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Andrew Ottoson

Stories by Andrew

Trump signs off on trillion-dollar federal funding bill, with SRS among the monies renewed

With President Trump having signed off on renewing Secure Rural Schools funding Friday, March 23, local school and highway tax districts stand to receive the first of two big payments – totaling about $5.5 million – within the next 45 days. The renewal is part of a massive federal spending bill – a $1.3 trillion roll-up of numerous topics – which passed Congress Thursday despite objections by conservatives including Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Raul Labrador.

March 23, 2018 1:43 p.m. read more..

Prairie tops Clearwater Valley in first of season

The Prairie boys led 1-0 after a high-contact play went their way in the first inning March 13 at Clearwater Valley, and on the strength of sharp pitching, the first run of their season proved enough to land the Pirates their first win.

March 21, 2018 9:13 a.m. read more..

County commits to road repairs dating back to last year; still chasing fed funds

Two more major road repair projects out of those that date back to Spring 2017 went to bid earlier this month, with work at Ft. Misery won by Cook & Sons and work at Cottonwood Creek won by Crea Construction during the Idaho County Commission’s March 13 meeting. Both projects are eligible for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funding but the feds had not yet obligated the money for these projects, Idaho County disaster management manager Jerry Zumalt told the Free Press last week.

March 21, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

Probert’s effort on public’s part in forest plan revision

For Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests supervisor Cheryl Probert, the ongoing Forest Plan Revision has involved more than 70 meetings, including meetings with a Clearwater Basin Collaborative subcommittee, visits to county commissions and stakeholder meetings – including eight with Friends of the Clearwater, she said Monday, March 12.

March 14, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

With taxing districts under pressure, county commissioner works the cut

The “forest funds” came up far short last year In 10 or 20 years — if the Forest Service succeeds in getting out the timber cuts now being proposed all across the county — those of us too young or too new to the forest wars to remember the boom times may be able to look back on 2017 as the worst of our hard times.

March 14, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

Hungry Ridge Restoration Project advances to alternatives

A public meeting has been scheduled April 11 regarding a draft environmental impact statement proposing timber harvest 17 miles southeast of Grangeville. According to the document released March 9, known as the Hungry Ridge Restoration Project DEIS, the work would “restore a more diverse and resilient forest structure, with a range of age clases, size classes, habitat complexity and disturbance patterns that more closely emulate the results of natural disturbance.”

March 14, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

As NFL draft hype builds, Riggins man keeps focus

During the months since Leighton Vander Esch declared for the NFL entry draft, his chance to ascend from Salmon River High School and Boise State University to football’s top professional level has become a conversation starter in Idaho County — and not just among local football fans.

February 28, 2018 7:44 a.m. read more..

County officials say they ‘have not seen’ coordination in Forest Plan Revision

Idaho County Commission chairman Skip Brandt has been the board’s ambassador to the Forest Service, having attended more than 20 meetings during the past year on topics related to the ongoing Forest Plan Revision – a process that also involves evaluation of potential for new wilderness and Wild & Scenic River designations. Lately – participating in this month’s open comment period before Forest Plan Revision alternatives are announced – the board has sent Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests supervisor Cheryl Probert several letters

February 28, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

Salmon River bounced by Deary

Salmon River misfired on two point-blank jump shots – either of which would have given them a one-point lead with less than a minute left in their play-in game Saturday, Feb. 10, at GHS – and the Deary girls moved on to state by a 41-38 final score.

February 14, 2018 7:42 a.m. read more..

Grangeville girls push St. Maries to the brink

“Despite big games from Kaci Haeg, Kaylee Auer and Devyn Wilson, the St. Maries girls were upset this evening,” the St. Maries Gazette-Record reported Wednesday night, Feb. 7, noting they did not win the second game of the Central Idaho League’s district tournament 64-56. The Grangeville girls won, but as upsets go, their win might not rank among the unexpected, at least within the team.

February 8, 2018 9:48 a.m. read more..

County approves new split within Lewis & Clark Resort

The Idaho County Commission approved Kamiah Valley Company agent Craig Sloat’s request to draw new property lines by which the Lewis & Clark Resort will separate its water system from the rest of its operation for insurance purposes.

January 31, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

PHOTOS: Clearwater Valley splits with Troy

The Clearwater Valley girls boosted their chances of qualifying for the Whitepine League's district tournament with a 30-28 win over Troy Monday afternoon, Jan. 15. In the second half of the double-header -- the makeup games for a postponement earlier this season -- the CV boys lost to the Trojans 63-45.

January 15, 2018 7:41 p.m. read more..

Annual trap shoot fires off

The ten-week telephonic Camas Prairie Trapshoot began Sunday, Jan. 14, with shooters in Grangeville seeing early fog settle into a nice backdrop for the annual competition's first day of 2018.

January 14, 2018 11:18 a.m. read more..

St. Maries sweeps Bulldogs at GHS

Having played St. Maries within a point on Colby Canaday’s hoop with 1:20 left in the first half, the Grangeville girls were outscored 16-4 during the third quarter and were beaten 56-36 in their Central Idaho League opener last Saturday, Jan. 6.

January 10, 2018 8:47 a.m. read more..

Idaho County still pursuing funding for last winter’s emergency repairs

When Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter delivered his final “State of the State” address Monday, Jan. 8, he mentioned that one set of disasters – “one of the worst hurricane seasons on record,” he said – took federal disaster managers away from the mountain of road work last winter left behind across Idaho. Locally, Idaho County still has not received firm word about whether FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) will be able to send money for projects to address last winter’s damage, which the Free Press first reported Sept. 12.

