October in review: Business, crime and politics

by RACHEL SUN
Staff Writer | January 12, 2021 1:00 AM

On Oct. 1, the Bee covered a drive-thru flu shot clinic held by the Panhandle Health District. The flu shot is always important, said PHD nurse Gretchen Fisher, but it was especially valuable in 2020 when it would be possible for someone to contract the flu and COVID-19, creating a greater combined risk of health complications or death.

Oct. 2, an article covered the Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School’s boosterthon Fun Run, which raised $20,647 for the school. The Bee also reported that a health advisory had been issued for Round Lake, where tests had confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria.

On the third, a story covered teachers at Sandpoint High School receiving suicide prevention training.

The issue is one that hit close to home for many teachers at the high school, said Erika Heynes, a teacher at the high school. Everybody in the room she was training in that day had a student who had died by suicide, she said.

Most of the school’s suicide prevention is focused on a program called Sources of Strength, the article reported — a method to reduce risks by improving support structures with friends, families and mentors, and caring for both physical and mental health.

On the fourth, the Bee featured Jeff Rich, a local man who spent hours each day picking fruits from local landowners' trees (with permission) to share with his community.

“Just this week I came home to a bag of Italian plums on my porch with no note. I know they were from him, however. Because that’s Jeff, always serving others. And he’s always looking out for the Earth, and sustaining the Earth,” said Jane Fritz, who describes Rich as her oldest friend of 41 years in Sandpoint.

Another article that day featured the retiring swim coach Mike Brosnahan, who taught people how to swim for 32 years.

On the sixth, an article reported that Camille Neuder had been named Sandpoint’s Distinguished Young Woman for 2021.

According to the article, “Neuder was one of 35 high school senior girls from Idaho who competed to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Idaho for 2021. Participants were evaluated in the categories of Scholastics (25%), Interview (25%), Talent (20%), Fitness (15%) and Self-Expression (15%).”

Another article that day reported on then-U.S. States Senate candidate Paulette Jordan’s visit to Sandpoint.

On Oct. 7, the Bee featured the retiring Laura Ahlers, a local woman who worked at the Upland waste transfer station for six years, and worked the Lake Pend Oreille School District for years before that.

Ahlers, who was described by customers at the station as “caring,” “generous” and “always smiling,” insisted that her customers (and the pets that sometimes rode along) were the ones who are special.

“They make my life better,” she said. “The people first, then the dogs.”

On the eighth, an article reported that an investigation of remains found in Pend Oreille County were identified as those of 19-year-old Jason Michael Fox, and the death was ruled a homicide.

A decision by the Sandpoint Planning and Zoning commission to deny the approval of a subdivision in University Park, which has since been approved. Commissioners at the time noted concerns over the subdivision plan’s deviation from the 2009 comprehensive plan, double frontage lots and block length.

An article on the ninth covered Kaniksu Land Trust’s partnership with local schools to provide outdoor learning spaces for students in addition to the regular visits to the Pine Street Woods led by KLT volunteers.

Another article reported on Rep. Heather Scott, R-Idaho, who held a town hall calling Gov. Brad Little amongst others, a “tyrant” because of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

An article on the tenth delved into the early history of Sandpoint, and sex workers of the late 1800s who consulted men on issues such as impotency and venereal diseases.

The article also noted some of the historic items found in Sand Creek including douching devices, which were used as a form of birth control when other kinds were illegal, and other artifacts such as wedding bands and custom jewelry.

On Oct. 11, an article featured the Sandpoint High School “trusted adult tree” mural, made out of paper “leaves” with the names students had written of trusted adults they could reach out to as part of the Sources of Strength program.

The program promotes eight “sources of strength,” which include physical health, mental health, family support, positive friends, spirituality, generosity, healthy activities and mentors.

The thirteenth featured a story on Camille Neuder, the 2021 Sandpoint Distinguished Young Woman who had recently been announced as the Idaho DYW.

Neuder had joined the program mainly to have fun after hearing stories from her mother about when she participated, Neuder said.

“When they announced me as a finalist, it was really a moment of pure joy because I didn’t have any expectations for it so I was really able to just enjoy the experience for all that it was and anything,” she said.

