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Norma Staaf

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Clearwater Valley News: Ringers and Singers start holiday practices

I woke up early to the sound of silence on Sunday, yes the dreadful silence of another power outage when the refrigerator and freezer stopped. We fired up the camp stove and made coffee and eggs on the porch. Thankfully this was a “short” outage of only six hours. Nothing like the weeks long power outages in Puerto Rico, I hope things will improve there soon. Good news for the Elk City Wagon Road and the town of Clearwater. The Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest awarded a contract to improve the driveability of the route, while maintaining its historic character. The successful bidder is Flash Excavation of Harpster. Great to see a local contractor get this job. The improvements will make it easier for people to travel and enjoy this historical route.

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Clearwater Valley News: Muse Media opens its doors in Kamiah

Lauren Paterson has just opened a great new business in Kamiah called Muse Media at 410 Main Street (between the post office and the Hub) She combines her experience and education in art, journalism and technology to offer digital media support to small businesses, non-profits and everyday people to help them connect to the larger world. I stopped in to meet her last week and found her easy to talk to and bubbling over with creativity in sharing the types of digital solutions her business offers.

Clearwater Valley News: CV communities work together for residents

No column for me last week as I was traveling in the Black Hills of South Dakota with my sister. It gave me a patriotic feeling to walk around Mt. Rushmore, through the Avenue of the Flags (featuring all of the state flags). Seeing the carved faces of four of our early presidents carved eloquently in stone reminded me of the enduring nature of our country. I met people from many states and other countries. For the last few weeks, people have weighed in on patriotism based on whether NFL football players stand or kneel for the pre-game national anthem. For me the flag and the anthem are not an end to themselves but a symbol of our country’s values. It’s about how we treat other people and welcome other into our communities and our respect for other people’s first amendment rights.

Clearwater Valley News: Celebrate ‘Banned Book Week’ by reading

Next week, Sept. 24-30, is Banned Books week, an annual awareness campaign by the American Library Association and others that celebrates our freedom to read what we choose. The Clearwater Valley has a great library system- Prairie River Library District, with branches in both Kooskia and Kamiah.

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Clearwater Valley News: Beer :30 taproom opens in Kamiah

Clearwater Brewing Company just opened their taproom in Kamiah! We checked it out last weekend. It’s a small, casual place with a variety of craft beers and ciders on tap. (They also have a few wines and huckleberry Mountain Dew and huckleberry Pepsi). I’m happy to see they feature Idaho County beers with two of Wolftrack Brewery’s most popular beers from Cottonwood. Beer :30 owner, Brian Brokop worked for months on remodeling the building, installing equipment and pursuing various approvals from the city, county and State of Idaho.

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Clearwater Valley News: Eat Navajo tacos in Big Cedar this Friday

If you’re looking for a great deal for dinner Friday night, (Sept. 8) head up in the hills to the Big Cedar Schoolhouse for a Navajo taco, soft drink and dessert for only $5 per person. Dinner is from 5-7 p.m. This annual event by the Big Cedar homemakers women’s group raises money to maintain the historic 1920 schoolhouse, recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you haven’t been to the schoolhouse it’s about 10 miles southeast of Kooskia at 948 Red Fir Road, at the junction with Big Cedar Road.

Clearwater Valley News: Drop used solar eclipse glasses at libraries

Are you wondering what to do with your eclipse glasses? April Blankenship at the Kamiah library told me the library district is collecting used solar eclipse glasses for Astronomers without Borders. (Who knew there was such a group?) They will stockpile them and distribute glasses to schools in South America and Asia for the 2019 eclipse. It’s a great way to recycle your glasses and help some kids safely enjoy the eclipse in the future. You can just drop them off at any Prairie River Library Branch- Kamiah, Kooskia, Lapwai, etc.

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Clearwater Valley News: Chief Lookingglass Powwow impressive

I went to my first Chief Lookingglass Powwow last Friday in Kamiah. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at the “Powwow grounds” on Friday night, next to the Wa-a’Yas community center. People gathered in a large circle, sitting on lawn chairs or bleachers with a great view of the surrounding hills.

Clearwater Valley News: Chief Lookingglass Powwow is this weekend

When the rain started on Saturday afternoon, I left my pickles in the canner and ran out onto the driveway and danced. I think the long hot spell has made a lot of us a little crazy! Great to have some relief from the blistering heat.