January 10, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

Grangeville boys rock Kamiah

A 26-point second quarter turned the second game between the Grangeville boys and Kamiah into a blowout, with the GHS bigs overpowering the Kubs inside and the Grangeville guards eventually fouling out Ben Dunning, Luke Snyder and Kaleb Oatman during an 85-59 Bulldogs win Thursday night, Jan. 4.

January 4, 2018 10 p.m. read more..

County to exit landfill group as plan found not ‘cost-effective’

Among the Idaho County Commission’s top priorities, solid waste system reform has long loomed large, but plans for a five-county joint landfill aren’t moving forward, and Idaho County is withdrawing from the group that has spent more than 19 months planning for a regional dump southwest of Council.

January 3, 2018 6 a.m. read more..

New county ordinance outlines business property tax exemption

Aiming to boost economic development, the Idaho County Commission has adopted a new ordinance under which the county may provide property tax breaks to new businesses. A 2017 state law allows counties to establish criteria, and the ordinance – No. 62, published in full on the website – states how the local board has drawn the lines. The law on which the ordinance is founded – state code 63-602NN – says the exemption is allowed for “plant or building facilities…for nonretail purposes that are either commercial or industrial.”

December 20, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Prairie sweeps Idaho County Shootout; event nets more than $12K food, dollar donations

Playing without standout point guard Angela Wemhoff for the first time since the senior playmaker's injury earlier this week against Lapwai, the Prairie girls wobbled a bit on the way to a 34-30 home court victory over Grangeville Friday night, Dec. 15. A large turnout for the annual Idaho County Shootout also propelled the PHS boys, who laid claim to a 51-46 win over the Bulldogs.

December 15, 2017 11:36 p.m. read more..

Kamiah sweeps Rampage; event nets $9K for local food banks

Having watched the Kamiah girls double up Clearwater Valley 44-21, the KHS boys played a tight game against CV last Friday night, Dec. 8. The Rams held a 13-13 halftime tie, but that was before a couple of tough plays by Kaleb Oatman — combined with a bit of sharp shooting — keyed a second-half surge and a blowout Kubs win, 51-29.

December 13, 2017 8:54 a.m. read more..

USFS Center-Johnson Project focus of Jan. 3 public meeting

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests last week announced scoping of the Center-Johnson Project, a proposed action of timber harvest, fuels treatments, grassland treatments and road work including decommissioning of 11 miles of road in watersheds three miles west of Slate Creek.

December 13, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Tax bill includes new roads levy, higher garbage service fees

With notices in the mail, some who own property in Idaho County have seen a big new tax on the bill. Others have seen a tax rate lower than it was last year, but some of those who have seen their rates dip are still owing local governments more overall this year due to a rise in county solid waste fees. Still others – namely, those whose property is served by the Idaho County Road & Bridge Department – have seen both a higher solid waste fee and a significantly higher overall tax rate due to the new levy, which the county commission began considering last summer and approved in September.

December 6, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Pirates tip Grangeville, 72-62

The Prairie basketball boys clawed back from down 11 points to tie the score at halftime of Grangeville's home opener Thursday night, Nov. 30, which PHS went on to win, 72-62.

November 30, 2017 9:51 p.m. read more..

County commission approves first new subdivision since 2010

For the first time since 2010, the Idaho County Commission approved a new subdivision, under which developer Timothy Hicks is bringing a cluster of new houses to about 31 acres in the Tahoe area east of Stites. “I worked with one other surveyor, but it was Chad Erickson who really saw this through,” Hicks told the Free Press after county officials’ signatures were added to the mylar Tuesday morning, Nov. 28. “It wouldn’t have happened without his help.” “I was just the surveyor on his project,” Erickson said, “but working through the regulations involved really does require someone who knows how to expedite the process.”

November 29, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Pirates’ prize: a rematch

After Oakley’s main weapon, Chandler Jones, put the Prairie boys on notice early in the 1AD1 semifinal last Friday night, Nov. 10, PHS quarterback Spencer Schumacher and running back Jacob Stubbers notified the Hornets the Pirates also had come to the Kibbie Dome fully armed.

November 15, 2017 8:56 a.m. read more..

Deary ends Salmon River's season

The Salmon River boys' football season ended against one of the strongest 1AD2 football teams in the state Friday night in the Kibbie Dome, where Deary scored the final 40 points, reversing an early Savages lead.

November 8, 2017 8:28 a.m. read more..

Salmon River Road to get another $900K in new work

Idaho County has entered into an agreement with Idaho Transportation Department for an estimated $897,000 in new work on the Salmon River Road. The agreement is for work intended to reduce ongoing maintenance costs, which were a sticking point in 2016, during negotiations over whether the county or the federal government would have to pay for the reconstructed road’s upkeep.

November 1, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Vandals tear down Snowhaven sign; replacement in works

Seven miles south of town along the Grangeville-Salmon Road, someone tore down the sign that points out the turnoff up to the Snowhaven Ski and Tubing Area last weekend. “They hooked on to the posts with a chain and pulled it down,” Snowhaven manager Scott Wasem said Sunday night, Oct. 29.

November 1, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Power lines an issue for fire on WB grade

The Oct. 17 fire that burned 75 acres above the White Bird Grade was caused by power lines during what IDL Fire Bureau Chief JT Wensman called the “high wind events that occurred” that night. On Oct. 26, Wensman told the Free Press the related investigation was not yet complete.

November 1, 2017 6 a.m. read more..

Fire burns 75 acres on White Bird Grade

A fire on the night of Oct. 17 burned about 75 acres above the White Bird Grade and was fought by the Idaho Department of Lands and the Forest Service. There were no injuries or property losses, IDL said Monday, Oct. 23.

October 25, 2017 6 a.m. read more..



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