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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Marianne: Keep Sandpoint Viewtiful

This morning's paper tells us that we won a contest, sponsored by big names in the media business–USA Today and Rand McNally.  Yesterday the word spread quickly on Facebook that–after the judging, which involved visits to several communities throughout the country–Sandpoint is America's most beautiful small town. What that will bring is now the question.  Will we,  who love this place as it is and has been,  want all the more to put up the gates?  And, I'm not talking about gates to exclusive developments but gates to city entrances/Marianne Love, Slight Detour. More here.

Question: If you could, would you put up a fence around your North Idaho community and not let anyone else in?

Sandpoint Selected As ‘Most Beautiful’

Rand McNally's 2011 Best of Road Rally has named Sandpoint as the most beautiful town in the United States. Jeff DeKorte, Rand McNally’s SVP, Travel & Digital Media and John Peters, VP/GM Digital Strategy along with Victoria Borton, General Manager of USA TODAY Travel, announced the five winning teams to a packed house at the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Annual Convention in New Orleans. Narrowed down from more than 600 submissions, 30 top towns in five categories — Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best for Food — were selected for review during the inaugural Best of the Road Rally. More here. (SR file photo/Pia Hallenberg, of small-scale Statue of Liberty on Lake Pend Oreille)

Question: Which place in America's most beautiful small town would you point out to visitors as quintessential Sandpoint?

Forest Service taps new Sandpoint District Ranger

NATIONAL FORESTS — A Forest Service administrator in Vermont has been named the new Sandpoint District ranger by Idaho Panhandle National Forests acting forest supervisor Maggie Pittman.

Erik Walker, Deputy District Ranger in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont will replace Dick Kramer who retired from the Sandpoint District ranger position in May.

Walker comes to the Idaho Panhandle with more than 20 years of Forest Service experience on a wide variety of natural resource issues throughout the nation including Lake Tahoe and the Lassen National Forest in California, the Las Vegas and Carson Ranger Districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada, and the Manchester Ranger District in Vermont.
  

Walker and his wife say they look forward to getting out in the local area and taking part in some of their favorite activities, including snow-shoeing, skiing, hiking, biking, gardening, kayaking, and photography.

Walker is expected to report to Sandpoint at the end of August.
  

Quest Aircraft will find new CEO, and starts to increase Kodiak production

The CEO of Sandpoint airplane manufacturer Quest Aircraft Company is stepping aside, at the same time the company has said it’s boosting production of its highly regarded Kodiak.

Paul Schaller, who’s been in the CEO seat at the privately held firm since 2004, has become a consultant to the company. No reason was offered for his change of job.

Ron Wright, director of operations, is taking over as acting general manager at the Sandpoint manufacturing facility. The board will begin a search for a new CEO, said spokeswoman Julie Stone.

Orders for Kodiaks, which sell for roughly $1.6 million, have increased as the general aviation industry starts to recover. The company is gearing up to produce three aircraft per month, an increase from two per month earlier this year.

The company produced 14 Kodiaks during 2010. The single-turboprop aircraft is popular for flying into rugged terrain and for using jet fuel.

Sandpoint Monday Hikers on the go for 20 years

HIKING — The  list of area hiking clubs that ran with my Sunday Outdoors feature on hiking clubs left out one with some history, said Rosalyn Clark of Sandpoint.

The Bonner County Monday Hikers have been heating their heels on roads and trails every Monday since 1991.

“We’re loosely organized, but we have eight  or sometimes 30 to 50 on an outing,” she said.

“Every Monday we decide where we’ll hike the next Monday, rain or shine. We’re mostly older people, but not all of us. You just need to have Mondays free.”

Info: rosiebob@gmail.com

Sandpoint Mayor Admits Mistake

In a guest opinion in the Bonner County Bee on Sunday, Sandpoint Mayor Gretchen Hellar , pictured, said Dover Mayor Randy Curless earned $45,000 per year. Which was news to Mayor Curless and his daughter, former SReporter Erica Curless. Mayor Curless earns $2400 per year. In a mea culpa on Tuesday, Mayor Hellar writes in the Bee: “In my rush to get my guest editorial published I committed a stupid error. I did not check the information I got from the Internet. I tried to call Dover City Hall and Randy Curless, mayor of Dover, before I submitted it. I could not reach them. I should have waited until I could confirm the data. The Dover mayor does make $45,000, but that is the salary of the mayor of Dover, Md. I sincerely apologize to Randy and the citizens of Dover for the problem I caused.”

Question: Have you ever been embarrassed by information from the Internet that you used in a public way?

Volunteers spiff up Sandpoint’s Sand Creek

STEWARDSHIP — About 40 volunteers chipped in Saturday to remove trash from the shoreline along Sand Creek in downtown Sandpoint during the annual Sand Creek Clean Up.

