Friday, December 26, 2014

Idaho well represented at the helm of U.S. Navy counter- piracy exercise with China

DESRON ONE Commodore CAPT Doug Stuffle (right) speaking to PLA-N media reporters on the value of cooperation between the US and PRC for countering piracy.

The U.S. Navy counterpiracy exercise with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) PLA-N began as of Dec. 11, off the coastal states in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa. Two of the ships participating in the exercise are led by Idaho natives. U. S. Navy Capt. Doug Stuffle, born and raised in Orofino, and CDR Ted Nunamaker, from Meridian.

Earlier this year, the Clearwater Tribune featured Capt. Stuffle who took command of Destroyer Squadron One in February of 2014. Destroyer Squadron One (DESRON ONE) is part of Carrier Strike Group One, embarked on USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) and is currently deployed to Fifth Fleet.

The Strike Group, along with four ships, guided missile destroyer USS Sterett (commanded by Cmdr. Nunamaker), USS Gridley, USS Dewey, and USS Bunker Hill have participated in several multinational exercises.

In a recent article, “U.S. and China conduct anti-piracy exercise”, U. S. Navy Mass Communication specialists 1st Class Travis Alston and 3rd Class Eric Coffer, further define the purpose and goals of U.S.-China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15.

The following information appears in their article.

The cooperative training aims to promote partnership, strength and presence. It includes combined visit, board, search, and seizure operations, communication exchanges, and various other aspects of naval operations. Additionally, the exercise represents a long-standing united front toward counter-piracy operations shared by these two world powers.

“The exercise allows us to address our common regional and global interest,” said Capt. Doug Stuffle, “It helps both nations pursue a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous bilateral relationship.” 

Approximately 700 personnel from the U.S. and China navies will participate in the exercise, and it gives Sterett sailors the opportunity to engage in a shared mission with other surface platforms. 

“Piracy is a long-standing problem, world-wide,” said Cmdr. Theodore Nunamaker. “It has long been recognized as a problem that requires an international-cooperative solution. Certainly the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR (area of responsibility) is one of the focused points for that effort. Modern-day piracy has a far-reaching economic impact. Although much of the world’s population will never encounter piracy, it has an impact on everyone, by increasing the cost of goods that are being shipped from place to place.”

Stuffle expressed that Sterett’s crew, like all deployed U.S. naval forces, have trained to meet a variety of mission sets that are important to the nation’s interest and stand ready to execute anti-piracy measures when directed.

Both Stuffle and Nunamaker agree the ultimate goal of this exercise is to strengthen military-to-military relationships between the U.S. and its Chinese counter-parts. The navies of the U.S. and China conducted similar training Aug. 20 - 25, 2013.

“These bi-lateral exercises help us establish clear paths for communication; they encourage transparency of trust, help us mitigate risk and allow us to demonstrate cooperative efforts in the international community to help us work together to deal with transnational threats. In the end, we look to create a peaceful, stable and secure maritime domain,” said Stuffle.

Sterett is deployed as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and is supporting Operation Inherent Resolve conducting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Christmas story from yesteryear

By Charlie Pottenger

Recently I was invited to Dining on the Edge for a Christmas luncheon celebration with the Clearwater Tribune staff. While enjoying the festive, happy mood I realized that the beautifully decorated Christmas tree with its fantastic red beaded garlands reminded me of days long ago and my mom.

Back in the 1940’s, Christmas was, as it is now, a very special season when we rejoiced in the truth of the Savior and celebrated as a family. In our family there were four kids, a devoted mom, a hard working dad, and not too much money. We were just like everyone else I knew, and although each family had different traditions, all celebrated and shared their love with each other and all that they contacted.

At our house Mom ran the show. Beginning about now, say a week before Christmas, she would organize her little tribe of “elves” into squads working under close supervision. She had us mix ingredients to make fantastic gingerbread cookies. The dough was then refrigerated (or if it was cold, set outside on the open porch to stiffen before rolling).

Then, each of us in turn were allowed to roll out huge dough sheets, and then we all gathered around with cookie cutters to punch out gingerbread men, stars, Christmas trees, bells, circles and half-moons. The circles and half moons were cut using a drinking glass. We also made shaped sugar cookies. Naturally she insisted that we make four batches of each type.

