January 21, 2017
GRANGEVILLE - “Thanks Obama!”
All kidding aside, when I tell you about Grangeville resident Roger Inghram I imagine you will say the same. It is not meant in jest, as a current viral video about the former U.S. President does.
(If you haven’t seen it, Obama tries to dunk a cookie in a glass of milk. Unfortunately, the glass is too small and Obama says “thanks Obama.”)
I called Inghram after Shelley Dumas suggested him as an “unsung hero” in this community. Inghram has made it his official duty to clear the stretch of Highway 14 between Grangeville and Mount Idaho of all trash and debris.
“That all started eight years ago, when Obama - just before his inauguration - said Martin Luther King Day should be a day of service,” Inghram said.
Inghram said he was embarrassed about how much trash was piled along the roadside. He had been putting thought into Obama’s call to action, and the highway mess came to mind.
“I thought why be ticked off about it when I could do something about it,” Inghram said.
It was decided, Inghram was going to clear that road. He said the first effort eight years ago took three days and 36 trash bags full of junk. There were even two tires frozen down into the earth and he hauled away a pickup fully loaded with discarded Christmas trees.
“When I got it all cleaned up, I thought, ‘now I can be proud of it,’’ he said.
Every two to three days, Inghram is back along the stretch on his side by side. He has a strobe light as a warning signal and a bright reflective shirt given to him by a friend.
“One time I had it all picked up … but then two days later you find more,” he said. “About half is stuff pitched out of vehicles.”
Inghram said he retired in March of 1994 from Idaho County Power & Light (ICPL). Translated, he no longer works for ICPL, isn’t paid for any work he does, but yes, he still is busy with daily activities. He is not paid for cleaning the highway.
He also volunteers with the U.S. Forest Service in the summers, and doesn’t earn a penny. He assists with the northern region pack string and takes photos and videos of its projects. Inghram has his own horse which he loads up for those events.
Inghram also is an avid nature photographer and videographer. He has created several educational programs for elementary students.
“I really try to impress on the kids how fortunate we are to live where we do,” he said. “I tell them I know it seems like you’ll see a lot of wildlife here. That’s only about one percent of what is out there to explore.”
Inghram hopes someday he will be approached by a young man who says he remembers the program and it inspired him to get a wildlife degree.
“It’d really make me feel like it was worth it,” Inghram said.
Next week I will have the pleasure of visiting Inghram at his home and viewing his collection of photos, and hopefully a video.
For now, “thanks Obama.”
You inspired one man to make our community a better place, and that’s a good thing.
Laurie Chapman writes about the people, places and events bringing the prairie to life in the weekly blog, Prairie Pulse. If you have suggestion, contact Laurie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 208-983-1200.