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Clearwater Valley News: Valley Market offers lunches

So many festivals, so little time! I only passed briefly through Kooskia Days on Saturday on the way to a birthday party at Colter Creek Winery in Juliaetta. It looked like a lot of people in town and booths all up and down Main Street in Kooskia. Sadly, I was too full on the way home to stop at the fry bread booth.

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Clearwater Valley News: Harpster RV Park grand opening draws crowd

A bunch of people turned out for the grand opening of the Harpster Store and RV Park on Sunday night. Great to have something happening in downtown Harpster! New owners Michelle and Will Sherriffs and former owners Monty and Brenda Spears cooked up some tasty ribs and chickens on the grill, with pasta salad and baked beans. People enjoyed hanging out in and around the gazebo on the banks of the South Fork Clearwater, having a beer or a soda and visiting with friends and neighbors.

Clearwater Valley News - Modern day adventure had on Magruder Road

Instead of going to the Elk City Wagon Road days two weekends back, I had a modern day adventure on another historic trail, the Magruder Road. The route follows roughly the Sout#hern Nez Perce Trail that cut through the Bitterroot Mountains by climbing to seven ascents to summits followed by descents to water sources.

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Clearwater Valley News: Wagon Road Days set for this weekend

On Friday night, July 14, the Kamiah High School gym will be open for families to play games and compete in activities. From 6- 8 p.m., kindergarten through seventh grade youth and their families are welcome to participate in this free, healthy, family-friendly event. A similar session for teens from 8th grade to 12th grade, and their families, will run from 8:30 -11 p.m.

Clearwater Valley News: Stites Days events set for this weekend

The summer season is here and seems like an event or two every weekend. If you want to get out of the heat on Friday, July 7, head up to Lolo Pass Visitor Center, elevation 5,233 feet. Chuck Raddon, an Orofino resident and member of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Association will share his knowledge of Lolo trail history with a free, family-friendly interpretive program. His talk is entitled “Where history bumps into itself on the Lolo Trail”. Meet at the Visitor Center 10 a.m., Pacific Time. His talk will end with a short walk at nearby Packer Meadow.

Clearwater Valley News: ‘Christmas in July’ vendors sought

Ever heard the term “ham” radio and wondered what the heck it is? The Three Rivers Amateur Radio club wants to show you at their field day on Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25. They will have three radio transmitters and temporary antennas at Kamiah’s Riverfront Park and encourage the people to stop by and check it out beginning at 11 a.m., on Saturday ending at 11 a.m., on Sunday. This technology has been around for 100 years but can now work in conjunction with smartphones or tablets. It can be set up almost anywhere as an independent communications network. For information call David Brainerd at 926-7886 or visit

Clearwater Valley News: Circus to be in Kooskia Monday, June 19

Bicycles, bicycles everywhere! Last week I saw a lot of very lean cyclists riding between Grangeville and Lolo Pass on a marathon ride. Great to see these folks enjoying the beauty of our area and seeing them “refueling” at local stores and restaurants.

Clearwater Valley News: Harpster RV has new owners

Mea Culpa, I inadvertently referred to the Backroads Diner in Kooskia as the Hometown Diner in last week’s column. I guess I conflated home cooking with hometown, or thought I was somewhere else. I did get the caption right for the photo, since the name is on the sign. I still need to try a burger to see if they are really the best around.

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Grab a huckleberry shake at the Log Yard

The Kamiah cemetery always looks so patriotic for Memorial Day, with many large flags flapping in the breeze. People were streaming in on Friday placing flowers. (see photo) I stopped at the Log Yard restaurant in Kamiah for a huckleberry milkshake. (It’s just the thing on an 80-degree day!) I learned from Crystal the exciting news that Dawn Marie just got a full liquor license and will start serving drinks in addition to food. It’s a cozy little place, with a simple menu and some interesting specials.

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Clearwater Valley News: Couple marries at Harpster area ranch

Spring is for weddings, track meets and graduations. Last Saturday, Calla Hagle and Jake McGarry married at her parents’ (Sue Hagle and John Hetzner’s) 2 Lazy H ranch near Harpster. Countless friends and family members from all over the country gathered for a beautiful outdoor ceremony. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The couple travelled in traditional style in a horse-drawn cart driven by Larry Nims. (see photo). The celebration continued for several days, with many guests camping on site. Best wishes to this wonderful couple!

