Monday, November 30, 2009


Even in this uncertain economy, the 2009 Festival of Trees Gala to benefit Kootenai Health Cancer Center exceeded all expectations. My friend, Jim Morrison of Post Falls, was the undisputed man of the hour. In 2004 he was given just six months to live after being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He's now six years into remission and grateful for the care he received at the Cancer Center. Press story HERE. Jim is pictured with Kootenai Health Foundation Executive Director, Teri Farr at the Saturday night Gala.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When NOT to call 911

I have a police scanner on in the background when I'm working on the computer and around noon on Sunday heard a call that had me shaking my head.
A woman calls 911 and tells them that she wants her mother-in-law removed from her home. The mother-in-law's "crime" you ask? Well, according to her son, who was on a seperate call to 911 from a back bedroom where he was hiding, his wife had been out of town and he didn't know she was returning today when he asked his mom to come over and cut his hair. People! Come on, I think maybe local law enforcement has more important issues to contend with than this one.

Social Events of the Season

The North Idaho Eye Institute-sponsored Senior Social of the Festival of Trees was another big success! It's always fun to see old friends and meet new ones each year. I enjoyed volunteering at the Saturday night Gala, too, this year. See my photos of the Senior Social and the Gala HERE. Avista's Sharmon Schmitt captured faces of the festival HERE.
Pictured is Freda Emtman, of Heritage Place, who at 100 years young was the most senior of them all at the Senior Social!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Let the Holidays Begin!

The annual Festival of Lights fireworks display dwarfs the cruise boats on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Thousands of revelors enjoyed the lighted parade and the official lighting up of the Coeur d'Alene Resort and the downtown area.

Communities Celebrate the Season

The day after Thanksgiving the Coeur d'Alene Festival of Lights, including the parade and fireworks show kicks off the season. On Friday, December 4 Post Falls hosts WinterFest at 6 p.m. at City Hall with music, Santa and activities for the children. Saturday, December 5, Holiday De-Lights in Rathdrum takes place on Main Street and also includes a parade of lighted vehicles through town and the neighborhood streets. Hayden also holds a community holiday celebration on Dec. 5.

Christmas Trees for a Cause

If getting ready for the holidays includes a trip to the Christmas tree lot, why not support local organizations with your purchase? Here's a list to start your search:

Sponsor: Freedom House
3639 W Prairie Ave, Hayden
When: From 11/27
Questions: 704-1110
Cost $25+

Sponsor: American Legion Post 143
Poleline & Syringa, Post Falls
When: From 11/28
Cost: $35

Sponsor: Heart Of The City Church
102 Indiana, Coeur d’Alene
When: From 11/27 3:00
Questions: 819-1860
Cost: $25 - $50

Boy Scout lots are on Government Way and Canfield and in the Lyle's parking lot on Best Avenue in Coeur d'Alene.

Anchor House, Government Way, just a few blocks north of Harrison Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.

*if you know of other groups/organizations with Christmas tree lots, send the info to me at the email address above. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving miracle

When Elijah Dawson Ott came into the world six years ago, born three months early, he weighed just 1.7 lbs and was slightly longer than a dollar bill. Hospitalized at Sacred Heart for four months, his parents Tim and Nellie stayed close by at the Ronald McDonald House, while he fought for life and won. The power of love, the power of prayer ... now a happy and healthy kindergartner, Elijah and his family have much to celebrate. How fitting that this little boy's birthday falls on Thanksgiving!

Going for the Gold!

Lakes Middle School eighth grader, Chloe Hutter finished in the top 20 at the Regional Jr. Olympics Cross Country meet in Spokane. Competing with runners from Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, Chloe (#2840) earned a spot in the nationals in Reno, Nevada.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A camping kind of Christmas

Cabela's in Post Falls has a number of unique, outdoors-themed lights for the tree, including these Coleman lanterns and even some shaped like shotgun shells seen HERE.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thankful for volunteers

