Projects, budgets highlight 2018

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Former Sandpoint High, University of Idaho and Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer was the guest of honor Thursday night at the Inland Empire Vandal Celebration at the Hagadone Events Center. Kramer was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. (LOREN BENOIT/Press)

From city projects and budgets, to fairs and fatalities, there was no shortage of news in 2018.

This is the eighth in a series looking back at the top stories of the year, continuing with August. Stories are listed in no particular order.

• BSNF spokeswoman Courtney Wallace disputed claims that the 103-year-old span across Lake Pend Oreille is grossly underbuilt and cannot handle the increased weight of trains that regularly trundle across it.

• An artifact from a bygone era suddenly turned up in a Sandpoint post office box after a mysterious 47-year journey. An auto parts catalog from Warshawsky & Co. that dates back to 1971 showed up in the post office box of Shy James, though it was addressed to an R. Speer, who held the post office box prior to James.

• Sandpoint native Jerry Kramer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4. Kramer graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1954 and attended the University of Idaho on a football scholarship. He was selected as Idaho’s first All-American, as an honorable mention in 1956 and a first-team selection in 1957, before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1958.

Kramer played 11 years for the Packers during the Vince Lombardi era, helping the team to five NFL championships, as well as wins in Super Bowls I and II.

• Idaho State Police placed tenth in the American Association of State Troopers’ annual Best Cruiser contest for Trooper Kirk Matilla’s photo of his patrol vehicle, a Dodge Charger, on Schweitzer Mountain with Lake Pend Oreille in the background.

• A neo-Nazi’s plan to visit Sandpoint was met with revulsion on social media. Members of the community reported receiving automated phone calls from Patrick Little, who says he’s due to arrive this month “to make Sandpoint one of my regional capitals throughout the country.” Little, a Republican who hoped to unseat California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said he was crisscrossing the nation to meet with people to solve the “Jewish problem.”

• The Idaho Supreme Court took up an appeal filed by a Bonner County man accused of ramming his pickup truck into an all-terrain vehicle being ridden by a 12-year-old boy. The charges against Steven Michael Moore date back to 2016. The boy told Bonner County sheriff’s deputies he had arrived at his home on Meadowlark Lane near Oldtown when a blue pickup truck came onto his driveway and rammed the back of the ATV, causing it to lurch a few feet forward. Moore was also accused of threatening to kill the boy and anyone else who drove fast on his road.

• Donavon Cleon “Gunner” Maupin was charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery after he was arrested Aug. 3 for allegedly sucker punching one woman and throwing a beer bottle in the face of another.

• Blas Salvadore Alonzo “Duke” Dias was shot and killed at the Meandering Moose in Sandpoint on Aug. 6. Dias, 34, was slain at the apartment building at approximately 7 p.m. by an unidentified assailant who fled the scene. Sandpoint Police said in a news release on that Dias was shot once in the chest after he opened the door to the suspect, who then fled on foot.

• The historic Brown House on the grounds of Bonner General Health was demolished. The hospital, which acquired the property in 1999, used the stately dwelling overlooking Sand Creek as temporary office and conference space. Bonner General CEO Sheryl Rickard said the home couldn’t be used as permanent office space because it lacked a cooling system and was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• The 91st annual Bonner County Fair was held with the theme of “Good Old Days, Country Ways.”

• Sandpoint City Council members voted to leave the city’s wastewater treatment plant at its existing location by War Memorial Field rather than move it to a 32.2-acre chunk of land on Baldy Mountain Road. Improvements will phased in at the existing site over the next several years.

• Brandon Scott Cramer was ordered to serve up to a year in prison for allegedly threatening two people with a pistol during a confrontation south of Oldtown last year. First District Judge Barbara Buchanan imposed a one- to three-year prison term in Cramer’s case, but retained jurisdiction over the defendant. After serving up to a year in prison, Cramer can be considered for release onto probation.

• Judge Barbara Buchanan entered an order finding that Wild Idaho Rising Tide’s appeal of an encroachment permit for the second BNSF Railway bridge was technically flawed in several respects, court records show. The North Idaho environmental group filed an appeal of the Idaho Department of Lands permit in July, arguing that the second span jeopardizes water resources, air quality, wildlife habitat, Native American rights, navigation and tourism.

• The Pend Oreille Arts Council’s annual Arts and Crafts Fair was held at Jeff Jones Town Square after moving from its 45-year venue at City Beach..

