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Andrew Ottoson

Stories by Andrew

NEPA projects taking place on districts

Among the “small NEPA” projects the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests announced in a May 27 letter are several taking place on local ranger districts. On the Red River Ranger District are projects calling for electrical lines are to be buried along Road 222D near Dixie and test drilling for gold in the Siegel Creek drainage. On the Salmon River Ranger District are projects calling for culvert replacement in Peasley Creek and placer mining exploration in the French Creek drainage. On the Lochsa-Powell Ranger District is a project calling for tree planting in the area burned by last summer’s Woodrat Fire.

Funderburg case dismissed against ICSO

Three years after a sex scandal struck the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, United States District Judge Edward Lodge on June 10 dismissed a federal civil case against Sheriff Doug Giddings, Undersheriff Jim Gorges and Idaho County.

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Free Fishing Day

It was a beautiful morning for the youths who showed up at Wilkins Pond last Saturday, June 11, as the rainbow trout stocked by Idaho Fish and Game proved hungry and strong.

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Dueling rodeos to feature many of the same entrants

CVRA, White Bird slates brim for Fathers Day

The upcoming Clearwater Valley Roundup Association and White Bird rodeos are going head-to-head this weekend, with White Bird to go on its traditional Friday-Saturday of Father’s Day weekend dates, June 17-18, and the CVRA moving up on the calendar to go on Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19.

County to review RMP comments June 28

County to vote July 12 on plan

During the Tuesday, June 14, hearing over Idaho County’s draft resource management plan (RMP), Commissioner Mark Frei staked out a bit of middle ground on which the board will be proceeding toward adopting an official position on numerous public land questions. Chairman Jim Chmelik said he hopes the RMP will “give the county some standing with the agencies and give our input from the county…[on matters ranging] from better management of the resources to better access for recreation to the historical significance” of places such as the meanders miners created long ago at Crooked River.

Commendations issued for efforts on Elk City landslide

Last month, the Idaho County Commission received two letters of commendation praising three county employees for the work they did during the days following the Elk City landslide Feb. 18. Another went to the Post Office. Others went to the Forest Service. It turns out one man wrote them all: Robert McGuire of Orogrande.

Voters rejected Chmelik for his style

Editorial

If you’ve asked the people you know who voted why they think Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik lost, they’ve probably already told you what they’ve been telling us: Mainly, they just don’t like his style.

Harvests a fiscal windfall for county

The disastrous fires last year made a fiscal windfall for Idaho County, as the yield tax private owners paid from July 15-Dec. 31 last year showed a jump to three or four times the usual level. During the commission’s regular meeting June 7, assessor James Zehner reported $94,000 came in, and a similar amount is anticipated for the coming year.

Camping Season

Summer sports camps keep area kids busy, and the Grangeville girls led off with a good showing under direction from new GHS varsity head coach Michelle Barger (above, right) and prominent area coach Dave Snodgrass, who was decked out in his Nezperce High blues last Thursday, June 2.

Barger in as GHS girls basketball coach

As Michelle Barger steps in for longtime GHS varsity girls head coach Larson Anderson, the Grangeville youth program is leveling up.

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Cortez gets 30 days for shooting bighorn

Paul R. Cortez faced justice Monday in District Court.

Corps finds Salmon River as ‘navigable’

Chmelik raises spectre of lost county revenue

Although the Corps’ decision is consistent with other long-established navigability determinations made by the State of Idaho (1980) and the U.S. Coast Guard (1974), the board – especially chairman Jim Chmelik – met it with displeasure.

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‘Putting On A Show’

A motorized version of a CreatureCraft Waterwog was seen tumbling through the rapids near Lake Creek Bridge on the Salmon River east of Riggins last Saturday, June 4. Piloting the rig was George Nuckols, who later told the Free Press he was “putting on a show.” Last Saturday marked the opening of river rafting season, as the annual Big Water Blowout celebration brought droves of whitewater enthusiasts to Riggins.

County resource plan to receive hearing

Overview: What is the Idaho County RMP?

Overview In its statement of purpose, the draft asserts that federal agencies must involve county-level governments in the decision-making process at the earliest stages – prior to the broader public input process.

Group discussions begin on multi-county regional landfill

Talking Trash:

In mid-May, Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt was named vice chairman of the group of seven counties that met in Council to start hammering out plans for a regional landfill to be located near Adams County’s existing dump site, the Goodrich Landfill. The Adams County Record reported the group’s first meeting in that paper’s May 18 edition, noting the “joint powers” group by then included Idaho, Adams, Clearwater and Valley counties, with Lewis, Boise and Washington counties not yet fully on board.

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County resource plan to receive hearing June 14

'We wanted it to be a statement about resources…'

If approved at a hearing later this month, Idaho County’s draft resource management plan (RMP) will formalize the county’s position on approximately 120 points related to federal land management. While it’s not clear what, if anything, federal agencies might do to accommodate the county’s perspective, the Idaho County Commission is advancing it in hopes the RMP will secure a seat for local government at the federal decision-makers’ table. It’s a step many other western counties are trying to take.