Volunteers from American Legion Post 143 and Auxiliary served up nearly 500 turkey dinners with all the trimmings on Saturday. Helping out were Scout Troops 250, 13, 93 and Venture Crew 228, along with the Speech and Debate Club of the Legion. Pictured at the end of the evening are: (l-r) Carlyn Greer, Debbie Nickerson, Harley Bush, Doris Woodward, Ray Zuleski, Dorothy Selzler, Loni Hopkins, Jane Nealand, Lee Hopkins, Sandy Schultz and Donna Dunlap.
Free Thanksgiving meals will be served at:
First Christian Church, 610 N 4th St, Coeur d’Alene
Sunday 11/22 noon – 2 p.m.
Life Way Church, 501 W. 15th St, Post Falls
Monday 11/23, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
St George’s Catholic Church, 2010 N Lucus St, Post Falls
Thursday 11/26, 2 – 4 p.m.
Lake City Senior Center, Everyone Is Welcome!
1916 Lakewood Dr, Coeur d’Alene, Thursday 11/26 noon -2 p.m.
Monarch Mental Health, 1323 E Sherman Ave, #D, Coeur d’Alene
Thursday 11/26, 2 - 4 p.m.
Fresh Start, 1524 E Sherman Ave, Coeur d’Alene
Thursday 11/26, 9 a.m. breakfast & 11 a.m. turkey lunch
American Legion Post 149, 5525 E Hwy 54, Athol
Thursday 11/26, 2 – 4 p.m.

Christmas Card List

Here's an address to add to your Christmas card list that will be very much appreciated.

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ring that Bell

Visited with Harry Amend at the Post Falls Chamber's annual meeting yesterday and he had on his Salvation Army Kroc Center "hat." I was impressed with a clever volunteer opportunity with the traditional red donation kettles the Salvation Army holds every holiday season. "We're looking for a few good do-gooders." Money raised in the red kettles will go to the Community Action Partnership, Post Falls Food Bank, St. Vincent dePaul and Kootenai Fire and Rescue to help in their efforts to make the holidays bright for those in need.

If you or your family or your organization would like to adopt a day or a weekend or even just a 1-3 hour block to ring the bell, call Kerri Wilfong at 763-0627 or

Tell her the other Kerri sent you! :)

Main Street in Print

This week's Coeur d'Alene Press print column ... HERE.

Gone Rogue

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is coming home to Coeur d'Alene next month for a book signing of her new best seller, Going Rogue. In August I met her dad, Chuck Heath (pictured) and during our conversation it was obvious he thinks his daughter hung the moon. During a recent interview with Oprah, Sarah quoted him as saying, "She's not retreating, she's reloading," in reference to her resignation from the governor's office. Behind the headlines and mega watt media scrutiny my observation is Sarah Heath Palin is a real daddy's girl and Chuck's president of her fan club. I can so relate. Book signing story from the Press HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There's help when you feel helpless

I don't always hear details on the police scanner in the background of my office but for whatever reason I picked up on a call right away while working at the computer Saturday night. Old newspaper habits found me jotting notes from the initial call about 10:15 p.m. by a teenage boy saying his father had shot himself. He and his brother and cousin were in a back bedroom waiting for the police and ambulance to arrive. Their mother was out of town. I jotted down the address and then googled it. The house is on the market and a Realtor's listing came up. It was surrealistic to be looking at pictures of a beautiful luxury home overlooking the lake and picturing those frightened boys in the house. The dispatcher said the boys' grandfather was on his way. Then the dispatcher said neighbors were on the scene and were with the boys in their car in the driveway.
I was struck by the real time / real life drama and tragedy. Those boys' lives will forever be marked by what life was like before their dad and uncle killed himself and after. My heart was breaking for them and everyone who that night would have their lives changed by this suicide. I said a prayer for the boys and their mother. For the neighbors and friends who will spend the next many years wondering if they could have done something, said something, noticed something that would have made a difference in a man's time of despair and hopelessness.

If you or someone you know and love is suffering please seek help.
COEUR D'ALENE AREA Crisis Line 24 hours / 7 days (208) 769-1406, 1-888-769-1405

Holiday mail for the troops

Here are two links for sending Christmas wishes to our brave men and women in uniform who are far from home for the holidays.
Holiday Mail for Heroes Let's Say Thanks!

Monday, November 16, 2009


You can bet there are no happier parents on earth than the parents of PFC George Stratton III. George, 18, was just several feet from the shooter at Ft. Hood on November 5. He was wounded and hospitalized, returning to the family home in Post Falls on Sunday to recuperate from his injuries.
Welcome home, George and thank you for your willingness to serve our country. Story links HERE and HERE.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wedding Bells

This year’s Festival of Trees benefit at the Coeur d’Alene Resort will feature a tree with a theme never before seen at the event. You’ll recognize the tall pine by its tree topper: a bride and groom figurine – just like those usually seen on wedding cakes. The Silver Wedding Bells of Winter tree is being assembled by Ruby Frog Entertainment, professional wedding planners. In addition to silver and white ornaments, tulle and organza, the tree will include nearly everything for a worry-free wedding, for a value in the $22,000 range. A win-win-win, a beautiful Christmas tree, a dream wedding and with proceeds from the sale of the tree going to expand patient services at Kootenai Cancer Centers in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Sandpoint. Call 666-2345 for tickets to any of the festival's events or click HERE for the website.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Signs of the Season

Craft fairs are springing up this fall, in time for holiday shopping. At Post Falls High School today, 108 talented vendors displayed their wares, including Jan Jilstad's hand-painted signs of the season. On December 5, there will be a Winter Fair craft show at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds from 10-4 p.m. and through Christmas, craft vendors are set up at the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d'Alene.