• Sandpoint planning and economic development director Aaron Qualls detailed the struggle with affordable housing and the concept of “missing middle” housing, which is not the low density single-family units or the high density multifamily units, but everything in between.

• The Idaho Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s denial of post-conviction relief for a Sandpoint man serving a life sentence for murder. A Bonner County jury convicted Kenneth Eugene Thurlow aiding and abetting in the killing of Christopher Elliott West, who was killed by a close-contact shotgun wound to the head while he worked on his vehicle at a Sandpoint junkyard in August 2005.

• As multiple wildfires burned around the region, the air quality jumped into unhealthy and hazardous levels across the county.

• Three people were killed and two others were injured after the vehicle they were in went off a cliff in Pend Oreille County, according to the Washington State Patrol. The driver of the Kia Spectra, 33-year-old Cusick resident Aaron P. Pierre, was injured and taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Passenger Anthony R. Shirhama, a 22-year-old from Cusick, was taken to Newport Community Hospital, according to WSP. The three other passengers killed in the crash were identified as Richard A. Torosian, 29, Cusick; Kayleen Sherwood, 32, Cusick; and Nick O’Shan, 29, Usk.

• The Idaho Department of Lands auctioned 51 state-owned lakefront lots on Priest Lake for deeded ownership during public, oral auctions, generating $25,580,124 for the endowment fund that supports public schools.

• Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, got a group of community members together for a door-to-door campaign to talk to voters about the Medicaid expansion initiative.

• A motorcyclist was fatally injured in a crash on Barnhart Road on Aug. 21. State police said Kenneth L. Wood, a 50-year-old Bayview resident, was riding eastbound on the Bonner County Road when he failed to negotiate a curve, causing his Kawasaki KX80 off-road motorbike to leave the roadway and strike a rock.

• Priest River City Council adopted a $7.6 million budget. Sandpoint, meanwhile, adopted a $44.5 million budget.

• Matt Gillis of Welch Comer Engineering detailed the city of Priest River’s future project at the intersection of Fourth and Wisconsin, which will ultimately align the currently offset intersection and improve pedestrian safety.

• Cody James Sorenson was charged with grand theft in connection with the theft of a costly piece of logging equipment. The John Deere model 648 GIII logging skidder was discovered missing from a job site in the 2700 block of Eastside Road northeast of Priest River on Aug. 9. The piece of heavy equipment had an estimated value of $130,000, according to court documents.

• Bike and Build riders made their annual stop in Sandpoint to help out Bonner Homeless Transitions with painting, moving furniture and other assorted tasks. For the past two years, riders have come through town to help out at the organization’s Blue Haven transitional home in Sandpoint. This year, the group helped out at BHT’s Trestle Creek property.

• Randy Reynolds of Priest River was killed in an industrial accident on Aug. 23. He was operating a logging skidder in the 100 block of Rock Dome Road shortly after 7 a.m. when the piece of heavy equipment rolled and ejected Reynolds, who was fatally injured.

• Andra Murray, director of Teaching and Learning for the Lake Pend Oreille School District, detailed the 21st Century Learning Community, after the district was awarded a grant to implement the program at Farmin-Stidwell and Kootenai elementaries.

• Frank Hungate turned 100 years old, celebrating with his family at the north end of Priest Lake, where he has been spending his summers every year of his life.

• Upon Dr. Sandy Maras’ retirement, Tassia Hamer took over as principal of Washington Elementary School.

• William Porter Rice III, of Priest River, was charged with abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult and battery for allegedly attacking a 74-year-old woman who was unable to purchase him cigarettes or give him money on Aug. 26.

• Board members of the West Bonner County School District approved a motion in “self recognition” of an open meeting law violation. Board Chair Sandy Brower said the violation came in the form of a group email discussing the arming of teachers in schools. Brower said the email was initiated by an outside agency resulting in board members responding in a group email, and was “by no means a deliberate act.”

• Idaho and the Bonneville Power Administration signed off on a $24 million settlement to compensate the state for wildlife habitat lost due to the construction and inundation caused by the Albeni Falls Dam. Through the settlement, Idaho agrees that all of its interests in dam construction-and-inundation impacts have been mitigated through prior land purchases with BPA. Using BPA funding, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game has acquired 4,224 acres of wildlife habitat in the Panhandle. Under the new agreement, BPA will provide nearly $7 million for long-term stewardship of those lands

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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