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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hayden is an odd choice for list of Idaho’s worst cities

Folks gather in the shade on Honeysuckle Beach in Hayden. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By D.F. Oliveria The Spokesman-Review

Nine of the 10 cities listed in RoadSnacks’ “10 Worst Places to Live in Idaho for 2019” make sense. They’re in southern Idaho, starting with a top five of Weiser, Emmett, Caldwell, Nampa and Jerome.

But the No. 8 city on the list doesn’t: Hayden.

The city of Hayden – not to be confused with the city of Hayden Lake, its upper-crust neighbor – is booming. New business buildings line Hayden’s portion of Government Way and east-west arterials such as Honeysuckle, Prairie and Hayden avenues. Residents are pouring in.

Yet, RoadSnacks, of Raleigh, North Carolina, advanced Hayden from 15th-worst Gem State city in 2018 to eighth worst this year. The website uses data from the Census, FBI, OpenStreetMaps and elsewhere to rank U.S. cities, counties and states for various lists.

Mayor Steve Griffitts said RoadSnacks misfired by setting his town’s jobless rate at 5%. In doing so, the site included county residents who share the 83835 ZIP. Hayden’s actual rate is 3.8%.

But Griffitts understands why RoadSnacks ranks Hayden as the eighth-most dangerous town, based on FBI stats. Hayden is the only Idaho city with more than 10,000 residents (population 14,096) that doesn’t have a police force. The local sheriff provides protection. The growing town, according to a recent task force, needs at least four more deputies for 24-hour coverage.

He considers that fact to be a dark lining in the silver cloud that is his emerging town.

“Based on our commercial and residential growth over the last three years, it seems that more companies and families are choosing Hayden than ever before,” he told Huckleberries.

Perhaps in 2020, the RoadSnackers should dip their toes in viewtiful Hayden Lake, off Hayden’s Honeysuckle Beach, before conjuring their next list of “Worst Cities.”

Nothing to hide

This item is a bit late, but Mike and Connie Anderson of Coeur d’Alene are still processing her close encounter with a running woman after they deplaned at the Spokane airport Easter Sunday. The Andersons were en route to pick up their luggage when they noticed the woman, with three cops in pursuit. Connie describes her as 20ish, “fairly attractive,” with shoulder-length brown hair. Said Connie: “She had a determined look on her face as she high-tailed it through security.” But it was evident that she didn’t have photo ID. Or anything else. The woman, Connie said, was naked. Mebbe, Connie deadpanned, “she just hates having to put half her clothes and belongings into those (blasted) bins.”


Poet’s Corner: Land of the brave/ and home of the free/ take off your shoes/ and show your ID – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“At the Airport”) … Bumpersnicker (on a gray Buick with Washington plates at H95 and Hayden Avenue on Memorial Day): “It used to be ‘Of the people and for the people, now it’s screw the people.’ ” All that was missing was a snaky “don’t tread on me” decal … Sign of the Times (on the Zip’s readerboard in Hayden): “We like big buns, and we cannot tell a lie.” (Too many burgers will get you those big buns) … In three CdA stores recently, Shelly Robins Zollman of Coeur d’Alene has heard the hired hands loudly trashing their employer within ear shot of customers, including once at Target. Recommends she: “Customers don’t want to hear that. It reflects poorly on you and your employer.” Bingo … Here’s another cautionary tale about identity fraud, courtesy of the Kellogg PD. “Dave Smith Motors reported that a person with a stolen ID was able to buy a Dodge Challenger and have it delivered to North Carolina.” Be careful out there.

Parting Shot

Christa Hazel of Coeur d’Alene was faced with the unthinkable at the family cabin on Hayden Lake recently – no cable or satellite TV. Just four local stations on “rabbit ears television.” She and her family saw a steady diet of “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” “Star Trek,” “Hill Street Blues” and “Bonanza.” What’s on was on, she said. She couldn’t record, stop, pause or rewind the programs. And yet she found the lack of choice refreshing. In other words, Christa is telling us, there’s life after the Shopping Channel and infomercials.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at