Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Driver's license office closure scheduled; driver’s licenses will change

Idaho driver's licenses and identification (ID) cards will have a new look, state-of-the-art security features, and a new way of being issued beginning this summer.

To prepare for the transition, the county licensing office in Orofino will close Monday, June 20 for staff training, equipment upgrades and installation. Schedules are subject to change. Similar equipment upgrades are happening at all of Idaho's 53 county driver licensing locations between May and July.

The updated system will help protect drivers and ID card holders from identity theft and fraud by incorporating security features that are nearly impossible to counterfeit. The switch also means cards will be issued from a central secure location instead of over-the-counter.

With this new central issuance process, applicants leave the county office with a temporary paper document, valid for 30 days. The new plastic license or ID card is produced at the central production facility and mailed to the customer within about 10 business days. Because it is mailed, it will be critical for applicants to provide a correct address.

The temporary card is issued for driving and identity purposes until the new plastic card arrives in the mail. It includes a photo, the same information that appears on the plastic card (name, address, date of birth, height, weight, etc.), and a machine-readable bar code containing that information.

Current Idaho licenses or ID cards remain valid through their expiration date; however, individuals can opt to renew a license or ID card within one year of the expiration date.

There's no additional cost to the consumer. License and ID card fees remain the same: $30 for as four-year license and $55 for an eight-year license (if it's within a year of expiration); $15 for duplicate licenses; $10 or $20 for ID cards. Individuals with valid licenses or ID cards that are not within the one-year renewal window have the option of surrendering the card and applying for a duplicate card.

All other license and ID card application processes will remain basically unchanged. Fees for all driver’s licenses and ID cards will also remain the same.

The new cards incorporate numerous security features, including micro-printing, ghost images and a laser-perforated pattern that reveals the shape of Idaho when held to the light.  Not all security features are evident, and the enhanced security features make it obvious when a card has been tampered with.

Idaho habitat, research projects funded by RMEF

Controlling noxious weeds, managing overgrown forests and researching wolf predation on elk population dynamics headline a list of 2011 grants for Idaho from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The new RMEF funding totals $72,013 and affects 17 counties: Adams, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Idaho, Jefferson, Lemhi, Teton and Valley counties.

A wolf/elk research project based in Clearwater County has statewide interest.

“This research will help state and tribal biologists better understand and predict the specific impacts of wolves on elk. Those data will provide for better management of both species,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Elsewhere, fire suppression and noxious weed infestations are taking a toll on areas elk use as winter range, summer range, migration corridors and calving grounds. The habitat projects that we’re funding this year will help restore habitat quality, and could add over 25,000 acres to the 377,487 acres that we’ve previously helped to conserve or enhance for wildlife across Idaho.”

Nationally, RMEF hopes to impact about 100,000 acres in 2011 to reach the 6 million-acre lifetime mark in lands conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

Allen thanked RMEF volunteers and fundraiser attendees for building the organizations grant coffers in Idaho, saying, “Because of their amazing passion and generous support, a major conservation milestone is within reach.”

RMEF grants will help fund the following 2011 projects in Clearwater County.

In Clearwater County, RMEF grants will help purchase GPS radio collars to assist with research on wolf predation and elk population dynamics (also affects Boise County). Results will be used to develop models to improve wildlife management statewide.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A lot of history in one picture

By Don Gardner

Saturday, May 21, the Orofino Fire Department held a commemorative dinner to celebrate its 100 birthday. Brought together were past and present Orofino firefighters. Everyone enjoyed a potluck dinner and slide show at Orofino Fire Station #1. Three of the department’s fire chiefs were on hand to help tell stories and share photos.

The first official meeting we have record of for the Orofino Fire Department, was held on Jan. 22, 1911. A committee was appointed by the Chief E.W. Jewell to draft a constitution and by-laws. Only two days later, on Jan. 24, 1911 the constitution and by-laws were voted on and adopted. At that time they didn’t have a lot of equipment so they set out to acquire what they needed including the hose cart (in the picture).

In 1913 they received a donation by the Eureka Fire Hose Company of a 28 inch fire alarm bell, (in the picture). Some fun fact. The first fire bell was a steel triangle. The Departments first recorded fire was at the Clearwater Lime Company. In 1919 the fire department was instrumental in the development of the county fairgrounds and City Park

Over the past 100 years many brave men and women have served Orofino as firefighters. You know them as your neighbors and friends. The Orofino fire department is always looking for volunteers. Today we are at one of our lowest membership levels. This puts a strain on our current firefighters. A fire department has many positions to make it work. It wouldn’t be hard to find something you can do to help.  For more information on volunteering please contact any Orofino firefighter.