The helpers were organized by the Downtown Sandpoint Business Association and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper.

The event removed a truck full of garbage in a little more than an hour, and prevented the trash from fouling Lake Pend Oreille and the beauty of the spring and summer seasons in downtown Sandpoint.

Outdoor Life: Lewiston Best Idaho City

“Got the May issue of Outdoor Life in the mail today,” comments KeithinCDA. “Top 200 towns listed for Sportsmen and of the top 200, Idaho has 10. … All great places for jumping off into the outdoors”:

#7 Lewiston (was #1 last year)
#23 Idaho Falls
#32 Sandpoint
#33 Pocatello
#43 Hailey
#65 Payette
#79 Coeur d Alene
#85 Salmon
#108 Rexburg
 #111 Driggs

Question: Would you rather live in Lewiston than the current Idaho place that you're living? Why? Why not?

Sandpoint Earth Day Festival a hit with kids

ENVIRONMENT — Friday is Earth Day, and Sandpoint groups are making a point to get the whole family involved.

Sandpoint’s Earth Day Festival is set for 4 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Sandpoint Events Center (corner of Pine and Euclid).

Family activities include a talk by Earth Day co-founder Doug Scott, information from more than 20 local conservation groups and vendors, displays and games for the kids, electric car demos, great local food.

And then there's the no-host beer and wine bar.

The event is sponsored by Idaho Conservation League, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper.

Info:  (208) 265-9565.

Federal prosecutor’s son jailed in Idaho

The son of a North Idaho federal prosecutor is in the Bonner County Jail for a drunken vehicle prowling spree last December.

Christopher Alan Cook, 22, was ordered this week to serve 30 days in jail for misdemeanor theft after a felony burglary charge was dismissed. He'll be credited for 10 days already served.

Cook was arrested March 20 for a series of car break-ins in Sandpoint between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20.

He pleaded guilty on Wednesday and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with 335 suspended. He also was fined $1,000 with $700 suspended and will be on unsupervised probation for two years.

Alcohol was a factor in the crime, said Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank.

Cook, of Dalton Gardens, is the son of Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Cook. He is being housed away from federal inmates at the Bonner County Jail, according to the court documents. Jailers told him he can be placed in a single cell if problems arise, but only as a last resort.

NI Educators March In Downtown CdA

North Idaho educators and supporters are marching down Sherman Avenue in protest to Tom Luna's education “reform” plans as i post this. Here, Sandpoint High student Tyson Bird is talking to KHQ reporters about his objections to Luna's radical plan. (Photo courtesy of William Love)

GPS app cracks Sandpoint phone caper

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — Recovering a stolen cell phone? There's an app for that.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports 22-year-old Sean B. Mahoney of Sandpoint pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and possession of drug paraphernalia on Wednesday in a case that was cracked by the owner of a stolen cell phone. Mahoney was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

A Sandpoint resident reported a cell phone, snowboard and goggles were taken from his sport utility vehicle on Dec. 18.

The GPS-enabled phone contained a software application that can be activated when the device is stolen. The owner used the app and a laptop to track the handset to a house where the items were recovered, along with two other stolen snowboards, several holiday checks apparently taken from neighborhood mailboxes, drug pipes and marijuana seeds and stems.

Spencer: Clueless In Sandpoint

Larry Spencer: How about a recap of the dumbest laws created in Idaho in 2010. My number one pick is the Sandpoint ordinance that outlawed butcher knives. So … perhaps the city council is a bunch of tofu lovers, but how the heck is anyone going to carve up a turkey? Or is that they're what they are trying to make impossible? You can have my carving knife when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, you.. you….”progressives!”

Question: Can you think of other dumb laws enacted in 2010?

PM: Sandpoint Native Wins Ski Event

Winner Nate Holland, center, from the United States, third placed Mario Fuchs, left, from Austria and second placed Tom Velisek from Canada celebrate on the podium after the men’s snowboard cross final at the World Cup ski event in Lech, Austria, Tuesday. Holland is a native of Sandpoint. See story below. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Quest Aircraft Furloughs Workers

Quest Aircraft Co. will furlough all except a handful of the airplane manufacturer’s 120 employees for three weeks beginning next Tuesday. Quest CEO Paul Shaller said this wasn’t the way he wanted to end an already turbulent 2010. “We are going to end up manufacturing 14 planes this year when I really wanted to do three times that,” he said. Quest had four rounds of layoffs this year and continues to be in the middle of an economic storm/Bonner County Bee. More here.

Question: Has your company had layoffs, furloughs, wage cuts, or related actions this year?

Winter sport clinics and films in Sandpoint

WINTER SPORTS — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks and Idaho Conservation League are sponsoring a winter backcountry film festival Friday and winter outdoor skills workshops on Saturday in Sandpoint.

