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December 2009 A News MAGAZINE Worth Wading Through Because there’s more to life than bad news FREE Mike Gunter beat insurmountable odds in a battle with cancer. What’s important now, he says, is friends, family, a little time with the horses and GIVING TO OTHERS

The River Journal Dec 2009

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December 2009 issue of the River Journal, a news magazine worth wading through

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  • December 2009

    A News MAGAZINE Worth Wading Through

    Because theres more to life than bad news FREE

    Mike Gunter beat insurmountable odds in a battle with cancer. Whats important now, he says, is friends, family, a little time with the horses and


  • Page | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009WHY LIST WITH MICHAEL? Consistently ranked top in sales. Your listing advertised in more magazines and websites. Member of CdA and Selkirk MLS, doubles your exposure.

    690 ACRES - borders the Clark Fork River & Na-tional Forest with paved county road access. VIews are spectacular in all directions, you can see to Lake Pend Oreille & Schweitzer Mtn. Property is 1/3 productive pasture lands & about 2/3 forest land. Power & phone on site, plus a little year-round creek. Easy to subdivide. $3,500,000

    640 ACRES of SomE of thE moSt pRoduCtivE lAnd in North America!240 acres of Palouse farm fields, 400 ac of prime timber land with a big year-around creek, awesome views, and wildlife galore. It even has an old farm house, well, electric, phone, new rocked road and paved access! This is the perfect property for farming and ranching, survival, family or corporate retreat. Bring Offers! Asking $1,700,000

    240 ACRES of foREStEd lAnd With beau-tiful lake, mountain and valley views. Four contiguous parcels (two 80-acre and two 40-acre) borders USFS on multiple sides. $799,500

    undER GRound houSE on 130 ACRESbordered by two big creeks & timber company land! IncludeS well, electric plus solar and generator back-ups, two good log cabins, shop & greenhouse. New interior road system & county road access. Awesome views. Priced as vacant land, only $599,000!

    BEAutiful, old WoRld Monitor style Barn/House, on 20 acres, just a few minutes to Sandpoint. Property has lake views, pond, forest and meadows, with nice walking trails throughout and great views. House is unfinished on inside, currently set up as shop & apt. Asking $399,000

    Nice little, well built cabin on 5 acres with additional lake view bldg site. Sunny Side area, just a short walk to Lake Pend Oreille! Cabin has sleeping loft, kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Road to building pad w/ lake view, septic and well on site. Asking $185,000

    thiS GEoRGEouS 85 ACRE property features deeded waterfront, borders public lands, and has river & mountain views. Located about 9 miles down Lakeshore Dr. from Sandpoint on county roads. This exceptional land is nicely forested, with plenty of usable land.Three par-cels sold together or separately. Asking $925,000

    20 ACRE piCtuRESquE fARm & RAnCh,.Quaint & beautiful horse property with good home, barn & shop. Pproductive pasture, nice views, county maintained road, Easy access into public lands, town or lake. Asking $399,500

    Beautiful lake view 21 Ac parcel, aprox ten miles to Sandpoint, Selle Valley, awesome views of Lake Pend Oreille, valley, selkirks and cabinet mountains, flat / benched & sloped land, road to building site roughed in, appraised Oct 2009 $175K Asking $170K

    8 ACRES w/ 800 of WAtERfRont, where the Pack River meets Lake Pend Oreille. adjacent to Idaho Club! Boatable into Lake Pend Oreille. Great road access, building pad in, perc tested and gorgeous views of river, lake, mountains & wildlife. Bring all offers $995,000

    niCE, WEll Built homE on 27 ACLocated on a paved county road 10 min. north of Bon-ners Ferry. This 3 Bd/3Ba Super Good Cents Energy Home was built in 1996 to CA building codes & is quality throughout. Nice property, hike to public land & lakes, great views. Backup gen. elect. $324,900

    20.6 ACRES IN THE KELSO LAKE AREA At the end of Sunset Road... sits about 7 ac of good, usable land with nice forest and great views, plus an additional 13ac area of subirrigated pasture / wetland/ shallow pond with farm-ing or grazing potential.. Owner Financing $59,900

    40 ACRES with gorgeous lake views, county road frontage, less than one mile to Clark Fork, ID power and phone are in the road, property is flat on bottom and up on top for excellent building sites. Unparalleled views of Lake Pend Oreille, River, valley & mountains. $199,500

    Georgeous 25 Acre Kootenai Riverfront Estate very nice 2007 home is 3930 sq, hardwood & tile floors, Corian counter tops. Huge shop with full office, foyer-sitting area and full BaRm both house and shop have hydronic heat, wood fired or electric and backup generator system too! Awsome cedar barn, fully insulated, top of the line stalls, tack room and arena. Nice new cabin on the river. Extensive water system throughout property, en-tire property post and rail fenced, perfect walk out waterfront, views, too much to list, see website... $1,200,000

    GOOD 3 BEDROOM STARTER HOME. Just 7 blocks from downtown Sandpoint, big yard equals three lots, zoned for a triplex and excellent long term, stable renter for the investment minded. Asking$199,500

    Michael White, RealtorBS Forest Resources & Ecosystem ManagementFor land, Ranches, and Homes with Acreage

    You will get more knowledge skills and servicennxUwww.northidaholandman.com

    R E S o R t R E A l t Y

    Harry WeerheimSales Associate,

    Residential & Resort Specialist

    Captain & EMT, Schweitzer Mtn VFDExperienced Home Builder 208-610-6577

    Very Nice 15ac property with one big pond, one little pond, beautiful views, good usable land with nice ma-ture trees, forest and meadows. Well built,3 story, Alternative energy house, with passive solar design is about 90% dried in and ready to finish your way. Owner financing available, Asking $179,000



    2008, niCE, nEW, WEll Built 3Bd/2Bain Kootenai, ID just minutes to downtown Sandpoint.This home features beautiful wood work, vaulted ceilings and great views. Nearly a half acre lot is big-gest in subdivision and access is all on paved roads.Large two car attached garage $224,500



    17 ACRES w/ SAnd CREEK fRontAGEbeaver pond, nice forest,good- usable land, power & phone,and cabin. Less than 10 ml to Sandpoint, 1 mile off paved co. rd, 3 parcels sold together for $99,500







  • The impact of lower school funding; what is the Game Commission, anyway?; report from the DAV; say cheese; a holiday of feasts and the haunted apartment.

    THE RIVER JOURNALA News Magazine Worth

    Wading Through~just going with the flow~

    P.O. Box 151Clark Fork, ID 83811www.RiverJournal.com208.255.6957SALESCall 208.255.6957 or email [email protected]

    PRESS RELEASES(Email only) to [email protected]

    STAFFCalm Center of TranquilityTrish [email protected]

    Ministry of Truth and Propaganda

    Jody Forest [email protected]

    CartoonistsScott Clawson, Matt Davidson, Kriss Perras

    Regular ContributorsDesire Aguirre; Jinx Beshears; Laura Bry; Scott Clawson; Sandy Compton; Marylyn Cork; Dick Cvitanich; Duke Diercks; Mont. Sen. Jim Elliott;

    Idaho Rep. George Eskridge; Lawrence Fury; Dustin Gannon; Shaina Gustafson; Matt Haag; Ernie

    Hawks; Hanna Hurt; Herb Huseland; Emily Levine; Marianne Love; Thomas McMahon; Clint Nicholson;

    Kathy Osborne; Gary Payton; Angela Potts; Paul Rechnitzer; Boots Reynolds; Kriss Perras Running

    Waters; Sandpoint Wellness Council; Rhoda Sanford; Lou Springer; Mike Turnlund; Tess Vogel;

    Michael White; and Pat Williams

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an

    act, but a habit. AristotleProudly printed at Griffin Publishing in

    Spokane, Wash. 509.534.3625Contents of the River Journal are copyright 2009. Reproduction of any material, including original artwork and advertising, is prohibited. The River Journal is published the first of each month and approximately 8,000 copies are distributed in Sanders County, Montana, and Bonner, Boundary

    and Kootenai counties in Idaho. The River Journal is printed on 40 percent recycled paper with soy-based ink. We appreciate your efforts to recycle.

