Friday, September 12, 2014

OCS blessed with good news and a new name: Freedom Place Drop-In Center

By Elizabeth Morgan

The facility formerly known as the Orofino Clean and Sober (OCS) Drop-In Center received a generous amount of tender loving care Sept. 6, as a group of 15 volunteers from both New Bridges Community Church and OCS spent the day organizing, cleaning and painting.

For the past few years, Orofino Clean and Sober Drop-In Center on Johnson Ave. has struggled to provide the community with a safe and alcohol free environment to “hang out.” They opened their doors to those in recovery so they might have a place to meet, play pool, socialize and put their lives back together.

As time went on, the cost to rent, heat, and maintain the facility became more and more difficult. In the attempt to keep the facility open, numerous fundraisers were held and the public was invited to hold other activities in the building for a small fee.

Still, the non-profit organization was in jeopardy of closing as the economy and limited funds were falling short of making ends meet. If the center was to remain open something short of a miracle would need to take place.

And it did.

The owners of the building, John and Judy Gilliam, reached out to Pastor Matt Potratz of New Bridges Community Church. They had heard that the church had been reaching out in various ways to help the community and asked if a meeting could be arranged between the Board of Directors for OCS and the church to see if there might be a way to keep the facility open.

Over the course of a few meetings and working together, a new plan evolved. It seems that more than a few prayers have been answered.

New Bridges Community Church will rent the building to use for various community events. OCS will be allowed to continue to meet there and use the facility as needed, free of charge. The public and those in recovery will still have an alcohol and drug free environment to convene. The facility will receive a little more attention, as a fresh coat of paint and a fresh start for all will hopefully encourage more activity and participation from the community.

The name will change from Orofino Clean and Sober Drop-In Center to Freedom Place Drop-In Center. Throughout the transition, the doors will remain open and the hours will stay pretty much the same as they are now.

The center is open to the public; anyone is welcome to “Drop-In” and hang out. Food and beverages are available to purchase daily, at very affordable prices. The center will also be available to rent for birthday or retirement parties, wedding receptions, etc., for a nominal fee.

“Have you ever wondered why that often the only place to hear live music or sing karaoke is in a bar?” asked Potratz. “We’re not there to preach or push a religious agenda,” he explained. “At times there may be bands playing Christian music, but other forms of music and entertainment will be offered as well. We’ll be there to love people and encourage them. After all, isn’t that what Jesus would do?”

Additional help is always encouraged and much needed. Anyone interested in volunteering with cleanup, restoration, and/or as daily help running the center would be performing a great service to our community. For questions, or more information, please contact Matt Potratz at (208) 791-7230, or by email at: Mattp@newbridgeschurch .com

Matt Potratz, Pastor for New Bridges Community Church in Orofino, helps to paint the interior of the building for Freedom Place Drop-In Center. As lunchtime approached, he was seen slaving over the grill out back, assuring his hardworking crew a tasty lunch, while others brought side dishes to accompany the meal.

Ryan Glaze set to work with the pressure washer, as both the front and back of the building formerly known as Orofino Clean and Sober Drop-In Center, received a good cleaning. While Glaze worked outside, others were busy inside, cleaning and painting.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dworshak announces seasonal recreation changes

With summer recreation season coming to a close, Dworshak Dam and Reservoir’s Visitor Center hours of operation, boat ramp availability and camping reservation procedures have changed.

The visitor center will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. starting Sept. 2, and will be closed on federal holidays. Visitor tours are not offered during the Fall-Winter recreation season.

All campgrounds at Dworshak are open. Dent Acres offers 50 campsites with electric, water and sewer hookups, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Dent Acres campsites cost $10 per day, with self-deposit registration; Golden Age Senior or America the Beautiful Senior pass-holders receive a 50-percent discount.

All camping fees are waived for armed forces service members on mid- or post-deployment leave. Please present approved leave documents to a Corps park ranger or volunteer park attendant.

Looking ahead to next year’s Spring-Summer recreation season, remember that reservations for Dent Acres camping can be made up to six months in advance, and the group shelter can be reserved up to a year in advance. To make reservations, call 877-444-6777 or go online to

All other camping areas, including minicamps, are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Dworshak staff remind visitors that the reservoir is dropping about one foot per day, as reservoir outflows are used to help keep downstream rivers cool for migrating salmon and steelhead.

