaho." And I've always called the southern counties "Sufferin' Idaho" because they don't have the beauty of North Idaho.

Question: So what do you call the 5 northernmost Idaho counties?

Becoming A Spelling Bee Champ

Rohnin Randles, 13, of Rathdrum, won the spelling bee in the Lakeland School District. He's headed to the regional bee on March 17 for a chance to win a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.  Fifty-one fourth- though eighth-graders from North Idaho will compete in a regional bee on St. Patrick's Day. Jody Lawrence-Turner/SR tells you what it takes to be a spelling bee champion here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Do you have what it takes to be a spelling bee champion?

NIdaho Almost Was In Washington

A political rivalry between two would-be Idaho governors, a fight over where Washington's capital should be, gold strikes in the Idaho Panhandle and more played into the current-day shape of the state of Idaho, according to historic maps unveiled to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee today after its budget hearing on the Idaho State Historical Society. Under one, drawn by Lt. John Mullan, the entire North Idaho Panhandle would have become part of Washington. Under the other, drawn by William H. Wallace, not only the Panhandle but all of Montana and most of Wyoming were drawn into the new Idaho Territory/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR file photo: A stone marker and sign sit at the Fourth of July pass commemorating the road built from Missoula to Walla Walla in 1862 under Capt. John Mullan's supervision)

Question: Would you North Idahoans want to be part of Washington state?

Duane: Hucks Doesn’t Mirror NIdaho

Duane Rasmussen: This blog does not represent the general thought in North Idaho. The blog is predominantly influenced by Liberals. Before they are shouted down, a few conservatives are allowed to speak, primarily for the purpose of giving the Liberals something off of which to bounce their diatribes. Sort of like keeping a few mice alive so they can be fed to the snakes. Another analogy might be the feeding of Christians to lions. Many people in North Idaho are appalled by what goes on in this blog. It is difficult to get Conservatives to even look at this blog once they have seen it the first time. It has become a safe place for the counter culture to present its views.

Question: Does HucksOnline reflect North Idaho?

NI R’s Oppose ‘Obamacare’ Exchange

A group of north Idaho political and business leaders agreed unanimously Wednesday that Idaho should avoid creating a state health insurance exchange and should instead wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the Obamacare lawsuit of which Idaho is a plaintiff. The leaders unanimously backed a resolution that says, in part, that "it is not in the best interest of the state for any state official to participate in planning or establishing health insurance exchanges as provided for in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" and that Congress should "defund planning grants to the states for the establishment of PPACA health insurance exchanges by the states." The resolution is signed by members of the major political groups in north Idaho including Tea Party, Pachyderm clubs, Reagan Republicans, United Conservatives of North Idaho, North Idaho Political Action Committee, Kootenai County Republicans and Kootenai County Republican Women/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: Do you agree with the North Idaho Republican groups re: the health care exchange?

Idaho Unhealthy For Washington Wolf

Many of the wolves in northeastern Washington moved in naturally from Idaho.  But the Gem State is a dangerous place for the wolves to return. A radio-collared wolf from the Diamond Pack in east-central Pend Oreille County was killed Dec. 20 by a trapper in North Idaho a few hundred yards east of the stateline. Trappers have reported taking at least six wolves in the Idaho Panhandle during the state's first trapping season, which started Nov. 15 and runs through March 15.  Hunters have reported taking 28 wolves so far this season in the Panhandle, counting the one checked in at Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday. Statewide, hunters have tagged at least 173 wolves in Idaho so far this season and trappers have reported taking 24/Rich Landers, SR. More here.

Other Rich Landers/SR Outdoors blog posts:

Question: Do you consider a statewide kill of 173 wolves in Idaho so far this year to be a reasonable harvest number?

Area BBB lists the 10 area businesses with the most 2011 complaints

More than 3,100 consumer complaints came into the Better Business Bureau serving Spokane, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Of those, we asked the BBB for the list of the 10 Eastern Washington and North Idaho companies with the most complaints  from Jan. 1-Dec. 1, 2011.

Here's the list, followed by the business's overall BBB rating. Companies that respond actively and promptly typically retain a high rating:

  • Global Fitness franchise, 110 W. Price, Spokane, 24 complaints, F rating.

  • 1880 Western Wear, Colville, 21 complaints, F rating.

  • Merchants Services Direct, Spokane Valley, 18 complaints, C rating.

  • Ambassador Programs, Inc., Spokane, 15 complaints, B+ rating.

  • Dave Smith Motors, Kellogg, 13 complaints, A+ rating.

  • WKA Innovations, Inc., Spokane Valley, 13 complaints, B+ rating.

  • AT&T Mobility, Spokane, 12 complaints, A- rating.

  • LLS America LLC, Spokane, 11 complaints, F rating.

  • CoiNuts, Coeur d’Alene, 10 complaints, F rating.

  • Time Warner Cable, Coeur d’Alene, 10 complaints. A rating

Fire Likely Killed Ex-NIdaho Racist

RE: Randy Weaver fan in Washougal, Wash., shootout/Hate Watch

Investigators have recovered two human bodies and four deceased dogs from the ruins of a Washougal home that burned to the ground Wednesday morning as a man fired handguns and rifles to keep emergency responders away, Clark County authorities said. Authorities have not identified the two deceased adults nor have they revealed a possible motive for the events that led to their deaths inside the home at 3275 F Place. However, family and friends of the homeowners, Steven and Leona Stanbary, indicated on their Facebook pages that the husband and wife, along with Leona Stanbary’s twin sister, perished Wednesday/Ray Legendre and Paul Suarez, Columbian. More here. (A police car's shattered window is shown Thursday in Washougal, Wash. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer)

Question: Does this story give you a better appreciation for the violent tendencies inherent in some of the white supremacists who once called North Idaho home?