    Bridge-a-doon. See story by Roger Staunton on page 9

    Hunting the wild Christmas Tree See story by Trish Gannon on page 12

    December 2009

    Departments14-15.....Outdoors 16.........Politics 18.........Education0.........Veterans News.........Food 4.........Faith6-7.....Other Worlds8-9.....Wellness30-31.....Obituaries3.........Staccato Notes33-36.....Humor

    Editorial 4 Love Notes Giving back17 Say What? Time to leave19 The Hawks Nest Eating Italian1 Politically Incorrect on Marianne Love3 Currents The big fire5 The Scenic Route Solving problems 36 From the Mouth of the River A holiday story

    Cover Mike Gunter, on Rudy P at their home in Sagle, is looking to the future.. See Love Notes on page 4

    Long Journey Into Night See story by Paul Rechnitzer on page 8

    Artifact Unsnowed See story by Sandy Compton on page 3


  • TouchstoneMassageTherapiesAt Stepping

    Stones Wellness Center

    Oncology SportsMedical Energy

    Stress ReliefKrystle Shapiro,

    LMT803 Pine Sandpoint208.290.6760

    SHELL RAPID LUBE 404 Larch Sandpoint 255-2251Oil Change Heating System Transmission Tire changes

    Mechanic on Duty

    DECEMBERIs your car ready for winter?

    Stop in now before the cold temperatures arrive!

    Need reliable, high-speed Internet service? Call for a free site survey today! Intermax serves

    many areas of Bonner County from Dover to Hope.208.762.8065 - Coeur dAlene

    208.265.3533 - Sandpointwww.IntermaxNetworks.com

    HELLO HOPE!Garlands &

    WreathsHostess Gifts

    Bundles of BloomsSeasonal Bulbs &

    Holiday Accents

    Sarah Palin isGOING ROGUEin Sandpoint Thursday, December 10

    A book signing sponsored by

    Vanderfords Books and Office Products.

    *Only books purchased at Vanderfords (receipt

    required for proof of sale) will be signed.

    At the Sandpoint Events Center6 pm to 9 pm

  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 3

    UNSNOWEDOn Friday, November 27, opening day of

    the 2009-10 ski season, sisters Morgan and Emily Armstrong, 7 and 9, respectively and Brooke Bowerman, 10; all from Spokane, brought something to light that had been hiding in the Enchanted Forest at Schweitzer Mountain Resort for nearly two decades.

    Morgan, Emily and Brooke, all skiers in the Schweitzer Alpine Racing School, were getting an early start on their Enchanted Forest snow fort, when they unearthed an artifact from the days when the lift on the learning slope was a T-bar. As they excavated snow for the fort, the girls found something red under the snow.

    I thought it was a ski pole, Emily said, and just passed it by.

    Morgan thought it was a ski, but when

    Brooke tripped over it, she started digging.Then we saw the white cross on it,

    Brooke said, and they got excited.What they dug out was a ski patrol

    toboggan that had been laying under the trees to the skiers left of Chair Two for long enough to be nearly buried by needles and forest duff. Inside the toboggan was stenciled T-Bar.

    It took us forever to pull it out to the run, Brooke, but when they did, patroller Kim Ann Loosemore spotted them from the lift.

    Id gotten a call that three girls needed help, said Loosemore, and when I saw them, I thought they had a sled. People arent supposed to have sleds on our runs, but then, I got closer and saw it was a

    toboggan. An old toboggan.Loosemore called for a snowmobile

    and the toboggan was taken to Patrol headquarters in the basement of Lakeview Lodge, where it caused Patrol head John Pucci some amazement.

    I have no idea how long that toboggans been there, he said, but Chair Two replaced the T-Bar almost 20 years ago.

    Morgan, Emily and Brooke were well-rewarded for their discovery and diligent recovery effort. Hot chocolates, T-shirts and other swag were provided by the Resort.

    Photo: Toboggan rescuers (L to R) Brooke Bowerman, Emily Armstrong, Patroller Kim Ann Loose and Morgan Armstrong and Schweitzer Patrol head, John Pucci, show off the toboggan the girls found in the Enchanted Forest.

    Schweitzer Artifact

    Photo and story by Sandy Compton

  • Page 4 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009

    Tis the season of giving. Actually, that season lasts all year long in our generous community. Since the calendar date suggests special emphasis on giving, Id like to share a story about one of the multitude of angels among us who invests his talents, time and good fortune for the benefit of others.

    May his personal story and the saga of his life-altering event, prompting even more reason for his good works, serve as just one poignant example among the many compassionate individuals who work tirelessly, both publicly and often very privately, to provide support for those in need. Our population teems with such souls, and for that we are very fortunate.

    My story features a well-known area native who has lived his own American dream right here in Sandpoint and its surrounding area. Hes also been a recipient of the communitys compassion.

    I chose Mike Gunter for this column after visiting him at his office recently. Starting the conversation by asking how he was doing with his young Quarter Horse, I couldnt shut him up to get a word in edgewise about my own Appaloosa filly.

    He told me about helping Steve Wood move cows, about getting unloaded from his horse and about how pleased he was to be teaching the horse to rein with a light hand. Finally, I figured it was time to break in and change the subject to my real motive for the visit.

    I mentioned hearing his frequent radio ads and seeing his other efforts over the past year of seeking community support on fundraising benefits to aid a couple of Sagle boys and, most recently, for the Chris Owens family.

    Why? I asked.Mike appeared speechless. I pressed him more.Why, all the work on the benefits? I

    added, knowing the answer but wanting to hear it come from his lips.

    To give back, he answered, visibly moved.

    Thats exactly what I figured, I said. Just wanted to make sure. Mike wasted no time telling me he had a little help from family and friends with these projects. I knew that, too.

    I also knew I had my candidate for a very nice Christmas column to remind us of our true mission on this earth.

    Mike, a farm boy from Sagle, can tell tales of a charmed childhood, augmented by close-knit

    family, daily chores followed by afternoons at play and long-held neighborhood friendships. His Sagle upbringing, in what I like to call Gunterville, could mirror that of most of us who beam at the chance to tell nostalgic stories of our North Idaho beginnings.

    Add to that Mikes college graduation from the University of Idaho, a devoted wife Karen and two wonderful kids, Clint and Kari, whove gone off, graduated and come home to serve their community. There are also the blessed grandchildren. Theres the camaraderie with his siblings, especially his brother Pat, with whom he shares and stewards part of the Gunter property where his dad once ran a dairy and his mom sold cream to the neighbors. Theres the family heritage of generations living here in Bonner County.

    And, the business he purchased in 1984 with his childhood friends, Dale Jeffres (Mike and Dale were born the same day, September 28, 1951, at the Sandpoint Hospital; moms were roommates) and Dwight Sheffler has done well too, not only for the trios families but also for many families of employees in the community.

    Sandpoint Furniture has prospered and grown since the partners moved it from downtown Sandpoint to Ponderay. Over the years, theyve added new specialties to their offerings and their service. Along with that came the Ponderay Events Center. The complex has served as venue for numerous community events, including Mikes 40th year SHS class reunion this past summer.

    Mike definitely has a touching story to tell, so Ill let him tell it from this point on.

    On family: I live on an 80-acre piece, owned jointly and some separately by myself, my brother Pat and my father. Some of this ground was part of my grandfather Vernon Gunters original land when he and my Grandmother Laura moved to Sagle in the early 20s, all the way from Culdesac, Idaho.

    My mothers parents were both born and raised in the Glengary area, and I believe my grandfather, Clifford Warrens parents came here from Minnesota in the late 1800s. So I am actually a fourth-generation Bonner County resident. Grandma Irma Warren also attended Glengary School.

    I met my wife, Karen, at the Lewiston Round Up in September, 1971, while a sophomore at the U of I. She was only a junior at Lewiston High, and it really took some convincing of her parents that I was really just a dumb farm kid and nothing to worry about. We were married in September, 1973.

    Our son, Clint, is a U of I grad and now the general manager of Sandpoint Furniture. Hes married to Margie. Our daughter Kari is also a U of I grad and a teacher for Virtual Academy

    for the state of Idaho. Kari is married to Ross, who is our CFO in the business. Ross and Kari have given us two precious granddaughters, Karsen (6) and Taylor (3).