Remember when using mini-camps to leave extra line when tying off your vessel. The following boat ramps are open for use; Big Eddy, Bruce’s Eddy 1, Granddad, Dent Acres Park, Freeman Creek (Dworshak State Park). Please, check water level and current boat ramp information, by call 800-321-3198 or go online to

As always, safety is the Corps’ greatest concern—safety is everyone’s responsibility! Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind while having fun at Dworshak:

Changing weather conditions can create unsafe situations on open water. Know the weather and have a float plan.

Keep life jackets on children while on or around the water, and don’t let small children out of your sight.

Fire danger is present, so be careful with your campfire, and extinguish smoking materials.

Check the serviceability of your boat, and avoid drinking alcohol while boating.

Ensure proper fitting, accessible, and serviceable life vests are available for each occupant on your boat. Better yet, wear them!

Familiarize yourself with the area in which you will be boating before traveling at high speeds. There may be rocks, stumps, or shallow areas not visible from the surface.

For more information regarding facilities access and current conditions, call 208-476-1255 during business hours.

Fair exhibitors, are you ready?

By Diana Colgan

The 67th annual Clearwater County Fair and Orofino Lumberjack Days will be held Sept. 11-14, which is only a week away. The big weekend event takes place in Orofino City Park, with exhibits, activities, and events that are interesting, fun and exciting. The theme for the activity-filled weekend is “Rooted in Tree-dition.”

Fair books have been distributed throughout Clearwater County and Peck and are available at the Clearwater County Extension Office and area businesses. Residents of Clearwater County and Peck are encouraged to enter exhibits on Thursday, Sept. 11, for the judging and awarding of ribbons which takes place on Friday, Sept. 12.

The Exhibit Building will be filled with interesting booths decorated by businesses, organizations, schools, government agencies, and others with special interests and hobbies, plus the interesting exhibits that have been entered for judging by the creative and talented residents of our area.

The Fair Barn will be filled with 4-H and Open Class livestock entries, including chickens and rabbits. Horses that have competed in the 4-H and Open Class horse shows will also be on display. 4-H members will be busy with the livestock projects they have raised and trained for the fitting and showing and judging contests.

Did you paint a picture, make a quilt, sew a shirt, crochet a doily, knit a sweater, embroider or cross-stitch a picture, weave a mat, build a Legos castle, take an interesting photo, grow some tomatoes, bake some cookies, can some fruit, raise some chickens, or find some beautiful flowers in your yard that you would like to enter in the fair?

These are but a few of the items that can be entered for judging and will be enjoyed by the many people who visit the Fair. It’s a time to be proud of what you can do and what you have done.

Information for entering exhibits for judging and listings of scheduled weekend events in both the Exhibit Building and Fair Barn can be found in the Fair Book.

Plan to spend several fun filled days at the Clearwater County Fair. Enter your favorite projects. And, don’t forget to bring a friend!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reflections from My Trail

By Charlie Pottenger

A Good Man From Weippe Helped Charlie!

Sometimes my reflections don’t stretch back too far. This one happened on Aug. 22, 2014.

Last year in July I lost my longtime canine companion, a Dachshund named Beau, when I failed to restrain him as he opened the truck window and slipped into Heaven. To this day I can’t stop counting the number of trips I made past the spot where I lost Beau. Yesterday marked trip number 307!

I had mourned the loss for a few months when my Son and Daughter-in Law presented me with a nine month old Dachshund puppy, Jerry, last November. To even imply that Jerry has taken Beau’s place would be a Presidential quality lie, but Jerry has opened a whole new chapter of an on-going canine love story.

Jerry was basically a “diamond in the rough” with no trained skills and a heart winning way of taking a piece of my soul even when he has committed grievous and unpardonable sins. After ten months in my care it is safe to say that if he arrived as a dog with obedience problems and tons of charm, he remains as he arrived. Safe to say, that I am failing as a trainer, in all categories, with Jerry.

One of his greatest failings, or perhaps my greatest failing, is that Jerry is faster than a bolt of lightning and can bolt through the smallest door crack when the objective was to keep him in or out. This includes problems when I enter or exit the car.