Winter backcountry films will be shown at the Panida Theater Friday starting at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the free workshops will run 9 a.m.-noon at the Sandpoint Community Hall, featuring Kevin Davis, Forest Service avalanche expert, and Dennison Webb and Erik Yost of Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education. The two workshops are designed as beginner (or refresher) courses in backcountry winter travel.

Check it out the details and schedule.

Sandpointers Question Obama Birth

If I hadn’t checked Randy Stapilus’s Facebook page, I would have missed this story from the Bonner County Bee in which U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo ran head long into a group of birthers during a Sandpoint pit stop. From the article by Cameron Rasmusson: “Substantial conversation arose at speculation about the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship and consequently, his presidency. Several attendees were eager to weigh in on the issue, one noting that if Obama’s presidency was invalid, all of his appointees would be deposed as well, resulting in a political coup. He then asked whether Crapo would support Obama’s impeachment if sufficient investigation occurred. Crapo replied that it was the House’s responsibility to impeach the president, while the Senate held the trial, and he would need more information before making a public statement. “I would need to see more background on the issue,” he said. More here.

Question: Seriously?

Kate: Sandpoint Dreamin’ In Boise

In her blog, Mark & Kate, Kate tells of her recent visit for a month to her childhood home of Sandpoint. Writes she: “This was the first time I had spent more than a couple weeks in the idyllic lake town since graduating from high school and moving to Boise for college. Spending a month there in the middle of a beautiful summer reminded me of all the things I love about the place.” She then goes on to list (w/photos) 10 things she misses most about Sandpoint, including Festival at Sandpoint, Lake Pend Oreille, and Kokanee beer. More here.

Question: What things do you like most about Sandpoint?

Ex-KKK Wizard Duke In Sandpoint Today

In the Bonner County Bee, reporter Keith Kinnaird reports that David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, will be in Sandpoint today seeking support for a possible presidential campaign (see Aug. 28, Aug. 31 items on Duke Web site). Apparently, Duke posted the announcement on his official website that he will speak on “white civil rights” at America’s Promise Ministries as part of a nation wide tour to discuss “the critical issues facing America and the world and the possibility of entering the Republican primaries for president of the United States,” the Bee story said. Laura Bry, president of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force learned about Duke’s visit while checking a social networking site. “It’s all over Twitter,” she told the Bee. More here.

Question: Why would Duke go to Sandpoint to gauge support for his presidential candidacy?

Ben Stein: Osprey On Rail Bridge

Many of you will remember actor/commenter Ben Stein (pictured in AP file photo) as the monotone science teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day off.” But did you know that he regularly visits Sandpoint? In a recent post for CBS News, Stein writes that he doesn’t know how why gold prices are soaring while prices for everything else is stagnant. Or how the U.S. will keep Iran from having a nuclear bomb. Or why the U.S. Treasury is riding high when investors are nervous. Then he adds this: “I do know that on the south end of the railroad bridge across the mighty Pend Oreille River here in North Idaho, a family of osprey have built a magnificent, sturdy nest and sit unmoved as freight trains a mile long go by, shaking the whole town. I know they are fearless, majestic, a glory to see. They fly next to my little boat and dive on trout and bring them back to their nest, and I could watch them all day. I cannot figure out this wicked, cunning world of men”/Ben Stein, CBSnews.com. More here.

Question: Do you lose site of the beauty around us as a result of the various crises in this country and the world and the nastiness of partisan politics?

Pita Pit To Open In Sandpoint

At the Bonner County Bee, Ralph Bartholdt is reporting that Jeff and Tasha Walker plan to open a Pita Pit restaurant by Labor Day on the corner of First Avenue and Bridge Street. The couple, who purchased the franchise in February, face major reconstruction first. More here.

Question: Do you eat at the Coeur d’Alene Pita Pit often?

Sandpoint’s appeal

Sandpoint artist Connie Scherr, pictured at her home last month,  plans to take part in the Eighth Annual Artists’ Studio Tour coming up the next two weekends.

In recent years, several national publications have written about a quaint resort town located in North Idaho, which until these stories started appearing was a well-kept secret. Now Sandpoint is recognized by many as a year round resort destination located in a beautiful setting. But it is more than a place where skiing and water sports can be enjoyed. One of those qualities that seem to draw people here is a characteristic mentioned in nearly every publication written about this area – Sandpoint is an artists’ community. Patty Hutchens, SR, Read more

What do you enjoy most about Sandpoint?

No more Fluoride for you

The Sandpoint City Council has voted to quit adding fluoride to the municipal water system that also serves communities from Kootenai to Dover.

The 4-2 vote last week followed comments by more than a dozen people arguing against fluoridation at the meeting. Some who spoke out against fluoridation said they were being medicated against their will, the Bonner Daily Bee reported.

