Friday, February 27, 2015

New pilot’s lounge at Orofino Municipal Airport looks great

By Charlie Pottenger

The Orofino Municipal Airport recently completed the new pilot’s lounge facility, which should be a source of pride for local residents and visiting pilots alike.

The new terminal offers pilots and passengers luxurious facilities to rest and relax during a stop in Orofino.

The small but beautiful facility has a handicapped accessible restroom; a refrigerator generously stocked with water, juices, and energy drinks; a couple of coffee makers; snacks; and magnificent furnishings, including a 55-inch flat screen television.

The interior furnishings and appliances were generously provided with a gift from Lonnie and Shannon Simpson, local supporters of the Orofino Airport’s improvements.

Instructions to pilots posted on the door provide ease of entry. Use of refreshments is currently on an as needed basis; however, donations are appreciated.

Pilots travelling in the North Idaho area are encouraged to stop and visit. Fuel (100 LL) is available by calling the Airport Manager weekdays between hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 208-476-4725. Outside those hours call the sheriff’s office at 208-476-4521. Help with fuel systems will be sent.

Payment for fuel may be made by cash, check, or an invoice will be sent to your mailing address of your choosing. The city is contemplating a card lock system where credit cards can be utilized at the pump.

In addition to this fine terminal facility, Orofino is a great little airport nestled in the Clearwater River valley, home of great steelhead and salmon fishing and in the heart of Idaho’s best recreational area. Pilots are encouraged to come, see and visit Orofino!

Here’s a panorama view of the Orofino Airport’s comfy new pilot’s lounge. Photo by Charlie Pottenger

This is an exterior view of Orofino Municipal Airport’s new terminal and pilot lounge. Photo by Charlie Pottenger

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What happened at the 1949 log drive drownings, as told by someone who was there

By Ione Kingen Smith, as told to John Bradbury

There have been several accounts of what happened on the 1949 log drive, when three of the loggers drowned. The most repeated story is that of the drive foreman that year. He said the men panicked and jumped from the bateau (a shallow-draft flat-bottomed boat).

That could not be further from the truth. He wasn’t there. I was. This is how it happened.

It was May 15, 1949. The Clearwater River was raging because of the snowmelt from the huge snow fall that winter. And when I say raging, I mean raging. The water took out the Peck Bridge that I saw pushed upside down under the Lenore Bridge. Stumps, trees, buildings and countless other types of debris were floating down the river. The Kooskia dump was even flooded and contributed to the mess.

My 29-year-old husband, Al Smith, was in the drive crew at Lenore that morning. I was standing alongside the road with my two-year-old daughter and Mary Kiskilla, known as Finn Mary. Her husband, Tom, was in charge of the bateau at Lenore, where some logs had jammed up against some trees that were jutting out of the water 10 to 12 feet out from the bank.

Tom had told the foreman that morning he didn’t think they should be on the river with the water like it was, but was told to get to work. The crew didn’t like the drive foreman, who they called Doe-Doe.

Frenchy Dupee, Michigan Bill, and a third man were on the shore, and the rest of the crew were in the bateau. They were Walt Anderson, Leonard Chase, Ray Fitting, Ben Larson, Oatie Oatman, Tom Kiskilla, and my husband, Al. The bateaus were not yet mechanized; they still used oars for power. Tom was at the bow and Al was at the back helping steer with a pike pole. I forget who was working the oars.

All of a sudden the current pushed a large, uprooted tree that was submerged, called a sweeper, under the boat.

As quick as a flash the limbs of the sweeper tipped the bateau. Tom and Al were thrown off each end of the boat and the other men were flipped into the river toward the main current. Tom, Al, Ben Larson, and Oatie Oatmen made it to a tree that they climbed to get out of the water. Walt Anderson and Ray Fitting didn’t make it to the tree.

I last saw Walt flailing in the water like he didn’t know how to swim, and Ray was trying to shed his heavy work clothes, but almost immediately they were pulled under the water. Leonard Chase was hanging on to the bateau as it went downriver. I never saw him again.