Of course we had to add colored sugar sprinkles to some and place dried currants on the gingerbread men to represent buttons. When each kid’s dough was processed into cookies and the leftover dough had been consumed by some of the sneaky elves, that batch was baked to perfection. We were each allowed to sample one warm cookie. Then we were put to work with needles and red thread to attach little loops to each cookie so it could later be used for tree decorations. Then she carefully packed the finished edible-decorations in wrapped containers for later use.

The next job was to follow the same procedures to work as a team to produce delicious cookies called thumbprints. Each cookie was topped with a bunch of chocolate chips set into a thumb made depression and topped with a half of an almond. When cooked the melted chocolate surrounded the nut. She had a hard time hiding these well enough to have them still around by Christmas.

She also made a delicious, round, powdered sugar, rum-soaked cookie. We were able to shake the hot cookies in the powdered sugar to create the finished look. Like the thumbprints, these were hard to resist.

As we moved closer to Christmas day, she would “force us” into the duty of popping huge bowls of super-big fluffy corn kernels. When each of us had a bowl of popcorn, which we made ourselves, she would place a bowl of fresh cranberries, our bowl of popcorn, and a big, empty bowl on the table in front of each kid.

We were provided with a needle and ten feet of red thread, which we used to make popcorn-cranberry garlands. The process was simple. You doubled the thread, tied a knot, and then started alternating cranberries and popcorn kernels until you had your own five foot garland carefully placed in the empty bowl. When done she had 20 feet of edible garland ready for the tree.

In addition, it seemed that each kid had decorations made at school. Some were paper art works, some were colored construction paper chains, and some were plaster shapes similar to the cookie cutter shapes, but bearing dates and love messages, mostly directed to Mom and Dad. Some of the plaster decorations had actual black and white photos of the maker for long term memory.

When all was done Mom would get Dad to put the tree up on the night before Christmas, actually on the morning of Dec. 24. After she had put on our two strings of the big, hot lights of the time (the little lights we now have weren’t yet invented), she would add the garlands of cranberries and popcorn, plus any paper garlands that showed up from school art.

The few beautiful glass ornaments she had were then placed high on the tree, and finally we were turned loose to hang up gingerbread decorations to finish it off on the lower branches. When done we felt, each year, that we had the greatest tree ever!

On Christmas Eve we would all gather around the tree with its gleaming lights and sing carols until Dad decided it was time. Then he would get us all together on the couch—Mom, Dad, and the four of us—and he would read us the Christmas story from the Bible. We would recite the Lord’s Prayer, followed by him reading us The Night Before Christmas!

After the tree was decorated we could pick the cookies from the tree and she would replace them until the stock was depleted.

We followed this routine for years, until life’s callings began to take aging kids to new places like college, careers, and marriages.

After Christmas Mom would leave the garlands of cranberries and popcorn on the tree and place it in the yard for the birds and squirrels.

I know that those memories were largely practiced as I raised my family; however, I failed to pass on the carefully thought out program my mom used to slowly approach the Christmas celebration with the cooking traditions and the garland crafts.

I think back now and wish I’d had the discipline to engulf my kids into the old tradition, which really enhanced the family togetherness, which I still crave.

We did continue the celebration with the Bible reading, carols, and The Night Before Christmas. Also at our house we always made the kids wait until Christmas morning to open presents. Boy did they have trouble getting to sleep and did I have trouble staying awake long enough to make it really believable!

I love Christmas and wish anyone that has read this far the merriest Christmas ever!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Campground and cabin rental fees to increase on the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forests

Regional Forester Faye Krueger recently approved the recommendation from the Coeur d’Alene Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Committee (BLM RAC) to increase recreation fees for several sites on the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forests.

The decision to increase fees was based on recommendations by a Recreation Fee Analysis (RFA) in 2011. This was in response to the combination of the two forests’ recreation program and to severely declining budgets.

Public involvement related to the RFA process yielded significant concerns about the proposal to consider concessionaire management but yielded very little concern about raising fees. The proposed sites have recently received significant investment to improve visitor services.

Effective Dec. 1, amenity fees increased at 24 campgrounds, one visitor center, and four lookout/cabin rentals on the forests. Reservations made prior to Dec. 1, 2014 will be honored at the previous, lower rate. Most of these sites are currently closed for the winter season.