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Probert: J-Bar fire salvage project decision to be withdrawn

Earlier this month, a federal court ordered a preliminary injunction in the civil case over the Forest Service’s Johnson Bar Fire Salvage project. The order stopped salvage logging near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic rivers, which was set to begin as early as May 16. Now the salvage logging project is being withdrawn.

Kids Klub drops grant application

Multiple factors have nonprofit exploring options

Kids Klub is withdrawing its request for Idaho County’s sponsorship of a block grant, which Clearwater Economic Development Association specialist Kelly Dahlquist and Kids Klub members presented to the board earlier this month. According to a letter from CEDA to the county, which Dahlquist presented Tuesday, May 24, the commission’s continuing support for a grant awarded May 13 to Syringa Hospital and Clinics, combined with changes in the hospital’s construction schedule, means Kids Klub’s application might not be accepted.

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Sullivan, Lindsley dominate

Track & Field

During his final days in Bulldogs uniform, Cole Lindsley swept the 2A throwing titles, firing off a personal record 51-11½ bomb in the shot put and ripping a near-PR 167 in the discus.

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Swap stopped

Risch finds 97 percent opposed Lochsa Land Exchange - Matter 'not settled' and 'not close'

In a letter to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell dated May 12, U.S. Senator Jim Risch formally ended his pursuit of a legislated end to one long, controversial saga: the Lochsa Land Exchange.

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Primed for Middleton

46 individuals qualify, six as No. 1 seeds

No one in the region could match the Kubs’ strength in numbers on the boys side of the 1A/2A District I-II championships held last Friday and Saturday, May 13-14, and they had one additional edge going for them: their track was looking freshly sharp on account of new paint the KHS coaches and boosters had recently laid down.

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Kamiah mill sale: Blue North officials asked IFG to step in

Faced with having to close the Kamiah mill, in October 2015, Blue North Forest Products approached Idaho Forest Group about buying out its assets and timber position, Blue North operating manager Bill Mulligan confirmed to the Free Press Monday morning, May 16. IFG is in the process of completing the buyout, subject to “various closing conditions” IFG now anticipates will be met later this month.

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Judge puts J-Bar salvage on hold

USFS reviewing decision and and 'will move forward accordingly'

Late Thursday, May 12, a federal court ordered a preliminary injunction in the civil case over the Forest Service’s Johnson Bar Fire Salvage project. The order stops salvage logging near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic rivers, which was set to begin as early as Monday, May 16.

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Pirates end Genesee’s reign

Spencer Schumacher had Genesee off-balance from the very start last Saturday, May 14, yielding only a bunt single through the first three innings even as the PHS lineup pounded out a 5-0 lead on the way to an 8-2 win over the defending 1A champions.

Forest Service salvage logging blocked

Late yesterday, a federal court ordered a preliminary injunction in the civil case over the Forest Service's Johnson Bar Fire Salvage project. The order stops salvage logging near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic rivers.

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Absent "critical mass of consensus," Risch will not advance Lochsa Land Exchange

In a letter to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell dated May 12, U.S. Senator Jim Risch formally ended his pursuit of a legislated end to one long, controversial saga: the Lochsa Land Exchange.

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Grangeville's season ends on walk-off home run

Baseball

Orofino's Hayden Wilson brought the Maniacs all the way back from down 7-2 to win 8-7 during the second game of the district tournament last night, May 10, at OHS.

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Blue North ‘couldn’t sustain’ losses

IFG ‘intent’ to dismantle mill unconfirmed

With very little advance notice, more than five-dozen mill workers got the word from Blue North Forest Products ownership May 3: that the mill is closing, that market forces have swallowed up the business, and that unlike the other times the plant has shut down, this time, “this is the end.” Last week, the Free Press reported buyer Idaho Forest Group anticipates the sale will be complete by mid-month.

County support sought on grant for Kids Klub

Commission gives ‘basic nod yes;’ nonprofit yet to set return date

“In no way did we say no to them,” Brandt explained last Friday, May 6. “We did not say yes either, and there is more we need to consider before we can say yes.”

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Orofino hosting district tournaments this week

Baseball

Prairie, Kamiah stun Genesee; Orofino spoils Bulldogs’ CIL title hopes; Panthers crack Lawrence’s gem.

Grangeville takes CIL crown chase to the wire

Baseball

Earlier in the week, Grangeville whomped Potlatch, but the game of the week came last Saturday, April 30, at the literal last moment of a key game on the Lumberjacks’ field.

County objects to SF river mining regs

Decision on hold to review objections

Idaho County joined Mike Edmondson of Elk City in objecting to a Forest Service proposal that would streamline suction dredging regulations, and the county filed an objection of its own in mid-April.

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Brink blasts Bulldogs out of league title contention

Kolby Brink crushed Grangeville's Central Idaho League baseball title hopes into the bleachers in left center field, breaking both a 4-4 tie and a bit of the Bulldogs' fighting spirit in one fell swing.

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‘One more layer of federal bureaucracy is not what we need’

260 miles of Salmon River face new regulations under old law

Under an old law, Salmon River users – including mining and agricultural interests – will soon have to contend with a permitting process they haven’t faced before.