    On childhood responsibility and a work ethic: My dad ran a dairy and sold Grade A milk to Carnation until I was 5 years old. When Carnation required everyone to go to a pipeline system, Dad decided to sell out and begin his career in the road and bridge construction business as a pile buck and also a carpenter.

    My mother stayed home and raised my brother Pat and me, along with my two sisters, Diane and Darla. I was the oldest. My mother became the secretary at Sagle School for many years after we got older.

    I had a really good childhood, although, to many of todays young people, it might not have been. My childhood was defined first by work on the home place from a very young age. Everything else came after the work was done.

    By the time I was nine, I was milking 3 cows, seven days a week, twice daily. All my friends thought I was cheating because I got to use the old Surge milker, left over from the dairy. They all had to milk one cow by hand.

    We had steers to feed and water and ice to thaw all winter long before and after school because Dad was away on constructions jobs and Mom sold the milk to neighbors for extra income. On weekends, Pat and I spent many Saturdays fixing fence, cutting wood, doctoring cattle, weeding endless rows of garden, and whatever had to be done.

    On childhood and family memories: I absolutely loved hunting and fishing. It was the only time I could do things with Dad that didnt entail work and I enjoyed seeing him actually let down.

    Dad had a commercial license for Bluebacking (Kokanee), and we would smoke, can and freeze what we needed and sell the rest to Evans Fishery. Many times, we would catch our limit of 350 in the morning on a Saturday. I also enjoyed hunting deer and elk and that provided our meat for the winter. We would sell our beef. Why eat our own beef when there was free government beef running wild for the taking?

    I also loved playing baseball. That was a Sagle heritage. I was and still am proud to say that I was a part of the Sagle baseball legacy, dating back to the old Sagle Sourdoughs that first played in the very early 1900s. Baseball was the one sport that Dad let us play after the work was done. Dad played for Sagle in the 40s and 50s, and he loved the sport.

    A typical summer day in Sagle in the early 60s meant that all of the local kids got up early and finished their assigned work for

    Love NotesFor Mike Gunter, its always a season of giving

    Marianne [email protected]

  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 5

    the day by noon. Then we would all gather at the Sagle ball diamond and play baseball for hours.

    We would then find enough beer bottles in the ditch line to go to Grandpa Shefflers store [Dwight and Dwaynes grandfather] and turn them in for the coldest and sweetest nectar of the gods that anyone could ever imagine.

    We would then sit around that store and talk baseball with Grandpa Sheffler until it was chore time. I later played basketball and ran track for SHS.

    On educational experiences: I went to Sagle School through the sixth grade and then attended the old SJHS where the Sandpoint Event Center is now. And, yes, I had Charlie Stidwell for our principal, along with so many others. I then went on to SHS and graduated in 1969. From high school, I attended the U of

    I and graduated in 1973 with a BS degree in marketing from the College of Business.

    On current interests: Personal interests would be my horses. I like to ride as much as I can, and I am getting into the training aspect now, trying to become a better all-around horseman. I also like to ride my mountain bike. Ive put in more than 1,000 miles this year since March.

    My brother and I still raise alfalfa hay on the farm, along with our cousin Don, across the road. We share equipment and help each other. Collectively, we baled and sold about

    5,000 bales this summer. I get a great sense of accomplishment and

    satisfaction knowing that I am using my father and my grandfathers land for agriculture. We want to be good stewards of that land for the short time that we will have it, before it passes on to our children. Hopefully they will want to continue the family legacy. I think my dad and my grandfather are and would be proud of what we do.

    On friendship and business: My career has been with Sandpoint Furniture for 33 years. My partners are Dale Jeffres and Dwight Sheffler, who are also two of my best friends. We graduated and played sports for SHS together.

    We purchased Sandpoint Furniture in 1984, and the business has been in incredible blessing to all of us and our families. We now

    have six kids in the business among the 3 of us. We refer to them as the second generation, and they are doing a great job of continuing the business in a progressive and positive way.

    I have stepped away as the CEO and reinvented myself as the marketing director. I do all the advertising for each of the businesses. Now I can come in late and then leave early to make up for coming in late.

    Nowadays, a perfect day in my life is getting up and doing my 30 minutes of exercise, feeding the horses, having coffee with my two

    partners Dwight and Dale, at 10 am, answering my e-mail and plan out my advertising for the next two weeks. By 3 pm its time to work out and then either ride one of the horses or ride my bike. I try to alternate, but try to do one or the other at least five days a week. I love to ride in the mountains with a partner or by myself. It is so relaxing, and it gives me a great sense of peace. Oh, and I do take my wife out to dinner occasionally.

    My present position, as stated earlier, is marketing director for all of our businesses. This includes five different newspapers, four radio stations (I do my own spots and I voice them myself). I also do four direct mailings a year, as well as writing the audio for our TV spots now on KREM and KXLY. I write the script for our ON HOLD messaging and our reader boards each week on Hwy 200 and 95. I also serve on our board of directors as a senior partner.

    My partners are also my best friends. We have always met for coffee at 10 am for the last 27 years. We have always said we built our success around coffee because having communicated literally five-six days a week, problems were never able to build up into big problems.

    We talked business or monkey business; it didnt matter. What mattered is that we were able to talk to each other and trust each other with some of our deepest concerns. Many men dont get that opportunity because were trained to just internalize all of that.

    On a life-changing event and a rebirth, of sorts: Until I got my first diagnosis, I considered my life near perfect. In May, 2006, my wife noticed some lumps on my skin. The doctors wanted to just treat it as a reaction to something. Karen insisted on a skin biopsy right away, which, according to the University of Washington, may have ultimately saved my life.

    After two biopsies and more than 50 doctors from UW and Stanford, analyzing my extremely rare and unique case, the cancer was officially diagnosed as hematodermic malignant neoplasm. In laymens terms it was a non-Hodgkins lymphoma but with unique leukemia characteristics.

    In October 2006, I was told that it was very rare and extremely aggressive. In fact, I am told that I am the only person in the United States with this diagnosis. The life expectancy appeared to be 12 to 14 months.

    My only chance for survival would be a full stem-cell transplant utilizing the harshest and most aggressive chemotherapy and TBI (total body irradiation) that mankind can survive. I was told that one third of the patients will not survive the treatment.

    My reaction, at that time, was a total numbness that came over me. I couldnt speak, as I looked at my wife, and my son and daughter-in-law, who were in the room at that devastating moment. I went through all of the emotions of shock, denial, anger, and finally an acceptance of what had to be done.

    Continued on next page

    I would like to be able to tell everybody how brave and courageous I was but that, quite simply, was not true... I had heel marks where I was being dragged along by God and by Karen.


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  • Page 6 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009


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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 7

    I knew, at that time, that if I lived, my life and perspective would be changed forever. I thought about all I had worked for, my family, my precious granddaughters, and all that I still wanted to do and accomplish.

    The treatment: I believe that it was seven rounds of chemo that I started with, and the cocktail was so toxic that the doctors compared it to about eight times the potency used for breast cancer. I had to stay in the hospital for four days on each of these treatments, which were spread out over four months from February through April of 2007.

    I was so sick and weak it was hard to function, but I made myself keep moving. One of the nurses at KMC lives at Sagle and she saw me plowing snow with the tractor and really got after me, but I told her that this was what I needed to do, to keep going ahead.

    By May of 2007, it was determined that I was in complete remission. By mid-May, Karen and I were on our way to Seattle, where we had rented an apartment close to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Thats where we would spend the next four months preparing for my transplant. To cage a Sagle boy up in a little third-story apartment in downtown Seattle was about as cruel as the treatment.

    After going through weeks of testing and poking and analyzing, they were ready to harvest my stem cells. It took two tries and an extra two weeks, but we finally got more than 8 million of the little buggers. They were hoping for 3 million, so I was already 5 million to the good. The last week of July, I was given the final round of chemo, which was a massive dosage, that would take my white blood cell count to zero. This is called a time of Near Death.

