As of Tuesday, March 1, 2016
To the Jim Chmelik/Commission bashers: Take a hike!
Within three hours of the “Highway 14 slide,” Jim Chmelik personally contacted folks here (and every day since), assuring them the commission was aware and moving to address the situation.
Electricity was out and easy transportation access ceased. In less than 48 hours, Avista had restored power, the county and USFS had developed an agreement and county plows started opening a forest road over Elk Summit. Within five days, people, groceries, gas, etc. were moving again.
The slide’s been coming down for some time (gravity?). No personal, business or government budgets included the increased costs it has created. The governor’s declared disaster emergency simply means a different agency is spending tax dollars that originally left my wallet.
A few weeks before this event, Commissioner Chmelik had met in Elk City to address the solid waste issues up here. Between snow and enough ravens to remove whole dumpsters, we have unique dynamics at play. In a display of how government should work, Jim presented some options those affected will participate in and vote up or down.
I mention this because both are related.
Twenty years ago, when Elk City and Idaho County had economies, funding solutions weren’t so painful.
If the killing of our Idaho economy/way of life by environmental politics had not infected our home, it’s likely an open alternative route around the slide would have had logging trucks running over it. The state would have had funding to have addressed the slide earlier, because of lumber trucks, miners, loggers and hunters, etc. streaming along Highway 14. Our school would be full and levies wouldn’t be heard of. Catastrophic wildfires would have been inhibited by healthy tree stands, timely, open logging road access to new fire starts by folks on the ground, not in the office writing.
Bottom line, the simple blue-collar working man world of Idaho farming, mining, ranching, logging, sawmilling was not the fertile ground that “community organizer” types grow up in. They had to be imported. Kind of like knapweed.