Fire Chiefs Mike Lee 1998 – Present, Leonard Eckman 1989-1998, and Elbert Snyder 1965-1978. The handcart is the oldest known piece of Fire Department equipment. The bell was installed in 1913, Engine 55 the newest piece of equipment.  Photo by Don Gardner

Firefighters Jerame Lee and Max Bausch returning the handcart to the museum. Photo by Sage Gardner

Many past and present Orofino Firefighters enjoying the celebration.  Photo by Sage Gardner

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Legislators visit Orofino Chamber

Idaho State Legislators visited with members of the Orofino Chamber of Commerce, giving updates on bills and issues in their areas of concern and expertise. Representatives Ken Roberts (R-8th Dist.), Sheryl Nuxoll (R-8th Dist.), and Paul Shepherd (R-8th Dist.). And County Commissioner Carole Galloway was present also.

Ken Roberts and Paul Shepherd both said this was the most challenging session of Congress they could remember. Approximately one half of legislative time each year is spent defining, administering and revising the rules before actual bills may be addressed. This was Sheryl Nuxoll’s first term in office.

Roberts said there were many tough issues and they went into the session “193 million dollars upside down. At the end of the session,” he said “we had a balanced budget.” He said either the economy would pick up or there would still need to be further corrections next year.

Some specifics they addressed concerned: education budgeting, the ATV bill (Senate Bill #1011), the Tribal Bill (Native American Law Enforcement), the State Land Bond, and State Redistricting,

Representative Nuxoll said that she served on the Health and Welfare, Judicial, and Agricultural Committees. She said she was honored to sponsor the Clearwater County Centennial Bill as well as working on the National Guard Youth Challenge Program which was introduced at the very end of the legislative session.

A question and answer period followed at the end of the meeting.

New members

Roger and Karen Virgin, new owners of The Woodlot Restaurant joined the chamber.

Business after Hours

State Farm Insurance will host a Business after Hours meeting Thursday, June 16 from They will be hosting this function at the Helgeson Hotel at 125 Johnson Ave., Suite 5.

Chamber auction

Tanna Zywina reported that the Chamber Auction did very well. Thank you to all who helped and all who donated towards this auction. It is not too early to be thinking of a theme for next year’s auction.

The first annual LoggerXross dirt bike race was held Saturday May 14, in Orofino City Park and had a successful turnout. The chamber-sponsored beer garden had a different location this year and did well thanks to the volunteers who helped run it. The gate was organized and overall planning went well. They hope to have more people participate next year.

Run like a Maniac

The posters are out for the Run like a Maniac fun run to  be held at Dworshak Dam June 11. The cost is $20 for adults and $15 for youth (which includes a tee-shirt). It is an additional $10 if one registers on race day.

To register, contestants need to furnish an ID. Children will go under their parents’ ID. The event needs volunteers. See Stephanie Deyo or Tanna Zywina if you wish to assist in this fun event.

Loren Whitten-Kaboth of Clearwater County Economic Development reported the next steps for Deyo Reservoir are to Remove the existing power poles as the lines will go underground. A well also needs to be drilled; and timber and brush need to be removed.

Loren also reported on the Pierce/Weippe Chamber meeting in which 100-125 people turned out to hear Col. Tim Kelly make a presentation on the Youth Challenge Program.

Next meeting

The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 1, at , at the Ponderosa Restaurant.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sixth Grade Forestry Tour planned for July

The 50th annual Sixth Grade Forestry Tour will be held July 12-14.  Clearwater County sixth graders get a first-hand look at many aspects of forest and natural resources during the three-day tour. Area businesses, organizations, agencies and individuals sponsor the event, enabling sixth graders to attend at no cost. 

Teen leaders and adult chaperones accompany the students, as well as forestry, soil, water quality, natural resource and wildlife professionals, and University of Idaho Cooperative Extension educators. 

This year’s 50th anniversary event promises a fun-filled three days and two nights for area youth. Any eligible student, public, home or private-schooled, who has not registered for the tour, but would like to, should call the U I Clearwater County Cooperative Extension Office as soon as possible (476-4434).  The tour is a once-in-a-lifetime event offered to the local sixth grade youth in Clearwater County.