Forest recreation opportunities are found in three large geographical zones: the North Zone, including the Palouse and North Fork Ranger Districts; the Central Zone, containing the Lochsa, Moose Creek (Selway River), and Powell Ranger Districts; and the South Zone which covers the Red River, Elk City, South Fork of the Clearwater and Salmon River Districts. Approved fee increases are as follows:

North Zone

Aquarius, Hidden Creek, Kelly Forks, Noe Creek and Washington Creek Campgrounds fees increased from $7 to $10 per night.

Laird Park and Little Boulder Campgrounds fees increased from $8 to $12 per night.

Elk Creek Campground (which has electrical hook-ups) fee increased from $15 to $20 per night.

Bald Mountain Lookout rental fee increased from $35 to $45 per night.

Kelly Forks Cabin rental fee increased from $55 to $65 per night.

Liz Butte Cabin rental fee increased from $20 to $40 per night.

Central Zone

Apgar, Wild Goose, Wilderness Gateway, Wendover, White Sand, Whitehouse and O’Hara Bar Campgrounds fees increased from $8 to $14.00 per night.

Jerry Johnson Campground fee increased from $10 to $14 per night.

Powell Campground sites without hookups increased from $8 to $14 and sites with hookups from $14 to $20.

Glade Creek Group Campground fee increased from $35 to $50 (for five camping spots) per night.

Lolo Pass Visitor Center new fees are $5.00 per day, $35.00 per season, $20.00 for 5 day bundle; eliminate $5.00 second car pass.

Castle Butte Lookout rental fee increased from $35 to $45 per night.

South Zone

Castle Creek and South Fork Campgrounds fee increased from $8 to $12 per night.

Fish Creek Campground fee increased from $6 to $12 per night.

Spring Bar Campground on the Salmon River fee increased from $10 to $12 per night.

Red River Campground fee increased from $6 to $12 per night.

Jerry Walker Cabin located near the Elk City rental fee increased from $20 to $40 per night.

Reserve lookouts and cabin rentals at:

For more information, please contact your local Forest Service office or visit our website at:

Friday, December 5, 2014

IDOC director moving on following long career in state government

After 18 years as an administrator for the State of Idaho, Brent Reinke is stepping down as director of the Idaho Department of Correction. Reinke submitted his letter of resignation today to the Idaho Board of Correction.

“It’s been an incredible run, but it’s time for me to serve in a different way,” Reinke wrote in the letter.

For 10 years, Reinke served as director of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections. In 2007, he was appointed director of the Idaho Department of Correction, which incarcerates and supervises adult, felony offenders in Idaho. Reinke is the longest-serving director in IDOC’s history.

The chairman of the Board of Correction, Robin Sandy, says Reinke is a dedicated public servant and the entire board has great respect and appreciation for his commitment to improving the lives of the people of Idaho.

“For the past 18 years straight, Brent has logged long hours and he deserves a break from the great responsibility that falls on the shoulders of a correctional director,” said Robin Sandy, chairman of the Board of Correction. “While he has chosen to take a new path, he has much more to contribute, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he does next.”

Kevin Kempf will serve as acting director starting tomorrow. Kempf is a veteran correctional professional who rose through the ranks as a correctional officer, probation and parole officer and prison warden. Kempf currently serves as IDOC’s deputy director.

Orofino woman injured in Lewiston truck crash

Joyce Vanmeeteren, 69, of Orofino, was seriously injured in a car vs. semi-truck crash in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon, according to the Lewiston Police Department (LPD).

On Dec. 2 at approximately 1:40 p.m., Lewiston Police and EMS were dispatched to a report of a car vs semi crash on US 95/ US 12, at the Hwy 128 off-ramp next to the Rose Gardens.

According to LPD, Vanmeeteren was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Equinox. She failed to yield from a stop sign at the Hwy 128 off-ramp, and drove into the path of David Welch of Lewiston, who was driving a 2001 Peterbilt logging truck. Welch was heading into Lewiston on US 95/US 12.

Vanmeeteren reportedly has a broken leg and injuries to her hands and face, according to LPD. Medics transported her to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

Vanmeeteren was cited for failing to yield, according to LPD.

The highway was blocked for approximately an hour and a half, while towing crews removed both vehicles.

The Lewiston Police Department would like to remind drivers to use caution anytime they are behind the wheel, and to be sure to buckle up.