Clearwater Valley News: Help clean up Stites this Saturday

Great to see all of the Nez Perce Tribal members in Kamiah for spring general counsel meetings last week. The three-day event at the Wa-A-Yas Center included meetings, presentations and booths from tribal leadership, tribal staff and affiliated groups. The week ended with elections for the Nez Perce Tribe Executive Committee. Bill Picard, McCoy Oatman and Casey Mitchell won council seats 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

Clearwater Valley News: Educators invited to partake in some free pampering

On my drive home today, within a few miles of my house, I saw grass so green it hurt to look at it, fruit trees in blossom, turkeys strutting their stuff, intermingled with a herd of whitetails, elk galloping about, what a beautiful site. And the rain continues. I feel badly for farmers, ranchers, loggers, etc., who have a hard time working because of the endless rain and mud, but soon we may be complaining about the hot and dry weather.

Clearwater Valley News: Let’s play ball! Members sought to play, coach

Just-for-fun coed softball begins at the Kooskia City Park on Monday, May 1. A group of “good-natured” residents get together twice a week and play softball every Monday and Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m., through Labor Day. They play because they enjoy the game and the camaraderie.

Clearwater Valley News: Equine education day set for April 29

Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day. Americans have observed this day since 1970 to raise awareness of air, water and soil pollution. Typical activities are picking up trash along roads, planting trees and recycling. The Kooskia recycling center will be open 10 a.m. to noon. Drop off sorted metal cans, office paper, newspaper, catalogs, magazines, cardboard and plastic containers (with caps removed). For information about what they accept go to

Clearwater Valley News: Libraries rock; celebrate public libraries this week; Kooskia Library book sale set for April 22

April 9-15 is National Library Week with the theme, “Libraries Transform”. Public libraries exist in many countries across the world and are considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population. With so much fake news out there, libraries provide a great place to seek the truth.

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Clearwater Valley News: Kidder celebrates 97th

Kenneth Kidder (AKA Kenny), a longtime Harpster area resident celebrated his 97th birthday last weekend. He moved to the Harpster area in 1938 when his parents Ray and Flo bought a homestead property east of Harpster. Kenneth lived on the property until recent years when he moved to Grangeville. A kind, happy and thoughtful man, he always has stories to tell and makes us smile. He began playing the fiddle at age nine and played for many dances and other events over the years. Family, and friends from his Harpster neighborhood joined Kenny Sunday afternoon and shared laughter, stories, hugs, desserts and homemade blackberry and plum wines.

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Clearwater Valley News: Witches Brew offers organic coffee

I stopped at the new Witches Brew Coffee and Tea Shop in Kooskia last week and had a great cup of organic coffee with Julie Wells, the owner. (see photo). It is a small, simple, brightly colored space intended to complement the massage, yoga, meditation, book groups and other activities that she offers at Rose Wellness Center.

Clearwater Valley News: Join committee to save Opera House

I talked to Gloria Taylor of Harpster about the newly formed Old Opera House (Kooskia) Cultural Committee. She is excited that 25 people came to the initial meeting in early March, with lots of great ideas. They plan to buy this lovely historic building and use it as a community center, artist studios, art gallery and performance space for children through adults.

Clearwater Valley News: ICARE barn dance set for March 25

Water, water everywhere! Whew, what a storm last week with heavy snow, then rain and wind that wreaked havoc with power lines out throughout our area. Thanks to the Idaho Power and Light crews who worked hard to get everyone’s electricity restored. Though outage times varied, in Harpster Heights we were dark for 38 hours, the longest outage I’ve experienced in five years here. The tiny intermittent creek in front of our house roared so loudly after the storm that it sounded like a waterfall. Water is cascading off the cliffs along the South Fork Clearwater and shooting out in surprising places. Ducks were swimming in flooded pastures to get out of the river current. It’s been nice to see the calm weather and sunshine over the weekend.

Clearwater Valley News: VEST dinner is Saturday

March 14th is National “Pi” day. It’s a day to honor “Pi”, the number that represents the ratio of circle to its diameter, roughly 3.14. (You may remember this from high school math class.) A great way to celebrate this day to eat a slice of pie, since a pie is a circle. The Hearthstone Bakery (in Kamiah) serves some great pie, my favorite is the coconut cream. They display their pies in a revolving glass case by the front counter. I sometimes watch the pies spin while I wait for my coffee. They will even sell you a whole pie if you order ahead.

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Clearwater Valley News: Construction renovation work continues on East Kooskia Bridge

It’s construction season in the Clearwater Valley. Work will continue on the east Kooskia bridge (see photo) for a few weeks. In Kamiah, two buildings disappeared without a trace last week- the house on Hill St. that, sadly, burned in a house fire last month, and the building just above the Freedom Northwest Credit Union on Main Street. Separate work crews made quick work of dismantling the buildings and leveling the sites for future work.