Hydroplanes return

Hydroplanes will return to North Idaho this weekend for several events.

On Thursday, both unlimited and limited hydros will be on display at Red Lion Templin’s Hotel on the River in Post Falls.

The event, which also features live music and a buffet, begins at 4 p.m. Vintage unlimited boats on display will include the Miss Wahoo, Miss Burien and Oh Boy Oberto; kids can sit in the cockpits and have their photos taken. More here.

Are you a hydroplane fan?

Ptera Wireless adding service to North Idaho broadband customers

Liberty Lake-based Ptera Wireless is expanding its wireless broadband service to Coeur d’Alene, Rathdrum and Post Falls.  Ptera also announced it's boosted speeds on all packages without increasing the cost of service.

It will now offer 4 megabits per second for $49.95 per month.

The company already provided service across most of Spokane County.

Company president Jim Wilson said Ptera has been growing by 30 percent per year. Its ability to reach more customers comes from having installed more than 150 transmitters around Spokane and North Idaho.

In a release, Wilson said: “In the past, our typical customer was the rural family without access to DSL or Cable Internet.  This is no longer the case, as most of our growth is in residential and business areas where we go head to head with both carrier types and still win the business.”

In addition to broadband Internet, Ptera offers Voice Over Internet telephone service, business connectivity and networking services.

To accommodate this growth, Ptera recently leased 3,000 square feet at the Meadowwood Technology Campus in Liberty Lake.

Monthly costs start at $24.95 for residential customers, and $59.95 for business customers for wireless Internet. 

Esquire Charts INW Racism Fall, Rise

In Esquire's Politics Blog Thursday, essayist Charles P. Pierce provides a lengthy review of the history of white supremacism in North Idaho as well as the MLK Day bomb attempt. He writes: "Both (Norm) Gissel and (Tony) Stewart have noticed an increasing — and increasingly familiar — level of agitation in the air, even though what was left of the Aryan Nations splintered further recently when a power struggle broke out between two men, Paul Mullet and Gerard O'Brien, both of whom claim to be the true successor to Richard Butler. (Mullet seems to have won out, at least for the moment.) What's left of the movement seems to be made up either of small units, or a collection of lone-wolf operators. It has still been enough to set the region on edge. Entire blog post here.


North Idaho Hospice House To Open

Item: Hospice House set to open: Idaho's first inpatient hospice facility to be dedicated next week/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Simple, peaceful, comfortable, homelike. Those were the design goals for planners of Hospice of North Idaho's new Hospice House facility at 2290 W. Prairie Ave. A preview tour taken Tuesday revealed an ambiance that hits all the marks. After 10 months of construction and years of planning, workers this week are putting the final touches on a building that feels safe, solid and tranquil. "It's going to be beautiful," said Amanda Miller, director of community development for Hospice of North Idaho. Hospice House will be the first inpatient hospice facility in the state of Idaho.

Question: Has your family been helped by Hospice? Do you care to tell us about it?

NI Senators Offer Redistricting Plan

North Idaho Sens. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint (left), and Joyce Broadsword (right), R-Sagle, have submitted a proposed redistricting plan for North Idaho that they say addresses concerns they've heard from their constituents, particularly about the current oddly-shaped District 2; you can see the plan here. Addressing only the North Idaho Panhandle, it does away with the backward-C-shaped District 2 in favor of a more compact District 2 that combines southern Bonner County with northern Kootenai County, including the Athol area. A new District 3 would take in the Post Falls area, and a new District 4 the Coeur d'Alene area. a new District 5 would include all of Benewah and Shoshone counties, the southern portion of Kootenai County including the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, and most of Latah County except for the Moscow area/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: The redistricting plan offered by Sens. Shawn Keough & Joyce Broadsword makes sense. Does it have a chance?

Hucks Poll: It’s ‘North Idaho’, Butch

  • Weekend Poll: Butch Otter, our governor from southern Idaho, likes to think of the five northernmost counties as "northern Idaho." Overwhelmingly, however, that's not how we consider ourselves. 195 of 232 respondents (84.05%) to a weekend poll say they live in "North Idaho" not "northern Idaho." Only 32 of 232 (13.79%) agree with Butch that this region should be called northern Idaho. 5 were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: How would you rate the fireworks in your neighborhood last night?

Poll: Trapping Wolves OK

  • Thursday Poll: A near supermajority approves of the use of trapping to reduce the number of wolves in Idaho. 74 of 116 (65.18%) agree with the decision to trap troublesome Elk City area wolves. 40 of 116 (34.48%) oppose the use of trapping to kill wolves. 2 were undecided.
  • Weekend Question: How do you refer to the 5 northernmost counties: North Idaho or northern Idaho?

Redistricting Will Affect North Idaho

At the KEA Blog, Terry Harris writes: "New lines for Congressional districts are not likely to affect north Idaho, as the entire panhandle is expected to remain in the 1st Congressional district. However, new lines in legislative districts are likely to shift significantly. Census data shows a significant migration away from rural areas and into more urban and suburban areas.  Kootenai County and the Rathdrum Prairie cities kept pace with Idaho’s overall growth, but Shoshone and Clearwater Counties lost residents and Boundary, Bonner and Benewah counties grew at a somewhat slower rate than the rest of the state. The result is that the more rural panhandle — consisting of Districts 1 through 8 — has lost about half of a legislative district."

  • The Commission will be holding hearings throughout the state, and hearings in North Idaho are scheduled for this Wednesday. (Sandpoint from 2-4 pm at the Sandpoint High School Auditorium, Coeur d’Alene’s from 7-9 pm at Meyers Health and Sciences Building at NIC.)

Question: Wouldn't it be a hoot if District 2 is realigned to force Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, or his other 2 District 3 playmates to run against the current District 2 legislators, including Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries?