Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Candidate forum draws a modest but interested crowd

By Alannah Allbrett

October 16 saw a turnout of about 45 people at the Candidate Forum sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and students from the Advanced Government class at Orofino High School. 

Three candidates for the state legislature were on hand to answer questions of the student panel. But the apparent interest of the audience was focused on local candidates running for seats on the Clearwater County Commission. 

The audience was allowed to write their specific questions for submission; candidates were presented with the chosen questions with no foreknowledge of what issues they would tackle. 

The candidate responses were monitored by timekeepers, holding each to a fixed time to answer their questions. The speakers did a better job fitting the time allotment than presidential candidates of late. 

Not every candidate was asked the same question, however. 

Three of the four people running for commissioner were present. 

John Allen (D), 67, a former commissioner in District 3, introduced himself saying that in his 45 years in Clearwater County he has traveled every road, worked with a lot of people and agencies, and has a background to understand the history of the county. 

Allen recalled, in times past as the owner of the Bald Mountain Ski Shop, when they used to rent out 100 pairs of skis a day – reflecting that the economy was more robust then. He related his four years of military experience, including one year serving in Viet Nam. Allen served as county commissioner from 2006–2010. As a volunteer, he has always been involved in community service doing work for different county departments. He serves on several boards: North Central Health; Clearwater County Waterways; the State Hospital North Advisory Board; Dist. 2, Mental Health Board, and serves on the Farmers Market Board as Co-Chair. 

Candidate Don Ebert (D), 50, currently serving his tenth year as Commissioner in Dist. 1. He related some of his background, stating that he had also served 10 years on the School Board. The Eberts own Mary Ann’s Groceries in Weippe and have been in the community for 50 years. Ebert said that he has a Business Administration Degree. “I love this county and believe in the people,” he said. “They are some of the best people anyone would hope to know.” Ebert said that he has a lot to offer the county. 

Carole Galloway (R), 59, is currently serving the commission on a two year term – her first. Introducing herself, Galloway said that she has lived in this county for 39 years, is a small, independent business owner who is involved in churches, schools. She said that her involvement in coaching has taught her the importance of having strong schools in the community. She stated that she is a parent of four children and nine grandchildren. 

Galloway said her heart has always been in “doing what I can for the people. I don’t give a hoot who you are, but I am here to help in any way I can,” she said. 

She strongly feels the federal government far overreaches itself by imposing too many regulations and that the rules keep changing for businesses and individuals. She said that right now it is very difficult for anyone to start a business, but that there are things that can be done. She enjoys working for and with people and is starting to “hit my stride.” 

Summarizing a couple of the questions candidates were asked: 

Question: Why do you want to be commissioner?

Ebert: “This is one of the places I can do something for the community. I get to help people sometimes. Everybody wants to make a difference, and I feel like I can make a difference. It gives me a sense of community and purpose, and it’s a good thing.” 

Galloway: “I get a chance to help people – to stand up and do what I can. I want to be involved in the forest plan because it’s a huge thing in our community. I am already committed to do the best for our community and do what we can.” 

Allen: “I like the job; it’s a joy to help people. [When I was commissioner] People would come in mad, and pretty soon start talking in a normal voice. We can’t always help everybody when it comes to taxes, etc., but there are so many things we can do for people. I volunteer for the county and sit on a lot of boards. I do it because I like it. I just really enjoy the job and doing it.” 

Question: What are the duties and responsibilities of a commissioner? 

Galloway. “This is the second year of the budget. Our [department] supervisors do a good job, and they know we don’t have a lot of money. This year was kind of a squeaker. We didn’t know if we would have the RSC (Rural School Community Trust) money or not. We’re also trying to do better on our roads.” 

Allen: “One of the duties of a commissioner is that of a being a legislator of the county. They can reduce or raise taxes within the limits of the law. They are allowed to raise it three percent each year if they choose to.” Allen read from public code and said the part of Idaho Code that he really likes is: (paraphrasing) “Commissioners provide for health and improve safety,” etc. 

Regarding fiscal management he said, “We set the budgets – take the revenue and try to match it with expenditures. The trick to being a commissioner is you have to choose your battles and pick ones that make the best difference. We have to try to get along with everybody as best we can and move forward together.” 

Question: What is the number one goal for the county? 

Allen: “The number one goal is to get a good money source for our roads and schools. Fifty-three percent of our county is federal land, and we always got money from them. We shouldn’t have to go begging Washington, D.C. for money to run our schools and fix our roads. We need to try to come up with a steady source of money from the federal government. In 1907, 25 percent of revenue would go to the county and schools when they were logging and mining quite heavily. They don’t do that anymore, and it dried up. We still have expenses and still need money.” 

Ebert: “The top priority is to keep solvent, manage money, and provide services mandated by the state government. We have to keep the county running smoothly. A big goal, beyond that, is to urge the forest service do more active management. We’ve been working on that for quite some time. Last year we cut more timber. The Forest Service Plan is timely, and we’ve been invited to participate in it. My goal is to have the most influence in the process. And I’m going to try to influence the forest service plan in our favor as best as I can. It’s going to take an incredible amount of time. I am going to get the most for our county anywhere I can get it.” 

Galloway: “I want our county to have the opportunity to have more jobs. The state is demanding more and more all the time. We need to work on jobs. We didn’t do all we could do, the last two years. Government regulations are constantly changing. In the last years, it’s the way our country is going. Businesses want to come here, but not knowing how they can comply, they won’t come. We’re losing doctors and several good teachers. We need to do as much as we can to get business going. There are things we can do as commissioners – update the website [as an example]. This is a wonderful place to live and raise kids, and we’ve got to make it so families can make it."

Following the Commissioners’ answers, Sheriff Chris Goetz took his turn fielding questions ranging from underage drinking enforcement, to why the reservoir is heavily patrolled when the river is not.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hiring to begin at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe school

By Alannah Allbrett

The Idaho National Guard Youth ChalleNGe (IDNG) School in Pierce is nearing the hiring stage. IDNG has issued a hiring plan which calls for a staggered schedule, and federal money has been released to begin the long awaited program.

Idaho will fund $1.4 million, with matching federal dollars of $4.2 million. Superintendent, Bob Vian, speaking Monday evening to the School Board, passed along the rather convoluted path the money will travel. “The state sends the money to us” he said. “We send the money to the military; the military is going to send a check to us for the teachers and students. It will be paid for in full by them” he stated. “The Food Service Program will be contracted, billed high, and adjusted every month based upon use.”

The school year will be a longer one for teachers, teaching for 22 weeks, taking a four week break, and going for another 22 weeks, thereby earning contract teachers double the regular salary. The school will be “broken out” as a separate entity from Joint School District 171, otherwise the increased salaries would figure into the district’s overall average. That would negatively affect the Pay for Performance structure currently in place. Mr. Vian said the IDNG School will be one of the only schools in Idaho that, in fact, has money.

The school district will contract with the National Guard for school bussing, food, and educational staff. The state will advertise for a head teacher (Principal) in January 2013.

Mr. Vian said the school, by its nature, will call for unique staffing. There will be a G.E.D. program for former drop-out students, attempting to earn a high school equivalency diploma. Students will also do community service on weekends, tied in t d teacher, as there is a high special education threshold involved,” said Mr. Vian.

Vian said the IDNG program, unlike the one in Bremerton, WA, will be required to take every student “that walks through the door.” There is a catch, however, once a student has entered the program and leaves voluntarily, is expelled, or leaves the campus unauthorized, he or she will not be allowed to return to the program. “It’s kind of like a high school dance,” said Vian. “Once in – and once out.”

The program will have a very military structure to it with a Commandant, and CadrĂ© Leaders. Students will be working virtually ‘round the clock including mandatory weekend study halls. When asked if the students would be provided with religious services, Mr. Vian said, knowing the military, he was sure they would have a Chaplain or other religious activity of some sort.

A Program Coordinator and RPM Coordinator will be hired in December of this year. Beginning January 2013, the following positions will be filled: a Budget Officer; Recruiter; Commandant; LOG Specialist, and an Administrative Assistant.

By March, a Lead Teacher (Principal); Lead Counselor; MIS; two RPM Assistants; an Administrative Assistant, and a Maintenance person will be hired.

Five contract instructors; two Counselors, and two Case Managers will come on board in May. In September 2013, three Shift Supervisors; a Cadre Team Leader; a Nurse Practitioner, and Medical Assistant will join the team.

The school is set up to accommodate up to 120 students. There will be a total of 54 positions, 33 initial hires and 8 contracted workers, with 13 additional positions to be filled as the program grows.

Mr. Vian, accompanied by the district’s Business Manager, Special Education Director, Food Service Manager, and probably one special education teacher, will travel to Bremerton, WA to observe the National Guard operation there. The Guard will begin an advertising campaign within ten days, to include television, radio, and newsprint media announcements on the program’s particulars. Their website is located at:

Local couple's grandson plays for Eastern Washington University

Cody McCarthy, inside linebacker for Eastern Washington University, tackles Montana State quarterback DeNarius McGhee during Eastern’s game Oct. 13 at Montana State. Eastern won the Big Sky Conference game 27 to 24. Cody is the grandson of Mike and Lynn McCarthy of Orofino and the son of Joe and Shellie McCarthy of Boise. The Eastern Eagles are now 4 - 0 in Big Sky play and 5 -1 overall, with their only loss coming at Washington State University in Sept. in a close 24-20 game.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Streamlined Sales and Use Tax: State Tax Commissioners visit Orofino Chamber

By Alannah Allbrett 

Idaho State Tax Commissioners paid a visit to the chamber of commerce luncheon Oct. 3. Tom Katsilometes, Ken Roberts, and Richard Jackson answered questions and gave an update on collecting state revenue.

The tax commission serves as the Board of Equalization for the state – monitoring anything that crosses the state, and they are tasked with providing detailed in-formation to assessors.

The focus of their presentation was on what’s called the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax. They pointed out a line on one’s state tax return form where taxpayers are required to report taxes on items they purchase and use that are from out of state. This includes items purchased via the internet and from other countries.

The use tax is supposed to level the playing field so that local "brick-and-mortar" stores and remote sellers operate under the same rules, ensuring all revenue that is due the state is collected.

Purchasers are responsible for paying the tax, interest, and penalties for claiming incorrect exemptions. One example given was that of a business purchasing software by downloading it from the internet. No sales tax is charged on such a transaction, however, the purchase needs to be reported when tax time rolls around.

Bottom line: if something is brought into the state and stored or used here, and one has not already been charged sales tax for it, you owe use tax.

Start saving receipts on all purchases, whether over the internet or while on vacation, and ask your tax preparer’s advice. Speaking to the business owners they said, “It’s good for Orofino, it makes you competitive with the world.”

Executive Director’s Report

Stephanie Deyo re-ported an increase in the number of visitors’ packets being given out. She gave a brief rundown also on the new 70’ flagpole the chamber has taken on as a project.

The flagpole will be erected near the entrance to Orofino City Park and will be lighted during nighttime hours. Stephanie reported that there has been a lot of community support for the project which is scheduled for completion by late October or the beginning of November.

Lumberjack Days

The final numbers were not in for profits from Lumberjack Days celebrations, but the chamber anticipates that fundraising, through the beer garden, should be better than the previous year.

North Idaho Chamber Tour

Neal Johnson reported that buses will be bringing visiting legislators on a tour through Orofino during the North Idaho Chamber Tour scheduled for Nov. 11 – 13. They will be stopping at Canoe Camp then visiting local businesses: A & E Signs, SJX Jet Boats, and Nightforce Optics, and having lunch at the Lodge at Rivers Edge. Five seats will be raffled for a helicopter ride back to Lewiston for the Governor’s Banquet. The Orofino Chamber of Commerce will have a table at that banquet. For details, contact the chamber office at: (208) 476-4335.


Loren Whtten-Kaboth, Director Clearwater County Economic Development, attended a meeting with the project engineers for the woody biomass project.

A Trade Mission Day for jet boats will take place Oct. 11. Boat manufacturers from Russia, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands will be present. SJX Jet Boats will sponsor a river tour of our area with dinner following. SJX has expanded with four new employees and the leasing of a second building – keeping business local.

Next meeting

The next scheduled meeting will take place on Wed., November 7, at 12 noon at the Ponderosa Restaurant.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Would you pay more for local meat?

By Andrea Dell

A majority of the beef and pork Americans get today is processed by just four companies. Fifty years ago, this was not the case: several small, independent meat processors and packers serviced local markets.

Growing interest in local food prompted a study by the UI Livestock and Small Farms Project on the feasibility of small-scale meat processing facilities in north Idaho. At the Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council’s Sept. 27 meeting, keynote speaker Darin Saul, Associate Director of the UI Office of Community Partnerships, reported the results of this 14-county study.

Saul said the study encompassed the Riggins area up to the Canadian border, plus four counties in Washington State that border Idaho. It revealed that 60 percent of those surveyed consider locally-available food more important than any other factor, including whether the food is organic. And 87 percent of those surveyed considered local meat processing to be somewhat to very important.

Creating and maintaining local meat processing facilities is most dependent on what people involved in the industry have the interest and energy to make happen.

To sell to local outlets, the processing facility must be USDA inspected. The profit potential for USDA inspected and processed meat (known as value-added) is up to four times higher than that of custom-exempt (not USDA inspected and therefore not for resale). Most custom-exempt shops supplement their main business by processing wild game, smoking meats, and making sausage.

There were only two USDA-inspected meat processing facilities participating in the study: Woods, in Sandpoint, and UI Meats. Both facilities provide services from slaughter to packaging, and the meat can then be sold in grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, and other commercial outlets.

Hurdles to local processing

The steps required to become USDA-compliant are a lot for small processors to handle.

Because processing availability in north Idaho is presently so limited, many livestock producers have simply shut down, or drastically reduced the number of animals they raise.

It would cost approximately $2M to get one new meat processing plant up and running.

Lack of labor is another concern. Several meat processing plants have closed in the last five years because the owner wanted to retire and couldn’t find a buyer, although the business was profitable. Simply finding workers to cut and wrap the meat is difficult.

Local meat isn’t available seasonally, because most livestock producers keep the same calving times.

Livestock producers want to retain ownership of their animals through the entire process. Right now small producers lose ownership once the animal is sold at auction, while producers with a large number of head keep ownership of their animals, and therefore earn profit even after the animals are auctioned.


A processing cooperative, to share marketing and other tasks, is perhaps the most viable and most favored solution to some of these concerns. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed were interested in a cooperative, though smaller operations were concerned with having to spend time participating in the cooperative instead of working.

Cattle Producers of Washington in Odessa, WA and North Cascade Meat Processing Association in Bellingham, WA are examples of the trend of ranchers forming a USDA-inspected meat processing cooperative.

Providing financial incentives to producers who would stagger calving times to provide meat year-round—such as discounts on processing—could help with seasonal availability of meat.

Building up current plants to meet increased processing needs might reduce the need for new processing plants. Many custom-exempt shops have room for more processing. They could do custom-exempt processing for part of the week, and value-added for part of the week.

The next step

On Nov. 5 a meeting will be held in Moscow, where Saul says the project will share results of the study and, more importantly, see if people are willing to consider strategies for expanding processing and marketing livestock.

Deyo Reservoir

Filling in for Joe Dupont, the originally scheduled speaker, Clearwater County Economic Development Council Director Loren Whitten-Kaboth reported to Clearwater RC&D on the 55-acre Deyo Reservoir’s progress.

The Deyo Reservoir, Wetlands, and Recreation area is moving along well, but no exact date of completion has been announced. One cause of delay is unfinished repair of two cracks in the reservoir’s 35-foot dam.

Wetlands are being added to the east side. A pavilion (for weddings and other events), paved boat ramps, six floating docks, three restroom houses, and gravel road access have been or are in the process of being added. The pavilion is ready for its metal roofing, which was scheduled to arrive Sept. 27.

Major maintenance needs would be handled by the same IDFG staff that services Deer Creek and Campbell’s Pond, so no additional manpower would be needed, and any added cost would be minor.

Road, boat ramp, and dock maintenance would typically occur on a 10-plus year rotation. These costs would be covered by the motorboat access program, which is well-funded with 15% mandatory allocation of the annual Dingell-Johnson fund apportionment. Dingell-Johnson provides federal funds for sport fish restoration.

Enforcement and fishery management of Deyo Reservoir would also be covered by the same staff that currently exists.

Additional needs for the reservoir, such as scenic walkways, hiking trails, campgrounds, and campground hosts, would not be provided by IDFG. Friends of the Deyo Reservoir are willing to seek other funds to develop these things, with assistance from the local recreation district.

Campground user fees might also be charged to fund these activities.

Farm Bill

Mike Hanna, representing Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s office, reported to Clearwater RC&D that the 2012 USDA Farm Bill has yet to be approved by Congress.

Not much legislation is being passed of late, Hanna said. The Farm Bill has gone through several revisions, and Congress is deeply divided over how much to cut food stamps. Dairy farmers have been hit especially hard.

It is unclear when a new bill may be approved. The bill has already been deemed a continuing resolution a number of times, which Hanna equated to kicking a can down the road.

The 2008 farm bill expired Sept. 30. If a new bill isn’t passed, or the 2008 bill isn’t extended, federal price supports revert to their 1949 levels. Several important subsidies may also disappear.

Wildfire budget

Hanna also reported that a bill to fund wildfire fighting efforts will be passed. Money from budgets has been taken to fund firefighting efforts during this rampant wildfire season.

Some hunters may need to find a new favorite hunting site for this year

With no rain in the immediate forecast, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests officials are recommending that hunters look at other hunting areas within their game unit in order to stay out of the fire closure areas around the forest. 
“It does not look like we will be able to open up those closure areas unless we get a substantial amount of rain,” said Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell, “Our weather forecasters, working on the forest fires, do not see any rain in the near future.”
Please check with your local Ranger District office to see if your favorite area is in the fire area closure and see what access roads may also be closed.

Attention hunters: For current fire closure perimeters and units, see Idaho Game & Fish website: