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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: With rodeo injury, first lady gains on Otter

BOISE – Idaho first lady Lori Otter dislocated her shoulder in a calf-roping accident and is facing surgery, Gov. Butch Otter revealed last week.

“For those of you … who asked about Miss Lori, the first lady and I had intention to go out and rope cattle once in a while,” Otter told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce at the opening of his annual Address to the Business Community.

“And we were at a rodeo over in Baker, Ore., actually it was a little town called Haines, Ore. … The first lady did dislocate her shoulder. Fortunately, we made it to St. Al’s (hospital) in Baker.”

Otter said, “I could not believe how that doctor put her shoulder back in. He put his foot on her armpit, and jerked on that arm. … I couldn’t get away with that.”

Mrs. Otter is recovering, the governor said. “She is going to have to go in and have the shoulder repaired. But she’d been concerned about all my operations, because I got a new left ankle, new right knee, new right hip, both shoulders, and I had some work done on one of my eyes. … I told her even though she’s 23 years younger, I said, you know, one more operation, Lori, and I’m going to be younger than you, with all these new parts.”

As the crowd of more than 600 roared with laughter, Otter quipped, “So I think she’s trying to catch up.”

Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, said the accident occurred in mid-August, on the couple’s anniversary, when the first lady was roping and had just caught the calf over its head with her rope.

Donation funds Capitol ribbons

The faded, ratty-looking yellow ribbons that have festooned the front columns of the Idaho state Capitol for several years were replaced this past week with bright new ones, thanks to Support Our Troops, a Florida-based organization that established a Boise office in March. The state hadn’t replaced the old ribbons since November 2010.

When the organization’s chairman, Martin Boire, arrived in Boise, “He looked at the Capitol and said, ‘Why haven’t they done something?’ ” said Roy Eiguren, Idaho coordinator for the group. “The state didn’t have the money. So Support Our Troops paid. It was only about $1,000.”

The ribbons have hung on the front of the Capitol since then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne had them installed during the Iraq War, in which large numbers of Idaho soldiers were deployed. The state has replaced the ribbons periodically.

Eiguren said, “The ribbons are a way to show our troops that we miss them and pray for their return soon, so it’s appropriate to keep the ribbons vibrant.”

‘Ghastly’ damage to Oregon Trail

Treasure hunters likely using metal detectors have dug hundreds of holes in the historic wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail near the Snake River in Idaho, causing what U.S. Bureau of Land Management archaeologist Suzann Henrikson calls “ghastly” damage, according to a report from Boise State Public Radio, which reported that Henrikson discovered the damage while taking a Boy Scout leader and a local historian to see the historic trail.

The treasure hunters may have been inspired by a Spike TV reality show featuring people who go out with metal detectors, find and dig up historic artifacts and sell them. The show, originally called “American Digger,” now “Savage Family Diggers,” features a former pro wrestler and lots of explosions. Another less-intense reality show on the National Geographic Channel called “Diggers” also features “hobbyist metal detectorists” who look for “lost relics of history,” though it specifies that they’re invited by landowners, archaeologists or historians on their digs.

The Idaho diggers likely violated the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act, a felony; the 1979 law declares that “archaeological resources on public lands … are an accessible and irreplaceable part of the Nation’s heritage.”

‘Idaho Reports’ getting new hosts

Melissa Davlin, former Statehouse reporter for the Twin Falls Times-News, and Aaron Kunz, a producer for EarthFix, a public media project that includes Idaho Public TV, Oregon Public Broadcasting and KCTS Seattle, have been named co-hosts of “Idaho Reports,” the long-running public television program on Idaho Public TV that covers the Idaho Legislature.

They replace former host Greg Hahn, who took a position as a vice president at Boise State University.

“I’m excited about the strengths of our young co-hosts,” said Bruce Reichert, Idaho Public Television’s executive producer. “They understand the value of this venerable show to Idahoans and are committed to making ‘Idaho Reports’ informative, insightful, and even fun to watch.”

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached at (208) 336-2854 or betsyr@ Follow her blog, Eye on Boise, at

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