Last Friday, Aug. 22, I stopped for fuel at the Nez Perce Express. I now travel mostly in an older Subaru with a gas door lock. I carefully caught Jerry, held him until I was out, then went to the pump, ran my credit card and then discovered I hadn’t pulled the fuel door unlock lever. I, wallet in hand, opened the door and pulled the lever and the chocolate brown blur that was Jerry streaked out the door!

I put my wallet on the roof and proceeded to catch Jerry before he was run over by cars and trucks as they moved about the busy place. With Jerry safely back in the car, I finished fueling and drove off to Orofino.

About thirty minutes after arriving in Orofino I received a call from the Clearwater Tribune office advising that a man from Weippe, who hadn’t left his name, had dropped off my wallet because it had my Clearwater Tribune Reporter/Photographer business card. He had found it on Highway 12 and it still contained all of my important cards except one. My insurance cards, Drivers license, Pilots License, Costco Card and Hunting/Fishing licenses were all there. The missing card was my credit card which I rapidly cancelled.

In spite of my Jerry, I will get a new credit card and I will always remember a man from Pierce that took the time to help me after I had made a mistake. I would like to meet him anytime and thank him personally and would recommend his friendship to all who are lucky enough to be close to him. Thank you!

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests welcome Labor Day visitors

Despite the recent rash of wildfires, Labor Day visitors to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests can still find plenty of safe, smoke-free places to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities.

Fire danger is still very high, and there are a few road and trail closures due to active wildfires. Other roads may be closed because of ongoing construction.

For current fire information and a list of closures please visit the Forests’ website,, or log on to

You’re also invited to call your local Forest Service office for updates on road, trail and campground conditions.

All offices will close Sept. 1 in observance of Labor Day. Offices will resume normal business hours on Sept. 2.

There are currently no campfire restrictions on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests; however, due to tinder-dry brush and timber and the potential for a fast-moving blaze, forest users are urged to use common sense and extreme care when building campfires. Never, ever leave a campfire unattended!

Highway 14 / South Fork Clearwater River Corridor

Visitors to the Red River Ranger District are reminded that there is a detour at the junction of Highway 14 and Red River Road (#222) for a culvert installation. A one-lane bridge is in place to allow all traffic around the construction.

All campgrounds are open and available for use, with Red River Campground being the only one with potable water and the only fee campground ($6/night) on the district.

Water at Granite Springs Campground should be boiled before drinking. Potable water is also available at the Red River Administrative Site at the junction of Roads 222 and 234.

Officials are assessing the current fire situation which has resulted in an area closure of much of the district south of the Magruder Road Corridor (Forest Road 468) in the hope of revoking the closure order before Labor Day.

A copy of the rescission of that closure will be posted at when it is signed, or call the Red River Ranger Station at 208-842-2245 for the latest information.

Selway River Corridor

The Selway River Road is open. Johnson Bar and O’Hara Bar Campgrounds on the Moose Creek Ranger District remain closed due to the Johnson Bar Fire. Campgrounds up river from O’Hara Campground are open. Roads 651 and 470 remain closed. Falls Point Road 443 and Indian Hill Road 290 remain closed to vehicles over 50 inches.

Highway 95/Salmon River Corridor

The South Fork/ Castle Creek Campground on the South Fork of the Clearwater River has potable water, dumpsters and a camp host. Fish Creek Campground located seven miles south of Grangeville has potable water and a camp host. Spring Bar Campground located on the Main Salmon River has potable water and dumpsters.

Palouse Corridor

The Elk Creek Campground, located one mile east of Elk River, includes sites that have electrical hookups. Laird Park Campground and Little Boulder Campground offer both campsites and group picnic areas (call the ranger station to reserve the group picnic sites).

There are also campsites at Giant White Pine Campground north of Harvard. Giant White Pine Campground will close for the season on Sept. 8; Laird Park will close a few days later, on Sept. 22. Little Boulder and Elk Creek campgrounds will stay open through Oct. 31.

Due to winter shutdown, no water will be available as of Sept. 30. Bald Mountain Lookout will close Sept. 28.

North Fork Clearwater River Corridor

On the North Fork Ranger District, the Aquarius, Washington Creek, Noe Creek, Kelly Forks and Hidden Creek Campgrounds are open. There is no garbage collection at these sites, so please remember to pack-it-in/pack-it-out.

All North Fork campgrounds are scheduled to remain open through Oct. 31 and fees will be charged until the campgrounds close for the winter. Effective Sept. 16, potable water will no longer be available at Aquarius Campground.