Clearwater Valley News: Becoming a ‘locavore’

Bummer about the Lolo Pass snow sports demo day getting cancelled last weekend due to warming conditions. It sounded like it would have been a fun time. Hopefully all of the same partners will rally and make it happen next year.

Clearwater Valley News: ‘Surf’ at Lolo Pass this Saturday — or take in ‘Brew Fest’

Groundhog Day seemed to be a turning point in the weather, with snow, rain, hail, mudflows since then. An exciting and beautiful drive on Friday, as the ice broke up and huge chunks floated down the Clearwater River. It’s not quite spring yet, but it sure seems possible now! The final count for the Groundhog Day Feed in Clearwater is 444 breakfast eaters and 3,540 pounds of sausage (including sausage sold to take home). Wow, that’s a lot of hogs!

Clearwater Valley News: ‘Febrewary’ — Kamiah Brewfest on tap for Feb. 18

When is it okay to spell February as “Febrewary”? When you are talking about Kamiah’s upcoming Brewfest! This event, sponsored by the Kamiah Chamber of Commerce, features local breweries- Wolf Track, Trestle, Clearwater and Riverport. While I can’t personally vouch for the rest of them, I’m a big fan of Wolf Track, Idaho County’s oldest brewery. We always carry an empty growler or two to take some beer home when we’re heading to Cottonwood and enjoy visiting with brewers John and Polly.

Clearwater Valley News: Brandt chosen as commission chair

One benefit of the longer days is that I’m commuting in the daylight more often. I’ve noticed some gorgeous ice falls on the cliffs along the South Fork Clearwater. I stopped to take a photo of the ones across from Clearwater Valley High School.

Clearwater Valley News: Groundhog Feed set for Feb. 5

I’ve been hearing some buzz about the Rose Wellness Center in Kooskia so I tried a yoga class. I enjoyed the energy of Stacy McCusker’s yoga somaflow. One movement flowed into the next, calm, never rushed. At the end of an hour, every muscle in my body felt relaxed. Wonderful! Check out Stacy’s Facebook page- Vital Movement Therapy — for class times and descriptions. If you want to know more about the other two women- Julie Rose and Sharon Sedgwick and everything else that happens at Rose Wellness Center, check out the Rose Wellness Facebook page. Great to see this new women-owned small business added to downtown Kooskia at 33 and 101 Esther Street.

Clearwater Valley News: Event includes ‘tastes of heaven’

I had fun tasting a variety of food with some friends at the Taste of the Clearwater event in Kooskia on Saturday night. Five Kooskia-Kamiah restaurants provided small plates of some of their favorite foods while Cloninger’s provided beer and wine. Kooskia Café, The Hub Bar & Grill, Backroads Diner, The Log Yard and the Kamiah Hotel Bar & Grill hosted the food booths. After tasting all of the food, people voted for their favorite restaurant, with Kamiah Hotel winning the people’s choice award for the second year.

Clearwater Valley News: Clearwater meal site serves lunch twice a month

I talked to Bill Grady up in Clearwater the other day. He told me they had their first Wednesday lunch of the year last week. Sixteen people came for lunch and dined on chicken rice vegetable soup, banana bread and whole wheat rolls.

Clearwater Valley News: Taste of Clearwater on tap for Jan. 14

Square dancing lessons start on Saturday, Jan. 7, 5:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Valley Middle School. Phil Rowan of Harpster invites people of any age to join in.

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Clearwater Valley News: Talent great at Christmas show

As I write this, I’m still high from watching the Kooskia Opera House’s Christmas variety show. The joyful buzz as we entered the Kooskia Opera House, the women dressed in sparkling holiday dresses, the festive decorations, and the audience sing-alongs of familiar tunes all got me in the Christmas spirit.

Clearwater Valley News: Stores open for last-minute needs

Do you believe it’s only the first day of winter? Happy winter solstice! From Latin “sol” (sun) and “sistere” (stop), it is the day that the sun appears to stop moving across the sky. People around the world have celebrated it for thousands of years on this shortest day of the year, traditionally with singing, dancing, feasting and bonfires. So light a fire in your fire pit, or a candle or just sit by your woodstove with food and drink and welcome the return of the light and longer days.

Clearwater Valley News: Staaf signs on as CV area correspondent

Christmas is in the air, it’s great to see the snow. Thanks to the people who put up Christmas light displays along Main Street, they brighten up the long nights. The reindeer and sleigh at the north end of Kooskia always makes me smile on my drive home!


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