    At that same time, I was undergoing TBI twice a day for four days. They were literally cooking and sterilizing every cell in my body, including my bone marrow and my brain. (So thats what went wrong!) I could only survive this way for a few days.

    After four days, I was given my healthy

    stem cells back through a 6-hour process, like a dialysis, which they refer to as the rescue. My stem-cell transplant was official on August 1, 2007. They call this my new birthday, like the beginning of my new life.

    I would like to be able to tell everybody how brave and courageous I was but that, quite simply, was not true. Many days I did not want to go on. I was ready to quit and go home and let things take its course.

    If you remember the poem Footprints in the Sand, well... I had heel marks where I was being dragged along by God and by Karen. How can I not be a different person and seeing life through a different lens after taking this journey? Karen and I stayed in Seattle for another 30 days, as they checked my blood and vitals daily, and watched for complications. I was then sent home.

    On Sept. 1 with a long list of dont dos and dont eats. I couldnt even be around my horses or be around dirt for six months. Kind of a boy in a bubble. Thats a tough challenge for a farm boy to adhere to. I have to say that the support that I received from family and friends, through phone calls, visits, and especially prayer, was just unbelievable.

    People I hadnt seen for years were contacting me and telling us that we were on their church prayer lines. I was on prayer chains literally all over the western United States. I believe that there were actually thousands that prayed for Karen and me during this time.

    My mind wouldnt let me believe that I could be healed. The doctors told me that if the cancer came back, it most likely would be in the first year, that it would come back with a vengeance and that it would be immune to the treatments that I had just had. Naturally, I would dwell on this.

    Well, the six-month check-up results came back with no sign of the cancer. WOW! Was that exciting! Then the one year, then 18 months, and finally my second year was complete. In September of this year, and the doctor told me that I could start using the C word, meaning a cure.

    On lifes current mission: I know that God has extended my life for this period of time. I cant answer why he chose me. There are so many people that I know that have been diagnosed since my cancer manifested itself, and I feel that they were more deserving than I, and their life has been cut short.

    I do believe that God has a purpose for me and how can I not answer that call?

    I also know that I was given the gift of being able to run a successful business for the past 25 years. Over those years, I have developed some unique marketing skills that have served me well in my business. I now feel the need to give back to this community that I love, using these skills to make peoples lives better wherever and whenever I can. I guess I have been practicing for this time for the last 25 years.

    Its been my honor to help with the marketing of the events benefitting Tyler Cordle, the little boy with cancer, who is doing very well now. The Coopers Night Benefit has made a huge impact in this little boys life. The Chris Owens benefit and auction from a couple of weeks ago was a huge success, and it is so gratifying to see how their lives have been touched by the outpouring of this amazing community.

    Im a member of VAST (Victims Advocate Support Team) through Bonner County. They are the first to step in and support families devastated by domestic violence.

    The outpouring and compassion of this community continues to amaze me in a way that I wasnt able to see as clearly before. I cant say enough about the outpouring of support here, when somebody needs help. All I do is the marketing. I know how to get the word out and to relay the message through radio and newspaper, but others put in hundreds of hours planning and making.

    It all happens in such a positive way. When I see this outpouring, it energizes me in such a way that I know this is exactly how I am to be using my gifts and talents.


    Gunter- Contd from page

  • Page 8 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009

    Statistics bear out the prevalence of Alzheimers in the U.S. and the impact on family caregiving for those afflicted.

    There are over 60 forms of dementia, which is associated with memory loss. One of these forms is Alzheimers, which in 009 is expected to affect over five million Americans. The disease is fatal, usually occurring from four to six years after diagnosis. During that time span the disease increases nerve cell death in the brain, which in turn affects basic physical functions such as walking and swallowing.

    By contrast, deaths attributed to Alzheimers increased over 47 percent from years 000 to 006; compared with decreases of 11 percent due to heart disease, .6 percent in breast cancer, and 14 percent to prostate cancer. One out of eight people over 65 has Alzheimers; every 70 seconds an American develops Alzheimers. The direct cost, particularly to Medicare and Medicaid, and the indirect costs to businesses for employees caring for Alzheimers patients is currently over $140 billion. For those with a coexisting chronic condition such as diabetes, the Medicare costs are twice those of treating Alzheimers alone.

    Finally, the family caregiving situation; more than 70 percent of people with Alzheimers live at home, cared for by family and/or friends. This amounts to 10 million Americans providing care.

    Our Sandpoint Senior Center offers family support for those afflicted with dementia, and support for their caregivers through the DayBreak Center, located in Ponderay, Idaho at 830 Kootenai Cut-off Road. Their mission is to provide activities to help participants maintain their highest level of functioning and self-fulfillment. As stated, the Center provides the caregiver with much needed respite and support services. Basic cost is $7.50/hour, and the Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. To reach the DayBreak Center call 08-65-817 or the Senior Center call 08-63-6860.

    On those days when there has been time and the right place, watching the sun go down is one of the delights of nature. We have all seen the orange globe descend beneath the waves. As you watch what has happened for eons we all know that journey will occur (with some exceptions) also knowing that before too long it will be back in the heavens. Unfortunately, there are some for whom that setting will be the last. It might rise again for those who are watching and for others it may never resume its rightful place in space.

    For those who are watching the ones for whom there may never be many more sunrises, being the caregiver is a form of torture were it not for the love that has long prevailed. The long journey into the night is one of those painful experiences from which there is no escape. Understanding the experience is one of the things that can help ease the pain and make the trip more bearable.

    The load can never be lifted from those who care. It is one of those burdens life

    brings that cant be shared. Bluntly put, there is simply no escape, which is where respite comes into play. Since we are all watchers, we all can help the watcher closest to the weary traveler by trying to break the relentless journey.

    The local DayBreak Center is just such a place in our community. By offering to be the watcher for a few short hours the one who cares the most can catch a breath. It is much like taking that pack off your pack and stepping back. You know that the pack will have to be put back in its place on your back but at least for the moment you can look away from the problem you are helpless to solve.

    So give a thought to those who are priceless... the watchers. On duty every hour of the day for the duration, they need what little you can give and that is a bit of your compassion. A small amount of regard for others will go a long way toward sharing a load beyond measure that will hopefully never be yours.

    The Long Journey Into Nightby Paul Rechnitzer


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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 9

    Bridge-a-Doonby Roger Stoughton

    PROLOGUEBrigadoon The movie, Brigadoon,

    1954, starred Gene Kelly, Van Johnson and, sigh, Cyd Charisse. Gene and Van travel from New York City to the moors of Scotland to hunt grouse. They become lost; then through the mist they spy a quaint little village across a small stone bridge. While there, they encounter colorful natives in the marketplace, selling produce and tartans, and preparing for a wedding, all with much Scottish song and dance.

    Gene and Cyd, the beautiful, sigh, sister of the bride, become infatuated with each other, and swoon in trance-like song and dance. Finally, Gene learns the amazing secret of the village from the old schoolmaster. Two hundred years earlier the local pastor prayed to God the village people would live forever if he sacrificed his own opportunity to live there from then on. The miracle was granted.

    The village only comes to life for one day every 100 years. Thus, the villagers have only wakened twice in the past 200 years. If a permanent resident flees the village, it will disappear forever. If an outsider falls in deep abiding love with a villager, the outsider can renounce the real world and live in the village forever. Gene helps the villagers stop a young man, unlucky in love, from fleeing the village. This was the only serious conflict in the story.

    Gene is emotionally torn, but finally returns to New York City on the badgering of his drunken friend, Van. Brigadoon memories and songs haunt Gene. Finally, a

    few weeks later, he breaks his engagement to a NYC beauty and returns to the moor near the site of Brigadoon - just to be near the place where he had fallen in love with Cyd. Suddenly, the village appears in the mist and the wise old schoolmaster welcomes Gene back - all possible because his love for Cyd is so strong. Gene rushes to the village and embraces Cyd standing outside her cottage late at night. Cut to bagpipe music and The End.SUMMER RESIDENTS

    My wife, Carol, and I use that label reluctantly. It is factually accurate and often useful at local shops, but I dont quite like the taste of it. It seems, at times, to connote visitors who are newly rich, flaunt their wealth, lean toward arrogance and condescension, squat in opulent condos that close off sections of lake shore, cause real estate values and taxes to escalate, bring cynical big city values from sprawling megalopolises such as the stretch of land between Los Angeles and San Diego or that large urban blob referred to as the Bay Area. (full transparency here: We live other seasons in Sacramento CA, and we mostly like it).