Memory Lane

I saw this in front of an old house on N. 15th Street (a few blocks north of Best Ave.) in Coeur d'Alene. Couldn't make out all of the words but it looked very familiar to me. Any of you long timers in the area recall what business this ball used to advertise?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No leaf left behind

COEUR D'ALENE'S ANNUAL LEAF FEST began November 9 in the area south of Sherman Avenue for residents within the city limits of Coeur d'Alene. Completion is anticipated by November 25. Citizens rake leaves & pine needles onto the streets a foot away from the curb line or asphalt edge for city crews to pick up. On Thursday 11/12 the were north of Sherman Ave. at 11th and Lakeside, filling up dump trucks with fallen leaves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Facebook Philanthropy

Kibbee Walton, owner of Artisan Portrait, held an inspired promotion this week. On Monday he offered a couple of hours of studio time and free fun headshots for Facebook profiles. Over 80 people showed up. Everyone was asked to bring items for the Post Falls Food Bank and they certainly did just that. The majority of the attendees were teens, I dare say I might have been the oldest face photographed, and their generosity was encouraging. Here's a high five for Kibbee, proving that even a small business can make a big difference in the community.
Pictured are Kibbee and Melissa Williams with some of over 400 items donated for the food bank and my Facebook photo by Kibbee, inset.

Be careful out there

Just after 5 p.m. tonight an accident at the intersection of Highway 41 and Poleline Avenue sent one person to the hospital.

POW/MIA Bracelets Honor Families

Remembering the 1,729 missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War ... 39 years after bracelets debut. Coeur d'Alene Press story HERE.

This week's Main Street

Main Street print column from Coeur d'Alene Press HERE.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Birthday of the Corps

Members of the Pappy Boyington Detachment of the Marine Corps League celebrated the 234th birthday of the Corps at their annual ball at the Coeur d'Alene Resort on November 10.

Following the traditional cutting of the birthday cake by saber, the oldest and youngest Marine present are served first. This year's honorees were Mike Bernardino, 87 and Justin Peck, 26.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soap Box / Fort Hood Shootings

Last Thursday the shooting of Americans on the Fort Hood Army base in Killeen, Texas shocked the country. In the 1990s our daughter, Melani spent several years active duty Army, serving two years in Stuttgart, Germany and the remainder at Fort Hood. At the base she met and married her husband, Rick, also active duty Army, and in 1998 our grandson, Jared was born in Killeen. I talked with Melani over the weekend at home in Vancouver, WA and she was as angry as many of our current and former military families are that warning signs on the shooter were overlooked. And saddened that here in America where soliders should have a sense of security they faced an armed murderer in a place where they were unarmed.
I find no small amount of irony that I still have to remove my shoes and walk through a metal detector to board a plane ... God forbid fingernail clippers or more than 3 ozs of deodorant make it through security. Yet Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American solider, a man with published sympathies to terrorists and questionable mental health walked onto the largest US military base in the country with two non-military issue handguns and massacred soldiers and civilians. Unbelievable.

Clay for Christmas!

The Clay Arts Guild of North Idaho, Inc. (CAGNI) will host the sixth annual Mud & Spirits Pottery Show, Friday, November 20, noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday, November 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene KROC Center located at 1765 W. Golf Course Road.
A variety of functional and sculptural pottery will be featured by over 20 Inland Northwest potters. Admission is free and live music will be provided by local musicians. CAGNI is a nonprofit communication network for clay artists and supporters, promoting clay art and education in the community.
*this is a great place to start your holiday shopping while supporting local artists. There are all sizes, shapes and prices to these pieces of art. Make those on your list very happy come Christmas morning.

Festival of Trees

For the sixth year I'm tickled to have been invited back to emcee the North Idaho Eye Institute-sponsored Senior Social on the Saturday morning of Kootenai Health's Festival of Trees weekend. It's always a sell-out event for the lovely brunch and incredible entertainment. I so enjoy seeing our community's senior citizens and their families, surrounded by the magic of Christmas. Hope to see you there! Read about the volunteer team who makes the Festival of Trees happen HERE. Call for tickets to the Senior Social and all of the November 27-30 Festival of Trees events: 666-2345 or 666-8733 (TREE)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Distinguished Veteran of the Year

My good friend Dusty Rhoads was honored on Saturday in a ceremony at Hayden City Hall for his lifetime of service, not only in the military but in the community.
Read more from the Press HERE.