The water at Washington Creek, Hidden Creek, Kelly Forks and Noe Creek Campgrounds will be turned off on Sept. 29. Due to ongoing logging activity, Mush Saddle Road 711 and Cool Creek Road 5295 will remain closed through Labor Day.

Highway 12 Corridor

Apgar, Wendover and Whitehouse Campgrounds are open, but all three campgrounds are slated to close Sept. 3. At the popular Wilderness Gateway Campground, Camp Loops A and D will close Sept. 3, and Loops B and C will be up and running until Nov. 3. Powell Campground will also close Nov. 3. Wild Goose Campground is currently closed due to fire activity in the area.

The Elk Summit Campground and White Sands Campground will remain open as long as weather permits. Water service to campgrounds along the Highway 12 Corridor will shut down at different intervals right after Labor Day. If camping after Labor Day, please be prepared to camp without water.

The Lochsa Historical Ranger Station (49 miles east of Kooskia) will close on September 9. Visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The Lolo Pass Visitor Center near the Idaho-Montana state is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (PST) daily through Aug. 31. Beginning Sept. 1, the Visitor Center will be closed on Tuesdays.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Craig Mountain wildlife management area open for business again after wildfire

A firefighter works near the riverbank during the Big Cougar Fire outside of Lewiston.  

Over the last few weeks, Craig Mountain enthusiasts have experienced road closures on the main Zaza road due to the 67,200 acre Big Cougar Fire outside of Lewiston. Access and roadways on Craig Mountain re-opened to pre-fire status Aug. 23.

Idaho Fish and Game and firefighter staff will be traveling around the Wildlife Management Area to address issues associated with the fire, so please drive carefully.

In addition, there are many potential hazards associated with post-wildfire areas such as the following:

Trees and snags. Burned or compromised trees have a high potential of falling, but unburned trees may be more susceptible to falling if they’ve lost the shelter and support from neighboring trees. Be very cautious during windy conditions.

Rocks. The dislodging and falling of rocks is another significant risk, especially in steep sloped areas such as the breaks and grasslands of Craig Mountain.

Unstable ground. Soils will be more unstable after a wildfire when they’ve lost the stability from plants and trees. This may result in less stable hiking conditions or even may lead to landslides, especially during or after a heavy rain event.

Rock wells. After a wildfire has burned through a forested or shrubby area, sometimes the root system of shrubs and trees are also burned out leaving a void that may still be covered by ash and debris.

All the county, state, and federal agencies sincerely appreciate your patience through this fire and the associated closure period.

Contact the regional office (208) 799-5010 or visit us on Facebook at Idaho Fish and Game Clearwater Region for a more information concerning the Big Cougar Fire.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vehicle accident en route to IDFG Salmon Camp

Idaho Fish and Game volunteer instructor Tim Cochnauer and two students, a 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy, both of Lewiston, were injured after the 2010 Toyota Tundra they were riding in left the roadway on Highway 14 the afternoon of Aug. 12, along the South Fork Clearwater River. 
“Tim and his crew were part of the larger class of students who had travelled ahead. Tim was busy answering questions and pointing out all of the wonderful features of the South Fork when he veered too far to the left,” said IDFG in a statement about the crash.

The pickup traveled approximately 15 feet up a steep embankment until it struck a rocky outcropping, causing the vehicle to roll, coming to rest on its passenger side.

“His (Tim’s) quick thinking to take on the rocky bank on the left versus over-correcting may very well have kept the truck out of the river,” said IDFG in their statement. “Both of Tim’s young passengers were heroes, themselves as they helped Tim out of the truck.”

All occupants were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Both teenage boys and Cochnauer were taken to Syringa Hospital in Grangeville. The teenage boys were released with minor injuries.

Cochnauer suffered more significant injuries, including a fracture of his hand and a compression fracture of a vertebrae, but was also released from the hospital Tuesday evening.

Cochnauer, a retired Fish and Game Clearwater Regional Fish Manager, was a volunteer instructor for Fish and Game’s Clearwater Youth Salmon Camp. He was traveling to the department’s Red River Wildlife Management Area near Elk City.

An overnight session was scheduled on Tuesday night at Fish and Game’s Ponderosa Ranch facility located on Red River.

Contact the Idaho Fish and Game regional office at (208) 799-5010 for more information.