    Summer residents include those self-satisfied, plumpy nomads who run their RVs between RV compounds in Yuma, AZ and the lake here, pulling boats, ATVs and jet skis behind them, running compressors or high decibel motors 24/7. I could go on.

    Granted: Some of these folks are good people, real people, interesting people. Bottom line: The words, summer resident,

    should be bundled up with other stomach turning words like stakeholders and utilize, attached to a chunk of concrete and dumped in a deep part of the lake.OUR STORY: CANT WE HAVE ANOTHER LABEL?

    Warning: This section includes fawning praise, unexpurgated hyperbole and flattery of this area and its people. It details more than you need to know about our story. It ignores political issues and conflicts hereabouts. It describes an idyllic vision. I will explain in florid detail what brings us here year after year.

    To begin: In 1960 Carols parents, Bill and Twila, were busy in YMCA work in Ventura, Calif. Bill, a rare spirit, now 101 years old, smart and witty, a lover of Pennsylvania woodlands, bought a house on a lot next to Lake Cocolalla - possibly sight unseen. Were checking.

    Bill and Twila came up every August to work on the old house and luxuriate in the surrounding lake and forest. Early on they crossed the Long Bridge and the village of Sandpoint appeared from the vapors rising out of Lake Pend Oreille. We assume at that instant some mystical trance fell over them. They spread the word to their extended family and friends about this northwest paradise.

    In 1963 Carol and I married and soon found ourselves traveling up Highway 95. We did not realize it at the time, but by the end of our first visit a mystical spell had been secreted in the back of our brains.

    Question: What is the biggest threat to Lake Pend Oreille?

    Answer: Perpetual pollution from the Rock Creek mine.

    Protecting Lake Pend Oreille since 1996

    The snowbirds have left for the season. Heres why theyll be back.

    Continued on next page

  • Page 10 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009

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    In 1968 Bill and Twila, just retired, moved to an old house beyond East Hope with more rich forest land and a large area for Bills huge gardens. They entered the life of the community, revved up an active program for local AARP seniors, made friends extensively, being warm-hearted extroverts, and planted scores of trees.

    We brought our three kids up on occasion to this wonderful grandparent haven. They boated, waded, picked berries, chased the neighbors cows home, watched the trains, slept in a cozy attic, saw old family photos and heard family stories, ate lots of ice cream and Bills garden fare, met the natives, watched the wildlife. Golden days.

    In 1970 Bill and Twila brought Bills 89-year-old mother from Philadelphia to a home in East Hope where she lived well over the winter, then died suddenly in the spring. By this time Bill and Twila had 12 acres of land around their house, and split it up into five parcels where some new homes went up.

    Around 1981 they sold their house, lived south in the winter, and came to a little house trailer in the summer parked on the last of the five parcels They had a 250-foot well dug, and Bill made breakfasts of eggs and potato hash in a large iron skillet in a fire pit lined by rocks. The trailer had a gorgeous long view of the lake.

    In 1986 Carol and I and our three kids stopped there to camp on the way to the Worlds Fair in Vancouver, BC. Bill and Twila offered to sell their last three acres for a buck apiece. Our youngest, Dave, 16, was first to whip a dollar out of his pocket

    and the rest of us soon followed. Within a few short years Bill and Twila abandoned the trailer to stay south.

    What were we going to do with our land, 900 miles from Sacramento? We drove up around 1990 and asked Joe the architect to visit our parcel. Bill knew Joes wife, from real estate dealings, and thus put us on to Joes creative work. We admired his Frank Lloyd Wright kind of designs and knew he was a straight arrow. He proposed a modest master plan with four connected modules that could be built as need and funds allowed.

    Two modules are done to date. The first, built in 1992 by Browce and his merry band of superb craftsmen and women, was a 22-square foot stucco building, lavishly trimmed inside with red oak, having an open ceiling under a steep pyramid-shaped, sheet metal roof. No doubt benign cosmic rays are focused down inside, for it has become the Enchanted Cottage to us. Thanks be to Joe!

    This plain looking gem (outside) is mounted on a bench of land surrounded by 100-foot tall Western Red Cedars with stands of fir, tamarack , birch and mountain maple. A narrow swath of land downslope was cleared so that we could gaze at the lake half a mile below us. We do not boat, ski, sail, swim or wade in the lake; we just admire it.

    In 2000 we had the shell of a Guest Cottage built, the second module, and made a hobby of finishing the inside. It is similar to our cottage but a bit smaller. It houses our kids and our friends when they visit. The past three summers we built a similarly shaped gazebo on the site of Bill and Twilas house trailer.

    So, we have been up here every summer the past 20 years for varying

    Snowbirds- Contd from page

  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 11

    lengths of time. When we first stepped into the finished Enchanted Cottage, we realized that spell in the back of our brains had spread and had us completely in its power. Over time we have come to realize the surrealistic nature of our travels here. In spring we hear a powerful internal voice urging us back to Northern Idaho.

    Now we understand why maps show little habitation in the Panhandle with obscure town names in small print. As we cross the Long Bridge, a string of quaint little villages gradually take form. Perhaps we should call them collectively, Bridge-a-doon! Surely there are more than one Brigadoon-type villages in the world. Just as the world is diverse in unique and magical ways, there must be a variety of villages that sleep for varying lengths of time.

    Although the villagers of Bridge-a-doon talk of winter snows, its in their dreams. In this particular variation of Brigadoon, the villages of Bridge-a-doon come to life once a year in the summer and appear to some of those lucky spirits who cross the Long Bridge. We guess the villagers built the Byway to reduce the number of visitors to Bridge-a-doon.

    We gaze in wonder each successive year to see the same shops, the attractive and warm-hearted villagers, the emerald forests, the multi-hued lake that must be the end of some rainbow tinted vortex, and finally up the hill to our beloved Enchanted Cottage.

    Yes, there surely are villages from other dimensions that settle down in this dimension in rare locations. And what causes this mystical occurrence and the magnetic spell it casts? No one knows. Still, here is a possible clue for this location. In Brigadoon Gene and, sigh, Cyd gather heather for the wedding. Webster says heather is of the large genus, Erica, which includes huckleberries. Partake of huckleberries at your own risk, for you may fall under their spell!

    These quaint disappearing villages seem too good to be true. Where else do you find

    shopkeepers so bright spirited and friendly as Harold and Liz and Barbara, or Robin or Merwins Hardware Merlins or Ernie, Curt, Jo Ann and Junie, Dale and Rene? Where else can you stop the world for an evening in the soothing night air of summer, sitting in a canvas chair on the lawn, enveloped by music of the spheres, where you can see forever in the clear skies, focused on stars that shined billions of years ago? What other place besides Bridge-a-doon has food so pure and healthful as the local Farmers Markets? Where too can you find food fit for the Gods like the raspberries, boysenberries, and blueberries bursting with flavor, abundant on bushes and vines grown wild including some that Bill planted decades ago? What snooty art gallery can compare with the paintings, photos and crafts in local fairs, markets and tours in Bridge-a-doon that are so purely reflective of the natural world, so inspired from some creative muse? Where else are household goods so beautifully conceived and pieced together as quilts like those created by neighbor Connie and friends?

    Each year we look again for the wild creatures that live in our Enchanted Forest: The hummers that brave our presence on our little deck; the Stellers Jays that in years past rang our wind chimes before pecking up sunflower seeds in Bills old iron skillet; the wild turkey mom who strutted cheekily past our cottage with her brood trailing behind, cheeping left and pecking right; the does and fawns; the buck we spied asleep near our cottage one morning; the ravens that tour the tree tops sending raucous non-text messages back and forth; the striking pileated woodpeckers weve seen only three times; the chattery squirrels that drop cones from on high and chew them up on porch steps; the many colored butterflies and dragonflies; the robins and tiny birds that nest in sheltered spots under our eaves. Even the neighbors cow that parked one morning right behind our

    cottage, blew its horn at 6 AM and levitated us a foot above our bed!