All registered students and teen leaders will receive specific instructions in the mail on assembly places and times, things to bring, and other important tour details.

Special note: Schoolteachers can receive credits through the University of Idaho for attending the Tour.

Call the UI Clearwater County Extension Office 476-4434 if you are interested or have questions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drive Our Economy

Jeff Church and Ken Burgess, Coordinators for Drive Our Economy, were in the area last week working to explain the importance permitting the transport of oversized loads to the local and state economy.

By Charlie Pottenger

Drive Our Economy is a co-operative effort supported by individuals, businesses, and business associations, all of which share a common interest in shipping goods and equipment on the highways of Idaho and Montana. Knowing the ultimate importance of transportation to the economic well being of a nation, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on their mission to discover a commerce route to the Pacific. Their famous voyage of discovery led to the highway called the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway or the Lewis Clark Trail or the Lolo Trail. This same route which people around here simply call Highway 12

Over the past months in Idaho and Montana the controversy spurred by a few to impede or eliminate the transport of huge items over public roads has heated to a point where there is a danger to all stemming from the notion that the purpose of the state highway system is primarily to enable personal and sightseeing transportation rather than the stated objective to promote commerce and permit the regional economy to flourish.

Drive Our Economy is an association supported by people and businesses which benefit from or participate in the transport of large, oversized Megaload-type items over the highways. Products such as forest products, forest harvesting machinery, agricultural equipment and products, pre-manufactured and mobile homes, mining equipment, ranchers, boat producers as well as the currently controversial oil refinery equipment move regularly over the state’s highways and byways. Each such movement adds to local and state economies and supports countless jobs within the state. It is easy to forget that without commerce and business activity to support the economy, the well being of the population would decline.

In 2010 the Idaho Department of Transportation issued about 65,000 oversized load permits for trips within the state. With the exception of the five megaload permits which have so far safely made the trip over Highway 12 from Lewiston to the Montana line near Lolo, none of these loads were news worthy. However, all including the five megaloads, provided economic values to their owner and the communities through which they passed. Inconvenience was minimal and after they pass they leave no impact other than the positive benefits which all business activity provides to other businesses and individuals along the way. Drive Our Economy urges continued use of the oversized load permit system as currently administered by Idaho Department of Transportation.

Drive our Economy is a task force of community, business and agricultural leaders who have joined together to promote economic strategies that benefit Idaho and Montana. Ken Burgess and Jeff Church, Coordinators for Drive our Economy were in Clearwater County last week and took time to highlight their desire to help people understand the important role area highways play in supporting commerce, business and real jobs in Idaho. Their home base is in Boise and more information can be found on the Web at DriveOurEconomy.org.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dworshak nutrient supplementation educational meeting Monday, May 23

A public meeting will be held Monday, May 23, co-sponsored by the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers (COE) and the Idaho Fish and Game Department (IDFG). The meeting will be held at at the Best Western Lodge at River’s Edge located at
615 Main Street, Orofino.

According to a press release from the COE, issued May 17, nutrients have steadily declined since the construction of Dworshak Dam which was completed in 1972. This has created a “nutrient imbalance” in the reservoir.

In 2007, the District and IDFG partnered to apply prescribed amounts of liquid fertilizer to Dworshak Reservoir to improve the aquatic environment. Prescribed amounts of nutrients were added periodically to the reservoir and closely monitored for detailed scientific analyses. Water sample testing revealed several benefits from the program including: increases in beneficial algae, increased abundance of higher quality food for aquatic life, and healthier, larger fish.

This pilot project was modeled on 30 years of work conducted in Canada on several deep, high mountain reservoirs similar to Dworshak. The project sought to rebalance the nitrogen phosphorous potassium ratio in the water by adding ammonium-nitrate (liquid fertilizer) to the lake in prescribed amounts.

The District informally consulted with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nez Perce Tribe, and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service before starting the pilot project. IDFG and COE have openly communicated about the project in a series of public meetings – the most recent being held on June 29 in Orofino.

The pilot project was paused in July 2010 as the District sought a newly required environmental permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The project team stopped adding nutrients to the reservoir at that time. The EPA is seeking public comments on its proposal to issue a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The public meeting is open to any interested persons.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hospitals win national award

Clearwater Valley and St. Mary’s Hospitals and Clinics were named the Outstanding Rural Health Organization for 2011.  Dr. Michael Meza; Kris Sparks, NRHA President; Casey Meza, CVHC/SMHC CEO; Pam McBride, Grants Officer and Dr. David Schmitz, Associate Director of Rural Family Medicine, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho are pictured (l to r) with the award at the recent NRHA conference.