Fluoridation: yay or nay?

Sandpoint drops water fluoridation

Here’s a news item from The Associated Press:  SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — The Sandpoint City Council has voted to quit adding fluoride to the municipal water system that also serves communities from Kootenai to Dover. The 4-2 vote last week followed comments by more than a dozen people arguing against fluoridation at the meeting. Some who spoke out against fluoridation said they were being medicated against their will, the Bonner Daily Bee reported. Fluoride is added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay.

Allred: I Can Out-Cowboy ‘Dandy’ Otter

Arpie: He moved effortlessly to a beautiful and smooth closing, saying that he knows it’s not important to the state but he’s sure he can out cowboy Otter. He said that Otter was what his grandparents would call a “Dandy” who bought a ranch after he got rich. He talked about the number of times Otter has fallen of his horse recently and been injured. Then he went on to tell a story about when he was sixteen saving a calf being born by pulling a heifer giving birth out of a canal by himself with two ropes and a good horse and thus saving the ranch. It was corny as hell, but a great Idaho story. Keith convinced me he’s the real deal, read to listen to all and figure out what’s best for the future of the state. I hope people pay attention to this race and give him a good shake. (See: 10:38 p.m. entry by Arpie for full post here.)

Question: Does it matter to you which gubernatorial candidate is the best cowboy?

New York Beats Sandpoint For Biking?

New York has planned for cyclists and pedestrians. Although many of the paths and lanes for cyclists were added within the past couple of decades, New York has never assumed that driving a car will be the primary mode of transportation for most people. Streets, houses, and neighborhoods were not planned with cars and parking in mind. Driving (not to mention parking) is a bother there relative to the ease with which one may travel in the subway, on busses, on foot, or on a bike. In Sandpoint, by contrast, it takes significant effort to backfill bicycle and pedestrian routes into a street grid and neighborhoods that are focused primarily if not exclusively on cars. It’s assumed one must take a car most places, because there is no subway or bus, and most people aren’t willing to take the time to walk or bike/Cate Huisman, New West. More here. (Associated Press file photo, of bikers in New York City)

Question: Would you rather bike in your community than New York City?

Trish (Hearts) Sandpoint’s Roundabout

My friend Ward, whose house fronts on Sandpoint’s new traffic circle, would disagree with my support (for the new roundabout at Boyer and Larch). He’s been quite fond of saying he’s willing to sell tickets for seats on his lawn to watch what a disaster this will be. And I can’t blame him for being less than positive about it. No one likes to be a guinea pig, and given the high truck traffic at the intersection of Larch and Boyer, this might not be the location I would have selected for our first traffic circle. (Division and Pine, that’s where we need one! Just sayin’, Kody)/Trish Gannon, Politically Incorrect, River Journal. More here. (Idaho Conservation League photo)

Question: Who do you think has the right-of-way in a roundabout?

Sandpoint Cuts Back On Fireworks Show

Organizers of a Fourth of July fireworks show in this northern Idaho lakeside town say the economic downturn will force them to scale back on the 30-minute spectacle of lights. John Hunt of the Sandpoint Lions Club says the fireworks show can cost up to $35,000, which is a price tag that major sponsors of the event in the past can no longer afford. This years fireworks display in Sandpoint will likely be shortened to about seven to 10 minutes/Bonner County Bee. More here.

Question: Is it important to you that community’s that traditionally offer a fireworks show continue to do so during these hard economic times?

Sandpoint Roundabout Being Built

Concrete workers finish the sidewalks at the corner of Larch Street and Boyer Avenue in Sandpoint in preparation for the opening of the roundabout at the intersection scheduled for next week/Ralph Bartholdt, Skookum Photography, via Facebook.

DFO: I was a vocal critic of roundabouts, when they first cropped up in Coeur d’Alene, by the Nazarene Church on 4th and by Skyway Elementary, in Coeur d’Alene Place. Later, I changed my mind. They seem to be a quick, safe way to get through congested intersections that don’t warrant a four-way stop or traffic lights.

Question: What do you think of roundabouts?

Sandpoint Restaurants Fit Every Taste

At Stella Mannino blog, poster EuroJoshCoxRun published the following re: Sandpoint restaurants: “Sandpoint restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, with almost every cuisine style and ethnicity imaginable. From sushi to creole to Thai to Italian, with a healthy dose of good old fashioned American food thrown in the mix, Sandpoint’s restaurants will fulfill your every culinary desire. With price points from cheap to uber-spendy, Sandpoint restaurants cover every wallet size as well as appetite.” You can read the rest of the comment here.

Question: We don’t talk much about Sandpoint eateries. So this comment provided via Google offers just that opportunity. Which Sandpoint eatery would you recommend to friend w/an average budget?