    What movies are better than those at the Panida? What other village of 8000 has a library so grand that surely the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, who could not live without books, must course through it? What neighbors are friendlier and more help than Sue and Mike? What other place has a sage like Paul who combines grave thoughts and a sly wit? Bridge-a-doon has no match for the pancake breakfasts and Bodacious BBQs to support local facilities. And where else could we find a retreat that allows us to renew our spirits in peace, quiet and privacy?

    What modest little church community has such spiritually inspired members as the one into which we have been welcomed by Sue, Paul, Barbara, Alice, Jean, Susan, John, Gerri, Tom, Ramona, John, Joyce, Bud, Kathleen, Jim, Don, Eva, Helen, Stan, Sue and many others.

    Our daughter and hubby have been drawn here by the huckleberry spell since their graduate work years in Bozeman over ten years ago. In August 1999 they were married on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. We have the newlyweds picture in front of a large sign that says, BEYOND HOPE. During the reception a huge storm came up on the lake, and the wind blew down the tent intended to shield us from possible rain. The underside of the tent was well decorated with potato salad and other buffet items. Fortunately, the Bridge-a-doon spell on our kids has generated a marriage that is calm, strong and productive.

    Our other two kids yearn to visit too. Now their toddlers are coming to throw stones in the lake, walk the trails, make ice cream with Gramps, hear stories from Grannie, eat outside on the deck. They dont realize it, but they have been captured like the four generations before them. Only powerful forces of family and friends draw us back to Sacramento the end of September. This is our five generation, fifty-year story.

    [We could sing the praises of Bridge-a-doon all day. Sure, like all communities in this world, even idyllic ones, there are a few troublesome trolls, worrisome witches, gnarly gnomes and wounded wizards here and there in the forest. They rarely impinge on our lives. Pray for them.]EPILOGUE

    We know many who moved here have equally compelling stories and mental covenants never to leave. Likewise, we guess there are many who come here seasonally who have long histories with Bridge-a-doon. Whatever you call us, summer residents doesnt begin to explain the mystical spell that has been cast over us. We only plead that not too many permanent residents leave, or Bridge-a-doon might vanish forever!Your Way

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  • Page 1 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009

    With Thanksgiving behind us, and bags of leftover turkey meat filling the refrigerator and freezer, thoughts now turn to that most American of holidays, the celebration of consumerism we call Christmas.

    And what is Christmas without a Christmas tree? At this time of year, storefronts everywhere are lined with handsome fir and spruce, awaiting only your lights and decorations to transform themselves into your familys symbol of the holiday season; or, as my daughter Amy once characterized its most important role, the depository of gifts.

    But for some, a way to add joy and celebration to the season is to gather up the family and head out into our North woods to hunt out a tree in the wild to grace our homes with its majestic presence. For those, here are some tips for a successful hunt.

    First, get permission to cut. If youre looking on national forest lands for your holiday tree, stop by the local Forest Service office and obtain a permit. If youre looking on state lands, a permit is not necessary, though only two trees are allowed per family, and theyre for personal use only, not for resale. If youre looking on private land, it should go without saying that you

    need to obtain permission firstif youre tempted to skip this step, be aware that many landowners in the area are armed, and trespassing is a crime.

    Permission in hand, you should focus your hunt on open areas. Idaho Department of Lands asks that you cut trees from road right-of-ways and underneath power lines; this is a benefit to them, because these are areas where they dont really want trees to grow, but its also a benefit to you, because this is an area where youre likely to find a better tree. A tree in the open has the opportunity to fully develop on all sides; trees grown close together (like those on Ernies property where I got my tree one year) are likely to present you with a surprise, no-growth area once you get it cut down that will have to be hidden in a corner, where it will still look odd anyway.

    Be aware that the very best wild Christmas trees are often found in the top ten feet of a 30- to 80-foot wild tree. Really, its slightly excessive to cut down a perfectly healthy, 30-foot-plus wild tree just to get something to grace your living room for 30 days or so. Thats not to say you wont do it, but if you do you should at least feel a bit of shame in the process.

    By the way, although they look lovely out in the woods, leave the cedar trees alone. They are a terrible choice for a Christmas tree. Those lacy, delicate fronds absolutely die under the weight of Christmas lights, not to mention ornaments, and youll find that if you choose a cedar for a Christmas tree, the branches will all droop straight down. Its not an attractive look.

    Fir trees generally have sturdy branches (you can identify a wild fir tree in the woods by its sturdy branches) and make an excellent tree. The one exception to this is the so-called Piss Fir (white fir). Although its branches are also sturdy, it fully lives up to its name and can be identified by its smell as soon as you start to cut it. This is not a successful chocie for your living room. Spruce trees are also an excellent choice, but Im allergic to them so theyre a no-go on my Christmas tree cutting list. Actually, I have many years ended up with a spruce so thats not completely true, but each and every year, covered with little red bumps up to my elbows, Ive regretted it. If youre not allergic, however, a spruce is a nice choice for a tree. Scotch pine is also a popular choice for a Christmas tree, and you can identify them by the way the needles stab into your

    Hunting the Wild Christmas Tree

    by Trish Gannon

  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 13

    skin like knives. Need I say more?Department of Lands suggests you cut

    the tree right below the lowest live limb on the tree. You might be surprised to find how far up the tree that is, especially if theres a lot of forest stuff growing near and around the trunk, but this is a plustrees are much easier to cut right around the level of your arms than they are if youre close to the ground or, god forbid, way over your head.

    For wild trees, a chain saw is generally a bit excessive (trunks are usually small) and really, you dont feel like youve actually cut a tree unless youve cut it with an axe. Dont try to cut it with a hand saw unless you plan to spend hours doing so.

    If you have brought children along, make sure to let them take a few cuts at the treedo like David did on this years tree hunt for my family and teach them the proper way to do so, cutting down at an angle. And if theyre unsteady with the axe, you might want to steady them a bitrapid trips to the emergency room tend to dampen the cutting-the-tree festivities.

    Once youve cut your tree, its time to evaluate the hiking trip that got you to it in the first place. This year, for us, that included passage over several old barbed wire fences and the crossing of a small creek. This can make returning while carrying an overly large Christmas tree quite an adventure. Although I dont recommend planning your hike with the return trip in mind (after all, pretty much all of us can use a little more adventure in our lives), this rule can be bent slightly if you find yourself climbing through precarious cliffs, etc... especially if you have children along. When the going gets tough, give a little thought to the return trip.

    All trees look beautiful in their natural habitatthe woodsbut keep in mind that your living room is, by no stretch of the imagination, natural habitat. If nothing else, in most cases, a living room is smaller than any natural habitat youll find in northern Idaho or western Montana. This can be a

    problem when you discover that the base of your tree, limb to limb, measures twelve feet or more. I still remember the year we had to give up the dining room in order to contain the Christmas tree. Judicious pruning can solve this problem sometimes, but not alwaysif you have to prune off half the tree, youre not always left with the most attractive result.

    By the way, if youve never hunted a wild tree before, you might be surprised when you get it home and try to stand it up in your Christmas tree standbecause these stands are not made for wild trees. See, a farmed tree generally has a fairly sturdy trunk. That is not the case for a tree grown in the wild, so when trying to place it in the stand you might well find that no matter how much you screw those little eye bolts, they never even come close to the trunk of your little wild tree.

    I will leave it to you to discover the best way to overcome this dilemma, mostly because I dont have a really good answer. Through the years, I have tried any number of solutions, from tying the tree to a wall to stuffing Styrofoam and stray pieces of wood into the stand. None have worked particularly well. The best solution was to stand the tree in a bucket full of rocks, but the tree died pretty quickly (Im not sure how well it can take in water when smothered in rocks), and then, of course, you have to find a way to decorate the bucket.

    With the tree up and decorated, the other important thing to remember is to water it every day. I can tell you from experience that a dead, dry tree, while remaining amazingly attractive, is an incredible fire hazard, an adventure you might want to skip during the holiday season.