It took an hour and a half to get the bateau from Cherry Lane up to Lenore so the men in the tree could be taken to shore. When it arrived the drive foreman told the crew to use a 100 foot three-inch diameter hemp rope to pull the bateau to shore. Tom told Al to cut the rope or it would tip again. He cut the rope and the bateau made it to shore.

When the men got off the boat the foreman told Al he was fired. Al told him he was too late—he had quit while he was waiting for him in the tree.

The bateau in this picture is the one that was later hit by a submerged tree on the raging Clearwater River, near Lenore, which led to the deaths of three log drive workers.

Here is the 1949 log drive crew working at Dick’s Creek.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Clearwater Community Foundation addresses Maniac license plate controversy

Submitted by the CCF

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That is exactly what a small group of Orofino, Idaho citizens are doing.

Maria Ward, Terry Gugger, and Jill Woolsey saw that there were valuable and often unique grass-roots ideas that were not coming to fruition because of lack in their hometown of Orofino, Idaho. Be it money, resources, people, or time, the very things that could benefit people and community were being left undone because of deficits.

With approximately $3,000 that had been made available as part of a community grant, these three developed Clearwater Community Foundation, Inc., as a type of umbrella foundation to create, expand, and sustain opportunities for healthy lifestyles and communities. Lifeline Food Pantry was the first opportunity this group created.

When the mobile food bank that had been coming to Orofino was no longer an option, Clearwater Community Foundation worked with another group of people who had a vision of a permanent food bank, but did not have the resources, time or knowledge necessary to start one. Ms. Ward, Mr. Gugger, and Ms. Woolsey worked with that group for nearly a year to not only create the permanent food bank, but to help them generate policies and procedures that blended the group’s desire for service and the legal requirements to operate a food bank.

It was not until after the food bank was self-sustaining that Clearwater Community Foundation moved on to its next project, which assists in distance learning education for those involved in the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino. There are other minor projects and committees that Clearwater Community Foundation’s members are a part of, which help them identify new ideas and projects.

It was in these other committees that too often teachers were heard speaking about things they “used to do.” Field trips, motivational and academic speakers, and other academic and humanities related features that were previously offered through the schools were no longer available because of budget constraints. Orofino’s schools are on a four day school week and struggle financially.

Clearwater Community Foundation, or CCF, considered the Maniac and how it had come to represent not only a school sports mascot, but also an unbridled enthusiasm and passion for opportunities for children. It is impossible to go anywhere in Orofino without seeing the Maniac on license plate holders, walking around town on shirts, stickers on cars and bicycles, and painted on storefront windows. The strong school spirit has translated into strong community spirit.

CCF believed that a Maniac Special License Plate would provide an opportunity to translate that community spirit into proceeds that will go directly to Joint School District 171 (Orofino, Cavendish, Peck, and Timberline Schools).

Although there has been some controversy over the Maniac as the mascot since its adoption in 1972, both the community and State Hospital North have embraced what it represents. There is a story behind the name that few people outside of Orofino realize. In 1927, at a boys basketball game in Kamiah, the Orofino team was playing with such intensity and enthusiasm that enraged Kamiah spectators exclaimed that the “Orofino team looked and played like maniacs!” Once it got back to the students, the Principal, and the community, the nickname stuck!

The name “Maniac” was never meant to demean, harm, humiliate, or hurt anyone. The name has always meant to show irrepressible school spirit. This excitable and rowdy character, the Orofino Maniac, represents perfectly the energy and positive enthusiasm of the students.

In order to understand the controversy, it is important to understand the time frame of events. In 1905, Idaho Hospital in Orofino accepted its first patients as a strictly military routine including inspections and daily marching. 1927 was the year the opposing team, longtime rivals of Orofino, unwittingly dubbed the term Maniac to the students. In 1931, Idaho Hospital officially changed its name to Idaho State Hospital North and began replacing other activities with treatment. Today, State Hospital North is an inpatient psychiatric hospital that handles mostly court appointed, committed patients. In 1972, the current Maniac mascot was created and approved by the school board. However, the “maniac” character was unofficially present in the 45 years preceding this decision. 

