Local veteran subject of NBC documentary
Fri., Feb. 24, 2006
North Idaho veteran Vernon Baker is the subject of a documentary to air Sunday on NBC before the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
Baker is one of six black World War II veterans belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor, and he was the only one alive to accept the prestigious award.
Baker, who lives in St. Maries, also is credited with playing a crucial role in helping capture northern Italy, near where the Olympic Games are wrapping up. He led an all-black infantry platoon against Nazi fortifications in that area in 1945.
The 86-year-old was an orphan and raised by his grandparents in Cheyenne, Wyo. Besides the Medal of Honor, which he received in 1997, more than 50 years after his heroic act, Baker also earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Bantam Books is reissuing Baker’s biography in conjunction with the screening. Former Spokesman-Review reporter Ken Olsen co-wrote “Lasting Valor.”
The documentary will air at 7 p.m. Sunday.
– Rasha Madkour
Resolution supports bird-watching trail
A resolution supporting the creation of an official state bird-watching trail to boost the economy won approval of a House committee Thursday, but not without objection from Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis.
“If you were going to really do anything for local economies, you’d produce something besides just eyeballs and big glasses,” Barrett said. “I’m afraid what it will lead to.”
Barrett said she worries that designating areas as part of a bird-watching trail could lead to restricted access for non-bird-watchers.
Sponsored by avid birder Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, HCR 38 would create an official trail that includes 200 top bird-watching sites around the state to help attract bird-watching tourists.
“Birders are passionate, and they spend money,” Sayler said.
– Meghann M. Cuniff
Leachate didn’t affect storm water pond
Recent tests show no garbage water was found in the storm water pond at the Kootenai County landfill near Fighting Creek after up to 3,000 gallons of leachate leaked Jan. 24.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality required the county to test the storm water pond to see how much, if any, garbage water was present.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary at all,” said Solid Waste Director Roger Saterfiel.
Even though no leachate was found in the storm water pond, Saterfiel said the county will still treat the nearly one million gallon pond as if it contained garbage water. That means they will recirculate it into the garbage piles until it evaporates.
Gary Gaffney of DEQ said that is the best solution because it will alleviate any worries about contamination.
Saterfiel said the leak likely happened when large equipment, used to move garbage, scraped rocks into a clay dam that is used to contain the area. Saterfiel said that the leachate seeped through the rocks and across the plastic-lined landfill into a ditch, which is also lined. The ditch drains into the storm water pond that also has a plastic liner.
Because the substance traveled so far, Saterfiel said, it was unknown how much actually reached the storm water pond. Whatever amount of leachate made it to the pond was diluted enough it didn’t show up on the tests.
– Erica Curless
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