    Once youve become a dedicated tree-killer, its hard to go back to buying trees at the store. So consider one more thing... for every tree you cut, plant a new one (or two) each Arbor Day, to ensure that generations to come can also experience

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  • Page 14 | The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No. 11| December 009

    A Bird in HandNuthatches: faithful residents of our winter wonderland

    Here is a genus of birds that are common in seemingly everywhere in the summer, common around our feeders in the winter, and whose calls are often heard in that background cacophony of forest music that makes hiking and camping in our area so enjoyable. These birds are in so many ways common, but in others quite the opposite. Lets discover the wonders of these wee little birds, the nuthatches.

    There are three species of the genus Sitta that you might be able to identify in our area, the white-breasted, the red-breasted, and the pygmy. Lets start with the heavyweight and then descend down the scale, not that any of these little fellows would need to join Weight Watchers. But size is relative and the largest of our trio is the white-breasted.

    As the name suggests the most obvious feature of this bird is its white breast. Of course, this wouldnt be obvious if you had never seen its cousin, the red-breasted. So knowing that the bird has a white breast, how does one differentiate it from a similar sized colored bird, such as a black-capped chickadee? Though nuthatches and chickadees might flock together at your feeder, they are not at all similar nor related. When compared to a chickadee, the white-breasted nuthatch will have a far flatter skull, giving a profile that is nothing like the large, round-headed chickadee. In addition, the nuthatch has a much longer beak and with a distinctive

    upward curve to it. This beak is a serious tool with which the bird uses to split open seeds, or as its old English name suggests, to hatch them. The white-breasted nuthatch also has the black cap and steely gray (though darker) wing and back coloration of the black-capped chickadee, but without the black bib. Instead, the white-breasted nuthatch is white from its eyeballs to its belly button, assuming it has a belly button. The vent area will be a light rust color. For reference purposes, the white-breasted

    nuthatch is typically 5.75 inches in length. The red-breasted nuthatch is a size

    smaller than its white-breasted cousin. The red-breasted is a scant 4.5 inches long, though you may not really sense the size difference unless the two birds are competing over the same morsel. You might more commonly see the red-breasted over the white-breasted in your particular area as this smaller bird favors conifers, whereas the white-breasted favors deciduous treesthough this difference is not absolute.

    Besides the red-breast another noteworthy field mark to help identify this bird is a cool black racing stripe from the beak, through the eye, and then towards the back of the head. Also the red coloring on the birds breast might only be a pale rusty hue. The eye-stripe will then be the definitive marker to differentiate between the two species.

    The last of the three nuthatches you might be lucky enough to see is the pygmy. This birds name might really be a misnomer. While it is a scant quarter inch shorter than

    the red-breasted in length, according to my Sibley Guide to Birds it actually outweighs the red-breasted. Nonetheless, not being one to split feathers, the size difference is insignificant. Instead, note the solid brown cap that covers the head to down below eye level. And there may also be a black eye strip, though it might not be distinctive enough to be visible. The bird will also have a white throat and buff-colored belly.

    What makes nuthatches in general remarkable is their ability to descend a tree head first. This is a rare feat among birds, but quite the norm with our trio of Sitta. They are also able to hang upside down while feeding. Nuthatches

    are normally insectivores in the summer, switching to seeds and nuts in the winter. As stated above, they get their name by their habit of pinning a nut into the bark of a tree and splitting it open with its chisel-like beak. I have watched this behavior at a bird feeder, the bird wedging the target sunflower seed into a seam of the wood.

    Nuthatches are cool little birds. Common, but unique. Different, but much the same. I guess that they are just like people! Happy birding. Photo by Eddie Callaway.

    Mike [email protected]

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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 15

    I was struggling the other day to come up with a topic

    for this column as my limited brain space was occupied by mounting cases, and

    the thought of taking time to sit at the computer didnt help the situation.

    A conversation with a sportsman about the

    Idaho Fish and Game Commission generated a

    good topic for this column. Through this conversation I realized most Idaho citizens and some sportsmen probably dont know what role the commission plays or why they were created.

    The Idaho Fish and Game Commission was created by public initiative in 1938. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor (no more than four of the seven may be from the same political party) for staggered four-year terms, and each commissioner is confirmed by the Idaho State Senate. In 1996, the Senate approved adding a seventh district to the existing six to meet the needs of Idahos regions. The seven commissioners, each representing a different region of the state, are responsible for administering the fish and game policy of the state as described in state code section 36-103:

    (a) Wildlife Policy. All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.

    To be appointed, commissioners must be a bona fide resident of the region from which they are appointed, and be well informed and interested in wildlife conservation and restoration. During their terms, commissioners may not hold any other elective or appointive office. Our Commissioner, representing the Panhandle Region from the St. Joe to Bonners Ferry is Tony McDermott of Sagle.

    By law, commissioners must meet in January, April, July and October of each year. In recent years the complexity of wildlife and fisheries management has made it necessary to hold special sessions in addition to the quarterly meetings.

    Major duties and responsibilities of the commission are to supervise the Department of Fish and Game; establish regulations and other needed controls on fishing, hunting, trapping and management of wildlife in line with the states wildlife policy; approve department budgets for submission to the legislature; and hold public hearings and make decisions on the management of the states wildlife.

    The present Commission has done an outstanding job completing the above tasks with a true concern for the people and wildlife of Idaho. So much so, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies presented our commission with the Commission of the Year award, one of the most prestigious awards given in the wildlife field.

    These seven folks who make up our IDFG commission do so on their own time, with no compensation of any kind. They make difficult decisions amid a tumultuous mix of politics and biology, not an easy task. So please take the time to thank them.

    With hunting seasons coming to end, I would like to remind all successful hunters to properly dispose of their animal carcasses. Its an extremely busy time for your local conservation officers, but much of our limited and valuable time continues to be wasted by inconsiderate hunters.

    Dumping fleshed out game carcasses is not only illegal (littering), it is also inconsiderate of nearby residents and reflects poorly on all hunters. The practice also distracts already short-handed conservation officers from real poaching cases.

    Please properly dispose of your carcass by taking it to the transfer station, or dispose of it the woods away from roads, private property, and waterways.

    Just a reminder to get those 2010 hunting and fishing licenses, especially those folks who intend to ice fish, waterfowl hunt, or wolf hunt. The IDFG commissioners have extended the wolf season in the Panhandle zone until March 31, 2010. Hunters will need to purchase a 2010 license and wolf tag after the New Year.

    On behalf of the Sandpoint District Conservation Officers, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and prosperous New Year.

    Leave No Child Inside

    The Game TrailWhat is the Fish and Game Commission?

    Matt [email protected]


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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 16

    The tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Given federal government activities that expand federal government power, many state legislators are becoming increasingly concerned with the diminishment of state sovereignty as a result of the expansion of federal power and the impact on the balance between state and federal authority.

    One of the areas in question is federal trade policy. Many state legislators are discovering that state legislative and regulatory authority has been diminished by past trade agreements that they were not aware of. Congress has also lost much of its constitutional authority over trade policy by delegating trade policy to executive branch officials.

    One example of congressional delegation of this authority is known as Fast Track, developed under the Nixon administration. Fast Track provided an immense amount of executive authority in establishing international trade agreements with no role whatsoever for states, even when matters under their direct jurisdiction are at issue. This trade policy has resulted in trade agreements that delve deeply into state regulatory authority to which states are obligated to comply despite having given no consent.

    The Fast Track trade authority expired

    in 2007 and Congressional members are looking at a new trade negotiation policy and state legislators and other state officials are requesting involvement in the federal debate on trade policy.

    Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization, has held several conference calls with state legislators interested in trade policy and has surveyed legislators in all 50 states asking for their opinions on how cooperation on development of trade policy between states and the federal government could be improved.

    The Public Citizen survey indicated overwhelming support from the legislators survey on a number of trade policy reforms. This support included:

    92 percent support for an opt-in mechanism that allows states to determine their commitments to trade pact regulatory constraints.86 percent support for a new advisory committee on which every state has its own representatives chosen by the state.74 percent support for a mechanism to withdraw states from existing trade agreement obligations limiting non-trade regulatory space when state polices are challenged in trade tribunals.78 percent support for establishment of Readiness Criteria to determine with which countries U.S. trade agreements are negotiated.