St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and Clinics were named the Outstanding Rural Health Organization for 2011 by the National Rural Health Association. The NRHA represents 62 million Americans living in rural areas.  The award was presented to Casey Meza, CEO, earlier this month at their national convention in Austin, TX.  Close to 1,000 people attended the annual conference which is the largest gathering of rural health professionals in the nation.

“To have our hospitals and clinics selected from amongst the thousands of health care organizations serving rural patients is an incredible honor,” said Meza. “The hard work our staff and providers do every day is receiving recognition at a national level. Our collaborative partnership, our telemedicine program, our progress on establishing electronic medical records, our success in receiving grants and our work on establishing patient centered medical home concepts were all considered by the judges before they named us the 2011 Outstanding Rural Health Organization.”

The NRHA was originally formed in 1978 and currently has over 20,000 members in fifty states.  The award for Outstanding Rural Health Organization is given annually to a “…group or entire organization that has improved access to health services and information for rural people through innovative, comprehensive approaches.  Factors considered include outreach, preventive health and education, quality and efficiency of care and strong community support and involvement.”  In their award letter, their CEO, Alan Morgan said “…thanks for the great work you have done on behalf of rural America and the great things you will do in the future…congratulations on winning this prestigious award.”

SMHC and CVHC began partnering in 1998. Both are members of Essentia Health based in Duluth, Minnesota.  Both facilities will be featured in the quarterly NRHA national magazine, Rural Roads.

“Our patients also share in this honor. It is their trust and support throughout the years that inspires us to provide the highest quality healthcare in their home communities” said Meza. “We’re grateful they choose us for their care.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

April’s weather brings expectations for high runoff

April’s cool, moist weather held off the snow melt and even added to the mountain snowpack according to the latest snow survey conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This summer’s water supply is forecast to be plentiful for Idaho’s water users but the spring runoff is expected to be high. 

 “The water supply analysis completed this week shows that April’s precipitation and cool temperatures added significant amounts of water to the snowpack,” said Jeff Burwell, Idaho NRCS State Conservationist. “While this contributes to an ample water supply, it increases concern over how the runoff season will unfold.”

The whole state received above average precipitation in April. Precipitation ranged from 110% of average in regions of central Idaho to 250% of average in the Northern Panhandle. However, lingering cool spring temperatures delayed the snow melt creating a potentially threatening runoff season.

“Usually the mid-elevation snowpacks begin melting in April - at least 25% of the snowpack melts off,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “Not this year. Below normal temperatures prevented snow melt in the mid-elevation range and kept the headwater streamflow levels below normal.”

“The May 1 mountain snowpack is above average ranging from 125 to 190% of average. And, now there is a shorter runoff season,” said Abramovich. “This means more streamflow in a shorter time period.”

The timing and magnitude of peak streamflows depend on spring temperatures, consecutive hot days, non-freezing night temperatures, and if rain falls when the snow is melting. Reservoir operators across Idaho are drawing down reservoir levels to increase water storage space.

“Our current Water Supply Report forecasts river levels and volumes to be above average through the summer,” Burwell added. “Whether you are a river runner or a water manager, expect extremely variable conditions.”

View May’s full report on snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supply predictions at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

School Supplemental Levy facts; election May 17

The School District expects to lose more than a half-million dollars ($500,000) in state funding next school year because of reduced levels of state support and decreased enrollment. On May 17 voters will be asked to vote on a supplemental levy for the district. The levy provides a significant portion of money used to pay for regular expenses like textbooks, utilities, teachers and essential programs for students. They levy funds one-fourth (1/4) of the school’s regular expenses.

The proposed levy is for $1,940,000, an increase of $200,000 over last year’s levy. Different home values may increase or decrease the home owner’s exemption. For a home valued at $100,000 with a home owner’s exemption of $50,000, the school tax for next year would be $180.97. That is an increase of $18.70 ($1.56/month) over the current year’s tax rate. If you have questions about school tax on your property, please call Clearwater County Treasurer, Dawn Erlewine at 476-5615 or Clerk of Joint School District #171, Trina Snyder at 476-5593.

Polling Places

Polling places have changed from previous supplemental levy elections. Typically you will vote in the same locations you voted during the general elections, except for person who voted at the Armory. They will vote at the Orofino Community Church. 14233 Highway 12.