Bundled Boys

Brett and Janna Heiner's boys, Jonathan and Jesse were bundled up for blustery weather to watch the annual Veterans Day Parade in Hayden on Saturday morning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Double Take

I did a double-take when I spotted Elvis inside Hot Rod Cafe this afternoon. Looks like he was surprised to see me, too. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hilde Kellogg Park

Today was one of those singularly delightful moments in honoring someone who's made such an incredible difference in her community through half a century of volunteerism and service. Anyone who enjoys living in Post Falls today owes a debt of gratitude to former State Representative Hilde Kellogg. For her to be recognized by having a community park dedicated in her name is a fitting tribute.
Pictured with Ms. Kellogg are the Post Falls Park and Recreation Commission, Jackie McAvoy, Rick Noordam, Tami Martinez, Ryan Zane and Jim Hail. To see highlights of the ceremony click HERE. Coeur d'Alene Press feature story HERE.

Seniors Rule!

Parents of Post Falls High School's Class of 2010 have been working hard to fund the Graduation Party including the annual live/silent auction on Saturday, November 7 from 6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Admission is free and there's a spaghetti dinner for $5 per person or $20 / family. There are lots of great silent and live auction items and putting together baskets recently were parents Annette Durbin, Paula Taylor, Roxanna Donelan, Toni Price, Marcee Johnston, Tammi Dawson, Dawn Clark, Rhonda Newton and Ed Hoy.
If you notice Toni's two shiners and swollen nose (wearing pink) ... it was a casualty of the senior parents' fundraising partnership with the Lions Haunted House. Acting as a guide through the house last week, Toni ran into a wall in the pitch black and broke her nose. Way to take one for the kids, Toni! :)

Free Photos for Food Bank Fundraiser

Facebookers click HERE.
Your favorite ONE of the 5 images is free. Additional images will 'cost' a donation of one food item per image so bring your food items to the event!
Each donated food item for the Post Falls Food Bank will also earn you a raffle ticket for some fabulous gift certificates from The Buckle, ITunes, Starbucks, and Artisan Portrait. Bring extra food, get more raffle tickets, 773-9712 Artisian Portrait

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stripes of Hope

Briana is a beautiful young girl from Post Falls who has been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. She has already undergone three surgeries and is currently undergoing chemotherapy four days a week. She will endure another surgery this month and 33 weeks of chemotherapy as part of her treatment. This is unfortunately her second cancer in her ten short years. She underwent 42 weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation at the age of two due to extremely aggressive Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.
7 PM Saturday November 7 at the Coeur d' Alene Eagles Ballroom.
music, food & drinks, raffles, and auctions to support Briana in her fight against cancer. Tickets are $20 advance purchase or $25 at the door. Tickets available at the Coeur d'Alene Eagles or call 818-7083.

Election Day

Information on municipal candidates in Kootenai County HERE. To find your polling place click HERE.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Soap Box - Elections

“Don’t take it personal.” I recall more than one well-meaning person saying those words to me in 2001 after I was roundly trounced in my bid to become mayor of Post Falls. I had to laugh. Nothing is more personal than putting your name on a ballot, walking through the neighborhoods knocking on doors and asking complete strangers to vote for you. The candidate forums bring on nerves and insecurities that haven’t surfaced since junior high school. And then there’s asking friends and supporters to write a check to finance the campaign. Running for elected office on the local level is not for the faint of heart. Six years later I had dusted myself off and ran successfully for an open city council seat. Now ending my second year of a four-year term, I’m older, wiser and far more empathetic to those who toss their hat and their heart in the public ring.
When the votes are tallied Tuesday night there will be candidates in our communities who fell short in their quest for elected office. I offer my sincere appreciation to them all for their willingness to be part of the process and to be catalysts for ongoing dialogue on the issues that are important to us all. While congratulating the winners is a pleasant given, thanking their opponents should be an equal priority. We’re all better for their participation.

Kansas City Tie-Breaker

Forget about Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings playing in Green Bay yesterday, the big action on the football field is tonight at Lake City High School when Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Lewiston face off for a shot at the state playoffs. Details from the PRESS HERE.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Building Business

The Post Falls Chamber of Commerce's new visitor center and administrative office building is taking shape on 4th Avenue, just off of Spokane Street and south of I-90. Slated to open before the tourists begin arriving in 2010, construction crews have taken advantage of the recent good weather to get the walls up on two stories. Photos of the progress from the ground up HERE.