    Because of my past involvement in the National Conference of State Legislatures Working Group on Energy and Trade Policy, I have participated in several of the conference calls hosted by Public Citizen in order to keep informed on trade policy and trade agreements that impact Idaho.

    I believe that it is in Idahos best interest to be involved in the negotiations on trade policy with Congress. Federal trade policy impacts Idahos trade opportunities and we need to be involved in a process that will result in improved trade policy that respects federalism and states rights to regulate.

    The holiday season has arrived and to our River Journal readers my Best wishes to you and yours this Holiday Season!

    The legislative session begins January 11 and as we head toward the session I welcome your input on issues important to you. My home phone is 208-265-0123 and my mailing address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, 83825.

    Thanks for reading! George

    A Seat in the HouseThe states role in trade agreements

    George EskridgeIdaho Dist. 1B [email protected]

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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 17

    Three years isnt much of a milestone unless you are 10 or 90, when it becomes significant because of the changes that occur in what is a comparatively short period of time. Watch a few of those Nova programs where they are working with old skulls and a lifetime today is nothing in the overall scheme of things.

    The three year period came up when I was glancing through my personal archives and found my first contribution to the River Journal effort was in November 2006. Which for some reason or another brought to mind that sad song Whats it All About, Alfie? I can hear the melody just about as clearly as watching the movie. I am talking about the Burt Bacharach music and Hal Davids original words from the 1966 movie with Michael Caine. The theme would have attracted the producers of todays Dr. Phil TV show.

    The movie aside, the question raised by the female character sort of rings true these days. The sexual revolution has succeeded in creating some irreversible situations in far greater number than when the subject was softly spoken between close friends and not on screens both small and large.

    To those long in the tooth, as the saying goes, what passes for life these days is a head shaker. Some of the things that seem to occur on a daily basis dont make sense and appear beyond stupid. There was a time when common sense was well regarded. It would seem those bringing up the rear are inclined to believe everything they are told including the free lunch offers and the idea that those post graduate courses had all the answers.

    And then there is the matter of being politically correct. Who came up with the idea we needed to be more sensitive? There were fewer up-tight folks in the old days than there are now. Did we need to become more easily offended? Is being offended a hallmark of your virtue?

    So, Alfie, what is it all about?Darned if I know, but I do know that what

    is working isnt working very well. If it were there would be more happiness in the world. Getting satisfaction in a job well done is blowing in the wind like those leaves in my yard.

    The headline in the paper that indicates the military cant find good recruits probably makes some bleeding heart mothers happy;

    better to have a lard-ass son on the couch than being able to associate with a few good men. He will eventually learn to tell time. Of course, when you have some elitists in Congress bound and determined to cram more government down our throats, maybe true freedom is beyond comprehension.

    And then there is this whole Muslim thing. For years I was blissfully unaware/unconcerned about the religious belief of others. Ignorant perhaps, but content in feeling that anyone had the right to believe what they would and that I would not be influenced or affected by what someone else chose to believe.

    Well thats not the way it is anymore. I can live with an Israeli state. I cant live with the idea that those who cant or wont accept Israel have a hostile regard for those who do. Feeling strongly about something/ anything is acceptable. Far better to have some convictions than to have none at all. But to have a total disregard for the lives of others in the name of your own beliefs makes you wonder where are we going?

    And as the annual holiday season comes and goes it seems lamentable there are some people bent out of shape about the flaunting of Christianity. At a time when there are so many things you can get worked up about, including the future of your job, the foreclosure rate, the unemployment rate and the cram-it-down-your throat antics of some in Congress for heavens sake, what difference does it make to call things holiday events rather than Christmas? The year-end season is what you make of it no matter what the economists have concluded about Black Friday or retailer expectations or for that matter what you call it.

    In a world over run by fanatics of all stripes it seems way past time to disregard the mores peddlers on television, ignore the stupid DVDs that litter the landscape and dont bother with the guitar-driven lyrics of some refugee from reality. Try not to be propelled by the beat of a spirit that isnt kindred. Take a good look at yourself.

    The term is introspection. How do you see yourself and how do you think others see you? Are you pleased with either, both or neither? Hopefully you care. Think about Alfie and what he was asking. What is it all about? Some days it is hard to tell, but if you dont know, try to figure it out. Get real as one granddaughter says. Good luck is what I say.

    PS: If you are curious about the original lyrics you can find them on the web. Beware singers who liked the melody but preferred their own words.

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  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 18

    With tax revenues down and the Idaho economy still sputtering, legislators have warned school districts across the state that tougher times are ahead for students in the classrooms. Tougher is the operative word because the cuts last year were difficult to address in many districts. If not for the additional revenue provided by federal stimulus funds, public education across Idaho would have been in a hole so deep climbing out would have been a herculean task. These federal revenues will continue

    through next year, but yet another almost guaranteed cut by the state legislature will pare school district budgets even further, ultimately affecting student learning across the state.

    The Lake Pend Oreille School District was the only public school district in northern Idaho not forced to declare a financial emergency this past year. This was a result of wise budgeting practices, a willingness to live within the means of the funding formula, reduction in staff over the past three years, and the support of the community as evidenced by the successful passage of the last supplemental levy. There were still cuts to the elementary counseling program, reductions in staffing at Sandpoint High School and the central office, and cuts in field trips even though the financial emergency was not declared.

    Local legislators have told district officials to be prepared for a hold back for the current school year. For many districts, this will be disastrous because of contract obligations and other promises to students and families. Our district is prepared to absorb a small percentage hold back without affecting current programs. Although there is some comfort in knowing we have a small reserve to deal with the potential hold back, it also means our ability to address the certain loss of state funding for the 2010-2011 school year is eliminated. We will simply have to cut more

    dollars. Since the district budget is over 80 percent staffing, this means that class sizes will be increased and certain class offerings at the secondary level will be eliminated. Of course, the district will turn the budget over and over looking for other potential savings, but ultimately, because of the structure of our work, it means staff in the classroom, administration, and classified will be eliminated.

    Our district has made tremendous strides over the past three years. This is a result of a focused and high functioning school board, committed staff, and hard working students. Student performance on the ISAT last year was the highest it has ever been. Over 90 percent of the students in the district were proficient in reading on the statewide assessment. Math scores were above 80 percent. More students than ever are exploring post high school education. Our athletic and activities program have proven to be some of the very best in the state at any level; earning awards in every area including athletics, music, math, and science. Our staff and community are working hand in hand to create a school district that functions well for all children. The above is at risk given the financial situation in which the state finds itself.

    Despite what may be ahead for us in public education in Idaho, we do know our schools will open next year. There will be a warm building and an excited classroom teacher for each eager student. Staff will continue to work hard and we will attempt to provide the best learning environment possible given the situation. Research clearly demonstrates the classroom teacher is the true difference maker in a quality education. We are fortunate to have excellent teachers, supportive parents, and terrific kids. This is a strong combination. However, we also know that reductions in staff will have an effect on the amount of time teachers can spend with children; class size will increase. We will work hard and intelligently to provide the best education we can with the resources we are given. I will keep you abreast of this information as the process develops.

    Those concerned about the impending reductions should contact our state legislators. They are dedicated to our community and school district. They will certainly want to hear your ideas and concerns. Thank you for your ongoing support of our school district.

    Focus on EducationLower revenues will have an impact

    Dick CvitanichSuperintendent, [email protected]

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    ... we also know that reductions in staff will have an effect on the amount of time teachers can spend with children; class size will increase

  • December 009| The River Journal - A News Magazine Worth Wading Through | www.RiverJournal.com | Vol. 18 No.1| Page 19

    Im happy, the holidays are here! They start a little early in our house with birthdays for both of us in early November. So from us here at The Hawks Nest we wish you a joyous season.

    I still havent done my shopping yet though. A few weeks ago I thought all my questions around a Christmas present for my wife Linda were answered. You can imagine my excitement when she announced she wanted pizzelles. I immediately started making plans for a safari in Africa to hunt pizzelles. I could almost hear the drums beating and the camp fire cracklingthis was going to be the best Christmas ever. However, every t