  Orofino Precinct #1 – Mani-Yac Center.

  Orofino Precinct #2 – VFW Building.

  Orofino Precinct #3 - Clearwater County Coon Building.

  Orofino Precinct #4 – Orofino Community Church.

  Orofino Precinct #5 – Orofino Community Church.

  Fraser Precinct #6 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  Greer Precinct #7 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  Teakean Precinct #8 - Cavendish Church.

  Weippe Precinct #9 – Weippe City Hall.

  Headquarters Precinct #10 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  Ahsahka Precinct #11 Clearwater Fish Hatchery.

  Pierce Precinct #12 – Pierce Community Center.

  Elk River Precinct #13 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  Grangemont #14 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  Leland Precinct #34 - Cameron Emmanuel Lutheran.

  Peck Precinct #36 – Peck Community Center.

  Mohler Precinct #7 – Vote by Mail Precinct.

  West Kamiah #2 – Kamiah Emergency Service Bld.

Photo ID necessary

  Idaho law now requires photo identification in order to vote. Acceptable forms of identification include: Idaho driver’s license or identification card, U.S. passports or Federal photo identification card, tribal photo identification card, and current student photo identification card.

  More information about schools is available at www.sd171.k12.id.us.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Local student receives prestigious NASA internship

George Korbel of Orofino was one of 10 students from Idaho universities who will intern at NASA institutions across the country this summer, working with NASA scientists and participating in research and hands on projects.

“NASA internships give students the chance to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom in a very tangible, real-world environment. It is an excellent learning opportunity,” said Becky Highfill of the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC).

The ISGC submits student applications and assists the students financially in their endeavors, aiding them in travel and other expenses.

Internships at NASA institutions have been known to lead to jobs with NASA after graduation. Idaho interns will have an opportunity to work on a variety of NASA research programs that align with NASA’s current vision.

The students will be dispersed at different locations throughout the nation. Four students will intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, CA. The other six students have received internships to work at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Other NASA interns from the University of Idaho include: Kim Baird, Boise; David Gardner, Priest River; Carlos Gonzalez, Firth; Brent Kisling, Pocatello; Kevin Ramus, Rathdrum; Michael Schrader, Idaho Falls; Walter Taresh, Pocatello; and Lee Van Gundy, Vancouver, WA.

Boise State University also has one NASA intern, Craig Cornwall, Boise.

The interns will post pictures and updates of their experiences on the NASA ISGC Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/NASA-Idaho-Space-Grant-Consortium/91682706503, which is open to the public for viewing.

About the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium

The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium was established in 1991 as part of the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The ISGC comprises 22 institutions including all colleges and universities in the state, science centers and museums, science organizations, state departments, industry representatives, a state park, and a national monument.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great kids, great trip

On April 7 the Leadership class at OJSHS took a field trip to Boise. The group’s advisor, Annette Haag, got the funding from Idaho National Laboratories and the Class of 1985. The basis of this field trip was to teach students that there are many job and educational opportunities available to them.

On Friday of that week the students began their day with a trip to the Discovery Center of Idaho, a hands-on science center. They then had the good fortune of having a personal, backstage tour of Quest Arena by Eric Trapp, a 1985 Orofino graduate who manages the Idaho Steelheads hockey team. Eric gave the group Idaho Steelhead ball-caps and free front-row tickets to a playoff game against Las Vegas. It was quite a treat as most of them had never attended a hockey game.

Amy Lientz, Idaho National Laboratories communications director and OHS class of 1985 graduate, accompanied the Leadership students for the day. She was also instrumental in securing funding for the trip and helping Ms. Haag with the planning. She gave an impressive tour of the Capitol Building including visits to the House and Senate floors and a peek into the Governors office. The day was topped off with a quick visit to Zoo Boise and the kids loved this close-up experience with the animals.

After that action-packed day, Saturday found the freshmen attending an Engineering Day at Boise State University. They took part in sessions on robotics, catapults, math facts and were even able to ride a segway. The juniors and seniors were given a full guided tour of the Boise State University campus, including a supposedly haunted sorority house.

This was a great learning adventure for all of these kids and they are very grateful to Idaho National Laboratories, Class of 1985, Amy Lientz, and Eric Trapp as well as chaperones Dale Province and Dawn Erlewine. With funding cuts in education, these field trips are very rare and the Leadership class feels so fortunate to have had this opportunity.