In 1989, the Orofino Maniac won third place in ESPN’s national ranking of most unique high school mascots. Shortly thereafter, the national recognition brought questions of appropriateness. The community rallied around their mascot and it was again agreed to support the intended meaning of the character. 

In 1993, the Idaho Alliance for the Mentally Ill sent a letter to the Orofino school board requesting the Maniac no longer be utilized. It is important to note that this is the time in media history where mascots from professional teams, colleges, and marketing icons were coming under fire by those attempting to eliminate perceived stigma and stereotypes.

The school board sought input from students, the community, patients and administration of State Hospital North. At the Oct. 18, 1993 school board meeting, with many people in attendance and giving voice, the school board continued to support the Maniac as the Orofino High School mascot. Since then, the Maniac has also made an appearance as the “Mini-Maniac” for elementary students.

More recently, in 2013, the Maniac won the USA Today contest of most unique mascot. This was an online voting process during which people from across the nation were able to cast their vote among a small pool of mascots.

CCF believes that the Maniac is a unique and cherished symbol of this one small town. Citizens throughout the state of Idaho have voiced their support and promises to purchase a specialized Maniac license plate. It has been asked, “Why Orofino?” Why does this town and this school get to have a special license plate?

It is because of what Margaret Mead said. A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens sought to make a difference in their city. With philanthropic hearts but wallets that did not match, the generosity of their time is resulting in an opportunity to provide students with financial support otherwise not available.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Idaho’s wildlife professionals to advocacy groups: stop crying wolf

By Virgil Moore, Director, Idaho Fish and Game

It’s important for state agencies to understand and respect differing points of view. But when a few advocacy groups try to grab headlines by skewing Idaho Fish and Game scientific wolf monitoring data in ways that simply aren't true, it’s also important to set the record straight. 

Here are the facts:

Idaho has more than 100 documented wolf packs and over 600 wolves. Idaho’s wolf population far exceeds federal recovery levels of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves. 

After meeting federal recovery levels in 2002, Idaho’s wolf population grew largely unchecked for the remainder of the decade, resulting in increased conflicts with other big game populations and livestock. 

After four harvest seasons since the 2011 delisting, livestock depredations have declined. Wolf predation continues to have unacceptable impacts to some elk populations, but there are signs elk populations are responding positively to wolf management.

Wolves in Idaho continue to be prolific and resilient. Idaho will keep managing wolves to have a sustainable, delisted population and to reduce conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations.

Despite these facts, a few advocacy groups chose to take the breeding pair metric out of context to make claims that Idaho wolves are “teetering on the brink of endangered status once again.” That’s hogwash. And it’s the kind of polarizing misinformation that undermines responsible wildlife conservation and management in Idaho.

Confirming a pack meets U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s narrow definition of a “breeding pair” is costly and labor-intensive. With vast reductions in federal funding to the state and Nez Perce Tribe for wolf monitoring, Fish and Game has focused our effort on demonstrating Idaho has at least 15 “breeding pairs” to comply with federal recovery requirements.

Idaho closely surveyed 30 packs and confirmed that 22 of them met the breeding pair standard at the end of 2014. Because Idaho has shown it is well above federal recovery levels, we may rely on less intensive monitoring for the other 70 + packs as we complete our final 2014 population estimates. One can assume these 70+ packs include some additional breeding pairs. We will publish our annual monitoring report in March.

As trained scientists, Idaho Fish and Game stands by our data and our wildlife management plans. We manage wolves to ensure we keep state management authority and address conflicts with people, livestock, and other big game populations. 

I hope people who truly care about wildlife conservation ignore the exaggerations and misinformation and help Fish and Game focus on the real issues affecting Idaho’s wildlife.