Moisture loosens boulders at slide

SH 14 closed overnight

About an inch and a quarter of rain last Friday made for one of the most active days the slide area has seen since 100,000 cubic yards came down in February. The South Fork Clearwater River – into which more than 260 square miles of countryside drains – nearly doubled its flow as all the runoff came down. In the area destabilized by February’s massive landslide, the sudden rush of moisture loosened boulders as large as 10 feet in diameter, which fell and blocked the narrow path through the slide area.

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Grangeville holds home meet

Restored track proved fast for some runners

If you look at the season Trey Pfefferkorn has had in the 100-meter dash, his run at the GHS track last Tuesday, April 19, stands out. He was clocked at 11.37, which converts to 11.64 — which ranks among the Top 10 1A performances on the list kept by athletic.net.

Uncertainty still surrounds Seven Devils liquor license

Mike Blimka has enlisted a different lawyer to help him resolve the fate of the Seven Devils Bar liquor license. Alcohol Beverage Control authorities revoked the license under a March 30 cease-and-desist order, which followed from an ABC investigation into Blimka’s ties to the company behind the bar.

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Brown Signs

Grangeville track and field standout Madison Brown signed last Thursday, April 14, to join the Weber State track and field to compete in her favorite event: the triple jump.

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Speed Racers

Another way of looking at the time trial format used in the Salmon River Jet Boat Races is this: It’s all about holding the highest average speed through all sections of the course.

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Maniacs defend home field, 6-3

Baseball

Grangeville has ambitions of winning the Central Idaho League — or at least qualifying for the state tournament out of second place — but will have to crack Orofino when the Maniacs visit May 3.

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Crowding The Shore

The 32nd Annual Salmon River Jet Boat Races once again thrilled a large crowd that packed the shores in and around Riggins last weekend. With the Salmon River running high, some rapids appeared less imposing than usual – but the white water immediately upstream of the Time Zone Bridge sent boats frequently on end or aloft. Pictured are some of the approximately 1,500 who lined the area immediately south of Time Zone on Saturday afternoon, April 16.

Divide on land management issues for pair

Election: Dist. 3 Commissioner

A divide over whether and how the Idaho County Commission ought to confront and cooperate with outside agencies on public land management issues is at the center of the race between Republicans Denis Duman and Jim Chmelik.

Cortez pleads guilty in bighorn sheep poaching case; judgement withheld

Paul R. Cortez of Nampa pled guilty in Idaho County district court today, through an agreement to drop all the charges against him but one felony count for poaching a bighorn sheep in Salmon River country last November.

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Salmon River sets new daily discharge record

Every April 14 for 102 years, the White Bird streamgage topped out well below 30,000 cfs, but this morning, the reading topped a 74-year old daily record -- and the river continues to rise.

Ownership scandal threatens to make Riggins a two-bar town; hearing today

Seven Devils liquor license pulled; Belton seeks solution in time to serve race-day crowds

Depending how things go at a hearing today in Meridian, last month may prove the last of the good ol’ days, back when this town of 400 boasted three different places to buy liquor by the drink. Late last month, Idaho State Police rocked the Riggins bar scene, shutting down liquor sales out of the Seven Devils Steakhouse and Saloon and stopping the Salmon River Inn from moving its liquor sales to a back room at Summerville’s. Seven Devils operator John Belton has kept the restaurant open but stopped selling alcohol after the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) authorities delivered an order to cease and desist amid an ownership scandal.

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Big impression with Little interview

During his Thursday stop in Grangeville, Lt. Governor Brad Little sat for an hour-and-a-half interview with the Idaho County Free Press. I asked the best questions I could think of, and I listened as intently as I could. These are my impressions....

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Football Squad Advances Three

Grangeville football coaches Jeff Lindsley and Jeff Adams stand behind three Bulldogs who are headed to college to play football at the next level this fall. Quarterback Layton Harris (left) is headed to North Dakota to join the University of Jamestown Jimmies, while Cole Lindsley (center) and Austin Parks (right) are headed to Caldwell to join the College of Idaho Coyotes.

Wolves roamed half of Idaho in 2014

Wolves used about half of Idaho’s total land area in 2014, according to Idaho’s year-end wolf monitoring report, which pegged the 2015 official total at 786 in 108 documented packs inside the state. Biologists also documented border packs – 20 of them – that overlapped the state boundary.

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IRU wins road permit, salvage logging case

Federal district court ruled Moose Creek District Ranger Joe Hudson erred

When it comes to roads in the Wild and Scenic Selway River drainage, the Forest Service can’t just give the State of Idaho permission to run a thousand log trucks to and from state ground. The Forest Service has to consider environmental laws before issuing a permit, including the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

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Delay would push J-Bar salvage to brink, county says

'Any further delay will compromise the quality of the available wood and result in economic losses to the local communities'

Friends of the Clearwater and Idaho Rivers United are suing the Forest Service over federal salvage logging near Lowell, in the area scorched by the Johnson Bar Fire nearly two years ago, and the Idaho County Commission is chiming in.

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