Another article that day also featured Panhandle Animal Shelter’s “Furry Scurry” fundraiser, which the shelter held virtually to raise money for its services.

On the fourteenth, the Bee featured a new local business, “Chili D’s.” Gary Jackson, the Owner of Chili D’s, said he created the chili stand to do something for himself, and because chili is his favorite food.

On Oct. 15, the Bee reported on the then-upcoming fundraiser for late Ponderay Police Sgt. Mike Victorino, who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident.

On the sixteenth, the Bee reported that former Boundary County resident, Eric Mark-Matthews, was connected to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Federal agents attempted to serve Mark-Matthews an arrest warrant for federal weapons charges and were met with gunfire, according to the report.

An article on the seventeenth covered a fire that destroyed Oldtown’s Club Rio, whose source was under investigation, and another covered harmful algae blooms found in the Panhandle.

On the eighteenth, the Be featured Sandpoint writer Pam Webb, and her children’s book, “Someday We Will,” which tells the story of grandparents and grandchildren separated by distance and looking forward to the day they can be in each others’ company again.

The book came out at a fortuitous time considering the novel coronavirus, but it wasn’t planned that way, Webb said.

“I signed the contract two years ago, when everything was hunky-dory and normal,” she said.

On Oct. 20, the Bee covered the fundraising event for the late Sgt. Mike Victorino, which drew hundreds of guests.

“I didn’t even know what to expect, but I was thankful for everyone that was there,” said Ponderay Deputy City Clerk Kayleigh Miller.

On the twenty-first, an article featured an art installation on the side of the granary building in Sandpoint. The art, titled the “Inside Out Project,” was created using photos of local people, including several younger participants, in a call for inclusivity and tolerance.

On the twenty-second, an article covered Bonner County’s appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court in hopes of overturning a ruling in the county’s suit against the City of Sandpoint for allowing the Festival of Sandpoint to require a firearms ban.

On the twenty-third, an article covered the problem of rising housing costs in Bonner County. Sales increased dramatically in the past several months, the article reported, and few homes were left for sale under $400,000.

“We’ve seen people bid tens of thousands to escalate closing dates,” said Stephanie Reif, a local real estate official.

On Oct. 24, the Bee reported that early voting was underway in Bonner County, and that county commissioners were seeking a partial summary judgment in a lawsuit against Gov. Brad Little over the dispersion of CARES Act funds.

On the twenty-fifth, the Bee featured a story on the local emergency shelter and group home for children, Kinderhaven, and continued controversy over the Colburn SpaceX Services gateway.

On Oct. 26, the Bee reported that Gov. Brad Little had moved the state back to stage 3 of the modified Idaho Rebound Plan.

The Bee also reported that officials were expecting to have Bonner County ballots completely counted by midnight on election night.

On the twenty-eighth, an article in the Bee featured Mona Fancher, an Idaho Liquor Store employee who was retiring after 25 years of work. In that article, Fancher talked about her love for her hometown, and how she would miss her customers.

“I have to be here. I hit the end of that Long Bridge, and anytime I go anywhere for more than a day or two — I tear up,” she said. “This is my home. And I love it.”

On Oct. 29, the Bee featured DeliverEats, a new locally-based food delivery app working with area restaurants.

The man who launched the app, Sandpoint native Ben Murray, said he got the idea in the summer when he and his family wanted to support local businesses, but also avoid catching or spreading COVID-19.

“People still want to eat out,” he said.

On the thirtieth, the Bee covered Sen. Jim Risch’s visit to Sandpoint, where the senator discussed issues including COVID-19, his upcoming election and legislative priorities.

Another story that day covered a fire that claimed a Cocollala residence, and another noted that a charge of sexual exploitation of a child had been added to the criminal case against a Sagle man charged with rape.

On the thirty-first, the Bee reported that Coats 4 Kids had raised $3,500 to purchase coats for Bonner County children, and that the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles was offering extensions on expired vehicle registrations and licenses due to a hardware modernization project and COVID-19 limitations creating excessively long lines.